Having a Whale of a Time: Fuengirola to Cartagena (19th to 25th June 2014)

Mediterranean Checklist:

Blue sky – √

Turquoise sea – √

Warm water – √

Bimini needed while sailing – √

Shorts and T shirts every day – √

Dolphins – √

Flying fish – √

sun fish – √

Whales ?????

We were happily sailing along in 50m of water 2 miles away from Fuengirola when it happened! The depth gauge went down to 18 and then 10m. The chart did not seem to note any obstructions and the depth gauge came back to 50m again quite quickly. Our echo sounder sometimes does do funny things but when it happened again 2 minutes later I jokingly said “perhaps it’s a whale”. On the chart of Gibraltar to Cabo de Gata there is a mention that whales are sometimes seen in the straits of Gibraltar between April and September, which surprised me when I read a few days earlier. Not as much as the surprise I got though when a 20m fin whale surface about 50m from the boat and then reappeared and blew about 10m from our bow! How lucky to see it and it had obviously been under the boat several times checking us out.

After that it was a very uneventful sail indeed! We passed all the urbanisations and high rises of Torremolinos and Malaga and eventually reached a lovely anchorage just past the Marina del Este in Ensenada de Buengueles.

 

 

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At our first Med anchorage

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Even the Skipper swam!!

This was our first anchorage in the Med and our first swim in the Med too, in water at 24 degrees. It was lovely watching the lights come on in the houses on the cliffs above us. Unfortunately there was a swell coming in to the bay (as usual) and it was a lumpy night.

We were away by 0830 the next morning, heading east towards Almerimar. We passed millions of acres of polythene clad land, wherever it was flat enough to have fields. This part of southern Spain is where most of Europe’s huge selection of winter vegetables comes from. I wondered what it must be like to work under all that plastic and the amount of fungicides and pesticides used!

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Millions of acres of plastic

Almerimar is a fairly new marina complex with apartments and loads of restaurants. It has a very shallow entrance but there was plenty of space in the marina itself. We thought it might be noisy but were not disturbed and also managed to get some shopping at the nearby Mercadonia supermarket. A lot of folk leave their boats here for the winter and there is a thriving live-aboard community.

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Almerimar Marina

We started under engine the next day, but typically the wind soon got up and we managed to sail the rest of the day with the wind behind us. The wind always seems to get even stronger in the late afternoon and at one point we managed 8.5 knots while surfing down a wave! We were headed for an anchorage just round the corner from Cabo de Gata (Cape of the Cat). This part of the coast is very wild and unspoilt with high mountains and cliffs and no more polythene covered flats. The rocks are whiter here hence “Costa Blanca”.

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Cabo de Gata

Our anchorage was tucked round a corner, so nicely sheltered and no swell to bother us. There were about half a dozen boats in (Spanish, French, German and us) but plenty of room. People were also enjoying the beach which could be reached from a tiny road winding across the cliffs. It was 21st June (Summer Solstice) and a lot of people were camped out on the beach overnight. Unfortunately it rained a bit during the night and it got very windy, not a typical mid-summer in this part of the world, I am sure!

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Anchorage: Puerto Genoves

On Wednesday 22 June we left the anchorage and headed north under engine. It did not take long for the wind to kick in however.  In fact it became strong enough to require reefing almost immediately! Luckily the wind was from a good direction (SW) and we flew along. Just as well, as we had 46 miles to sail that day. We were heading for another anchorage, but there were not many along this rugged coast.

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The wildlife seemed scarce in this corner of the sea. We only saw a few gulls and shearwaters, however towards the end of the afternoon we were treated to a swim past by a pod of 50 dolphins. They were on business and not playing but it was the biggest pod we had seen yet.   As we approached the anchorage, we realised that yellow swimming buoys had completely cut off any chance of anchoring. Luckily there was a marina not far away in Aguilas, so we had to go in there. A bit disappointing but at least we could get showers!

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It rained again overnight but not real rain like we get at home, just a bit of drizzle. We left Aguilas with the sun coming through and a spectacular view of the rocky outcrops all along the coast.

 

 

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Hotel for Lawyers or illegal and not finished????

It was only 30 miles to Cartagena, which was a short distance compared to what we had been doing. Cartagena is an amazing natural harbour and a very busy port city. Mountains are all around it and there are castle ruins on each one. The Carthaginians founded the city in 243 BC and the Romans made it a state in 209BC.

 

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Vaila in Yacht Port Cartagena

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There are numerous roman ruins, some of which have only recently been discovered because of all the layers of other building on top. We visited a dig site where a Roman bath house and adjoining banqueting halls are being excavated and partially restored. There were some lovely pieces of frescos and even some crystalline glass from windows. Everything was made of marble, some of which came from Turkey. The modern city has a lot of marble too with the pavements even being made of it. Very slippery when wet, but luckily it doesn’t rain much here!  

 

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Roman bath house and frescos

We also visited the partially restored Roman Theatre (Amphitheatre). A new museum has been designed and built nearby and the tour through the museum led you up 3 storeys and culminated in you arriving at the top of the Theatre. The museum was a stunning building, housing many artefacts found during the excavations. The restoration was also very sensitively done, so it was clear what was old and what was restored.

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Roman Theatre and artefacts in museum

We are now planning our trip over to Ibiza to meet up with Kirsty and Chris on the 1st July. We are really excited to see them and look forward to some nice gentle sailing for the next few weeks.

Look what arrived in the harbour this morning – P & O cruise liner “Azura”!!

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