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Into the Med

15th August 2011

We have arrived in the Med.  John joined us in Gibraltar on Friday 12th and we set off as planned into the Med on Saturday morning.  A top up of diesel had to be done first then off we set eastward.  The first stop was Puerto de Fuengirola.  We arrived about 7pm and tied up med style on the pontoon after a 77 mile "sail".  I say sail but really with only 2 knots of wind we had the main up but had to motor all the way!  On tying up the marineros tried to tell us we had cut the lazy line for their mooring rope but they didn't argue with us when we said we hadn't so they must have already known it was cut.  The facilities were excellent with everyone being extremely friendly despite us not speaking any spanish. 

The next stop was Puerto del esta but we couldn't get anything other than a 24 metre berth and with the Spanish rule that you pay for the berth size not the length of your boat it was going to cost us over E80 for the night.  We decided to give that a miss and motored (again no wind all day) a further 3 miles east and dropped anchor.  It was a quiet night but as it was out first anchoring we didn't sleep that well so we were up and off at 8am.

It was day 3 of motoring with even less than 2 knots of wind today.  Our heading was Puerto de Almerimar.  I called ahead this time to ask for a berth and was told 'No problemo'.  We arrived about 3pm at the same time as a Portuguese Catamaran, Swiss Yacht, spanish powerboat and a Ketch.  The ketch decided to keep going and the power boat zoomed ahead of us all.  The Catamaran raced us to the entrance and as I'm a lady I let them go ahead.  We were next followed by the Swiss who decided as we turned to go alongside at the waiting pontoon to cut up the inside of us and steal the space....  Needless to say there was lots of shouting and blue air around.  They did eventually keep going and we were able to get into the space.  Not a very polite gesture in sailing terms from the Swiss but then we have to start expecting this type of thing as we get deeper into the med.

it is so hot here that the locals are complaining of the heat so the only thing to relieve the heat is an ice cold beer in the local beer garden followed by a cold shower - or two!

Tuesday the 16th

Its HOT, HOT, HOT!!! 1630 hours and we're melting despite fans and wind scoop. Its been a day of domestic chores and repairs. The Chandlery " Alamar Centro Nautico" speak English and have been very helpful, whilst the small fabricators Inox Almerimar have repaired the latch on the top of the fridge and the footswitch for the anchor windlass. Great to find these sort of facilities in such a place. All very friendly and helpful.

Hoping to head east tomorrow and start heading north as we round the Capo di Gata, but the wind is due to be on our nose....what a surprise.

26th August 2011 - John left us today to return to Dingwall. We had an interesting two weeks with him, travelling from Gibraltar to Puerto Soller in Mallorca via Ibiza. Most of the journey was spent motoring as the wind was always on our nose with a short choppy sea, which made things a bit uncomfortable at times however we did get one afternoon of sailing on a broad reach en route to Alicante followed by almost a whole journey sailing on a beat en route to Altea.

(pic: our route from Gibraltar to Menorca)

