For images go to gallery here.
It is the end of September, 2013. I am aboard a 65ft ketch, cruising the Balearic Islands off the southeast coast of Spain, in the Mediterrranean Sea. Our itinery includes a circumnavigation of the island of Ibiza, and a crossing to the island of Majorca where we plan to disembark at Palma.
The title of this story is “El Vida del Vagabondo” in honour of our Chef, Roberto. Roberto’s culinary extravaganza made this truly a gourmet circumnavigation of Ibiza.
Why here? Well, it is a bit of a narrative, so please join me. The characters are yours truly the author, our American friend Chef Gin Sling (from our previous Cruise of the Blue Moon), and two new characters “Mon Capitaine”, with Luca Lianza, his trusty side kick Chef Roberto, all on the good ship, “Miaplacidus”.
In the course of my researches on yachts I discovered a handsome 65ft ketch rigged yacht designed by Mr. Dietier Empacher of the United States, and built by Kanter Yachts of Canada. Mr. Empacher can be found on the internet, and I gather he is now semi retired, but still does some design work from his office in Newport, Rhode Island. He is an eclectic designer, power boats, yachts, and even rowing sculls. We did have some communication about a year ago, when I was running down this design and whether in fact Kanter was still building. The plans of this yacht are still available, but not on CAD. He served his time with the late Mr. Ted Hood, and the Hood influence is shown in this yacht–broadly speaking, separate skeg-mounted rudder, centreboard, reasonable volume hull above waterline, to which he has taken a design approach to par down the wetted surface of the yacht. This is not a racing yacht but was designed as a fast cruiser and built circa 1985. Ted Hood didn’t mind yachts with displacement. He emphasised that it was not the displacement of the yacht that determined light wind performance, but the hull shape–despite a heavy displacement, an easily driven hull was still fast in light winds (like our “Beyond II”); and, in heavy weather, displacement was on your side, as there would be ample wind to achieve hull speed, but also ample weight to achieve a degree of inertia in the water so the yacht was less subject to being thrown around by the sea and had a more comfortable ride, which is easier on the crew. Such performance endears a yacht to its crew, giving safety and confidence in the design when it is needed most, in rough weather. Sailors, even grizzled old Roaring Forties men like the author, who go to sea in such yachts speak of them in tender terms, and with deep affection.
Ted Hood did a series of similar yachts known as the Little Harbour series and many have centreboards to cope with cruising the shallower waters of the Chesapeake Bay, and the eastern US out to the Caribbean. Many of these Ted Hood yachts were built in fibreglass in Taiwan but unfortunately, as with many older fibreglass boats, their hulls are now showing the effects of time with osmosis, and are having to be treated for this. A number of these fine craft can be found listed for sale on the internet. The 63 ft is my favourite. They sport sumptuous teak interiors as they were built in the days when Asian labour costs were lower, and select teak and mahogany timber were available.
Mr. Empacher’s design can still be found on the Kanter Website, and I have included in the accompanying gallery images borrowed from the Kanter website. Two were built, the centre board version which came in at about 65 ft, and the fixed keel pilot house version at about 67 ft and slightly greater displacement. Our yacht was christened the “Ramona V” and was owned initially in Northeastern, United States. The other version was built for an Englishman in about 1985, at a cost of US $2-2.5 M. I know because I contacted this man, who was very accommodating with his time, and spoke in raptures of the yacht, even describing her sailing performance as “wicked” having done an Atlantic crossing in her with his family. This yacht was built in steel below the waterline, and alloy above, and ours all alloy. I have not been able to track down this vessel, but think she may be in Gibralter. I can’t recall exactly how I found “Ramona V” as my enquiries to her first owners went un answered, but she had eventually been purchased by an Italian, actually he will correct me here, a Sicilian, Cap’n Luca Lianza, who renamed her “Miaplacidus” about 11 years ago, and she now charters in the Med. Cap’n Luca and I have negotiated this private charter over the past year, and finally we met for the first time in Ibiza.
Kanter Yachts have built some fine yachts over their time, including the “Te Mana” owned by my cruising buddy Anne-Marie Lannigan (see “Summer Cruise to the Pittwater”) of Lyman Morse Yachts in Maine, USA. It is my information that with the retirement of Mr. Kanter, Senior, and the impact of the GFC which saw private yacht construction come to a standstill, that these two fine Empacher yachts will probably be the only ones built by this yard.
I like the layout of “Miaplacidus”, with decent aft cabin and attached head, a Captain’s cabin to the starboard side, a twelve foot long galley to port, then a spacious main cabin with navigatorium on the starboard side (with seat facing aft so Navigator can look up the companion way) then two forward cabins port and starboard through to heads. On “Miaplacidus” a timber partition forms another cabin used for charter work on the starboard side of the main cabin. She is ketch-rigged with twin head sails. Of these there is a decent genoa, but a smaller inner staysail which probably works as a heavy weather sail as the yacht is usually sailed with single headsail, rather than as a cutter. The design shows an overlapping IOR style genoa, and Capitaine is working on a system to install a roller at the forward end of the bowsprit to accommodate a light weather genoa, as lighter weather is more common in the Med. The engine room is tight, but functional as the design has been carefully crafted to achieve the most ergonomic use of interior volume.
