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Nearly, but not quite
We left our ‘home’ berth in Cartagena on Thursday 31st May. As I write this, we have been back in the same berth for a week.
For family reasons, we decided to return to Yacht Port Cartagena so we can be close to an airport and the boat, and me, can be left safely if Neil needs to shoot back to the UK. We did, however, have a week out.
On the Sunday before we left, Pat and Duncan on Samji arrived in the marina on their way back towards the UK. We had wintered with Samji in Lagos, spent some time with them in the Guardiana and then our first winter here in Cartagena. Great to see them and we managed a hello/farewell dinner out with Kenny and Lin from Interval too. Note the waiter who took the picture managed to get the name of the restaurant in as well.
As we left Kenny, Lin, Markey, Ruth, Peter and David were there to wave us away (and take some pics, thanks Lin). That was it we were away. Our near neighbours, Martin & Petra from Magick left an hour or so behind us but as Martin was motoring well to get straight to the Balearics we gave them a wave as they overhauled us.
There was no wind which gave us the opportunity to do a proper test of our CPT auto-helm which I have named Lincoln. This was working well and makes a real difference to our sailing. As we turned north to head to the Mar Menor (inland sea) where we were planning to anchor outside the wind started to pick up some. We weren’t sailing for long as we reached our destination and anchored outside the Mar Menor next to an unfinished marina. I’d really enjoyed our first proper trip out and we had a lovely evening on anchor in a peaceful spot.
Next day we left at 8.30am barely any wind but as Neil said we may as well be moving slowly rather than sat waiting for a wind that might not come. We passed through a huge fish farm where a number of boats were working the nets and headed into Alicante Bay.
We anchored in the north corner of the bay. I have to say that from the sea, the buildings surrounding the beach where we were anchored looked terrible. I thought some of the high rises were derelict. I looked through the binoculars and decided it was just the design and the canopies that were on the buildings that gave this effect. After dinner Neil read the forecast which meant we were in for an uncomfortable 24 hours. We decided to carry on up to Calpe. We motored past Benidorm and around the next headland towards Calpe. We arrived at 2am.
The next day, well same day, which was a Saturday we headed into town to buy a new Android tablet to run Navionics (an electronic sea chart app) as our original one had given up between Alicante and Calpe. We bought one just before the shop shut for the day and headed back to charge and upload. Turns out this particular Android tablet was not compatible with the Navionics app. We were deciding whether to wait to return the tablet which would need to be the Monday or whether to head to the islands anyway and sell the tablet at a future date when info from home made us decide to head back to Cartagena. We spent a couple of days in Calpe, took back the tablet and ordered a doo-dad GPS thingimybob for Navionics to work on iPad to be delivered to us there.
I loved Calpe. As a holiday resort I thought it was a nice mix of the old Spanish town with not too many holiday high-rises, although they are building quite a few more. It would of been nice to see a restriction on the height of the new builds. They do not need to compete with Benidorm. We explored the rock, Penon de Ifach, under which the marina sits and explored some of the old town. I saw a restaurant in the old town which, judging from the menu, I would of loved to go to, but it was shut on Monday when I found it and we left on the Tuesday. I’ve since looked it up on Trip Advisor and it has just made me want to go back to try it. I’d certainly consider Calpe as a holiday destination. Only an hour from Alicante and in fact only a 2 hour drive from Cartagena (I checked on Google).
We left Calpe on Tuesday teatime and headed across the bay to moor up in a sheltered spot in Altea. It felt vey remote and peaceful. Looking at Google Earth though you see that this spot is just over the hill from Benidorm and the resort of Altea is just around the corner. Lovely spot though. There were 8 mooring buoys to pick up (free of charge) and we were the only ones there overnight.
Again an early start and we headed back down with a mind to anchor again in the same spot outside the Mar Menor. However with deteriorating weather and winds picking up fast we headed into the safe harbour of Torrevieja. Usually anchoring within the large harbour is not allowed and a police launch came up to us as we entered but waved us in. There were already some boats anchored and we picked a spot close to the beach. We think that due to the weather the harbour authorities were not being too strict. We had been settled for about an hour and then the storm really hit. Heavy rain, thunder & lightening and strong winds. After about an hour the wind virtually died to nothing although it did rain steadily for nearly 3 hours. Turned out to be one of the most peaceful nights we had that week (the marina had not been peaceful or quiet due to rain, high wind, fishing fleet, thunder …).
We debated about staying there for another night, assuming the harbour authorities would allow, as the winds were not favourable for the direction we wanted to go. We decided that we would rather “motor through” and get back to Cartagena. Our original trip into Cartagena had been 8 hours of motoring agains the wind and waves and this was going to be a similar trip though much shorter. It would only be after we turned at Cabo Palos to run along the Calblanque Regional Park that the wind/waves would really be on the nose. From Torrevieja to the corner was pleasant enough. We saw the Spanish aerobatic display teams practising for the upcoming air show which was fun. Turns out if we had waited for the right winds, we would still be waiting one week later!
We got back to Cartagena about 3.30pm and as well as the marinero, David, Markey, George and Jonna were there to help us back in. Blink and you wouldn’t have noticed we were gone. That night we were welcomed back with heavy sandy rain. Certainly it carried more sand than any other rain we had seen. We had two heavy showers of this. We were up at midnight watching the lightening show too. We were safely tied in our berth and could enjoy the light show and dismiss the rain with a shrug as the weather now is not as much of a concern as we are not out sailing/anchoring in it.
I am disappointed that I won’t be getting my crystal clear waters and starry nights yet but nothing to say that we won’t get back out there again this season. In the meantime, Cartagena is a great place to be and on Gleda is where we are at home.