01 September, 2012

The Spanish Mediterranean Coast

The following are an extract from the post on my new sat phone blog found at www.blog.mailasail.com/harryws20

Start of the cruise.
Malua left Port St Louis three days ago for a dream crossing of the gulf and we are now on the coast of Spain on the boarder with France. The coast line is very much like that of the Balearics with rocky coves and indents. As always in August there are a lot of day trippers who thankfully leave in the evening and a few cruisers stay to enjoy the tranquillity of a great anchorage.

First days in Spanish Cala
Malua is at 42:19.35N 03:18.55E on 10/8/2012
We left our initial point of arrival and started into the cruising mode by moving to one of the less popular Calas along the coast. There were as always the day trippers and a few extra. My sunset the day trippers had left for the night spots and restaurants of the flesh pot and a few cruiser settled down to a quiet drink in the calm of a wonderful anchorage. The sun soon dropped behind the cliffs and the night was upon us.
Tomorrow the same but this time we will sail down/ south along the coast to another inlet and they day will be repeated – hard life this cruising.
A magical moment on Malua

Water Wheels
Malua is at 42:18.34N 03:17.43E at Playa Guillola on 12/8/2012
My water wheels finally said enough. The Yamaha 8 HP outboard purchased in New Zealand decided to stop never to go again, just when it was needed most. Malua is now in the Costa Brava of Spain which is rocky with few places to stay but all requiring a dingy to get to shore. A day or two ago I had to swim to get the us back to the boat so yesterday we went to Cadaques, rented a mooring and took the water taxi to shores to acquire a new outboard. The Information Centre’s map indicated a marine chandler so off we walked to find it.
There right in the front of the shop was a selection of small outboards. The lady assistant, in her best Spanish tried to tell be the advantages of one over the other but there is only one outboard for me – Yamaha. I had looked at purchasing a similar one before in Greece but the time was not right then but now there was no option. Hand over the plastic, entre the PIN and I am the owner of a brand new 2.5 HP fourstroke outboard. Up on my shoulder and back to the water taxi and we are mobile again – with less chance someone would steal the outboard.

French Parcel Service
Malua is at 41:50.7N 03:07.6E on 15/8/2012
Today was the first time I could connect to the Internet and to my dismay I typed in the Tracking number of my AIS parcel and found it has been sitting in Marseilles' Customs for a few days waiting for some documentation which would materialise from somewhere without any contact. Amazing. My second experience with French postal service not delivering.

Malua is at 41:50.54N 03:07.59E on 21/8/2012
Stopped in here to get out of the wind and rock and rolly sea. Spend one day in Euro 75 per night with very poor internet. Frustrated by French Customs and inability to communicate with them.
Crew not cooperating and off on her own thing. Finally resolved to dump her when she refused to make phone call to French Customs. Dropped her on the dock. Not a sight her fans would like to see.
An improving moment on Malua

Malua is at 41:23.22N 02:12.04E Port Olympic Barcelona on 21/08/2012
Great marina at a reasonable price and in a area to get fruit and food. Have dined out two nights in a row. The Restaurant on Malua is still the best in town although the tapas in some bars are great.
Plenty of room with only self on board.
Watchmate problem solved and now on its way to Sydney. The issue is grounding the GPS antenna which is a known issue but not communicated to me the installer burnt the component in the unit. The designer has been very helpful with almost instant email. Now to see what the cost will be.
Toured Barcelona on the bike but it got too hot so took a tourist open top bus. Commentary is very good but very slow.
A magical moment on Malua

Rio Ebro
Malua is currently at Puerto del Fangar 40:48.9N 00:44.3E
The day started early with the tasks to leave a marina, fill the tanks with water, collect bread and disconnect the electricity. Today I also had to return the electrical plug and access key. The plug was a French special which is only supplied by the marina for a euro 70 deposit so returning it is an essential part of leaving.
I called in at the fuel dock and with one word handed over the belongings of the former French crew. Not a work of thanks spoken. Hopefully the end of that chapter in the French story.
Off out the marina past the huge dock of Barcelona and south down the coast. The wind did not come up as expected and 13 long hour later and 89 nautical miles I dropped anchor outside the delta of the Rio Ebro as the clock struck four bells – mid-night.
Another long day tomorrow towards Valencia and then across to the Balearics.

Isolates Columbretes
Malua is at 39:53.75N 00:41.18E on 23/8/2012
Yesterday I set out from Barcelona on passage to Ibiza. It is some distance and as usual on these occasions in the Mediterranean there is either no wind or the wind in on the nose. I pointed Malua’s bow south along the coast heading for the delta of the Rio Ebro which appeared to give me some respite from the consistent southerly swell over the shallow waters of the delta. I left this anchorage early the following morning and headed out again right into the wind with a very choppy short sea. Not much progress into the swell and little wind but as the afternoon progresses the wind filled in and I started to sail. 12 then 14 knots of wind on the nose. I chose an angle into the wind in the direction of my destination Ibiza but expected to have a long all night passage.
As the sun started to sink into the west I noticed a black dot on the horizon and zoomed in on the chart plotter. There right in front of me was an island. The cruising guide indicated that it was a marine reserve and the remains of an extinct volcano. The centre is deep, deep but the authorities have laid some mooring buoys that one can pick up. So with the light fading Malua entered the circle of rocks which is the extinct volcano of Isolates Columbretes. Much to my surprise it is much larger that the chart indicated. There where a number of mooring buoys to which a few yachts and fishing vessels where attached. I chose one and make myself fast. I took a quick swim to inspect the condition of the mooring and retired to cook myself a well earned steak and have a sip of some good French wine. Off to sleep to the gentle rock and roll of the swell. Much better than a long night at the helm.
Tomorrow it is the cruising grounds of Ibiza

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