Cap’n Luca is a good man, and loves his yacht. His charter information is found on www.interyachtcharter.com and videos of his adventures here. A charter company handles chartering arrangements, and their charges are reasonable. Essentially, the way it works is that you pay a daily rate for the boat which includes Cap ‘n and Crew. Our crew was actually the Chef, the ever-effervescent Roberto. In addition to the daily rate the charterer is responsible for fuel, food, marina fees, and drinks. Charterer pays also for food for the Captain and Crew, which is no imposition. Payment for the charter is required in advance, and I was able to pre-pay about half six months prior, and the balance a month before which I felt was reasonable. You do hear horror stories of charterers paying their money in advance, and flying to the Med only to find no boat waiting for them! Cap’n Luca was on the ball with this communications, and we developed a trust in the course of our business affairs.
First impressions, the boat was well found with good sturdy gear. It was set up for real men who have salt water not electricity in their veins, as except for the main halyard, all winches are manual. Both masts have running back stays; but at the marina when these are slackened off, there is no aft rake to the alloy mast which is probably sensible when you think about it, best unload the mast when it is not sailing as if you load any structure it will adopt that shape over time. I think that probably applies to carbon fibre mast as well, and would appreciate comment from readers on this point. They were disembarking their crew from the previous week’s charter where they had been filming promo video. Now don’t go expecting this to be an ultra flash yacht, understand you are not chartering a near-new Oyster (but you are also not paying that rate) it presents as you would expect for a near 30 year old yacht. Down below she is basically tidy, though in places the varnish work is due for refurbishment. Roberto had a welcome cocktail for us, and we chatted with the departing guests after a tour of the boat. Our plan was set, we disembark at 1000hrs tomorrow morning.
Roberto kindly escorted us back to the waterfront area near the Club Nautico, and recommended a authentic Spanish restaurant the “Porto Salc” which is just a block or two in from the waterfront, in an older and very picturesque area of Ibiza where the buildings are painted in colourful Mediterranean colours. Address, Castelar, 5, Ibiza, phone 971 31 11 16. We enquired also of a “Momma and Poppa” smaller restaurant, friends of Roberto (in this neck of the woods, we were to discover, who was not a friend of Roberto?). But, they only open about 9 pm in the evening in keeping with the social pattern of Ibiza where most of the tourists are attracted by the night life. We enjoyed the Tapas menu, guided by Roberto, who has worked as Chef in his own restaurant, in Madrid, but now Chefs for Cap’n Luca for half of the year, and for the other half travels and lives beachside in Brazil. Hence, La Vida del Vagubundo. Somehow, I am envious of this bloke! Notable and new delicacies were deep friend baby squid, “chipirones”, each about an inch long and crispy fried, salted fresh-caught sardines done in olive oil and garlic, “sardines a la plancha”, fresh bread with garlic mayonnaise; a local fish, a type of cod, “bacalao”, in a light batter which was absolutely delicious. The final course, deep fried green pepper, “pepito”. This salty fare was thirsty work, and we washed it all down with San Miguel beer, from the Philipines. Total bill for three was about E 80 with the glasses of beer about E 3 each, times six. None of your weary travellers lasted much after this, and we returned to crash out by 9 pm at our Hotel Torres del Mar, a short cab ride away. This is a nice hotel with recently renovated rooms, each with sea view balconies, the soft sounds of waves breaking on the shore of the Isla Blanca, named for its white limestone rock substrate.
I might just go back to travel arrangements in case the reader decides to charter Cap’n Luca, and Roberto. I was fortunate to receive some sponsorship to a Medical Retina meeting in Hamburg to which I will return after the charter. First time with Emirates, and I was impressed, so much so that I will fly with them next time to Europe–readers may wish to review my comment about Singapore Airlines in my article “Astride the Equator”. This trip was booked as code share with Qantas, but surprisingly they did not have my frequent flyer number in the computer, but it was Qantas in name only; I am not sure why Emirates would even bother with Qantas, as they are not in the same league. The Emirates experience started well in Brisbane, Australia. Brisk, polite, check-in then off to the lounge for obligatoire glasses of Veuve Cliquot and sumptuous fare including mixed salted nuts, sliced pan-seared Tuna, Prawn and Squid Salad, and a selection of hot entrees. I enjoyed a fresh-baked beef and mushroom pie capped off with tomato sauce–Veuve NV is a superb Pinot style champagne, which to this Neanderthal goes with anything! Near physical restraint was required, as a dinner was still to come on the plane. I am definitely of the opinion that many main-stream carriers are missing the point: give your passengers great service together with food and drink of top quality, they will fly with you. In my opinion, at least in the Western World, there is no non-government industry more insensitive to their customers than the airlines.
