Singlehanded aboard Salara

08 November 2018 | Portugal
26 September 2018 | Spain
23 August 2018 | Balearic Islands, Spain.
10 July 2018 | Spain
17 June 2018 | Spain
18 November 2017 | Spain
04 October 2017 | Spain
23 September 2017 | Spain
11 September 2017 | Spain
31 August 2017 | Balearic Islands, Spain.
11 August 2017 | Spain
18 July 2017 | Spain
16 June 2017 | Spain
06 November 2016 | Portugal
08 October 2016 | Spain
06 October 2016 | Spain
27 September 2016 | Spain
13 September 2016 | Spain
09 September 2016 | Spain

Once more ashore

08 November 2018 | Portugal
The cold grey dawn after a rough night in the anchorage.

The pleasant town of Ayamonte is on the east bank of the Rio Guadiana which marks the border between Spain and Portugal and I lingered there for over a week. I attended to a few jobs on board Salara including changing the engine oil. I also trundled my empty fuel cans to the nearby garage to fill them with diesel as there is no fuel berth at Ayamonte Marina. It is as well to enter Portugal with a full fuel tank as diesel is more expensive there than in Spain.
All these jobs take time and I normally dedicate mornings to boat work and afternoons to me when I can relax, read a book or doze in the sunshine.

Eventually it was time to leave and head for Faro so I paid the marina for my rather long stay of ten days and left on the ebb tide early the next day which was the 29 October. There was bad weather approaching from the west and although the sea was calm with only a light breeze when Salara left the Rio Guadiana and motor sailed west along the coast, I was expecting headwinds by the time she reached the entrance to the Ria Formosa.

The expected headwind arrived when Salara was just over an hour from the Ria Formosa so the remainder of the trip was a bit of an upwind battle and I was pleased to be able to make the turn towards the entrance and into the calmer waters beyond. I anchored her behind the Island of Culatra in 6 metres of depth and veered 40 metres of chain. It was forcast to be a windy night.

That night the forecast was dead right and at 0330 hours I got out of my bunk as gusts of over forty knots hit the anchorage. Waves had built up and Salara was snubbing hard on her anchor chain. I did think of veering more chain but that would mean releasing the snubber and if the chain jumped off the windlass gipsy we would be in real trouble. I decided to leave well enough alone and stand anchor watch until the worst was over, so I drank tea and waited for the dawn. By that time the wind had moved into the northwest and eased. I ate a bacon sandwich and went back to bed.

When I awoke I found that the boatyard had emailed me saying that they would lift Salara at 0930 hours in three days time so now I had time to kill and as the rain was falling heavily I spent the day reading and trying to stay warm as the temperature had dropped alarmingly. I eventually had to admit defeat and turn on the Eberspacher heater, a first taste of winter. I had plenty of food on board so I did not have to go ashore.

The day before Salara was due to be lifted ashore I got up early and prepared to leave, thankfully the rain had stopped and the next two days were forecast to be bright and sunny. The Rocna anchor had buried itself so deeply into the seabed during the high winds that it was hard to break out. This anchor impresses me more and more. I then took Salara on the flood tide up to the head of the Faro Channel where I anchored her ready for the following morning when she would meet the pilot and move to the boatyard. In the meantime I removed the mizzen sail and boom as if left in place they foul the boat hoist. I rigged lines and fenders and that was that, Salara was ready for the morning. During the day another yacht called Variety had arrived and also prepared for lift out.

At 0900hours the next morning the pilot arrived and led our little convoy along the narrow channel through the small boat moorings and the saltings to the basin at the boatyard. Variety went into the hoist first and Salara went alongside the pontoon to await her turn. The boatyard have two hoists so it does not take long. Before noon both yachts had been pressure washed and were secured in steel cradles. On board Salara I had connected the mains power and put the kettle on for tea. Another season is over and I must now prepare Salara for the winter months.

