Thursday, 20 September 2012

Cala Grazio, Ibiza - Tiny but Terrific

July 21-22 2012

Like Cala Portinatx, we really enjoyed our brief stop in Cala Binarras and were very tempted to hang around a few more days but the grib (weather) files Karen downloaded indicated some good sailing winds headed our way. So on Saturday morning July 21 we eased our way past the tall rock sentry standing guard at the entrance of the inlet and out from the protection of the high cliffs. We quickly found the  15 to 20 knots of predicted wind may have been a little on the conservative side and were glad we’d headed out with first reef in main and reefed genoa.

Alcheringa revelled in the conditions and we were soon zooming along at over 8.5 knots. Our course took us a little out to sea to make the most of the wind strength and direction. After having to motor on our last hop down the coast we were all really enjoying the sail. Ahead of us we could see a group of seven yachts closer in shore sailing downwind together all flying no mainsails but reefed headsails only . We guessed that were probably a flotilla charter group where the leader sets the plan and all follow along.

Rob and Marc immediately saw the seven boats as a challenge and set about planning on how to pass as many as possible before we reached our destination at Cala Salada, a bay on the other side of the headland we could just see in the distance. Of course Karen being female can never see any need to race anyone and suggested chill pills and a relax all round but there’s no fun in that. Rob further justified the urgent necessity to get in front with ‘We’d rather get in ahead of them and have the pick of spots to anchor wouldn’t we.’

Keeping a close eye on the progress of the charterers bobbing up and down in the shadows of the high cliffs, the boys constantly tweaked our sail trim looking for all possible speed. They also debated just how far we should continue on our present course away from the coast before tacking back inshore to hopefully round the headland  before the enemy.  Maintaining course for longer than we needed to would see us wasting time sailing away from our target but if we tacked too soon we wouldn’t clear the point and would be forced to tack out again. Oh the pressure of making decisions..

We duly put in our tack and, despite a few moments of self doubt on the way in, we found ourselves successfully clearing the point and heading into the bay well ahead of the charter fleet. Wohoo! Puffed out chests and high fives.  Boys will be boys.

In the middle of the bay we furled the genoa and dropped the main before motoring into the anchorage in Cala Salada. There were about eight or ten boats moored so we did our usual slow circuit  between them all looking for the best place to drop. Like our three previous stops, the water here was also very clear so we were trying to find a nice sandy patch between the fields of thick seaweed where we could plant our anchor and also have swing room to clear the yachts already there.

Unfortunately there really wasn’t anywhere. We tried three different times but either found ourselves hanging too close to other boats or the anchor simply wouldn’t hold in the mix of sand and weed. In the end we decided we’d give up and move on further along the coast. When we plan our moves we always select alternative anchorages to suit changes in weather or instances like this. Plan B was a small bay called Cala Grazia just a couple of miles west, so off we went.

Of course as soon as our bow was pointed back out to sea we spotted the last couple of the charter fleet boats disappearing around the western point in front of us. They obviously were never headed for Cala Salada in the first place. Given the boys previous desperate efforts to get ahead, the thought we could discover them all at anchor clogging up our Plan B by the time we got there appealed to Karen’s sense of irony

Cala Grazia is so small that we almost sailed straight past it. The charter fleet had continued west and there were no boats in the bay at all when we reached it. We motored in and found the cove opened to two small inlets on its left, each with a lovely sand beach at the head complete with the obligatory beach café. In the bay itself there was lots more weed on the bottom but we managed to drop anchor in good patch of sand right in the centre of the bay.

We’ve all read numerous horror stories of boats dragging anchor in the middle of the night and drifting with, at times, horrendous results including ship wreck on the rocks. As a result we are particularly cautious. Every time we drop anchor Rob gets in the water and snorkels down to make sure it is well dug into sand and nice and secure. Occasionally the anchor will land upside down and if we’re in less than about eight meters of water he can swim down and flip it over. A blast of reverse will then dig it in nicely.  Only when we are happy that we are well hooked in with the appropriate  amount of chain out and ample room to swing with the wind and current do we relax at the end of a passage.

