Spain [legacy]

Note: as this is a legacy page, we are no longer checking the links periodically. The information and links (if they still work) are here for interest only.

We cruised through Spain both before and after Portugal and found each region to be unique. The order of the regions and ports listed is the sequence we encountered them.

As an EU member, Spain has the following organisation:

  • Customs and Immigration Formalities
    Foreign yachts, EU yachts arriving from outside the Schengen area of the EU (basically all the EU excepting Britain and Ireland) and yachts carrying non-EU persons should report to the immigration authorities.
  • Money Matters
    With the adoption of the Euro currency matters have been vastly reduced, entering from either neighboring France or Portugal no longer implies a currency change over. Banking machines are every where and seem to accept virtually every international card – some of these may incur a transaction charge though. We changed some currency and travelers cheques without problems.
  • Buoyage
    Spanish bouyage is generally very well set out and conforms to international standards.
  • Weather Information
    The Spanish Meteo Office has a website, the textual information is only offered in Spanish but there are also various synoptic charts and satellite images (use the Free Translation website to translate the Spanish to English).
    Some marinas post printouts of internet pages detailing the weather but this is not always dependable, it often seemed to depend on who was working that day.
    The German website Top Karten has a variety of weather pages, including the 1 through 5 day synopsis forecasts.
    The Spanish meteo system includes broadcasts (in English and Spanish) at multiple time through out the day. Generally the announcement is made on channel 16 which specifies the working channel. Sometimes the weather reader speaks very quickly in accented English and we found making a tape of the broadcast to replay very helpful. These forecasts seem to be centrally issued as they are not updated even when the conditions are the exact opposite of the forecast. Also there are no station forecasts to give actual readings.

    Spanish Meteo on VHF
    Station VHF Times (UTC)
    A Coruna 16-13 (67-15) 00:05-04:05-08:05-12:05-16:05-20:05
    Algeciras 16-74 03:15-05:15-07:15-11:15-15:15-19:15-23:15
    Almeria 16-74 (10) 15 minutes after odd hours
    Barcelona 16-10 (Winter) 06:00-10:00-15:00-20:00
    (Summer) 05:00-09:00-14:00-19:00
    Bilbao 16-10 33 minutes after even hours
    Cadiz 16-74 03:15-07:15-11:15-15:15-19:15-23:15
    Cartagena 16-10 01:15-05:15-09:15-13:15-17:15-21:15
    Castellon 16-74 09:00-14:00-19:00
    Finisterre 16-11 02:33-06:33-10:33-14:33-18:33-22:33
    Gijon 16-10 (15-17) 15 minutes after even hours
    Huelva 16-11 04:15-08:15-12:15-16:15-20:15
    Palamos 16-13 (Summer) 06:30-09:30-13:30-18:30
    Palma 16-10 (Summer) 06:35-09:35-14:35-19:35
    (Winter) 07:35-10:35-15:35-20:35
    S.C. de Tenerife 16-11 (67-18) 00:15-04:15-08:15-12:15-16:15-20:15
    Santander 16-11 02:45-04:45-06:45-08:45-10:45-14:45-18:45-22:45
    Tarifa 16-10 (67) 15 minutes after even hours
    Tarragona 16-13 (Summer) 04:33-08:33-14:33-19:33
    (Winter) 05:33-09:33-15:33-20:33
    Valencia 16-10 (67) 15 minutes after even hours
    Vigo 16-10 (67-15) 00:15-04:15-08:15-12:15-16:15-20:15
  • Pilotage
    – In Galicia we used the RCC pilot “Atlantic Spain and Portugal”, 4th edition. As far as we know the only pilot available in the English language, it unfortunately does not live up to the higher standard of RCC pilots for the eastern parts of the Mediterranean (mostly written by Rod Heikel) where some of the local history and less of the personal opinions (e.g. “‘like a miniature Manhattan’ – though considerably less interesting”) are printed as ancillary pilotage information. It seems a shame to be in ports where the only overview information is a comparison to British social realities rather than a brief explanation of the local history.
    Imray publishes an addendum on their website but even this was out of date when we passed through, in both facilities and especially the prices (the internet addendum that we downloaded was only 2 months old at the time).
    – In the Balearics we used the RCC pilot “Islas Baleares”, 6th edition which had not been updated since 2000: the prices (still listed in psetas) are out of date (harbour prices are grouped into 5 bands) and a lot of changes are not even listed in the addenda. This volume had the history section on the ports (as do most of the other RCC volumes) which was nice. Details are provided on many of the anchorages available around the islands but these portions do not seem to have been updated as we found calas and anchorages closed off to yachts, new pontoons added etc. yet none of those changes made it to the online addendum which is located on the Imray website (note that the addendum mainly details bouyage changes).
    Note: The 7th edition of “Islas Baleares” was available by late summer 2003

