Category Archives: Our travels

Our adventures on the high seas and ashore

Mallorca

After a wonderful evening catching up with news from T’ Shire the following day,  Friday 29th April we caught a bus to Palma and met up with Ian and Alice IMG_3139[1]after a brief interlude at a beer and food festival near the Cathedral. 
We set off walking around the historic part of town.  IMG_2960[1]Of course, we hadn’t gone far before we were very thirsty and diverted to Can Toni a little tapaseria near Santa Cruz church.

Café Bar Can Toni
Café Bar Can Toni

A lovely setting.  Food soon arrived….pimiento de padron, boquerones, salami, cheese.  All delicious.   We took a stroll round the contemporary art gallery and enjoyed views of the city and then wandered back towards the fabulous cathedral building.

On our way back, Amelia called to see what we wanted to do.  We agreed to meet them in Gallaleo.  However, on reflection it seemed that it might be impossible for us all to squeeze into the Fiat 500, so we caught the bus back to Andratx and collapsed into us beds!

The next day was fair weather so we decided to set sail and head for Soller since that was where the rest of the gang were staying.  We departed quietly but didn’t see the Frenchman;  his hatch was open so he was up and about probably.

We had to motor most of the way since it was so calm.  Along the way we spotted what looked like blobs of plastic in the water.  There were hundreds of them.  IMG_2968[1]Intrigued to find out what they were, I attached the plastic sieve to a string and managed to scoop one of these things up.  On closer inspection it appears to be some kind of jelly fish with a ‘sail’ to propel them along the surface of the water.  The first one was pink and the second one was a bright blue.

We arrived nice and early and parked up on the completely empty PortsIB temporary summer season transit pontoon which had just been installed.  As is the sailing way a couple of gentlemen from the boat next door hopped ashore to take our lines, there was a vague hint of recognition on Ian’s face and it eventually clicked they were crew from the 2011/12 Clipper race, Stuart Miller and John who had just arrive on Chibas. In fact Ian spent several days in NZ with Stuart when they were both injured en-route to NZ. Mooring was a bit of a challenge as there were no cleats on the north side of the pontoon at all!  We, nevertheless, attached ourselves to the pontoon using cleats on the far side.  Most definitely NOT the RYA way,  but we were secure.

Next day brought calmer weather and more cleats; divers were busy reconnecting new lazy lines.  It was fascinating to watch all the goings on.

Later that day, we were so pleased to see the gang from T’ Shire walking towards the pontoon.  They arrived and we rustled up drinks and then pasta to keep them going.  Amelia and Charlie had to disappear off for an appointment.  We all met up later on the prom and plumped for tapas (with pimientos de padron, calamari, boquerones, potato croquettes, patatas bravas, chipirones, amongst others) at the Cava/Albatros restaurant overlooking the marina.  We had a lovely evening with live music.  Everything was by Neil Young or Jefferson Starship!  Such fun!

Back on Linea, the wind picked up and we were subject to a huge swell coming into the  bay and ricocheting off the steep walls on the SW side of the bay.  We bounced most of the night.  The temporary pontoon was bucking like a bronco and giving a good impression of the Loch Ness Monster.  We were astonished to see people negotiating the bridge after dark, which was cordoned off by orange straps.  They  were walking, or rather staggering, down the pontoon just for a look at the view!  One man brought his very young children, and his beers.  I hovered near the transom to warn him about the trip hazards of our lines across the pontoon.  Before they had walked very far the little boy quickly and sensibly back-tracked so that his Dad had to follow him.    Thank goodness!

In the middle of the night we were all woken by a couple of big thumps as we connected with the pontoon.  The ‘fat boy’ fender had popped out.  We were all out on deck really quickly and David and Ian pulled in the lazy line as tight as possible as I released the stern lines.  I tied a bit of line between to other long fenders so that they couldn’t pop out around the sides of the transom and we fixed two breast lines to the pontoon.

Back to bed but a fitful sleep because of the squeaking of the lines.

