Wednesday, 19 December 2007
I have recently returned from Ibiza where work held me hostage for 10 days. A mix up with the ferry reservation meant that I had to stay two days longer than ideal, but that wasn’t a problem; my closest friend lives on the island. He arranged a scooter for me and I spent a pleasant day exploring some of the coastline.
Ibiza is well known for its club scene, its appeal to lascivious tourists on drug and alcohol fuelled sex quests and its new breed of super-gentry and their Hollywood style hillside residences. 30 years ago the island was still a Mediterranean peasant culture, today it is a hotchpotch of well heeled northern Europeans, old hippies, islanders and itinerant workers.
What the island is not so well recognised for is its suitability for small boat cruising.
I guided my Yamaha steed through pine woods, along twisting roads and down impossibly steep and bendy dirt tracks to discover fantastically calm coves even when the wind at sea was a boisterous force 5. Places like Cala Carbó or Cala Vedella on the southwest coast are enough to make a small boat owner with dreams of cruising drool. Shallow, millpond calm sea right up to the beach perfect for landing and hauling the boat ashore, crystal water, pale sand and nooks under cliffs for camping. Many beaches like Cala d’Hort have restaurants others like Cala Xuncla have nothing but a small sandy beach, large rocks and pine trees. And all of these places are off limits to the growling plastic super yachts that criss cross the wider, deeper waters.
This is Es Vedra, a towering rock island off the southwest of Ibiza, which dominates the view from Cala d’Hort. The rock is said to possess a weird magnetism, and certainly one’s eyes are always drawn towards it, but I was more interested in the channel between the rock and the main island. Locally known as el canal de la muerte, the channel of death, with anything above a force four from the west vicious tornados form. Waves jostling and jockeying through the gap steepen and break and boats would do well to avoid it.
Cala d’Hort, small fishing boats are winched up rails into the boatsheds.
Cala Vedella, calm in force five.Calm Talamanca Bay.
Elderly girls in need of restoration.
Great food from La Grande Bouffe catering Ibiza
I took the night ferry back to Barcelona. Westerlies had swung to Easterlies pumping large waves into the usually calm Bahia de Talamanca. As we pulled away from the Balearic archipelago and into the open Mediterranean the seas grew bigger. Lying on my bunk, listening to the ferry’s vast structure groan, it seemed I was, alternately, hovering weightlessly over my bed and being crushed into my pillow. Sleep being unforthcoming I dressed and went on deck. It was 4 o’clock in the morning; an apparent wind of about 30 knots was whipping the deck puddles to fury as they sloshed from one side to another forcing icy water through the stitching in my shoes. Lightning quickstepped across the utter blackness that enveloped the world outside the ship. And from the east came dark beasts of rollers, their crests glowing in the lights from the ferry as they smashed into our frothing wake. I felt a wild vertigo; my hands gripping the freezing rail, the wind tearing at my face, eyes running, the cold needling through my clothing as the huge ferry lurched beneath me. I may even have screamed back at the elements, like a dog barking from behind the leg of his owner, elated to be experiencing these conditions from the security of a ship.