Estepona is our old hometown: we lived there for a few years before we came up with our boat plan. For that reason it was very nice to make this our first stop. We had several people to meet and say goodbye to and had a few jobs left to do (sell our car, check our mailbox etc.). Although the engine was working, the temperature was going up significantly with higher revs. Jon thoroughly cleaned the heat exchanger and replaced the exhaust elbow in the hope that that would keep it consistently cooler.
The wind was still from the East (the wrong direction), and would stay like that for the next few days. We decided to leave for Fuengirola on Wednesday the 14th because this was a day with very little wind and very little waves, so at least we would minimise it working against us.
Testing the engine
In a way it was good to have very little wind because it meant we would be going on the engine for a long period of time. This would show if it was still reliable and also if it would behave itself temperature wise. We prepared everything the night before so we could leave at 9am. We were sent off by James, a friend of ours who made some video footage of us leaving (hopefully we’ll be able to get it off him soon and put it up on the site).
As expected the sea was very flat and we had very little wind. Still, it took an hour or two before we settled in to the trip and managed to relax a little bit. Although it was such calm weather, Puddles seemed a bit more nervous than on the previous trip and she was most of the time sitting in a corner staring at the floor so we decided to bring her up in the cockpit – always with the life vest on, which actually also makes it very easy to pick her up by the handle, just like a handbag.
The engine was consistently on 89.9 degrees. A bit suspicious that not even the decimals changed over time and also the smoke coming from the exhaust was white-ish. So although it was working, we were still not 100% happy with it. But at least we were making good speed with an average of over 5 knots (about 10 km/h).
Practice makes perfect
About half way in the trip we saw some dolphins! They didn’t stay close to the boat for very long, but we did get a glimpse of a mother and child on our starboard side. During an hour we saw them jumping up at various locations, but mostly quite far away. At some point we saw something floating in the distance, at first sight it looked like a bird but it turned out to be a dead baby dolphin 🙁 .
As it was so quiet we decided after lunch to play around with the sails a bit, to practise hoisting and reefing. It was a first time for me to hoist the mainsail on my own. Ok, for the last bit I needed some added manpower in the form of Jon pulling the main halyard at the mast because it was getting too hard. Even trying to winch the halyard up did not work properly as it kept slipping. But apart from that, it was a great opportunity to talk through the function of the various lines and understanding and seeing how each of them needs to be manipulated in order to raise the sail. We also put in a reef. Obviously not because it was so windy! We had struggled a bit before understanding the single line reefing mechanism: every time we hoisted the main, the reef lines would be too tight and holding the sail back. I think the main thing is to not pull in the reef lines when lowering the sail but leaving them out and put the lose lines in the sail bag. Then when you raise the sail you don’t have to pull the reef lines through.
All in all it was pretty hard work (for us newbies at least): using your brain to understand what you were doing, pulling lines, walking up and down the boat and all of that in 30+ degrees heat. The last leg of the trip all three of us sat behind the wheel, under the bimini to get some shade. I don’t understand boaters who do not have some kind of shade cover in the cockpit. You get seriously burnt alive in the Med in the summer.
It’s a shame we don’t have a dedicated cameraman with us because the arrival was pretty spectacular but we were too focused on getting in to the marina to grab our camera. Fuengirola is a pretty populair tourist town and on the beach they have various activities such as jet ski rental and parasailing. One of the parasailing boats, with a couple flying on the parachute behind it, came really close up to us. Jon was really worried they would crash into our mast! I like to think people in general know what they are doing, but I’ve been proven wrong before so it would not be unthinkable that the parasailing crew were not actually paying attention to us at all. Luckily they passed without even getting dangerously close.
We were now close to the marina so I called them on the VHF (first time for me using the VHF for real!). We were directed to pontoon 3, berth 185. While we were keeping an eye out for a waving marinero, a propellor plane approached us and pulled up right over our heads! I have no idea if there is a little airstrip close to the marina, or whether the pilot was just having a bit of fun. Again we docked stern to and apart from passing the line from the inside of the cockpit instead of the outside (ay ay ay, that happened to me lots of times during the course as well. I am sure I’ll learn eventually) we docked pretty easily.