Overview (Galicia)

The culture of Galicia is distanced from mainland Spain both geographically and historically. This area has dealt with outsiders dating from the Romans and earlier and has many welcoming harbours and anchorages. This is the birthplace of Generalisimo Franicsco Franco.

Rias Altas

la Coruna N 043° 22′ W 008° 23′

Coruna (link to the tourist bureau) seemed to be going through a transition with respect to foreign yachts when we visited. The two clubs immediately inside the main harbour breakwater, the Sporting Club Casino (AKA Club Maritimo), and the Real Club Nautico de Coruna (RCN) were still in place. In our stay there was not a single foreign yacht at the Casino pontoons while the RCN pontoons were close to full. According to the staff both clubs are awaiting the outcome of renewals of their property leases from the local government which expire at the end of 2002 (these leases having run for the last 25 years.) As of the middle of 2002 they had still received no word although a new marina facility had been installed in the Darsena de la Marina basin which is more centrally located. We paid 18 euros per night for mooring bow-to using a fixed stern line which was barely long enough for our 9.5 meters. The spacing between the wooden pontoons is so close that maneuvering in any breeze is fraught with danger. The facilities are quite run down as if the club expects not to receive a renewal of its lease. Additionally the floating breakwater of old tires that is shown in the pilot books has been removed which allows all the swell from the harbour to come directly in catching all the yachts abeam. Primarily these two clubs seem to be dinghy racing clubs that moor a few local boats and then earn money mooring visiting yachts.

The new marina development fills the Darsena de la Marina basin with purpose built pontoons, some fishing boats and all the local police, pilot and customs boats are moored here. The toilets and showers were still in temporary buildings during our visit and it would have cost 22 euros for us to stay there. Water and electricity were available on the pontoons, all other facilities are across the street in the city. We had intended to move around there due to the better facilities but could not exit safely from the RCN moorage due to the crosswinds – these winds were not even noticeable in the new marina facility.

Coruna is the only main city until Porto on the way south and hence it must be used for any specialty needs (which includes all things yacht oriented). The chandleries and chart agent are located near the Avenida del General Primo de Rivera which is the street closest to the innermost harbour. The chart agent is located one street back from the Avenida and stocked both Spanish and British Admiralty charts:

Producciones Graficas
para instituciones publicas, s.l.
Fernandez Latorre 28-30
15006 la Coruna
He told us the shop was moving locations about 3 blocks at the end of 2002. The chandleries ranged from those that sold software (clothing and nick nacks) to one that probably has not changed in 50 years. It’s cavernous stores were located behind a counter and everything must be asked for by name in Spanish – not exactly conducive to browsing or finding a solution to your problem. The other chandlery seemed to be closed (possibly for holidays) while we were there.

The main food store seemed to be:

Supermercados Gadis, Plaza San Augustine

which is 15 minutes walk from Real Nautico and less from the new marina. It has the largest food selection we found in Coruna and the two floors above it are the covered market area for fruit, vegetable, meat and fish.

Two internet cafes are:

Cyberchat
c/ Pasadizo Pernas No 4-6 (which is near where the chandleries and chart agent are)

and

Ciber
Zagget@.Net
on Zaleta street where it crosses Hospital (which is near the Galidas supermarket).

Ares N 043° 22′ W 008° 23′

Ares sports a new marina (the club house had not yet been completed when we visited) with a large anchorage of good holding sand which is fairly sheltered against northerly winds. In southerly blows it would probably not be as good. There is a Supermercados Froiz which has a good selection and one of the tapas bars on the first street back from the promenade has a back room with 10 PCs in it (1.2 euros per hour).

