Position: 38°58’07.4″N 1°15’53.3″E
Our anchorage, Port des Torrent, was peaceful, but rolly and I’d had a restless night’s sleep. The quiet of the morning was punctured by enthusiastic calls of “Buenas Dias! Buenas Dias!”, outside of the porthole. We popped up to the cockpit to find two teenage boys in dive masks treading water next to Aleta. “Are you from the United States?” Yes. “Did you get here by boat?” Yes. Our answers impressed and excitedly elicited several follow up questions.
They don’t see many American flagged boats here. We’ve only seen one other foreign vessel (French) since we arrived. Any other year we wouldn’t have gone anywhere near the Balearics during the height of summer, but this is most definitely not a normal year. A thirty-ish hour sail from Cartagena, Ibiza was a logical first destination now we have (finally!) resumed our travels. Our overnight passage was pleasant with more wind than expected. A little rusty, we nevertheless fell back into our sailing routines quickly.
Our first stop was Formentera, a small island six miles south of Ibiza and a short boat ride from the party capital city of the same name. We’d heard fantastic things about the place, and I was eager to get there. Approaching from the sea, it wasn’t particularly pretty. It is a mostly flat, undistinguished brown landmass surrounded by beautiful water. We checked the weather forecast to determine our anchorage options. Most of the west side was sheltered, so we set our course there.
The coast was packed: mega-yachts, gin palaces, sleek cigar boats, and charters all nestled together. Jet skis and dinghies were zooming (not the kind of Zooming we’re all now accustomed to) in and out with no regard of their wakes. Half the boats seemed to be competing for the loudest music and biggest party around.
We dropped anchor where the crowd was thinnest. Then focused our attention on the lovely clear azure water and how grateful we were to be sailing again. Our appreciation grew as many of the party boats left at dusk. After 9pm it was quiet enough and we swam happily under the moonlight.
Bad weather was forecast for the following day so we decided to stay put one more night, hoping the weather would keep the crowds at bay. The front moved through quickly and the sun broke through the low clouds late in the afternoon. Around cocktail time, a large modified tugboat, clearly chartered for some festivity, dropped its chain 150 feet away from us. Unlike the night before, however, these guys partied until the very wee hours. We were eager to hoist our hook and move on the next morning.
My preconception of Ibiza, crowds of rich young beautiful partiers (and it’s not even close to typical numbers of people!) confirmed, I was ready to set sail on to Mallorca. That is until we started sailing up the west coast of the island. Part of the Balearic Islands, called Pitiusas, or Pine Islands, are dramatic, yet welcoming. Tufts of green trees soften their rocky shoreline and starkness. The number of boats diminished the further north we sailed. The wind was good, and we had no agenda.
We continued around to the north shore, eventually dropping our hook in Port des Torrent. A large angled cala (literally cove, but often wide bays) with low rocky sides and a sandy beach at its head. There were a half-dozen sailboats, a handful of small vessels used for day excursions, and a scattering of yellow pedal-powered two-seaters with built in slides waiting for us. A few people toyed with SUPs (stand up paddleboards), and the occasional kayak. Almost all of them were gone by sunset.
We had barely turned off our instruments and opened the hatches when a jovial Dutchman and his son motored up in their runabout to say hello, and to tell us we had a beautiful boat. Michael had lived in Ibiza for 17 years, pointing out his home on the edge of the water. Shortly after they left, the captain of another anchored boat ferried two young boys aged about three and five over to chat. The elder boy, already bilingual, wanted to tell us he was excited to see our flag because he was born in New York City. Then he proudly stated he was on board a pirate ship! I told him Marlon was a pirate, too. Marlon barked in agreement.
And so it went. Mostly families, mostly Spanish, enjoying their holidays. Quite a contrast to our first couple of nights on Formentera. We spent the next 24 hours swimming and relaxing to the sounds of kid’s laughter and splashing. I think it’s time to break out our SUP and start exploring the rest of the island.