We did not engage much with Fuengirola: it looked like a typical Costa del Sol town with restaurants geared towards the tourists and a host of karaoke bars near the marina. This wasn’t really a problem though, as we soon got into a sort of routine doing boat and other jobs in the morning, including quite a few conversations with the neighbours. On our starboard side was an English chap who arrived a little bit after us and had impressed us with his totally relaxed and seemingly effortless mooring despite being single handed. On our port side we had 2 Belgian guys who were a little bit surprised when I greeted them in Dutch but were soon chatting away in Flemish. They were staying in Fuengirola for a few months doing mostly day-trips to places nearby. It really helps to hear the experiences and opinions of other sailors, especially when finding out much of the time our fellow sailors are hitting similar snags to us and other sailors also may not have it all figured out.
At the end of the afternoon we would go to the beach to cool off a bit. Summer had arrived with a vengeance and it was over 30 degrees with very little wind. There were beaches on either side of the marina and they were all very well kept. Later in the evening I would walk the dog. There was no point really to take her out during the day because she doesn’t last long in the heat and ends up breathing like an asthma-patient resulting in some strange looks from passers by.
To anchor or not to anchor?
The engine continued to be on Jon’s mind so he continued with some further treatments to flush out the cooling system. We really had no reason to stay in Fuengirola much longer and it looked like the weather was not going to change over the next few days anyway, so we decided to head up the coast on Saturday. Initially we were quite ambitious and aimed for an achorage near Almuñecar. This would be a long trip: over 50 miles, and we would have to leave early, like 7am. However, looking at the weather on Friday night, Jon noticed that the wind would be picking up later in the morning and should become about 25 knots in the afternoon. As the wind direction would be straight into our bow it could be a challenge to do such a long distance. So instead, we decided to leave a bit later and go to a marina at about 30 miles distance: Caleta de Vélez, a bit past Malaga. It would have been nice to anchor for the first time but no doubt we would have more than enough opportunities later.
Despite the forecast, wind was virtually non-existent the entire trip, except for the last hour or so when it blew from the wrong direction – typical! So yes, it was another day of motoring. The engine was still consistently on 89 degrees except for when we upped the revs a bit when it went to 90. There’s still some white smoke as well, so Jon’s not finished obsessing over it yet. Luckily it did continue to do its job without any problems. In fact, it was a relatively uneventful journey. We already seem to be getting a lot more confident in leaving the marina and settling into the journey. There was very little to see underway, so we entertained ourselves with issues such as: what would happen to the display when we reached 100 meters of depth as the display was not big enough for 3 digits (the font gets a bit smaller to fit 3 digits 🙂 ).
A hidden gem
When we called the marina office entering Caleta de Vélez marina, they told us to go to the visitor’s dock. Initially we thought they meant the fuel dock right at the entrance but a quick look in the almanac showed it was a little bit further in, and yes, there was a marinero waving at us. I quickly fixed a line on the bow so we could berth alongside. There were a few other boats going in and out of the marina so we had to slowly turn around to approach the visitor’s quay. Meanwhile the marinero was saying something to us and gesturing towards the further end of the marina but we could not quite make out what he was saying. Once we got a bit closer I could hear him better and in a short conversation in a mix of Spanish and English, he told us to radio the office again. So we did, and this time they told us to go to pontoon B, position 30. They probably wanted to save us the hassle of mooring at the visitor’s dock, which was nice. It was not so clear where pontoon B was though. Although there were some signs at the end of the pontoons, the writing was too small for me to to be able to read them. Luckily we could keep an eye on the marinero, and sure enough he walked to the far end of the marina and gestured us to come there. There was some confusion about exactly which berth to go in, Captain Jon made use of his manoeuvring skills (Goodvibes handles beautifully) which went very smoothly despite the last minute chopping and changing before we collapsed in a puddle of sweat (it was around 5pm, the hottest time of the day, and there was no wind whatsoever in the marina), we were tied up and in our ‘home’ for the next few days.
We use an app called ActiveCaptain to read reviews of marina’s and anchorages by other sailors. One of them called Caleta de Veléz a ‘hidden gem’ and so far we have to agree with them. It looks like the marina is subsidised by the regional government of Andalusia and it doesn’t look like it gets a lot of casual visitors. The office ran out of access cards for the gates to the pontoons so the man kindly gave us his own, personal one! There are a few cafe’s near the marina, and right behind it is the main street of the town. On our second day, we found a local place that caters for tourists (they advertised ‘english breadfast’) where we had breakfast for both of us for less than € 10. And Jon was extremely happy that the local Coviran (supermarket) was open on Sunday morning so he could buy 4 bottles of vinegar to flush the engine cooling system some more. All in all, a nice place to spend a few days enjoying the beach.