11 October 2019
We arrived back at Sant Carles to prepare Brindabella to be lifted out of the water for the winter. We have had 5 days here doing a mixture of cleaning, preparing and some sightseeing.
We took the sails down, put the dinghy away and thoroughly cleaned the boat inside and out.
While in Sant Carles, it was the Origens Festival. This is a festival celebrating fishing, farming and the origins of the town. Most houses had photos of their ancestors and many old items of everyday tools, fishing nets or equipment. Many families were dressed in national costume. There were also many places serving street food, so we ate out at one of them.
We also took time to visit the fish market. This is a large building with fish coming in from the boats one side, passing through the selling area with buyers bidding for each box of fish before heading to the appropriate lorry. Within 15 minutes, a box of fish could have travelled from the boat, to the quay, through the market and into the lorry.
This area is known for its squid, eels, large prawns, bass and dorada. Mussels are also grown on cords in the Delta.
On the 16th we motored the boat across the harbour and were lifted onto the hardstanding for the winter period.
This autumn we have seen the cities of Barcelona and Tarragona and the towns of Cambrils, Sitges and Garraf. In addition, we have also spent some time at anchor.
We are now commencing our slow journey back through Spain and France and onto the UK.
It's time to sign off for this year. Goodbye!
Time: 1:00 hours Miles: 3nm Total Time: 219:00 hours Total Miles: 1194nm
At anchor off Punta de la Banya
08 October 2019
We left Cambrils at first light and set the mainsail, but to start with there was little wind. True to the forecast the wind slowly built and came around to the south. Once we had got out to Cabo Tortosa, we had enough wind to start sailing. It was a good sail for the remaining 3 or 4 hours. The sun was shining with a steady F4 to F5.
We came around the sandy spit at Punta de la Banya and anchored in 4m of water. This is a sandy spit at the entrance to Bahia des Alfacs. The bay is an inland lake blocked off to seaward by a spit formed from the wash out of the Rio Ebro (River Ebre). It is 6 miles long and 2 miles wide and depths range from 6m or less. The river is the longest river in Spain and we generally cross it many times on our drive back home.
In total we had 3 nights at anchor here. There is a small sandy beach to take Bella ashore. It was a very pleasant few days with a BBQ one night and swimming off the back of the boat. The only disturbance was the fishing fleet departing at 4am causing a bumpy hour!
Time: 8:00 hours Miles: 45nm Total Time: 218:00 hours Total Miles: 1191nm
03 October 2019
We are back in Cambrils, which is a port we stopped at on the way to Barcelona. It’s a very clean town with a good beach and smart town centre. Last time we were here, we anchored just outside the harbour. This time we went into the marina.
We took a long walk along the coast to Salou which is the next town. It was a much larger resort and not as nice as Cambrils. While we were in Cambrils, it was their annual calamar or squid festival. Many of the restaurants had special calamar dishes, even the Thai restaurant! On Saturday night, we went to the fish restaurant El Pòsit. They had a fixed price calamar menu. Calamar croquettes for starter and calamar with peas and black pudding for main. Both were excellent, see photo above.
Sunday was a boat maintenance day. Fiona did the washing and Simon replaced the water pump. The old one had been running very slowly overnight when no water was being used. It had been doing this all summer and replacing the diaphragm had not solved the problem. We brought a new pump from the UK to fit. The new one was larger so fitting it took a few hours. We now have a more efficient pump that uses less energy and does not keep running incessantly all night.
It was windy on Sunday night gusting F7, so we decided to stay in Cambrils until Tuesday. In the evening, we ate at a delicatessen which specialised in Iberian ham. This was served on a simple crisp bread base, with light fresh tomato paste with the ham thinly sliced on the top. All served with a glass of Rioja. Simple but delicious!
Time: 7:00 hours Miles: 40nm Total Time: 210:00 hours Total Miles: 1186nm
28 September 2019
We left Barcelona at lunchtime and arrived in Sitges late afternoon. We had telephoned ahead to check the depth of the entrance, as we had heard reports of it silting. The marina said there was 2.8m. In practice we found 2.7 was the minimum. This was fine given our depth of 2.1 provided there was no swell running.
