On the move again

Getting ready for the first sail of the season I always find very stressful and so I always hurry to get underway. Sail covers off, cat locked inside, start the engine, hooray it does, undo the lines, and wonderful surprise: a marinero in a RIB pulling our bows off the quay, what super service. And away we are.

The weather forecast was for a weak S wind, increasing and backing SE, so we set course for Garrucha on a SSW bearing and if we couldn't make that course we would aim for Águilas with a more free wind.
Well. The first hour we motored into a SSW 3 in a lumpy sea and I feared it might get to be One Of Those Days. But a group of dolphins around the bows cheared me up and further out the wind got less, backed, but no further than S, however enough to motorsail. We didn't feel guilty about that, seeing several boats going the opposite way with no sail at all. Some 5 miles away from the shore I tested the dongle: no signal but we did have a strong smell of flowers that far off. Towards the end of the afternoon we chose to steer for Águilas instead of Garrucha which would be an extra 2.5 hours. We circled the bay next to it, El Hornillo, which had a lot of fishing buoys in the E corner and decided to anchor in the other bay next to the fishing harbour, which had about the same shelter, i.e. not much but the swell died down luckily and the little bit of landwind kept us nicely stern-to to it. In the town we saw a Don Quixote mill with sails on it turning around merrily, no doubt helped by something more than the little wind there was. It was nice to get a good night sleep after our first day out and so many hours in the hot sun and we weren't disturbed much by the fishing boats going past, but the fertilizer stink reminded us we were getting near the Costa Plastica.


The next day was also very hot and sunny. With our wifi-booster we managed to pick up a weather forecast which announced very little SE wind, but instead the wind got less and less. Motoring in a flat calm is a bit boring although I don't mind using the engine to get us from A to B as long as it isn't into a head wind. We did keep our ears cocked for funny noises after all the engine trouble we'd had last year, but the engineer declared the engine sound healthy. It was also not using a great deal of fuel, so the diver had done a good job cleaning the propeller.
The automatic bilgepump though wasn't behaving as it should. It started to splutter water more and more often, not because the boat was leaking more and so there was probably something wrong electrically. So for the moment we switched the pump to manual. A couple of hours later we pumped the bilge and then noticed how the water wouldn't run away quickly through the cockpit drains. When building the boat, Peter had decided to drain that automatic bilgepump into the cockpit so as to be able to keep an eye on how often the pump would run (and to have it less visible for others). Which meant we now we could see exactly how filthy the bilgewater was whilst it was sloshing under the grating before very very slowly going down the drain. By fishing down the two pipes with a length of steel wire we could feel something way down which wouldn't budge, but using the rubber thinghy for unblocking the kitchen drain (why isn't gootsteenontstopper in the dictionary?) did the trick.
We motored across an empty sea to Cala de San Pedro. We'd seen only 4 other sailing boats all day, but shortly after having dropped anchor we were joined by another sailing boat. The bay was big enough though and not cluttered with fishing or mooring or swimming buoys. After inspecting the shore by binoculars we realized we'd been there before on one of our Sunday walks the previous year when we wintered in Almerimar. There is a hippy settlement provided with electricity by solar panels and we also saw a windgenerator on a very tall pole. But not very much electricity we suspect, because although we'd seen a television screen flickering and someone using a mobile phone it was pitch black at night. They must have a well nearby because we knew there is no real road going there. The place was obviously thriving, as it was inhabited already one and a half years ago and maybe much longer. We saw someone clearing some land with a pickaxe but saw not many gardens but we know some of them trade handicraft on the Sunday market in San José nearby. The water was very clear and inviting so we had our first swim of the year. After such a hot day it was lovely swimming around in the not really cold water, check the anchor by snorkel and not be bothered by speedboats racing around. In the very dark night we found out how very good our new LED anchorlight is, in fact so good that we were quite blinded by it and couldn't distinguish much of what was around us. So instead of hanging it at eye level, we'll have to find a bit higher position for it.


We contemplated staying another day or more in this nice anchorage, but the forecast (by dongle, no wifi) announced a change in the weather so we decided to move on the next morning. Early in the morning the wind was howling down the mountain from the N, but by the time we got underway it had died down again. It turned out to be a Sails Up Sails Down day. Around the tip of Cabo de Gata we sailed with just a jib and just beyond the wind died down completely though we could still see white caps in the distance. We had at first thought to anchor the night just around the cape on the W-side, but with the changed weather forecast decided to push on to Aguadulce Marina. Halfway across the bay the wind changed to the West already, but in Aguadulce there was no wind at all, and we heard there'd hardly been any during the day. It's hard to tell the weather in that place with the big steep cliffs right next to it reflecting all winds differently.
We were pleasantly surprised to be charged for a 12x4m boat. In so many other places (like all the Eppa-marinas) we have to pay for a 15x4.5m berth, while Eos is 11.95x4.5m. Not really very unfair we have to admit, but of course we prefer the cheaper ones. So this made for a nice change. Is it the crisis that makes the Spanish a bit more business conscious?
Like in most marinas copies were made of our ships and insurance papers and passports and we were glad the marina lady didn't look to attentively at our insurance papers which were expired since April 1st. Just before leaving Cartagena I'd realised we hadn't received a new policy and had asked the company for a new one. Later we did get a new one, quite grudgingly it seemed because usually “no new policies are sent but the contract gets renewed automatically yearly”. Try telling that to a Spanish official when the policy shows a date in the past.
Our berth on the outer quay was near the nice new shower block, so after a refreshing shower it was wonderful to settle down with a cold beer. There was a great variety in different kind of boats around us and remarkably few of the average white boats with blue stripe. We'd got used to be sticking out between Hallberg Rassys, Bavarias, Beneteaus and such, so this also made for a nice change.


It looks like we're going to be in Aguadulce for a little while, not only because of the W'ly winds and the electric bilge pump that needs looking at, but just after arriving here we noticed a drip drip drip from the waterpump (the one for the engine cooling) and so that means another operation.

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