Pembroke Haven Yacht Club

Hobbs Point, Pembroke Dock

Back to Mainland Spain 2/6/18–Denia, Valencia, Oropesa, Las Fuentes, Roda de Bara, Barcelona

On 2nd June we left Ibiza and headed back to the mainland.  Our destination was Denia approximately 58 miles away.  The crossing took us 10 hours during which we encountered thunder & lightening and heavy rain storms for part of the journey.  On a lighter note, we also saw a swordfish jump out of the water and a flying fish too! 


Our reason for heading back to the mainland was that we were heading back to the UK on 14th June to catch up with family and friends (those that we had not already seen on route!) and also had tickets to go and see UB40 at Pembroke Castle! – Not To be missed.

We had booked in to El Masnou Marina just North of Barcelona for a month whilst we returned home so were going to make our way up the coast over the next 2 weeks, starting at Denia.  Denia marina was very smart, with a ‘day club’ free to berth holders.  The Club was no competition for the Ocean Club in San Antonio but we spent an afternoon there relaxing, people watching, swimming and drinking cocktails.  The Marina also had an extremely cheap launderette, which for us boaties is an absolute dream!  


On our second day in Denia we unloaded our bikes and headed for the Castle.  Situated on a hilltop above Denia, the castle dates from the 17th century and can be seen for many miles out to sea and throughout the town.  The views from it’s turrets are superb and as we walked around there were many birds nesting and feeding their young.



From Denia we headed to Valencia Marina.  We were already familiar with Valencia as we had visited during our ‘road trip’ in February.  We met up for dinner with our friends Jenny and Trevor who live nearby, before moving on the following morning. 

20180604_230053No, we didn’t build the sand castle!  

The sail along the coast to Oropesa was all down wide.  We reached a maximum of 11.7 knots with an average of 6.8 knots!  For you sailing friends…this was with a fully reefed main!  The entrance to the marina was extremely narrow and only 3.3 m deep.  With gusts of over 25-30 knots of wind we radioed through to the marina office for help getting us into a berth. They decided that our best option was to moor up to the sheltered fuel berth, and remain there for the night.  Apart from a walk into the nearby town that evening for something to eat, and Alistair spying some naked beauties bathing on the beach, we remained on board and left the following morning. 

Next stop Las Fuentes, only 15 miles away.  We decided to pull in to this marina as the wind increased yet again and rain, thunder and lightening was all around us!  On enquiring at the marina office as to the cost per night, we were informed 60 Euros!  We couldn’t believe it and were temped to move on but it was just not worth the risk as far as the weather was concerned.  How could they justify this cost when there were no smart facilities like Denia for which we had only paid 30 euros a night.

Roda de Bara (23 euros per night!) bargain! our next stop enroute to Barcelona (El Masnau).  We wished we had known about this marina before we had booked El Masnaua for the month.  The railway runs within walking distance, with easy access to both Barcelona and the neighbouring town of Tarragona.  We spent two nights here and again unloaded our beloved bikes to explore.  We cycled along a fully paved coastal path passing exclusive properties along the way before arriving at a large sandy beach lined with cafe/bars.  We sat down for the obligatory coffee and of course some people watching before returning to El Roc de Sant Gaieta, a beautifully preserved village with a Grecian influence on the outskirts of Roda de Bara.  Everywhere was well kept and there were surprises around every corner. For some reason we only seem to have one photograph… we must have been cycling too fast!


We arrived in El Masnou on 9th June and were directed to our berth, no 457.  The marina is not pretty and the railway line and main road pass between the village and the marina, however, it suited our purpose perfectly and after settling in we spent two days exploring Barcelona by catching the train which took only 30 minutes into the centre.  Marina berth holders are given use of the neighbouring Nautical Club facilities and these included a 50m outdoor swimming pool plus sun terraces and also an indoor pool if preferred.  We used these facilities daily.


We had had a brief stop in Barcelona during our road trip but this time we were able to take our time exploring this wonderful city.  Street artists performed throughout the centre of the city and around all of the tourist areas. We visited Barcelona Cathedral and took a walk up on the roof top where the Sagrada Familia dominated the skyline of the city.   We also visited the fantastic Sagrada Familia and Park Guell, examples of the amazing work of Antoni Gaudi, a Spanish architect.  His work was influenced by his love of nature and the world around him and he integrated this into his designs using ceramics, stained glass, wood and ironwork.  The Sagrada was filled with the most amazing colours and structures and should not be missed if visiting Barcelona.  It is due to be finished in 2026 to mark the centenary of Gaudi’s death in 1926 when he was sadly run over by a tram. 

  IMG_3704IMG_370320180613_15073520180613_150729Out on the roof of the Cathedral!

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On Thursday the 14th June we caught the train to Barcelona Airport and caught our flight home to Bristol.  We would be returning in three weeks.

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Ibiza 17.5.18-2.6.18

Ibiza – known as ‘the party island’.  We had no idea what to expect, but the Island is beautiful.  From it’s amazing sandy Calas (coves), spectacular high cliffs and pine-clad hills all around the coast, to Ibiza Town, the capital, with classy restaurants, a great selection of bars, small boutiques and large fashion stores, art galleries and museums.  We absolutely loved the whole experience.

It was 45 miles from Moraira to Cala de Port Roig where we made landfall at 17.30 after an 11 hour crossing.  We anchored in the bay and spent the evening relaxing and watching a number of boats (or should I say ‘ships’ ?– they were enormous) dropping off their guests at the beachside restaurant or entertaining on board, lit up like Christmas trees! Slightly larger generator than ours we believe!!  The photographs show Superyacht ‘Ace’, one of the vessels anchored nearby with her ‘support vessel’ just around the corner.  The support vessel had various other water toys on board plus a helicopter!  How the other half live!

