Motored the long way around the restricted zone for the airport to experience Gibraltar.
Quite a change from the Spanish side, the city was seeding with life and at the same time CLEAN.
Some say, that Gibraltar is more British than the GB, and we could agree to a certain degree: the people and tourists were nearly all western European.
The Queensway Bay Marina is surrounded by apartment blocks and is well protected and quiet.
The price was published with 19.65 GBP (around 27€) and that was exactly what we paid. No hidden taxes and costs. Water and electricity is charged according consumption. Internet was not included.
Main street of Gibraltar
Queensway Bay Marina
Africa is not far away!
Passed a peaceful Cabo Trafalgar today, where more than 4500 people died in the battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
We planned to stop in Tarifa, but anchoring there didn't seem tempting to us. Nice wind and current (2-3 knots) convinced us to go through the Strait of Gibraltar. It was a bit exciting in all the ship traffic, when the fog came and the radar decided to stop working, but we got through and we are now in the Mediterranean after more than 3300NM!
Arriving at the harbour we first had to stop at the reception pontoon. The first mate has been told, that the price for the marina was 18.33 € plus taxes. She assumed, that they referred to the IVA (21%), but has been told, that there were more and that the price will end up at something between 23-25€, not including electricity and water, as these are charged according to consumption.
As we did neither consume electricity nor water, the checkout should have been quite fast, but it was not. As a guy had to be send to read the water and electricity meter, which reported consumptions, even if we definitely had not consumed anything, so the first office refused to pay for it.
In addition to the official harbour fee one has to pay Tasa T5 (for boats longer than 12m) and Tasa T-0 (navigation aid tax i.e.. light & buoy tax), and fees for the "possibility" to use electricity and water, and in the end 21%IVA on all of this, so that the final bill ended up at more than 27€ Euro, meaning 50% higher than the published price!
It makes us wonder, why to EU is so strict with airlines and forcing them to include all types of fixed costs in the published price, however the same does not apply to national businesses.
The harbour lies in walking distance to the centre of La Linea. In 10-15min one can walk to the nearest Mercadona Supermarket. During the night is was calm and quite, the installations were new and clean and with a bit over 27€, the harbour was not expensive in comparisons to other Spanish harbours. However, the bureaucracy and the complicated price structure and the fact, that the personal was unable to give you a correct nightly price, was very disturbing.
The rock of Gibraltar seen from the harbour
Our destination for today was Barbate. During the registration process, the first officer was advised, not to leave any valuables lying around on the boat - and got quite surprised. Later one we understood why.
The harbour fee amounted again to 37.51 € (www.eppa.es), but there was again no internet.
A snorkelling tour to the Arrecife los Corrales, next to the harbour, was a disappointment.
Arrecife los Corrales
The marina lies 20 minutes walk from the city and the next supermarket and the local yacht club's Cantina closed before 1800h.
The marina was a quite empty, only 3-4 guests boats have found there way to here, not much going on until about 23:00, when the locals arrived in cars to party on the quays.
By midnight about 100 people had arrived, some with children, dogs and radio, sitting at the quay and looking at the harbour. At high water it was possible for them to jump on the floating quays. So the locked door at the entrance of them became quite useless.
The guard at the marina said he couldn't do anything, unless the noise came from one of the guests boats, so there was only one thing to do; plug up the ears and close all hatches!
The next morning the rubbish bins were loaded, waste was flying in the harbour, and one does not like to consider, what all the party-goers did, with no public toilets available, and we discovered, that two boats had stayed overnight opposite the guest pontoons A and B, at the pontoon H, where the dry marina is. That part of the marina is locked during nights, so that no partying people can look into your boat and jump on the quay.
Harbour day in Sancti-Petri
Party at one of the chiringuitos - the Castillo de Santi-Petri in the background
A couple of party boats also passed
There were warning signs on most of the houses
Except from chiringuitos (beach bars) and some water sports rental businesses, Santi-Petri is a ghost town, with many houses about to fall down. The atmosphere though, is nice - no stress!
The tourists are mainly Spanish and they party wherever they can, but despite, there was not too much noise at the buoys, but a strong breeze at night along with the current made the night quite unpleasant.
The Red Cross building was also condemned
Puerto de Santa Maria-Sancti-Petri
At a buoy in Sancti-Petri with sand dunes on one side...
and a ghost town full with day-tourists on the other.
Sancti-Petri is a very popular bay, river entrance, harbour, especially for Spanish boats. While the Andalucían authority (www.eppa.es) manages the harbour, in the place where our Reeds Almanac shows an anchoring place we found a large area with buoys managed by a local boat club, Club Nautico Sancti-Petri. Employees of the club go around in small boats, assign the buoys and deliver the crew on land, in order to do the typical registration. We paid 14.10€ for the night, but had to provide boat and insurance papers and passports. Imagine, you would have to do a similar registration every time you park a car in a car park! The amount of paperwork which needs to be done to spend 14.10€ is just unbelievable.
There is much to see and much to do in El Puerto de Santa Maria, but it was a very, very hot and humid day, so we did not really see a lot.
The town is quite pleasant, not too many foreign tourists find their way to here, beautiful Castillo, a couple of churches, waterfront with cafes, bars and restaurants and plenty of bodegas. Some of the bodegas, e.g. Osbourne, offer guided tours and sherry tasting, as this is the part of Andalucía which is home to the famous sherry.
The Real Club Nautico de El Puerto de Santa Maria lies along the river.