We were off on time for a 12 hour leg up to Dubai; from Brisbane this is mostly overnight, which I discovered works out well, have a meal, and then lie your modular sleeping bed down flat, and get off to sleep. The in-flight champagne was Moet and Chandon NV which is a disappointing wine, especially when you consider that this famous house is capable of the very best in Champagne, namely their Grand Marque Dom Perignon, and Dom Perignon Rose, both tributes to the genius of their Chief Winemaker Richard Geoffret. Even the regular Vintage Brut is heads and shoulders above the NV. So I opted for a glass of the French Red a secondary Gruard Larosse, which had oaky forest overtones. A mixed green salad came first, bread rolls, a delicious serving of Gravillax salmon in olive oil, with capers and as a main I had the lamb filet which was excellent. Dessert was a plate of fresh fruit. A comment also on an extensive range of in-flight movies, which were most enjoyable. I can’t speak for my readers but by the time I am aboard for an expedition I have usually been going hard in preparation, and am ready to crash. So a good drink, meal, and a film can’t be beat.
Films. I really don’t get to movie houses at home, so particularly enjoy in-flight movies. “The Emperor”, depicts events in immediate post-war Japan and the steps General McArthur took to retain the Emperor as titular leader of Japan, a necessary and in retrospect very wise decision to gain the support of the conquered Japanese in the rebuilding of their country. This was a controversial decision at the time as the American public was out for blood; having won the war, McArthur was faced with even harder task of winning the peace. This film is well researched and conveys keen insights into Japanese culture and society, something of interest to this traveller who always finds his trips to Japan delightful. The new “Superman” movie is a block buster with plenty of action and, takes you back to the early history of Superman, “more powerful than a speeding locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s……”. Another film enjoyed was “After the Earth”, when the human population is relocated to another planet after mankind has brought about destruction of the earth. Some great special effects, and new monsters as well. There is a section on classic films, so worth re visiting “Key Largo” a perennial with Humphrey Bogart and the divine Lauren Bacall. I also took a look at “Rommel” with James Mason a historic film that traces the eventual demise of Rommel at the hands of a psychopathic Adolph Hitler. I watched this film with a hearty breakfast of croissants, baked beans, grilled tomatoes, sausage, and hot coffee just before landing in Hamburg, Germany.
Flying in I was struck by how much the manicured green fields, and patches of forest actually resembled New Zealand. I have never been to Germany before, but knew a bit about the place as student of war history, having probably read every book on World War II history. Hamburg Airport is the cleanest airport I have ever been to; and first impression about the Germans I met, they are a content lot, well dressed, and well presented. There is a feeling of both affluence and order about the place. My ever-trusty travel agent Sharen Shelnutt of Sydney had booked me into the Radisson just adjacent to the airport. Take some E 1 coins for the luggage trolleys and wheel the whole lot over to the Hotel. The city fathers of Hamburg have seen fit to impose a Cultural Tax which will be warmly received by the already over-charged tourist, but this can be avoided by registering as a commercial traveler. I did not have time for culture anyway, as I was outa there the next morning. The room was comfortable, clean, and had good air. I slept till 2:30 am local time, then enjoyed the treats of the in room Nespresso machine and prepared for the morning’s travel to Ibiza via Dusseldorf. Business class on Lufthansa was ordinary in terms of catering, however there was no waiting in line and bags were checked through to Ibiza, some 40 kg with snorkelling and sailing gear, no questions asked.
We flew down across Germany, then France, and met with the coast above Marseille. I think I spied the Rhone River in the process. As we approached the Balearic Islands, I noted the steep cliffs of Mallorca, and clear Mediterranean waters, as we banked to land at the island of Ibiza. Ibiza known as one of the Islas Blances is a limestone island, hence the white cliffs and rocky coastline. It was warm maybe 75 degrees F. The Baleric Islands are part of Spain, so Spanish se hablen Espanol aqui. I was soon in a taxi, with a quoted tariff, and off to the Hotel Torre del Mar, about 20 minutes from the airport. The other half of our contingent, Chef Gin Sling had arrived an hour before and found me in the lobby. Gin Sling, who is fluent in Spanish, considers procurement to be an art form, and soon had us organised sitting on the balcony enjoying ice cold gin and tonics, admiring the sea view and watching all manner of craft coming and going into the Puerto del Ibiza. Our hotel arrangements were orchestrated by our very own “Manuel” a lovely gentleman named Pedro, with manicured moustache and exemplary old world manners who became our “go to” man. He was also”computador” savvy, and got us linked to the outside world on wi fi.
Ibiza is a rock island, with a higher and cooler interior. The higher areas have such names as Sierra de Beniferri, Sierra Grossa, and Sierra del la Mola. One is Santa Gertrudis, the name of a breed of cattle, which in keeping with local conditions, is now raised in the harsh dry conditions of the Australian outback. There is a monument roadside to a certain breed of dog, also typical of the area. The island is about 25 miles long, and is reasonably heavily populated as it is a popular tourist destination. Agriculture is practiced here with Mediterranean crops of grapes, tomatoes, and olives. The commonest harvest though is tourists; on the way driving to San Antonio Abad where we thought our ship was berthed you see mega night clubs of Privilege and another suitably called Amnesia. Another is the Ushuia, named for a town I have visited at the southern tip of Argentina, a jumping off point for Antarctic cruises. .
