Paradise Regained - Almeria to Formentera

Vasco da Gama
Ian Strathcarron
Sat 9 Aug 2008 18:13

Almeria is a pretty town, with an almost intact Moorish castle on a hill in the centre and a beautiful early 16th century cathedral built soon after the reconquest of the south by the Christians.  We had lunch in a bustling restaurant, full of Spanish pensioners, and watched the Hungarian Grand Prix before Missie left for the airport.

Peter and I were disappointed to spend another day and night in Almerimar but Ian took the decision as a strong wind was blowing exactly from the direction we were heading into, the north east.  We were entertained by our neighbours, 2 Tunisians in a US registered power boat called Majik, with a Creole skipper, who were heading to Tunis via Algeria, until they switched on their air conditioning in the middle of the night and woke us up.  Ian stormed out of the cabin half asleep stark naked, shouted something quite rude about Arabs and told them to turn it off and open their windows as it was a lovely night, which they did.  I was glad they had left by the next morning as they were three quite burly guys.

The wind was still blowing towards us the next day, but we set off and had a bumpy 24 hours getting to Cartagena.  After we turned north for the first time since leaving Bucklers Hard the coast was very picturesque, mountainous with rocky coves and caves and not a bit of concrete or plastic to be seen.  I find overnight passages interesting but very tiring as you only sleep uncomfortably for short amounts of time when not on watch, and then on arriving at a port, feeling shattered, there are quite a few tense moments as you look for a berth and tie the boat up.  At Cartagena our arrival was farcical as our marinero sent us to 2 different berths before we discovered in the second berth that the muerto, or lazy line, to which you attach your boats in Spain, was rotten and our boat started to spin out of control.  The marinero, clearly having a bad hair day, started kicking a bollard and shouting expletives in English about what a terrible yacht harbour it was, before bursting into tears and apologising.  We finally tied up along the sea wall in the centre of town and although Cartagena would have been a great place to spend hours, if not days, visiting the museums and well preserved Roman and Carthaginian remains, I preferred the option of a swim in the yacht harbour pool and a long nap before we went out to dinner.

Sailing towards Formentera was perfect, we had a following wind for 12 hours, and for the first time since leaving Gib we turned off the engine.  The wind changed during the night, so we motored for the next 10 hours, arriving here at dawn.  We spent last night at anchor in a beautiful  little bay called Cala Sahona on the west side of the island where the sea was aquamarine blue and the shore had low lying rocks with some shrubby plants and a beach of white sand.  Peter and Ian had spent nearly all day doing boat maintenance and we were all too tired to dinghy ashore so I volunteered to cook dinner.  Our only fresh provisions still on board were a few onions, one tomato and some garlic but I put together tarka dal, pulao rice and tomato salsa using our store cupboard ingredients, and I think helped by the bottle of champagne we had opened to celebrate our arrival – paradise regained.