37:07.92N 06:50.13W Mazagon Marina
Nine of the marinas on the south coast of Spain, including some in the Med, are run by the Agency Publica de Puertos de Andalucia. Ayamonte is one, so are Mazagon, Chipiona and Rota. They are standard alongside pontoons with water and electricity supplied. Two marineras have told us that while it used to be the policy of the Agency to provide WiFi it is no longer so and the staff are forbidden to let visitors use theirs in the office.
This, it would seem, is a political decision and a very stupid one. Without doubt this is a step back in time which makes the marinas less than popular for more than an overnight stay. It is as if the Agency wants to put off the passing yachtsman, it certainly has that effect. Unlike in Galicia and Portugal where there are happy gatherings of yachties who can meet, chat and socialise and keep in touch with home and the current weather situation we came across half empty marinas, with few foreign ensigns and an exodus in the mornings.
The staff at most of the marinas we came across were helpful and apologetic and willing to speak English to us, however, all sense of civic pride, hospitality, history, worldliness, altruism and enterprise has gone from Mazagon, as if desiccated out by the heat.
The humourless, gum chewing marinera couldn’t even be bothered to tell where the facilities were, provided no map of the town and when she asked “So do you want a gate key?” it was as if to say “Cos there’s sod all here to look at”. “Wifi is at the cafe.” She replied after we asked. No it wasn’t and nor had it been for a while judging by the tone of the waitress who sounded as if she was sick of relaying the sad news.
Fortunately Mike and Susy came in on Toy Buoy so we had a pleasant time chatting with them for a couple of hours.
They left early the next morning but we had decided to have a look around town since this was the town from which Columbus sailed in 1492 and we thought there might be some commemoration of this fact.
There has been a massive financial investment in this large marina but now the shops are mostly empty, mature palm trees are dying for lack of water, dilapidated dinghies in the locked club nautico are dying for lack of water as well, the port building designed like a boat covered in tiles is derelict and torn drapes on the round gazebo float in the wind like a scene from the nuclear poisoned world in ‘On the Beach’.
The town was no better. We made our way up unfinished concrete steps which doubled as a stinking drain to find the Tourist Office closed at weekends, hey guys, wake up this is still the high season.
“A real one horse town,” Rob said. An inward looking place we felt as folk at cafe’s eyed us with suspicion. Attempts to create a place of interest around the pretty lighthouse had fallen on the dry ground of apathy and disinterest. Under the lovely shade of umbrella trees the grass was being watered in a public park area where only one little girl swung to and fro in the play area.
We felt driven away and glad to leave. Maybe Columbus did too but for different reasons.