The next day, we cadged a lift with Charlie and Amelia over to Sa Calobra and Cala Tuent.  IMG_3142[1]We drove over the long and winding roads that snake down to Sa Calobra and it was stunning.  The hills are incredibly high and full of hair pin bends.  It is amazing to think that cyclists enjoy slogging up these hills.  We all felt quite queasy with vertigo on the way down because you can see so far below you.  Finally, we arrived at sea level

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Cala Tuent

and had coffee (and a pint of fresh orange juice for Angela!)  in one of the many restaurants in the small bay.  The waves were pretty big as they curled round in to the small Cala.  IMG_3144Next we drove up and over to the next bay along and took a beautiful walk across the  beach with a collection of the most ancient and gnarled olive trees in a plantation just to our left. We slid through the sand, meeting a track up to a restaurant.

We  had a pleasant lunch on the terrace under the trees overlooking the spectacular bay.  As we set off back we noticed that we were very low on petrol.  By chance, at the junction at the top of the hill we spotted a sign promising fuel in 9 km.  We took the turn (in the wrong direction and away from Alice and Ian in our support vehicle,  and wove our way along the curving road beginning to believe we had been duped.  Suddenly, up ahead, amongst a herd of cyclists at least four deep, we saw the petrol station and thanked our lucky stars. Now that we had re-fuelled, we decided to take a look at Lluc Monastery which was close by.  It is set in the most gorgeous spot.  A large piece of flat land in an otherwise mountainous and precipitous area.  Lovely.

Next morning, had agreed to meet Alice and Ian in Soller but we were a little slow off the mark and so it was mid morning by the time we walked along the tram tracks up to Soller town.

It was a lovely walk and when we arrived we found the town square and settled down for a coffee. Angela and I decided to do a little bit of window shopping.  We walked towards the railway station and visited the Pablo Picasso ceramics exhibition and the Joan Miro painting exhibition, we had a look at the railway station where a miniature train departs regularly for Palma and stopped off at the Hotel de Guia (where Ian and I and the girls had stayed ten years previously) and ah-ed over the beautiful tram that trundles back to Port de Soller.

Angela and I went for a wander and some shopping and then headed back to meet the boys after our walk round town…yes they were drinking beer already!

We took the tram back down to the Port…because you really have to travel that way.  It is the most appealing experience.  The tram hoots affectionately all the way back down to the port.  Even though it is a throw back to the beginning of the 20th century it seems to  fit in to its more modern surroundings.

We had a fantastic meal out that evening in Port de Soller and the next day it was an early departure for Angela and David.  Hoping to see them soon.  The rest of the day we  all just chilled on the boat because by then we were sure that we had a further problem with the sail drive.  The oil level was rising, which could only mean one thing.  Sea water was getting in! Not a good time to be going out for a sail.  So after a relaxing afternoon of Scrabble, sun and conversation, we bid a fond farewell to the gang from the T’ Shire and are already looking forward to seeing them again in June.

The next day, the engineer came to look at the engine and after some consultation and discussion in Spanglish, it was decided that the boat would have to come out of the water again!

On the hard again
On the hard again. The Hokey Cokey boat!

Fortunately, there is a crane lift in Soller so we motored round there and Ian negotiated a fantastic turn in a very tight spot and Pieri and his Dad carefully edged the cross frame in above the mast and between the spreaders with millimeter precision.

The boat came up and out with surprising ease.

The boat yard is right in the midst of the promenade and restaurant area so, from our vantage point high above ground level, we had a great spot for people watching.

We were back in the water by the afternoon and Tommy, the engineer, spent a further two days replacing the head gasket and the morse cable and tweaking this and that until he was happy. Phew!

We do hope that this is the end of any more problems as we are now thinking of changing the boat’s name to Hokey Cokey because we have been in, out, in, out so often.

After the extra expense of this repair work we were delighted to discover that we had been wrongly charged for water and electricity during our stay.  Hurray, we were due a refund!

More settled weather meant that we were going to anchor in the bay.  After the third attempt to bed in the anchor we were happy that it was secure.  Ian went swimming and diving down to check!  We put out an anchor at the back to keep us facing the swell and we had three of the most comfortable nights yet; albeit with every kind of alarm on.  Wind alarm, depth alarm, anchor alarm, Drag Queen!

We wanted to be out in the bay so that we would be in pole position for the Moors vs Christians Festival and battle re-enactment that was to take place on Monday the 9th May.  We had already met up with a couple called Nicky and Mark on Mezzo Magic who had kindly invited us to join them for a bit of a party on the Monday on their boat.