Pottering along the Coast of Southern Spain

26 October 2018 | Spain
The Rock of Gibraltar with it’s distinctive cloud.

It was halfway through September and Salara was at anchor on the coast of the Spanish mainland at Moraira. I had not sailed along this part of the coast before so I was keen to start on the trip to Torrevieja and see some new coastline. I felt well rested after the previous day’s trip from the Balearic Islands and after leaving the anchorage I headed south with the intention of going into the marina at Alicante.
At noon the breeze put in an appearance and Salara was able to sail for the rest of the trip. I had to gybe her to alter course into Alicante Bay and head for an alternative anchorage at Puerto de San Juan as I had decided that Alicante Marina would be too expensive for me.
Puerto de San Juan is a great little anchorage with good holding and definitely one to remember for future trips.
The next morning Salara left the anchorage under sail but lost the breeze about a mile offshore so once again she had to motor sail until finding wind as she rounded Cabo de Santa Polo. She then sailed with mainsail and poled out genoa all the way to Torrevieja where I anchored her in the outer harbour.
Next morning I took Salara to the fuel berth and filled the fuel tank and the spare containers with diesel. Fuel in the Balearic Islands is expensive so I had run it lower than I usually like to go. Once that was done Salara left harbour and headed for Cartagena, there was only a slight breeze and she had to motorsail almost all the way apart from a couple of hours during the late afternoon.. On arrival I arranged a berth at Yachtport rather than the north quay where Salara normally ties up.
When I was here earlier in the year I had booked a berth at Yachtport for the winter months but since then I had changed my mind, mostly due to the fact that I would overstay my 183 days that I am allowed in Spain and also with the uncertainty over Brexit I felt that it would be better to return to Portugal where I am within striking distance of UK if things go badly wrong.
As usual I settled down in Cartagena and stayed for almost a week for no other reason than I like it here. I also had the added joy of my daughter Mandy and her husband paying me a flying visit during their annual Spanish holiday.
When I finally left Cartagena I had intended to go into the small port of Garroucha and then continue around Cabo de Gata to Almerimar the following day. However there was some rough weather approaching from the east so I decided that I should continue overnight to beat the weather and complete the trip to Almerimar. Again Salara had to motorsail to maintain the passage plan and at midnight she was rounding Cabo de Gata. Six hours later she was at anchor outside the marina entrance at Almerimar and I was able to get into my bunk for two or three hours of sleep. As I get older I find that these overnight passages take a lot out of me. In the early hours I keep alert by drinking Red Bull and lots of coffee.
After some sleep and breakfast I took Salara into the marina just as the wind was freshening from the northeast and by the time Salara was in her allocated berth it was blowing quite strongly and I was resigned to being here for some days. Almerimar is a reasonable place to spend time ashore and if necessary work on the boat as there is a well stocked chandlery and a large Mercadona supermarket as well as several decent restaurants. If you are feeling fit you can also walk for miles along the sandy beaches on either side of the town.
Gibraltar was now in my sights and so Salara was soon on her way again. I had considered another overnight trip to Fuengirola but soon shelved that idea in favour of stopping halfway and anchoring for the night at Herradura. It was a pleasant trip but again Salara was motorsailing. When she rounded the headland and nosed into the anchorage I was surprised to see that it was empty a sure sign that the sailing season is ending.
Next day Salara was heading out to sea again motorsailing on course for Fuengirola with the hope of being able to anchor just outside the marina entrance. She chugged along all day making good time with a helpful west going current pushing her along. When she reached Fuengirola she was able to anchor as planned and then I sat in the cockpit to enjoy a cold beer. Soon afterwards another yacht came in and anchored behind Salara, she was USA flagged and I had watched her all day on the AIS as she followed about six miles behind Salara. They told me that they were going to head for Estapona in the morning.
The American yacht was away at first light and a short while later I lifted Salara’s anchor and headed out to sea our next stop La Linia just over the frontier from Gibraltar.
It was another day of motorsailing and again with the help of the west going current Salara was making good time and just over eight hours later she was at anchor in La Linia.
The next morning I took her into the Alcaidesa Marina and berthed her among the many yachts that were overwintering there. Most owners would go back to UK for the winter months leaving their yachts afloat in what is an almost bullet proof inner basin.