A Spanish yacht turned up beside us with 6 people on board who turned out to be great fun. While eating our meal, they played the guitar and sang Spanish, English and French songs. They even serenaded Bella with a Bow Wow song.
The port of Sitges is a mile or so out of town and is full of character. The hills behind the port have been left undeveloped which is good. There was a pleasant walk along the coast to the upmarket town of Sitges itself. It is still hot here, most days over 25C. Thankfully, there was a small beach just past the marina which we used for an afternoon swim each day.
On Tuesday we ate out at La Nansa restaurant which specialised in Catalonian food. Great fish terrine!
Time: 4:30 hours Miles: 23nm Total Time: 203:00 hours Total Miles: 1146nm
23 September 2019
We arrived at the port of Barcelona late afternoon or rather you think you have arrived, as it takes over an hour to get into the marina. You first pass the container port, then oil storage, then the ferry terminal and eventually into the area of the port which contains three marinas. We were heading for Port Vell which is the newest marina, right on the edge of the city itself. That evening we had just a quick walk around and ate onboard.
On Tuesday we walked down the iconic Las Ramblas and into the old town, taking in the cathedral. We then took a look in Santa Maria church and on to the park. It was busy as it was a public holiday. In the park there were a number of street food vendors, so we ate lunch from one of them.
After a coffee back on the boat, we then visited the Museum of Catalan History, which was right beside our berth in the marina. Great museum with a floor covering each period, and free entry due to the public holiday.
We finished the day with an evening meal in one of the restaurants above the marina. We had taken Bella with us to the meal and as normal, she crept in under the table and the waiter offered her some iced water. All was good until Bella heard some fireworks and gave a huge bark from under the table, startling most people in the restaurant! We finished a great day in the marina bar for a final drink.
Wednesday, we spent much of the day working. Fiona got the washing done, we restocked the boat and Simon polished the chrome. That evening we walked across to the beach and had some tapas from a couple of bars in Barceloneta, which was a really cool area of Barcelona. At dusk, a swing dance group set up some music and started dancing.
On Thursday, we walked a few miles up to the cathedral ‘La Sagrada Familia’. This was designed by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. Construction started 137 years ago and is still ongoing. Unfortunately, there were no tickets available for that day, so we could not see inside. We walked back into town and visited the excellent Picasso museum. Pablo Picasso was born in Malaga but spent part of his life in Barcelona.
On Friday, we went to the indoor market in Barceloneta to get some meat and vegetables for that evening. We also visited the beach that afternoon for a swim and some relaxation.
We decided that it was time for us to move on, so left Barcelona on Saturday. A great city and maybe we will visit again in Spring.
Time: 3:30 hours Miles: 18nm Total Time: 198:30 hours Total Miles: 1123nm
22 September 2019
After Tarragona, we were heading up the coast for Barcelona, but decided to break the trip with an overnight stop at Garraf. This was a very small village with a nice new marina, club nautic and beach.
We walked into the village and had some tapas and wine at bar Antoni and then onto the beach. There was a large swell rolling up the beach and the surfers were still out in the dark. Just as we left, a thunderstorm started. It was very atmospheric watching the surfers in the swell illuminated by the lightning. By the time we got back to the boat we were drenched!
Time: 6:00 hours Miles: 31nm Total Time: 195:00 hours Total Miles: 1105nm
19 September 2019
After having breakfast ashore at Cambrils, we upped anchor and motored along the coast for an hour to Cap Salou. We anchored here for lunch and a swim off the boat.
We had made a reservation at the marina in Tarragona for a few days, so moved up the coast for another hour and into the marina.
Tarragona is a small city with a fine cathedral and a lot of Roman history. There is a walk around the city which focuses on about 20 Roman ruins.