We stayed at the Real Club Nautico de El Puerto de Santa Maria, where one can find restaurant, bar, pool, tennis courts and more. Nevertheless the night was calm and from here it is only about 1km to the city centre. On the way there is a Aldi supermarket.
The harbour fee was 36€ and included everything.
Sikorsky SH-60B Seahawk
Tecnam P96 Golf
Laying for anchor outside the beach in Rota we had quite an air show from the nearby naval base, apart from that, there was a lot of swelling from cruise ships, ferries and fishing boats which made the night quite unpleasant. Adding machinegun practice and parties on the beach didn't make it better.
Maybe that's why we were all alone in the little bay!
The water temperature is now 27°C and for the first time during this trip we jumped into the water for a swim!
Even a lawnmower was out flying
Playa del Chorrilio
Puerto deportivo de Mazagon at night
Just like in Ayamonte, the puerto de Mazagon is operated by www.eppa.es and just like in Ayamonte there was no internet. The costs were identical (37.51€) and included everything except WI-FI.
First we wanted to lie somewhere on anchor, but we did not find a promising and quite place, so we went to the harbour. The harbour is large and spacious, with large buildings and a bar/restaurant, unfortunately no shop can be found near by.
Again we got confused by boats, which were carrying foreign flags and when addressing the crew, we had to find out, that most of the foreign boats were owned by Spanish people.
When importing or buying and registering a boat in Spain, one needs to pay a "luxury" tax! Of course, it is quite absurd, that the Spanish government charges this "luxury" tax on old boats, which might be worth less than 20K€, but not on new cars, watches or second or third flats, but, so be it.
To avoid this tax, there are quite some Spanish people, buying boats with foreign flags, and, if they sail them regularly out of the country, they seem to be successfully avoiding to pay the tax.
Ilha da Culaltra-Ayamonte
After taking the dogs on the walk on the island we left in complete fog. We were running a little bit late, as we should have really left shortly after high water.
And so we got a real bad surprise when arriving near the entrance: All of the sudden, a water wall appeared in front of us in the fog. The current was strong and a large wave, which throw us into the air, had build up at the entrance.
As there was no time to go back, we could only go ahead! And, obviously, we survived :-)
Leaving Ilha da Culaltra in the fog we concentrated on the radar screen and keeping lookout. At the mouth of the estuary the first mate became aware of something long and white coming out of the fog. Was it a boat? No - it was some huge standing and breaking waves! With 9knots over ground we had no possibility to even try to slow down and we hit the waves hard - it felt like the whole boat was out of the water before it slammed down on the next one. A bit shaken and stirred we could continue through the fog towards the estuary of Huelva.
Next morning was dry and sunny.
We decided to motor up into the river and go all the way to Ayamonte, as we have been told, that it is a nice town. And so it was. The town is very charming and full of mainly Spanish and Portuguese tourists. Near the harbour there are a couple of supermarkets and a large Chinese bazaar shop.
Unfortunately the harbour has some disadvantages: According to our book and the maps the harbour should have a sufficient depth. When we arrived at high water, we became however aware, that the water level will go down to 1.5m, insufficient for the depth of our boat. And it was also for that reason (and the price) that the harbour was next to empty.
A conversation with one of the harbour masters revealed, that the harbour is regularly silting up with sand and mud and will be dredged again, the following month, which was really not good enough. As the ground was mainly sand and mud, getting stranded here, should not harm the boat, nevertheless, I guess that one of the many papers we had to sign, said, that the harbour will not be responsible for any damages :-(.
Later that night, after we had an excellent meal in the town, we came back to a stranded boat. We were half a meter in the mud and could not even move the rudder! Strange experience, but no problem.
The harbour fee was 37.51€ and there was no internet! According to some people, the Portuguese harbour on the other side of the river, further seawards, is cheaper and deeper. However, one would miss out on the nice town of Ayamonte.
Lago-Ilha da Culaltra
Another day of beautiful beaches and caves. Just east of Praia do Carvoeiro there are some spectacular rock formations that we spent some time exploring in the dingy.
Praia do Carvoeiro
The tourist boats leave the tourists at some of the places no accessible by land and then pick them up again.
A cave without beach
A cave with beach
One must wait a while to manage a photo shot without tourists boats.
The sand dunes that protects Ria Formosa
Protected behind the dunes is also the city of Faro
We have been told that the harbour a Albufeira was very noisy and the harbour at Portimao was with nearly 60€ too expensive, so our destination for today was the bay of Culatra, which looked quite promising on the map. According to our documentation, there was en anchoring field directly near the entrance, which, however, was, because of large amounts of passing boats, not very quiet, and another one much further in the channel.
We were very surprised when we found something like 100 boats lying here an anchor and even more surprised during the land trip to the small village of Ilha da Culatra, which is completely build on sand and full of tiny one story houses, where Portuguese families are spending the summer. Again, it felt more south American than European here, and we liked it.
Small bungalows built on sand
Ferries at full speed
Taxi boats at full speed
Even the rescue boat is going 40 knots just meters away from the boats at anchor.
What has surprised the captain was the total lack of seamanship in a seafaring nation like Portugal. The collection above shows that they show no consideration towards the boats at anchor. When searching for a place to drop the anchor, we had a boat passing less that a meter from our bow at more than 30 knots! Very often they show no knowledge about even the basic traffic rules. Speed limits in harbours are not kept even when police is present. And one also wonders, what the police is actually doing. Greeting a fellow sailor (well - except for fishermen) results in him turning away and looking for who are you waving to?