I stayed in La Linia for almost a week waiting for a suitable early morning tide to take me through the Straits of Gibraltar and on to Cadiz. It is always a pleasant place to spend some time as Gibraltar is a short walk away over the frontier provided you take your passport. I spent five nights in the marina before once again going out into the anchorage to save a little money on marina fees. The next day I took Salara into the fuel berth at Gibraltar topped up her fuel tank with 59 litres of tax free diesel at a cost of 36 euros. Then back to the anchorage with the intention of having an early night and leaving to transit the Strait in the morning. However in the morning when I got up and stuck my head out the wind was in the west which was not what I wanted so I went back to bed. Tomorrow is another day.
The next day it was all systems go, the wind was a light northeasterly so I lifted the anchor and away we went. Although it was 0700 hours it was still dark as Salara threaded her way through the anchored shipping in Algecirus Bay and I had to keep a sharp lookout for small local fishing boats of which there are many at that time of the morning. It took just over an hour for Salara to be off Punta Carnero when the tide turned west four hours after HW Gibraltar.
The breeze was northeasterly at 15 knots and I had the mainsail hoisted with one reef in it as I expected the wind to increase substantially when we reached Tarifa. I generally motorsail when going west through the Strait just to get that part of the passage over and done with as soon as possible. True to form when salara reached Tarifa the wind had increased to 25 knots and with the current propelling her out she was making almost nine knots over the ground.
I gybed her to go around Tarifa Lighthouse and just caught the edge of the overfalls as I did so before she was into calmer waters and on course for Cabo Trafalgar. I had stopped the engine and she was racing along under mainsail and poled out genoa. All was going according to plan and we should reach Cadiz before it was too late at night.
Salara was able to sail until mid afternoon when the wind fell light and once again she had to motorsail. At 1930 hours she was turning into the Bay of Cadiz and by 2100 hours she was secured in a berth at Los Americas Marina, the paperwork was done and I could relax at last.
I always enjoy being in Cadiz it is an ancient city and the narrow streets are easy to get lost in. When going to the municipal market I never seem to go the same way twice but just bumble along until I eventually arrive there. People have their windows open so you can hear them talking, singing, babies crying, the smell of garlic cooking and everything else that makes life what it is. I love it !
I stayed for a few days before deciding that I must move on as it was halfway through October and I had arranged with Faro Boatyard to expect me there at the end of the month.
There was more rough weather arriving soon but I reckoned that I would be able to make the half day trip along the coast to Chipiona before it arrived. So I checked out of Cadiz and once again Salara was at sea making the short but pleasant trip to Chipiona. I had not been there for some time as normally I go from Cadiz direct to Mazagon or Ayamonte. Chipiona is a Spanish holiday resort in the summer months but in October it is left to the locals. I was there for three days while the wind blew and the waves crashed on the reef to the west of the town. Then the first opportunity I got I left the marina once more motorsailing and and headed for Mazagon arriving there on the first of the flood tide. I had to wait outside for a little while as there were big ship movemnts in the main channel then I went in and anchored Salara just outside the marina entrance. I had never anchored there previously but I found it a good anchorage well protected by the massive Huelva Breakwater and with excellent holding in mud.
Next morning at 1000hours I lifted the anchor and Salara headed for Ayamonte once again motorsailing in light winds. She arrived at the entrance to the Rio Guadiana at just before low water but as it was neap tides I reckoned that there would be plenty of depth over the bar. I found the buoyage using the Navionics. My eyes these days are not as sharp as they once were and the buoys marking the passage across the bar always seem difficult for me to spot.
I took Salara in fairly slowly with an eye on the depth sounder but the least depth that I saw was 3.5 metres. I anchored Salara for the night in the river just below the marina entrance but it was a bad choice as during the night the wind increased causing bad wind over tide conditions which caused Salara to charge about around her anchor. In the morning I took her into the marina. Anything for a quiet life.
On the other side of the river is Portugal so there is one more coastal hope to make to Faro. The tides are not quite right at present so I shall bide my time in the pleasant surroundings of Ayamonte for a while.

