Legends of the Sea: From Ibiza to Almeria
You think Ibiza is dead now?
Well yeah, Covid-1984 kind of killed Ibiza. So as we make our way across the Mediterranean headed for the Atlantic aboard the SV Staatenlos, we won’t be partying it up on the island. But we will be searching for the “tip of Atlantis” and maybe some UFOs, or even USOs. 😉
And then a ways southwest of the famous Spanish island, we’ll reach the mainland and disembark in Pirates of the Caribbean territory (yes, it’s in Spain) for a little unmuzzled exploration of Andalusia. So back aboard the Staatenlos and get ready to see some sides of Ibiza you’ve never seen or even imagined…
Our journey from Mallorca to Ibiza began at 4 in the morning. The ride was around 50 nautical miles, which took about 8 hours by catamaran.
A morning like that may sound like a nightmare to many people, but I slept right through it. The sound and sensation of the motor just 20 centimeters behind my head actually feels quite soothing as I sleep. 😴
I woke up to see a beautiful sunrise, and we enjoyed watching dolphins play all around the boat on the way to Ibiza.
We reached the northern coast of Ibiza in the late morning and decided to chill out there for the remainder of the day anchored in a bay called Es Canaret. There were a few other boats there during the day, but we were the only ones still anchored there by nightfall.
There were a few farms and a picturesque little castle in the nearby town of Portinatx, but, other than that, it was pretty empty and isolated.
Johannes and Max wanted to go scuba diving, but after we brought them to town, they realized it was a bad idea because not even taxis could access the area.
I had a good, typical day anyway as I did some work, swam, and scootered around the bay. In the evening, we all enjoyed some tasty barbecue. I’m sure you haven’t yet forgotten about all of the meat we picked up at our last stop in Mallorca. 😉
The next morning I had plans with a local couple from Ibiza whom I had met previously on a trip to Panama. They came out to meet us in this secluded bay, and we took them out on the boat for the entire day.
We sailed halfway around Ibiza, beginning in Es Canaret in the northeast and continuing all the way down to a bay named Porroig in the southwest.
A lot of towns along the northern coastline are practically inaccessible by land, so those tend to be popular with many sailboats. Many of these towns along the way have what’s best described as “hippie vibes.” 😆
We stopped at such a place to get fuel, which we hadn’t done in Mallorca, then continued farther down along the coast.
We saw some nice little islands and a great arch as we sailed on.
We made another stop at Platges de Comte, a beach famous for its clear turquoise water and its spectacular sunsets. We spent about an hour there just relaxing, splashing around in the crystal blue water, and soaking up the sun before continuing on our way.
The tip of Atlantis?
Farther down, we came across a place so mystical, so mysterious, that you’ve likely never heard its name but only rumors and myths of its very existence. Believe it or not, the limestone rock island we came across next is the stuff that legends are made of.
Its name is Es Vedra, and the primary reason for its infamy is that many people actually believe it is the visible tip of the fabled sunken city of Atlantis.
As if that weren’t legendary enough, the island is also believed to have an otherworldly history. What that history is, precisely, varies depending on whom you ask.
Some say that the island was the birthplace of a Phoenician goddess that was populated by sea nymphs and sirens long ago. An alternate story claims that the island was once home to a giant who huddled among the caves there. Others insist on the prevalence of UFO and USO (unidentified flying objects and unidentified swimming objects) sightings in the immediate area. There have supposedly been reports made of bizarre circles of light emanating from the depths of the sea here.
Statements have been made calling this island one of the most magnetic places on earth, which might explain some of the oddities surrounding the place if it were true… but science says there are no special magnetic properties of the island.
No matter what you believe about this strange little island, no one can deny that the sight of that giant rock jutting out of the water is impressive.
Es Vedra boasts a peak almost 400 meters high and has a passage just 200 meters wide, which we sailed through.
It’s a popular place for people to take photos of the island from shore because it sits on the sunset side of Ibiza. We were there too early to see the sunset, but seeing this fantastical place up close and sailing between its rocks was unforgettable.
We continued onward and set anchor in a bay near a town called Porroig. From there, it’s only about 50 miles to go directly to mainland Spain, but the journey we took was a bit longer.
In Porroig, we said goodbye to the couple who had joined us in sailing from Es Canaret. We had wanted to all go eat dinner together, but thanks to the mass covid hysteria, Ibiza is basically dead.
It’s almost impossible to find any restaurant still open and serving food past 7 p.m., and of course, that’s the time we arrived. We gave up after walking around for half an hour trying to find a place to eat, and we just had a drink instead before saying goodbye and parting ways.
Balearic Island Hopping
We still had Maximilian with us, and the next morning we were also joined by two new guests. These German girls had written to me when they saw that the boat was in Ibiza, so they hopped aboard and joined us for a short day trip.