We were lucky in that when we visited the town, there was an all week festival known as Santa Tecla. There was a big programme of events going on every day. On Friday we started off in the tapas area and then walked up to the convention centre. We had been recommended to see some Catalan comedians called ‘Tricicle’. They perform very funny sketches, but importantly for us, no speech. They turned out to be really very good.
Saturday evening, we went back into the city for the parade of big heads. These were people wearing large model heads. See photo above.
Time: 2:30 hours Miles: 10nm Total Time: 189:00 hours Total Miles: 1074nm
At anchor off Cambrils
18 September 2019
We were up early on Wednesday. In fact, too early. The alarm was set for 6am, but it was not light until after 7.15am. Once Bella had been ashore, we departed shortly after 7.40am in the general direction of Tarragona.
It was a beautiful sunny day and during the trip we researched possible anchorages where we could spend a night. We chose an anchorage just outside the port of Cambrils.
We went ashore on Thursday morning for breakfast. Cambrils was a nice coastal town with some tourism and a very good selection of shops. There were at least 4 good fish shops in town and some very nice delicatessens selling cured Iberico ham. The fruit and veg were some of the best we have seen on this coast.
Time: 8:00 hours Miles: 44nm Total Time: 186:30 hours Total Miles: 1064nm
At anchor off Punta de la Banya
16 September 2019
We returned to Brindabella on Saturday, after driving down through France and Spain over the past 7 days. We stopped in some great villages and towns on the way. Some were new such as the cheese town of Neufchatel and a walnut oil farm in Availles en Chatellerault and some we have been to before such as Sauternes, to stock up on dessert wine for the winter, and San Esteban de Litera, for their delicious octopus!
The boat was all well but in need of a scrub down. It took us 2 days to get cleaned up, restocked and ready to depart.
Monday, we motored out of Sant Carles into Bahia des Alfacs, to anchor near the entrance for a couple of nights. It’s a completely protected bay, so apart from the fishing boats going past early in the morning, was completely calm.
We went ashore on Tuesday morning for a walk and swim. Later that day a park ranger informed us that dogs were not allowed on the peninsular, as it is part of the nature reserve. We went back to the boat but stayed another night, smuggling Bella ashore under the cover of darkness. It was miles away from anywhere, so we couldn’t see him returning anytime soon!
After a BBQ on Tuesday we readied the boat for an early departure on Wednesday.
Time: 1:00 hours Miles: 2nm Total Time: 178:30 hours Total Miles: 1025nm
Sant Carles de la Rapita
16 June 2019
We are now in our final marina at Sant Carles de la Rapita, having completed the last sail of this spring's cruise.
Sant Carles is a nice marina and is one of the few in the med that have proper finger berths. It's also run by MDL, a UK marina operator. The marina seems to have a pleasant atmosphere with a small restaurant and an infinity swimming pool - which we particularly like!
The town at Sant Carles is a medium sized town that has some good shops and several restaurants. Some look to be serving good fish which needs further exploration. It is very much an authentic Spanish town, rather than a holiday location.
We have had an amazing cruise this spring. Starting at La Linea near Gibraltar and cruising the Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca. Following this we went out to the Balearics and saw most of Ibiza, Mallorca and Menorca. Each island was surprisingly different. We loved the anchorages in Menorca and the towns of Palma, Port de Soller and Andraitx in Mallorca. There were also some great anchorages in Ibiza and the water was so clear. Following this, we returned to mainland Spain on the Costa del Azahar, where we are now.
This year we have travelled over 1,000 miles and while at sea we saw a whale, dolphins and one large fish that we thought was a marlin.
By the time we leave the boat, we will have had 85 nights on board, of which 28 have been at anchor or on a buoy. We will have been away from home for over 15 weeks, so we really do need to get home now!
Within the week we will leave the boat and commence our trip back, driving through Spain and France to cross back to the UK.
Until the Autumn, we are signing off for now. Goodbye!
Time: 8:30 hours Miles: 57nm Total Time: 176:30 hours Total Miles: 1023nm