At 1350 we went ashore to meet up with Amanda Spencer (yeah!) IMG_3180who was here to stay with friends living in Soller and another couple who live aboard their boat in the Port deIMG_3178 Soller.   We were amazed to discover that Amanda had been at school with Mark!  Small world.

We watched the re-enactment from their boat and it was quite baffling.  The Pirate (Moors) IMG_2996[1]attacked from the sea.  The Peasants IMG_3187(Christians) tried to repel them.  There was a lot of noise from firecrackers and fireworks and IMG_3186smoke bombs and flares.  But rIMG_3183eally it was all just a great excuse for everyone to get drunk!

We retired to Linea at a suitable juncture and left the partying on Mezzo Magic.   Amanda and friends made it up to the town square and watched the procession into the church and the hanging of the Moor king, apparently it was very moving.

We spent a couple of lovely evenings with Amanda and her friends and during the day we were off exploring the island on bikes.  Ian using his trusty bike from home and me hiring an electric bike from Tramuntana Tours  We really enjoyed the cycling. IMG_3169

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Fornalutx
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Fornalutx
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Fornalutx
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Fornalutx big cactus, small doorway
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Lemons

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I was especially pleased with my electric boosting bike. Just using gears 1 and 2, ‘eco’ and ‘tour’ boosts, made all the difference between an enjoyable IMG_3171experience or an absolute bloody trial!  I confess to switching to ‘Turbo’ (gear 4) on one occasion to zoom past Ian on a steep incline, at about 30kph!  I still had to push hard to get up those hills but I also had time to take in the views, marvel at the terraces and the dry stone retaining walls, which are a work of art, notice the wide variety of flowers, shrubs and trees, spot wild goats, fighting billy goats gruff, rabbits and cats and to breathe in the scent of Mallorca in early summer.  It is a heady and divine combination of orange blossom, broom, roses and pine trees.  Gorgeous!

Post Script:

On our return to Soller in the late afternoon we were pleased to receive a visit from Peter and Annelies who had driven over from Andratx where they had moored Skadi.  After we had caught up on our travel news they told us sad news. The Frenchman we had parked next door to in Andratx had been found dead on his boat by Spanish police after his family reported that he wasn’t answering his phone.  He was only 48 years old and had sailed solo from France. Angela and I had a nice chat with him, as we moored up, about his home region of Brittany. Our thoughts go out to his friends and family.

Ceuta to Mallorca Part 3

Planning for our longest single trip yet…and knowing that we had David Heane, maiden voyager extraordinaire, arriving to assist once more, we intended to provision at the nearby Mercadona supermarket.  Unfortunately, it took us hours and miles of walking due to catching the wrong bus!

Anyway, we finally arrived back at the boat (by taxi) and unloaded just in time for David’s arrival. Before any beers could be opened we had a serious job to complete.  The fitting of the fog horn.   (Foghorn, Leghorn!).  David and I

View from the top
View from the top

hauled Ian up the mast to the first set of spreaders, a second time so he could fit the refurbished fog horn.  But this time he also wanted to be pulled all the way to the top of the mast so that he could inspect it completely.  A lot of effort for David.  I was on the safety lines.

 

Job done!

Beers were opened but not too much as we had to be up at 0430 to leave enough time to get to Ibiza so we could rendezvous with Angela.

We negotiated the busy fishing area outside Altea.  By sunrise we had passed most of the fishing craft around us.  We had a good days sailing, even Genevieve made an appearance but she broke her shackle around the bowsprit so had to be put away again!  But whilst she was up, we saw dolphins on about three occasions.  Large pods of them that came to play around the bow.  It was fantastic to see them.  We arrived in San Antonio, Ibiza at about 1730.  Our first impressions were good.

We were tied up in a nice space near the toilets and the Capitania.  David and I had put the boat to bed before Captain Moulding came back from booking in, with his free handy zippable folder, useful lanyard and, most importantly, drinks vouchers.

We spruced ourselves up and set off for the bar.  Three beers and three cavas later we headed back to the boat for dinner.   Next day, would be a quick hop round the island to Sant Miquel where we were to pick up Angela.

We arrived early afternoon and anchored over sand.

