San Jose to El Portus
Once we'd settled in to our berth, we spent the afternoon pottering around on Offbeat, checking everything was still ok and getting ready for the next stage of our journey. We knew that we had a small window of opportunity to get along the eastern coast of Spain, as strong northerly winds were forecast in the next few days.
We still couldn’t quite grasp that we had come the length of the Costa del Sol in two sails, but knew we had to keep the momentum going. So, having checked Offbeat and the forecast we decided to leave San Jose on Sunday afternoon and sail through the night towards Mazarron as it was going to take about 16 hours and it's always better to leave and arrive in daylight.
Decision made, we treated ourselves to a lovely meal out at a nearby restaurant, shared a bottle of wine and slept like new born babies!
Sunday morning we had a wander into town. There wasn’t much to the town, but it had a lovely feel about it as the locals bustled around doing their thing, with families sitting in cafes enjoying the sun and life in general. The beach was set in a bay and was beautiful golden sand, lined with trees and had a few hardy sun worshippers on it.
Shopping done, we headed back to the marina but not before we had coffee. We were sitting in a cafe overlooking the beach, shaded with large umbrellas when a big drama unfolded. Unfortunately as a group of mature locals came walking along, the wind caught one of the umbrellas and it went hurtling towards them, taking tables and chairs with it. The look of horror on their faces as they all shot off in different directions was quite funny (I know, I have a very sick sense of humour).
The commotion that followed was really entertaining and you can imagine the noise level as more and more people got involved, expressing their opinion. The poor waiter hurriedly collapsed all the other umbrellas and put them inside. When it became clear that there wasn't going to be any complimentary brandies to steady their nerves, the crowd started disperse and the waiter reappeared.
Drama and entertainment over, we headed back to the marina to get ready for our next journey.
We set off from San Jose at 17:00 with a promise to ourselves to return and explore the beautiful rugged headlands that we had seen when we arrived.
We left the marina and headed north up the coast towards Mazarron. The weather was beautiful and sunny, with a strong easterly wind and a nasty swell right on our bows.
After a bit of a struggle (and a lot of foul language from Mark standing at the mast), we got the sails up and appreciated the dramatic landscape of the other side of Cabo de Gata.
As night approached we counted off the quaintly named headlands: Punta Higuera (Fig Tree Point without a tree to be seen); Punta del Barranco Negro (Black Canyon Point); Punta Polacra (Polish Point); Punta Chumba (I get knocked down, but I get up again, they’re never gonna keep me down); Punta Media Neranja (Half Orange Point); Punta de los Muertos (Dead Men's Point). What?! You don’t want to be hearing that as you head into the gloom of the night with the waves knocking you around and the wind moaning in the rigging.
Anyway, nothing much happened as we pushed on northwards during the night across the Golfo de Vera towards our destination. The wind dropped and the engine went on and we took it in turns to sleep for two hours and then steer for two hours while the other one slept.
The sunrise was a different story. As the sun started to rise from beneath the horizon, the clouds started to peel away from the horizon. The result was a stunning sunrise, the likes of which we’d never seen before.
At breakfast we were in sight of Mazarron and discussed whether to stop there or carry on further along the coast. We decided that we were feeling fine for a few hours more and changed our course towards Cartegena, which Mark particularly wanted to visit.
On the way he spotted on the chart a tiny little circular cove called Cala Cerrado which is a nature reserve in the Sierra de la Muela and said we should pop in and take a look.
We approached a huge cliff nervously as there was no sign of a gap in the rocks. Then about 100 metres from the cliff a gap opened up that was only about 20 metres wide. We tentatively went in it and found this magical little cove, just big enough for Offbeat to turn around in. We spent a lovely ten minutes going in small circles, soaking in the atmosphere and taking photographs.
Just as we were leaving, a nature reserve patrol boat entered the cove. It approached us very slowly as if to say “Oi! What are you up to? You can’t stay here you know. And I hope you left the place tidy”!
On we motored for another hour or so, just absorbing and appreciating the beauty of the coastline. By now, neither of us wanted to spend a night in a marina especially when there were so many pretty anchorages set in scenic bays, so instead of going into Cartagena we dropped anchor at El Portus, which is part of the same nature reserve and sat back to appreciate the surroundings.