IMG_3464Early morning departure     IMG_346520180601_21323220180602_09154320180602_091927

We left Port Roig the following morning and headed out to Espalmador, a small privately owned, uninhabited island south of Ibiza and just north of Formentera.   We had been in touch with Eva and Hakan on Sally and were hoping to catch them one last time, before they left for Majorca.   It was only 9 miles to the anchorage off Espalmador and when we arrived we could have been in the Caribbean!  The water was clear bright blue and the sand white as white!

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We spent almost a week anchored off the island exploring in the Kayak, and on foot ashore, and yet more time with our good friends off Sally before their departure to Majorca, Menorca, Sardinia and beyond. Perhaps we would catch up with them again next year!


Eva & Judith explored an area on the opposite shores on Formentera where a German man has spent over 30 years building various art sculptures.  He returned every year during his holidays to add to the ‘village of stone’.  Now retired, he told them he was able to spend more time in his favourite spiritual place.

IMG_3479Judith watched the Royal Wedding on 19th May!!!t

We Left Espalmador on 22nd May and headed back to Ibiza, passing Isla Vedra as we made our way up the western coastline.  For those of you that are old enough to remember the film, Isla Vedra was used as the location for the South Pacific ‘Bali Hai’.  To us it looked like Tracy Island from Thunderbirds!!


We spent the first night in Cala Bassa which had various caves that we explored in the Kayak and a beach lined with pine trees that is taken up almost entirely by a beach club, boutiques and a Tattinger Lounge.  We took the dinghy, purchased a coffee in one of the smaller bars, and spend a good hour or so people watching!  On googling the Bassa Beach Club we could hardly believe that some of the ‘guest’ (only feet from us), were paying over 200 euros for the privilege of sitting on their sunbed!  By 8pm the area was deserted apart from the few boats anchored in the bay.


On arrival San Antonio we anchored just outside of the marina.  We were contacted through the Dufour owners Facebook page by another owner of a Dufour 43 (not the CC version), who was also anchored in the same area.  We met for drinks (of Course)!!!  They were on board Money Penny when we were approached by the Port Authorities informing us that we were illegally anchored and should either enter the marina or pay for a mooring buoy.  Generally a buoy is cheaper but our new found friends informed us that in actual fact the buoys are normally chargeable from the 1st June at a cost of around 50 euros….this was May and the cost was already 50 euros.  The marina charges were still low season at 45 euros but in their opinion it would be very difficult for the Authorities to fine us if we just remained where we were.  We were in need of water and a battery recharge which would cost us 12 euros for half an hour on the marina pontoon, so we decided to book a berth and stay in the Marina.  On checking in we also found that they offered us 10% discount for being UK Cruising Association members….result!!  We actually stayed 2 nights and unpacked our bikes to explore.

San Antonio is a busy package holiday destination and also home to The Ocean Beach Club.  The Ocean Beach Club is a ‘Day Club’ with music and entertainment all day long. On cycling along the sea front we were able to take a peep at this ‘interesting’ event!!  Judith was glad to remain outside the wall however Alistair would certainly have liked to have been closer to the ‘action’!

We also took a visit to the ‘surf bar’ and sat with a cool pint whilst watching the action. Neither of us were brave enough to join in the fun.

IMG_3519Ocean Beach Club                            XJMJ8101PPPS4768

Next stop was Cala Binirras &Puerto de San Miguel.   We made a stop enroute for lunch and a swim in the most beautiful Cala, Cala Portixol, surrounded by fishermens huts and high cliffs. As it was fairly narrow we decided it was not the best place to spend the night on anchor and moved on to Cala Binirras.

IMG_3530IMG_3527Cala Portixol - Stop for lunch

For the next couple of days we anchored in both Cala Binirras & Puerto de San Miguel, two closely positioned Calas.  The atmosphere in Cala Binirras was fantastic as we arrived on a Saturday and there was a wedding in progress.   The bride and her father arrived by speed boat whilst drummers were beating a rhythm onshore.  We had been told that we should visit this Cala on a Sunday at sundown as that was when the drummers were there.  This was a bonus!  We remained there for the Sunday show as well.  If you ever visit Ibiza this is ‘one’ not to miss.

IMG_3538IMG_3539Cala Binirras

IMG_3544IMG_3545IMG_3546Puerto De San Miguel

The wind changed direction so we moved across the bay to Puerto De San Miguel for a night and took a picturesque walk along the cliff path (via a small beach bar) to the village. 

Our next stop was Portinatx where we anchored overnight before moving to Cala Llonga.  Again Facebook had come into its own!  Two friends of Judith’s, Juliet and her daughter Grace & Sally and her husband Rhodri were arriving in Ibiza over the next few days.  Juliet & Grace were going to be in Cala Llonga on 30th May so we arranged to meet.  Having spoken on the telephone as they were on route from the airport, it was decided to meet later in the day as they were going to have a siesta due to an early start.  We headed ashore for a coffee and then to the supermarket where we bumped straight into Juliet & Grace……Lunch it was then!  We went back to the restaurant where we had had coffee, for lunch, then siesta, and then they joined us on board Money Penny for an evening meal.  It was fabulous to catch up.


The following day we were moving on to Ibiza Town so Juliet & Grace joined us on the passage.  We were unable to sail as the wind was directly on our bow but I think they enjoyed the experience of being on the water.  We anchored in Talamanca Bay only metres from Marina Botafoch which would have cost us 69 euros on 31st May and 200 Euros a night on 1st June!  We had a refreshing swim (which you can’t do in a marina!)and took the dingy ashore for lunch in a beachside restaurant, before Juliet & Grace headed back via the bus to Cala Llonga – speaking to them the following morning we found out that they had such a good time they missed the last bus and had to take a taxi!  We headed into Ibiza town on the water taxi and thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon exploring the Old Town and citadel area.