We scouted the marinas of San Antonio where many yachts are berthed, and actually found not our yacht, but a classic timber Phillip Rhodes design, the “Elga”, also known as “Gael” which is written up in the book “Vintage Yachts of the World” by Flavio Serafini, 2003. Some 76 ft overall, this traditional ketch motorsailer captivated the authors eye, and he was soon in conversation with Tom its Sailing Master. He had been with the yacht for a year and half; the boat owned by a syndicate including two Australians. She was built by Abeking and Rasmusen in the 1960s of double planked teak, and iriko for the keel. The masts had been out in France in the last year and are traditional hollow Sitka Spruce. The varnish work glowed immaculate in the afternoon sun. The ship is soon to come on the market, and the owner’s representative Mr. Tim Thompson can be contacted at email@example.com . I picked the design from the shape of the deckhouse windows, and the un-mistakable shape of the hull with its classic sea-going proportions, and swept sheer line–what is there not to love? A ship with these lines would be an excellent sea boat, which was attested to by the Sailing Master, Tom. However, you would be limited in a place to put any tender over 5 m, or even a decent rigid rowing dinghy. In construction, she is two layers of teak, abutted edge to edge without splines. Without some material between the outer edges of the planks (on the water side) there would be the potential for leaks, and a cursory look at the exterior of the hull above and below the waterline shows the outline of planks, which suggests they may be “working”. In discussing this with our Capitaine who has worked on caulking timber yachts, it would be a lengthy process to create a spline channel where the planks touch, then nail and glue in a wooden spline to effectively seal the plank to plank join. Obviously, further information is needed on exactly how she was built, before a full assessment can be made. Our yacht “Beyond II” was of carvel planking and spline construction. “Elga” is a beautiful and ageless design. I lament the fact that such yachts are no longer built.
On Sunday, we embarked; and really you could be in another world, so far removed from the Gold Coast of Australia. There is “in your face” mega wealth here with private vessels that are literally ocean liners, mainly owned by wealthy Arabs. Next to us at the dock, right out of the pages of my friend Lawrie Crooks’ book, the “Classic Yachts of the Mediterranean”, was a Milne design “Amilia”, a timber ketch with red stained teak varnished to perfection. Later in the day, we caught up with both these classics “Amilia” and “Elga”, and a new Sangermani yacht at the marina at Formentera where we sailed on our first day. We enjoyed a sunny day with light winds. We set the cruising genoa, jib staysail, and full main, our best combination available for windward work. The wind was fitful, but we soldiered on finding she would do about 3.5 to 4 knts at 45-45 degrees to the wind with centreboard down. With the southwest to west wind we pretty much laid to Isla Espardell, and from there put in several tacks across to Isla Ahorcados, then were able to slip through the entrance on the outside of the Freu Grande light, laid a course which had us just clear Isla Gastabi and later in the afternoon we fetched the beach at Playa del Caball Borras near La Sabina, in company with cruising yachts of all description. . Anchored in gin-clear water, we settled into a relaxing afternoon with a Roberto classic repast.
Lunch today: for starters, a mixed bruschetta platter, with the classic tomato and garlic with olive oil. Sardines were on the menu, as described in the Chef’s Italian, “sardines con limone a fete tritato”–the essence here is to finely chop the lemon and to lightly fry it, so the tart citrus flavour is preserved. Quite unique. This tantalising starter was followed by the ravioli of the day, a “pasta fresco with cernia, branzino, and gambrel e zucchini”. Our main course was fish– “occhiata cotta al cartoccio vita lemon salt e prezemolo”. This was accompanied by a potato dish, where the potato chunks were first fried to seal their surface with garlic in extravirgin olive oil, then cooked “al vapore” in water till the water boiled off and the juice became some what glutinous, then garnished with prezzemelo (like a big parsley) and black sale from Persia (actually the Black Sea), and black pepper. Wines with lunch, were both from Rioja (pronounced “rio ka”), Spain. One, the Marques de Caceres, 2012 is the more fully bodied wine of the two we tried, with sauvignon blanc qualities, but perhaps less apparently fruity (fruitata), though both were citrusy enough to carry well with the delicious food. These wines are made from a grape called Viura.
After a post prandial rest, I had a swim and worked on the waterline with abrasive pad just to keep the ship well presented. Towards a lingering sunset Capitaine took Madame Gin Sling and I ashore for a look around the marina. The water is very clear (wish we had that in New Zealand) and brown jellyfish were seen as the only living thing in the waters; one of them left a welcome greeting on the back of my hand which was to remind me of its presence over the next week, so stinger suits, hood, and gloves for swimming.
Apart from the cuisine, we had a multi lingual crew, Captaine speaking good English, Gin Sling and I communicating with Chef in Spanish. New vocabulary was acquired, including some more salty terms, like today’ s new words, Carra de Culo (asshole, or the face of the arse!) to be applied liberally if required, but never to the ship’s complement.
Our first night, and we opted for a salad dinner, with a Spanish bread, Picos, and a new receipe, the “Insalata Roberto” a gourmet extravaganza of sesame seed, spinach, olive oil, Worchestshire sauce, smoked salmon, corte de jills (baby eel) with cashew nut and a hint of anacardi, which is a type of cashew.
