Off to Espalmador

The girls and Johnsey also arrived on Ibiza in a thunderstorm. John and I had been up early and done a supermarket sweep, the kind owners having let us borrow a trolley to take our shopping back to the boat, which we managed to return just as the first big drops of rain began to fall. Then we waited on board and I worried the girls would be frightened by the storm. As it happened Katie and Lara were both so engrossed in their respective books they did not notice the thunder and lightening. Lara was somewhat annoyed by the other passengers breaking into spontaneous applause on landing. They met up with Emma and Johnsey who had landed ten minutes earlier and shared a taxi from the airport. The first thing we knew was Lara striding up the pontoon with her bag, closely followed by her sisters and Johns. After lots of hugs we took them all off to Mambo for lunch and the holiday had begun.

Next day the sun shone, the wind blew just the right amount from a decent direction and we sailed south out of San Antoni Bay. On the way out I was helming and spotted a solitary dolphin. As soon as I sang out it disappeared and they all called shame on me for dragging the late sleepers out of bed on a pretext; but I really did see one. We sailed past Vedra, John and I doing our best to be as informative as Captain Nemo of our tripping day, and on to the island of Espalmador, where we had booked to stay two nights on a buoy. We furled the sails and motored in. Johnsey and I took a boat hook and a rope up front to try to capture one of the buoys. The sight of them was not an encouraging one. There were no handy hoops on the tops to hook and no small pick up buoys to grab, just huge globes in assorted colours way down below in the water. At this point a motorboat rocked up and shouted across to ask if we were booked in for the night. When John said yes he told us to follow him and set off at light speed, behind a surging wake. By the time we caught up with him he had a buoy by the throat, took our line, threaded it on for us and the job was done. We all had a swim off the boat and then John cooked us a delicious ratatouille for tea. That night we sat up on deck stargazing. On the boats around us other crews were doing the same, their masthead lights swaying in the forefront of a dazzling sky, a fleeting tiny floating world of murmuring people and lapping water.


In the morning we had the pleasant surprise of a bread lady coming round by boat with fresh baguettes. Emma and Johns had a pre breakfast swim, but just as Katie joined them a jellyfish stung her, so it was everyone out of the water. Luckily John remembered that very hot water was the best remedy, and followed this by a coating of antihistamine. Katie was very stoical. Meantime, Emma and Johnsey cooked us a full English breakfast, including scrambled eggs laced with feta as a twist, which we all ate on deck in the sunshine. The day turned out to be quite windy with choppy waves. John and I debated the wisdom of taking the dinghy ashore. The outward journey with the direction of the waves would be fine, but the return trip against them promised to be wet and hazardous. In the end we went for it. John assembled the electric outboard. Emma put together a picnic and John set off with it, her, Katie and Johnsey on the understanding that if the crossing proved too rough Lara and I would happily stay onboard and read. We watched them putter to the beach, where the landing in the surf looked so exciting, we prepared to settle down to our books and had a brief chat about what we should eat. At this point John set off back, rode a fierce looking wave and veered off into ropes marking the passage to the beach, shouting at an indifferent deity. Lara and I rushed round shutting hatches, gathering our belongings and locking up. As he approached John called for us to fetch something for him to bail with, the wave that swamped the dinghy as he set off, had brought with it a jellyfish, which had stung him as it slopped about in the boat, causing the wild steering and exclaimed protest. We raced to undo the hatch; Lara filled the kettle and wrangled with the gas as I hurried out with the smallest saucepan. I caught the painter and handed John the pan, at which point he returned his antagonist to the sea. He wanted to set straight off back and not bother with the hot water treatment, so Lara grabbed the antihistamine cream and we scrambled into the dinghy for a wild water ride to shore. Near the surf we passed through a curtain of small brown jellyfish, solid looking like uprooted chestnut mushrooms. Johnsey bravely came out to catch us and we all made the beach without further stings. At this point John rubbed some cream on the horribly sore looking wound on his leg and set off along the shore to walk off the pain with the air of a man who wanted to be alone.

Having made the crossing unscathed it was very pleasant to be off the boat and sitting on the warm, steady sand. It was not entirely static though. The wind that was whipping the waves up also set a steady film of dry sand on the move, coating the towels as we sat, when John returned we battled to keep our picnic up clear of it. It was one of our usual disassembled picnics, though Emma had put together something more elevated than my usual efforts, with thinly sliced cheese, the remains of John’s ratatouille, olives, salad and the fresh bread. Veterans of Steamer Point picnics we managed a fairly grit free lunch. In fact the conditions took us back to Steamer Point and we reminisced to Johnsey about picnics there with the Doyles. As  John and I would grind our way through a shingle peppered assemblage of picnic materials bought en route, while the girls preferred cheese and marmite sandwiches made at home by Auntie Mary and dispensed from the sand free citadel of a large Tupperware container. On this occasion however there was no question of anyone going in for a swim. Instead Lara and I sat with the dinghy while the others explored the nature trail, which led from the beach into a small area of wetland, where they saw red lizards scamper away from them. After this we all sunbathed and read until it was time to ferry back to Lyra. With Emma and Johnsey launching us John, Lara and I made it back first without incident, but on the second trip everyone had been stung and it was hot water and bite cream all round. It brought forth a certain wartime camaraderie. Lara and I cooked tea, a kind of pasta Genovese, with courgette rather than pesto. I felt rather pleased with it. The evening was clouded and a bit too wild for the deck, so we sat in the cockpit and drank beer and wine of the best.






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