Now happily anchored, we took a better look at our surrounds in Cala Grazia and all agreed it was a much more pleasant spot than Plan A so our move was all for the better.  We were a little low on bottled drinking water so we decided to head ashore and see if we might be able to buy some. We got the dingy off the bow and in the water and prepared to get the outboard down of its mount on the stern rails. The thread on the outboard clamps was very tight and when unscrewing them Rob had taken to slipping the spark plug tube spanner over the handles to provide more leverage. It had worked well so far and the threads were gradually loosening up with use. However on this occasion, one slip of the hand was followed by the sound of one bounce on the swim platform then one splash in the water as the spark plug spanner disappeared below the surface. Bugger! One very unhappy Rob.

Time for that Irishman, Murphy, and his aggravating Law to make another appearance. By now the morning’s brisk onshore wind had disappeared and been replaced by a gentle offshore breeze that saw the boat hanging at the end of her anchor chain stern towards the sea. Rather than the six metres of water where we dropped the anchor, the spark plug spanner went down in over ten so there was no way Rob was going to be able to free dive down and find it in the thick weed. We’d just have to buy one in the next port.

The boys got the outboard off its mount and down onto the dingy where Rob went to start it, but Murphy wasn’t finished with us yet. In our admittedly short time on the boat our little 2.5 horsepower outboard motor had NEVER failed to start easily on the very first attempt each and every time we pulled the cord, until now. Pull - nothing, pull  - nothing, pull- nothing.  Check the fuel, check the breather, pull – nothing. Pull - nothing. More choke, less choke, closed throttle, wide open throttle, you name it, it was tried. But despite what seemed a thousand attempts, the engine flatly refused to exhibit the slightest sign of life. As Rob got more red faced with a mixture of exhaustion and only just subdued anger, Marc couldn’t resist offering his suggestion, ‘Maybe we need to clean the spark plug Ahh! That could present a problem now’.
A victim of Murphy's Law

So Rob and Marc paddled the dingy into the beach and headed up the path through the trees to try to find a shop. Beyond the tree line they came upon a huge resort very obviously catering for Britts and Germans. It was packed with hundreds and hundreds of people spread over sunbeds around a series of very large swimming pools. It was actually difficult to find space to walk between the masses of lily white, and occasionally bright, bright burning red bodies reclining in the strong sunlight. The boys wondered why all these people would cram themselves around swimming pools when there were two beautiful beaches just a couple of hundred metres away. Then the answer was discovered. All these people were prisoners.

Trying to find a way out to the road Rob and Marc were blocked by a huge chain mesh fence at every turn. Time and time and again they would follow a path through the lush gardens only to be suddenly confronted by barriers that would do any concentration camp proud. No wonder none of the guests could escape the resort. Eventually they found themselves trapped again in a far corner of the grounds by the kiddies pool with no idea where to try next. It’s not exactly clear whether the smiling young female staff member who then appeared and guided them out through the main foyer of the big high rise building did so to be helpful or simply to quietly remove two suspicious looking men from the presence of young children.

A small convenience store was located, water obtained and successfully returned via a road bypassing the maze of the resort then it was definitely time for sundowner drinks.
Sunset at Cala Grazia - Ibiza   Click on any image to see larger versions

After a nice morning snorkel around the shores of the bay we all paddled ashore for Sunday lunch at the café behind the nearest beach. Rob was instantly in heaven when he found the German Grand Prix showing on a big screen TV in the restaurant. Since heading off on our travels he has been suffering extreme motorsport withdrawal symptoms so with food on the table, a drink in hand and Formula One in front of his face he was a very happy boy. In two hours he only took his eyes of the screen long enough to post another photo of us in paradise on facebook to piss off even more people back home. And he wonders why people are de-friending him.

Alcheringa in Cala Grazia as seen from our Sunday lunch spot.
And Rob wonders why people at home in Australia are de-friending him on facebook
when this is what pops up on their screen as they arrive for work on a Monday morning.

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1 comment:

  1. Luckily for Rob, I have no idea how to defriend yet.....but I am seriously considering finding out!


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