Return to the Spanish mainland

26 September 2018 | Spain
Moraira Anchorage where Salara anchored on her return to mainland Spain.

Well there I was once again in Santa Ponsa, Mallorca, it seems to capture me from time to time. I cannot deny though that it is a convenient base for cruising the islands. My sailing buddy Dave was already there and so we arranged to have a few beers and a meal ashore in the evening. As arranged Dave picked me up in his dinghy and we zoomed across the anchorage and tied up against a concrete quay. Dave chained the dinghy up to deter any light fingered loiterers and off we went eager to quench our thirst.
Several big beers and a couple of large steaks later we arrived in the dark to make our way back to our boats. Big problem ! We had no torch and so could not see the combination on Dave’s lock. Two old duffers stranded ashore. ‘More beer?’ said I, which is always a good thing to resort to in a yachtie crisis. However we were saved from a drunken night ashore by a friendly German who produced a torch out of nowhere. Once again we were free.
A couple of days later Dave left on the first leg of his cruise back to Portugal while I lingered in Santa Ponsa doing a few maintenance jobs on board and just getting on with my liesurely lifestyle.
Eventually I was motivated to move on and went into the marina fuel berth to fill Salara with diesel and freshwater at great cost. Everything is more expensive in the Balearics including the exchange of gas bottles which in some cases is almost double the mainland price. All that remained was to do a supermarket trip to provision Salara for a few days or so.
Salara left early on a pleasant sunny morning and as we cleared the coast she was sailing with full sail at six knots which pleased me no end. Fifteen minutes later the breeze abruptly vanished and she had to motor the rest of the way to her destination which was Portinatx, Ibiza. It was a pleasant trip despite the fact that she was using expensive diesel and by 1830 hours she was safely at anchor.
I stayed in Portinatx for a couple of days then moved Salara a short distance along the coast to Cala Binarris where I intended to anchor for the weekend. It was not be be because on the Saturday afternoon the Guaria Civil patrol boat came bombing into the anchorage and did a document check on all the anchored vessels prior to moving us on due to the fact that we were anchored over a posidonia (sea grass) meadow which had to be protected. We would be fined if we were reported again. For my part I had anchored on a patch of sand which I do habitually as the holding is better but no way do you argue with the Guardia Civil.
I moved Salara a mile or so to the anchorage at Puerto San Miguel where I made doubly sure that Salara was anchored as far away from any posidonia as possible. Then after a few days during which time I had become friendly with a Welsh could from a rather nice Rival 36 and I had enjoyed a meal ashore with them, Salara moved on to San Antonio.
The weather had become changeable with isolated showers and thunderstorms forecast most days so once again Salara stayed at anchor while I did one or two small maintenance jobs just to keep myself busy. There is also a large Lidl Supermarket here which is used by the many yachts that anchor in the harbour.
I was planning to return to the Spanish mainland from here so before leaving I would once again need to visit the Lidl Supermarket. I had gone ashore to do that and was returning in the dinghy loaded up with shopping across the large harbour when I was caught in the combined wash from two waterbuses that ferry the holidaymakers around the bay. Needless to say me and the shopping was swamped which did not do a lot of good for the environmentally friendly brown paper carrier bags which Lidl now use. The passengers on the waterbuses were highly amused.
The next day I lifted Salara’s anchor and left the harbour and San Antonio Bay the plan being to head across the fifty mile channel to either Moraira or Calpe on the Spanish mainland just to the south of Cabo Nao. In previous years Salara has made overnight trips of 120 miles to Torrevieja. This time I would make life easier for myself and see a new bit of coastline.
Ten miles off the coast Salara was overtaken by a violent thunderstorm. I had watched it for some time so I had made seamanlike preparations. When it hit the rain was torrential and the winds were gusting at over thirty knots from all directions while the seas were very confused. Salara was hove to for over an hour while the thunder crashed and the lightning flashed all around her. She coped well while I worried about the electronics if she was struck.
Once it was all over I decided that I would abandon the passage and return to San Antonio despite the fact that we would now have a headwind. So she battled her way back to be greeted with shouts of ‘Surely you were not out in all that’ from other yachties.
The next morning Salara tried again and this time everything went according to the passage plan. She passed north of the Traffic Separation Scheme off Cabo Nao and then altered course slightly to head along the coast to drop anchor close to the sailing club at Moraira. I had enjoyed the trip even though Salara had to motorsail all the way.

