Captains Blog 19 Bad Day at the Office*

It was time to leave La Linea and Gibraltar, but not before we’d filled the fuel tanks with the cheapest diesel yet. We motored out of La Linea after making sure we’d stocked up with plenty of essential provisions from Morrisons (Sausage Rolls, Scotch Egg, Green & Blacks Chocolate etc).

Typically, the winds started to build as we approached Europa Point and we clung on in 35 knots of wind. We knew it would be short lived and things would settle once properly clear of the headland. True to form steady winds provided the perfect sail into Estepona. We moored adjacent to some big fancy motor yachts. The sort of size that warranted a crew. I ordered the first mate to smarten up as she’d be on show along with those from the fancy boats. She told me to F@#! Off. Disgraceful!! Oh, quick note on loo review, best bogs yet. A place you could really take your time and enjoy a good dump, without the distracting farting and nose/throat clearance, usually so common in adjacent traps.

Estepona was really lovely and the old part of the town was a stunning mass of colour and well worth a visit. It had a nice feel to it and the locals really did seem to take pride in their town.

After a few days we needed to move on to our next stop, Benalmedena. All calm to start, but I noticed a few white caps off in the distance. I considered poling out the headsail to make to most of the light winds, then had another look out. The white caps had approached quickly and the wind was building accordingly. The closer we got to our final destination the more speed we made and the more we surfed each wave.

We made it into Benalmedena, battling with the wind to keep Gianti from slamming into the waiting dock. We were provided a tiny gap between two boats, mooring stern to. The wind was now side on, so trying to get in without damaging anything wasn’t easy. Thankfully all went well and we got ourselves safe and secure, although most boats were grinding against one another well into the night.

I wasn’t sure whether Benalmedena actually forms part of Torremolinos, but it was a definite holiday destination and was awash with tourists, including us. We enjoyed a couple of days before heading out again. My Daughter, Ella, had been on a hen weekend in Malaga, just down the road from where we’d stayed and was flying home as we passed below the endless stream of aircraft leaving for various parts of Europe. I kept waving at the planes like some sort of simpleton, hoping that one might be hers.

Time to anchor and save some cash so we found a spot at Almunecar. It looked like the type of place that the Spanish might holiday at as it didn’t appear to be built up like many places catering for mass tourism. It was a lovely spot but a very, very rolly anchorage, so not much sleep was had.

Further on was Almerimar, where we’d be stopping for a few days to let the north easterlies die down. It’s a bit of a strange place. As you approach from the coast you start to make out the town after passing thousands and thousands of acres of fruit production poly tents. It sits below a flat-topped cliff on which you can see the traffic flowing.

The town is very new and has been developed to cater for boats and golf with the occasional Spa thrown in. Its very pleasant but lacks a bit of soul and you can’t help but look up at the road atop the cliff and wonder what lies beyond. I don’t know if anyone living there has ever managed to find out?

Though it might not be the most interesting place, the people were lovely and we were lucky enough to bump into James, who we’d met while wintering in Lagos and more recently in Ayamonte and Gavin, Joe and Loki who we’d met in La Linea.

We all had a fab night out and it was great to get to know them a little better. We ploughed on with various jobs, adding 50m of warp (rope) to the anchor chain, constructing a bungee for the boarding plank and first mate finished sewing the boom and deck tent.

The day came when the wind dropped and it was time for us all to move on. James was sailing solo so limited his journeys to keep things manageable, but Loki II and ourselves were going to try and make some ground, heading for a small anchorage at San Pedro, with its naked hippy community. We made it quite late on so stayed onboard and Gavin and Joe joined us for some food and drink when we were safely anchored.  We had a top kip in this peaceful hippie inlet/hamlet.

Next day we set off early in order to get to Cartagena before night fall. Joe had left her sweatshirt on board the night before so we conducted a dramatic, potentially hazardous!! sweatshirt transfer from Gianti to Loki II once they’d caught up. All survived and the task was completed safely.

We got into Cartagena before nightfall and were glad to be somewhere where we could relax for a few days and liaise and update the Swedish Secret Service.

Cartagena is a popular bustling town with more historic interest than is healthy in a single place. There are old farts forts, museums, stacks of roman ruins including a theatre, a castle, interesting squares and the obligatory churches. It also has a good selection of art including lots of great sculptures dotted around the old part of the town.

After a few days our friends Karin and Erling returned from a trip home for their daughter, Nina’s wedding. It was first time we’d seen them since Lagos, so there was a lot of catching up to do and we’d be heading up the coast and across to the Balearics together a few days later.

We’d planned to leave Cartagena and head towards Alicante/Benidorm/Calpe early in the morning but when we awoke, we had rain and strong winds. It wasn’t long before we had a visit to tell us that Nike (Erling & Karins boat) would be staying until the weather calmed and the first mate and I agreed. For a bit.

The sun came out a couple of hours later and although it was still on the windy side, we decided to sail around to Mar Menor and drop the anchor for the night. At this point someone should have given me a slap. A hard one. The first disastrous decision was to leave in the first place, but the next was monumental. I decided to get fuel before leaving. The fuel pontoon sits on a substantial concrete platform. The strong wind was blowing off this pontoon so trying to come alongside was not going to be easy. Pah, we managed to get a bow line attached to the pontoon toot suite but we were then blown away too quickly to attach a stern line. As the stern swung away the bow turned towards the concrete boat mangler. It collided! and gouged sections of bright shiny hull away before we could release the line. I imagine my impression of John Cleese, either as Basil Fawlty or as the head teacher in the film clockwise, didn’t go unnoticed by the locals.

And so, we eventually got away, with fuel, and after 30 solid minutes of cursing and venting we were actually sailing. Aha, maybe this wasn’t such bad idea after all. Or maybe it was a rash decision made for the wrong reasons at a bad time. The winds built and built and built up to a constant 38 knots, gusting at 48. What a complete arse I’d been. A total moron. I should be stripped of the captaincy and put out to pasture in the daft lad’s pasture. Nice night at anchor though.

To add insult to injury, we spent 3 days heading up to Calpe. The Swedes did it in one, overtook us and managed to catch a good-sized Tuna in the process. I was a broken man.

Now, then we’ve not got around to the naked Germans yet but I’ll pick that up next time when I’ve had chance to calm down. our video of Gibraltar 🇬🇮 to Cartagena … next episode the Balearics 😀

Yours seethingly,

Captain Mac

2 Replies to “Captains Blog 19 Bad Day at the Office*”

  1. I feel your pain with the pontoon incident! However may I recommend chewing gum and tippex as a repair solution, very hardy when set. I had to rely on such a repair to my first car after an incident with a rogue shopping trolley in quiksave carpark, although slightly different as my car was black and didnt float. Anyway, glad you guys are still having fun, if you need any other boating DIY advice don’t hesitate to ask, im full of ingenious quirky ideas!


    1. Wise words indeed Paul, though I could probably omit the tippex. I’ll add you to my nautical expert panel for future reference 👍


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Sailing Éalú

There is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.

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