We had a nice run down the coast from Denia, managing to sail a bit in the morning before stopping for lunch at El Rinconet, a tiny cove we anchored in for a few days en-route eastwards two years ago. After two more hours sailing in the afternoon’s sea breezes, we were back to the usual Mediterranean motoring experience! It was probably our warmest night’s sail yet; it only got cool for a long sleeved top in the early hours and we were accompanied by brilliant stars the whole way. D had the best ever experience of a shooting star – the usual small white steak ended in it exploding into a much larger green trail, quite like a firework. This was also the first time we’ve had to do any night time navigation around a headland. Fortunately the threatened tunny nets were not out, so all we had to do was work out where to turn round Cabo de Palos in the pitch black, whilst avoiding an island, some shallow patches and a fish farm. Easy peasy with the GPS & chartplotter working well, plus a pair of decent binoculars.
Now we are having a couple of days rest in Cartagena and exploring the bits we missed last time. Sailing into the port is rather wonderful; it is very barren and atmospheric with various forts protecting a great natural harbour. You can see why the Carthaginians chose this place to mount their assault on Rome’s underbelly 2,500 years ago (ish), and why the Romans then waged the 2nd Punic wars to get it off them. The town is quite a remarkable place, a mixture of some very run down seedy areas that feel unimproved for centuries, plus some very tastefully redeveloped areas that are still being worked on. It seems to have got its new lease of life when the recently discovered Roman theatre, found under the centre of the old town, was made the focus of transformation. We thought it was one of the most tastefully done museum and ruin combos we have seen. Despite a paucity of exhibits – and believe me we have seen some Roman & Carthaginian stuff in the last two years – the feel of the place is great and they have done a really good job of explaining what you can see and how it all fitted together over the last 2+ millennia. The other highlight is the National Museum of Maritime Archaeology. Although it majors on the local finds (which include two 2700 year old Phoenician wrecks) it also does an excellent job describing how the early Mediterranean maritime civilisations fitted together. This is all the more significant for us, having sailed most of the seas the ancients did and seen so many of their remains in situ. Altogether this makes a pretty good end to our exploration of the Med. Next stop Gibraltar (well, probably the marina at La Linea, just over the border in Spain).