Almerimar - 36:41:83N 2:47:42W

Red Skies
David Alexander
Mon 7 Sep 2009 21:21
On Thursday, we caught a local bus in Gibraltar to take us to the Moorish Castle from where we walked up to the entrance to the World War II tunnels. We were lucky - a cruise ship party was expected later that morning but we were escorted around on our own by a delightful ex-army guide, named 'Smudge'. What had been achieved in that period was truly breathtaking and we were very impressed with the fortitude of those who were part of the Rock at that time.
The Union Flag flying over the Moorish Castle in Gibraltar
On Friday 4th September, the Levanter had subsided and we left Gibraltar to catch the tide around Europa Point. On heading out we encountered a recovery ship and tug, stationed off Europa Point, with a one mile exclusiopn zone around them, which meant going further out into the Strait than we had intended. The wind, however, was coming from the South West so, although over 20 knots, we were able to sail briskly along the South Spanish coast.
Leaving Gibraltar behind as we head East along the Spanish coast
Unfortunately, the wind did not continue and we found that we had to motor again to keep a reaonable average speed. We turned our heads away from the flesh-pots of Marbella town and instead sought refuge in the old fisherman's port that had been turned into the Marina de Bajadilla on the outskirts of Marbella. This turned out to be a quiet and comfortable night's stay, albeit after a difficult interlude from following the pilot book and tying up to the fuel berth, only to find that we were well and truly fenced off from the marina and the fuel berth was only opened on 2 afternoons a week. A telephone call soon had us reporting in the correct place and we were seen into our berth by a helpful marineiro. The office was closed but the staff could not have been more helpful in sorting out the documentation and making arrangements so that we could leave at first light and before the office opened the following day.
On Saturday, we motored East against Easterlies varying between Force 1 and 4 and arrived at a delightful anchorage at La Herradura. Despite a number of jelly fish being spotted by Alison on the way in, David decided that this was the ideal place to inspect the anodes and to give a wash and brush-up to the water-line. Towards sunset, the motor boats that had anchored there during the day departed leaving just 3 yachts, Red Skies being one of them. Out of the distance emerged what Alison descibed as being a 'stealth cruiser' and as it approached closer it made its intensions clear that its crew intended to board us. It transpired that it was a Spanish customs boat and, despite the intimidating nature of their boat and the kit they carried, they were cordial in carrying out their checks of our paperwork. A humorous interchange occurred when one of them noted that Alison had been born in Nottingham and wanted to know if she knew Robin Hood. When they left it was dark and they departed without any navigational lights showing - however, the deep throaty roar of their engines would have alerted anyone within a 10 mile radius of their presence. Before they left they gave us two bits of advice: first avoid the jelly-fish, especially the small ones prevalent there because they are particularly dangerous, and second the Levanter was due to blow again seriously from tomorrow and going Eastwards under sail was going to be diifficult. They also gave us a form to show any other customs officials should we be boarded again.
The anchorage at La Herradura 
On Sunday, 6th September, we left at first light to make as much distance as we could before the Levanter set in. When we emerged from the bay, we appreciated how sheltered we had been, despite the swell we had experinced through the night. After 9 hours of motoring into a strengthening Easterlie, we finally arrived at Almerimar with winds over the deck in excess of 30 knots and viciously steep waves rediculously close together. We were thankful the passage was almost complete but there was no shelter from the wind and waves until we actually went behind the breakwater to the marina. What then greeted us was a dredger stretched completely across the access channel. After some hand gesticulations, the dredger moved backwards a few feet and we were ushered to pass by him within inches, still with significant wind but thankfully without the waves.
The dredger that blocked our path when we entered the marina channel
 When we were in  the marina, the wind was still severe and we were sent via handsignals to the far end of the marina complex, where the wind came gusting around the buildings and from a different direction. Eventually we tied up to the quay, and tightened the lazy line offered by the marineiro, but this still left us at quite an oblique angle. The marineiro was unfazded by this and on looking around we could see quite a number of other boats at similar attitudes.
Almerimar Marina is of substantial size and has a significant element of housing accommodation within it. Constructed in the late 70s it is beginning to show its age. However, with the Levanter expected to blow up to 28 knots for the next 4 days we shall be here for a while.
Almerimar Marina
Another view of the marina, giving an indication of its lack of shelter from the Easterlies