Palma de Mallorca to Gibraltar, September
27 September 2009
Log reading 7,202 nautical miles
Calla Badella, near Bali Hai
We revisted Calla Portals with its three nudist beaches. The water was still warm but the wind found its way into the small bay. My reading that day included a list of Imray publications of maps and pilots for the months ahead. For a few seconds I pondered item RB0073 "The Gentleman's guide to Southern Passages" and found myself gazing towards the nearest beach.
An early start for Ibiza and Cala Portinatx with its interesting rocky formations. Then Calla Badella where we anchored in a steep sided gorge. Very pretty scenery along this coast although not as good as western Mallorca. We swam to the beach and enjoyed some more eye candy, probably our last.
Not far away we saw the majestic rocky peak of Illa d'es Vedra that I understand was used for the distant island shots in the film Bali Hai. I think they obtained beach scenes elsewhere.
An early start for Puerto de Calpe on the mainland. A massive rock stands over the small port like a sentinel to the parade of fishing boats that race beneath late in the afternoon and out again before dawn the next day. Seagulls with their distinctive cries follow like vultures.
Danny observed that the water was getting cooler but for a Scott it is still like a warm bath. Puerto Torrevieja offered shelter from the wind but little else, other than a fuel depot that said open with the times listed but was actually closed.
Puerto de Aguilas was a little better and we went ashore. Eventually we stumbled upon a steep back street with chairs inclined with the gradient. Wisely choosing to face downhill to dine, we enjoyed a local scene that shone through the urban mediocrity that hides these gems. Crammed in on small wickerwork chairs, the locals were having a good time and, as darkness came, we were swirled into a small crowd of young people ready to party. We enjoyed the atmosphere but it was time to go back and anyway we didn't have our castanets. Adios the neighbours said warmly and the sailors walked back into mediocrity.
Almeria was the highlight on this coast. Our anchorage was a little wobbly but we're used to it. The Moorish Alcazaba (castle) was well worth visiting and the back streets through which we walked were enjoyable. After an excellent time it was a shame that the fuel depot at Club de Mar tried to charge us for fuel we didn't get, early the next day.
At first we thought it was the old hose trick because it was exactly 20 litres out. The meter didn't display, so it may have been the meter trick. Cash, no docket or receipt, so we demanded a docket. He reluctantly gave us one where the fuel amount had been changed by 20 litres. Caught in the act but of course he couldn't speak any English. I reported him to the club by email as we couldn't hang around and boats were waiting.
Many areas along the south coast are draped in plastic sheeting to protect the huge veggie patches that feed much of northern Europe in the winter. Combine these with the ugly sprawling high rise developments for budget holidaymakers, a few wind farms and you have a sad landscape.
Puerto de Adra was very windy and needed plenty of chain. No inspiration to go ashore, so we watched the fishing boats surge past us as we clung to our beers.
We tried to anchor in Puerto de Motril for a late lunch and perhaps the night but were moved on. A very unfriendly place. Hundreds of seagulls were sheltering behind the breakwater. Outside, the wind was whipping up three metre waves that were on the nose but, after a few hours, we reached a lovely little bay on the southern side of the Marina del Este. A posh marina and a lovely dinner but, more importantly, Danny found a shop with a jar of Bovril! His day was made when the English proprietors offered it to him for half price as they were going out of business. Times have been hard this year.
Benalmadena, next door to Torremolinos is mega tourist. We found the marina and staff pretty useless as usual eg locks that don't work, water that doesn't flow. They put us in a stern-to spot that the neighbouring boats had swung into. The wind was 18 knots in the marina and we motored back to the marina office to tell them this but they couldn't give a ... We can't wedge in as our stern is almost our widest part and Danny can only work one side at a time. So we crept up and down the quay asking for volunteers to pull the boats apart. We soon had several decent yachties to open up the gap and shoe-horn us in. It worked a treat.
The next day we had to move to the Jeanneau agent's pen and had the same problem with badly tied boats. The absent windward neighbour had his boat leaning on us for a week and the fenders called out to me every night to let me know. I hope there is a little gelcoat left by the time we get back to Oz.
Jeanneau's agent Benalnautic was Roberto the manager, English liaison Mark and our assigned Mr Fixit, Francisco. Hi Oh, France soon gave the OK to fix some items and Francisco completed the work a day ahead of schedule. I was impressed with Francisco's speed and expertise. I wished I could pack him in a locker next to the tool kit.
Danny left for the airport and Chris joined me for the fifty mile trip to Gibraltar. Motor and Genoa but at least we were off the wind. We had emailed 10 days ahead to both Marina's but they were "full". At Marina Bay we counted 22 places at 2300 hours but they had promised these to the "Blue Water Rally" participants when they turned up anytime over the next week. A dozen non-rally boats a day were being turned away. It looked like a severe case of bad organising, not what you would expect from the Brits. Must be all that paella and sun.
Security is tight in Gib with so many illegals trying to get in and the threat of terrorism. There is no marina pen and anchoring is not allowed. You can't go ashore outside a marina until you have registered with a marina and been given a pen. The only alternative is to go to the Spanish side at La Linea, change the courtesy flag and wait for a spot but you can't enter Gib waters by tender. I had to get the boat in for antifouling, servicing, provisioning etc.
The only suitable structure for docking was a pontoon at the Port Authority and Customs dock, absolutely verboten we were told. After a lot of jawing, I found out that the pontoon belonged to a ferry company which had leased that part of the dock from the port authority. Bingo, we had a loophole that meant customs and the port authority couldn't give us permission to dock or force us to leave.
Customs couldn't register our entry, only a marina, so that evening we talked our way past customs and illegally entered the country to sort out the marina issue and arrange for Chris to catch a bus the following day.
The next day the ferry company gave us unofficial permission to stay until we got into a marina. However, we were warned that the police had the power to move us on because there was a fuel depot nearby.
The marina, only one hundred metres from our pontoon, was tactfully made to see the financial benefit of filling one of the many spaces until Monday. We were now legal but only just in time as a senior customs officer stormed over to demand we left immediately or we would be fined and impounded.
Chris got his bus and now it's raining like it does in the UK, miserably. Fandango waits until Monday for a lift out, providing it's OK with the stevedores. Where we go after that will require some of finagling.