Next morning I was up before the dawn to admire a fiery red sunrise, and enjoyed a cafe Italiano and got stuck into writing the log as there were some many new experiences to enjoy. After a scrambled eggs and bacon breakfast, we upped anchor, and set the genoa for a motor sail to retrace our course, turning to starboard at Isla Puercos then trucked down the east side of Isla Espalmador, to anchor up under the headland, Punta Prima. We spent the best part of the day here and with Roberto checked out the local waterfront at La Savina and taxied to San Francisco which I like more as the central part of town which had stone pavement and narrow roads with an old church at the apex, with as a feature of the Spanish traditional churches, an external bell, la camparna.
Lunch, and I knew we were in for a treat with the Chef’s special. Imagine…in a pan, garlic, tomato paste, dash of sugar, basil, mozzarella and parmigana as a base, in which to lightly fry aubergine, Roberto’s “Aubergine parmigana”. Just delicious, with sliced fried mushrooms.
Just adjacent on the rocky shore at La Savina is a Grotto and a nice snorkel in the late afternoon.. Before G and Ts were too far advanced, a decision was made as the weather forecast predicted some 25 kts at 0300 from the north which put us on a lee shore, to up-anchor and move back around to the other side of the island; I know the Cap’n was a bit disappointed as it disrupted his plans for a circumnavigation of the island. In company with the “Kriter”, one of the early round the world boats, after dark we steamed in and picked up a mooring for the rest of the night. The wind did shift to the north, but not to the predicted strength.
For dinner, thinly sliced meat “Carpaccio”, prepared with parmesan and “rucula” a bitter vegetable, green perhaps like an ocra; olive oil, pepper, and salt. Salad of tomato. Rioja Crianza, 2009, the Coronas from Familia Torres said to have lush aromas of cherry and black plums on a background of green coffee aged in oak with big finish; initially a bit mouldy but breathed up well, a temprnillo and cabernet sauvignon blend. Costs about 8 E. From the Chef’s selection a Sicilian wine, Terra di Luce, Nero d’Avola, Sicilia. A merlot, L’Oro Rosso, or red gold, by Venticolli, 4 Euro. We all thought the Sicilian wines were the best of the voyage and are considering a charter there next year to be closer to the source.
The next day we first sailed to “King Kong”, our term for a fantastic rock island a larger version of an island we know in Australia’s Whitsundays. In Spanish, “es Vedra”, and its smaller sibling, “es Vedranell” adjacent. Es Vedra has a height of 382 m, is mostly bare rough rock, but looks climbable. It is a protected area for bird life and is a nesting area for the seabirds of the area. These include “Phalacrocorax aristotelis”, “Colonectris diomedea”, Hydrobate pelagicus melitensis”, “Larus audouinii”, “Larus cachinnans”. We anchored up in the es Raco Fosc area, with the stern nearly on the rocks, and I went in for a lovely snorkel, enjoying especially the deep gentian purple colour of the clear water.
Our chef Roberto had been busy while we were frolicking, and had our luncheon ready. The Chardonnary (Raimate, Castell de Raimat), 2012 was chilled. It was one of our better wines, elegant with mineral, a little oak, and fruity with with peach and green melon flavours. Another knock out menu followed with “funghi pipieni di melanzane” a pasta dish with aubergine, “pan grattato, parmigiano, pamodori (tomato) a dadini i (cut in cube)” a fried potato dish with cubed tomatoes, and ” prezzemollo, olio olive, sale, pepe, el aglio” a green vegetable like parsley prepared with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
By that time, the wind had freshened, and we set about a long port hand board back towards our anchorage at Formentera. We took time to explore the bay bracketed by Punta de s’Olleta and Punta de sa Gorra noting some divers on the port hand side going in. With a gradual shift in the wind, we easily laid our anchorage off es Pas at s’Espalmador. We dropped our passenger Marco off to his yacht “Kriter” which was still moored up. Just a note to the voyager, the moorings cost E 48 per night…we thought it better to put the money into wine.
A cena. This was a knock-out dinner for my birthday. “Zuppa di baccala con patate peperoni, gamnberi rossi e Tabasco baisilico aglio ed olio di oliva servita con crostini caldi al aglio”, a potatoe soup with a type of bread fried in olive oil, accompanied by “tomato e ricotta salata” a tomato salad with ricotta cheese with a balsamic reduction. Now the balasamic reduction was a new experience for me, and is achieved with a slow and low heat to concentrate the balsamic flavours. These dishes were accompanied by “panserotti de carne tritata, et salsa carote, y palate al curry” a type of pasta stuffed with fried curried meat, carrot salad, a tradition of Roberto. Per finire, “torta al cioccolato con crema al tiramisu con panna fresca” a type of chocoate cake with tiramisu. VinaSol, 2012 de Torres de Spain with low temperature fermentation which, according to winemaker, gives a fresher and more aromatic wine, “iluminando tus mejores momentos” to brighten your best moments. A wonderful birthday feast with good company and cheer. A chilled crisp Italian champagne, “Prosecco” capped off a truly memorable birthday celebration. The “boys” acquired new shirts, and we thought El Roberto looked good in pink.
Another great expression and guide to life: “No ti preoccupare nella tua vita di prendere, ma preoccupati solamente di dare”. This inscription I should have on my tombstone.
