What is an anchorage? 23 July 2013

We left Almerimar, having got the website up and running. It was the best Internet access we had found and it only cost €3 per day. Sadly, I dropped my i-pad inside the boat and now have a green and pink striped screen. The Internet access had run out so we went to a cafe with free wi-fi before we left to look up how to cure screen problems. As we only had a €50 note John felt obliged to order a full English breakfast! The suggestion to tap it with a hammer isn't that inviting so we'll take it to a repair shop in Alicante tomorrow. In 2009 we had probably our worst night at anchor just west of Cabo de Gata, I desperately wanted to get further! We motored all the way to Cala San Pedro though we had to tack as the wind really built to about 20 knots right on the nose and boat speed dropped to 2.4 knots through the water. This anchorage was something special, a bay totally surrounded by hills, almost small mountains. Imagine our surprise to discover the beach lined with small tents, with a few shacks and the remains of an ancient castle all built out of stone around the head of the bay and no roadway. The hills really did protect us from the winds and swell. We had a lovely peaceful night though our pilot book did say the hills can create sudden fierce winds! The next night, though we wanted to reach an anchorage near Mazaron that we'd stayed in last time, realistically we weren't going to make it without burning a lot of diesel as there was very little wind and we had a late start. Instead we aimed for Cala Bardina, another anchorage well protected from north to east by Monte Cope. We actually managed to sail for about four hours, blessed relief from the noise of the engine. Unlike Cala San Pedro, this bay had a town at its head, with mountains to east and west. We anchored scarily close to the eastern rocks to get shelter from the swell. Again we had a really peaceful night once we finally got the anchor to set. (Too much weed.) Our final anchorage on this leg of our odyssey was just outside the Mar Menor, an amazing inland sea, south of Alicante. The main entrance for yachts is Puerto Tomas Maestre. We had no plans to enter the Mar Menor because the lifting bridge only opens a few times a day and would prove rather limiting, however our pilot book and electronic charts all showed an anchorage just inside the breakwater. We carefully approached, it is very shallow and there is no rise in the tide to speak of to help out should you get it wrong. The entrance was nothing like the charts, one breakwater seemed to have disintegrated and there appeared to be new walls and pilings in the middle so we turned around, very carefully, and headed out. There was an anchorage marked just north of the entrance but it necessitated crossing a shallow bank. John navigated us in with his i-pad in one hand, the wheel in the other. The anchor set first time in the deep pool we had found and we had a very calm night. I started this blog with a question, this is why. The anchorage we used was marked on charts though it offered no protection from the wind in any direction, no protection from any swell, in fact nothing. On the shore, which is in fact a very narrow strip of land, there was a road and a number of apartment blocks very well spaced out. I suppose I could be generous and identify a small curve in the coastline at either end but it isn't what I would call a bay! From there we motored to Torrevieja. We have settled into Marina Salinas for two nights, last time we stayed in the International Marina. There are several advantages with this new one: its daily rate is lower and includes water and electricity, it is far more sheltered should a strong southerly blow in as it did last time, causing mayhem in the other marina and finally, it had non slip showers so no back eyes this time. Additionally, when John asked about a price for 10 days they were really helpful and are willing to give us them at the monthly rate! Our plan is to go to Alicante by bus tomorrow, to try to get the i-pad mended and buy some electronic parts so we can find out why the water maker won't run. Also we need to find out how to get to the airport for the end of August. After that we will head to the Balearics. By the way, if you are wondering why we plan to leave the boat here rather than in the marina in Alicante it is because their daily rate is more than 50% more than here and nearly triple what we have been offered for the 10 days at the end of August. To put it into context, tonight will cost us more than your average Travelodge so we try to anchor while we can, but then sadly no wi-fi! You can't have everything. So far our marinas have cost us between €27 and €55 (with discount!) per night. By the way, Starblazer is a yacht, motoring is not her forte. We burn between 5 and 6 litres an hour, making between 5 and 6 knots. We refuelled today, 250 litres of diesel at €1 .41 per litre. I'd rather be sailing. By the way, photos will follow when we have both wi-fi and a charged laptop!

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