We spent the following day exploring again and then met Sally & Rhodri for drinks when we caught up on news from home, got inside information about Ibiza Town (they have visited on numerous occasions!) and most importantly received ‘gifts’ from home. Namely Marmite which we had run out of…..Sally you were a life saver!


Our time in Ibiza was drawing to a close but we had been extremely surprised at how much we enjoyed our time here.  We will definitely be back.  We spent our final night in Cala

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Altea/Moraira & more friends!

We left Alicante on 15th May and sailed the 35miles to Altea.  We arrived at 18.30 and after a quick drink in a local bar had an early night.  The following day we walked up to the old town.  If Judith had the opportunity to purchase a property anywhere, she says, this would probably be the place!  We climbed up the cobbled narrow streets, with occasional glimpses of the sea, to the village square at the top of the hill.  The church of “Our Lady of Solace” is prominent in the square with picturesque blue & white domes and tiled glazed ceramics.  There are a number of quaint restaurants around the square some with amazing views out to sea. Pretty town houses of all shapes and sizes line the steets and most have beautiful views of the bay.

IMG_3462IMG_3460check out the name of this restaurant….very apt!

IMG_3459Looking down on the Marina from Old Town Altea.

We returned to Money Penny after our walk and left the Marina at 12.30pm to head the 14 miles to Moraira where we had arranged to meet more of our Pembrokeshire friends!  Facebook is sometimes a great tool for us to keep tracks on those friends that are holidaying near to us.  Judith had noticed that friends, Sarah & Derek were in Javea for a family wedding.  They had their car with them so we contacted them and arranged to meet in Moraira (only a 20 min drive for them) on the evening of the 16th.  We had G & T’s onboard and then a fabulous meal and a catch up in a local restaurant.  Our plan was to leave early the following day for Ibiza so unfortunately it was an early night for us but we enjoyed the short time we had together and will certainly catch up again when we return to Wales next time.


On the 17th May at 6.20 am we departed Moraira Marina and made our way Eastward towards the party island!

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Santa Pola/Alicante & Visitors 7/5/18

We left the Mar Menor on 7th May and made the short 16 mile ‘hop’ to Torreveja.  We anchored in the harbour entrance and visited the local chandlery ashore before retiring for the night.  The following morning we continued our journey to Santa Pola Marina.  We had been in touch with our friends from Pembrokeshire, Angie & Bryan, who were travelling in their campervan and had been hoping that we could meet up at some point.  The time had come!   We had let them know that we would be in Santa Pola and they were on the quayside as we arrived.  We spent the next two days catching up, exchanging stories on our travels so far and of course partaking in the obligatory bottles of wine! 


With great excitement on board, Elliot & Charlene arrived on Money Penny late on the 9th May by which time our ‘forward locker’ had now become our visitors ensuite cabin!  It’s always a marathon trying to find places to store all of the kit that is usually ‘up forward’!  Angie & Bryan waited to greet our new visitors and then continued on their journey.  We would see them again in Wales!

We had a quiet day in Santa Pola after Elliot & Charlene’s arrival and then on 11th May we sailed out to Tabarca Island.  Tabarca is the smallest permanently inhabited islet in Spain and is known for its protected marine reserve.  The waters around the Island are very clear.  We anchored off shore and took the dinghy in to explore.  During a swim in the clear waters, a seagull decided to dive-bomb Alistair as he snorkelled around the reef! It was protecting her young who where exploring the rocks close by but it was quite a fierce attack!  Alistair was totally unaware until we showed him the video footage afterwards.  The beaches are left to nature and as you can see from one of the photographs below, the dead weed is washed ashore builds up on the beach.  It was like sunbathing on a ‘triple’ thick mattress!  The weather was not settled enough to anchor overnight in the bay off Tarbaca so after a fun filled day we departed for Alicante.


Before we left Santa Pola we had visited a fishing tackle shop and were informed that we should have a license to fish from the boat.  Having listened to the owner of the shop explain the consequences of not having a license, we decided that it was not worth the risk of getting a fine so had purchased said license.  Since leaving the UK we had only caught a couple of fish.  After leaving the nature reserve we cast the line and within a few minutes Alistair had caught a barracuda!  It must have known that we were now ‘legal’.  It was duly cooked and eaten for dinner.


ACAN1107Arriving in Alicante.IMG_3434Cheese Fondue time! 20180513_153432IMG_3419

The next few days were spent exploring Alicante and enjoying the company of our family guests.  What a beautiful city.  We took a trip up to Santa Barbara Castle overlooking the City and Marina. The lift that usually takes you up from street level was out of order so we had to take a taxi. This actually turned out to be the cheaper option. We sailed out to Pueto de San Joan for a swim, Judith purchased some bargains from a street market and Elliot joined a street performer as he entertained the tourists.  We also tried to visit the Volvo Ocean Race museum but missed the opening times by an hour!

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All too quickly it was time to say goodbye but we had all had a great time and would catch up very soon when we returned to the UK in July.

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Mar Menor

On the 3rd May we left Cartagena (and Sally!) to make our way to the inland waterway, the Mar Menor.  Judith’s son and daughter in law were expected on the 10th, flying to Alicante.  We had a week to explore!

We arrived at the entrance to the Mar Menor at 15.10.  Mar Menor means ‘minor sea’ or  ‘smaller sea’.  It is a salty lagoon of warm water no more than 6 metres in depth.  Separated from the Mediterranean by La Manga (sleeve in Spanish), a sandbar 22 km in length with a width ranging from 100 – 1,200 metres.  Surprisingly, on this sandbar are built many blocks of apartments and hotels of varying heights!

