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.
Another long day of motoring with no wind to arrive at this very pricey, but nice marina. The cruising guide classifies the marina fees as “high” in the summer, so we were expecting to pay more for the convenience of visiting the town of Almuñecar, given its significance as a former Phoenician port. What we were not expecting is that they were going to charge us double since there was no slip available for our size of yacht. We’ll classify the fees as “mega high” since we were put in a mega-yacht’s slip and leave it at that because the marina staff allowed us a late check-out the next day so that we could explore the archeological sites in town. That evening we met another American on a yacht about the same size as us, and he too, was surprised by the fee and to find us. He and his wife were headed west and back to the U.S. later this year. We have not met any other Americans on yachts headed east since leaving Lagos, and along with the two others we have met since then, all were returning to the U.S. We suspect that the weak U.S. dollar is partly to blame.
During the passage from Estepona, we saw a swordfish jump out of the water seven times as we passed. Other sailors have told us that they do this when threatened by a passing boat, but that it is not a common sight. Our almanac of the Mediterranean says that they are rumored to attack inflatable dinghies, but as far as we could tell, it just looked like it wanted to be left alone.
We departed Sotogrande on Thursday and motored in light wind to Estepona. We were both glad to be underway again and to see several dolphins and an ocean sunfish along the way. We were anxious to leave Sotogrande which had no facilities for the practical matters of life: grocery shopping and laundry. After a week in the filthy yard and another few days at the dock, the laundry basket was overflowing and the food stores were getting low. Amidst the touristy development of bars and restaurants in Estepona, we found a convenient laundry just outside the gate at the end our dock and a small, but well-stocked supermarket across the street.
After three months in the yard while we returned to the U.S. for family visits and took a one-month trip to Switzerland to attend a seminar at Rabten Choeling, we re-launched Gyatso with a fresh coat of bottom paint.
Our onboard library is now well-stocked with books about the ancient history of the Mediterranean Sea. In particular, David’s latest interest is in the Phoenicians who he thinks made an outstanding and under-appreciated contribution to the development of civilization throughout the Mediterranean. Our sailing itinerary includes plans to visit some of the important Phoenician sites along the way.