Monday, 11 September 2017

Pelagia cruise 2017 part five. Alicante to Malaga

  Our friend Catherine arrived in Alicante on 29 th July and we set off the next day heading south west to our next port of Torrevieja. After an initial hour of motoring, the  wind came up and we had a splendid sail on a broad reach the rest of the way to Torrevieja, a sail of 32 miles. We berthed on the waiting pontoon whilst checking in and were told that for the one night we could stay alongside it which was ok except being rocked by all the boats in and out of the marina on a busy Sunday night. There was a lot of noise from a stage set up on the harbour side opposite to us but we later found out that we were excellently positioned to hear the concert later that evening which was Earth, Wind and Fire! All for free! The next day was on to Tomas Maestre marina a distance of 28 miles and we had to access it via a bridge that opened every two hours. We aimed to ensure we made the 1600 bridge but we had such a good wind of force 4 that we got there in time for the 1400 bridge. Again we tied up on the waiting pier but were unable to raise anyone on the radio and could not get inside the marina fence to access the office. Pat managed to hail a Marinero working on the inside and he let me in to go to the office and we eventually got a berth. Unfortunately they did not give us a key to get to the toilets or out of the gate so another long hot walk to the office round the marina to get one. The coastline in this part of Spain is totally full of unattractive tower block apartments and hotels for mile after mile. This marina borders on an inland sea and we had an evening drink overlooking the enclosed waters which was pleasant. However, the sand spit of land between lake and sea is totally crowded with buildings and the sand covered in sunbathing people by the hundred.
     We escaped the marina by the 1000 bridge and set sail for Cartagena some 17 miles south around Cabo de Palos. Again the wind came up and we had a downwind sail in force five winds to the huge harbour where we had already booked a space for the night. Since we arrived relatively early we were able to explore the town which is truly beautiful with many spectacular Roman remains and exquisite buildings. A lot of restoration had been done since we last came five years ago which was good to see. It is a good job we did our sight seeing that day as a huge P and O cruise ship slipped in over night with thousands of tourists the next day. All we had to do that morning was some shopping before we set off for a short sail of 17 miles to Mazarron. There were two harbours at Mazarron and the pilot book suggested the most westerly of the two. Having had another splendid sail down and arrived in the now force five wind we found that harbour full. The anchorage off the beach was not an attractive option in the rough sea but a local Spanish boat suggested we try the other harbour which was the main fishing harbour but with some yacht berths. It was only a mile around the point but being upwind we bounced our way round in the choppy sea. We saw the end of a pontoon empty and went for it, hoping that it was not a berth for a trip boat or something. It turned out to be perfectly ok and once the harbour master came back on duty at five we were able to pay our dues. The only downside was the noise from adjacent bars which started at about 2200 hrs and finished about 0700 the next morning. I was by this time sleeping on deck as the temperatures in Spain were soaring in August and the humidity was so high, but I still managed some sleep in the noise. We also managed to get a swim in the sea as the beach was close by even though it was virtually impossible to find a space between the bodies on the beach or in the sea! 
     We left early for the nearly 40 mile sail to Garrucha the next day . We started sailing well on a beam reach but the wind died in the middle of the day. It recovered later more from ahead of us and we sailed close hauled to the harbour on a very hot sticky day. Once moored alongside in  the harbour we melted in the stifling heat and retired to a bar to sip beer to cool down and get Wi Fi . Another uninspiring town which we were not upset to leave early the next morning. The next leg to Almeria was some 50 miles as we had been unable to secure a berth at the intermediate port of San Jose. Initially the coast was full of buildings as we had come to expect, but as we rounded Cabo de Gata the scenery changed to one of mountains and empty coastline. One notable headland before Almeria was called Black Head and it had a striking white rock inclusion at its base which stood out stark against the black rock. 

