After a leisurely walk along the prom in Malaga and with fresh bread, fruit and veg purchased, we left the marina at about 11:30 am on Friday morning with a plan to sail towards Motril.
We would have liked to stay in Malaga longer as there's so much to see and do, but we had to press on as we had arranged to be in Javea by the 10th May to meet up with Glen and Claire (my brother and sister in law) and spend a few days with them.
As we set off, it was a beautiful sunny day with just a hint of wind to tease us. It was the complete opposite of what we'd had the previous day and was one of those days where you needed plenty of sunscreen, sunglasses and hat.
We planned to try and get as far as Motril, but knew that it would be a bit of a challenge to get that far in daylight as we'd left Malaga later than planned. We also had to top up on fuel, so after an interesting exchange with a marinero in Puerto Candado (he spoke no English and my Spanish was limited to Google translate) I somehow managed to arrange for us to enter the marina for fuel. As it turned out, he was a lovely mature gentleman who was very helpful and very patient with our limited Spanish. We've found that it goes a long way if you at least try to speak to people in their own language!
Anyway, suitably fuelled up, we headed out of the marina and set our course. With a westerly wind, we had a full yankee and first reef main set as 'donkey's ears' (Orejas de Burro in Spanish) or 'goose winged' to you English and headed due east at 90 degrees. The sky was clear and a beautiful shade of blue, the sun was high and strong, the sea was slight and there was a steady breeze. Perfect sailing for us and Offbeat.
By 13:00 we realised that we weren't going to make Motril before nightfall, so revised our plan to head for a small anchorage west of La Mona, which was 26 nautical miles away.
By 14:00 the wind had died and we were only doing 2.5 knots under sail, so we put the engine on to help us along. But, within the hour, the sea breeze had kicked in so we turned the engine off and once again enjoyed a quieter sail.
On we sailed, absorbing the beautiful scenery, the peace and tranquillity and the glorious sunshine. I have to admit that on days like this, I absolutely love sailing and just wish that every day could be under these conditions but, you have to take the good with the bad.
At some point in the afternoon, the wind died again, so on went the engine again. We were feeling a bit sulky about having our beautiful sail interrupted when we noticed an amazing sight.
We were just east of Cala Barranco del Maro, which is a creek outside of Nerja when in the middle of the adjoining rock face we saw the extraordinary sight of a waterfall, gushing out into the sea. Unfortunately we weren't close enough to get a decent photo, but it certainly lifted our spirits.
With just under an hour left to reach our planned anchorage and reflecting on what a brilliant sailing day it had been, I casually asked why don't we just carry on and sail through the night. Mark immediately caught onto the suggestion as we knew the weather would be kind and we would make great progress on our journey towards Javea.
So, with the decision made that we would turn our leisurely 7 hour journey into an overnight sail, Mark undertook the checks needed to make sure Offbeat was in good shape. With engine, gearbox, fuel and lights checked, we set a course towards Almerimar, Roquettas or even Almeria.
During our journey along the southern coast of Spain, we had seen the Sierra Nevada teasing us with glimpses of mountain peaks. As we rounded Punta de la Mona, we were greeted with another amazing sight. Not only was the Sierra Nevada in full sight, but six of her peaks were still covered in snow. It seemed incredible, there we were in shorts and tshirts, looking at snow covered mountain peaks.
It was turning into a day that just kept giving!
By 20:00 hours, after we had supper, Mark raised the foresail to third reef and tightened to a central position to reduce the rolling that was being caused by a slight swell. He then undertook checks for night sailing, ensuring deck equipment was all secured.
On we sailed into a beautiful sunset, the first one of the year out at sea. The nightfall was equally beautiful, with a clear star studded sky, calm waters, no other boats in sight and a phosphorescence sea. If you haven't seen phosphorescence from a boat, Google it, it's breathtaking
By midnight the wind was dead ahead of us, so Mark had to furl the foresail away and increase the engine revs to maintain our speed of 5 knots. I had gone off watch by this time, having a couple of hours rest before taking over from Mark so I missed the dolphins coming to play with Offbeat in the phosphorescent water, but Mark said it was a spectacular sight.
The rest of the night sail was quite uneventful and by 06:00, with the dawn of a new day we were feeling quite pleased with ourselves.
We were at the point of heading into Almeria but wondered how far away we were from the next marina. We knew that we would need more fuel so I checked our options. If we rounded Cabo de Gata, there was a small marina at San Jose where we could fuel up and then continue further up the coast to Garrucha.
As the sun rose over the horizon, everything in its path had a glow of pink to it, including the last sighting of the snow covered Sierra Nevada. Until this day, I had never appreciated how spectacular this mountain range was and the sheer length and height of its mountains.
The coastline from Cabo de Gata to San Jose took our breath away. Our photos could never do justice to the spectacular colours and rock formation and whilst it took us over 3 hours to reach San Jose, there was more than enough scenery to keep us occupied.
We finally reached San Jose under motor at around 13:15. As we rounded the corner into this very small marina which is largely a local fishing port with some spare berths, we were overwhelmed by the sight. In Mark's word, recorded in our log book, 'the port is astonishingly pretty and set in a stunningly beautiful bay, surrounded by astounding geology'.
Needless to say, nearly 26 hours after we set off for a 7 hour journey we didn't go any further that day.