Friday, July 5, 2013

Through the Straits of Gibraltar at Last

The past few days have been equally as interesting as the first couple days, although without seasickness for anyone.  I think we've all got our sea legs now!

After spending a night in Chipiona, we went to Rota, where we were held up for three nights because of bad winds.  Rota is a pretty little town with lots of little narrow streets.  The grocery store was a bit hard to find but Isabelle and Frank found it.  On Rota we had our sail fixed and by the time we had been there three nights even though the weather near Barbate was forecast as a gale, the forecast for five miles across the bay to Cadiz was fine.  Frank decided that we should get a bit more mooring practice so we headed out.

By the time we got to Cadiz the wind had picked way up and mooring required many people to help, but we got in OK.  It was a bit stressful for Frank, but he did well.  We met up with our former neighbors on the Meredith--Michael and Annie--who had come before us too.

The town of Cadiz is pretty, too, but I did not take a whole lot of pictures--the wide lens is too wide and the telephoto is too long, but I do have a few.  We had Mojitos in a bar there, but I have to say that they were nowhere as good as James Beier's.

Cadiz could get a much larger economic boost from boaters if the marina were closer to town.  It was about half a hour into town (not a particularly interesting one either) and another 30 minutes through town to the beach.  It is not a very touristy town but the beach was mobbed, mostly with locals who were much more tanned than most of the tourists.

Our friends Seamus and Patricia arrived in Cadiz as well Sunday night, and the next day they headed for Barbate about half an hour before we left.

No one had a nice sail to Barbate--we had to battle the wind and rough waves, so we made very bad time.  What we thought was going to take four hours ended up taking ten!  We didn't get in until after 9:30 to fond that Seamus and Patricia were already there and they helped us moor again.

Next, we discovered that there was nowhere to eat.  Enter "Desperation Dinner #1":  Potato, Onion, and Egg Hash, along with a canned ham that Frank had bought.  The hash was better than the ham, we decided, but canned ham is palatable if you paint it with honey and Herbes de Provence!  After our rough day Frank slept so hard I would have thought he was dead if I hadn't known better.

Seamus and Patricia have exited the blog now.  They went to Morrocco and we will see them in the fall back in Lagos.  Now we'll have to moor ourselves.  :(

Tuesday morning dawned fair with no wind and a good forecast so even though we hadn't shopped we set off to go through the Straits of Gibraltar.  At first it seemed like more of the usual--a nice calm beginning and then the wind and the waves picking up--but by the time we got past Tarifa (the windiest spot on Europe) and into the Straits things had calmed down quite a lot and our passage was the smoothest yet.  Of course, the wind shifted and we couldn't sail, but it was nice calm motoring, at least!

We spent the night in Estipona, another tourist town with little to recommend it but a relatively decent (albeit expensive) grocery store and and an excellent Indian restaurant.

The marina was an experience, as it was our first time mooring without a dock and no one spoke any English.  Isabelle's one semester of Spanish and Frank's two years of it 40 years ago are not getting us very far.  Max's Portuguese and my limited French are not helping either.  It seems that the Portuguese can understand the Spanish but the Spanish can't understand the Portuguese.  Very strange...

In any case, first they directed us into a tiny little slip that there was no way we were going to fit into. We finally backed into a different one and moored to the pontoon at the stern and a mooring in the water on the bow, so we were facing out rather than moored to the pontoon on the side, if that makes sense.  From what I've read it seems that a lot of marinas in the Mediterranean do this, so I guess we'll get some practice.

The next day we headed out early in the direction of Cartegena. The seas were so calm it was almost like being on a lake.  Not much wind, though, so we had to motor. We did put up the sails in the afternoon, though, but didn't really gain any speed.

We sailed through the night and then last night (Thursday) we anchored near the town of Vera. We are now on the Costa Blanca, which is characterized by lots of white buildings. Unfortunately the towns here are mostly ugly, since they were built quickly to make money from Northern European tourists. None of the places we've stopped since Cadiz has been even remotely interesting in that sense.

The undeveloped coast is gorgeous, though. Lots of large rocks and cliffs  that go straight down to the ocean. We've been able to get pretty close to some of them.

Max went swimming when we anchored and swam around the boat.  Isabelle went in with him and they said the water wasn't too cold.  It's been great having Isabelle with us as we learn the boat.

Frank is getting much more confident at the helm and in mooring the boat, but we are also becoming conscious of how much we still have to learn.

To celebrate the Fourth of July we had burgers and I made salt potatoes. Max loved the potatoes! I need to put more salt in the water next time, though.  Max informed us that the Fourth of July is National Burger Day and has been since before the US existed.

Now we are in Cartagena, which doesn't seem to have anything touristy to recommend it either.  We'll shop and eat and tomorrow head to the Balerics...

1 comment:

  1. Love reading your updates! I'm dying to see pictures, though!