Tag Archives: Calpe

Calpe to Valencia

Our original plan had been to stop off in Javea, a mere 20 or so miles from Calpe, but we decided to skip that and get back to Valencia early so we could meet with the company doing the work I want to be done on the boat and have time to discuss it.   

Ifach from the north
Ifach from the north

So, we set off from Calpe on Sunday morning, bound for Gandia, under almost cloudless skies and were immediately under sail, south around Ifach and then north east towards Cabo de la Nao.   As soon as we cleared Ifach we had 20 to 25 knot northerly winds which had us sailing as close to the wind as we could at a quite impressive 6 knots with one reef in the main sail.

Tacking towards Cabo de la Nao
Tacking towards Cabo de la Nao

As the morning progressed the wind shifted clockwise, known as veering, to the north east.   This was exactly where we wanted to go and so as the wind was still strong enough to sail I practiced tacking back and forth in an attempt to make Cabo de la Nao.  The wind helped a little as it continued to veer which allowed us to sail more towards the ‘Cabo’.   Unfortunately, just as it got to a nice easterly direction and we could turn to head north west, the wind dropped away so we had to use the engines to help keep our speed up.

But the weather was still fine, cloudless blue skies and almost perfect visibility.   We could see the top of Ibiza as we passed Cabo de la Nao some 50 miles away to the east.

As the afternoon progressed the wind continued to veer and slowly increase to a healthy 15 knots, unfortunately from dead astern of us.   By this time we were looking at getting into Gandia at about 7 pm and although from a purists point of view we should have had the main sail and cruising chute up and been running down wind on a series of broad reaches this would have delayed our arrival, and Valeria was making more Bacalhao …… the sails remained down and the engine remained on and we arrived by 6.30 and were all tied up and cooking by 7! 

The forecast for Monday was good for us.  The wind started from north of east in the morning before becoming easterly and then more south easterly and building to 15 knots.   We left Gandia mid morning in gentle 9 or 10 knot winds from the east but in a very lumpy, confused sea left over from the winds of the day before.   With the winds being relatively light every time we slid off a wave the sails would bang, we were literally having the wind knocked out of them, and so we made a rather less than comfortable 2 or 3 knots towards Valencia; but with all day to cover 30 miles we were going to sail.

As forecast the wind veered towards the south east and increased and as they became established the seas followed suit and by mid afternoon we were doing 5 or 6 knots in a 12 to 14 knot wind from just behind us.   This gave me a chance to ‘test’ the cruising chute on this point of sail; unsuccessfully as the wind was not far enough behind us.   The chute worked but it didn’t give us any more speed than the plain sails alone, so we dropped it again. Good to know though.   With the sea a little less lumpy Valeria did some preparation for tonight’s dinner and we had sandwiches for lunch.

The weather for the whole day was fine and sunny, although a little cold in the wind.   Visibility was excellent again but the coast line north of Cabo de la Nao is rather flat and featureless as opposed to the magnificent cliffs to the south, in fact the entire coast seems to be one long line of buildings from the Cabo de la Nao to Valencia and beyond!    But as we got closer to Valencia we could see the familiar building in the City of the Arts as soon as they peered over the horizon.   

We arrived back in Valencia a 6.30, checked in and were put back on the same berth we left a couple of weeks back.  We then went through our, now well established end of day routines as I tidied up the sails and ropes and put away binoculars and radios and life jackets while Valeria made dinner.

And so we are now back in Valencia and plan to leave the boat here until the end of July while we return to the UK.  While here we intend to have some more adaptations done to the boat, primarily opening up the deck in the starboard fore peak (old floor in the sharp end on the right hand side) so it can be used as a sail and rope locker and we are going to invest in a gangway; it was either that or crampons!   By July we should then be fully equipped to tackle our exploration of the Med …… apart from the extra sail I want ……

Two days in Calpe

Calpe has been inhabited on and off since the Bronze age.   It occupies an area of strategic importance  on a route through the mountains and so merited fortification by its various inhabitants, Roman, Moorish and Spanish. Being close to the coast raids by Barbary Pirates were common and apparently in 1687 290 residents were taken to Algeria by said pirates and held for ransom for 5 years!   Fishing took off in the 19th century and tourism in the 20th.   There are still traces of old Calpe in the town but not much. 

DSC_0115The area around Calpe is heavily built up but still quite picturesque.   On Friday we had a leisurely morning on board then went for a walk.   Our first port of call was a salt lake close by which is the home to flamingos; not so many now as the town has surrounded the area completely but it was cool to see flamingos in such and urban setting.  

Penon de Ifach from Les Bassetes
Penon de Ifach from Les Bassetes

From there we walked 3 or so miles north along the coast to Les Bassetes, you may remember us sailing south passed this place the week before.   We walked along to the Reial Club Nautico de Les Bassetes, a grand title for a minute ‘harbour’.   It is the base for a couple of small sail and motorDSC_0093 boats and a local Diving Centre and having seen the waters from above I can see the attraction of diving here.  

Rock pool at the end of the Les Bassetes breakwater
Rock pool at the end of the Les Bassetes breakwater

We had tapas and a beer in the Club Nautico, with an audience, before walking back along the costal path which runs for almost the entire distance and it is very pretty. 

