Aurora through Gibraltar, Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca

Aurora through Gibraltar, Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca

 
Aurora's top mast view at Cabo de Palos marine reserve.
Me and Aurora at Puerto Banus, Costa del Sol, Spain.

Once we left Portimayo in the early morning we set a course to Cadiz. It was a rainy and foggy day and for the first time since we left France without even a single knot of wind. The Ocean in the bay of Cadiz was flat like a lake. Until that moment we had only few motor-hours  on the engines and we were planing to use them on high rpm regime before initial servicing. Apart of the few fishermen boats near the Portuguese coast there was not yet much traffic and we had calm relaxed morning in the salon.

Morning in the Bay of Cadiz
Early morning deckwork
Leaving Portugal
Quiet rainy morning in the bay of Cadiz

At lunchtime we crossed the border with Spain near a coast guard patrol that came on our path and by the evening steadily motoring with 9 knots we could already see the lights of Cadiz. We did not go straight for Tarifa as we used shelter from the Spanish coast from any current in the straight or wind. By midnight we were about to pass Tarifa point and when we got up for the 4 o'clock shift we were already in the busy harbour of Gibraltar. Numerous huge tankers were being unloaded at anchor. Small ships and ferries were crossing the bay back and forth. the complete coast line and the ships in bay were so well lit and visible at the same time little confusing to distinguish the small petrol quay we were heading to. Just before it we could not be wrong about the sleek line of the silhouette of the latest jewel in the British navy HMS Queen Elizabeth — latest generation aircraft carrier with small radar reflection footprint. We turned just around it and we tied ourselves to the petrol quay near the airport buoys and went for few hours more sleep until the petrol station opened at 9:00. Suddenly just after sunrise we were all awake by waves and strange motor noise  near us. Vlado rushed first on the starboard side to see a Lagoon45 catamaran with only one engine running trying to moor at the airport runway light buoy 30 meters away from us. They wouldn't do so unless they are experiencing any difficulties with the control. We have offered them help to take their mooring lines to our starboard and moor board to board. Once done we could recognize the crew of the one of the Croatian boats that we left together Les Sables d'Olone. So we came first even that we sailed the longer way in Bay of Biscay and hardly used any engine. Until the day before we had less than 8 hours on both engines. The Croatian crew explained us that most probably they have fishing net on the starboard propeller and most probably they drag it for a long way before harbour. Possibly even from Portugal but once they have reversed the propeller to maneuver  in the harbour the engine blocked and shut off. Now they were safe moored next to us. Their skipper surveyed the propeller with GoPro camera and the outcome was not good at all. They had lots of fishing net around propeller and the only solution was someone to dive and cut it off. Since none of the Croatian guys had diving equipment I gave them my wetsuit, goggles, fins, gloves and bonnet. While we were filling our diesel tanks and everyting else possible to fill with 50 eurocents per litter diesel for 40 minutes the Croatian guys have cut a pile of fishing net and finally they were free without any damage to propeller, the saildrive or the engine. We were ready to go. Before releasing the mooring lines we have received a bottle of french wine from the Croatian skipper as a present for our help and we promised to drink it to their health. We took farewell and wished each other fair winds. They were planning to leave straight to Sicily and we had 5 days to reach Alicante where the next Aurora crew was stepping on board. On the way out of the Gibraltar harbour we were forced by military police guards to took course near the lights of the runway and stay a  quarter of a mile away  from the HMS Queen Elizabeth. The previous night there were no such exercises, however we obeyed hoping that no easyjet flight will come at exactly this time to Gibraltar. Half an hour later we were at Europa point and moments later we were officially in the Medditeranian.  We opened the sails and everybody was happy and relieved in a way  knowing the hard cold days in the ocean are behind.