Corma N 043° 16′ W 008° 58′

A large portion of the Corma harbour has been taken over by either muscles farms or goose barnacle farms. The remaining area (immediately in front of the town) seems to have erratic holding. Some boats there (included ourselves) dragged up to 4 times, other boats seemed to hold on the first try. Each time we brought up our Bruce it was decked out in a full suit of bright green kelp. The local delicacy of goose barnacles is available at the restaurant Mirimar which is towards the left hand side of the water front as you look ashore. These delicacies are a cross between scallops and mussels in texture and flavor but have an appearance totally their own. We ordered a tapas sized portion for 12 euros and shared amongst three people.

Camarinas N 043° 08′ W 009° 11′

Quite possibly the friendliest harbour we encountered in Galicia, the marina has diesel, water and electricity on the pontoons and showers are available for a charge to boats anchored out. We anchored in the harbour proper where the bottom is a dark “ooze” which seems to grab every anchor, we never moved in spite of 30 knots of wind. A second anchorage further north of the harbour appears to be equally solid. There are 3 supermarcados in town along the water front with other services including a good bakery in the labyrinth of streets behind. Near the Gurdia Civilia there is a cyber cafe with 10 PCs for 1.2 euros per hour.

Rias Bajas

Portosin N 042° 46′ W 008° 57′

The marina has diesel, electricity and water on the pontoons, showers and laundry facilities are in the immaculate club house. The top floor restaurant has two set menus per night and must be seen to be believed. There are some limited food stores as well as bake shops etc. We paid 16 euros to spend the night.

We found Portosin to be a very safe place to leave the boat while we took a bus inland to visit Santiago de Compostela. This city of pilgrimage (in Spanish Santiago means St James the Apostle) was the third most popular medieval Christian pilgrimage spot after Jerusalem and Rome. We took a bus (0.81 euros) from Portosin, changed at Noya where a second bus (2.50 euros) took us to the bus station of Santiago. Arriving on the street level, take the stairs up to the passenger hall where there are news agents one of whom will sell you a city map (3 euros) and show you where you are on it. A leisurely 30 minute walk will take you into the old section of town where all the pilgrimage sites are. The tourist information office (43 Rua do Vilar) has brochures on the city in a variety of languages, the English language one had a walking tour around the old city. Busses from both Portosin and Santiago leave every hour on the hour. The Portosin marina office has all the information on making these connections. We caught the 10 AM bus and returned on the 4 PM bus and didn’t feel rushed. It might be worth mentioning to the driver of the bus from Portosin that you are going to Santiago as ours had to stop traffic in the middle of a roadway so we could get on the connecting bus which had already left the Noya bus station. The bus returning from Santiago is actually the bus that goes to Muros across the rea from Portosin.

Santa Eugenia de Riveira N 042° 34′ W 008° 59′

The marina has electricity and water on the pontoons. Diesel is available from the quay immediately behind the club house, in the large boat harbour. Much of the anchorage was bouyed off when we visited, only an area immediately outside the marina entrance where the local open fishing boats moor was available. There is quite a isolated but substantial rock lurking below the water here at high tide (the local boats are moored around it), consequently it would be hard to moor more than a couple of yachts here now. The bouyed line went from the main set of rocks which extend onto the beach front to the eastern end of the promenade. 10 minutes walk west from the boat ramp is a Haley Hipermercados which seems to have everything as well as being in its own little shopping centre (it is one street back from the waterfront street). At the east end of town are Dia and Lidl supermarcadoes (follow the sea front promenade almost to its end and then go up to the main road out of town to locate them) with some good prices on bulk foodstuffs.

Rinajo N 042° 39′ W 008° 49′

Pretty well as far in as a yacht can go on Ria Arosa. We did not stay here as the harbour captain was quite aggressive and after we moored to get instructions he promptly told us to go to the visitors pontoon or leave. Of course the visitors pontoon was not signed and it turned out to be a series of (all empty) bow-to moorings beam to the harbour mouth with stern pick-up lines, we decided that given his attitude we would seek shelter elsewhere.

