Wednesday 10 October 2012


October 7th and we are motor sailing in warm sunshine along the Costa Blanca. It is around 27 degrees and a gentle wind is blowing on our bow. The sea temperature is down to 25 degrees now and the sea breeze feels cool on the skin after the scorching temperatures of the summer. There is a definite feel of autumn in the air, although the days are still hot and the nights are mild, summer is over and boats are making their preparations for the winter. The port of Cartagena, a favourite winter destination for cruisers, is busy with boats checking in for the winter. We feel smug because as the weather cools from the North we are heading South, following the sun towards the equator.

A week ago we said goodbye to our friends in Palma and began our journey west towards Gibralter. Kim and Tina joined us in Palma and after dinner ashore we set off early the following morning to cover the 70 miles to our favourite bay on the little island of Espalmador, a picturesque strip of sand that lies low on the skyline between glitzy Ibiza and laid-back Formentera. We had intended to stay for just one night but after Pilates on the beach before breakfast, swimming in the warm water of the bay, scuba diving under the boat to clean the hull, squelching in the mud baths, dinghy trips into the little port of La Salina for provisions and eating cosy meals on board it was just too good to leave and we stayed three days before we reluctantly left to keep to our schedule. To save a few days coastal hopping we decided to sail overnight from Espalmador directly to Cartagena and as we left the bay the late afternoon sunshine felt hot on deck as we motor-sailed away from the Easterly wind which pushed us gently on our way.

After a night sail we arrive on the mainland coast which is green and rugged. Around the headland, the town of Cartagena sits at the head of a deep natural harbour. It has a chequered history dating back from Hasdrubal in 243 BC when it became the centre of Carthaginian influence in Europe until it was later destroyed by the Romans. It subsequently passed into the hands of the Barbarians, the Moors, the English (when Drake stole its guns in 1585) and finally the rebels during the Civil War in 1936. There is little evidence of its violent past other than the huge city walls which encircle an elegant town of high classical facades and marble streets where the locals promenade in the early evening; the elegant elders dressed smartly despite the warmth, while young parents push babies in prams and teenagers mill around each other, shouting and laughing.  A huge modern auditorium in orange and yellow sits low and angular on a wide wooden deck and frames the marina as testament to the Euro millions that were lavished on the city before the financial crisis.

Sadly Tina leaves us in Catagena and Cazza, Kim and I head west. After a day’s motor sailing in calm seas doing Pilates on the aft deck we pass the distinctive feline headland of Cabo de Gata and anchor off the beach of Puerto Negras in a smooth silky sea which rolls us gently from side to side in the swell. The village is a clutch of white rectangular houses on a brown beach with a camouflage of palm trees which screen them from the sea. Light falls and  the hills behind the village become sharply silhouetted against the western night sky as the sunset shines a fiery crimson backdrop with blue streaks from the remains of the day. I have baked fresh bread which has proved in the warm engine room and now we are sitting around the cockpit table eating freshly baked bread with early evening drinks, moored in the middle of nowhere, marvelling at the night sky which has become a dark inky blue brushed with wisps of pink. After supper Fatty and Kim wash up to t he beat of 70's disco music.

No comments:

Post a Comment