Spanish coast via Valencia, Tarragona & Barcelona
41:26.062N 2:14.548E Sun 20th Sep
What a long time since we lasted posted to this! We left Malaga and did a few quick coastal sails to Valencia with no new ports visited or anything new to report. The only highlight was that we finally bought a passarelle (posh gangplank to ease getting ashore when moored stern-to, Mediterranean style). We arrived in Valencia a few days before the end of August and berthed a few yards away from where we spent our first Med winter. The marina area was in surprisingly good condition with lots of new developments, so Valencia might finally be coming out of its deep depression. It was a great opportunity to meet up with our old friends and to clean the boat (a thorough scrub of the hull took 3 days using the hookah breathing equipment we bought there, 6 years ago).
Patsy & Roger arrived from Oz on the 6th Sept and we had great fun showing Lindsay’s sister around our favourite spots in Valencia. Unfortunately the weather was unseasonably wet & cool – apparently the age-old end of summer on the 15th has become as unreliable as every other aspect of the weather. The change also made our onward travel up the coast pretty challenging as well. Our first stop was at Burriana where we intended to anchor, but the swell that has made previous Spanish anchorages so uncomfortable made this impossible. Fortunately there was a nice little harbour next door with a good and cheap marina to make the night comfortable. Our next stop was Peniscola (which the Americans changed to Pensicola to spare their blushes when they “reused” the name in Florida). There was no nearby refuge so we were pretty pleased to find a spot out of the swell tucked under the castle (right). Our pleasure was short lived however as a small swell found us around midnight. No worries we thought – time to deploy our “flopper stopper” (the drogue hung from the end of the boom damps down the rolling motion). This worked for a few hours but really couldn’t cope with the much bigger swells that came in around 3 a.m. making the rest of the night pretty uncomfortable and forcing us to get going as soon as it was light (bizarrely not until after 7 here).
Tarragona, our next stop was great. The approach is a bit dismal; the old town is cut off from the sea by a huge railway and the marina is very tacky and run-down. As soon as you walk up the hill to the old town though, you are in a different world. They have done a great job opening up their Roman and medieval heritage which is somehow even more impressive because of the terrain; a steep slope on one side and a precipitous drop back down to the coast.
Tarragona’s Roman walls:
We were also lucky enough to catch their big annual festival, complete with giant dancing statues and human tower building. This area has become famous for this – up to 10 layers of people high (although we “only” saw 7), supported by a huge crowd around the base with dozens & dozens involved in each competing team. A tiny child with crash helmet tops each one off and they have to raise their fingers to show it’s complete (you’ve never seen a gesture done so fast) before they slither down the adults to dismantle the tower. It’s worth looking for a YouTube video of this if you’ve never seen it.
We moved on to Barecelona where we are lucky enough to get a berth in the Royal Maritime Club. We were based for 6 days there just a few hundred yards from Las Ramblas and in the perfect spot to head out and explore the town – and enjoy its food. You probably know Barcelona already so we won’t bore you with the details. We had to move on yesterday to a cheap marina in nearby Badalona whilst we head off for a while on family duties/pleasures in France.