Sant Miguel anchorage
Sant Miguel anchorage

We took the dinghy to the beach to suss it out and peruse the menu of a beach front restaurant – possibly one of the the most expensive ever! And then we were back at the boat for tea.   Sleep by 2130 so that we would have a few hours kip before Angela arrived from her flight to Ibiza.  The boys got up to go and collect her from the beach. The taxi driver was most perturbed to be leaving her alone on the beach at 0130.  She assured him that the lights heading to shore were indeed coming to collect her.

We were up and at ’em by 0500 hrs and off to Mallorca in a very wallowy sea; whether motoring or sailing.  We made fair progress.  Mostly motoring because of the swell.  We arrived in Andratx in the afternoon and parked on the floating pontoon stern to next to a friendly Frenchman.  No sign of the Ports IB marineros so we set off to the bar and were delighted to meet the gang from T’Shire.  The Daggets and The Vyvyans.  How special!

We had made it!  790 miles over the course of 7 weeks.  They had provided the incentive to arrive at a certain place by a certain time and we had done it!

 

The Hokey Cokey boat….. in, out, in, out…

Apparently my writing isn’t as good as Sarah’s so I have gone for a more visual format. Continue reading The Hokey Cokey boat….. in, out, in, out…

Ceuta to Mallorca Part 2

Costa Blanca coast line
Costa Blanca coast line

Saturday,  9th April brought more gentle weather and winds so we set off for Benalmadena for a second time in rather less fraught circumstances than before.  The winds were so pleasant and light that I was able to cook coq au vin en route!

Predictably, by the time we arrived in the enormous marina the wind had picked up to a healthy 20 knots however, we managed to park on the waiting pontoon without incident.  Half an hour later we were squeezing into the smallest space between two motor cruisers, juggling fenders on either side.

What a strange marina.  It is an enormous basin within which are islands with apartment blocks topped with turrets and rounded edges, covered in twinkling tiles and bits of broken mirror; with arching road bridges so that cars can drive directly into the garage areas underneath.  It’s very Disneyesque!  It does mean that just to walk out of the marina onto the main road for banks, supermarkets and so on takes about 25 minutes.

Similarly, a walk to the Capitania’s office takes about 20 minutes so when I went to pay I was dismayed to hear that I had to go back to the boat to retrieve the receipt for the key in order to be given my €20 deposit back.  It’s all good exercise.

We set off to Caleta de Valez.

The minute we rounded the breakwater the wind was strong.  The shelter of the marina giving the impression that it was a calm windless day.  Sneaky! The waves soon got up and we had three reefs in the sail again. This time the wind didn’t abate and as we neared the marina we came across an unmarked fish farm ahead, which we just managed to avoid.  The height of the waves making it difficult to see the yellow buoys marking the four corners of the farm.

I can explain the strength of the wind at this point by telling you that there were wind surfers everywhere!  One of whom found himself on the wrong side of us!  Luckily, he was able to steer away.  I was on the helm as Ian pulled down the last bit of mainsail, and I had no idea what to do to avoid him!  Phew!  Next thing..how to get into the marina with a very strong following wind and no clear idea of where we were to go.

After a few shouts down the radio and incomprehensible responses because of static, we saw a man in hi-viz waving at us.  We parked up at 1715 in gusting winds, bows to on a pontoon near the boat yard.   Fantastic.  By 1815 all the wind had completely disappeared! Typical.

So, trundled off to the showers and thence to a bar for a drink and wifi and sat there catching up with the world whilst gradually becoming more and more aware of the unpleasant conversation unfolding between four Brits behind us in the bar.  The content of their conversation became more vulgar, graphic and inappropriate and finally Ian, in his own inimitable style, called across to them to ask them to stop.

One of the men thought that Ian was threatening them and suggesting a fight.  He made as if to stand up but his friends pulled him back into his seat and calmed him down.  However, minutes later he was up and out of his seat and moving towards Ian with his fist drawn back.  I grabbed his sleeve to stop him punching and his friends, two Spanish men, and the bar tender were all trying to hold him down.  Ian’s woolly jumper had a huge hole pulled right out of it. It was all very horrid.

As the man was dragged away by his friends, disappeared into the early evening night shouting about how he was going to kill Ian 

Minutes later, the friends came back and said that they had put the man on his boat and that he was fast asleep.  They explained that he was ex SAS soldier who had fought in Iraq.  Further, it transpired that he had been given an antidote to Anthrax, which was a biological weapon that was thought to be in use in Iraq.  This antidote had caused great problems with the psychological and bodily health of the soldiers.  Even now, this man was having monthly blood transfusions and psychological counselling to help him.  The cocktail of drugs that keep him alive and relatively functional can cause great disturbances in the delicate chemical balances in his brain when mixed with alcohol!  Great!  We just happened to be on the receiving end of his complete lack of inhibitions and his excessive aggression.

We left Caleta as soon as we could; firstly to be sure we didn’t bump in to Crazy SAS Man and secondly because a pneumatic drill had started up in the boat yard next to us.  After a brief altercation with a lazy line of the boat next to us, we were clear and setting off by motor as the wind was non-existent.  All the upset of the night before disappeared as we saw loads of dolphins near one of the fish farms.

Soon, the headland of Marina del Este came into view.  We were given a bottle of wine on arrival at the waiting pontoon, which slightly softened the blow of having to re-park. We had another snagging of a lazy line on the way in but the calm and relaxed assistance of the Brit on the yacht next door made it bearable.

We met up with our Dutch friends from Ceuta on their boat Skadi for a quick drink, which was nice, and then the next day had a visit from Pim, the previous owner.  He was in the area looking at flats to rent and very kindly offered to come over to answer our queries about the boat now that we had sailed her a bit.

Later, we walked, the long way round to Herradera the nearest town, where we saw at least thirty para-gliders
bobbing about above the headland.  The marina and its setting is certainly the prettiest we have stayed in, with cute little white apartments gathered all around the edge and a huge limestone outcrop protecting the seaward side.

We left Marina del Este at 1000 in light winds and swapped the Genoa for Genevieve, the large genaker sail, which is about as big as a tennis court.  With the wind behind us it is a fantastic sail to push us along quickly in light winds.  However, we should have realised that the winds would only get stronger. Having run through a verbal ‘what would I do if Ian fell off now’  scenario, I tried to pull down Genevieve’s snuffer myself from the front deck.  In the strong winds that had built up, this is like trying to pull a narrow tube over a plate.  The power in the sail is massive.  At the point when my entire weight was being lifted up of the deck, I decided I just didn’t have the strength!

So, Genevieve has gone away in her cupboard; only to be used in LIGHT winds.

Arrived in Almerimar in 23 knots of wind from the SW so surfed into the marina!   Parked in a quiet and windless corner only a few boats away from our Dutch friends on Skadi.

Had a day in this massive marina for shopping and chandlery.  Ian spent €75 on a bow fender which took the both of us two hours to fit!

On Friday 15 April we set off for Aguadulce.  The winds were wonderfully light in the morning so we tried a little fishing and within five minutes had caught our first fish.  A spiked little orange thing with a wide mouth!  I unhooked it from the rusty hook, and threw it back in and then I dropped the lead weight and hooks back in to the water.  Unfortunately, Ian had only a lot hold of the fishing line and the swivel stick.  So the whole lot was pulled out of his hand and plunged down into the sea below!

I cracked on with jobs and covered three fenders with neat and tidy fender socks.  Ian did some polishing.  See my other blog regarding ‘Routine’.

Soon after this incident, the winds picked up from a nice 10 knots to 20+ knots.  We arrived in Aguadulce and had a bump with the fuel jetty putting a bit of a dent in Linea’s side and stretching the top guard rail.  Oops!

Nice and safe in Aguadulce, and after phone calls to Andrew Lowrey and a lovely chat, it seems unlikely that we will be able to get together this time.  So we caught the bus to Almeria and visited the most fantastic municipal market.  There were polished vegetables and fruit, hams, olives and fish.  It was an absolute education watching the fishmongers, fillet, de-scale and de-bone the fish.  There were astonishing displays of sword fish swords, whole tuna and massive lobsters, langoustines and prawns and glistening examples of every kind of edible fish.

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Moorish arrow slit

Almeria also has an amazing Moorish Castillo, 

Castello Almeria
Castello Almeria

which is the size of a park, complete with gardens, rills,

rivulets and fountains.  Beautiful, but VERY windy at the top of the Castillo.

