Mar Menor 37.44N 00.43W

Island Wanderer
Peter and Avril Brookes
Sat 23 Jul 2011 15:34
We had seen photos of Mar Menor, a 12 mile long inland sea, in the pilot guide last year and it looked very appealing. Deciding to stop in Almerimar for the winter meant we didn’t travel this far North, until now. We left Cartagena to find a brisk breeze on the nose and steep heavy seas. Just the conditions the guide book warned against for entry into this shallow haven with a canal and lifting bridge joining the sea proper to the sea inland. Just a few miles short of the entrance the winds calmed and seas turned a gentle turquoise as the sun came out and the waves abated. Three guide books gave us three different opening times for the bridge, none of which proved accurate. We finally decided to phone the nearest marina for more up to date opening times after a futile dash for the bridge from a temporary anchorage outside, to find it resolutely shut. The marina were very helpful and we got through on our second attempt. Inside, Mar Menor is a cross between a large lake and the Solent! It is very shallow and has a narrow spit of sand separating it from the sea. This has been heavily built on with a row of high rise tower blocks. The other sides have low lying towns backed by hills and mountains. The are a few private islands inside which you are not permitted to land on. However, given the depth, you can anchor pretty much anywhere you like. We tucked into the lee of one of the larger islands and as the wind died further enjoyed some tranquil moments as the sun went down.
m_IMGP0512     m_IMGP0517
Just as we were about to fall asleep, Pete commented that this was the most peaceful anchorage we had been in.  On cue,  a “Party Catamaran” came and moored about 50m away. Decked with more lights than a christmas tree and with a sound system that any night club on Broad Street would have been proud of, it stayed until about 1am, then abruptly switched off the music and motored away.
Unexplained mystery no.1
Early in the morning, light but before sun up. No wind. No current. Pete and Avril just waking up.
Sudden thud as something hits boat.
Pete and Avril dash up on deck expecting to see small dinghy or similar.
No boat in sight.
All that can be seen is a single wave heading towards the shore.
Depth gauge reveals plenty of water under hull.
Water now so clear, bottom can be seen. Weed, jelly fish, no rocks.
Still no explanation.
After a day of chilling and watching the weekend boaters, we will probably explore the Mar Menor tomorrow before leaving on Monday. The anchorage is a bit like Studland bay on a bank holiday weekend, but most boats seem to be just day visitors.