The yellow bouy marking the channel to Rinajo through the mussel farms is now surrounded by mussel rafts which could be dangerous at night.

Villgarcia de Arosa N 042° 34′ W 008° 59′

One of the well kept secrets of the Ria – a large marina with plenty of visitors spaces and the cheapest moorage prices we found in Spain – we paid 12 euros per night. The club house facilities and pontoons are very good and we were even given a welcome pack of printed materials (information on the town in English and some safety at sea material in Spanish). Water and electricity on the pontoon, showers and toilets in the club house. Diesel on the west side of the harbour. Internet facilities are close by (one is in the ground floor of the Hotel Castelao), a supermercado is across the street and a 7 screen cinema and McDonalds are immediately adjacent to the marina. There is a 17th century archbishops residence not too far on the edge of one of the drainage canals, the town centre is immediately in front of the marina.

The yellow bouy marking the channel to Villgarcia de Arosa past the mussel farms is now surrounded by mussel rafts which could be dangerous at night.

Porto O Xufre.
Isla de Arosa
N 042° 34′ W 008° 52′

A fairly sheltered anchorage for southwest weather, the town has the usual assortment of restaurants, bars and stores.

Bueu N 042° 19.5′ W 008° 47′

A sheltered anchorage with a new marina nearing completion to the west side. There is also a single pontoon on the east side of the village where local yachts were letting off or taking on passengers. There is a fish market and a fish auction attached to the main harbour. Various supermarcados and and internet cafe.

Bayona N 042° 07′ W 008° 51′

Marina has electricity and water on the pontoons, diesel is available, showers and toilets in the clubhouse, we paid 18 euros for one night. We experienced a lot of surge while there with the moored boats moving around quite extensively. Yachts and power boats are intermingled on a first come first moored basis so your neighbors will not necessarily move the same as you do in the surge. Three supermarcados are located in the town (on the same street no less) as well as 3 Internet Cafes (one is Videoclub CiberPolis, C/Marques de Quintanar 33 which is about 3 minutews walk from the supermarcadoes). As Bayona is primarily a tourist destination, for any specialty items or services you will be referred to Vigo.

Overview (Andalucia)

The Andalucian culture of Spain’s south coast is vastly different from Galicia which we had previously visited.

Note:

Puertos de Andalucia is an Andalucian Autonomous Region government agency which runs most of the marinas in the western portion of Andalucia. Although the facilities levels have quite a range in quality, the price structure is fixed with water and electricity sometimes being charged for separately. The months October to May are considered the low season and Maringret paid 6.76 for the berth with access to showers (8.05 with both water and electricity) and prices were doubled for the high season. Each marina has card key access and a 12 Euro deposit is collected and subsequently refunded by each marina for a card for their location only – it’s too bad that you couldn’t at least have the option of picking up a card at the beginning of the chain and then cashing it out at the last marina. Contrary to the RCC pilot we had to present all the same papers we did in Portugal (even the full insurance documents). Every marina has showers, electricity and water.

Ayamonte N 037° 39′ W 007° 30′

Ayamonte is a Junta Andalucia marina. As large fishing boats manoeuvre in the outer part of the marina there is some swell coming in as they do tight turns for docking.

Mazagon N 037° 08′ W 006° 50′

Mazagon is a Junta Andalucia marina and has probably the best showers we encountered in any marina. Laundry was available with a small chandlery in the main building. Internet (no diskettes) is available through coin operated machines in the multi-floor hotel in the town on the hill behind the marina. The water in the Mazagon marina is the softest we found in the Algarve and Andalucia.

Chipiona N 036° 45′ W 006° 26′

Chipiona is a Junta Andalucia marina. There are a couple of restaurants in the marina complex. Located at the mouth of the Guadalquivir River which yachts can journey up to the city of Seville, they had photocopies available of “Y Ria del Guadalquivir – Guia Para la Navegacion de Yates” (On the Guadalquivir River – A Navigation Guide for Yachts) published by “Junta del Puerto de Seville” (Seville Port Authority) on pilotage up the river Guadalquivir to Seville. The document seems to have been produced for the 1992 Seville Expo but presumably no new bridges have appeared and the bouyage has remained constant as far as numbering goes. We got a very helpful member of the Chipiona marina staff to phone and reserve for us at the Club Nautico in Seville.

