According to our original schedule for returning to the UK we were 3 weeks late leaving France, so we had to go for the 1st short gap in the Mistral/Tramontane (both strong northwesterly winds blowing out of the Golfe de Lions which had been blowing for an unusually long period and up to F8-9). After a really pleasant few days in Toulon (we really liked the place and would definitely come back to spend more time here) we were off again. The idea was just to hop over the gulf to the Spanish coast doing 160nm in a day and a night. In the end we did a much longer passage of 3 days & 2 nights, covering 380nm and putting us back on schedule again. Phew.
Day one was OK, although we had a pretty big swell and choppy seas forcing us to motor-sail most of the way in light winds (mostly under 10kts). The wind strengthened overnight allowing us to sail for the last few hours, unfortunately mostly in the rain and winds that varied from 5 to 25 kts, meaning I had to constantly reef (shorten sail) and let it out again to keep the boat under control - pretty tiring, but fun in its way. We arrived in Estartit just before 9 in the morning, as this was the nearest town we could drop nephew Mathew off so he could catch a bus to see friends (back in France!). After filling with fuel, we decided we weren’t too tired, so headed off south to see how far we got. The sea was pretty flat by now, and although we were motor-sailing again, progress was pretty pleasant and we decided to carry on through the night and rest the next day. Night 2 was OK as well and we both managed to get enough sleep, despite lots of coastal traffic and fishing boat activity around us. Day 3 was still fine & flat with sailable winds some of the time so we decided to press on further, all the way to Valencia. The temptation to get back on plan again was just too much to resist! As we had originally expected to spend a few days in Barcelona and other towns on this coast, scooting straight down allowed us to make up for all the delays in France. We arrived just before midnight, but we know the port so well that we didn’t allow the dark to put us off (we haven’t ever done a night entry before).
So, here we are again. It’s a strange feeling being back somewhere we know so well. We’ve already met up with one pair of friends we made last time and are seeing the others before we leave. We’ve been back to our favourite supermarket (Mercadona), had a nostalgia trip on the excellent Valencia Metro system and are altogether feeling at home. We’ve got to maintain the momentum now though, so plan to move onwards again on Tuesday, aiming for Cartagena on Thursday, where we intend to pause and catch up on some sights we missed last time.