Aurora after helping her sister ship. Galin adding more fenders for safe mooring.
Adding more springs to shore in case of a wind increase
Aurora morning exercises
Me and Aurora at the petrol quay in Gibraltar
Looks like I need few hours sleep more
The Croatian skipper cutting the fishermen net off their starboard propeller
Galin with his morning coffee
Morning at Gibraltar
Tanks filled. Ready to go.
Leaving the Petrol quay
HMS Queen Elizabeth guarded by the military police
HMS Queen Elizabeth from the stern
Galin thinking about advantages of the 100ktons tanker vessel vs sailing boats
Aurora around Europa point
The days in ocean are over
Mediterranean ahead
First mile into the Mediterranean sea
Atlantic ocean behind
Lunch preparation
Cheers to the Croatian crew
Warm Spanish weather at Costa del Sol

In the late afternoon we decided to stop for the night and take rest at Puerto Banus. I was visiting the port quite often during my stay at San Pedro de Alcantara few years ago and I knew the port well. I have called in advance on the phone to reserve a place and later on VHF CH9. We have received quite a warm welcome and had all we needed for the night. The marina with its facilities, shops, restourants and bars proved to be really fantastic place.

Vladi preparing fenders a mile away from Puerto Banus
Aurora at Puerto Banus petrol station waiting for registration and harbour position
Puerto Banus calm afternoon
In Andalucia it is summer even in February
Aurora moored at Puerto Banus
Short pants are always needed at Puerto Banus even in February
Puerto Banus market street
Street life
Sunset at coffee shop
Galin enjoying the last rays of the sun
Me busy posting on Instagram
A memorable day is gone
Aurora and the night street lights
 
Night at Puerto Banus
Time to go to bed

We have spent half of the next day walking in the nearby villages and on the afternoon we left Puerto Banus with the light afternoon breeze. For the fist time we used our gennaker and we were reaching speed of 8 knots in 14 knots of wind. We have past near the coast of Marbella and Malaga and near the midnight we have stopped in the small marina inside the industrial port of Motril to spent the night.

Jose Banus as Jesus at Copacabana
Andalucian village life
Leaving Puerto Banus
Aurora sailing with gennaker
Galin in front of Marbella
Aurora making quite a performance in light wind
 
Aurora passing Malaga
View from the helm
Strawberry cheesecake afternoon

On the next morning we left with the sunrise as there was warning for rough sea and strong western wind in the afternoon we were trying to get around Cabo de Gata as soon possible. Of course we could not make it that fast, so near Almeria we got 3-4meter waves at our stern. There were constant broadcast PAN PAN messages by the spanish coast guard regarding a boat with refugees that left Moroccan coast and got caught in the storm. We were away from them but the rough sea was causing difficulties to the local fishermen too and they were joking each other about the waves. Once we were behind Cabo de Gata the wind decreased and we did quite a descent speed with both sails opened on butterfly. By the midnight we managed to get to Puerto Deportivo de Aguilas. Once 6-7 years ago I took my Padi diving license exam here so I knew the port and the area quite well.

Sunrise at Motril with quarter of the Moon on the sky
Long day of sailing ahead
Wake up coffee
Murcia's veggies plants
Rough sea got us near Almeria
Behind Cabo de Gata the wind decreased to moderate
Aurora sails quite well as buterfly on 180 degrees downwind

On the next morning we have set sails for Alicante - the final port of the first half of our delivery trip. With no wind at all after Cartagena we reached the marine reserve at Cabo de Palos , a place I dived some years ago and that has probably the richest sealife at the Spanish coast.  We were bored and at some point took the Bosun's chair and we took a picture of ourselves from top of the mast. In the afternoon we had favourable weather and wind so finally an hour after Sunset we have reached the guest quay at Alicante. Reception was still open and they were waiting for us since I called on the VHF CH9 in advance. There we have found all the facilities as power, water, laundry, baths and good restaurants and sailing equipment shops. On the next day we were expecting the rest of our crew that would sail Aurora to Athens and we would have 2 days to fix the broken reefline and prepare the boat for the rest of the trip. 

Aurora spending the night at Aguilas and leaving with the sunrise
Aurora passing the rocks near Cartagena
Aurora's top mast view at Cabo de Palos

 

Aurora approaching Alicante
Sunset near Alicante
Aurora at the guest quay at Alicante
Aurora in waiting for her next crew at Alicante

The crew sign on and boat preparation is another story of itself, so I would leave it for the next chapter of the trip where we refill food and supplies and sail to Ibiza and Mallorca and without stopping on any of them  rushing before the storm to reach Sardinian village of Teluada on the day of its annual carnaval.

Galin and Georgi filling the Aurora's water tanks


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