Mooching around in The Balearics.

23 August 2018 | Balearic Islands, Spain.
The very fine tapas bar in the fish market at Mahon.

It is quite some time since I updated my sailing travels. No doubt I have been too busy enjoying myself in the Balearic Islands with all the good things that they have to offer.
I had left Torrevieja on the Spanish mainland at noon on the 4 July after filling Salara with diesel as it is a lot more expensive to buy on the islands. Once clear of the harbour I put her on course for a waypoint off the tip of Formentera and settled down for what would be an overnight trip. Salara was motoring as there was very little breeze but I was confident that some useful breezes would crack in later in the afternoon.
Sure enough after a couple of hours Salara was sailing along under full sail pushed by a southerly breeze of 15 knots, the Hydrovane was steering and I was a happy skipper. Throughout the afternoon and evening the breeze slowly strengthened and veered and by 2200 hours it was SSW force 5 with a fair sized swell just to make life aboard uncomfortable and that was how things continued throughout the night. In the early hours I decided to alter course and go into San Antonio rather than anchor off Formentera as I had planned.
It had seemed a reasonable decision at the time but three hours later when the wind had moved quickly into the northwest it proved to be a mistake, so I altered course again and went through the passage between Espalmador and Ibiza and finally anchored in Cala Talamanca on Ibiza which was what I should have done to start with. In truth I had been apprehensive of going through the passage with the big swell running but in fact it turned out to be easy.
By the time that I had Salara anchored securely I had been awake for thirty hours and felt very tired but such is the life of a singlehander.
However Salara was now in the Balearic Islands and the summer months stretched ahead, I had no timescale so all I had to do was duck and dive from anchorage to anchorage according to wind and weather. I will not detail the many anchorages that I have visited, some of which were new to me and some old favourites. One of my favourites is Cala Taulera, Mahon in Menorca, I had anchored there many years ago prior to heading for Sardinia when on my way to the eastern Mediterranean. Porto Colom, Mallorca is another place that brings back memories of earlier cruising years. Many new anchorages too, Cala d’Hort, Cala Binirras and Cala Galdana spring to mind.
Of course there was the usual bit of excitement to keep me on my toes. That occurred at 0100 hours in Soller, Mallorca when it was hit by a very fierce thunderstorm with winds gusting to over forty knots and torrential rain. Yachts were dragging their anchors, the anchorage was rough and for a while it was total chaos. Luckily for me Salara’s new Rocna anchor held and she did not get entangled with any other yachts although she was hit twice and I had to help the crews fend their yachts off as best I could. It was almost laughable as some of the crews had rolled out of bed still clad in their night clothes or very little. After an hour it was all over so I made myself a mug of coffee and watched as other skippers re anchored their yachts. I must say that I was surprised that no yachts ended up on the beach.
I stayed for a further few days in Soller and although we did experience another thunderstorm it was only a kitten compared to the first one. I had been joined in Soller by Dave on his Dufour Imoutahea and we made arrangements to have a day out in Palma on the other side of the island. We would catch the tram from Puerto Soller to Soller town then jump on the little train that rattles through the mountains to Palma. A return ticket cost 32euros. We had to leave early as the last convenient train back to Soller was at 15.15 hours the only one after that was at 2000hrs and by that time I would have been to drunk too care. When we arrived we did the tourist bit around the cathedral and the main shopping area, places which also held memories of holidays long ago. Then a slap up meal in a very good steakhouse called Bruselas, all washed down with several big beers. We caught our train back to Soller with about ten minutes to spare. A last beer on the quayside before we returned to the yachts completed an excellent day out.
I left Soller some days ago and had a fine sail west along the coast towards the Dragonera Passage which I thought Salara would sail through in fine style until she lost the wind completely just at the entrance so I had to turn on the engine and motor through and also onward to Santa Ponsa where we are now.