To enter the waterway you must navigate a small channel in which there is a lifting bridge.  We arrived at 15.10 and the bridge did not open until 1600 so we anchored at the entrance and put the kettle on!

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There are five ilets within the lagoon – Perdiguera, Mayor, Ciervo, Redonda and del Sujeto.  After entering we headed for Perdiguera and anchored in a small bay.  The water was like a piece of glass.


The following morning we decided to go ashore and explore.  The birds were nesting and were not at all happy with our presence so we carefully made our way towards the middle of the island where we came across a tunnel hidden in the rock that led through to the other side.  At that point Alistair decided to google the islands history.    “During the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) the island was used as a bombing practice ground.  Many bombs that did not go off made walking on this island very dangerous.”    OOOHHH!!!  We were wondering why we were the only ones ashore!        He read on.."  “In the 1990’s a campaign for bomb detection and deactivation was launched prior to the construction of beach stalls and in the late 90’s it became a tourist destination.  Due to the environmental deterioration caused by the tourists, in 2007 Coastal Regulations established the need to close down the stalls and develop a more sustainable form of tourism.”  It was obvious to us that since the stalls had been removed not many visitors had landed on the island and unfortunately the remains of said stalls littered part of the beach area which was a ‘blot’ on the landscape of a beautiful island.



One of the other ilets is a private Island, Isla Mayor, also known as Isla del Baron, this has the only forest of small palm trees in Europe and is considered a special bird protected area because of its many different types of birds.


During our week in the Mar Menor we travelled from one end to the other exploring the villages along the shore. At the Northern end there are mud pools where flamingos roam!  These flamingos are white…A fact that Judith was unaware of was that flamingos are pink because of their diet of brine shrimp and blue-green algae which contains a natural pink dye called canthaxanthin’.  The flamingos in the Mar Menor obviously do not eat either of these! 

Bathers take to the mud pools to cover themselves in the alleged health giving mud.  We were not so brave and just watched from the sidelines!  Those that did partake, looked like a blue version of Shrek!


As we left the Mar Menor we motored passed what could only be described as the pinnacle of cruising vessels. What he didn’t have on board was obviously not worth having!   Alistair was flabbergasted that every inch of deck space was taken up with something or other.  With all of the equipment he had on board we estimated his cruising speed at about half a knot!


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Almerimar to Cartagena 27.4.18-3.5.18

We left Almerima at 9am on 27th April and travelled 68.2 miles to Garrucha.  Our original aim was to anchor in St Jose a normally sheltered anchorage on route, however having entered the anchorage, the weather and wind conditions were such that we we would be happier tied up in a marina for the night so continued to Garrucha.  We had a great sail for the majority but by the time we were making our approach to the marina (at 7.40pm), we were experiencing gusts of 29kts with a steady 25kts.  We had made the right decision.  Safely tied up for the night we took a walk around the town and then joined Eva & Hakan for wine and tapas before retiring to bed.  It had been a long day.

Early the following day we checked the weather and left for Cartagena. 

IMG_3333Sally at Sunrise

Our arrival in Cartagena was masked in fog, the first we had encountered since leaving the UK.   At times we were even unable to make out Sally who was sailing only a few hundred yards to our starboard side.



Cartagena is one of the most important naval ports in Spain having been the capital of the Spanish Navy’s Maritime Department of the Mediterranean since the 18th Century. We spent a day visiting the Naval Museum and exploring the town.  There are a number of interesting Roman ruins including a theatre.  Whilst at the Museum we visited  the submarine Peral.  Housed in its own separate building, Peral was the first electric battery powered submarine and was built by the Spanish engineer Isaac Peral for the Spanish Navy.  Amazingly she was launched on 8 September 1888 and she had one torpedo tube plus an air regeneration system.

Image result for peral submarine images       Image result for peral submarine images

We cycled out to the lighthouse at the entrance to the Port passing the Navantia boatyard on our way.  The Boatyard had a number of large yachts in for refits including ‘Yacht A’, built for a Russian and launched in 2015.  She is a sail assisted vessel and can reach 21 knots (38km/h)  She weighs 12,558 tonnes, is 142.81 m (468.5ft) long & 24.8 m (81.4ft) wide and was delivered to her owner in February of 2017 before final sea trials and fit-out in Cartagena that year.  She was apparently there for a ‘refit’!   One of the other motor yachts having work carried out in the yard was Le Grand Bleu.   At 113m long, she has two additional vessels on individual cranes that she carries onboard – one is a 22m (73ft) sailboat and the other a 21m(68ft) powerboat!  She was owned y Roman Abramovich but was given to his business partner, Eugene Shvidler in a gamble.


IMG_3347This enormous bronze statue on the waterfront at Cartagena was commisioned to remember the victims of terrorist attacks. 

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Almerimar/Granada/Sierra Nevada 12.4.18–27.4.18

On the 12th April we departed Fuengerola and headed towards Almerimar.  Again along side our good friends Eva & Haken onboard Sally.  We stopped for one night on route in Este, 47 miles along the coast.  A pretty marina but extremely expensive even though we received a ‘free’ bottle of wine!  

IMG_3056Skipper taking a quick nap after the previous days sight seeing!                                                                                           

IMG_3061The next 47 miles to Almerimar were under engine as the wind was almost none existent!  We were very excited to see the amount of snow still remaining on the Sierra Nevada mountains.  Perhaps we could get a few extra days of skiing this year!!! 


Almerimar is ‘Milford in Spain’.  We were looking forward to catching up with those who have departed Milford Marina and now keep their boats in Almerimar.  Ian had recently returned to the UK for a few weeks so unfortunately we didn’t manage to see him, however, Nicky, John & Morgan (SY Senora) and Tom (SY Connor)were all there when we arrived.  We enjoyed our time catching up and sharing tapas and just a few bottles of wine!! 

