Thursday, September 29, 2011

From Alicante to Almerimar

We left Alicante on sunday late morning with the idea to sail to Mar Minor. It is a inner sea protected by sandy dunes and sailboats must wait for the bridge to open to get in. From looking at the area on the map we had this romantic idea that it is wild and pretty. Before noon the wind was weak, so we motored for an hour, then it was time for gennaker and as the wind was getting stronger and stronger, we soon pulled the gennaker down and sailed with small gib and the main. And it was good sailing, speed up to 9 knots, so we reached Mar Minor in good time. We were lucky to get there just in time for opening of the bridge at 5. 

Bridge looks very modern, especially with the "space shuttle" style command tower. Unfortunately our idea about the area wasn't right, there were masses of tall buildings and tourist development again, straight on the dunes separating inner and outer sea. What a pity.

Night was peaceful, we slept very well and were up early to sail under the bridge at 9. We had very good wind most of the day so we reached Cape Tinoso before 3 in the afternoon. Which was great since the bay behind the cliffs is quite pretty, no skyscrapers around, and the water was green and clean and with temperature of 26 degrees. We had a nice afternoon bathing and lazying around.

Next day we started at around 10 and headed towards Garrucha, where we were hoping we could anchor behind the breaker. With the constant wind from NE there were quite big waves from E so we tried to find sheltered bay or port for each night. Sailing was again very good, with very good speed after lazy start. The wind was better off the coast so we were sailing some 8 miles from the coast when we saw couple of army ships in front of us.  We immediately checked if we were in some zone where we shouldn't be, turned the VHF radio on if there are some announcements, but couldn't find anything. Three army ships sailed by quite close, without any sound or sign from their side, so we thought nothing of it. There was some conversation going on on VHF but all in Spanish. After a while we saw helicopter flying our way, and made three circles around our mast, one so close we thought the rotor will shred our mast. There was again some talking on VHF in Spanish and then they took off. So we thought they were just curious or included us in their drill. After some time the helicopter came back and this time they spoke English on VHF. They told us we are in the area that they are using for exercise and we should not be there and they want us to go back north. We did a tack and sailed NW closer to the coast until we decided we are far enough from them so we proceeded towards Garrucha. I would so much like to have a photo of that helicopter on our mast, but it happened so fast and i have a feeling they would not be very happy to see me taking pictures of them. After we moved away we heard on VHF how they tried to convince an Spanish fisherman to move from the area and although it was in Spanish, it was clear by the tone of the voices that the fisherman was not happy at all and he told them so with very many loud words. From what we could understand he was telling that he has some fishing to do to make his living and that army should go and play their games somewhere else.

Without further disturbances we reached Porto Garrucha at 7 in the evening. The anchorage behind the breaker at the beginning of the port was less protected than we hoped so we tied our boat to the fuel station for the night. The price was very reasonable, water and electricity included. Only one boat came in the port after us, a 42 foot Sun Odissey with a Spanish guy alone on it. We went to bed early, we wanted to make early start next morning.

We left Garrucha at 8.45 next morning and the Spanish guy on Sun Odissey left some 30 minutes behind us. He was sailing in the same direction, so after a while he caught up with us and we were sailing less that half a mile away from each other the whole day. Our original destination for the day was Almeria, but sailing was so fast that we decided to sail further to Almerimar. We thought Spanish guy is also going there and that we will have a beer together in the evening. After talking to him on VHF we learned that he is going to Malaga and then to Africa. What can i say - a brave guy and i wish him all the luck and good weather. 

We reached Almerimar at 7.30 after making almost 60 miles that day. After the dinner (i'm sorry to say that we had one of the worst pizza ever) we made some changes to our plan again. We decided to make a use of good wind while it's still lasting and sail directly to Gibraltar. We want to start this afternoon and will probably be there some time tomorrow afternoon. We checked the weather forecast today, it has changed a bit - the wind will be less strong in the night, which is ok with me, but might slow us down a bit, but there are some brutal winds forecast for tomorrow around Gibraltar - hopefully it will not be to bad. So, cross our fingers that all goes well.

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