Castello Almeria
Castello Almeria
Castello Almeria
Castello Almeria

After our sightseeing day we departed fairly promptly for a big sail to Garrucha.  With decent winds predicted we were sure we could make it.

Goosewing
Goosewing

We put the second reef in the mainsail and with the wind right behind us we sailed on a perfect run with the sails goose winged.

Garucha
Garucha

Garrucha is a commercial port and has the most enormous breakwater surrounding its Northern and Eastern extremities.  It can shelter the huge cargo ships that come in to load up with enormous quantities of concrete, sand and gravel.  There are around 60 lorries an hour delivering quarry loads of stuff to an area at the end of the breakwater.  A team of ten man-sized diggers scoop the stuff on to conveyor belts that pour the piles into the holds of the ships.  Gradually, the water line creeps up the sides of the ship and they are not so towering after all.

Anyway, I digress, as Ronnie Corbett would have said.   This particular day the waves were crashing against the breakwater and spikes of water were firing right over the top and jabbing into the piles of stone.  I imagine that the wall must have been four, or even five stories tall. It dwarfed the lorries as they beetled back and forth along the road towards the loading area.  And yet the sea was so big that waves were crashing up against it and coming right over!

We left Linea in her sheltered position and took a trip to a little hilltop town down the coast.  Mojocar. 

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Old circular tree canopy in the square at Mojocar
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The view from Mojocar

We jumped on a bus but it was only going to the beach.  We walked back to another bus stop and found the right us to take us up. To the top of the peak…Mojocar.  Hmmmm a funny kind of place and most definitely a tourist attraction.   But why?  A beautiful ancient tree, a church, a statue, a peak with views, narrow streets, but other than that, not a great deal.

We took a bus back down and walked along the front, with waves crashing to our right, back to the marina.

After a day of jobs, we set sail again, this time to Cartegena. 

Cartagena
Cartagena

Another big day’s sailing heading for Yacht Port Cartegena. The entrance was most confusing; we were directed by the Guardia Civil, in their motor boat,  as to the correct course to take to enter the harbour.  It appears that the cruise liner pier is being extended and the preparatory work is to drop tonnes of rock and debris in the harbour.   Unfortunately, it is not clearly marked off and we skimmed the very edge of it!  How pleased was I to have completed 49 miles and parked up in strong winds, next door but one to Skadi!  I needed that hug from Peter and Annelies!

More culture was to be had in Cartegena. We visited the superb museum of Sub Aquatic Archeology and then walked around the city and up to the castle.  It is the most amazing collection of eras. 

Moorish, Roman, Christian.  There is an incredible amphitheatre,

Amphitheater Cartagena
Amphitheater Cartagena

a bull ring (being renovated), and loads of fantastic buildings in the historic centre. There is much clever and considerate renovation going on, where the facades of numerous houses have been preserved and the building that used to support it is about to be replaced with a modern equivalent.

It’s probably a city to visit In another five to ten years.  They are on a mission.  The museums are interactive and impressive. No expense has been spared in the presentation of artifacts and information.  The centre is compact and attractive.  The views are amazing.  The history, incredible.  You can imagine the hive of activity that there must have been years ago when Cartegena was the hub of commercial activity of ships from all over the world and also an important port of refuge for war ships.

We left Cartegena for Santa Pola, Marina de las Salinas.

We had to motor today as there was virtually no wind.  We arrived and as directed in the Pilot Guide and we headed for ‘the cheaper of the two marinas’.  Where we paid €50 (!) including electricity, water, wifi and car parking space!  Oh, and the added privilege of being directly under the flight path of the local airport. Ouch!

After leaving San Pedro we headed further north to Altea, our final stop on the Spanish mainland  We knew that if was a fair way and that if we got there today we would have two days to provision and do jobs before David Heane’s arrival on the Monday.

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God’s fingers at sunset near Altea

So,  we decided to crack on which meant another night sail.  We passed Benidorm and noted the high rise skyline, reminiscent of Hong Kong.  We managed to clear the headland to Altea Bay as the sun went down so we could see where we were heading.  Our French friends on Moriannee were anchored in the bay….we contemplated a drive by… briefly.

