Letting go of the lines for 2017

170329 7 The elusive roller arrives170328 6 Chris and Andrew Cartagena

Regardless of how long you have been cruising I am sure it is the same for everyone. There is a yearning to get going and start cruising and to discover new places. But there is also a level of reluctance to let go of the lines and let go of what has become a comfortable haven. For us like many harbours that we have spent time in at the beginning of a season we had become settled in the community. We knew where our favourite produce could be brought from, parts secured and the people of the marina had become friends. But it was now late March, Katherine was anti fouled, that elusive tender roller system was finally delivered and Chris our eldest son had arrived from Canada - it was time to cast off the lines.

170330 1 Sailing Cartagena to Alicante Chris

That said we could not set sail without first giving Chris a very quick tour of Cartagena a city we look forward returning to at the end of this cruising season. With its Roman ruins scattered throughout the city from Amphitheatres to Roman Baths, the vista from the lookout in the centre of the old town out to sea, numerous Tapa bars it was a great introduction to Spain. Add to that the bonus of Chris meeting the Schaiter family who had looked after Katherine during the winter and the delicious Apple Studel cooked to the Austrian Tradition by Beate for our departure it certainly was a gastronomic start to Chris’s cruising holiday with us. 

Our first run from Cartagena to Alicante was around 75 nautical miles north east passing holiday towns such as Benidorm. We headed out at 7am to the well wishes of the Schaiter family, which was greatly appreciated but I'm not sure I'd been so keen to give up my warm blankets in the early morning chill. Our early start rewarded us with a beautiful sunrise and light winds carried us throughout most of the day, until they completely died out and a thick sea fog settled in. Our new radio handset in the fog proved to have an added bonus as we discovered we now have a fog horn with gusto. 

Katherine in the harbour of Alicante

170401 2 Drive day with Chris Calpe Harbour170401 10 Drive day with Chris Guadalest170401 20 Sunset Castillo DE Santa Barbara Alicante Chris

In Alicante we moored alongside a Discovery 67 by the name of Rhiann Marie. Onboard were owners Trish and  Stewart who had circumnavigated a few years ago and were now using Alicante as their current base whilst  returning home to Stornaway for work commitments. Such a small world it is when you can neighbour in a harbour thousands of miles from the Outer Hebrides and discuss the best black pudding from a local butcher, that turns out to be a good friend of theirs. And then of course there is the infamous Digby Chick Restaurant. Our ownly disappointment was that we could not join them on their bike rides. They had a Triumph based in Alicante that they had ridden down from Scotland and were using for land touring. Now that would be our ultimate setup. 

So instead of a bike we hired a small car that we used to do a drive day along the Spanish coastline to Marina Greenwich in search of a Chandlery store, then inland to the mountain village of Castell de Guadalest. Putting in no motorways or toll roads on our gps on route to Guadelest saw us negotiating some rather interesting single lane roadways with dramatic drop offs and views. The remains after successive earthquakes in 1644 and 1748 of the castle and the old town are accessed through a single tunnel carved into the rock. The Belfry of the church sits precariously on top of a rock face and is visible for miles. The castle remains provided a scenic view of the Guadalest dam used for water supply and the surrounding mountains. It was a certainly worth the drive to show Chris a little bit of inland Spain.  

170403 4 On anchor Penyal d'lFac Sunset Katherine

Back in Alicante we had each night the view of the Castillo De Santa Barbara under lights. The castle accessed on foot by its many stairs provided a great daily walking route and a very pretty spot from which to enjoy the sunset. That is if you could get out of the brisk wind! Along the water front is the Esplanade De Espana, lined with palm trees and tiled in such a manner that it gives the elusion of depth and distortion. Not something that would be good to contemplate after a few cervecas.

After four nights in Alicante we headed off to anchor in the bay off Puerto De Calpe. We stayed two nights on anchor here testing the paddle boards, giving the dinghy a good run, appreciating the new roller system for its deployment and enjoying the sunsets with the limestone rock formation Penyal d’lfac as the backdrop.

The final sail for Chris was into the harbour of Valencia, Spains third largest city and home of course to the Valencia Orange. We had last been here in to  2010 for the MotoGP. We opted to stay in the Americas Cup or Marina Real Juan Carlos 1. The marina is in a great location just a short walk to the beach lined with restaurants, the Marina being one that really impressed us both for its food, service and beach view. 

Riding Jardines del Rio Turia Valencia

170407 4 Cycle day with Chris Valencia170407 10 Chris Valencia stepping out for dinner

We hired a bike, having only two onboard, and spent one day riding into the old town of Valencia along the Jardines del Rio Turia. It is a 10km strip of gardens, walkways and cycle pathways formed on what was once a river. Five impressive buildings feature along the route making up what is called the Ciutat de Les Arts le de les Ciences or the City of Arts and Sciences. The buildings include a Music Conservatorium, Aquarium, an Imax Cinema and amazing science museum. They are simply visually impressive.

It was great having Chris onboard for two weeks but it was time for him to head home to Australia and for us to prepare for the arrival of our next guests onboard Katherine. 

It certainly is shaping up to be a busy year for visitors.

(For more photos click here)

© SV Katherine 2018      Cover Photo: Katherine on Anchor Isle Tabarca Spain