We stopped off along the Spanish South and East coasts in:-
·        Fuengirola – where the Marinero tried to tell us we had cut his lazy line with our prop.
·        Marina Del Este – where they only had a 24 metre berth at 85 euro’s which we declined and went to Enseada De Robaina and dropped anchor.
      (pic: Enseada de Robaina)
·        Almerimar – a Swiss yacht squeezed in between us and the pontoon in an attempt to take the space we were headed for. They moved on after much shouting…. We found an English speaking chap in the chandlers who was extremely helpful and, as he didn’t have the spares we needed, introduced us to a Rhodesian run workshop who effected an excellent repair to our fridge latch and our windlass switch at very reasonable prices.  Paella to die for - very yum.
(pic:Almerimar at night: Us with our Paella)                                                                                                 
·        Torrevieja – where we were very happy to arrive after a 28 hour sail. The facilities were excellent although the receptionist was a bit grumpy.  The boys didn't mind as they had 'hops & water' to look forward to.....
 (pic: John and Peter with their 'hops and water')
·        Alicante – we arrived after having a great hour and half sail so smiles all round. Very helpful Marina staff who advised us to remain on alongside on the waiting pontoon as the marina was full. This was very convenient for us as it was right next to the office, facilities and town. A walk around the old town proved it to be a lovely place and worth a further visit.
(pic: Alicante with castle & Red Ruth tied up in Alicante)
·        Altea – a couple of attempts to get a space here eventually resulted in a last minute berth becoming available for us. A pretty town with a church on the hill. The marina was amazing with access to a swimming pool and a bar/restaurant.  Unfortunately we didn't have enough time to use the pool but it looked SO inviting.  The marina is home to a very active and busy yacht club which, whislt partaking of the cooling hops and water, we watched a mums and dads kayak race around the marina with the kids cheering on from the pontoons; A sardine barbeque being prepared for the whole club in the evening - it smelled fantastic.  On leaving here we passed Marina Greenwich which is sited on the meridian.
       (pic: lookinig back toward Altea)
On 21st August we arrived in Ibiza.  We had an exciting time coming through the gap between Isla Formentera and Ibiza on the south side. There were ships and yachts everywhere travelling in every direction - all heading into and out of the gap. We managed to get through the gap without any problem only to find the seas were quite bouncy and the volume of boats from Palma heading towards us was like ‘flies on a windscreen’. The wake from all these boats added to the bouncy sea made me feel like I was in a washing machine - hot cycle.....
We had a lovely evening, anchored in a bay on the West side called Cala Tarida.  although it was a bit rolly overnight due to swell. On dropping the anchor we discovered that the windlass switch wasn't working.  We had tested it out a few times with all being well until we needed to use it in earnest.  Peter spent some time with his head in the anchor locker and managed to get it working after and fashion!
(pic: in the anchor locker effecting a repair; courtesy J Burgis)
I was up a few times checking that we hadn’t drifted but the sea was dead flat calm. In the morning we started to lift the anchor to set off. Up came the anchor chain – no problem, or so we thought!  Suddenly it stopped dead with the anchor still on the bottom. We were going no-where. All three of us peered over the side to identify what had happened. We could see a large square shape that looked like a lump of concrete which seemed to have snagged the anchor. Peter got out the snorkelling gear and jumped in to get a better view. After a good look around he gave instruction as to which direction to steer and when to pull up the chain. After about half an hour we were free. The object d’Art at the bottom of the sea was a sunken aircraft. Our anchor had hooked onto one of the wings, pierced it and was holding tight. The chain had wrapped itself around the cockpit seat!
 (pic: Peter snorkelling to determine how to free the anchor from the 'plane. - courtesy J. Burgis)
The plane "The EC-DRC" was complete until a tow from 3 metres dropped it in 8 metres depth following which the winter storms destroyed it - Information courtesy of http://www.seahorsedivingibiza.com/Divesites.html
After our first day of sailing nearly all the way with the wind in our favour, our next night was spent in Cala Pada which is a mainly German tourist resort. We dropped the dinghy and went ashore for our standard hops and water to quench our thirsts and cool our bods. The food was standard and expensive but a nice setting. John was able to purchase a pair of flip-flops to relieve his Croc eaten feet, and both men had a cold shower on the beach. Needless to say they were keen to return to the restaurant on the beach for dinner that night. I’m not sure if it was because of my cooking, the nice waitress or the topless young ladies lying on the beach – mmmmm I wonder!!!
 (pic: Red Ruth at anchor in Cala Pada)
23rd August 2011 we arrived in Mallorca. We motored all the way with no wind and flat calm seas. We did see a few dolphins and flying fish. Approximately half way across we suddenly found ourselves in the midst of a flurry of boats. Yachts, tankers, motor launches all going the opposite direction. After about an hour they were all out of sight again. We wanted to tie up in a marina in Andraitx to the south west of Palma however on my first attempt to telephone them to check if they had space for us I was met with no English. In fact the telephone was hung up on me so I decided I would attempt some Spanish. Laugh you may as despite my intent to learn the language on the way down the Atlantic coast the conditions prevented me from even opening the package with the learning materials in it. I resorted to the ‘Time Out’ tourist book and a 25 language yacht dictionary. After a couple of attempts to write something out I could sort of pronounce I made the call. 
Hola, no hablo castellano. Cuanto vale trece metro uno dias por favour.
Habla de amarre esta noche?
For those that speak or understand Spanish I apologise profusely for the grammar, or lack of. For the rest
Hello, I don’t speak Spanish. How much for 13 meters for one day please?
Do you have a berth for tonight?
(or at least that is what I hope I said!)
It had the desired result and we tied up in the Club de Vela marina with access to wonderfully clean facilities, the pool and the restaurants and café. We had a walk about town, tried to find the supermarket and had dinner in a restaurant on the other side of the bay. The supermarket was eventually found after asking for directions from none other than an Irishman visiting the town. Fresh provisions were purchased the next day before we left.
 (pic: Andraitx bay and river)
We arrived in Puerto Soller after a short journey. Again we had been unable to contact the marina or port office with telephone numbers provided from various sources just ringing out or not at all. We took the chance and arrived reasonably early in the afternoon in time to get a berth. It’s a lovely town with a tram that runs to the town of Soller, which we caught and then the train to Palma on Thursday spending the day as tourists. 
(pic: Puerto Soller traditional fishing boats and bay)
The train from Soller to Palma is Victorian, wooden and narrow with the feel of an Agatha Christie movie to it. I half expected to see Poirot coming through the carriage door any moment. It was a wonderful journey both into and out of Palma with wonderful views of the valley and the mountains.
(pic: Puerto Soller Tram and the Soller to Palma Train)
(pics: Peter & John on the train to Palma - note how close the tunnel wall is! : Palma Cathedral)
The highlights of the journey have been the good facilites, helpful marina staff and friendly locals. Air-conditioning has been most welcomed by us as the temperatures have been in the high 30 degrees every day. The locals tell us that they have had temperatures of up to 45 degrees C.  The downside, apart from the lack of sailing wind for our direction, has been the lack of internet access all along the journey. The best we have been able to get is to buy a coffee/beer in a café and use their limited access to check emails.  Photo's will follow as soon as we can get enough access to allow uploads.

28th August - we left Soller after a couple of sleepless nights.  Friday night was due to a huge swell coming into the marina after the high winds off shore.  Most of the night was spent checking fenders and lines (along with everyone else on the pontoon).  Saturday night was sleepless as the French people in the next boat were up all night then started their engine at 5am, ran it for an hour then left the pontoon with lots of noise.  We heard a twang and wondered what it was - on checking later in the morning we find our dinghy paddle has been snapped in half. 

On leaving Port Soller we anchored in Cala De San Vicente - a rolly night with a northerly swell which kept us awake all night.

(pic: Departing Majorca)

29th August - arrived in Addaya in Menorca.  A lovely sheltered marina surrounded by expensive villa's.  All with inviting swimming pools that we can only look at!  It is very hot but we are pleased to be tied up and able to get a good nights sleep.

30th August - as promised we had a good sleep - woken only at about 5am by a thunderstorm and a welcome shower of rain.  Over the weekend the clouds have been building over land with the heat increasing so the storm was a welcome relief.

(pic: Addaya)

30th August 2011 - Today we are leaving Menorca and heading to Sardinia so will be out of contact for a day or two. 


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