May 2003 Sta. Tecla, Ibiza and Formentera
We finally went to dinner at the fancy restaurant with no sign in Barcelona, near where we keep the boat [see "Barcelona's Secret Restaurants"]. There was no menu, just a very attentive waiter who brought dish after lovely dish of mariscos and bottle after bottle of lovely champagne. Finally, he informed us that there were three more plates coming, before the main course; did we want them all? We said "yes" to the fried calamari and little octopi but "no" to the cod. Then came the main dish, which was deep-sea bass, and delicious, and of course followed by dessert and coffee. All this was accompanied by oodles of cava (champagne) then wine, and, with dessert, liqueurs. A memorable evening!

The winter was over, and we were ready to resume our Mediterranean adventures. We did a bunch of last-minute things including trying to book tickets back to California in August, hoisting the genoa (which we had dropped and bagged last fall, to reduce windage if there was a winter storm), and putting away all the things that are OK to leave lying about while we're in a marina but will tumble at sea. Also lots of other tasks, like replacing missing screws in the stanchion bases and taping all the cotter pins. We also bought a TV that works on US, British, French, and European signals (for 25 Euros); but we really have no place to put it, so we got some friends to store it away until we return to Barcelona next November.

Finally we were off! We backed out nicely, pointed the bow toward the open Mediterranean, and motored out the channel. Then Andi noticed that the engine temperature gauge was pegged at its upper limit, so we turned off the motor and coasted in next to a very smelly fishing vessel in the Marina de Pescadores. After the motor cooled off, we refilled the coolant and tried again. To our surprise, this time the temperature gauge settled down to where it's supposed to be, and we were off for real.

We set sail for Sitges, just a few miles along the coast southwest of Barcelona. Sitges is a renowned party town and 'the gay capital of Europe'. We tied up in the marina there and walked into town, where we bought some beer at twice Barcelona prices and watched the world pass by. Lots of hetero couples holding hands, but no gay couples doing so! Andi thinks the hetero couples were making a statement, sort of like flying the flag in enemy territory, but Rob thinks it might just be a cultural thing. Next morning we motored off down the coast in no wind. The marina fee at Sitges had cost over 60 Euros, the kind of expense we can't survive for long; so the next night we anchored off a beautiful sand beach, exposed to any weather from the south, but perfect in the total calm we encountered. We dinghied in and enjoyed a great sangria in a beach bar. It was much better than any we'd had before, maybe even good enough to convince us to try sangria again!

The next day found us in Tarragona, hiking up the hill to the cathedral. Ordinarily, this would be mere tourist curiosity, but this time we were on a Mission. To explain why, we have to take you back to Barcelona, with its many cathedrals. Each of those cathedrals have little chapels along both sides, with votive candles in front of an iron grille, and statues of saints in the back, and we had discovered several such chapels dedicated to Sta. Tecla (or Techla, or Thechla), and in each of these, she's holding a severed arm in her (perfectly good) arms. Now, this is not as unusual as it may sound - Saint Lucia is always portrayed carrying a tray with two eyeballs on it (she had her eyes put out but could still see), and another saint has a tray with two breasts on it (radical mastectomy? Who knows?), so a mere arm is no big deal. The difference, of course, is that Thekla is Andi's middle name and was her mother's given name -- so this gave us a vested interest, as it were. Nobody in Barcelona seemed to be able to explain the arm, but then, cathedrals are not big on such explanations. So we'd kind of forgotten our interest in the question until we were in Sitges and discovered that the church there was dedicated to Sta. Tecla. It was closed, unfortunately, but when we arrived in Tarragona we discovered that the local cathedral the Catedral de Santes Pau y Tecla. Surely there we could find the answer!

By now, Andi's quest had become a standing joke on board. She had taken up arms on the issue, as it were. Whenever we thought of something to do, our friend Suzie would exclaim "There's no 'arm in it" and we frequently could be heard pointing out that the marina, or the beer, or whatever, cost an arm and a leg. We also had frequent recourse to the old adage "Three-warned is three-armed."