Today is Thursday, and I think I may have lost a day along the way…happens like that when you are cruising on the sea of Roberto’s cuisine. The previous day, Wednesday, we had a lazy start was there was little wind, and headed to the far point Cap de Formentera and set the MPS along the way, thinking that we should end up back to Ibiza by the afternoon, so we had a lazy drifter to the point, went round noting two ancient forts on the top of the cliffs, from the time of the Saracens. On the return we had a lovely slow sail across from Formentera. As we drifted along, Roberto and I set the cockpit cover as a sail, sort of, and made the most of our three knots…for some reason we did not pull up the main. As time stood still, we enjoyed the precious moments of the simultaneous rise of the moon, and set of the sun. That night we anchored in a pretty bay at Playa de las Salinas at the southern end of Ibiza, in company with the motor yacht with the turquoise blue hull, and a sleek cutter ahead of us.
On Wednesday, for luncheon, Chef Roberto, who by this time we were convinced had mystical powers, conjured up a repast of traditional Sicilian little ring pasta with tomato and aubergine, “anelletti al forno” served with bread and white wine. For the evening he waxed lyrical with a platter of gourmet delights, steamed broccoli (actually broccolini as we would describe in Australia) “fiori di broccoli” , pan-seared tuna with salt and vinegar, “rucula” with sesame, and “calamari a la plancha”.
Thursday, we sailed, now starting our circumnavigation of Ibiza, back to es Vedra, on the wind the whole way, getting under way about 11 am as the boys had a late night and I think they were a bit worse for the wear, at least by Aussie standards! Still, Roberto as always rose to the occasion with scrambled eggs, bacon, sliced ham, and a selection of local salami. Before getting underway, on what was to be an eventful day, I snorkelled down to try and free the centreboard, which was jammed up in the case, but no luck and after a few attempts on snorkel, went back with a scuba tank. A few “heave-hos” and a ton of elbow grease and it was free, which made it possible for us to sail, and sail we did. The ship balanced beautifully with genoa, main, and mizzen and was finger-light on the helm, making a reasonable 40-45 degrees to the wind. Our adventures were not yet over, as later in the afternoon we discovered a leak of the hydraulic fluid from the starboard backstay; in no time flat el Capitaine had it off, and a rope taken to the big winch on the stern to support the mast. Fitting disassembled, the boys had it into a taxi later that afternoon and off to the serviceman at Ibiza.
We kept on till our bay, Bol Nou was reached at about 5 pm. This bay has distinctive red cliffs, with fishermen’s boathouses tucked into the cliffs. We settled into a late lunch of “la padella con riso”–pan-fried fish, with rice, and couscous with a fish-soup garnish. This garnish is a goody–make first a base with garlic, olive oil, and bit of vegetable, and in a separate pan “cabeza de gambas and espina de pescado” –the bones and scales and skin of the fish, together with prawn heads. Boil all in water to make a reduction which is then added to the soup base. This has a very fishy flavour so make sure everything is fresh. Ladle the hot mixture over the rice and couscous; quite nice and quite filling especially with a Verdejo from Los Molinos (the Windmills) from Valdepenas, Spain. The label is a bit over stated “pale lemony white with bright highlights”. On the nose it displays aromas of flowers, fennel and hay, with hints of ripe fruits and peach and notes of tropical fruits. Fresh and fruity on the palate.” Sin crianza, which in Spanish means, un-oaked. From the label, “De atractivo colour alimonado, con reflejos dorados, en nariz presenta intensos aromas florales, a hinojo, a heno y frutales, con un marcado recuerdo a pile de molocoton y a fruta madura, con un fond tropical. En boca es fresco, untuoso, y con un final en el que vuelve a aparecer su intensidad frutal” (!).
As the sunset approached we motored around Punta des Jondal, past Punta de Porroig, then into Cala de Porroig passing a classic yacht in the distance. Our friends on “Kriter” were there and said ‘Ola’ as we motored past. The bay at es Cuco was full so we anchored further west just off two rock islands, called ses Illetes.
The Chef agar e (to make) “involutini” which are rolls of meat stuffed with bread, cheese, and tomato, cooked either in the oven or pan fried with oil; served with our salad “insilata verde e olio di olive”. A mystery wine tonight, a delicious red from Sicily, 2010, Donna Fugata Cedara. This wine excelled with both the main and salad, and a light dessert of dried candied fruit; all hands turned in just before midnight for a restive sleep after a full day.