We had been having trouble with our furling genoa.  On mentioning this to John he recommended a British guy who immediately diagnosed this on the mention of the make of the furling gear.  Apparently there has been an ongoing manufacturing issue and he has replaced a total of 21 with exactly the same problem as us!   Unfortunately the manufacturer will not accept that it is their responsibility in any of the cases reported and therefore we had to pay for a replacement masthead carrier. Over 900 euros!! ouch!!  plus fitting of course.  The item was delivered and fitted within a few days….a well organised operation from start to finish considering we had to take down the forestay whilst Money Penny remained in her Marina Berth.

During our stay,we hired a car and rented an apartment (with Eva & Haken!)in Granada, just an hour and a half away, at the foot of the snow covered Sierra Nevada.  All of our ski equipment and clothing was still in France following our ‘road journey’, but this was not going to stop us.  We would wear our wet weather gear if necessary!  We left early in the morning to drive up to the mountains and arrived at around 10am to glorious, hot, sunshine and plenty of powder snow!  Wet weather gear was certainly not needed as we skied in jeans and thin jackets.  The conditions were perfect (if a bit hot!) and the slopes were extremely quiet.  We even got a chance of some off piste.


At 5pm we returned our hire equipment and made our way down the mountain to Granada.   In the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, Granada is a beautiful city, it’s medieval architecture dating back to Moorish occupation and this can be seen especially in the Alhambra, a huge citadel and palace on a hilltop overlooking the city.  We were unable to get tickets to see the main areas of the fortress but spent time exploring the outside garden areas and the hillside opposite.


Our accommodation was a spacious 2 bedroom apartment within the old walls of the city (not easy to find or get to by car but we had been provided with exceptional directions!).  From there we explored the City on foot, enjoying the architecture of the many buildings including the Cathedral.  We saw street performers, and there were surprises around every corner of the narrow city backstreets.  To sooth our tired feet on our return to the apartment we were even able to take advantage of the onsite spa facilities.  A real bonus when living onboard Money Penny where we are often limited to the amount of water and electricity available!


Our Friends from Pembrokeshire, Karen & Stephen, who visited us earlier in the year in Lagos, were back in their house in Spain.  They joined us again in Almerimar for 2 nights celebrating Stephens birthday.  Whilst they were with us we commandeered both driver and hire car to go in search of a local DIY store.  On our journey to find the Spanish equivalent of a B & Q we travelled through mile upon mile of plastic poly tunnels.  This area is renowned for the production of fruit and vegetables in Spain.  In deed most of Europe's fruit and veg apparently comes from the area.   If you ‘google earth’ Almerimar you can see the massive area of what looks like white snow…..acre upon acre of white plastic which without a doubt gets blown into the sea in extreme weather conditions.  How is this allowed?!  We enjoyed our two days together and thank them for the road trip!

With the blink of an eye Money Penny had spent over 2 weeks in this marina.  The cheapest yet at 10 Euros a night!!! but it was time again to move on!

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Smir to Fuengerola 7.4.18

We finally departed Morocco at 9.15am on the 7th April 2018.  The wind for the 62 mile crossing ranged from 4kts to 30kts but we had the most amazing sail.  The best of our journey so far with a maximum speed of 13.4 knots!  8 hrs to do 62 miles – Money Penny was flying and we were on a high when we arrived in Fuengerola! 

What can I say about Fuengerola? Perhaps I will just say that this was our base for the next few nights, from which we hired a car and saw yet more surprising areas of Spain!


We hired a car along with Hakan and Eva for two days in Fuengerola.  The first day we travelled to Mijas overlooking Fuengerola up in the hills.  This was a pretty little town (if a bit touristy!) with the most fantastic views over Malaga and the surrounding coastline.  Donkey and carts offer tourists a tour of the village .   From Mijas we made our way into the Sierra de las Nieves National Park via winding mountain roads with spectacular views. We stopped off in Ronda, a city set above a deep gorge.  The city dates back to Moorish rule and has a stone bridge spanning the gorge with a lookout affording views down the gorge.  The City also houses an 18th century bullring.


On our way back to the boat we decided to see how ‘the other half’ live and visited Puerto Banus, a luxury marina and shopping complex.  Full of luxury cars and boats.  We took a walk around the port and spent a little time people watching! – No celebrities this time!  - then made our way back to Fuengerola    Ha Ha Ha!!!!


Our second day was spent sightseeing around Malaga.  What a great city!  Included in our day was a trip to the Motor Museum.  This was a real surprise.  They had the car that was used in the film Titanic and next to every car was a display of fashion from the period of the car in question.  Beautiful outfits from times gone by.


We visited the Picasso Museum and also made the trip up to the Castle Gibralfaro which dates back to 770BC and sits on a hill overlooking the City of Malaga.  Some of the stone paving is shown here, amazing considering the age of this ‘patio art’!


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Ceuta & Marina Smir–Morocco–4.4.18

We sailed out of Gibraltar on 4th April and made the 20 mile trip across the Strait to Ceuta.  Ceuta is a Spanish enclave on the North coast of Africa. It is an 18.5 square kilometre city and, as we were unsure whether to take Money Penny to Morocco, we had been told that you could take a trip across the boarder from Ceuta and sample Morocco without all of the ‘red tape’ we had been lead to believe there would be if we sailed there!  We moored up and checked in to the Marina.  The cost for just one night was 49 Euros which was over double what we had been paying in Gibraltar and we were still low season!  We spoke to a British skipper on a boat next to us who told us that Marina Smir in Morocco would not be an issue as far as the ‘red tape’ was concerned and that he would ‘go for it’.   The following day, we did!!!

