Regaining Our Sea Legs

Written by Pieter Jan on Nov 24, 2019 — 3 min read

From: Alicante, Spain
To: Gorguel bay, Spain

At last, the storm had passed and we could leave. Just when we were about to go, another yacht came in to moor right behind us. Not on my watch! I quickly moved to help them moor as far away from us as possible, to give us plenty of room to get away from the lee shore(the shore where the wind is blowing to, a dangerous place to be for a sailboat).

Then it was just a matter of a good briefing beforehand, waiting until the wind fell a bit, turning Vite & Rêves’ bow against a fender and go full speed backwards, away from the pontoon. The crew on the other boat nodded approvingly, or so I imagine, busy as I was trying not to hit all the expensive targets around us.

The wind was excellent. 20 to 30 knots from over land — small waves! — and on the beam(the side of the boat). I went in with full sails, but had to put a reef(make the sail smaller by rolling it in or lowering it a bit) in the main because the autopilot couldn’t handle the pressure. When it gets overwhelmed, it just quits, protesting loudly with angry beeps. I apologized — I really want to keep on good terms with the autopilot — and balanced the sails a little better.

It was another fast run. After a week of growing roots in a harbor, it felt very lively to be on the water again. Vite & Rêves obviously enjoyed the free rein, whooshing over 10 knots regularly.

We passed the former pirate and later prison island of Tabarca. It rises only 15 meter above sea level and looks from a distance like a miniature Venice.

Illa de Tabarca
Illa de Tabarca

We continued along the coast. The sun set behind the mountains under a few thin clouds that looked like glowing gashes in the sky. We sailed on into the night.

At last, another sunset!
At last, another sunset!

The wind fell once we rounded cape Palos. Our ETA(estimated time of arrival) to Cartagena went up from 22:30 to 01:00. I checked the charts and found a little protected bay not too far away. Rather than arrive at night in an unknown harbor, we elected to anchor in Gorguel bay. Anchoring is less stressful than mooring when the night is pitch black and it’s too late to count on someone to help with the lines.

The entrance to the bay was almost completely obstructed by yellow flashing lights. Special purpose buoys. I stayed out of the area between them, a good call as we found out the next day. We almost hit a huge unlighted buoy that was nearly on the beach in the bay. Luckily Barbara spotted it just in time. We anchored without a problem. I like sandy bottoms, I cannot lie.

A mysterious, brightly lit vessel appeared between the special purpose buoys and did mysterious things for a while, its engines thumping in the night. It looked very big and very close with all those lights, illuminating the sea around and below. Barbara feared they were pirates coming to abduct the children, but I went to bed unconcerned. Probably aliens abducting the marine wildlife.