First time at anchor: Caleta de Velez to Almuñecar

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It was time to move on again because we wanted to get to Almerimar, near Almeria, to get Goodvibes hauled out so we could put on new antifouling and check some other bits and pieces under the waterline. Tuesday looked like a good day to leave Caleta de Velez: a bit of swell and a bit of wind. However on Tuesday morning we decided that Wednesday would actually be even better: there would still be some wind but a lot less swell. And as we had planned to go to an anchorage on the way to Almerimar (at 60+ miles this was a bit much to do in 1 day), less waves would be better.

Finally, proper sailing!

When we left Caleta de Velez we hoisted the sails but we also kept the engine on. Motorsailing gives you more stability and makes for a more comfortable ride than motoring without any sails. Pretty soon the wind picked up to a decent 7 knots so we turned off the engine. We were finally sailing! It was great: no background noise from the engine, smooth sea, and the wind coming from a consistent direction. We did between 3 and 4 knots. As this trip was only 20 miles and we were not in a hurry this was a decent speed. The wind lasted for a good 2 hours, the next 3 hours were more flaky and we had to turn on the engine a few times. Still, it was a real boost to finally make use of our sails.

Sails up: time to relax

All set

The anchorage that we initially picked out didn’t feel right: the area that was shallow enough for  anchoring was quite close to the rocks and it looked quite unprotected from the prevailing wind at the time. So we moved on to the next bay. This looked nicer as there was a larger area with a depth between 5 to 10 metres (perfect for anchoring) and it was facing a beach rather than sheer cliffs.

Although, by the time we laid out the anchor, the onshore wind caused us to get quite close to the buoys indicating the swimming area and a launch path for jet ski’s and dinghies. This was our first time anchoring, apart from a few hours near La Linea when we were still moored in Gibraltar, so we were quite nervous about potential anchor dragging. Jon tried a few apps on his phone to set an anchor alarm (“the award for the best named app goes to: ‘drag queen’ “) but these were having issues getting a proper GPS fix and as a result they were quite unreliable. I kept an eye on our latitude and longitude as displayed by the chart plotter and during a few hours we would move a few thousands of a minute (one-sixtieth of a degree). Initially we had no idea what distance a thousand of a minute represented and whether the movement should be something to worry about; after some googling it turned out to be around 1.8 meter.


On his way to check the anchor

Moving a few metres back and forth certainly did not constitute dragging but to ease our minds Jon used his new scuba tank to dive in the water and follow the anchor chain to the bottom to see how/if the anchor was set properly. The anchor was not actually dug into the sand but Goodvibes was held in place by the weight of the chain on the seafloor. In many places the chain was actually covered by a few centimeters of sand. Jon manhandled the anchor a bit to be better set, but it seemed that the chain was holding us nicely in place. So we decided to jump off the back for a refreshing swim.

A police visit

Just after we finished dinner, we heard and saw a large motorboat coming up to us: the Guardia Civil. The officer on deck asked us something but all we could hear was ‘puerto’ (port), so we were not sure what to answer. He was quickly joined by 2 more officers who asked the same question. We were a bit nervous because we weren’t 100 % sure we were allowed to anchor there (although it was marked as an anchorage on the chart) and whether we were too close to the shore. Eventually we guessed that they wanted to know which port we had come from and where we were going. I asked with a thumbs up if it was ok for us to stay where we were for the night and a ‘no problemo’ and the fact that they all went back inside the cabin confirmed that we weren’t doing anything illegal. Always good to know!

Guardia Civil boat

The Guardia boat with jet skiers on board

The Guardia boat sped away, only to stop at a jetski with 3 passenger on it about 50 meters of our bow. While the police were trying to get alongside the jetski, all passengers fell of it! They swam to the back of the boat where they were hauled out of the water and the jetski was tied on to the motorboat. We couldn’t make out whether they were fined or reprimanded for not following the rules, or whether it was a routine check for papers or whether they had run into trouble like not having enough petrol. The police boat stayed quite close to us so were standing in our cockpit looking at what was going on (this was better entertainment than the movie we had planned to watch). Suddenly the jetski drifted away from the boat: the line had come loose!

Nobody seemed to panic much even though they were getting quite close to the rocky shore just next to the beach. One officer calmly got a boathook and picked up the line and tied the jetski back on. Eventually the 3 boys that had been driving the jetski were allowed to leave again: they departed with a handshake so obviously there was nothing too nefarious going on.

The show as over and we could go back inside and prepare for our first night at anchor. But did we….?

Boat in front of beach

Anchored in front of the beach of Almuñecar

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