Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Into the Med

10 May
Maria off to the showers while Patrick heads to the ship chandler in Gib to try to find sail drive oil. No luck. Checked out of marina for 2pm departure. Fold back bimini (we don’t sail with it), prepare the boat for first voyage. Lunch. Leave dock at 2pm with light winds, arrive on fuel dock with 22 knots in the nose and rough chop, get pushed into the dock and two marineros come out to help tie up; very rough. Realize that tank was not as full over the winter as we thought and we put 10 liters in the tank plus filled up a jerrycan. My beautiful wax job gets smudged with black streaks from fuel dock fenders and the wind and chop seemed to be getting worse. Decide it’s just a local thing and leave anyway. Not the way I wanted to start a first outing. Two reefs and motor as we turn down the bay on a beam reach. All the cargoes are at anchor and no one is moving. Gusts to 30. As we reach the end of the bay and get near the Pt of Europa, the seas flatten out a bit and the wind decreases to 20. As we jibe round the point, the winds are variable, influenced by the big Rock. We roll out a bit of genoa and are doing 7-8 knots over the ground on now-flat seas. Beautiful sail ! Arrived Estepona and marinero says to go bow-to quay since stern-to is too dicey with 15 knots of wind. Whiskey to celebrate, then Pat heads to swanky showers and Maria fixes dinner (pimentos, rice, fabadas with sausage and chorico). Skype home, read, collapse.

Europa Point

The Rock, finally in the BACKGROUND !

11 May
Walked around Estepona in the morning in search of fresh bread (hazards of sailing with a frenchman). Headed off around noon for another gorgeous downwind sail with a few sprinkles in the beginning, averaging 6 knots with 2 reefs and variable genoa in 18-24 knot winds and 1-2 meter swell from behind (surf !). Experimented with a new way of jibing using the boom brake instead of hauling in and letting out on the main sail sheet; seems to work much better since there is always tension on the brake and the passage goes more smoothly. Slowly recuperating from 10 days in the boatyard. Arrived at Fuengirola around 6pm, tied up at waiting doc and the marinero said we could spend the night at the waiting dock since they weren’t expecting any other visitors. (How do they know that?). Walked around town, discovered that this tourist resort is known for spare ribs, then promptly found a great little restaurant claiming to have the best. Around 22:30, we hear angry bow thrusters near us and pop our heads out to see what’s going on. A large Swedish boat is trying to tie up to the visitor’s dock for the night. After some rather awkward manoeuvers, they finally got settled in and we fully expected they would head out just at dawn to try to avoid paying for the night.

Dodged a cargo getting tugged.

12 May
Very variable day. Strong winds (2 reefs), weaker winds (full sails...finally!), SQUALL (2 reefs and handkerchief genoa for a brief 27 knots), followed by roll-up / roll-out genoa for the rest of the day, including an hour of wing-on-wing sailing. Dodged fish farms around entrance to Caleta de Velez and tied up bows-to again. Time to try out the gangway plank loaned to us from our friend Leo, who used this invaluable piece of wood successfully for many years of touring the Med. Works beautifully !

13 May
Pat goes to the market, Maria puts on the jack lines (doh ! Realized I forgot to put those on during yesterday’s squall). Off around noon. Another variable day, flying full sails with then without motor, a rapid 2-reefs in the main as winds climb into the 20s, then into Motril yacht club with 18 knots. Very expensive stop for a small marina with nothing around, but they are the only game around for 20 miles. Eurovision Song Contest on the tv, but reception keeps cutting in and out so didn’t see much (yes, it’s kitch but so much fun ! Congratulations Portugal !). Another day down. Getting tired.

Malaga marks the beginning of the end of the massive construction along the Costa del Sol

Greenhouses as far as the eye can see along this coast. Guides warn about large sheets of plastic blown into the sea after storms.

14 May
Pushing on to Almerimar today despite light winds. Almerimar is bigger and cheaper and closer to our rendez-vous spot in Aquadulce next week. Full sun, light winds, motor, and TWO KNOTS of favorable current !! Despite what many people think, you cannot ignore the tides and currents in the Med, at least not along the Costa del Sol. The day felt like a vacation. We even allowed ourselves a ½ glass of white wine with lunch in the cockpit, tested the (kick-ass) cockpit stereo system, relay naps, did some small fix-it jobs. Tied up to waiting doc in Almerimar for a mind-boggling 1 hour wait. Tied up, stern-to this time. As we start preparing dinner, we are hailed from the dock. An English couple Patrick chatted with while waiting to check in invited us over for drinks ! We had a lovely evening and they may become a new buddy boat, since they will be heading to the Balearics and Sardinia as well. Love the cruising life. And now for FOUR DAYS of rest ! (well, there are those winches to clean…).

Finally, stern-to mooring.

And a propos of nothing in particular:

After 20 years of living in France, I’m used to the all-purpose cleaning product “Mr. Clean” being called “Monsieur Propre”, but for some reason, the Spanish version “Don Limpio” just cracks me up.

Read in the local paper: towns are trying to come up with ways to prevent so much wax from dripping onto the roads from the candles during the numerous religious processions of spring and summer. The wax build-up is causing car accidents.

As you leave Spanish ports, you can almost always find a Virgen Mary and Child waving good-bye to you. I suppose this is supposed to comfort you, but it gives me the willies. “Beyond this point, you’ll need all the help you can get.”   


popsi kopper said...

If you want to get even closer to Aguadulce, you might give the Real Club Nautico in Roquetas de Mar a call. I think they have currently one or two free berths on their pier for bigger boats where the usual occupants are underway.

Sailing Mareda said...

Thanks Popsi. Are you in the area? Great information ! We will head over to Aguadulce on thursday when the winds turn in our favor. We're ahead of schedule and really enjoying cheap Almerimar at 10 euros per night. Do you know anything about San Jose? That would make a nice stop but we'll call ahead since it seems pretty tight.

popsi kopper said...

I wanted to go there last time, but didn't make it. Right before San Jose is the Playa de los Genoveses, which is a really nice anchorage and beach. But the weather forecast for next week looks a little unfavourable for this side of Cabo de Gatas with Easterlies. If the wind doesn't like you, you still can anchor in front of la Fabriquilla or the bay north of the Lighthouse.

But I'll see how things work out next week and whether I get my outboard back by Monday.

popsi kopper said...

And before I forget, if you're in the area, you might want to swing by the Tapas Bars close to the Plaza de la Constition in Almeria. For example the Taberna Nuestra Tierra in the Calle Marin does really good and creative ones.

Sailing Mareda said...

Thanks Popsi - great info. We made it into Aguadulce just before things got really nasty, but still had 25 knots of crosswind for going stern-to (bad idea, as it turns out...). We'll be here at least until Monday and then it depends on those easterlies. Good luck with your outboard !