Sailing along the Spanish Coast

10 July 2018 | Spain
View across the frontier of Rock of Gibraltar from the anchorage at La Linia, Spain.

I had been patiently waiting in La Linia for suitable winds to take Salara eastwards along the Spanish coast for almost two weeks but eventually the forecast was favourable and I left La Linia. I called at the fuel dock in Gibraltar on the way out to top Salara up with tax free diesel fuel. Yachts are allowed to do this, they only have to clear Gibraltar Customs if they wish to stay. It was the usual scrum at the fuel berth but worth enduring to save a few quid.

It was just after mid day when Salara rounded Europa Point and set course into The Mediterranean, she was motorsailing as the breeze was a very light northeasterly but it was forecast to back into the northwest later. The sea was calm which meant that I could do one or two small jobs just to keep me occupied during the periods between navigating Salara. I still do this on paper charts although I also have electronic navigation. I use Navionics via my Samsung tablet and I must say that I find it excellent.

Salara’s destination today would be Fuengirola which she should reach at just before midnight. She chugged along all day and was off the port of Fuengirola at 2200 hours. This is where the Navionics shows it’s worth as the bright lights of the town make it almost impossible to pick out the lights that mark the harbour entrance. So I trusted the system to guide Salara slowly in and if I was lucky I could anchor her in a rather small area just behind the entrance. I was lucky and at 2300 hrs Salara was safely at anchor free of charge.

The following morning Salara set of once again motorsailing in similar conditions to yesterday. She was heading for Almerimar with the option to use one of the anchorages near a headland called La Mona if I became too tired. As it happened Salara was making decent progress still motorsailing so I decided to continue through the night. All went well and at 0400 hrs I finally anchored Salara off the sandy beach to the west of the entrance to Almerimar Marina although I had had a few anxious moments picking my way through lots of fishing floats on the approach. The last thing I needed was a rope around the propellor. I slept for a few hours before going into the marina and at 0845 hrs Salara was secure in a berth and I could eat breakfast and go back to bed.

Salara stayed for three nights in Almerimar which is another place that I like and this time I looked at it with a more critical eye than usual as I had decided to overwinter her in Spain this year rather than slog back to Portugal. Salara left fairly early one morning and she sailed in fine style from the harbour entrance but lost the breeze after about half an hour so it was ‘situation normal’ as she motorsailed towards Cabo de Gata. It was hummid and the visibilty was not that brilliant for the first few hours. There was also a lot of an orange coloured planton laying in massive streaks on the surface of the sea. I had never seen this previously. Once around Cabo de Gata I steered Salara into a large bay called Puerto Genoves which is a handy place to anchor for the night. Being an idle person and with the weather so gentle I stayed for two nights. It always seems to me that after rounding Cabo de Gata you are in a different world weatherwise.