Seville N 037° 22′ W 006° 00′

As the third city of Spain, Seville is relatively easily reached by boat. Due to the confusion regarding the journey up the Guadalquivir River to Seville we decided to keep track of when we reached major points and the tidal conditions we encountered. Our low tide at Chipiona was 09:00 so we were advised to be at Bonanza 1 hour later which was 10:00. We set our revs so that we were motoring at 5 knots in order to make it all the way to the Seville locks on the one tide.With sunup at 07:00 we were close to the optimal time to make the journey up river as we were 3 weeks before the summer solstice and had a low tide quite early in the day. If the low tide at Bonanza falls in the afternoon then this could cause problems as you must have both enough daylight to make the journey and also the bridge into the Club Nautico only opens once a day at 20:00 (except on weekends). There seems to be an intermittent problem with the lifting bridge and certain times it not able to lift which will mean either tying up to wait 24 hours for the next opening or returning to marina pontoon to wait.

Chipiona-Seville (Upstream Journey)

Location Clock Time Elapsed Time Tide GPS Trip Ships Log Comments
Left Chipiona marina 08:50 0:00 About 2 miles out to Entrance bouy #3
Low tide Chipiona 09:00 0:10
Entrance bouy #3 09:20 0:30 0 0
Entrance bouy #20 10:25 1:05 -1.3 4.2 5.5
River bouy #13 12:30 3:80 0.0 13.2 16.1 Tidal current reached 0
River bouy #20 14:00 5:10 0.9 22.6 24.2
River bouy #33 14:45 5:55 2.3 27.1 27.4
River bouy #36 15:55 7:05 2.4 35.3 32.8
River bouy #52 17:55 9:05 0.0 45.9 40.5 Due to the locks into Seville the tide effect is halted.
Locks reached 18:20 9:30 0.0 47.0 41.6 We waited until the 19:00 lock opening
Through locks 19:00 0.0
Reached bridge 19:30 0.0 49.0 43.6 We waited until the 20:00 bridge opening
Through bridge to Club Nautico 20:00 0.0 49.1 43.7

We made it to the Seville locks in 9.5 hours, as it is high tide the water level were basically equal and they opened both gates and we motored straight through. We had to wait for a freighter exit the locks and found out there is no place to tie up except in the path of the freighter. When we reached the bridge it was the same situation, there is a small concrete platform at water level on the west side but the advice seemed to say that one should remain in middle channel so as to attract the attention of the bridge operators.

The lock and bridge hours were:

Lock Openings
01:00 04:00 07:00 10:00 13:00 16:00 19:00 21:00
Bridge Openings (telephone 954-454196)
Weekdays 20:00
Weekends and Holidays 08:30 20:00

The Club Nautico staff administering the yachts during out visit spoke no English what so ever and seemed to have no interest in trying to help out with anything. Despite the reservation we had made there was no one expecting our arrival, it seems that a marinara goes down to the pontoon at 20:00 most evenings as this is the only time that yachts can arrive due to the bridge opening schedule. The paperwork is the most extensive in the Iberian peninsula, even requiring crew lists, and once you are registered you are left to your own devices. The staff have no information to give out on the city or even how to get to the tourist sites, all that happens is that you are issued a pass that allows you to pass through the security gate on the compound. There are about 30 places which have pickup lines for berthing bow or stern to with water and electricity are on the pontoon, the showers are located near the smaller swimming pools. The club has 3 swimming pools and about 5 tennis courts as well as a snack bar and a restaurant. The main sites of Seville are about 20 to 25 minutes walk away. Excellent internet facilities (diskettes allowed) are located across the street from the Seville Cathedral on the second floor of the corner building (corner of Avda. de la Constitucion and Almirantazgo).

