Saturday 8 September 2012


We have returned to Espalmador, the island we first visited almost exactly a year ago on our passage from Ipswich. It is still as we remember: a low spit of sand running north to south, turning west around the bay, almost meeting the reef and creating the perfect protected anchorage with just a narrow gap that allows us in, with only a meter under the keel. Once inside the bay, the water deepens and turns aquamarine as it washes over the white sand and rolls onto the beach and beyond, the dunes covered with pampas grass sway in the warm air.

When we left Palma only two days ago, the hot weather had finally broken and the strongest Mistral of the summer was on the war path with 50 knots and 6 metre waves in the straights of Bonifaccio and even in Palma, 250 miles further west, the low pressure system was spreading menacing black clouds over the city. As we motor out of the port, I hurry to set up the sheets which have been coiled and hung on the forestay while in port, but now we need them to harness our sails as a thunder storm bears down on us from astern, whipping up the sea and blotting out the familiar gothic skyline of Palma. Jamie and Sophie are still asleep in their cabins and I send Fatty down below and close the companionway hatch as the rain blows under the bimini and into the cockpit. I am wearing my foul weather gear over my shorts and T shirt and for the first time since the spring the wind is blowing hard and I am thinking about the sail plan. With the squall dead astern I opt for just the genoa, and suddenly we have 25 knots with more in the gusts and we are surfing downwind, perfect conditions for our 70 mile crossing to Ibiza.

Showing my growing confidence in Juno, I track the squalls on the radar and rather than steering to avoid the storm, I shape our course to stay inside the band of strong wind under the storm clouds which are being driven east by the Mistral. As the front moves overhead, the wind backs to the North and we are reaching at 11 knots in heavy rain, a far cry from our passages in July and August over calm seas and scorching sun with the engine our only source of energy. The Mistral has been blowing for 3 days and by the time we make landfall the big swell has worked its way into every bay and cove on the indented eastern coast of Ibiza and we decide to seek the protection of the marina in Puerto Eulalia. After an evening in the port we fill up with fuel and water and make for Espalmador, the small private island separated from the Northern tip of Formentera by 50 metres of photogenic white surf.

We have promised Jamie and Sophie a week of sun, sand and relaxation before they return to the UK to start university life, so we set our anchor deep in the sand, open all the hatches and Juno becomes a seaside cottage, with gorgeous views, warm sea and a short swim to the beach. Our tender becomes our open top sports car and we use it for trips into the port of Savina on Formentera and to transport us to other beaches along this sandy, sheltered coastline. Yesterday we decided to explore the island of Formentera so we tied up our rib in the port and hired two bright red scooters, with me and Sophie on one, and Jamie driving Fatty on the other. After a morning touring the island we go to Es Pujols, a small town on the East coast renowned for its popularity with Italians and therefore somewhere we are confident of finding great pasta. The town is really just a few shops and a strip of Italian restaurants along a wooden board walk that skirts a beach and then disappears into the sand dunes. We try windsurfing and paddle boarding and then its back to the port to return our scooters and head for the sunset bar.

Fatty's guide book says that we must go to a beach bar called Tiburon where everyone meets for cocktails to watch the sun set. We pull our tender high up on the soft sand and order Mojitos from the tented bar which is set a few steps up above the beach on the dunes. Inside the bar and on the beach is an eclectic mix of dress, from bikinis and shorts, to silk dresses and white linen and we join this happy crowd, sitting on the sand with our shorts still wet from the sea, drinking cocktails and eating hunks of freshly baked baguette. The sea is calm, with gentle pulses of water that wash slowly up the beach then slide back across the soft sand and disappear in the pink and lilac glow of the setting sun. As dusk starts to settle, the voices fall silent and only the evocative sound of Pink Floyd drifts across the sand and we watch spellbound as the huge red sun sinks slowly over the horizon. As the final sliver of crimson disappears into the sea a round of applause breaks the spell and with the daily ritual over, the bar resumes its thumping beat.

It is now just before dawn and still dark as we motor quietly out of the harbour at Ibiza. Yesterday we left our idyll on Espalmador and docked in the port of Eivissa to enable Jamie and Sophie to make a pilgrimage to Pacha, one of the world's most famous night clubs which is in the town of Ibiza, known as the clubbing capital of Europe. Pacha started as a small finca in the old town playing music for holiday makers and has now become a global brand featuring a huge dance club with 15 bars, famous DJs and a clubbers haven where 5,000 excited young pilgrims dressed in glamorous outfits gather every night during the summer months. Pacha opens its fluorescent purple doors at midnight and closes at dawn and Sophie and Jamie return to Juno to sleep as I am preparing the lines to cast off. Everyone is now asleep down below as we motor east back to Mallorca and sitting in the cockpit my mind turns again to The List. Fatty will be leaving on Monday with Jamie and Sophie to get them back to university and I will apply myself to preparing Juno for the start of her journey west to the Canary Islands.


  1. I hope you didnt spend too much money on those Mojito's - you know that's my party piece!!

  2. But we only had one each Suelo. If you had been there .....