The morning Salara weighed anchor I sailed her out of the anchorage and slowly up the coast before a light southerly breeze at very pleasant four knots but by noon I had decided that we needed to crack on so it was back to motorsailing. I was navigating for Cartagena, we would arrive at midnight. It is an easy entrance and I know it well, so no problems. However by the early evening I was feeling quite tired so I opted to anchor off the hamlet of La Subida just west of Cabo Tinosa. Salara could be at anchor there by 2200 hrs and I could be in my bunk rather than messing about with ropes and fenders in Cartagena at midnight.

As Salara approached La Subida she was buzzed by a large fishing boat. Maybe the skipper was trying to warn me of the large tunny net off the headland or was he just carrying out a search pattern for shoals of fish I shall never know.

It was dark as Salara slowly approached the anchorage using the Navionics, I could make out the anchor lights of other yachts and I was constantly checking the depth. I dropped anchor at a safe distance and the new Rocna anchor grabbed the sandy bottom immediately. I have a lot of faith in this anchor now. I secured the snubber to take the weight off the windlass and as I walked back to the cockpit I noticed an unlit yacht under Salara’s stern. Not too close but I had not seen her until that moment. Perhaps I should have been using the radar as well but as a single hander you can only be doing so many things afterwards it gets confusing. I gave thanks to the guardian angel who looks after me at sea, drank a mug of tea and went to bed.

I was up early next morning and Salara motored around Cabo Tinosa and into Cartagena with just the mizzen sail hoisted. By mid morning she was secure in a berth in the Yachtport Marina. Normally I berth her alongside the North Quay when I visit but this time I wanted to check out Yachtport with a view to over wintering her there.

During the day I did some food shopping and returned loaded down to Salara with a full backpack and a carrier bag. Curses, I had forgotten the bread ! I then settled down to have a quiet day and almost succeeded. My downfall came when in the evening I went out to buy the bread that I had forgotten. On my way back I stopped at my favourite bar for a large cold beer and then continued on my way along the quay towards the marina. On the quay I became mixed up with some other yachties who were going out to eat so I went with them.
It was tapas and beers in the main street where halfway through the evening the local Gay Pride March came mincing and strutting down. The mind boggles !

A beer and tapas session never seems to come to an end but evenyually we paid our bill and staggered off back to our boats. Surprisingly I still had my bread with me although one of the women had chewed the end of my french stick. Predictably the following day I awoke feeling decidedly jaded. So I paid the marina fees up until the next day and got them to quote me for winter berthing. I spent the rest of the day on board Salara recovering my sensibilities.

The next day I planned to leave Cartagena for Torrevieja but before I departed I booked Salara into the marina for six months commencing in November. It worked out at 308 euros a month and I had to pay 100 euros deposit. Salara left her berth and I hoisted the sails in the outer harbour once again we were off. She had to motorsail as far as Cabo de Palos but once she had turned north she was able to sail sedately over calm seas all the way to the harbour at Torreviejo. After dropping the sails I anchored her in three metres of water along with a few other yachts that were already there. The time was 1930 hrs and I was ready for some dinner and an early night as tomorrow Salara would head for Ibiza.

Salara on the move again

17 June 2018 | Spain
The new Rocna anchor which just about fits in the stemhead.

I returned to Faro and ‘Salara’ during the middle of April. It had been a very sad time for the family in UK as Mum had passed away a week or so before her birthday, she would have been 102 years old. My brothers and I had the unenviable task of clearing out and selling her house which she had lived in independantly until her illness. However life goes on and the good memories remain with us.

There was the usual maintenance work to be done on ‘Salara’ as well as the need to replace the anchor chain and anchor. The chain required was 10mm DIN766 to match the gipsy on the Lofrans windlass which I had installed last season. I had also decided after a great deal of thought to replace the 45lb C.Q.R. anchor with a Rocna 20kg (44lb). I had no real issues with the C.Q.R. other than not finding it too good in weed covered areas. The Rocna is ‘state of the art’ and I consider that it has far better penetration of the seabed.

