On our second day with Lara we all went on a boat trip. Not on our own boat, but the previously mentioned Captain Nemo II. Not to the aquarium, which was not to Lara’s taste, but to the Bali Hai island of Vedra. Why not on Lyra you might ask. Well, the weather forecast was for winds from the south and so we needed to travel north to find shelter, but we wanted to see something of the south of the Ibiza and Vedra in particular, so we went with Captain Nemo on one of his other cruises. There was a photographer on board, so we had a reduced family group photo on the foredeck, before heading upstairs for a front seat view. As we set off from the harbour the photographer came up and stood in front of us, blocking said view and holding out a small Ritz cracker. A seagull danced and swerved to one side of her until finally she threw the biscuit, which it caught as it wheeled away. She kept repeating the process until finally a bird took the cracker out of her fingers. At this point she wanted Lara to hold out a cracker for the birds. No chance. I had a go and the gull nabbed the biscuit before the girl could take a picture of me, so I had another try. This time the moment was captured for posterity. Others were offered the opportunity, and one or two had a go and were equally easily robbed of their offering. After there were no further comers the bird settled on top of the boats aerial and came along for the ride.
Our Captain, an attractive swarthy individual, more on the lines of the latest Cap’n Poldark than of old Nemo, kept up an informative commentary in Spanish and English. First we visited a grotto, where smugglers hid their wares, nosing inside with the catamaran close to the cave walls. Then we passed between the islands, and various sea sculpted rocks, at the edge of the bay. Here the water is much too shallow for us to attempt to go in Lyra and is a lovely turquoise blue. The Captain invited us to go down into the bowels of the Nemo to observe the fish through glass windows in the floats. Lara and I dutifully went down and sat on a bench looking out on a few disinterested silver fish dodging about the weed. This bed of weed did not seem to be the type teeming with aquatic life. John decided he had seen enough fish already and stayed up on deck. When we rejoined him the boat headed off to an azure bay with a beach and a number of villas, property of supermodels and sporting heroes. Our attention was drawn to ancient watchtowers, which had been used to raise the alarm if the pirates from Africa showed up. I think in the Spanish commentary the pirates hailed from England as well. Then we were off full speed to Vedra.
The island is formed of arresting pale strata surging straight up from the sea, surrounded by eroded scree. As John and I had first approached Ibiza on Lyra I had been fixated by it off the starboard side, because it was lined up with the lower dark headland in such a way that it looked transparent, the mirage of a floating island. As we now approached Vedra on Nemo the wind from the south shuddered around us, whipping the sea into low level chaos and our seagull friend dropped astern for some shelter. Vedra was chosen to be Bali Hai in the film of the Rogers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific and it is easy to see why the dramatic shape appealed to the film- makers. The odd colour washes employed in the movie may in part have been used to disguise its’ obviously Mediterranean fauna and flora. In real life it is uninhabited except for many sea birds and a few goats. We spotted a couple of the goats clambering around the rocks near the shore as we drew close and the island’s steep sides suddenly sheltered us from the southerly blow. The water in the lee of the island was calm and incredibly deep blue, which we were told was due to its depth. The Captain took the Nemo right up to the screes and idled a while. When we backed away again the water that had been in our shadow was full of narrow, bright fish coiling round one another. The crew threw them some bread, for which they soon had to compete with squadrons of flailing seagulls. We then toured around the island, feeling close enough to touch it. The Captain pointed out stalactites formed by fresh water dripping in a vaulted arch of rock high on the south east side. After this we set off back, calling en route at various Calas to break the journey.
Our first call was just off Vedra in a sheltered bay with a magnificent view of the island, which offered it protection from the south. I could see John mentally filing it away for future reference as a possible anchorage. Those anchored off the beach were no doubt disconcerted by the arrival of such a large tourist boat. Particularly as the Captain dropped anchor and announced that if anyone wished to swim off the back of the boat, now was his or her chance. There were ladders and a couple of slides leading into the water. Lara and I went aft to have a look. A pair of girls had ventured into the water and another two were preparing to follow them. It looked cold, very cold. The engines were maintaining a low level throb and the swimmers clearly did not feel confident to venture too far from the rear of the catamaran. All in all we decided to give it a miss. Our own boat is a much more pleasant proposition to swim behind without the captive audience. After half an hour or so, well after all the swimmers were back on board huddled in their towels, we set off back up the coast. We called in at a couple of other beaches and some more people braved feeding the resident seagull. The photographer came round selling very sharp prints each in a cardboard wallet for six Euros, which most people bought from her. The Captain called on everyone to collect a complimentary glass of cava from the bar and plastic tumblers full were generously dispensed as we reentered the bay of San Antoni and our feathered friend flew off, job done for the day.
Duly feted we were offered the opportunity to tip the crew with any left over change in a bucket conveniently left by the gangplank. As we were docking one lady felt impelled to ensure the Captain was given his tip from her personally and wobbled into the front cabin. Probably not what he really needed at such a moment, but he nodded graciously, while managing to slot in between the other boats and not to ram the quay. All in all it was a trip I would happily recommend.