IMG_2884Our berth in Ceuta next to another Dufour 43 (not the CC version)

Smir was only 13 miles away and when we arrived we were welcomed by a posse of about 12 uniformed dignitaries!  We were directed to the reception pontoon and shown to the office.  28 euros a night!  Yippee!  After checking in to the Marina we were sent to the ‘police & customs’ office next door.  Fred Karnos army springs to mind!  One guy sat behind a desk checking our boat papers and passports whilst the other  sat in the corner eating a large baguette with an indescribable filling before leaving the room to change into what I can only describe as a fancy dress costume….. policeman I think!  Anyway, they were both very pleasant and we were even offered some of the baguette! 

We were then shown to our berth as Sally joined us from Gibraltar.

We had been given information from another member of the UK Cruising Association that there was a guide in Smir who came highly recommended.  ‘He will welcome you on the quay’ were their words – and he did!  He was standing right there as we moored up!!   We booked his services for the following day and were told he would come and collect us (and Hakan and Eva) in a taxi.  We would pay him and the taxi for their services!

The ‘guide’ & the taxi arrived the following morning and we were transported to Tetouan, a city a few miles from the Port of Smir.  It was Friday morning and apparently every Friday the women of the city remain indoors to rest and get ready for the weekly family meal later in the day.  The men collect the ‘bread’ and the children go to school.  We entered the city walls of the ‘old town’ which was like a ghost town. Narrow little streets where the houses are built so close together you can only just see daylight above you.  The doors to the houses were hundreds of years old and decorated in the most ornate fashion with evidence of the 21st century visible.  The photo shows one of the doors with the old and the modern lock.


At mid day the walled city began to come alive.  The children were walking home from school and shops began to open their doors.  At one point a small group of children saw us walking towards them and hid in a doorway until we had passed by.  One in particular looked extremely worried.  Four of us in European dress must have been very strange to these little girls who were used to seeing men and women dressed in djellaba (long loose fitting hooded garments with full sleeves).

IMG_2897The local Carpenter       IMG_2933IMG_2906

There were all types of ‘shops’ along these tiny streets.  One of our photographs shows a carpenter but there were fruit stalls, secondhand stores, hardware stores, fishmongers  and butchers.  The butcher either sold red meat or white meat, never the two together.  There was also a place you could buy your chicken for todays lunch.  They weighed the chicken to check you were happy, before killing it and taking your well earned money!  Distressing to us but a healthy option for them as there was no way of storing these in such heat once they had been killed!

Unfortunately we were caught with the obligatory carpet sale!  Asked if we would like to see a rooftop view we said yes and were taken through a souk (shop/store), up three flights of tiny stairs to look over the rooftops of this amazing walled city, given mint tea and then asked to sit whilst we said ‘no’ to about 50 different carpets & rugs!!!  ‘Why would we need a rug on a boat?’ we kept saying!


We had lunch in a small hotel hidden behind one of the large wooden doors and then were collected by our guide to make the journey back to the Marina.  Outside of the old  walled city was the modern area and on our way out we passed rubbish just dumped along the pathways and in the gutter.  Our guide apologised continually, explaining that it was Friday, Holy day and no one was allowed to work.  The rubbish had been there a lot longer than just a few hours or even days but at the end of the day, the whole experience gave us a view into how different lives can be in this world we live in.

We were hoping to spend another day in Morocco but the weather was closing in and if we didn’t leave ‘tomorrow’ we could be here for a lot longer.  We decided that we should leave for the Spanish mainland the following day.  Checking out of the Marina was not as straightforward as our arrival!   When we visited the Marina office that morning we were confronted by 50 or so men outside the door and then found out that the Marina had changed hands overnight! These men were looking for jobs.  Some of them had been working in the Marina until 7pm the night before and now had no job!  No one knew what was going on.   It took us over two hours to visit the various rooms, talking to staff who had no idea what they were doing but eventually we escaped and began our trip back to mainland Spain.

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It was too far to sail direct from Rota to Gibraltar in a day, so we chose Barbate (40 miles away)as a quick overnight stop.  Unfortunately the weather and wind direction were unkind to us and we remained in Barbate for two nights.  The town was a short bike ride away but was ‘closed’ as the season had not started yet, however we did manage to find one rather nice tapas bar near the Marina and spent a pleasant afternoon with Hakan & Eva where we all sampled the local tapas (and the ale of course!)

On 31st March at 10am we left Barbate and headed for the Straits of Gibraltar.

20180331_15294920180331_152919IMG_2793IMG_2804celebrating in the Straits!

The sail to Gibraltar, alongside Sally, was an exhilarating one.  The currents through the Strait are mainly caused by water of different salinity flowing between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean sea.  The water in the Atlantic is less salty and less dense and therefore flows eastwards into the Med through the Straits on the surface to about 125m deep at a speed of two or three knots.  Add tidal flows of up to 4 knots to this and the flow eastwards can either speed up or slow down depending on the point of the tide at the time.  There are lots of other more complicated factors that cause eddies and back eddies etc but I won’t  bore you with this.  The bottom line is that we sailed through the Straits at between 4.8 & 10.8 knots!


At the entrance to the Port we thought we were back in the Milford Haven Waterway, where at least two very familiar tankers were at anchor. We were very glad we were used to the size and manoeuvres of these huge vessels.  There were a number of yachts getting extremely close to the bows of tankers as they made their way in to the Port.

We were welcomed by two marina operatives (not marineros as we were now in Gibraltar), who helped us moor up in Queensway Marina, (only £21 per night, £’s not Euros), right in the heart of  town.  Our GPS was now reading a total of 3339 miles since leaving the UK!