I ordered the chain from SVB in Germany and it arrived at the boatyard in Faro within ten days. Transport costs were a bit steep due to the weight but that was to be expected. The chain itself was of high quality and very well galvanised. The Rocna anchor I ordered from Ayamar Chandlers in Ayamonte, Spain. I would collect that once ‘Salara’ was afloat. The only doubt in my mind was ‘would the new design of anchor fit the stemhead’. I had taken rough measurements and felt fairly confident that it would.

I continued with all the maintenance work the last job being to apply antifouling paint to the underwater sections of the hull and on the afternoon of the 15 May ‘Salara’ was launched off and once again she was heading down the channel towards the sea. I anchored for a few nights in the anchorage at Culatra to sort things out and to get used to living on board again. Then off we went steering east along the coast to the Rio Guadiana and the pleasant Spanish town of Ayamonte. I called at the chandlery for the Rocna anchor but due to a fiesta in Barcelona it had been delayed so there was nothing for it but to drink a cold beer and be patient.

When the anchor turned up I had an anxious moment as I offered it into the stemhead. It fitted but only just, maybe I can make some alterations to improve things next winter but for now I am quite happy. The CQR anchor has now been relegated to a secondary role. I then left the marina and went up the Rio Guadiana to anchor just below the twin towns of Sanlucar and Alcoutim. ‘Salara’ spent four nights at anchor in the river with the new anchor holding very well with 30 metres of chain veered and my confidence in it grew daily as the current surged past. I then took her back down the river to Ayamonte Marina where she stayed for two nights before leaving at dawn for Rota in the Bay of Cadiz.

It was a pleasant trip and ‘Salara’ sailed very slowly in light winds all through the morning until I found it necessary to start the engine to make up a little time. During the afternoon the wind increased and she was able to sail for the rest of the trip. I anchored her in the bay between Rota Marina and the US Naval Base just as darkness was falling. The breeze was blowing from the northwest so we were fairly well protected although as usual a little swell found it’s way into the bay. After two nights at anchor with the Rocna holding brilliantly in the sandy seabed the wind backed more to the west so I decided to go into the marina, I needed to visit a supermarket as well as a jewellers to get a repair done on my watch strap.

After three nights in the marina and with the wind still fair ‘Salara’ was once again at sea heading south towards Cape Trafalgar and the port of Barbate. The wind was fairly light so ‘Salara’ was motorsailing and making very good time. By 1500 hours she was crossing the offlying banks at Cape Trafalgar and with a favourable tide it was possible for her to transit the Gibraltar Strait if she kept going so I changed the plan and continued for Tarifa at the western entrance to the strait. At 1900 hours still motorsailing she entered the Gibraltar Strait and two hours later was rounding Punta Carnero into Algecirus Bay. A little later she was safely anchored at La Linia with the Rock of Gibraltar looming a short distance away.

Again I stayed at anchor for a couple of nights but I was having trouble with the toilet in the forward heads so I went into Alcaidesa Marina as I needed to visit the chandlery in Gibraltar for spare parts. I checked in for two nights but as things have turned out I have now been here for a week, the wind has gone round into the east so until it changes I am stuck here. I am not at all crestfalled as La Linia is not a bad place to be stuck in and Gibraltar is walking distance away across the frontier provided you carry your passport.
Vessel Name: Salara
Vessel Make/Model: Nicholson 38 Ketch
Hailing Port: Lymington UK
Crew: Peter Needham (owner/skipper)
About: 2007/8 Atlantic circuit. 2009/13 Cruising in the Mediterranean. 2014 Atlantic coasts of Spain and Portugal.
Extra: The indispensable Hydrovane self steering. Eats nothing, uses no power and never complains.
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Salara's Photos -


Who: Peter Needham (owner/skipper)
Port: Lymington UK