A pleasant passage today — all motoring — with very comfortable seas and beautiful scenery, especially seeing Punta del Abrir, a photo of which is on the cover of our cruising guide. We tied up at the end of the dock at the Club Nautico and enjoyed the open views of the harbor and surrounding town which we did not have time to visit during our short stay.
This is the biggest city we have been in for awhile, and although we were warned by other cruising friends, the prices for everything were correspondingly high. We stayed a few days longer than planned, mainly to do a 2,500 hour servicing of our engine. It has been running perfectly, and we would like to keep it that way. We made a quick visit to the archeological museum which was interesting but a bit overdone in the multi-media department. Each gallery was devoted to a different topic but had a similar presentation format which didn’t work to well for us. There was an interesting exhibit with a replica of a Phoenician trading vessel found in the waters nearby.
Glad we waited a day for more favorable winds which started light but built in the afternoon to 12-15 knots from the SE. We anchored for one night inside this large, protected harbor which is also home to one of the most productive salt works in the world. We watched them load salt onto a ship at the commercial dock, but did not visit the salt works as our guidebook suggested.
We awoke in the morning to find a local fisherman as our only neighbor. He was in a small, but sturdy looking rowboat named Toto with three lines out but no luck until we hauled up our anchor. That did the trick — he landed a small fish and gave us a wave of thanks. We were underway in the late morning which is when the wind seems to start to build-in around here. Lingering over coffee did the trick for us — we had a wonderful sail to Alicante.
We arrived on Saturday for a one-week stay to visit local archeological sites/museums and to re-stock provisions. We both really liked Cartagena, a small city rich with history that has not been overwhelmed by resort development. The large, natural harbor — a rarity on this coast — has been used continuously since the Phoenicians first settled here in the 3rd Century B.C.
Anchored for two nights 100 meters from a popular swimming beach just outside of town. Rocky cliffs protected us to the north, west and south, but the anchorage was not protected from the southeast wind or swell. Luckily, we did not experience too much of either, although we did roll a bit at times.
Yesterday’s wind held for awhile this morning, just enough to get us around Cabo de Gata but not enough to sail all the way to Garrucha, so we motor-sailed most of the day. We were awed by the rugged coastline while rounding the Cape and continuing with very little coastal development until just southwest of Garrucha. David remarked, “This is one of the most barren stretches of coast that I have ever seen.” We saw swimmers and sunbathers on the beaches nestled between the rocky cliffs and were treated to a school of 15 dolphins feeding in the current just before sunset. We found a nice place to anchor inside the protected, fishing harbor and stayed onboard again watching the holiday festivities ashore and the fisherman on the breakwater “change shifts” as the sun went down.
We had a quick sail in 18-22 knots of west wind, but with strong winds in the forecast and failing light, we decided against rounding Cabo de Gata today. We tied up at the end of the dock for a night, but other than registering with the marina, we did not go ashore. A simple dinner onboard (marinated steaks and reheated pasta & veggies) and early to bed after sampling the new version of David’s “house special” — Oloroso wine from Adra mixed with Dolce (sweet dessert wine) from Valencia. Now we know where the great taste of the sherry wine “Oloroso dolce” comes from!
We arrived at the huge marina in Almerimar for what turned out to be an 11-day stop-over to collect our mail, catch-up on some reading and visit sites of interest nearby. A few days into our stay, we found Dutch friends Dries and Else on Thetis, which was docked two basins over from us. We crossed the Atlantic together last year, and they also kept their boat at Marina de Lagos over the winter, departing there at the end of June. We enjoyed a fun evening of tapas, wine and dinner ashore with them. They left the following day bound for the Balearics and then France.
We stayed at the Real Club Nautico (Royal Yacht Club) in Adra for two nights, a place described in our cruising guide as not being suitable for keeled yachts, however, we think that what they really meant is that it was not suitable for proper yachtsman. As we often find, most places have their charm, even if they don’t have much in the way of glitz. Here it was the friendly people and a glimpse of life other than what takes place in the mega-resorts of the Costa del Sol.
After a morning of visiting the town of Almuñecar and a late check-out from the marina, we decided to motor east in no wind to the next port, Motril. We did not find any space in the small Club Nautico there, and we found the anchorage on the chart had been filled-in with a busy commercial pier. The beautiful bay of La Herradura, located 10 miles to the west (in the direction from which we had just come), was calling out to us.