In Rota we met up with an Irish boat, Regal, who have set out on some time off for themselves and their 2 kids on their Beneteau Cyclades. A great family and after a confab with them and a break of 4-5 days in Rota, we set off in company. Our next leg was round the infamous Tarfia headland the westernmost point of the European mainland and known for being the kite surfing capital of the Mediterranean and the windiest place in Europe – and when you see the number of wind turbines strewn across the surrounding hilltops, the Spanish government obviously agree!
Along with the sometimes ferocious winds, you also have to contend with a huge amount of water travelling through the Straits of Gibraltar either going into the Mediterranean through the 8-mile gap or coming out through the 8-mile gap, sometimes reaching speeds that would make us either under motor or sail look like we were standing still, so picking a day and time that suited the right amount of wind, in the right direction and the tidal stream pushing us through was literally just a waiting game.
We left Rota just before midday and hit Tarifa on a benign nearly windless day at around 5pm – about 30 mins before high tide and cruised on a gentle turn of the tide into La Linea Marina just before Gibraltar where we stopped the night, before heading off to Estepona the next morning.
Estepona is another one of those “dye in the wool” Brits holiday destinations that have been popular since the 60 and 70s, along with the likes of Benidorm and Loret del mar, that even with Covid appear to be nearly as popular now as they were back in the day.
Our next stop was Caleta de Velez a village with a tiny little marina, that served as a great little one-nighter, along with an amazing little restaurant called Bodegon and a refuel in the morning, so we could then push on straight to Almerimar for just before dark. Again another great meal in a local restaurant recommended by Rene from Blue Pearl Too (who we first met in the Cape Verdes searching for the marina in the dark and who is now on his way back to the Caribbean but was lurking in Almerimar for some journey preparations). When we say local restaurant, the harbourmaster managed to give us a berth right outside so we could literally step ashore to our table – this made us forgive him for the hour and a half wait to book in during which it went from full sun to pitch dark!
After our overnighter, we arrived in the outer harbour of Cartagena at around 4 am. We hadn’t entered the harbour before, but we had been pre-allocated a berth so we knew where we were going. Port Control gave us a shout and asked us very nicely to stand off while a big cargo ship left – it was a lot bigger than us so we did and then we got tied up and plugged in just before 5 am, showered and hit the sack until gone lunchtime.
All in all a tiring trip but a successful one and great to make Cartagena in just over 5 weeks. Jake was the best sea dog ever, causing us no bother and surprisingly unimpressed either by having to wee on the foredeck or by the constant dolphin squeaking. We continue to be amazed at how lucky we have been with him – which may be why he’s getting a brother in a fortnight (are we mad?).