When we arrived it was definitely not totally tropical. The sky and sea were painted in shades of grey, the sea slick and oily and the clouds bunched and threatening. Even so the party started as we motored into Sant Antoni harbour. A deep penetrating thrum of rhythm started up, reminding me of life at home when our neighbours’ son Michael and I were teenagers. The weather was in sharp contrast to the blue skies and wall to wall sunshine of the last time John and I came to Ibiza nearly thirty years ago. We joined my parents and brother for the October half term week, gatecrashing on Mum and Dad’s holiday. When John and I arrived the three of them were well on their way to going native. They sported impressive tans and wore brilliant white T-shirts with fluorescent logos. They were buzzing with places we could go and things we could do, some they had experienced and others they had been saving till we arrived. We soon caught them up in the tan department having a vestige left from a summer spent trekking in India, as a consequence of which we were also skinny and fit. Another sharp contrast between then and now. My parents were slightly younger than we are now and, looking back, enviably skinny and fit themselves. David had the most even suntan I have ever seen on anyone before or since, the result of a meticulous turning process we were to subsequently witness on the beach. Cala Longa, we all spent a good part of most of our days on that beach. We have good memories of the island, though I do not remember visiting Sant Antoni before. The conical pine covered hills were much as I remembered and the resort is not so high rise as I had feared. After our long day we did not think the reverberating drum beat would disturb our sleep.
We left the Columbretes just after dawn, motoring into a spectacular sunrise in the open gap to sea. The water was choppy even though there was still no wind, but we hoped to sail at some point. From this side the Columbretes strung out behind us like teeth, the one where we had anchored cast as a giant molar. As the day wore on the wind was conspicuous by its absence, though the up side of this was that we could progress at a steady seven knots in a direct line to our destination. Visibility decreased slightly and we turned on the radar overlay when we noticed the blue darts of two fishing boats on the AIS. It was difficult to see a radar trace from either of them, so we turned up the sensitivity and John changed course to go behind them. Suddenly more darts popped up like rabbits from a magic hat. We jinked between them, increased speed to eight knots to go beyond them quickly. Then we encountered a couple of cargo vessels forging along. The passage was tedious, but not uneventful.
The big bonus of the fishing fleet being out was the number of dolphin we saw. We have never seen so many groups in a single day. There were a mixture of small shiny dolphin, bounding beside us and larger darker ones with tiny babies breaking the surface a distance away. A few adults would come alongside and jump into the bow wave, weaving in and out from one another, turning over conversationally under the water. At first we worried we would lead them into the fishing nets, but they broke off before the fishing boats were anywhere near. After a while I began to think they were cleverer than that. Each fishing boat seemed to have a corresponding school of dolphin, gently circulating at a distance. Although they came along with us a way they did not venture close to the boats. I think they associated the fishing fleet with fish finding and tracked the fishermen, poaching from their catch. Perhaps their own echo sounding could pick up the fish finding radar. I am more certain that they jump in order to have a good look at us. When we see dolphin going about their business at a distance they all merely break surface to breathe and yet as they approach us or go alongside they jump high into the air. I think they are people spotting. They lose interest in us before we tire of their company. They brought joy into our long days motor.
Now we are squeezed in between an unoccupied blue boat of similar proportion to Lyra and a low white boat called Friendship, whose occupants popped up like meerkats on our arrival, but disappeared below after talking to the marineras. There were two marineras to help us in, we saw them cycling along the pontoons, as we arrived pointing ahead along C pontoon. We had been allocated C for Charlie 16, we hoped not to make right Charlies of ourselves with the mooring. We need not have worried, for all went well. John reversed in and I held back, despite gestures from the bald headed one to throw the windward line, until I knew I could throw the rope the distance. I then captured the lazy line from him with the boathook and passed it across to John. As John headed down the starboard side threading the lazy line I threw the port rope at the good-looking, younger marinera and hooked a second lazy line from him. He helped me by pushing the boats apart smiling throughout, as I wrestled the slimy lazy line past our assorted fenders. I smiled back and thanked him, but reflected that I would have probably been disgruntled if the bull headed older man had been grinning indulgently at me. I would still have thanked him though. John came to my side and took over the line and with a touch more reverse we were set to lower our drawbridge and explore ashore.