Matt arrived in Almerimar with a tummy bug, looking rather grey and weak from his journey, then not to be out done Rachael woke the next morning feeling just as bad. So with Robyn only having been on the boat once before and my two sick, it was just as well we had planned a “settling in sail” for their first day. We headed to an anchorage just 30 nm away, tucked inside Cabo de Gata. Rachael spent the first hour or so below decks and when she came up to the cockpit and saw the view, the blueness of the sea and the sky, her smile was a picture and I sighed in relief, both were on the mend.
It was an extremely hot afternoon, with little wind and we all relished the cooling water, the sea temperature has risen six degrees since we left Gibralta now reading 25 but still raising a yelp as we dive off the boat. Rach, Matt and I swam over to the cliffs and snorkeled around the rocky shore, I was pleased to see that there were a surprisingly large number of fish, last time I was in the Med there hardly seemed to be a fish in sight. I love swimming off the boat, Rachael had asked me earlier in the day what was the best and worse things about our new life and diving into clear blue seas has got to be one of my favorite best things, however as I searched for another snorkel, I realized that one of the things I hate is the cupboards, lockers etc having to be so full and well packed, every time you want anything you have to empty them first!
The day ended with us being treated to a magnificent sunset.
Monday morning, everyone was feeling much better and up for the day and a half crossing to Ibiza, the wind was strong enough at 12 knots to sail but was right on the nose, so back on came the motor. It was a nice day however with the breeze tempering the heat of the sun and dolphins around to keep us entertained, we motored on for four hours but the going was very slow.
Team Raya went into conference, no flights were booked yet, the Costa Brava Pilot (sailing guide book) indicated that there were some nice anchorages to the northwest of us, the Port of Cartagena with its vast history lay further north and there was an easy flight for Rach from Alicante on Friday night. We turned west and went where the wind was blowing us and finally got the sails full. We had a fantastic two hour sail and anchored for the night at Cala Bardina, a pretty bay well protected from the NE winds by the 244m high headland of Mt Cope.
The next day again with the wind blowing directly at us we motor sailed for five hours to reach Cartagena. We had one anxious moment as we fell foul of an extremely aggressive fishing trawler. Having taken a wide turn to keep clear of him, we thought we were well past any trouble, but I guess his fish finder indicated a new shoal right where we were, as he suddenly started coming up behind us at about fifteen knots. Even on full throttle we can’t do much more than eight knots we tried to turn away but he came very, very close indeed.
Half an hour later we entered the bay outside Cartagena, we were surrounded by steep barren hills, a huge refinery, anchored tankers and sparcely spaced industry. Our chart plotter indicated that we were heading for the entrance of Peuto de Cartagena, but not until the last minute did the entrance reveal itself. The town has proved to be much the same, real gems of antiquity and great modern architecture, sitting hidden amongst ugly buildings and derelict areas. There is hardly any other tourist around, unfortunate for the city I guess but a refreshing change for us after the past weeks sailing up the crowded Costa del Sol.
The Roman theatre was the highlight, it had been rediscovered when a slum section of the city was being demolished in the 1960’s. The Ministry of Culture has done a great job of reconstructing some areas using pieces of the original material intermingled with new sections, to create an idea of what some areas of it would have looked like, but cleverly showing where the old ends and the new begins. Not an easy job, as in about the 13th century many of the marble blocks and columns were broken up and turned on their side to create the foundations of new building works.
Hot and tired we were drawn to the dark cool interior of a nearby bar, the kids recognized the name – La Catedral from their research, as one of the best restaurants in town and so it proved, we stayed for a fantastic lunch.
NOTE TO SELF – if you want to continue to fit into your clothes, you can’t eat and drink like you are on holiday for the whole of the next few years!