Sunday, 15 May 2011

Marina hopping on the Costa del Sol ….. May 2011

07 – 15 May 2011

The wind eased at Cabo de Gata with the setting of the sun, the anchorage even turned to glass for a while as we enjoyed our dinner after a tough day.  Skipper checked the weather and saw that we were to get a westerly change through early afternoon the following day, so we decided to leave early and get across the Bay of Almeria before it changed.  Just after dark our tranquil anchorage returned to its former self, with wind gusts up to 30 knots again, but somehow now we had wavelets coming in from the southwest, slapping us on the stern, while the wind blew from the north east.  Quite clearly it was going to be “one of those nights”.   

P5080013After finally getting to sleep at 1am Skipper awoke at 4am, things felt a little different.  The north easterly had been replaced by a westerly, about 8 hours early!!  Although the wind wasn’t yet too strong the sea state was already chopping up, and as we quickly prepared for a “dark o’clock” departure the wind strength steadily increased.  Great to get some practice in so early in the season at lifting anchor in the dark, lets hope we don’t have to do it too often!!  Across the Bay of Almeria we motored in the dark, the occasional ferry bound for Morocco or Algeria crossing our path. 

Daylight broke as we closed on the west coast of the bay and the town of Aguadulce,   the winds eased closer to shore and the seas flattened yet again.  We weren’t to be fooled in a false sense of security though, this whole coastline is void of good sheltered anchorages but full of marinas.  It was time to change our cruising mindset, the marinas are there for a very good reason, and we shall be using them until we find safe all round anchorages again.   We pulled into the marina and tied to the fuel dock to await being allocated a berth.  We moved across to our berth on the breakwater, tied up and relaxed, and it was only just gone 8am, way too much excitement to start the day!!!  By mid morning we had thunder storms rolling through, we were very happy we had moved when we did.

P5080004We slipped back into marina life quite happily as the winds howled through,  first from the west and then from the east.  There are miles and miles of golden sandy beaches to walk along, big screen TV’s to watch Football and the Grand Prix, a visitors dock with a good mix of cruisers passing through, even some other New Zealanders and Australians to share happy hours with.

One day we caught the bus the short distance to Almeria.  The morning we went the local  road was closed so we ended up having quite a tour as we headed miles out of the way to join up with the motorway instead.  Almeria is a pleasant town, as with so many of the towns along this southern coastline it has been rejuvenated in recent years both by tourism and agriculture.  The coastline is covered in millions of shade houses that grow a huge proportion of Europe’s vegetables. 

The big attraction in Almeria is the spectacular Alcazaba Fortress, dating from 955 it still dominates the skyline behind the town centre. The Alcazaba was originally built as a military camp in times of siege.  It’s mosque was converted to a chapel when overrun by the Catholic Monarchs in 1489.  There are also remains of the Muslim palace, but earthquakes and natural decay have certainly taken their toll over the years.  The views from up here were stunning.  Back down at sea level the Cathedral  is yet another impressive building, its almost new compared to the Alcazaba, built in the 1520’s.  It has 6 prominent watch towers, to keep an eye on those Northern African raiders.   

We found a small local tapas bar and enjoyed a great late lunch in the shade, the first time this season we have sought the shade, summer must finally be coming.   Finding the bus stop back to Aguadulce was a bit of a challenge so we headed out to the bus terminal and eventually got a bus, it was a quick scenic trip back along the local coast road.

We stayed while the wind blew too hard, then we stayed because there was no wind!  A couple of days ago we had perfect downwind conditions of 15knots and nearly flat seas so we have moved on another 20 miles and are tucked up again in the huge marina complex at Almerimar,  an easterly wind is whipping through  - at times over 30 knots, with no signs of easing soon.  We are tied up all snug, I’m getting to like these marinas!!! 

For Cruising info for Aguadulce and Almerimar including marina waypoints, costs and shore facilities click here for Balvenies Cruising Info blog  


No comments: