Mar Menor

Our plan was to anchor just near Mar Menor. We had a great trip over, past all the holiday resorts and packed beaches. There were a few fishing pots around so we had our eyes pealed. Simon’s mum spotted ‘Wilson’ Tom Hank’s friend from Castaway.

Then I spotted something that I couldn’t quite make head or tail off. It turned out to be a huge rubber ring which kept flipping as the wind took it. This was like a red rag to a bull. Simon and his Dad were onto it. We’d done an emergency MOB and rescued a hat in Pitt Water (Sydney) but this was an even bigger challenge. Of course, before we knew it we were the proud owners of Ringtalude!

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Mar Menor is a huge inland sea which can be accessed via a canal. We hadn’t really planned to go in there and when we got there we’d already missed the bridge opening time so it wasn’t really an option – but I did feel like we were maybe missing out when we saw one of our AIS buddies in there. C’est la vie!

There were a few anchorages that we were considering though, depending on the wind. Our bad-weather option was the anchorage in the still-to-be-built marina just outside the canal, however, with little wind and swell predicted we decided to anchor just off the beach and it suited us just fine.

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The next day the breeze was lovely and Simon challenged us to sail off the anchor. Challenge accepted and achieved! It was another first for Interlude. Next stop Alicante!

Salitrona and Cartegena

Today we headed down the coast towards Cartegena. During our trip we passed Hotel Legal. We read in the guidebook that this hotel was completed and ready for opening when it became entangled in a dispute and was declared illegal. The hotel is huge!! It’s mammoth! It made me furious that it had got to the stage where it had been built, declared illegal and now the cranes are there ready to tear it down. For one thing imagine all the resources and the environmental impact. And for another imagine the waste – surely there’s a better fate for this hotel? Can’t it be turned into an old people’s home, a university, something??

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Anyway it eventually disappeared from site along with my fury. We weren’t sure weather we would head straight into Cartegena or stop off at an anchorage just outside, Salitrona. As always it depended on the weather but by the time we arrived it seemed good so we swung by the anchorage and dropped our hook. Another day without marina fees! 🙂

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When we got there, anchored in the bay was a huge party cat, blaring music out. Yes we’d finally arrived in the Med. We spent a few hours enjoying the sunshine, swimming in the bath-tub warm waters and being entertained by the partiers who danced and dived all afternoon. Finally a horn blew and five minutes later the cat headed out and peace reigned again. Just in time for us to enjoy dinner and drinks peacefully in the cockpit.

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The next day we took the short hop across to Cartegena.

Everyone raves about Cartegena so we were really looking forward to it. It was great to be back in a little town after the smaller places we’d visited. The town was pretty quiet as it was Sunday and the shops were shut. We had a not-so-great lunch and a fantastic coffee and cake.

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We found the Amphitheatre and started to head higher and higher to get a better view.

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We’d heard about a lift that took you to the top for a Euro but didn’t come across it. Instead we just took it one set of steps at a time, working off the cake and finding a new view with every climb. Before long we were just below the castle with a great view out of the marina and out to open sea. It never ceases to amaze me that we’d sailed in and would be sailing out that way again. Land life and sea life seem so unrelated.

There was so much infrastructure in place here for tourism, including a deserted ice-cream hut, yet there was hardly a tourist in sight. To enter the castle was 3.5 Euros or you could get a special ticket that included some of the other attractions such as the amphitheatre, however, we didn’t feel like paying as we’d already seen so much of it for free. We did eventually find the panorama lift – a metal structure – but since we’d already made the climb up it seemed silly to take the ride back down again.

We had a lovely dinner in one of the back streets – one of those three-course set menus that leave you completely stuffed and yet completely happy. The restaurant owner was a huge character and kept us entertained while a small yapping dog annoyed all the customers (except the owners who seemed oblivious).

The next day a cruise liner appeared in port as promised by the guide book. Perhaps the ice-cream hut will open for them?

We toyed with dropping off Simon’s mum and Dad here in Cartegena, so they could take the bus to the airport from here, but instead decided to carry on the adventure with them for another couple of days and head to Alicante. We did a flyby of the enormous cruise liner and headed back out to sea.

Morro Genoves  to Garrucha

We had a nice sail down towards Morro Genoves. We tried running two fishing lines out the back but without a bite.

It was a lazy day with lots of snoozing, book reading and sun baking. We anchored easily in the small bay of Morrow Genoves. It was so quiet and picturesque, tranquil.

Morro1Once we’d settled we threw a fishing line in and the remains of some tuna/sweetcorn/mayo and were startled when we instantly hooked a fish. Luckily there’s not a veggie onboard but it’s one thing to eat fish and another to actually catch one. We were all a bit flabbergasted. We put him out of his misery with the help of some vodka – we’d read somewhere that this was a painless way. Then there was nothing else to do but eat it, it felt too much of a waste otherwise. The fish was yummy, a sea bream we think, but I’m not sure any of us will be fishing again any time soon.