For the down river journey, the duration of the ebb tide is abbreviated compared to that of the flood tide due to the effect of the river flow. This means that the journey down must be completed much more quickly than the upwards trip. Apparently if you can motor at 7 knots you can make it although we can not claim to have done so ourselves. Additionally, unless you commence your journey down on Saturday or Sunday you will only be able to lock out at 20:00 (which leaves very little daylight remaining) and then have the choice of spending the night tied up near the locks or at the Marina Yachting Seville marina. Alternatively you can exit the locks and journey around to the Puerto Gelves marina. So if you leave on a weekday and motor at less than 7 knots it seems that you must spend two nights on the river, one after clearing the lifting bridge at Club Nautico and a second on the river itself. The freighters come up in the night so the lights are sufficient but there are enough trees etc. floating downstream to present a hazard in the dark for small boats. We chose to spend our first night at the freighter tie-up wharf just below the locks and the second night near bouy 20 where a large colony of storks have nested in the trees. It is a straight and wide section of the river and many fishing boats are moored there semi-permanently so we positioned ourselves in amongst the fishing boats so that freighters moving at night would have maximal radar targets. Both times we were out of the navigable section of the river with good daylight so that we could arrange things prior to nightfall.

Seville-Chipiona (Downstream Journey)

Location Clock Time Elapsed Time  Tide GPS Trip Ships Log Comments
Day #1
Left Club Nautico 19:30
Through bridge 20:00
Locks reached 20:30
Through Locks 21:00
Moored at abandoned docks 21:30 Just below the locks and before the west branch joins the east
Day #2
Left abandoned docks 09:30 0:00 -1.0 0 0 Left as the first freighter upstream arrived; set engine for 4 knots
River bouy #50 10:45 1:15 4.3 5.0
11:15 1:45 0.0 6.2 7.0
11:50 2:20 Seville high tide
River bouy #30 13:30 4:00 2.5 18.3 15.1
Anchorage 14:15 4:45 22.8 17.9 Upstream from bouy #20, temperature of 41 degrees
Day #3
10:00 Intended departure time (before CQR anchor fouled)
Anchorage high tide 10:45 Calculated as halfway between high tides at Bonanza and Seville
Left anchorage 11:15 0:00 0.0 0 0 Left with engine set at 4 knots
River bouy #16 12:15 1:00 1.1 4.7 4.1 Increased engine speed to 5 knots to compensate for the hour lost with the anchor
River bouy #13 13:00 1:45 1.5 9.5 7.7
River bouy #20 14:20 3:05 1.0 19.2 14.1
Entrance bouy #3 15:10 3:55 1.1 23.4 16.9 Would have turned in to Chipiona Marina from this bouy
Rota (Cadiz) N 036° 37′ W 006° 21′

Rota is a Junta Andalucia marina. There are multiple well stocked food stores within walking distance, there are a number of internet facilities (diskettes allowed) and the most pizzerias per capita in Spain.

Barbate N 036° 11′ W 005° 55′

Barbate is a Junta Andalucia marina. There is a SuperSol food store immediately outside of the harbour gates and internet (diskettes allowed) another 5 minutes walk into town. The facilities are probably the most basic of all the Junta Andalucia marinas: with over 300 berths there was only one functioning shower and one toilet for the men and no toilet paper was supplied. Of all the Junta Andalucia marinas it is the one where good weather information is most needed due to its proximity to Tarifa and the straights of Gibraltar yet they put up forecasts every 2 or 3 days (and those are put up between 11:00 and 12:00). Security is minimal with the pontoons gates being permanently propped open and the access ramps coming up beside the walls so people can step onto the ramps with ease. The harbour is safe refuge from the Levanter but seems to take advantage of this fact by providing the bare minimum possible. The offices on the other hand are the most luxurious of the Junta Andalucia chain in what appears to be a case of misdirected priorities.

Puerto de Almirimar N 036° 42′ W 002° 47′

A large marina with space for 1,100 yachts located in “Europe’s only desert”. Most services are available with: a fuel pontoon, 3 chandlaries, 3 supermarkets, 2 video and DVD rental outlets, and numerous restaurants. Three shower blocks are provided for the whole of the marina (and toilet paper is not supplied). Water and electricity are on the pontoon and charged for seperately. Maringret paid 9.50 per night in September which would have been about 4.50 in October. The climate is very dry which is good for drying out boat hulls but unfortunately the yard is closed so that owners can not work on their own boats. There is not much outside of the marina complex without travelling to the next town (el Ejido) which is a 30 minute bus ride and has a large hypermarket and bulk discount stores such as Lidl and Aldis. There did not appear to be any visible security in the marina so presumably it depends on its remoteness to combat any theft. Calor gas can be filled on one of the British boats near the control tower. In addition to the yard there are a number of residents who will undertake boat work of various types.

