We have spent the past few days sailing up the coast of the Costa del Sol. The few hundred metre strip that lies between the sea and the steep craggy hills inland, is shockingly built up. Apartment block, after apartment block after apartment block, interspersed with huge holiday home complexes and stark fronted hotels follow the coastline for miles and miles. Rick and I sit wondering where all the people come from to fill such an abundance of accommodation. There did look to be an incredible coast road to bring all the crowds, we have glimpsed it frequently for almost the whole of the three days sailing, winding its way through the hills and across the valleys on a string of high bridges.
The back drop may have been unchanging but the weather and sailing conditions have not, as everybody has told us the wind here appears to be all or nothing.
We left Duquesa on Tuesday having said goodbye to Phil and Julia and thanked Kieth and Dianne for a fantastic evening in there beautiful villa, grateful that we seemed to have a bit of wind at last. As soon as we left the marina we realized that we had in fact more than just a bit of wind, it was almost directly behind us, so we flew just the Genoa and the boat sailed along happily at about seven knots. The swell was however right on the beam (side of the boat) so we were rocking and rolling quite vigorously from side to side, preparation of lunch was a bit harder than normal, luckily Diane had given us the left overs from the BBQ the night before and so I could just pop a sausage in a roll with some HP sauce, job done.
As the afternoon progressed the winds built until we were well reefed in F6-7 we spotted one gust of 60kts, the swell increased as well with one wave actually crashing over the rear quarter into the cockpit. Needless to say we were happy to arrive and tie up at Puerto Feungirola.The wind continued to howl through the night and the forecast for the next day was for much of the same so we holed up and spent the day catching up on the myriad jobs that have built up over the last couple of weeks including giving the dingy some much needed love and attention.
What a difference a day makes, we left early on Wednesday morning heading to an anchorage in the bay at Herradura. There was absolutely no wind and a thick mist came down, hanging heavily in the air, it was quite surreal motoring through a completely still and silent sea, surrounded by nothingness. We were both struggling to keep watch, our eyes straining to find something in the whiteness, grateful again for the AIS system and with our main sail up, not in the hope of it driving us forward, but to make us more visible. We were compensated by the arrival of a huge pod of dolphins, our path took us right through the middle of them, there were dolphins everywhere.
As we arrived at Herradura the mist cleared and we dropped our anchor at the quiet end of the bay about 300m off the beach. Unfortunately in the time it took for me to swim into the beach and back, we seemed to have put a sign up saying “anchor here”, two boats full of noisy day trippers had anchored within a few metres of us. Rather annoying when they had a square mile of bay to find a space in, finally they left around eight and we had a tranquil night .
We woke to another day of zero winds but thankfully the mist didn’t reappear and we had quite a magical sail, well motor. The sea was dead flat and appeared almost like oil as it reflected the sun, we hardly spotted another vessel for the whole of the six hours, it was as if we had the coast to ourselves, with just the dolphins for company. Again we saw dozens of them, including a mother and calf that swam in our bow wave for a few minutes just under my feet! The landscape had become even more hilly and quite dramatic in places. The buildings had thinned out but been replaced with equally ugly acres of plastic, forming giant polytunnels that meet the demand for fruit and vegetables by the supermarkets of Northern Europe.
We are now moored up in Almerimar a rather strange place, a huge but friendly marina that looks like it was built with a whole new town around it. The building looks complete but only half the accommodation is filled, I guess that it may be one of the casualties of the Spanish recession.
Matt, Robyn and Rachael have just arrived (unfortunately Hugo has just started a new job and was unable to join us) and we are planning to head towards Ibiza over the next couple of days.