Sugar 'n' Spice – Weblog 10

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Calpe, Valencia, Spain


38º 38.22N

0º 04.25E

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Calpe, Valencia, Spain

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Our last ‘jaunt’ before we left for England was a glorious cycle ride for a day round the southern part of the Ebro delta (about 45 kms) as far as the mouth of the Ebro river in the east, where it was shallow & slow flowing, & dropping a swath of silt to form a different colour ‘highway’ across the sea. The birds were many & varied, including flamingos, terns & various heron. I was surprised by the brilliant green of the paddy fields & the variety of cultivation (from olive & apple trees to palms & vegetable plots).



Then it was the business of cleaning, tidying & sorting the boat before we caught the train to Valencia & flew home on the 4th August for 4 weeks.

The weather was rather disappointing with more rain than usual, so the garden did not get all the tlc it needed & deserved. We slotted in some nice walks, mostly short & local, but including an attractive 11m chunk of the Essex way, some dinghy racing (mixed results), & got some household maintenance done.

Thursday 2nd September. A ‘small’ hours start to the day for our flight back to Valencia & the boat. A more tedious journey than on the way back to England as although everything ran to time there were long gaps in the connections between different transports. The boat seemed fine & was only dusty, not pink dust.

Next day we shopped for fresh provisions, filled water tanks, fitted a new engine hours meter, replaced the log, & other routine jobs prior to sailing.

Saturday 4th September. Left St Carles marina via their fuel berth for the lagoon area of Alfacs bay. Our speed was exceedingly sluggish & the log was not registering despite having been taken out while we were away to stop weed/barnacles growing & clogging it. Once anchored Doug dived to look at the prop, & resurfaced saying it was barely recognisable for the growth of barnacles. Our hero then spent considerable time diving & scraping off the barnacles – lucky he has lungs like bellows & one of the few times we wished we had full scuba gear & air tanks (& an underwater camera!). The log housing also had barnacles, so much for removing the log itself while we were back home.

Sunday 5th September. An early departure, & once clear of the Ebro’s sheltering lagoon we found a big swell out to sea, so with a fairly light wind it was motorsailing to make a sensible passage speed. Further off the delta we saw an oil/gas rig away to port, which was not on our chart. Late morning the wind veered so we gave the engine a rest & tried sail power alone. It was a lot more comfortable motion as the boat was not slamming through the waves, but they also stopped her fairly often so the engine went on again. Mid afternoon we arrived at the tiny horseshoe shaped island of Columbrete Grand, a nature reserve, where we picked up a mooring buoy in the bay of Puerto Torfino. (40.5 nm).



As it is a reserve one is not allowed to anchor, must check with the warden, & use the buoys of which there are only 12. We were lucky that one was free as the nearest alternative anchorage is some 20 nm away. It is however a lovely place with curious formations of black volcanic strata sticking up from the rocky shores. We watched the aerial display of several Eleanoras falcons along the cliffs, & some other much larger raptors (possibly Bonelli eagles) passed though. At night there were strange noises from the shore – like distorted electronic sounds, snorts & chuckles – which we assume were made by shearwaters as they breed in burrows on the island, - & were not the ghosts of past travellers!

Monday 6th Sept. An ominous weather forecast & Ibeza, the intended destination, another 60 nm away meant a small hours (4am) start to try to stay ahead of the stronger winds. Once out of the shelter of the horseshoe the swell was as bad as the previous day, the wind had not dropped at all overnight as generally the norm & was on the nose for the destination. After half an hour we decided it would be a very long & uncomfortable trip, & use a lot of fuel so we turned for the mainland. Despite the big seas the different angle to the wind meant we were sailing fast. Later the wind increased, a reef went in, then for a short while the second when the wind went to a F6. One of our genoa sheets chaffed through & then the wind started easing again & headed us. The big swell was still there so again it was motorsail to maintain a good course & speed. At 2pm we arrived at Valencia’s Americas Cup marina. 62 nm.

Tuesday & Wednesday. We got the bikes out to get around Valencia, while we obtained a new genny sheet (we didn’t want to leave the substitute spinnaker sheet in situ), & waited for the forecast winds to go through. The bike tracks were good as they utilised some of the Grand Prix track which goes around the marina area. The race track actually goes over a swing bridge, but at other times this is not in use & left open. The wednesday we went via Turia Park (long & narrow as it was the original river course until diverted after bad floods) to the Oceanografic, a giant marine park & aquarium. As well as all the underwater exhibits we were able to get very close to wading birds one normally only sees through binoculars & even caught part of the dolphin show. We were amused to see them throwing their trainers about & propelling them out of the pool.



Thursday 9th September. An early start (but only 7am this time!) from Valencia, sailing with genny poled out at first. Gradually the wind hardened up & we took the pole out. At 1 o’clock we were amazed to see a ‘dolphin army’ (at least 50, probably more like a 100 we think) approaching fast from the south. It was a terrific sight as the sun was causing reflections on the sea as well – Doug went for his camera ,but they were on a mission & were mostly passed & gone in that time. A few stayed to play in the bow wave then departed with a synchro jump to match their captive relatives. The breeze stayed until 4pm – longer than we had expected from the forecast – then the motor went on. We had a couple of visits from a single larger (probably bottlenose) dolphin who played briefly in the bow wave, & saw the occasional flying fish. As dusk was falling we arrived at Ibeza’s west coast, & anchored at Cala Tarida. 8.30pm, so a pleasing 6½knot average for the 83 nm. A spectacular sunset.

Friday 10th September. A late start, with very light wind sailing down the coast. The wind died completely in the channel between Ibeza & the spectacular island of Vedra,so we motored until the wind came, on the nose so it was a gentle beat to Puerto Espalmador where we anchored for lunch. It was very busy, again almost taken over by moorings, so we carried on to look at anchorages off Formentera. Most had been taken over by moorings & were busy so we finally anchored off Playa des Isletas, Formentera. 24 nm. It was a lot less crowded, the water was clear & another lovely sunset.

Saturday 11th September. A relaxed start with a pleasant breeze sailing though the islets & channels between Formentera & Ibeza to Cala Talamarca near Eivissa, Ibeza’s main town (Ibiza Town to us).

A pleasant short stop there, then another nice sail west close in to the town, with its castle on a rocky outcrop.



On though a shallow channel between mainland & off islets, a brief sighting of fins – dolphins concentrating on fishing – but surprisingly close to shore & then anchor in Cala Jondal. 21.5 nm & very pleasant sailing.

We anchored here 2yrs ago when going east. It was not as busy this time, but there were still the very big, & expensive yachts & motorboats of the very rich visiting the beach bars & later the discos.

Sunday we spent relaxing & doing a few jobs & canoed to lunch at one of the beach fish restaurants.

Monday 13th September. A prompt departure, motoring, with destination the Spanish mainland. Several sightings of groups of dolphins, just fins concentrating on fishing, no time for play. Mid afternoon we cleared the shipping lane off Capo Nao, not much shipping, & had a nice sail to our anchorage at Moraira. 57 nm. The swell picked up in the evening so it was a ‘rolly’ night.

Tuesday we motored the 6 nm to Calpe & a berth in the YC where we are being joined by friends, Val & Rog, who joined us last year in Leros.

Wednesday we shopped & sorted the boat for visitors, who duly arrived on schedule at tea time. Thursday we all went for a walk in the hills, a nice change for us.




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