To continue our journey through the Mediterranean please use the following link:Spain (Balearics)
Log Entry Friday 25th July
Its time to move on, we pick up one of our grand daughters (Poppy) in Palma (Mallorca) on the 1st August. With over 320 nautical miles to cover we expect to be at sea for about three days. We slip our lines reasonably early, pay our fees and make our way along the southern coast of mainland Spain.
In time we round the Cabo de Gata and head directly for Formentera (Islas Baleares) from there we plan to head north east to Mallorca, land out of site for some time.
Log Entry Tuesday 22nd July
We had been held in Gibraltar for longer than we had planned due to the strong "Levanter Winds", strong easterly winds blowing through the Straits. The combination of such winds and strong tides make the passage through into the Mediterranean difficult for a vessel of our size. There was a forecasted break in the Levanter's and the return of favourable westerlies on Sunday - believe it (or not) they did materialise? We slipped our lines at 0700 to catch favourable tide around the Rock and into the Med. We had at this stage no true destination other than to be in the Balearic's for the end of the month. Combined with the fact that neither Ann or I had any interest in the "Costa's" so the plan was to head for, and round the "Cabo de Gata" making our way up the Mediterranean coast of Spain. As we had plenty of time we would travel for as long as possible, sailing as much as possible, rather than motoring.
Leaving the Marina Bay marina the first task as daylight broke was to get through the commercial traffic and make our through the large commercial anchorage. The anchorage appears to be used a lot for the refueling of the freighters on route to where ever. We passed a mix of vessels from super tankers to cruise liners, tug boats and of coarse the normal fishing vessels.
As we rounded the southern tip of Gibraltar we were hit by a sharp reminder of what can happen, even with today's technology things can and do still go wrong! We had to divert around a wreck of a freighter, recently grounded and "buoyed". A large commercial tug boat was continuously patrolling the area ensuring no others entered the secured area. Some ten hours later there was an automated distress call came over our DSC VHF, the co-ordinates were south of Gibraltar similar to the wreck Another vessel had "grounded", two people taking to their life raft, within a few hours our Navtex put out a further message asking all vessels to keep a lookout for two persons afloat? The same message was still being broadcast two days later?
Once clear of the wreck our coarse was set for Cabo de Gata (160 miles off) - we were now in the Med!
Down came the Gibraltar courtesy flag, and up, once again went the Spanish for the third time!
We were accompanied by light westerlies, which meant our speed would be relatively slow (4 to 5 knots) under sail, but we would be saving our "Gibraltar tax free fuel" - all 100 gallons we had taken on board the day before at £0.80p per litre. Not quite the same price as the UK - I thought Gibraltar was British? We only started our engine when our speed dropped down and stayed below 3 knots. We traveled all day and through the night, as were clear of the main shipping lanes, the only vessels we saw were from a distance, that would change later as we came closer to the shipping lanes off the mainland. We did have many visits from dolphins, always good to see!
As daylight broke we were faced with a decision as to whether we continued on or went ashore - all based on the weather. The forecast we had received before we left, had predicted the return of the unfavourable easterlies later today, and for our journey up the Spanish coast line north easterlies. In both cases the wind would be of little use to us - we were hoping this morning forecast would declare more favourable winds. We must have been between Navtex broadcasting stations - we received nothing? At this point we were only 15 miles south of Almerimar, any commitment we made to continue on gave us little ports we could use should the weather turn against us? We decided to make for Almerimar and changed coarse. Once in Almerimar we met two boats that had also left Gibraltar, both had motored for the entire 135 miles, we had motored for only nine hours in total (45 miles) inclusive of getting in and out of ports. We were quite pleased with our performance!
As we approached Almerimar in daylight, the harbour entrance was difficult to see due to the intense building development all along the shore line - we used the GPS to get us close enough to identify the entrance. The channel into the harbour was narrow and shallow therefore not much commercial traffic use the port, It is basically a marina for pleasure craft.
The marina is completely surrounded by apartments and bars, restaurants etc - a very high percentage empty!
The first thing we noticed was the high degree of British people, but one would expect that as it is primarily a tourist resort. This province has great history, once Phoenician, Roman and Arabic. It claims to have the most spectacular shorelines of the peninsular, it is backed with a wild mountainous territory? We plan to stay a few days to await more favourable winds.