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We followed this up with a spag bol, glass of wine and some star gazing. Beautiful!

We were up before day break the next day for the 31NM sail down to Garrucha, and although I find it hard to drag myself out of bed at this early hour I’m totally glad that I did – the sunrise was stunning. Other boats seemed to have the same idea too as they appeared out of hidden bays to either side of us.

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We had a short stay in Garrucha. It was one of those marinas that we’d chosen as it was half way between A and B and looked ok in the pilotage.

There was a newly built visitors’ marina that even the marinaro admitted was a bit rubbish. The pontoons are set up med mooring style but when we arrived the marinaro helped us moor up alongside as we could head up into the wind that way. It’s open to the West, even though in the pilotage it distinctly says it’s open to the East, and so mooring that way was better for the swell that came straight in the harbour entrance too. Strangely enough there wasn’t any other visitor boats there and only a few other poor souls arrived after us.

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We wished that we’d checked Active Captain though as we’d have found out that there is a plaster plant there and we, like others before us, ended up with plaster all over our boat. We ended up washing it off with salt water the next day after we travelled past – heartbreaking!

Garrucha2Anyway we spent a nice night in Garrucha. Once we’d landed, we washed and changed and headed into town for dinner, drinks and footy. We found a great bar on the front with a lovely local and family atmosphere. There were guys there in their 80s and children there as young as 6. A group of teenage boys turned up to eat ice-cream and watch Germany thrash Brazil. It was a hard one to watch.

Almerimar

Almerimar took us hostage for five days! We were trapped there by the threat of strong winds, held against our will as we longed to keep trekking down the coast.

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So we had some time to relax and take it easy – or so I thought – but Simon had different ideas and allocated us each a list of boat tasks. Actually I got off pretty lightly and busied myself instead with trips to the supermarket.

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We spent many an hour in the Stumble Inn. They fed us a feast of English dishes from their vast menu as well as providing us with our daily dose of the footy. We tried to escape to other places, but they didn’t live up to this place, and we’d find ourselves stumbling back in… and stumbling out again.

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The people there were very friendly and prided themselves on helping out with any request, no task was too great. So we asked about how to get to the ‘Mini Hollywood’ up the road where they filmed the spaghetti westerns or to the nearby palaces. “Come back tomorrow around 10am and we’ll see if someone is around to take you if we’re not too busy in the kitchen”. When we asked how much they weren’t so sure, so neither were we. Anyway we had a date with the chandlery following the weekend and holiday closures.

We did manage to escape on a local bus, aided by a nice local English man, to the nearby shopping centre where I finally managed to score myself a pair of wedges! I’ve been searching for these for ages and they didn’t break the bank either. Score!

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We also bought some fishing tackle – everyone seems to talk of fishing when they’re sailing but we don’t really know where to start – but we jumped in and bought some cheap hooks and lines as well as lures/flights?? I’m really not sure what these things are but maybe we’ll give it a go one day.

Getting the bus back was much trickier, don’t believe the timetable or other bus drivers. But if you stand there long enough there’s bound to be a bus sooner or later. Or at least that was our strategy which eventually paid off.

The bus took us past some of the many greenhouses that we’d seen on our trip down the coast. What you don’t realise from the sea is the depth of these things. They were wide, you can see that, but they’re also really, really long and there are fields of these things going back inland much further than expected. The greenhouses themselves are pretty basic and so it’s strange to think that’s this is how the veggies of Europe start out, before making the long trip onto our supermarket shelves where they appear in pretty lines and packed in invisible plastic.

Anyway after five days we had drunk in all that Almerimar had to offer and with some nice winds predicted it was definitely time to move on.

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Punta De La Mona

After our two (expensive) nights in a costa del rubbish marina the weather calmed and we made our getaway.

The coastline really is amazing around here but the endless developments blow me away. Are there really THAT many tourists in search of a week in the sun complete with rubbish food, British TV everywhere for those who can’t afford to miss an episode of their favourite soap, and pushy waiters? I guess so. 🙁 I might start taping a black strip of tape on my sunnies to block out the bottom quarter of the views then we’d all be happy.

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Luckily our spirits were quickly changed when we pulled into the anchorage just off Punta De La Mona. This little spot had great shelter (although quite deep and rocky), amazing views, small local beach complete with bar playing good laid-back tunes and not a British holidaymaker in sight! Heaven.

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The dingy was quickly launched (which has been nicknamed ‘Mintilude’) and we were off exploring and chilling out with the best of them. We loved this spot so much we stayed an extra night and highly recommend spending some time here to anyone. Was great to recharge, soak up some sun and snorkel. Although Helen did almost sink to the bottom of the bay when the swim platform ladder came loose, top marks for her getting back to the surface with it though!

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Hopefully there are more spots like this down the coastline as we press East.