On a steamy warm and sunny morning Captain took us in the inflatable for a tour round es Cuco where we photographed a classic Hoek design the “Lady Ann”, one of the popular 56 ft series, built in 1995. You can find this yacht on the website of hoekdesign.com . Seeing some tentative signs of life we visited with the “Kriter” enjoyed a coffee, and learned more about this famous wooden yacht, which had sailed in the first Whitbread Round the World Race. I have memory of this event as I was at university at the time in Auckland and visited the yachts tied up at King’s Wharf. New Zealand entered the “Ceramco” captained by the late Sir Peter Blake. “”Kriter” was the name of a French Champagne, and was given to a number of yachts including a multi hull which competed in various races. “Kriter”, and there is a book in French about this yacht, was built of wood by Jacques Grout. There is a link in there somewhere to Haiti. She is of skin construction, at least two as far as I can gather, with on the inside closely spaced stringers running longitudinally, and frames running perpendicular. Much of the timbers are laminated and she would appear to have been meticulously put together. At some point in her history, she had to be hauled at Brisbane as the rudder skeg was coming apart! So all manner of evils may befall the steering system of a yacht. When aboard, you are impressed with the strength of the yacht, and the decks are quite thick teak.. The hull is sheathed in Kevlar which on the starboard side is due for some refurbishment when she next comes up. There is a what I call “partitioned” layout, with after double cabin with head, watch cabin on the port side, galley to starboard, a tight main cabin, then double stateroom with head forward, and twin bunks to starboard with a space for another head; forward again is storage and a reasonable sail locker. I photographed another classic yacht, probably French, and we said hello to an Austrian in his Peter Ibold design, Endurance 35. On reflection, this sunny morning, the designs and yachts I have grown up with are now known as classics…wonder if this term applies to the author?
I went for my daily snorkel, well suited up to avoid the jellyfish, and later we moved the yacht in preparation for lunch: “polpettine di carne di vitello con uova, latte, mollica di pane , parmigiano , prezzemolo” which was like a fried meat ball, only a bit squashed so it cooked better in the pan. With that we enjoyed tomatoes stuffed with rice each sitting in its own cooked onion shell, the “pomodori ripieni di riso al pesto alla bolognese con sebolla”, sebolla meaning onions. And, one of our favourites, “bruschette di pane integrale con adlio pomodoro a pezzettini e olio di olive”. The involutini of the previous night went well sliced, cold. We enjoyed this gourmet fare with a bottle of Vina Sol.
All hands were generally recovered from our afternoon lunch by about 5 pm so we usually headed out for a sunset sail at that time, as we now were acclimated to the pace and rhythm of life aboard the gourmet ship “Miaplacidus”. We had nice stopover in Cala Cocolar,and went ashore to purchase some necessities, like beer and tonic. Gin Sling and I walked up the road a bit, and took some pictures looking back into the harbour, down onto the beaches strewn with oily bodies. Later we up-anchored and motor sailed out to a bay, Raco de sa Gava adjacent to a rock, Escull de S’Espartar. It was rolling in, the aftermath of the northerly, and the anchorage was quite deep, so we headed in towards the coast to anchor off some rocks near Escull Llarg. We were at Lat 41.54 nord and Long 4.14 oeste. The sunset gin and tonic was most relaxing, not that we had had a stressful day, and once anchored up I enjoyed a Selecion de Torres, Ribera del Duero, a tempranillo, “En los amaneceres de vendimia cuando el sol comienza a emblanquecer el horizonte estas son las estrellas que vigilan y contemplan su nacimiento”.
Chef Roberto had been busy in the galley , producing a delicious “Piselli con cipollotti en vino bianci pepe sale ed olio de oliva”, followed “di vitello arrosto” by “croc papate gratinate”. His version of pommes de terre au gratin, involved sauteing the medium potatoes, then baking with olive oil, pepper, rosemary, and salt for 25 min in the oven, rough translation “cottage style” and when served up with peas, fried green peppers, and fresh bread was just delicious. For dessert, a new fruit, the Cranshaw melon, a white melon something in taste like a honey dew.
After this scrumptious dinner I hove to about 11 15 but the sleep was mixed due to party activities complete with bongo drums from the restless natives on the shore, so this bay probably best avoided, unless you are in party mode, and that is not even mentioning the mosquitoes who were having their own party, pack your repellant.
Breakfast. The chef opens the galley for business after an obligatory cafe about 1000 hrs, and yours “t” enjoyed two eggs any style usually with bacon, sliced ham, and a selection of salami and sliced fresh tomatoes with toast and juice. This usually keep us going till luncheon. It is time to set about my self appointed morning duties, which is to clean down the ship, and then to clean down the author, so I had better get to it. The chef kindly left me a coffee with a note, something about Gato Gordo of “Miaplacidus”. Now to deal with the cigarette ash. It was a no-holds-bared clean up today, and Cap’n got out the salt water hose.
So it was off to ses Bledes where they dropped me off for a snorkel in very clear water. I took the Cap’n’s GoPro video and shot some UW footage; small fish and the usual jelly fish, to be avoided at all costs. From there we up sailed and headed along the coast to sa Conillera, rounding a Cape, Punta des Cavall; we tacked along the coast and into the bay Estancia de Dins thinking we might anchor, but sailed on instead to Punta de sa Torre, rounded es Farallons, and under sail fetched up into the bay of Cala Rotja, under the ancient fort Torre d’en Rovira.
