Moraira to Gibraltar

Dick and Irene Craig
Sat 5 Sep 2009 16:23

We had tried to get a berth in the marina at Moraira but had been unsuccessful. Apparently the last weekend in August is a very busy time of the year as boats return to a harbour to be lifted out, having spent the holiday period cruising around the Baleares.

We had waved a fond farewell to a bronzed, relaxed Richard, when we dropped him off at the port in Javea. No sooner had we made the space on the quay available, it was occupied by a fishing boat.

We left the port and made our way out into the bay which had been inundated with jelly fish on our arrival. Two hours later, we were anchored in the bay at El Portet, just outside the marina at Moraira.

Next morning Richard arrived at the port in his car about 10am and took us to our house where we loaded a lot of stuff into the cars and returned to the port. Fortunately, Dick tells a good tale and in the absence of the manager of the marina, we were permitted, for a limited time only, to tie up alongside, behind the fuel pontoon.

This is a very inhospitable quayside and I had an enormous task trying to protect the boat using fenders which continuously disappeared into the huge gaps.

Quickly and efficiently, Richard and Dick brought the goodies to the boat which I manhandled into the cockpit. Once loaded, more good-bye kisses for Richard and we were back to our anchorage where we moved all the goodies inside the boat, dropped the rib and made our way ashore.

I then spent two hours at the peluqueria, having my hair restyled and highlighted. It is still more blonde than I would have preferred but soon, when the roots begin to grow through, it will be better.

The rest of the day and Sunday were spent finding a home for all the stuff we had brought on board from our home. Some of this is still waiting to be dealt with though we should have time to do this while in Gibraltar.

Sunday evening some friends came aboard for drinks. Dick picked them up in the rib but the one metre swells were breaking over the bow and soaked our guests.

Next morning, the first call was to the doctor. We had to collect a prescription, necessary for us to obtain some medical supplies from the pharmacia, to replace out-of-date items within our onboard medical kit.

The swells were still there but fortunately this time they didn’t break over the bow.

There were quite a lot of jelly fish in the bay and incredibly, not only did two water inlets, used by the air-conditioning units, get blocked by jelly fish, so did the water inlet to our toilet. The latter required Dick to take off the inlet filter and literally pick pieces of jelly fish out of it. The air-conditioning inlets were more easily cleared, by utilizing a boat hook from the low level hatches in the guest stern cabin and our cabin.

We left Moraira at 6pm on Monday and sailed for two hours with the main and genoa, before we lost the wind. Next morning, before 9am, Dick saw a huge shoal or should it be flock, of flying fish. By 9.30, we were sailing again, this time with the parasailor which we were able to use until almost 5pm before once again, resorting to motor-sailing. About 8pm, two dolphins played briefly around the bows on the hulls.

The wind changed direction as we turned south-westerly after passing Cartagena and we now had wind on the nose. However at 9am on Wednesday, we raised the main and unfurled the genoa and sailed on a close reach, tacking back and forth, until noon when we hove to, in order to readjust some fenders and lines tied to the bow guardrails. As we had stopped, we also took advantage of the situation and had lunch.

 Despite the big swells, we spotted dolphins next to the boat during the morning, though they didn’t surface. More came to the boat during the afternoon but didn’t frolic.

After lunch we continued sailing, still on a close reach, tacking to make progress, with the wind blowing up to 30knots and the boat punching into a short sea with two metre waves.

Dick checked yet another forecast and it seemed that the wind should be reducing this evening with the swells lessening. We decided that rather than continue to cover the remaining distance, just under 100 nautical miles, which was going to take 108hours at the current rate of progress, we would make our way to Motril, a small fishing harbour about 10 nautical miles away, which has developed into a commercial port supplying Granada.

We continued to sail until we reached the harbour entrance, then dropped the mainsail and furled in the genoa, motoring to the area noted in the pilot book, designated for boats to anchor. As we approached the anchorage, a monohull followed us, dropping an anchor not far from us, though with sufficient space for both boats to swing comfortably on the chain.

Once we had put on the bridle, clipped off the chain and raised the anchor ball, all sorts of commotion commenced from the shore. Four Guardia were standing beside their car watching us. Another car, with siren sounding, arrived, further along the quayside. A different type of Guardia got out of this car and started to make signals with his arms. An orange rib arrived with two chaps with “proteccion civil” emblazoned on their orange

 t-shirts. The Guardia who had arrived in the car which had the siren sounding, took out a loud-hailer and started to talk through it in Spanish. The proteccion civil chaps didn’t speak English. Eventually, Dick went to the quayside in the orange rib and spoke to the Guardia. It made no difference, we were not permitted to anchor here anymore.

We moved the boat outside the harbour where we dropped the anchor. It was now past 8pm.

The swells were big and made the anchorage uncomfortable so neither of us slept well which was disturbing because we knew that we had another night of sailing ahead of us.

At noon next day, as we lifted the anchor from the water, a squid, which was on one of the blades, slipped off, back into the water. Although we kidded ourselves that the swells were less and the wind not as strong as the previous day, they were no better. 

We punched through the sea for the next thirteen hours with wind on the nose up to 38knots. The boat did admirably but we were exhausted. Even when not on watch we couldn’t sleep. The noise of the engines and the sea were constant and the water-bed effect of sleeping on a boat was more like bouncing on a trampoline.

As the water was so inhospitable, I was surprised when at around 6pm, dozens of small dolphins came to the boat. They traveled from the south, our portside, then moved on in a northward direction. Some stayed and played. Within half an hour of their departure, two adult and one young porpoise stuck their heads out of the water, as they approached the starboard quarter. An hour later, more dolphins came to the boat, followed by more 15 minutes later and even more 10 minutes after that. I thought later, that they were trying to tell us to follow them towards the shore, to safety, away from the heavy seas into calmer waters. Perhaps I have read too many stories of seamen being led to safety by dolphins and porpoises.

We arrived at the marina in Gibraltar at 13.30 on Friday, only to find that although we had confirmed the reservation yesterday, when we called to advise that our arrival had been delayed by a day, there was no reservation.

Fortunately, the marina office found that there was a flaw in their system and that we had a ten day reservation yesterday but it had not been brought forward in the diary. We were shown to a temporary berth, with no facilities, while the marina staff arranged to make another available to which we moved later in the day.

A quite dreadful passage to Gibraltar but we and the boat coped admirably.

It seemed that all had not been well at the anchorage in El Portet since our departure on Monday. Apparently, on Wednesday, there was an explosion on a boat at anchor there, resulting in the boat catching fire.The people on board were rescued but the fire pumps on the lifeboat were unable to save the boat from sinking.

It seems odd to be in a country where the locals speak English. It also feels odd to be back within a tidal system.

We arrived on a spring tide, when the lows are lower and the highs are higher.

Leaving the boat last evening, the passerell was horizontal but on our return a few hours later, we had to manoeuvre quite a slope.

Dick is busy installing the new computer system which contains over one thousand films, our onboard entertainment for the next couple of years. We collected the units from our house when we called in at Moraira last weekend. We have a huge library of DVD’s at home which Dick was able to copy onto the specially designed computer system, while we were in Spain during the winter. He also has to install some electric fans while we are here as well as building a few shelves in existing cupboards.

We need all the storage space we can get for the provisions, which we know will not be available in many of the places where we will be traveling.


Below:- Tucanon sailing with the parasailor, perfect for downwind sailing