Start of May 2011 Cruise 39:27.82N 00:18.20W

Red Skies
David Alexander
Sat 7 May 2011 10:22
4th May. Wow! We have finally broken the chains that have bound us to Sant Carles since our arrival on 12th April. The intervening weeks were spent on the usual polishing, teak treatment, anode changing ritual, although at least our copper bottom saves us from anti-fouling. This year, although, we had to have a previous repair to the copper on the rudder-stock re-repaired - a long story!
Then came the usual refitting, emptying our storage room and finding space on the boat for all of those contents plus the new additions for this year - a Nestaway stacking dinghy and a portable generator.
Then, of course, we had to stay for the Royal Wedding. 3 dressed overall and we had bunting as well. About 40 of us watched the ceremony on TV in the marina cafe, which bdid a good trade in coffees, croissants and drinks to celebrate. A poor weather weekend, plus a delay for the Labour Day holiday, as we were waiting for some stainless steel work, put our plans back for another day or so but on Wednesday we left Sant Carles for an epic 26 mile journey South to the attractive resort of Puerto Las Fuentes, our first night's stop. After a pleasant sail in blue skies and sunshine we arrived to find the narrow antrance partially blocked by a man on a raft, surrounded by buoys and floats, presumably supervising some diving or dredging, who at his own leisurely pace dropped the line securing him to the opposite bank to allow us entry.
Las Fuentes is a multi-cultural small resort. We heard english, french, german and spanish spoken, with many apartments and even a supermarket selling very expensive mango chutney to accompany our supper of chicken curry. The marina is notable for its sail-shaped control building and for its residential properties with their own alongside berths.
Thurs 5th May.  A 9.30 am start for another 'hard' day's sail to Burriana south. Winds were light and this prompted David to announce that it was a coloured sail day. Those of you who have sailed with us know Alison's love/hate (mostly hate) relationship with our cruising chute, so it was with reluctance that she agreed. Our stacking dinghy on the foredeck added a new dimension to the preparations, as did a genoa sheet, which decided to rip of David's unattache but much-loved new baseball cap - a souvenir from our February trip to the Panama canal (in a tourist boat). This prompted abandoning the chute for a while and practising a 'hat overboard under sail' exercise. This proved to us that even in calm seas and little wind this was, with two up, a difficult task and timely reminder to stay on the boat. The cap was safely recovered and seems none the worse for its swim.
We hoisted the coloured sail but after an hour or so the wind dropped. At 2.5 knots boat speed and with 20 miles still to go Alison mutinied and David relented and we dropped the sail and motored.
We passed Castellon with many tankers at anchor and with an increasing afternoon's sea breeze sailed on to the port of  Burriana, seeing our first sunfish of the season. Burriana is a recently enlargted marina and established fishing port. We jousted with the fishing boats returning to sell their catch and were allocated a berth with med style moorings, but crossed, so we lay at an angle. Eventually sorted, David went to the office to book in and pay etc. The very helpful lady there advised not to waste our time walking the 3 km to the old town, as recommended in the pilot book, as it was not worth the effort and uninspiring in her opinion. After a short walk which confirmed her views, we returned to the boat to fit the afore-mentioned steel work, a bar and brackets to secure the companionway hatch. This involved taking down the headlining and feeling, at fingertip stretch, into a small void with no light or space for a mirror. Amazing, given all the forces of Nature conspiring against him, David fitted the brackets but with a few years of life lost with anger and stress. We know this will not deter a committed thief but hope that its presence will persuade him to move to an easier target.
Friday 6th May.  We left Burriana at 10.00 am in warm sunshine and a gentle breeze. It should have been another coloured sail day but D had hurt his back hauling lines at Burriana and didn't fancy the deckwork, so we goose-winged with a gybe preventer on the main and a poled-out genny. From mid morning the wind built and by the time we reached Valencia it was a Force 5 but with a horrible sloppy swell (but we did see more sunfishes). The entrance to the Marina Real Juan Carlos 1 (formerly the Americas Cup Marina) is hard to spot until close to. After visiting the office we were allocated a somewhat exposed berth, and with cross-winds, mooring stern-to the pontoon was an interesting experience!
The wind was predicted to pick up further overnight and we went to bed with an ever-increasing howling in the rigging, slapping of waves under the stern, gyrations of the boat with snatches as it came up short on its warps. All this led to a night of reduced sleep. In the morning, we attempted to readjust our position using winches and rolling hitches to the bow lines. At  this point two marineros appeared in a rib and provided some very welcome assistance in manoevering us further away from the pontoon, using the power of their engine while we winched away some more and brought in more of the bow lines. One marinero told us that when the wind is forecast from the North East the reality is always double the predicted strength. How true this is as a generality we cannot say, but in this instance at 30 knots it is indeed double the forecast from the Spanish met office.
Although the marina is vast, the facilities are somewhat of a disappointment with a paucity of toilets and showers for the number of boat spaces here. At present the conditions are so wild that we are reluctant to leave the boat but, hopefully, we will be able to soon as a meal in one of the numerous restaurants in town beckons.
This blog is being written while we are bucking at our mooring as though we were in an American it is just as well that it is not being written by pen and ink.