After a soul nurturing lunch of yellow rice done in a pan with baby prawns, bread, and a salad with tomatoes and chunks of potato, accompanied with a sumptous Italian Tenuta di Sesta, 2007, Brunello di Montalcino prepared according to the bottle, “Invecchiato 3 anni in botti de rovere, il vino, di colore rosso granato, risulta di corpo elegante ed armonico, con lunga persistenza aromatica”; the Cap’n got the ship underway, and we went into the gas dock at St. Antoni de Portmany, best to back in, and the guys there will help you with your lines. We had an inadvertent blow back filling one of the four diesel tanks, as a geyser of diesel erupted, so we spent another hour or so just cleaning up the mess. There seemed to be an undue amount of aeration of the diesel. I always like to have a big funnel handy, which itself has a bronze or other mesh inside, to pre filter the diesel as it goes into the tanks. Tell me what serious cruising yachtsman has not encountered this one? For 20 euro you can have as much water as you like over one half hour, and this we availed ourselves of both to fill the water tanks, wash down the decks, and finally cleanse ourselves of diesel. Apart from the sunshine, this was about the best value purchase in Spain. There is a very useful small scrubbing brush on a longer handle that was put to work with good result. Gin Sling and Roberto went off the shop for, you guessed it, wine and tonic, and also bought a UBS stick with the idea of downloading some of Roberto’s extensive and eclectic range of music we enjoyed so much, both soft, and LOUD on the voyage.
That evening on an oily sea we steamed around Cap Negret, to our destination of Cala Salada, a lovely picturesque anchorage with a small island, sa Illeta on the port side going in. Overnight the wind went to the East, and blew away the mosquitoes. A well cared for gaff cutter was moored adjacent, the “San Jami”.
We enjoyed a lingering fiery orange unset with cocktails. For dinner, Roberto produced a platter of local fish “pesce al cartoccio (with “occhiate”, a local fish which he caught through the porthole) con pure di patane croccante al forno”, a new dish of something like mashed potatoes which was baked in the oven with a “croc” of potato chips on the top; and I gather that new potatoes are the best for this dish. We had some new wines from our expedition ashore, a red which went so well with the sunset, 2009, Muga from Rioja, denomination de origen calificada, from Bodegas Muga. This wine is a blend of 70% tempranillo, 20% garnacha, 10% graciano and mazuelo. “Crianza: 24 mess en barrica de rouble Frances y Americano. ” Recommended temperature to serve 16-18 degrees. This appealing tipple was velvety (velluto) smooth, had chewy vanillas on the palate, and a hint of berry. To go with the fish, or specifically because the red was so palatable and disappeared in no time, a Verdejo, 2011 PradoRey with a new look black and white label. Here’s what is says, “es un vino modern, complejo, fresco y expressive, con gran intensidad aromatic, en la que destacan los aromas afrutados como el pomelo o el lichi y un gusto sedoso con large persistencia en boca…conditions de maduracion mediterranea de la cosecha 2011 le confieren un gran equilibrium, lo que undo a su crianza sobre lias durante 3 meses,… remarkable en boca la sensation de carnosidad y frescura”.
The next morning, we visited a small island, I think called Margalides, with underwater swim-thrus for a snorkel; and I took some footage with the Go Pro. Captain hung off in the ship and Roberto, now un-chained from his galley, buzzed around in the RIB, so all hands had some R and R. We enjoyed a lovely sail in light winds, matchracing against a light displacement yacht, and spent our time tuning our ship to go faster. As we tacked back towards the shore, we approached Captain’s surprise anchorage, a lovely, small bay, es Portixtal. We essentially backed in dropping the anchor, with not much water under the rudder, and enjoyed a lingering afternoon. Captain hiked up the adjacent cliffs, and filmed the ship with his Go Pro. Here is the link to his excellent videos: www. In the afternoon sun we enjoyed a lunch of pasta, ” bucatini allo scoglio”, with ” pesce fresco, cipolla, aglio, prezzemolo, pomodoro, e gamberi , fumato al vino bianco”, followed “seguto” by a ” insalata di lattuga, zucchine genovesi, peperoni gialli ,il tutto condito con olio di oliva extra vergine , sale e limone.”
We anchored the night at Port de Sant Miquel as our intended Port Benirras had a rock concert in evolution, on a Sunday night (someone don’t tell the Germans who are tucked up in bed on a Sunday night preparing for the work week ahead). For dinner, another creation, ” pizza con fungi e prociutto e tacos di manzo con verdure e formaggio maionede e mostarda” . Went well with the Ribera del Duero, from El Corazon del Duero, from a region of Spain, along the Rio Duero.
The next day we were up early to accomplish the last leg of the voyage; we motor sailed out along the north coast, viewing the lighthouse at El faro de la Punta des Moscarter. Roberto capped things off with a lunchon of fried fish, and a type of quiche with eggplant and potato, on crust, and baked…still a mystery as to how he did it. But, a fitting accompaniement to the Giovani Ballia, a delicious Cabernet Sauvignon, from Veneto Orientale, Indicazione Geografica Protetta. As Ibiza approached off Punta Arabi, best turn seaward and go between Illa Rodona, and Illa de Santa Eularia. The actual part of Ibiza town where the marina is located is Santa Eularia des riu, and it is here that our voyage of excitement, and discovery must now reluctantly come to its conclusion. We were sad to leave our new friends Luca and Roberto, appreciated everything they did for us on our gourmet circumnavigation of Ibiza. We look forward to meeting them again, with a cruise to Sicily and the Aeolian islands next year.