Crawling Up the Spanish Coast

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We left Cartagena, Spain two days after Christmas and started making our way up the Spanish coast with the ultimate destination being Barcelona.

Although Southeastern Spain has a very mild winter climate, it’s still pretty cold when you live on a boat! We were spoiled the first year of our trip and essentially had a year-long summer. It was cold when we left San Francisco, particularly at night while at sea, and then a switched turned when we arrived in Cabo San Lucas and it was summer weather from then on. We’re now feel like we’re back to San Francisco coastal cruising weather: warm during mid-day but cold at night. In the morning, we wake up to a sea of condensation above us, dripping down. Mildew is our enemy and we are in a constant battle right now.

Our first anchorage after Cartagena was supposed to be in the Mar Menor, which Esther Williams called “the largest swimming pool in the world.” Unfortunately, the bridge we had to go through in order to enter the Mar Menor was broken, and they had no idea when it would be fixed. Bummer for the boats at the marina inside the Mar Menor. Fortunately, there was an incomplete marina outside the sea, which provided complete anchorage protection for us.   We then sailed up to Torrevieja and had another wonderfully calm anchorage, inside the harbor breakwater. We finally got the dinghy off the deck and inflated, but never made it into town. We spent New Year’s Eve at the anchorage, listening to the partying Spaniards around the harbor. Presumably they were eating one grape for each dong of the clock at midnight, a Spanish tradition for good luck in the New Year.

Our next anchorage off the beach at Benidorm was a little rolly but all it did was make us appreciate calm anchorages more. We then made it up to Puerto Las Campomares which is on the Prime Meridian – the line which separates East from West coordinates of longitude. Dante blew the airhorn while I took a video. Our chartplotter now reads coordinates N and E instead of N and W! We anchored off a beautiful little beach and then took the dinghy ashore to celebrate over pizza and beer (Fanta for Dante). The next day was the Epiphany, a national holiday in Catholic Spain. This is the day that the Three Kings visited Jesus. The Spanish buy and eat a cake called the “Roscon de Los Reyes.” It is a round cake with dried fruit and inside of the Roscón is a figurine of baby Jesus as well as a dried fava bean. Whoever finds the figurine of baby Jesus is crowned “king” or “queen” of the house for the day, and the person who encounters the dried bean is obligated to buy next year’s cake.

From the prime meridian, we took an overnight passage up to Bahia des Alfacs. This was our first overnight passage in the heart of winter. We were bundled up like Randy from the movie A Christmas Story. The evening got progressively colder and by early morning (Darold’s watch) it was pretty darn cold. However, doing an overnight passage was about the same as doing 6 day sails, so we made good progress. We arrived at another nice and calm anchorage near Port Sant Carles de la Rapita. We had entered the province of Catalonya, where they speak a dialect called Catalan. Fortunately, everyone also speaks Castellano (Spanish) so there were no problems communicating for us when we went to town to replace our butane tank and buy some groceries.

We stayed a few extra days in the anchorage due to computer problems and the fact that there was a strong wifi signal. We made one trip “into town” by taking the dinghy and tying her up to the fuel dock in the harbor and walking around town to get some groceries and a replacement butane tank for our stove.  Every day Dante went for a row in the dinghy around Benevento; the kid is getting good at rowing.

We then high tailed it up to Barcelona in two long day sails, anchoring off of Tarragona en route.)  We arrived into a marina just north of Barcelona in a town called Badalona. Barcelona’s Port Vell is being converted into a marina for mega yachts and consequently have very few berths for 40 foot boats. No matter. Badalona is within easy public transportation distance to Barcelona, has a grocery store within walking distance, relatively cheap parking for a rental car and it’s less expensive than downtown Barcelona.   (By the way, is it me or does Badalona sound like Barcelona’s younger, more rebellious sister?)

We arrived with enough time to prepare for an inland trip to Madrid and a visit from Darold’s brother. After almost three weeks navigating up the coast it was nice to arrive in a marina and have a heater running all night. I can’t wait until Spring!!

For more pictures go to our Flickr album: