Thursday, 8 June 2017


As we pulled into Cartagena, we saw a couple of friends waving and taking photos. Pulling into port is stressful already but being photographed while doing it added a new dimension to the experience. After a few big nervous smiles and waves, we realized we had to ignore them and stay concentrated. The first picture below tells the typical arrival story: Maria with the binoculars trying to find the marinero (port assistant) who is supposed to show us a free spot and Patrick with his head thrown back, looking up at the wind vane to see which way the wind will push us as we manoeuver through the labyrinth of narrow passages.

After a successful “popa al muelle” tie-up (stern-to), we could finally greet Victor and Dorette appropriately. We met them last year in Cadiz and sailed down the coast to La Linea together. They continued on and wintered over in Cartagena. It was great to see them again and to have local guides.

Patrick has really become quite good with stern-to docking even though my face shows a bit of concern for that last turn in…
Dorette's strawberry lemonade hits the spot.
We stayed in Cartagena for 5 days, but we only managed to sight-see on 2 occasions and left before we felt like we had seen everything. Laundry, grocery shopping, and general boat maintenance take up a mind-boggling amount of time.  My first task the next morning was to climb the mast to untangle our spinnaker halyard.  I quite enjoy going up the mast and the view is always interesting.  

Mareda from 14 meters up.

Cartagena is a very bike-friendly town with bike paths around many areas and they seem to be tolerant of rule-breakers like us who ride at a walking pace through the pedestrian areas. We went to the municipal market, which was a bit of a disappointment. Richard and Rosanna, our English / American friends that we met in Almerimar, pulled into Cartagena the next day and they went to a different market, which they reported was equally disappointing. We were saved from certain starvation by the huge Carrefour market, an easy 10-minute bike ride away. One of our favorite tricks, which seems to surprise some cruisers, is to have groceries delivered to the boat. Most large grocery stores will deliver if you buy more than 100 Euros worth of groceries.  For Carrefour, you have to go to the service desk and fill in a form to obtain a Carrefour card (which they give to you immediately), and then you can use it at any Carrefour in Spain.  The Carrefour delivery guy in Cartagena delivered everything directly to the boat – we didn’t even have to meet him at the gate !

The other task we completed, thanks to a suggestion from neighbors Jackie and Chris on Synergy, was to sign up for the Balearic Islands "Ports IB" reservation system.  This on-line system is used to reserve berths or mooring buoys in the islands at the municipal docks (much cheaper). We had heard that the system was confusing and that we should tackle this job well before getting to the islands.  It wasn't so bad, but a good spanish dictionary helps.  The first trick is to find the registration form, which is somewhat hidden in the "make a reservation" section.  It throws up a page that starts asking you questions about which port you want, your boat's length, etc.  Blow past all of that and go down to the bottom part where is says "new user?" and this will take you to the registration form.  The form itself is straightforward except for the last bit that asks for some documents that don't translate into anything recognizable.  We just threw them everything we had (and the documents that are typically requested when you register at any port): photocopy of ID, photocopy of boat registration, and photocopy of boat insurance.  Less than 24 hours later, we received an email saying that we were successfully registered. 

Lazy photojournalist time: here are some miscellaneous tourism photos with no commentary or description. Much history in Cartagena. Will read about it when I’m back home next winter. (Yes, I do realize that’s the wrong way around, but I’ll try harder next year to study for the tourism bits and not just the navigation bits.)


The Cynical Sailor said...

I always find docking to be so nerve wracking. Although it adds a lot of pressure to know people were taking photos, it's great to have them afterwards to see what a superb job you guys did getting into your berth.

Sailing Mareda said...

One word: Fenders. Fenders, fenders, and more fenders.