Tuesday 2 October 2012

Ibiza to Santa Ponza, Mallorca

August 3-4 2012

With the days just starting to get shorter, we rose at dawn preparing to up anchor and say goodbye to Ibiza and by about 7.30am we were on our way back to Mallorca. We had to return to Palma to get a growing list of little jobs done and Marc had booked to fly back to London for a week or so to tidy up a number of loose ends at home. Rather than going straight to Palma though we had picked the large and well protected bay at Santa Ponsa on the west coast of the island as our landfall. This shortened our passage by a few hours and Marc wasn’t flying out to the 6th so there was no rush.

We motored away from Cala Boix in dead calm but the predicted winds came good and before too long we picked up enough breeze. With full sails set we were getting along nicely so all settled in for our passage and watched the mountains of Ibiza grow smaller over our stern. The wind provided a good sail for about 5 hours before it both swung and dropped in strength so alas we had to resort to motor once more for the last couple of hours.

While we always prefer to sail all the way, motoring a little at each end of a trip is no real problem because we have to run the engine for a bit morning and afternoon to charge our batteries. It’s probably better to be actually going somewhere when the motor’s going than sitting at anchor with it chugging away disturbing the serenity.

We arrived Santa Ponsa in good light a bit before 7pm having logged 55.6 nautical miles for the day.. This bay is where King Jaimes 1st of Aragon brought his fleet in 1200s to land and drive the Moors out of Mallorca. A monument to commemorate the occasion is very prominent out on the point.

Santa Ponsa itself is located around a big rectangular inlet at the head of the much larger bay. Our charts showed  some shoals in centre of the inlet but good depth past them so we headed into the left side of the inlet skirting the shallows and looking for a good spot to park for a couple of nights. As we slowly rounded what was shown as the end of the shoals the depth gauge went from five meters under the keel to point five almost instantly.  Realising very quickly that no good can come from this we immediately went into reverse but not quite in time. We felt the very lightest of touches as they keel made contact with the sea grass bottom.

Gunning the engine in reverse produced no result. We were stuck. Bugger! Running aground is never part of any sailors’ plans and was definitely not on our agenda. As we discussed various strategies to get back into deeper waters, we spotted a ski boat heading our way. Perfect. As it went past and its wake reached us it lifted the boat just enough for us to ease back off the weed covered sand bar and back into safe waters.

We sheepishly looked around and wondered how many people had spotted our faux pas and retraced our route out to the bay entrance. We then re-examined both the charts and the pilot guide and all came to the same conclusion that both showed we should have had a couple of meters where we had rubbed the bottom.

We weren’t going to take any chances the second time though and entered on the opposite side of the inlet. We made our way very slowly through the anchored boats and found a nice patch of sand to drop in about four meters of water. Rob snorkelled as usual to make sure we were securely hooked in but this time also made a close inspection of the keel looking for any sign of damage. Fortunately our soft contact with the thick kelp on the bottom hadn’t even rubbed any of the anti-foul paint off so we were very thankful we’d been going slowly and not run right up on the shoal. Interestingly, where we were currently sitting in a bit over four metres of water, the charts indicated a depth of two meters. It’s safe to say we now treat all charts as a guide rather than gospel.

Santa Ponsa is actually a very well protected anchorage with good secure sand bottom. It has a very long sand beach at the head of the inlet and a number of high rise resorts lining the northern shore. After our trip from Ibiza we had a quiet evening watching the sunset and enjoying the calm of the bay.
Santa Ponsa provides a very well protected anchorage

Late next morning we went ashore for a look around and in search of a cheap lunch. The road behind the beach was lined with café/bars and small shops offering the standard tourist tat. We had no trouble finding a good meal. Two courses with wine for 5.5 Euro ($6.50) will do us. We then explored further afield and found the main street full of more Irish bars than many towns in Ireland. The proliferation of Irish accents walking past provided a clue as to why. Santa Ponsa is apparently a very popular package holiday destination with the Irish and supplemented with a good number of Brits they easily outnumbered all other nationalities in town.

We chose a bar based on its good wfi signal strength and the fact it wasn’t showing Gaelic football so was not full of very loud, Irishman shouting undecipherable obscenities at the screen regarding the opposition team and the referee’s forebears. While Karen and Marc had a lazy afternoon checking up on what was happening in the outside world, Rob took the opportunity to get a couple of blog updates posted on the web which were long overdue.

When we returned to the boat Rob went off on a long snorkel exploring the shoreline while Marc and Karen both disappeared into the latest books they were reading. Thank goodness for electronics. Between us on board we have two I-Pads, a Kindle and a Sony E-Reader that collectively contain literally thousands of books. If they were all paperbacks Alcheringa would of gone to the bottom under the immense weight long ago

 We had another nice meal aboard that night and enjoyed a few sundowners to cap off a very enjoyable day. Our ritual, after dinner, feeding the leftovers to the fish was also good sport as always. We never just tip them in. That would be all over way too fast so instead we cut or break everything up into small pieces and a good feeding session may take up to a quarter of an hour. The hungry buggers certainly compete hard with each other to grab a morsel. Watching a fish snatch a hard piece of bread crust and dash off through the clear water trying to protect it from the fifty of his cousins wanting to steal it always gives us a chuckle.  Entertainment comes cheap on Alcheringa.

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