In fact, the huge cathedral, cloister and museum were very poorly signed, and the only guidebook they had was in Castillano (well, not counting the one in German that they handed us first). This guidebook was very poorly organized and tended toward explanations such as "Organ, 17th Century", and "Chapel of St. Peter". It did say that the main alter was decorated with images from the life of Sta. Tecla, but we couldn't make out anything there that seemed to have to do with arms (or any other particular body parts, for that matter). We did learn that a bone from Sta. Tecla's arm is kept in one of the chapels, from which it's removed and paraded around the streets once a year on Sta. Tecla's Day, which culminates a week of revelry in September. Also that the emblem for both Tecla and Tarragona is the Greek letter Tau, which, indeed, is emblazoned everywhere in the city. Tecla is a big deal in Tarragona, for sure; but the symbolic arm remained a mystery.

After the cathedral, we hiked around some Roman walls and viewed the almost intact Roman Amphitheater before returning to the boat. Next morning, Andi and Rob visited the Circ Romana, or Roman Circus, and its attendant museum. The signage there was very instructive, and we had a marvelous time wandering around on and under one end of the huge circus (chariot-racing stadium). Then Rob walked back to the boat while Andi took off back up the hill to get some photos of the cathedral.

While she was at it, she stopped in at the tourist office and asked where she could learn more about Sta. Tecla. They directed her to a library, where the people were very helpful, bringing her books about the lives of saints as well as newspaper articles published during the annual Fiesta de Sta. Tecla. From all this she gleaned the following:

Tecla was the first female Christian martyr. She was a disciple and friend of St. Paul, who granted her the right to proselytize -- the first woman to whom that coveted right was given. The Romans captured her and started to torture her; but no matter what they tried to do, she just made the sign of the cross and their efforts were foiled. They even tied her to a stake and tried to burn her, but the flames were pushed away from her body and she didn't even get a first-degree burn. Then they set a lion onto her while she was tied to a stake, but the lion just licked her feet. Eventually, she was released and lived to the ripe old age of 72 years, a saint in her own time. But no mention of an arm, amputated or any other way. The best we can come up with is that the arm bone in Tarragon was so prized in Catalunya that sculptors took to portraying her with her arm in her arms.

The next morning we set sail for Ibiza, 130 NM away. We had a great passage, with some motoring and some good sailing, and anchored safely in a large cove near the northern end of the island after about 26 hours. We crashed that night, got up early and sailed the short distance to Ibiza town next morning. We took advantage of the settled weather to anchor one bay to the north of town, and took a ferry across to the ancient walled city and castle. This is an impressive structure, about the best medieval site we've been to, and very well signed in English. It is yet another Unesco World Heritage Site. (We're beginning to think that this designation is handed out much more freely than we had been led to believe by the folks in St. George, Bermuda, which had just received the "honor.") The castle sits high atop a steep hill, and there's an entire old town of white-washed buildings that gleam brightly over tiny twisting streets in the bright Mediterranean sun. We hiked all the way to the top and then wandered back down through the old town. At the end of the walk down the hill, we sank gratefully into chairs at a dockside cafe for well-deserved beers.

We anchored in a pretty bay on the south side of Ibiza, and next morning we sailed across to the little island of Formentera. This is a low-lying island that reminds us of the Bahamas, with crystal-clear water and very little tourist development (none of it visible from where we were anchored). We were in a very secure bay with some 50 other boats, a village about 5 kilometers away, and a nice sand beach. All of Formentera beaches are clothing-optional, and there are lots of people all around us getting an all-round tan. We joined them one afternoon, and Rob even took a dip in the hot-mud baths back in the dunes. He came back to where Andi and Suzie were seated, completely covered in mud and looking like a grayish-black aborigine. (Amazingly, the smelly stuff washed off readily in the clear Mediterranean water.) That evening, we joined friends from the marina in Barcelona for a barbeque on the beach. Next day, we went off by dinghy into town to buy cigarettes for Suzie, fresh veggies and rum for us all.

After more than 9 months in harbor, Akka had the usual crop of new problems. The bottom hadn't been cleaned since the previous July (in Ireland), there was water in one of the fuel tanks, the engine-driven refrigeration was acting up again, and the GPS wasn't communicating with the computer. But the sails were like new, all key systems worked well, and it was good to be back at sea.