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Secret Sand Dunes8th December 2015

“I’m just not a boat person,” I said to OH. “I get sea sick. My hair goes frizzy. Just make an excuse for me.”

He was standing in front of me, beach bags stuffed with towels, chemical free, zinc free sunscreen, organic snacks for the kids and beers for the grown ups.  Six pairs of eyes were looking up at me from various below waist heights.  There were the two sets like him, desperate for me to be marine mum so they could spend their day diving, water skiing and frolicking in the Med and the final pair like me, urging me to pull out and stay home so he could play Xbox all day.  I was a fair dictator, so I decided to go with the majority. Besides we had friends with a boat, this was not be scoffed at.

We drove down to the Ibiza Marina, our new little piece of San Tropez in Ibiza.  A small, recently constructed zone with a strip of boutiques selling little sparkly numbers that presumably one slips into après-boat for a fabulous post-day at sea dinner.  Who knows, maybe some of these constructions are for wearing on the boat?  One thing is for sure, all pre and post marina purchasing decisions need to be contemplated in the wonderful Cappuccino, a grand cafe perched by the water’s edge, across from a naked view of Dalt Vila (Ibiza old town), picking at eggs Benedict, a prawn caesar, California rolls and of course perfect velvety cappuccinos.  The only caveat: young offspring need to be kept on reins as the tables are tucked right by the water’s edge.

We snuck our dusty Land Rover between two gleaming Range Rovers.  We’ve always had black cars.  Unless you have a full time detailer on staff, black cars in Ibiza look various shades of grey.  Or beige.  Clever people pick white or silver so the hot summer dust from the unsealed roads forms a camouflaged layer.  I had a stubborn commitment to my black body point, the finish that looks clean for approximately five minutes after leaving the car wash; but as OH perfectly positioned ourselves between the pair of shiny Range Rovers (he might be one of the top parkers on the island, certainly within the top 200 hundred in Europe, it was very manly), in the shadow of oligarch yachts, I was frankly ashamed.

We hurriedly left our dust bucket behind and skipped off to meet our friends at their boat’s parking space (I’m sure there is another word for that). Our friend the captain handed us life-jackets.  I asked if this was strictly necessary.  Adding a security protocol to our day at sea was not helping my nerves.  He had learnt it in his captain’s course.

“How long was that?” I asked.

“Three days!” he replied triumphantly.

Now, I have since learnt that if a boat is registered in Spain then the captain needs to pass a detailed and stringent captaincy course.  If the boat is registered in the UK, in keeping with British efficiency, anyone can wrap up a captain’s licence in a few days.

“Very clever”, I said, as I pulled the straps on mine and the kids’ life-jackets a little tighter.

I needn’t have worried. As he eased us out of the Marina, in our suped-up Zodiac, the canopy up to protect the little ones from the sun, a salt-spray coating our sun-warmed skins, I was, in a second, converted.

Most the sea traffic (there is probably another word for that too) was navigating the 25 minute trip towards Formentera, but we were doing something different.  Our highly, if quickly trained Captain had other ideas.  As our fellow boaters sped straight on, we took a quiet little turn left, letting the passing wakes gently bob us towards our destination. We gently sailed towards one of Ibiza’s most beautiful sights, the protected island of Es Palmador.  We dropped anchor half a kilometer from the island. The water was totally transparent and as we alighted the boat we found that the tide was already waist or neck height (age dependent).  We half walked, half swam our way to the island, dying to sink our feet into the burning hot, white sand. There are a lot of beautiful beaches in Ibiza but this was something else. This sand was as pure a white as that on the Whitsundays of Australia or Palm Beach in Aruba.  We naughtily couldn’t resist climbing up the amazing but cordoned off sand dunes but spend most of our hours lying in the shallow waters, wading back and forth from the boat, soaking up the privilege of being in the presence of such natural beauty just 20 minutes from home.

I now know that all days at sea end with a kind of giddy exhaustion that can only be met with a lychee based Peruvian cocktail served by young, handsome Spaniards at the Blue Marlin’s Marina outpost.  We sat with our cocktails in hand watching the setting sun, the children welcomed with fresh fruit mocktails and chicken strips as OH and the Captain hosed down the boat.  Can’t they hose down the car too, I wondered…?




References: Parking inside the Marina is pay and display; trickier to find spaces in high season. Parking outside the Marina is free but also very busy. Thankfully open all year!!Make sure you find a water’s edge table, even in winter. There are outside heaters for cooler days.

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