Tuesday, 13 September 2011


The sun has just slipped over the horizon leaving a pinkish glow in the anchorage. There is a gentle breeze blowing off the beach and the water is lapping gently on the hull. We are anchored in Espalmador and its heaven. The day after we arrived from the mainland we motored the short distance from Puerto de Savina on Formentera to Espalmador. This is a private island, no more than a mile long and a few hundred metres across, separated by a sand bar from Formentera and it feels just like a Caribbean island, minus the palm trees. The beaches are soft powdery white sand that forms ridges under the glistening clear water. The sea is 31 degrees and sparkles an aquamarine blue, washing over the white sand inviting you to swim. We have anchored about 500 metres from the beach in 5 metres of water and tonight we share the anchorage with about twenty other boats of various shapes and sizes. As night falls the sky has darkened to a crimson streak across the western horizon and over the beach to the East the moon hangs in the air, casting its shimmering light on the water. We had drinks in the cockpit watching the sun go down and now Caroline is in the galley cooking another amazing feast. The generator is rumbling away quietly charging our batteries in the absence of our broken alternator, and we use the power to run the water maker to desalinate sea water and turn it into pure fresh drinking water in our tanks.

We have been here for two days and at last we feel relaxed and at ease after four weeks of relentless passage making. This is what we had imagined when we planned our voyage and we are savouring every moment. Yesterday we took the rib into the port and shopped for bread, newspapers and vodka. The marina was a heaving mass of day trippers from Ibiza, queuing on the pavements for the fast catamaran to ferry them back to the night clubs of San Antonio. The ferry charges into the port in a surge of white water and amidst much shouting and gesticulating its heavy dock lines are looped over large rusty bollards on the dock and a steel pasarelle thumps down in the middle of the queue, sending the waiting holiday makers scrambling for safety. With everyone blaming each other for this near death experience, the drama subsides and the waiting brown bodies are shepherded into lines of plastic seats on deck. With the casual skill that comes from repetition, the crew retrieve the killer pasarelle, free the mooring lines with a flick of the wrist and with a roar from the engines the ferry reverses away from the dock and powers out of the port, a huge rooster tail of white water streaming from its stern. Once more, quiet descends on the port but already the queue is forming for the next ferry. We browse in the boutiques in the port and buy another fishing lure from the chandelry with the usual looks of indignation when i question the efficacy of yet another improbable looking lure, costing 25 Euros and soon to be joining the collection of rusty hooks and brightly coloured baubles that is my tackle box.


We climb thankfully back into the rib and skim across the shimmering water, stopping for lunch at a beach restaurant on Formentera, which is heaving with bodies. The car park is thick with scooters and mopeds and we think of Jamie who spent most of his holiday with us looking for an opportunity to ride a moped. Then it's back to the tranquillity of our bay. We don swimwear and head to the beach and take the footpath through the dunes to the mud baths which are famed for their powers to restore aged skin to its former youthful glow. The mud baths are pools of disgusting looking muddy water that sit within a large inland salt marsh. I step gingerly in and my feet sink into the gooey mud, thankfully only ankle deep. I take a handful of the grey gritty substance and as i spread it on my skin it gives off a strong waft of sulphur which i assume is all part of the rejuvenating process. We cake ourselves in the mud, which after a while feels reasonably pleasant, rather like a coarse exfoliating cream, and then we race into the sea to wash off the goo which has by now caked itself to our bodies. The remarkable thing is that as the mud washes away it leave our skin feeling incredibly soft with a slight oily sheen, but the scent of sulphur lingers as we head back to the boat.

Tomorrow Andrew flies to Ibiza and will join us in the evening for the sail to Palma, our final destination.

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