We motored straight to the marina by now in pitch dark.  We radio-ed in and asked for a berth.  We were allocated P12.  Which is fine, if you know where P12 is.  By now, the wind had completely dropped so we were able to hover until we saw a man waving a torch.  We headed to that spot and parked up bows to.  We were handed lines to attach and a lazy line to fix the stern: Proper!

Altea
Altea
Altea blue roof's
Blue tiled roof tops in Altea

Altea is pretty; narrow streets, hills, churches with blue tiled rooves, quaint squares, stunning sea views, a long promenade, yellow beach and cute shops.  Well worth a wander round the steep and narrow streets of the historic centre.

So glad we are here for a few days of jobs and recuperation before the next big leg to Ibiza and Mallorca.

Ceuta to Mallorca Part 1

Aiming to arrive in Mallorca by the end of April to meet up with friends from Yorkshire we began our journey of some 600 miles by setting out from Ceuta.

Ceuta
Ceuta

We waved goodbye to new friends, Peter and Annelies on Skadi and Elio and Maria on Sela and headed back out across the traffic separation zone towards the East coast of Gibraltar, and the Mediterranean proper.  The wind was strong so we reefed in the mainsail and veritably whizzed across.  No dolphins this time.

Skadi scoots past-us
Skadi scoots past-us

We were overtaken by Skadi who were trying out their new ‘laminated’ sails.  Very fast.

We arrived in Estepona and since Peter and Annalies were anchoring, we figured we should try that too!  So we dropped the pointy heavy thing off the bow and spent a night bobbing around on the swell in the bay.  Ian had his new App working which tracks your movements on the anchor during the night and sets off an alarm if you start to move away from the anchor.  The App is wittily called “Drag Queen” and in her capable arms we had a fairly peaceful,  if rolly, night.

Keira & Ian
Keira & Ian

Next day, we set off to Marbella and found a nice marina to the Eastern side of the town where we encountered a Harrier hawk in town to scare off seagulls reducing bird poo on the sails. After a circuit of the marina she perched on our boom, and left a present.

Scaring seagulls
Scaring seagulls

We were able to enjoy a long walk down the promenade, people watching and then wandered up into the delightful historic centre to make our way through narrow and attractive lanes to find The Farm Restaurant which is owned and run by the people we had met in Ceuta.

The Farm,Marbella
The Farm,Marbella

Elio and Maria were most welcoming considering we had only met up briefly on the pontoon a couple of days before.  We shared a bottle of wine and had a platter of delicious cheeses and meat for our supper.  The restaurant was simply beautiful, with a secret garden at the side and tables set on the pavement square out front, as well as a lovely room inside.  If you are ever in Marbella, I can recommend it.

Marbella
Marbella

The following morning we were up early to take Keira to the bus station to catch a bus to Malaga airport for her flight home. We shall miss having her aboard.

Determined to try and find some wifi for weather reports and other vital communications we set off to a little restaurant we’d used the day before.  Somehow, between us, we managed to leave our wallet on the wall outside.  On returning there ten minutes later, it, and all its contents, had disappeared. So, the next hour was spent phoning round to cancel cards.  Not only was there our credit card and cash card there were our newly arrived EHIC cards and Cruising Association membership cards!  Very annoying.

So we were even more down in the dumps after that.

We decided to set off to Benalmadena for a change of scene and a change in fortune.  After a few hairy moments when currents and wind were pushing us towards the huge concrete pontoon we set off relatively smoothly.  By the time we rounded the renowned Cabo Pino at the half way point the winds were quite ferocious.  Gusting up to 30 knots.  The direction of the wind (NE) would mean an uncomfortable beat into the wind for the last leg.  Fuengirola, the nearest post of call, is more difficult to enter on a strong NE wind. Not being sure really sure how the weather was going to develop we decided to turn back.  We zoomed into Marbella for a second time on strong winds.

This time we parked bows to to make getting on and off easier.  We have also learnt that it is important to prepare strong lines for whatever the weather might throw at you.  Everything tidy and sorted BEFORE the beers come out!   And that there are simple preparations to do in port prior to leaving that make things a lot less hairy than trying to do them in 30 knots of wind!

Lots of lessons learnt.