Gibraltar to Cartagena
We left La Linea about 9.30am on Sunday morning knowing that we were in for a long few days sail if we were to go straight to Cartagena.
Actually, I’m not going to detail this to much as to be honest the trip wasn’t the nicest and we mainly motored for the whole of the way. Points were:-
- we saw dolphins on day 1 – lots of pods all heading towards the Straits i.e. the opposite direction to where we were going. What did they know?
- night sailing was hard work particularly with no autopilot/self steering
- it was a pitch dark night, no moonlight
- the stars were amazing – not quite the “African sky” that I’m still hoping to see but a lot more than a night on land
- Neil had less than 1 hours sleep in over 28 hours
After a long night we decided to break the trip by going into the marina at Almerimar for two nights. Our first ‘stern-to’ mooring. I was very nervous about this which is why I was keen to get to Cartagena with as few stops as possible but we managed fine.
Left Almerimar on Wednesday morning and took 14 hours to motor to Garrucha marina which was just a pit stop for the night. We arrived at 8.30pm, moored side to, only got off the boat to hand over €47 for the night. Ridiculously expensive for a marina that is virtually empty, has a huge great ship being constantly loaded by lorries alongside, essentially loading what looks like dust and if the wind is in the wrong direction the ‘dust’ blows over your boat. However, there were no anchoring options and the sea was very lumpy.
We passed this hotel on the way to Garrucha which is not open and Greenpeace painted Hotel Illegal on the front although it looks as though someone has painted out the I. Details on it’s story here.
After a successful looping of the cleat on the pontoon by moi on the fuel pontoon and refuelling we were off again. An anticipated 8 hours motoring into the swell and wind. It was uncomfortable and my back was already aching just from having to tense against the motion. To go to the loo, Neil had to throttle back and let Gleda ‘bob’ (I’m sure there is a nautical term for this) so I could get to the loo without being drenched by the waves crashing on the fore deck. Neil’s not keen on the rolling motion and starts to feel ill. Being a catamaran we don’t roll too much at all but the sea state had us pitching well and rolling a bit as we went up one wave on one side and down the wave on the other. Neil helmed all the way as it helped keep his mind off the sickness. Despite the sea state, the only items that moved in the boat were a bottle of squash fell off the table and a wooden plaque fell off the ‘wall’. Nothing broke, no disasters.
We did see dolphins again. They were a different sort to the ones we usually see. We drove in amongst them circling an area so we can only assume they were feeding. There were about a dozen and unlike the ‘usual’ dolphins which had a white stripe and dart about quickly, these looked to be a single grey colour and moved very slowly and gracefully in the water. I love seeing dolphins. It gives me a sense of calm that everything will be OK. We arrived in Cartagena Yacht Port marina just after 5.30pm and were helped to our side on berth by two mariners, Fran and Andreas. I went up and checked us in for 1st Sep 2016 to 1st April 2017. We were so pleased to be in. After showers, I cooked us a simple supper and we celebrated with a bottle of chilled Prosecco that I had bought for the purpose in Morrisons in Gibraltar.
Whilst the sail into Cartagena was Neil’s most uncomfortable day, I have to say that our 14 hours to Garrucha was mine. I was ok with the day/night sail because I knew it was a passage and I got some sleep but the trip to Garrucha was just too long for me in a lumpy sea. In fact if it hadn’t been me to check us in with the office, I think I would’ve cried.
So far all looking good with Cartagena. My only bug is the showers. Two cubicles with communal changing area and a door to the outside that doesn’t shut properly. I’m still not keen on communal undressing particularly if people walking past get a view.
Cartagena is on the Mediterranean cruise schedule of many operators. The first one we saw was Royal Princess, probably the largest we will see here. It was pretty impressive to see her come through the dog leg breakwater, turn and dock alongside. It is the nearest I have been to a large cruise ship and just the thought of the logistics of feeding, cleaning, entertaining etc over 4,000 people makes my mind boggle. And I thought I was organised. Have to say though that the liner needs to be more mindful of the people who are already in the marina. We had to put up with the piped music and the smell of the fumes from the engines which stayed running for the 7 hours it was here.
We are settling in and enjoying exploring our new winter home. It doesn’t feel like winter yet, over 30degrees as I type this.