Entering the Med with Andrew and Dak
03 July 2013 | Benalmadena, Spain
We thought that we would be in the Balearic Islands by the end of June and had made plans to meet two sets of friends there (one set after the other). Crippled as Por Dos was and with strong head winds in the forecast for several more days, our first set of friends graciously agree to meet us in the South of Spain. This added a couple more flights to their itinerary and shorten our friends' stay for a couple of days but meant that the kids could reunite with Andrew - and I was sure to have a mutiny on board if Andrew was not to come.
While waiting for the engine part to arrive, we took Andrew and Dak for a bicycling trip in an old railroad bed now converted to a dirt bike path (they call them Vias Verdes, meaning Green Tracks, and they have about 600 or so around Europe. Spain alone has about 115 or 120 of them. Our Via Verde had 22 tunnels in an stretch of about the same number of kilometers. The scenery was beautiful: fields and fields of olive trees perched in the slopes of mountains and cliffs. We passed a bird reserve with one of the largest colonies of griffon vultures in Europe. The vultures could be seen circling the mountain peaks. One wonders what they would eat because other than stranded bikers there were no much meat in sight. We saw fields with wild bulls - the ones that they raise for the bullfights, still very popular in the South of Spain. But I doubt that the griffon vultures would tackle one of them.
We hit the Via Verde on another cloudless day. It was really hot. We could only find relief from the relentless sun when entering the tunnels. It almost became a race in between tunnels, lucky there were so many tunnels. By the end of the ride nobody wanted to sit, we all had sore butts. I would definitvely do it again but in either spring or fall when it is not so unbearably hot.
The wind was finally forecasted to decrease for about 36 to 48 hours. A small window of opportunity with reasonable speed winds although still head winds. We raced to have the engine ready to motor around the Straight of Gibraltar and into the Med.
The overnight passage was uneventful although even with a forecast of almost no wind we saw 20 to 25 knots of East winds at Tarifa, the Southern tip of Spain. From there the wind and waves started to decrease and we ended up motoring in dead calm. We arrived at Benalmadena, in the Malaga area, around mid morning. This is a beach place with all touristic attractions possible, both the desirable (read ice cream and pizza) and the undesirable (read tacky tourist shops and lots of people in skimpy clothes - some of which you really want to cloth on the spot so the jiggling fat gets contained and in control). The beach was packed with people, each party inches from the next. This was a real put off for our very American kids who need a privacy space the size of an aircraft carrier :-). We took a local train to Malaga, a nice not-too-big city with a big pedestrian lively area full of expensive shops and nice restaurants. We had tapas for lunch, thus fulfilling one of Andrew's wishes. We visited the ruins of a moorish castle. Malaga is also where Picasso was born so dutifully stopped at the Picasso Museum located on the house that he was born and raise as a small kid. It had almost no Picasso art but when on with almost-too-tedious detail about the life and character of the Picasso family.
Andrew and Dak went back home from Malaga and we motored the 450 miles all the way from Benalmadena to Port Soller in the Island of Mallorca in Balearics. Yes, such is sailing in the Med, one either has too much wind or no wind at all.
We met up with Gail, Nicola and her friend Linnea in Port Soller for another week or adventures.