It was a hot windless day and we had to motor the whole way 51 miles, but at least moving along kept us a bit cooler. Approaching the harbour the town looked sad and neglected, but the yacht club harbour and facilities were very good indeed. How wrong we were and we soon saw a beautifully kept interesting town with wide tree lined boulevards with some wonderful fountains and statues. 

We decided to stay two days and explore the castle and town as well as spending some hours in the air conditioned club bar and restaurant. Although the castle involved a hot walk up it was worth the effort and inside the moorish style building there were many cool gardens and water features where one could stop and rest and admire the views over the town. 

Much money had been spent in protecting and restoring the heritage industries of the town such as the old railway which brought minerals to the harbour and was now a feature over the main tree lined plaza. There was a Thomson cruise ship in the harbour so clearly it is an up coming tourist destination and we enjoyed our stay.
   From Almeria we sailed to the new harbour development of Almerimar where we had reserved a berth. The coast was again what we called the Costa Concrete and we had a mixture of sailing and motoring for the 18 miles to Almerimar. The harbour was pleasant enough but very purpose built and our berth was amongst buildings that had not been sold or let out and were slowly deteriorating. The good side was that we could again walk to a beach and cool off in the sea having picked our way through the throngs again. We were not sorry to leave Almerimar for the 45 mile leg to Marina Del Este, however we had tried to reserve a berth there only to be told they do not take bookings but you have to ring at 0900 hrs on the day. Since we left Almerimar before 0900 hrs it was difficult as we would have no alternative option once there. I rang at 0900, 0930, 1000, and 1100 only to get a Spanish answer phone upon which I eventually left a message. We arrived early at 1400 hrs after 49 miles . I asked for a berth for two nights as it was our wedding anniversary the next day and they said did you ring for a reservation that morning. Of course I said yes I did several times and we got our berth! It is a beautiful small marina tastefully built with many nice restaurants around it. 

We were able to swim from the small beach , not quite as crowded as other places, and we chose a lovely restaurant looking over the harbour and sea for our anniversary meal the next day. Together with Catherine we all had a fabulous meal watching the moon set through the palm trees on a magical night.
     After Marina Del Este we set course for Caleta de Velez a sail of 21 miles. There was little wind but a huge swell coming from wind further away up the Mediterranean. We rolled our way there and got a berth in the yacht club moorings . The harbour was a large fishing harbour and full of rubbish which all seemed to be driven by the wind down to our end. However, a lot of work was going on to improve the town and harbour and no doubt it will get better. Walking along the beach front later in the day we discovered it was a clean tidy beach, well maintained and backed by a row of very well built expensive houses and apartments. Clearly it was a sought after resort for holidays. Our final leg with Catherine was across the bay of Malaga some 25 miles to the large harbour of Benalmadena where I had tried to reserve a berth. 

I was not sure if I had been successful but on arrival I boldly said yes I have a reservation and was allocated a berth in the very full harbour. The berth we were given turned out not to have a lazy line as it was broken and after tying temporarily to two other boats the side of us we went and pleaded for another space. Luckily another boat had left and we actually got a better berth this time well away from the crowded area and noise. We chose Benalmadena because of its proximity to Malaga airport for Catherine to leave but the marina is a massive conglomeration of weird style apartment blocks surrounded by bars and retail outlets around which the boats are moored. It is rough, noisy and pretty unpleasant so we kept away from it all as much as possible except for food shopping.
     This leg from Alicante was another 302 nautical miles over the two weeks making a total this year logged of 1786 so far. Pat and I now have to make our way the remaining distance to Gibraltar and there await a suitable window of wind and weather to exit through the straights back into the Atlantic and on towards Portugal. Going west out of the straights is not easy because there is always a flow of water into the Mediterranean of up to two knots so even with a fair tide you may be  fighting against it. In addition the winds are more normally westerly and you may have to wait for favourable east winds which sadly build up choppy seas against the incoming current. Ah well it is all in the life of the cruising sailor!


No comments:

Post a Comment