Tuesday, November 8, 2011

An autumn cruise from Majorca to Benalmedina along the Costa del Sol

Arrived in Palma by easy jet on Tuesday 4th October. Metup with Tom at the hotel by the marina. Moved onto his newly purchased boat Paupaqua a Westerly Oceanquest on Wednesday and were launched on Thursday. We had a slight hicup as the engine stalled leaving the travel hoist dock. Fortunately turning on the diesel remedied the situation and we were able to moor up without further excitements. Our first outing was to motor 4 miles to the main Palma marina to fill with diesel and pick up some chandlery. With this success under our belts we continued to an anchorage a little further to the west from Palma Cala Sta Ponsa. This was a fine sail with winds occasionally reaching 30 knots. The anchorage was pleasant but a bit rolly and as our blue sky had turned to grey with rain in the offing we  wimped out of swimming although the water temperature was 25*c. Tom pumped up the dink and rowed ashore.

An prompt start at eight with a scary forecast of gales on the NE side of Mallorca but NW  5 decreasing 3 on the SW side in the Mallorca channel which was our area for the trip to Ibiza. In the event it was less than F3 all the way but a horendously lumpy sea with swells upto 2m+.  So it was motor all the way and we were glad to be in the anchorage at Cala St Vicente even though some of the swell crept in here. This time the grey sky turned to blue so a swim could not be missed. Today's only excitement was the breaking of the main sail sheet traveller car.

The 24 mile trip down the coast of Ibiza was uneventful, with little wind. The harbour on Formentera is pleasant enough. We mainly dropped in here to pick up water of which we were nearly completely out but it was all locked and no one around it being Sunday. The island has a large and popular anchorage. We had a prompt start on Monday for the 58 mile to mainland Spain. Again totally calm for most of the day and as is usual for the Med when the wind did perk up in the afternoon it was straight on the nose bringing a nasty little chop with it. We arrived at dusk. The call on VHF was immediately answered and we were directed to a convenient berth. We had a rest day here while Tom fixed the main sail track and got the ancient Yamaha outboard up and running. David Beatham of Siri a Moody 44 came to chat about wintering possibilities.

Topped up with diesel on another calm morning for a 50 mile motor sail down the Costa Blanca passing by Alicante to the large yacht harbour of Santo Polo. Could not get through on VHF 9 as it was too busy so just picked up a berth. A proper finger pontoon which was a first. Not much else to say about this place as it was mostly closed up for a saint's day. The track broke again, so the hunt is on for Torlon ball bearings without which the track cars or non functional. No joy here so we motored the short distance to Torrevieja on Thursday where there are reported to be good chandleries. Arrived by lunchtime but the temperature had risen to 34* C so not inclined to go exploring. In the early evening when it was slightly cooler discovered the the English run chandler had closed down and the other had only Harken spares not the Lewmar we needed.

Friday and it is motoring again although the forecast promised NE 3-4. A little wind did eventually pick up in the afternoon so we made fine progress on the 40 mile trip towards Cartagena. In the event we sailed a few miles passed to the delightful cove " Calla Cerrado". It is Lulworth in minature. Naturists were swimming off the beach and one swam out with a 2 coin in her teeth wishing to buy some drinking water as they had contrived to loose theirs and they had a long hot walk home. Tom was gracious enough to hand over a bottle of mineral water without charge and we had a nice chat.

On Saturday we sailed for Garrucha about 30 miles distant. And joy of joys the wind picked up, almost as forecast from the NE. And so from lunchtime onwards at least we were able to have a proper sail. Garrucha is a fishing, commercial harbour, whose marina is being extended. The friendly but non English speaking harbour master sold us some diesel and suggested we use the fish dock as it would be free. We decided to stay in the marina as it was convenient and it only cost 12 which is the cheapest so far. Sunday was again a bit of a drive this time to San Jose just before Cabot de Gata the final big rounding point before Malaga. Arriving at lunchtime we availed ourselves of a very pleasant fish repast on the dock side restaurant. This place however is pricey at 30 per night in the low season, apparently 50 in the high season! Yet another drive on Monday to the giant marina development of Almerimar. Today's variation - it rained in the  morning and continued cloudy for most of the day. The swell continued despite the calm conditions. Slight increase in wind in the afternoon nicely to coincide with mooring up. 

Our next night was spent anchored off the beach Ensanada de la Herradura. It had been very quiet and sunny all day for this motor sail but the anchorage was still rolly but pleasant enough for a final swim of the year. Then onto the massive Moorish- Gaudiesque marina that is Benalmedina at the south west end of Torremalinos near Malaga to whose airport it is conveniently near.

400 miles in just under a fortnight not bad even if it was mostly under power. At least the engine received a good work out.

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