Reial Club Nautico de Les Bassetes
Reial Club Nautico de Les Bassetes

On Saturday we walked the opposite direction, west towards the centre of Calpe making for the reconstructed remains of the fort at the top of the town.   Another 3 miles or so, and a lot of it up hill.  

14th Century walls of Calpe
14th Century walls of Calpe
Streets in old Calpe
Streets in old Calpe
DSC_0130
The Spanish Steps, Calpe Style.
Nice mural, but wheres the way out?
Nice mural, but where is the way out?

DSC_0137You may be surprised to hear that we found a Tapas Bar for some light refreshments before heading back, down hill, to the sea front before walking back along the promenade to the marina.  We spent the rest of the afternoon on board chillin’, reading, blogging etc before getting a cab to Benissa, a town in the hills about 15 km above Calpe, for a religious festival, another flower offering.

DSC_0144Benissa is a modern town centred around the church in the town square, and it is a very impressive church to, apparently relatively modern.   The festival was another parade of folks in local costume bringing flowers to the church for a picture of the saint to be decorated.   We had a bite to eat and watched the processions and then the decorating but decided not to wait until 12.30 for the fireworks.   Unfortunately we’d been well and truly spoiled by the ‘Valencia Experience’!   DSC_0160All the same it was really good to see people of all ages so immersed in their local culture.   We got a cab back and waited up until the fireworks began as we would have had a ring side seat from the back of the boat.  Unfortunately the clouds had come down and it even rained slightly so although we heard them we couldn’t see the fireworks.

 

Torrevieja to Calpe

We left Torrevieja just before 9 with 55 miles to cover to reach Calpe, which doesn’t sound a lot but when your speed is only 5 knots that is 11 hours, not taking into account the time taken to get out of one port and iDSC_0054nto another which can add an hour to your day.   We set off in a moderate westerly breeze on our port beam (left hand side) reaching 15 knots, which gave us 5.5, sometimes 6 knots over the ground, so with sails set and engines off we glided north east along the coast.

shot003

Navigation is now all electronic, paper charts, pencils and parallel rules are just so last century!  I do have them but they are in a glass fronted case labelled ‘In case of emergency break glass’.   This is a screen shot from the Helm Station display.  The chart is the easy bit to identify, the triangles are other ships with AIS transponders.   Top right is the ‘Sail Steer’ display, it is cut down to fit on this screen but shows basic wind information and the bottom right section is the Auto pilot display.    The right hand ‘margin’ remains present on all displays and shows Auto pilot details, SOG and COG details; that is Speed over the Ground and Course over the Ground, the boat’s sat-nav position, depth and time, the bottom grey section is of vital importance as it displays the input for the ‘car radio’.

shot004Our route took us north passed Santa Pola and the island of Tabarca, although by this point the wind had dropped off to a mere 5 knots and so to keep up the speed we were running one engine as well as the main sail and jib.

Cabo de Santa Pola to port
Cabo de Santa Pola to port
Isla Tabarca to starboard
Isla Tabarca to starboard

 

 

 

 

 

But ….. once clear of Tabarca with the wind building slowly to 14 knots from behind us it was time to swop the engine for the cruising chute and do some proper down wind sailing.

DSC_0070

The wind continued to build and within the hour we dropped the chute and continued under main sail and jib and were reaching speeds of over 7.5 knots in 22 knot winds as we passed Cap de l’Horta.  

shot005

This is the full Sail Steer screen, True and Apparent Wind speeds and angles to the left, Waypoint information to the right and the green and red sectors show where we can and cannot sail, the green spot is Calpe and just inside our no go down wind area.   That was fine as I wanted to ensure we had plenty of sea room as we went passed the cliffs north of Benidorm. 

Within 2 hours we were ‘screaming’ up towards Benidorm touching 8.5 knots in 25 knots of wind from astern.

shot008

As we passed the Isla de Benidorm we took one reef in the main sail which only slowed us down to 6.5 to 7 knots.   As we progressed north the wind kept moving around to the south, meaning that as we got closer to Calpe the wind was almost dead astern, a point we can’t sail.   Ordinarily we could have ‘gybed’ or changed course to put the wind on the other side and sailed a northerly course into the bay before changing course again to put the wind back where it was to approach Calpe, this DSC_0073would have added time to our day and we wanted to get there before dark, and, so we dropped the sails and motored directly for the last few miles, which as it turned out was the only actual way of getting there as the wind suddenly died away again and we arrived off the entrance to Calpe at 7, after only a 10 hour passage.

Calpe is a small marina run by another Royal Yacht Club.   As in Altea they don’t use floating pontoons but jetties on concrete posts and again getting on and off the boat a real mountaineering exercise, with a water obstacle.   We have decided that we need a gangway.

Once secure on our berth I went and ‘booked in’, Registration, Insurance and Passports, and then came back and tidied up the deck, covering the sail, coiling lines, stowing the cruising chute and packing away life jackets and safety lines, while Valeria made dinner – Bacalhau com Natas – Salt Cod and potatoes in a cream sauce.   Boca Nervosa de novo.      I say made, but that doesn’t take into account the preparation, all of which Valeria did while we were approaching Calpe as I was just sitting up on deck with the wind in my hair, through the vents in my Tarp Hat, obviously.  We ended our evening watching the rest of a film we’d started in Torrevieja and then turned in, quite tired in fact.