Nick having arrived from the airport (he chose to do the journey by bus not taxi; not realising it involved three changes of bus) we decided on a mid afternoon departure for Punta de los Banos, an anchorage some 19 miles away. Although open to the south it was relatively well protected from the east and it was from the east the remaining swell was still coming. The wind was light but enough to sail. A reach initially broad, but tightening as we approached the headland, where we could head straight west, “joy, let's get the spinnaker out!” The spinnaker lasted until a mile short of the anchorage before the reach became to tight to hold it and we were forced to resort to the genoa for the last leg. Fun all the same.
|Anchored at Punta de los Banos|
The night at Punta de los Banos was uneventful and the following day dawned clear and bright, ….. and almost windless! By mid-day we were bored with waiting for wind; ghosted off the anchor, turned west and set course for Calahonda, a quiet bay 25 miles away; it was downwind (in what there was) hence out came the spinnaker again. Within 30 seconds of being ready to hoist it the wind had changed, without warning, and was on the nose; back to plan A; the start engine! In the last few miles we managed to motor-sail and eventually sail again but not for long.
|Anchored at ensenada de Zacatin|
By 1720 we were sailing in, dropped the anchor and settled for the night. In fact so pleasant was it that we decided to stay a second night and enjoy the solitude (well almost, there was a main road at the top of the cliffs but it was almost deserted due to there being a new motorway 200m further inland).
From here it was a dash across the bay to just beyond Almunecar, the anchorage at Herradura. We departed at 1000 but again the wind was almost non existent and what there was was against us, just our luck. For three and a half hours we motored along taking it in turns to keep watch, read books or otherwise be bored; how do motor-boaters put up with it? By 1330 we were on the anchor in the eastern end of the bay at Herradura, off of the well populated beach but it was a very pleasant anchorage; again open to the SW but sheltered from the persistent easterly swell. The following day we relaxed the day away and then motored the 1.5 miles back to Marina del Este, which was the other side of the headland that was protecting us from the swell.
|Marina del Est, near Almunecar|
There we were well received, booked in with the marinaios at the fuelling jetty and were berthed on the waterfront next to the restaurants and bars, Oh joy! Fortunately they were not too noisy and didn't stay open late.
We had decided to stay here two nights in order to hire a car and visit Granada however, “the best laid plans!” There was not a hire car to be had anywhere within a sensible distance! The alternative was public transport; hence, next morning saw us getting a taxi to Almunecar and a bus from there to Granada. The journey was amazing, through a pass in the mountains of the Sierra Nevada, and then over the flat plains surrounding Granada.
|Alhambra, Granada - Moorish part|
We arrived at mid-day, booked ourselves entry to the Alhambra and a walking tour of old Granada, and then set off to look at the cathedral and find some lunch. The cathedral is spectacular, totally resplendent, having been the burial place of Spanish Royalty for many years. From lunch it was on to the Alhambra and yet more fantastic architecture, including the Royal Renaissance Palace built inside the Moorish fortified palace in an attempt to out-do their predecessors, sadly we were unable to get into the old Moorish Palace with its Harem etc. but even so it was an amazing experience.
|View of Granada from the Alhambra|
Next came the walking tour of the old city, the old Jewish quarter and the caves; these were originally inhabited by gypsies, when they arrived from the east and were denied residence within the city walls, and they are still used today as residences. By this stage we were all wilting. The tour finished at 1730, we stopped for a cold drink by the side of the river, below the walls of the Alhambra, and then set off for the 1900 return bus. I think all of us slept for most of the journey!
|Self at Alhambra|
Dinner on the waterfront in Almunecar, a taxi back to the marina and we all slept soundly for the next 9 hours.
From Marina del Este it was onwards westwards but not in any haste as we only had to reach Malaga before dropping off Nick and that amounted to 45 miles in four days. Our first overnight anchorage was Cala de los Canuelos and again the attractions of a pleasant beach, lightly populated and a sheltered anchorage led us to remain here two nights. Then we moved onwards towards Malaga.
Our next anchorage was to be in the Ensenada de Velez-Malaga, 20 miles distant; which, despite its name, is also 20 miles east of Malaga. We sailed, on the wind, for the first half of the passage but the wind then died completely and refused to return. Exasperated we motored the final 6 miles and final anchored near Punta de Velez-Malaga. This was a mistake!
|Departing Marina del Este|
We should either have kept going to Malaga or pulled into the Puerto de Caleta de Valez. As it was, although our anchorage was quiet on arrival; we were lying head to wind and the slight swell; it turned into a very uncomfortable anchorage when the tidal stream changed (yes, tides in the Mediterranean; I had forgotten all about them after 10 years in the eastern and central Med!). The current held us beam on to the slight swell and beam on to the wind. The swell was exactly the wrong wavelength for Kurukulla (her natural roll frequency) and thus we rolled and rolled; the consequence of which we all had a very disturbed night's sleep. Finally in the early hours of daylight we gave up and sailed off the anchor in the direction of Malaga.
The passage to Malaga was upwind but a very biased beat. We enjoyed the sail immensely finishing by beating along the foreshore of Torremolinos and Benalmadena before arriving at the marina. The entrance was well marked but shallow and given the rather lumpy seas outside I decided to sail in and hold in the marina whilst we stowed sails and got fenders and warps ready.
|Marina at Benalmadena|
This involved avoiding the dredger which was working in the entrance! As we approached we rolled up the genoa, gybed the main, and then sailed in somewhat to the surprise of the marinaios! Five minutes later we were alongside the reception jetty which was awful! The swell was running in and making life very uncomfortable. Despite my encouragement to complete the formalities quickly the process took 20 minutes during which time a catamaran returned to the reception jetty having failed to manage to get into his allotted berth but having damaged another boat in his efforts.
This made it look, judging by my one burst fender whilst waiting, as if we had gotten off lightly! Eventually we were offered the berth where the catamaran had been, managed to get in without problem (we are much smaller!) and set about holding ourselves off the jetty whilst the surge in the marina did its best to throw the stern against the concrete. We succeeded but not without some cost to my berthing ropes!
In the two days we spent in the marina the seas subsided and we were able to leave the boat and go do some sightseeing in and around the area, visit our favourite supermarket, and prepare for the next leg. From here it was going to be Estepona and then Gibraltar. For this entire distance we were without wind and motored continuously.
|Supper with Bob and Joy at Estepona|
The only pleasure was meeting up with friends in Estepona whom I hadn't seen for 10 years. Joy & Bob Hall. The last time I had seen them was on their boat in English Harbour, Antigua. Now they spend their summers in Spain.
On the morning we approached Gibraltar there was a heavy sea mist. The first sight of the Rock was the top 160m poking above the mist. This burnt off as we got nearer and by the time we rounded Europa Point all had cleared. We motored into the harbour and berthed in Queensway Quay Marina, later receiving a very pleasant surprise when I discovered that for Kurukulla it was only £19 per day.
|First view of Gibraltar, through the mist!|
The cheapest full service marina I have ever been in!
More when we leave Gibraltar.......
|Europa point, Gibraltar|