Despite being just a stone’s throw away from Africa and on the boarders of Spain, this is a British enclave.  It has been fought over by the British and Spanish for centuries and officially decided to remain part of the UK in a referendum on 10th September 1967. The residents of Gibraltar celebrate Gibraltar National Day on that date every year.

During our 4 days in this British enclave, we spent our time getting to know this fascinating place and it’s history.  We cycled around the ‘Rock’ – a 426 meter high limestone rock rising out of the sea - taking in the most fantastic views and visiting the many caves and fortifications used during the many wars (including WW11) and changes of occupation. In the late 18th century Gibraltar had faced fourteen sieges in 500 years! 

We took the cable car to its peak and visited the famous Barbary apes, walking back down to the Marina through the Upper Rock Nature Reserve making the most of the views and attractions on the way down.  St Michael’s Cave, with its stalactites and stalagmites and unique natural auditorium used for concerts, was a welcome break from the heat outside.

We  were running low on baked beans and marmite so a trip to Morrisons was also on the cards!  Try shopping in Morrisons and then cycling a mile or so carrying the shopping…… not an easy feat but worth it!


We thoroughly enjoyed our time here and would recommend it to anyone looking for a short break or, of course, sailing the Med!     NEXT STOP MOROCCO!

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Rota 26.3.18

On the 26th March at 8am we left Ayamonte and headed out towards Rota.  At the entrance to the River we noticed the distinct difference in the colour of the water as the salt water mixed with the fresh water of the river.


Rota is a small town on the Bay of Cadiz, Andalusia.  It is 36 km away from Cadiz by road but only a short ferry ‘hop’ across the water.  We left as the sun was rising on the horizon, in the company of ‘Sally’….Race On!!  The journey of 59 miles took us 10.5 hrs of slow but pleasant sailing.  At one point there were fish jumping all around us with one even bumping it’s head on the side of the hull!…..still the fishing lines remained empty!   Both boats arrived within 10 minutes of each other and were immediately greeted by customs police who were checking our papers before we had even tied up to the ‘welcome’ pontoon!  I think they were in a hurry to get home!

The town had two long sandy beaches either side of the Marina and a cycle path ran along each.  We spent the first day exploring on our bikes with the occasional break for coffee of course! We were surprised by the number of American families enjoying the beaches on Sunday afternoon, but then realised that there was, in fact an American Naval Base on the outskirts of the town.

20180327_11162820180327_124641 20180328_204024

This was Easter Week, Spanish towns were holding daily processions depicting the crucifixion and resurrection.  They were held at various different times of the day from early in the afternoon to 2am.  Rota was no different.  We walked into the town the evening after our arrival and  having enjoyed a meal in a local restaurant where we ordered and enjoyed grilled pulpo (octopus) for the first time, we joined the crowds of people to await the evening procession.


Cadiz is an ancient port city.  It is the home of the Spanish Navy and in the 16th century was a base for exploration and trade.  It has over 100 watchtowers and an 18th century Cathedral.  We had decided to take the ferry across to Cadiz whilst in Rota rather than move Money Penny across the waterway.   We spent the day wandering around the narrow streets which have various different walks that you can follow by coloured lines on the pavements.  Green – Medieval District, Orange – Castles & Bastions, Purple – Shippers to the Indies & Blue – Cadiz Constitution.  I was a great way to see the sights.


We ate lunch in a small ‘street side’ restaurant – in fact there WAS no street as it was taken up my the many restaurants along its way.  We walked out to the Castillo de San Sebastian and also visited the most amazing fish market we have ever seen.  The size of the fish on display were immense. The photograph of the tuna does not do it justice.


The following day we began our trip towards Gibraltar.

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River Guadiana 21.3.18

The night before our departure for the River Guadiana, we helped a boat tie up on a berth alongside Money Penny and realised that Sally had been near us in Marina Lagos when we stopped there in November/December. Her owners, Hakan & Eva (having spent the winter in Lagos) were now continuing their journey too.

At 8am on the 21st March 2018 both boats slipped their lines and continued on with their adventures. 

20180326_151501Sally alongside us.

Ayamonte, on the mouth of the River Guadiana, was our next port.  The River Guadiana is situated on  the border between Portugal & Spain.   The 47 miles from Albufeira to Ayamonte Marina took nine hours under a mix of both sail and motor.  The wind was slight until we reached our destination and were approaching the Berth, but we moored up safely and went to the office to check in.   On the walk to the office we noticed another familiar boat, however this one had been in Milford Marina - Jane G, belonged to Jane & Clive.  Alistair had first met them in August of 2014 when they arrived at Milford Marina on their retunr form a 16 years, 1 month & 2 days circumnavigation of the world.  The press had picked up on the story and Jane & Clive had even featured on morning TV.  We headed down to their pontoon to say hello and ended up spending a couple of hours drinking coffee and chatting about their experiences and then joining them in a local restaurant for Tapas that evening.  Ayamonte was their ‘home port’ for the time being.


Jane & Clive had told us about a festival taking place up river in Alcoutim and Sanlucar.  The villages are opposite each other on the banks of the river (Alcoutim in Portugal & Sanlucar in Spain).  We spent two nights in Ayamonte and then headed upriver to join the festivities.  We sailed the whole way up river passing Questing, Brett & Vicki’s boat, and then anchoring off Alcoutim.  The only drawback was an English couple (who believed they owned the mooring rights to the river) hurrying out to us in their dinghy to inform us that we were far too close to their boat as a storm was approaching (we were at least 50m away!)…….we moved to maintain the status quo, the storm never materialised!!

IMG-20180611-WA0000Questing in the River Guadiana

The festival is a ‘contraband’ festival, celebrating the history of contraband between the two villages & countries.  A temporary floating pontoon across the river gave one access to both villages, with stalls displaying and selling ancient crafts. 


