Putting “Plan C” into Action!

So following on from the previous post, we found the area, a villa and a legal team to help us achieve Spanish Residencia.  Calpe is one of the smaller resort towns on the Costa Blanca and by comparison far less British and more Spanish than most.  When I came here 35 years ago Calpe was just a small town with fishing as its main function, with a few hotels dotted here and there, but as with the majority of the Costa Blanca it has grown a staggering amount, there are new developments nearly all the way up from Calpe, Denia, Xabia up to Valencia. Up until now its been easy for British to own homes and in a lot of cases retire here –  why not it’s cheaper and a lot warmer in the winter here. Unfortunately Brexit is going to put paid to that.

The villa we found is up in the area known as Oltamar, in the foothills of the Serra de Bèrnia i Ferrer

It’s about 10 minutes from the town and beach and only just over an hour to Valencia or Alicante either North or South.

So towards the end of July, we shot over to Calpe, Spain to secure the deal with the estate agents and to instruct the solicitors to obtain the Padron, our NIE and the Residencia. The Padron ( local council type document ) is straight forward enough once you have the long-term rental contract, the NIE (National Insurance type document), you cant get until you have a Padron, the residencia you can’t get until you have your NIE, Padron and 3 months of bank accounts showing you have sufficient funds (€9000), once you have all these documents in place you can apply for your residencia, so it takes a while.

As well as ourselves being legal to live in spain after the 31st December, we needed to get the boat into Spain too, Allegrini was in Plymouth, Helen had stayed in Spain to sort documents etc. Steve an old mate of ours, who had visited us in the Bahamas with his wife Anita, had agreed to do the trip with me.  Steve is like me a bit of a “foodie” who particularly loves french, Spanish food and wine, so we had decided to turn the trip into a bit of a gastro/wine “boys tour” and stop on many of the towns and ports on the way down the french and spanish coast. However, COVID soon put paid to that with quarantines and closures soon changing what was going to be a month’s slow meander down to a “straight there” boat delivery trip!

Steve and Anitas boat “Cest La Vie” was on the hard in Falmouth, as they had caught a net while on holiday in the West Country.  She was due back in the water on the Thursday, so we were going to sail their boat back to its homeport of Portsmouth and then sail Allegrini over to Bilbao.  However, COVID was to strike again,  Helen informed us that the Spanish were threatening to put the country into lockdown in a weeks’ time, so Anita got two of their old friends to help her get the boat up the Coast, while Steve and I prepared to leave immediately.

There was a great weather window for both boat moves, although our cross channel forecast didn’t behave as it should and we ended up motoring all the way to the Raz de Seine, where we in the early hours of Saturday Morning, caught our own bit of french fishing gear.  We had no choice but to pull into the nearest marina to look at what was going on, we also needed to refuel as running the engine all night and the last 40 miles with the net had put a serious dent in our fuel levels.

We decided to pull into the port of Loctudy, just to the left of Benodet and Concarneau, which had indicated on the Navionics charts that they had a dive school there, so we headed towards the port. A few hours later we were safetly tied up alongside the fuel pontoon, inserting my debit card several times as it had a €50 limit. Once fuelled I headed up to the Marina office to enquire about a diver, (I had most of what i needed to do it myself, but i thought a local diver would be safer and easier) besides although it was the end of the summer I only had a Bahamas shorty wetsuit. Anyway to our surprise a fully prepared Dry-suited diver turned up about an hour later, removed the net and cleaned my prop whilst down there, (I think they felt a little guilty after relieving me of €200 for 30 mins work…ouch!) So diverting, refuelling and removing obstruction had only cost us a few hours, so Saturday lunchtime, we about turned and set a course for Bilbao.

It showed 282 nautical miles from just off Benodet to Bilbao and we reckoned with the forecasted wind we could average 6-6.5 knts and therefore be in Bilbao in just under 45hrs or nearly 2 days.  As it turned out, the forecasted wind on our backs failed us and again we motor sailed. There was a little bit of sloppy sea where the continental shelf builds the Atlantic swell and we got about 25knts on the nose, but after a couple of hours it died down and we pulled into Bilbao just after midday on Monday.

Bilbao Is one of Spains largest seaports, with Santander just along the coast, these two Ports feed Northern Spain with all their cargo as well as the two Brittany ferries from the UK. We checked the AIS for any ships leaving and after hailing port control, carefully manoeuvred into Getxo marina on the northeast side of the port.

Helen came to join us – we thanked Steve heartily (and Anita too!) and put him on a plane back to England.  Now we are both in Calpe and it’s just a waiting game for our Residencia.


  1. Your posts over the last couple of years have been fantastic to the extent we holidayed on a large sailing boat last year in Amalfi (loved every minute) I really can see your passion albeit extreme doings in my eyes
    Wishing you both the best with your new venture

  2. Wow you really have had to change your plans constantly – the stress of it all must of been/is overwhelming!! I wish you I hope a in the nicest of ways a “restful” couple of months at least!
    Shropshire is still lovely however my time is not my own anymore, my mother and the admin she seems to come with selling house, changing all her addresses with pensions, banks was absolute hell!!! And dealing with a very spiteful sister did not help (Helen knows that my sister can ben very vengeful).
    But everyone is going through there very own terrible times – Iam just thankful that I am here and not London and that I have a Steve, Snoopy, Megan and a Millie to get me through it all, plus lots of interesting new friends here in Wentnor. Take care both and stay safe safe safe xxx

  3. Hi Helen and Steve
    Good to hear that you are both well . We have been following your adventure with great interest. We met you both in Portosin in August 2018 and later again in Lagos. We are now in Greece where we hope to sail for the next couple of years. We read with that you are in the process of obtaining a Spanish resident visa. Will a Spanish resident visa allow you to stay without a time limit in other Schengen countries?
    Happy sailing and all the best.
    Joan and Bert from the Torami

  4. Love your updates and pics. Miss you guys, but it’s amazing to see you living out your dreams. Glad that you got there safe after constant changing plans.

  5. Hi,
    I’ve been following your travels with great interests. My wife and I are planning on sailing to Spain in 2022 and becoming residents. My understanding is, that you can still apply for residency in Spain after Brexit, but they would increase the income? I have also been told that it doesn’t have to be income, you just have to show that you have that amount of money. I would welcome your advice. Thank you.

    Kind regards

    Daryl & Shirley

  6. Hi Steve
    I met you on the ferry to Portsmouth at the end of August, good to hear your now in Spain and you’ve got most of the legal stuff sorted now, also that you survived the quarantine. I’m travelling back to Santander on the 9th October to get my residencia sorted out too. All the best and hope you both enjoy your new venture.
    Regards Monty

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