Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Rota to Cartagena, Spain

First there were easterlies. Then the westerlies were blowing at gale force. Finally, on Friday, October 23rd, we left Rota after two weeks and headed east into the Mediterranean. It was bittersweet to leave our old friends (Richard and Andrea on Saeta) and new friends (Peter and Danielle on Second Lady) behind, but we were eager to get to our winter home in Cartagena and get settled.

By the time we left we had only light wind, not enough to sail but enough to boost our motoring speed. We planned to get all the way to Gibraltar and anchor in La Linea, but unless we could average more than 6 knots, we knew we would arrive after dark. With radar and AIS, plus having scouted the bay on our road trip, we were OK with going in at night. Our backup plan was to anchor at Tarifa, west of Gibraltar, if a change in the weather made that prudent. As it turned out, we never got enough wind to help much, and it was already after dark by the time we reached Tarifa, so there was no point in stopping before La Linea. In fact, we did get enough breeze after dark that we lamented our need for fuel—VAT-free at Gibraltar—because it would have been nice to keep going.

West of Tarifa without wind

It was a little spooky trying to find the other boats in the anchorage in the dark. I could see their mast lights but couldn’t really judge the distances that well. There was plenty of shallow water, so we dropped the hook fairly far offshore, just out of the way of the tankers and cargo ships. And at dawn (not that early so late in the year) we headed for the fuel dock and filled all tanks and jerry cans with diesel at a bargain price of 71 pence/80 euro cents/$1.19 USD per liter. At this point, our European friends are thinking, “Yes, that’s very good.” And our American friends who have just converted to dollars per gallon (about $4.50) are going, “Holy shit!” Having been over here awhile now, we’re with the Europeans on this subject. Plus the attendant gave us a couple of small bottles of water, which probably cost more per liter than the fuel.

It was a beautiful morning to be heading into the Mediterranean, and although there was little wind and none of it favorable, the current was with us most of the way, so we made good enough time. The scenery was nice, and the sunsets were spectacular.

Europa Point lighthouse

The Rock of Gibraltar from sea level in the Mediterranean

Our first Mediterranean sunset with Morocco barely visible in the distance

The last cape before Cartagena—almost home

We docked at Yacht Port Cartagena yesterday morning, about 48 hours after we left Gibraltar. The people who run the marina are extremely helpful and friendly, the location is beautiful, and the price is good. We can’t figure out why it’s so empty here. Maybe because the Mediterranean Almanac 2009-2010 still says that yachts should go to the other marina and super yachts to this one. At 12.5 meters we are on the small side here, certainly no super yacht, but we feel very welcome. If there’s some other reason, we’ll probably discover it later, and we’ll be sure to report it.


maria said...

Hello Shirlee and John,

So, your in Spain now. In your 'winter'harbour. I saw the prices, but I think it's very expensive. The place looks good to me. And, when we had more holiday and mony we would come and visit you there.
We'll following you journey and feel a little bit jealous.

Maria and Lex.

Crew of the Solstice said...

Maria, you need to look at the long-term rates. That's what we're paying. It's about the same as we paid in Amsterdam last year, but here they have amenities and better weather.
Wish you were here.
Shirlee and John

Judy and Bill aboard S/V BeBe said...

Particularly enjoyed this posting; not sure exactly why. Hope you enjoy your winter home.

BTW, we fall in with your European friends on that price of diesel. Pretty much any price less than $5 USD per gallon is considered by us to be a fair price for diesel at a marine dock. It is cheap here in Malaysia, but that was not true across the South Pacific.