This section takes us as along the Spanish region of Andalucia. To continue our journey to Gibraltar please use the following link:Gibraltar
Log Entry Wednesday 9th July
Strong winds and wave conditions in the anchorage push us into the local marina, with little sleep the night before due to the swell and an anticipated early start we seek the calm of a pontoon berth. At our age we need our sleep! Chris & Barb (Dream or Two) are on their way to Barbate - another one of Chris's "hello/farewell" parties on the cards! As well now turn into the Med. they make there way south to cross the Atlantic in the winter months, the night went well, we wish the good luck!
Log Entry Tuesday 8th July
We sit at anchor for a couple of days awaiting to make the trip around Tarifa into the Gibraltar Strait and through to Gibraltar itself. The narrow strait linking the Atlantic and Mediterranean is extremely tidal to a small vessel like ours, the tide being more favourable to those heading west (as we are) as apposed to the easterly journey. Our progress at the moment being held up by strong head winds (known as "Levanter"), we need to await the forecast favourable westerlies.
We sit aboard watching the world go by, the beaches are full every day, plenty of activity on the water also. There is the usual fishing activity, the dredger works the main channel and a freighter ships out the sand. Of more interest to me is the removal of a nearby "tunny net", three teams of vessels remove the marker buoys, the large steel cable and floating coloured markers. The numerous sea anchors are then lifted from the sea bed by converted fishing vessels, all components are then loaded into large barges and taken to shore. A later trip ashore astounds me as there are literally hundreds of these "ship type anchors" involved with these nets, all almost three meters tall. This nets removal will save us some time as we would have had to make our way around it, now our path will be straight through its original position.
Log Entry Monday 7th July
Our destination is Barbate (Spain) located at the entrance of the Strait of Gibraltar, only 30 miles from Gibraltar. Barbate is an ideal place to stop and await wind and tide to take us through to the Mediterranean. We left about 0900, as did two of the American frigates, they headed off into the Atlantic, we followed the coast south. The winds were light and behind us, we sailed averaging only 4.5 knots through out the trip, we were in no hurry. Two yachts passed us motoring, a third passed coming from the south - obviously time for them is an issue. As we rounded Cabo Trafalgar about 1700 hours a fascinating site opened up before us, we could see through the mist the coast line of Morocco (North Africa), hard to believe we were so close. Further on we could make out in the distance the land mass of Gibraltar looming through the mist!
We turned towards Barbate, negotiating around the "tunny nets" -large permanent nets secured to the sea bed, often for miles. Their objective to catch tuna, and of coarse any unwary sailors! We dropped anchor off the crowded beach, full of bathers and swimmers, we were alone at first but were soon joined by other vessels look to make the same passage as us, or, already made the trip from Gibraltar. The town of Barbate was formerly known as "Barbate de Franco" has been, and is still being extensively developed for the local tourist. The beaches well organised as one would expect.
The winds are turning against us (i.e. from the east), we had originally planned to leave on the Wednesday - Thursday is now the better day to travel for us, an early (0400 hours) start is required to hit the tides.
Log Entry Saturday 5th July
Our next destination was Rota, on the north of Bahia de Cadiz (Cadiz Bay). The rip was uneventful, we made good way in very light winds arriving about six in the evening. The town is heavily influenced by a US Naval Base only a couple of miles off. As we re tuned our FM radio to receive a local broadcast as we did in every new place we were welcomed by "US Forces Radio" broadcast local from the US - rock and country and western played all day and night? It was a sign of the times to listen to "messages" being played to the troops and their loved ones, "Do not disclose travel plans, even to your loved ones, do not jeopardise national security - the enemy could be listening!".
We tied up at the fuel/reception pontoon to be allocated a berth, it was like a zoo, numerous boats refueling, dropping off, and picking up. To top it all the marina was also a ferry port to Cadiz, we hit lucky, it departed just as we moved to our assigned berth! Chris and Barb (Dream or Two) was also on route from Rio Guadiana - a hello/farewell party was inevitable, we retired about 2am. Chris and Barb left the next morning making for Gibraltar.
The beaches are very prominent, being Sunday very busy with local family gatherings, plenty of groups together, sun shades, cool boxes and all!
We liked the town a lot, totally different to Mazacon, an interesting old town section with it's narrow streets, stone arches, bars and restaurants. The extensive use of the English language was noticeable, you would order some thing in your best Spanish, you were then told in English how much it cost!
Log Entry Tuesday 1st July
We now leave Portugal, and make our way southeast along the Spanish coast - we once again raise our "Spanish courtesy flag." Our life at anchor will change some what over the coming weeks as ahead of us few anchorages exist - marinas becoming our safe haven on an evening. The reason being two fold, not many sheltered anchorages exist, but also locally authorities are also discouraging anchoring, forcing visitors into marinas, hence creating in theory a further source of income. The actual result is some what different in our eyes. The people we have met, as a result of the cost of marinas travel very quickly through this region, we intend to do the same, the over all result must be less cash spent locally by the visiting yatchies?
A large organisation (The Junta de Puertos de Andalucia, based in Seville) has created eight yacht marinas/fishing harbours ahead of covering the coastline up to Gibraltar - they clearly have the monopoly! The developments included, bars, restaurants and chandlery networks.
Our first port of call is Mazacon at the entrance of the Rio de Huelva, Huelva itself, a couple of miles up river is an industrial port best described as a city of oil refineries. It has historic links with Columbus as he prepared for his voyages from there. The town of Mazacon is of no real interest to us - just a place to break up the journey.
This section of coastline is quite shallow with many sand banks and shallows to clear, a by-product of such shallows is concentrated "lobster fishing" and the associated dreaded "lobster pots". To non sailors, they are a nightmare to say the least, some times poorly marked they can disable a yacht with relative ease. A focused look out is essential. We had never experienced such concentration of lobster pot markers, our time was spent dodging and working a round them! The vessels farming the field were numerous, about two miles from Mazacon we had half a dozen of them cut across our path, refusing to give way to us, our avoiding manoeuvres caused some aging gear to fail! Once in port we had to order gear and fit it, we had originally planned to be there for one night only, as a result we stayed four.
The marina was sizable, a good 25 meters between rows of pontoons at our berth, manoeuvring could not have been easier. The marina complex was a good cycle from the town, the supermarket even further out on the towns out skirts. The town was relatively new, a "local tourist centre", its local beaches, were remarkably clean and busy.
The marina complex had all of the required facilities, we were glad to receive and fit our replacement parts, fortunately we were able to complete all our selves.