Benalmadena & Malaga
36:42.479N 4:24.753W Mon 17th Aug
We left Portimao on the 12th after waiting at anchor for 2 days for favourable winds for our next passage. We took the dinghy ashore and had a walk along the cliff top, looking down on some of the attractive cove beaches with their limestone outcrops, stacks and sinkholes. We also stocked up on some excellent and ridiculously cheap Portuguese wines before leaving the country for Spanish waters.
Our 225 mile sail to Benalmadena on the Costa del Sol was satisfying in that we did indeed sail the whole way apart from one hour. For once the forecasts were reasonably accurate, although we experienced stronger winds than predicted. Our first afternoon and evening were a decent downwind sail under overcast skies. Then, after a rough start on the second morning, when skipper was kept busy shortening sails, we had a quiet time around Cape Trafalgar followed by a fast ride past Tarifa and on into the Straits of Gibraltar in winds of over 30kts. In the Straits it’s a case of dodging fast ferries and numerous big ships at anchor whilst admiring the outline of the Atlas Mountains of Morocco and having another look at the famous rock. As we approached our second evening at sea, the winds calmed down a bit and we continued along the coast which is lit up like Las Vegas. At this stage we were experiencing the dreaded south coast roll and one particularly violent one caused an crash gybe and some damage to fittings on the deck. First mate was responsible for this as she wasn’t paying full attention to the wind direction whilst on watch.
Atlas mountains & Gibraltar rock:
To our relief, the winds and rolling abated enough on our approach to Benalmadena for us to be able to prepare ropes and fenders safely for our night arrival. Then, just as we were entering the port, fresh winds roared down from the hills and gave us a very hairy ride in with breaking waves at the entrance. We then had to approach the concrete fuel pontoon in heaving water and tie up unaided as it was now 2.30 am! We were quite proud of ourselves for coping with a night arrival in these conditions.
Benalmadena is pretty awful, but it is a large marina relatively close to Malaga which we wanted to visit. The surroundings are all brand new apartment blocks and chain restaurants and we couldn’t wait to move on. We took the ferry along the coast to Malaga on the Sunday and arrived at the start of their famous Feria – a holiday week of festivities and fun for the whole population. Malaga has reinvented itself in recent years with a rebuilt harbourfront and lots of cultural attractions and on top of that we were pitched into the buzz of a city at play. We checked out the new marina belonging to the fancy local royal yacht club and confirmed that they now welcome visiting boats. We decided to move there the next day even though it was quite a bit more expensive, as we really wanted more time in the city.
So Monday morning we motored for 1½ hours to the marina here. Unfortunately we had an altercation with a metal post at the berth they gave us which was entirely the fault of an incompetent “marinero” who didn’t have a clue how to handle our ropes. The result was a deep scratch at the stern, a cross conversation with the marina boss and a couple of day’s delay to our plans. It now looks as if their insurance will compensate us for the repair somewhere down the line, so we will probably move on east tomorrow morning. Meanwhile we have thoroughly enjoyed our sallies into the city, mingling with the enormous crowds, admiring the ladies in their flamenco style dresses, music and dancing in the streets and lots of good tapas and local wines to consume. We also went round the lovely Picasso museum (he was born in Malaga) and the brand new outpost of the Pompidou Centre by the harbour and we climbed up to the Moorish palace, the Alcazaba and the castle above it. Malaga is a terrific city and we have seen it at its most exciting too.
Views from & of the Alcazaba: