It's that time of year when boat owners start to think about getting all those jobs finished before better weather beckons us out onto the sea again. One of these jobs is antifouling the bottom of the boat. In Addaia we have a purpose-built mechanism, known as a travel lift, for lifting craft out of the water. Towed by an antique Ebro tractor, the hydraulically operated lifting mechanism was designed and constructed many years ago by the marina's late owner, Tolo, assisted by Angel, who still works in the port as an engineer. Many years later it is still giving excellent service to the marina staff, Martin and Ernesto, and to us boat owners. Regular maintenance, which includes a lot of grease, ensures that it can handle up to half a dozen trips in and out of the water each day, predominantly during the spring and early summer.
The marina has changed a great deal over the past two years. Newly asphalted roads, marked out with pedestrian crossings and parking bays, plus the installation of barriers make the marina of Port d'Addaia the smartest on the island. Good shower facilities offer visitors a comfortable stay, augmented by the electrical and water supply facilities that one expects in a modern marina. There is a good level of security with access for authorized vehicles only and the marina is well lit. There is a lengthy waiting list for summer berths and through the winter the majority of berths are filled; at present over a hundred craft are moored on the "pantalans". What one sees today is a far cry from the view seen in the early eighties, when just a few boats lay on moorings in the cala and there were no pontoons in place. There was even a small shingle beach where boats are now stored during winter.
Overlooking the marina, villas climb the hills; some perched seagull-like on cliff edges. The number of such dwellings has doubled in the past ten years. The cala stretches away from the marina south eastwards, with the wind turbines of Mila providing a backdrop; gradually becoming shallower until egrets can wade in the shallow water searching for food. The orientation of the cala provides a well sheltered mooring, even during the fiercest of Tramontanas.
Cattle and wild goats graze amongst the pine trees of the seaward side, a peninsula thrusting northwards from the distinctive buildings of Montgofre Nou. Goats' cries are the only sounds that can be heard on the stillest of winter days. With rock and pine trees bordering the cala one could be forgiven, on looking up, for imagining oneself to be on a Scottish loch. I have found excellent fishing in the cala, with plenty of doradas and mullet, and even a bass one winter's afternoon. Barracuda can be seen attacking the shoals of small fish in the shallows. Last summer, Martin from the port rescued a lost dolphin that had strayed into the shallow water half way up the inlet. Grey herons and egrets are very common - no surprise in a place that offers them such abundant food, but less expected is the regularity with which I watch kingfishers darting across the water of the port and the cala beyond. They can sometimes be spotted perching on the moored boats.
The entrance to the port is a test for seafarers. The pilot books advise people who do not know the approach channel not to attempt entry after dark. Jutting out from the smaller of the two islands that guard the east side of the entrance, Illa Petita d'Addaia, there is a jagged reef. These tooth-like rocks are often adorned with cormorants; their wings outspread drying in the breeze after an underwater fishing expedition. Midway between this reef and the Na Macaret side of the entrance is a plateau of submerged rock some eighteen feet down. It can be clearly seen as one crosses it. But it is in really rough weather that the hazardous effect of this plateau can be seen, when a standing wave rears up in the centre of the entrance channel. Our son is a keen surfer. He has seen this wave and swears it would be extremely popular in more populated parts of the world, although he concedes you would need a boat to gain access to it.
A further hazard to navigation is a manmade one. There are navigation buoys in place – most of the time. However the fiercest storms sometimes take their toll on these essential aids and they get blown away. No such organisation as the British Trinity House exists in Spain, so it is down to the co-operation of the Addaia port staff and the three local mooring associations to hire divers to reinstall or replace buoys. Sometimes several weeks pass before they have the time or resources to do the necessary work. In addition to this hazard there is a new one that arrived last summer. A large number of red buoys were installed to mark an area that is off limits to craft to protect the natural environment. The trouble is, being red, they are easily mistaken for red, port hand, navigation buoys and could lure the unsuspecting into areas that are way too shallow to be navigable.
This same shallow area, which can easily be picked out from the shore, is excellent snorkelling ground. As well as the usual plant life and multitude of small fish to be observed up close, there are also some spectacular clams. These are some eighteen inches tall and are fixed to rocks on the seabed. They are black and can be seen close to the rocky outcrop that lies to the east of the children's playground area at the end of the peninsula upon which much of Addaia is built.
Beyond this rocky outcrop known as Illa Mones is the large island of Illa Gran d'Addaia. One can go ashore from a small boat and walk amongst the wild garlic plants, but in springtime beware of the seagulls – they nest on the cliffs on the seaward side of this islet and don't appreciate visitors. On the east side of the islet is an enclosed cove into which boats of up to seven metres or so can enter. The water is deep and clear. There is a small shingle beach. Lizards abound amongst the boulders of the cove's shoreline and provide entertainment for picnickers who have food scraps to spare.
Nearby Na Macaret has a waterfront that reminds me of small Greek fishing villages. With a tiny winter population it provides a beautifully tranquil place for a stroll this time of year, surrounded by outstanding coastal scenery. This same scenery can be enjoyed from neighbouring Punta Grossa which provides views to the spectacular lighthouse sites of Favaritx and Cap de Cavalleria – the subjects of a future letter.