We sailed just about 10 kilometers to Formentera, the small sandy sister island south of Ibiza with amazing beaches. We were lucky to have much better weather now than we’d faced in Mallorca. It was just a bit cold outside, and the water felt warm in contrast to the fresh air.
Next, we sailed to a small, rocky island called Espalmador, which is nestled in between Formentera and Ibiza. It was a really nice bay with another stunning beach, so we hung out there for most of the day before moving on to Formentera proper, which had yet another great beach for us to enjoy.
At this beach, my skipper Josh and I took the dinghy to drop off the girls and finally say goodbye to our friend Maximilian. We brought them into town and then prepared everything for our departure.
The weather was still decent, but there was another storm already brewing in the south of Spain. If you followed our journey from Montenegro to Mallorca, then you know that we’ve already been stuck in enough storms to last us a lifetime. We decided to finally sail away from the Balearic Islands to avoid spending another week stuck there battling big waves and bad weather.
Off to the mainland
At sunset, we set sail, leaving Ibiza and Formentera behind us. We had a good night of sailing – actually, more than a full day of sailing – ahead to reach the mainland coast of Spain.
I volunteered to take the first night watch, which meant I had to stay alert basically from 6 p.m. until 2 a.m. The boat is steered by autopilot, so I just had to make sure that it didn’t crash into any other ships in the night. There wasn’t much traffic, but we did pass by a few other boats that were still visible on the radar even in the dark.
I got a good night’s sleep after my late shift, and I awoke in the morning to see nothing but the blue sea and the sky all around me. While we had simply sailed through most of the night, we also used the motor a bit to help us stay ahead of the storm.
Our first glimpse of the Iberian Peninsula was passing Cabo de Palos in the distance. It was a relief to see land again after so many hours at sea, but we were still 12 hours away from our destination.
Our next land sighting was down the Spanish coast near the city of Cartagena. Shortly thereafter, we were joined by another pod of dolphins, who added a little bit of levity to the long journey.
Unmuzzled in Andalusia
Finally, we arrived at the mainland in the southeast Andalusia region and headed straight to one of the best beaches in Spain. Playa de los Genoveses is famous because a lot of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies were filmed there. No one else was really around, so we got to enjoy the gorgeous bay pretty much all to ourselves.
We knew that a heavy storm was on the way, but this time we were prepared. We thought this bay would perfectly protect us against the strong western winds which would arrive that night, so we dropped anchor and went to sleep there.
When the wind began roaring that night, reaching up to 40 knots, we were glad that our anchor held fast. Still, those high waves were no fun for either of us. Josh couldn’t sleep much because he had to keep an eye on the anchor, and I did my best to catch some sleep despite the rough waves.
The next day there were still heavy wind and high waves, so we decided to just sail a short 15 kilometers to Almeria, the capital of the province, which has a bay in the south.
It was a rough ride, and we sailed pretty close to the rocks by the lighthouse. It only took about two hours to get around Cabo de Gata, a cape in the south of Spain that is well known for its very rocky, moon-like landscape.
When we arrived in Almeria, we were relieved to find the sea a bit smoother and less wavy there.
We found a berth in the port of Almeria near the waiting dock, which is where we anchored for the night.
I spent my free time in the afternoon exploring Almeria, a city positioned between the mountains and the beach, which was historically the biggest and wealthiest port in Moorish Spain.
The old Moorish fort of Almeria is Andalusia’s second-largest Muslim fortress, after the famous Alhambra of Grenada. I hiked up, explored the area, found a scenic viewpoint, and walked a bit through town.
I made the most of my day by enjoying an ice cream too, and watching a segment on mainland Spanish T.V. called “Cure Coronavirus.”
By the way, my visit to Almeria was back in October. Now in December, the Covid-1984 vaccine is being rolled out, but there still is no cure for the harmless flu and the lockdowns, especially in Europe, have gotten much worse.
At the time we were in Spain, masks were required everywhere – whether you were outside or inside, near other people, or completely alone with no one around.
Despite these requirements, our experience of the situation was that the rules were not so strictly enforced.
Most of the time, the majority of us never even properly wore a mask. We would have it on, but wear it pulled down under our noses or mouths. No one stopped us, and we never had any issues.
So, officially, the situation was quite strict in Spain. Unofficially, the people there will mostly leave you in peace. No one really gave us dirty looks or made mean comments about us not wearing a mask, and some of the locals wore their masks the same way as us.
I enjoyed walking around unmuzzled, had a delicious dinner and some tapas in Almeria, and slept blissfully back on the boat with no knowledge that another crazy coronavirus crackdown was imminent – and this one would attempt to cramp our style.
Stay tuned for an upcoming post about our last days of freedom before the second Spanish lockdown…