August 08, 2011
We spent a couple of days mooching around Cartagena and trying to sort out our Orange internet dongle which had turned into a saga. It made a change to be in a marina, to be able to walk off the boat into town but, of course, there are downsides too, such as the heat and lack of privacy, though less so in the Yacht Port where we were than the Real Club Regatas which is open to the public. An Australian couple, in a new catamaran they’d picked up in La Rochelle and were taking back to Oz, felt a bit intimidated by some of the people sitting on benches right next to their boat in the Real Club marina.
We’ve met a few people with brand new boats, all of whom have experienced faults and failures. One in particular, whom we met in Gibraltar, said he had sailed his new 40’ German boat across the Bay of Biscay before discovering a large crack in one of the bulkheads (amongst a catalogue of other faults). His surveyor’s opinion was that it was too dangerous to be sailed anywhere before being repaired. Needless to say, the owner had lost faith in the boat and simply wanted a refund and who could blame him?
From Cartagena we mainly motor-sailed to Torrevieja where we anchored for a couple of nights. Towards the end of the trip the wind veered right round until it was astern so we furled the mainsail and sailed on the genoa only. Without the Atlantic rollers it stayed filled and didn’t flog and with a strengthening wind our speed was over seven knots.
Up until Torrevieja my preconceived impression of the Costa Blanca was wrong. From Cabo de Gata the coast is largely unspoilt and remote with attractive rocky hills and mountains. Torrevieja, however, is a large, touristy town that didn’t entice us to explore it. Instead, we changed the engine oil and filter and watched the antics of the locals who had come out of the marina to anchor for the day.
One, a British powerboat, anchored in front of us with music blaring only to drag their anchor. They passed down our side whilst trying, unsuccessfully, to start their engine. We suggested that they might want to throw us a line while they sorted the problem as they were heading for the rocky harbour mole. After a while, they gave up trying and looked around for a likely tow back into the marina. A friendly Spanish power-boater said he’d oblige and tied onto them. The Spanish crew also tried to start the engine but after about half an hour gave up and readied for the tow. We were directed by the British crew to let go the line and so we cast them off. Unfortunately, the Spanish boat hadn’t actually started its engine! You’ve guessed it. Now the Spanish boat didn’t start and the pair of them drifted helplessly onto the mole, fending off with boathooks until a couple of RIB’s arrived on the scene to tow them both back to the marina.
The anchorages along this coast are mostly open and variable winds caught us out a couple of times. Once near Altea off Playa de Albir, a lovely spot that quickly became untenable with an onshore wind. We had gone ashore (to try to resolve our internet problem) and by the time we went back we had to launch the dinghy through breaking, steep waves that soaked us. We quickly raised the anchor and left for the nearby marina.
From the marina we went to the anchorage at Calpe where we awoke to an onshore breeze that, by the time we’d had breakfast, increased to 25 knots. Time to go. We went around Pte de Ifach expecting to be sheltered from the forecast SW winds but, by the afternoon, it had veered to S and increased. Time to go again. We went about three and a half miles to the very nice marina at Moraira (just over 50 Euros a night) where we stayed two nights and enjoyed a walk to the picturesque town at the top of the hill.