Local people played the part of smugglers, moving back and fore across the floating bridge selling all sorts of things…. from flowers, copperware, ironware and even ‘ladies of the night’ selling their bodies!!!   To cross the bridge you had to pay a Euro for which you received a bandana to prove you’d paid and a number of bands played throughout the afternoon on either sides of the river.


We spent two nights at anchor in the River Guadiana and then made the 9.8 knt, down wind sail, 18.7 mile journey back to Ayamonte Marina passing under the suspension bridge that conects Spain & Portugal.    The following day we departed Ayamonte for Rota – again in the welcome company of Sally.


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Albufeira & The Road Trip - December to March

We arrived in Albufeira on 3rd December 2017 – Flights were booked for the 19th for our return home but we were both ‘ready and waiting’ so we checked out prices for a few days earlier, cleaned and carried out necessary jobs on Money Penny, and departed for Bristol on 12th December.  We were to return by the 5th February 2018 for a month of necessary work both ashore and afloat.

Bikes are a handy addition when you arrive in a marina that is slightly out of the town centre, and we didn’t put these on-board before our departure from the UK.  Throughout Brittany we had not found this a problem because a number of marinas that provide these for hire or free, however, Spain and Portugal are not equipped in the same way.  We had spent time surfing the internet and both purchased folding bikes.  How would we get these out to the boat?   A road trip!!      We decided, that after our UK break ,we would drive back to Albufeira complete with bikes and anything else  we had ‘forgotten’ when we departed Milford Haven!  This also gave us the opportunity to carry antifoul that would have cost 195 EUROS for a 3ltr can in Portugal!

We enjoyed Christmas and New Year with family and friends but all too soon the time to head back was upon us.  Car loaded, complete with fully laden top box, we left Worcester (having spent a night with Judith’s brother) and headed down to the overnight ferry, spent the night in a cabin on-board and then drove from Le Harve to Les Arcs in the French Alpes (536 miles) for a week of snow and skiing.  The conditions were amazing and we ended up staying form 11 days.


From Les Arcs we drove to Chambery and spent the night with some friends who live in a beautiful house just outside Chambery in a village called Bourdeau, overlooking the Lake that those of you who have flown into Chambery on a clear day, will know well.

From Bourdeau we travelled south via the Millau Viaduct to a quick overnight stop in Beziers.  The Millau Viaduct is a cable-stayed bridge that spans the gorge valley of the Tarn River in the Massif Central Mountains.  It is the tallest bridge in the world with one mast’s summit at 343 m above its base.  From day one of our plan to drive back to the boat it was Alistair’s intention to drive across the Millau.  Unfortunately the weather was not the best but….we did it!  


We then followed the coast road, with a stop for lunch in Collioure (a beautiful French village which we intend visiting again on Money Penny), across the boarder, towards Barcelona. An overnight stop in Barcelona with a quick evening tour of the City ‘A la Alistair’!  We would be returning to Barcelona on Money Penny later in the year.



Facebook is ideal for keeping in touch with friends that you don’t always have contact with from one month to the next   We had noticed that Julia & Roger, friends from Pembrokeshire, were travelling in their Camper Van and were along our route in Peniscola (be careful how you pronounce that!).  We managed to contact them and called in for a ‘quick’ catch up and coffee on our way to more friends from Pembrokeshire who are now living near Valencia.

A two night stop in Monserrat, a small village north of Valencia was next on our agenda.  Jenny (a long time friend of Judith’s) and Trevor her new hubby had relocated just over a year previously.  They were kind enough to provide us with fabulous hospitality over the next two days when we did a little sightseeing  in Valencia and basically just enjoyed catching up.


Seville was next.  What a great city!  We managed to free the bikes from the back of the car and explored the city over the next two days before the final leg of our journey over the border to Portugal and Albufeira.

The view from our Hotel in Seville by night!20180131_210356IMG-20180610-WA0006& Day!


During February we worked hard on Money Penny to get her ready for the next stage of her journey.  New antifouling, sail drive seals, replacement anodes and a good spit and polish.  It was a pleasure to be working in the dry and not the cold and wet of East Llanion Yard.  She was out of the water for a total of 5 days.


Once the hard work was over we spent time exploring east of Albufeira . Vicki & Brett, whose boat, Questing was in the Guadiana River, where coming out for a short break, so we arranged to meet them.  In the meantime we had taken a trip to Villamora by road.  Whilst walking around the Marina we came across two Birdy bikes that looked extremely familiar!  On looking down the nearest pontoon we spied Legal Tender, Martin & Pat’s boat!  They had made their way from Baiona and were now moored in Villamora.  We made contact, joined them on board for a drink to catch up on all our news and then arranged for them to join us and Vicki & Brett the following day in Olhao for lunch.


The weather continued to be amazing for the time of year, we were thrilled as Sophie (Judith’s daughter), husband Chris and their two daughters were joining us over February half term.  We had a fantastic week exploring the coast, swimming in the sea (well those that were mad enough!) and again ‘catching up’.  During the week a competition developed between Chris and Alistair.  Firstly, a pool tournament in which Alistair thrashed Chris and culminating in a go-carting race in which Chris obviously had the faster cart!!!


3rd March arrived…….Alison & Neil were joining us for a week.   Oh no!  The weather decided to change! It rained & it rained for most of their stay, the first we had seen all winter!  Two or three days of storms left damage to many areas along the coastline.


We made the most of their visit, touring the area and even spent a night in Lagos Marina Apartments where we met up with Stephen & Karen Oates who drove down from their Spanish home.  Such a shame that the weather wasn’t any kinder.


Judith returned home for a short break to celebrate her youngest grandson’s 1st birthday a few days after Neil & Alison’s departure and then on the 21st March 2018 we said ‘goodbye’ to Albufeira and continued on with our adventure.

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