Overview (Gibraltar)

Gibraltar N 036° 39′ W 005° 30′

Technically and bureaucratically not in Spain, it is operated by Gibraltarian workers who aren’t always able to speak English. The main reason for entering (other than tourism) is the cheap diesel which even the Spanish boats come in for. Customs must be cleared and are immediately adjacent to the BP and Shell fuel docks which in turn are next to the Sheppard and Marina Bay marinas, facing the airport runway. Diesel is 0.50 euros per litre compared to .69 euros in Spain – larger volumes have a lower price per litre. There is a fairly well stocked chandlery in the Sheppard marina and a large Safeway food store near the Queensway marina. The food prices tend to be more expensive then they are across the border in Spain although there are various British brands stocked which will not be found in Spain. Duty Free liquor may be taken on but once again the price is not always cheaper than the shelf price in Spain. It is wise to avoid Gibraltar on the weekends or holidays as everything shuts. Normal hours are rather curtailed even compared to Spain (e.g. the Post Office is open 09:00 to 14:15 Monday to Friday). We wanted to refill our Calor gas bottles but were unable to. Internet (diskettes allowed) is available at Gibraltar Internet Business Centre at 36 Governor’s Street.There is a laundromat at the Marina Bay marina which charges 8 pounds per load – a much cheaper alternative is the laundromat at the Queensway marina. All in all there isn’t much cheap in Gibraltar.

There are three marinas to choose from:

  • Sheppards is the oldest and has floating pontoons which you go end on or alongside. There is no security other than a combination code gate which is usually left open by the permanent residents;
  • Marina Bar is the second oldest and has concrete quays positioned slightly higher than high water levels so that at low water there is about 1 meter up to the quay surface. Mooring is end on and drifting under the concrete at low tides could mark up any boat;
  • Queensway is to the south of the other two and is the newest. It suffers from surge off the main harbour as the large cargo vessesl move around. It also meters both water and electricity.

We paid 6.68 pounds (about 10 euros) per day (the high season rate) to go alongside at Sheppards marina. The other two marinas were approximately 1 pound more per day. Finding an empty berth at any of the 3 marinas is rather hit and miss. People with reservations are turned away, the usual answer from the staff members when asked is that the marina is full. We moored up and then told Sheppards who then said we could stay (after telling us the marina was full). This happened to people at all three marinas depending on which staff member they spoke to.

Gibraltar Straights Current Flows
East-Going West-Going
North Counter Stream HW-3 to HW+3 hours HW+3 to HW-3 hours
Centre Stream HW to HW+6 hours HW+6 to HW
South Counter Stream HW-4 to HW+2 hours HW+2 to HW-4 hours
Exclusively East Going HW to HW+4
Exclusively West Going HW-6 to HW-4 hours

The streams and counter streams seem to be rather erratic and transient. The best advice we received was to monitor the GPS speed over ground and the through water log. As the speed over ground falls move to one side or the other. If the speed falls more then reverese to the other side. By doing this one shifts from one of the favourable streams to the next. We went through at night to avoid the effects of the Levantar but boats who went through in daytime claimed they often could see the different streams by watching the water surface.

Overview (Balearics)

The culture of Spain’s Mediterranean islands is significantly different from the other regions of Spain. The Balearics are richly provided with anchorages and possibly because of this the marinas are priced at the top level (5 times the rate on the Spanish mainland). As a consequence this document does not list many marinas as the prices seemed quite unreasonable. With the emphasis on anchoring as opposed to marinas, the availability of fuel, water, garbage drop off points and public quays become more important and that is what is listed here. We have listed our stops using the names used in the RCC pilot book which may not match the name on the various charts available.

Weather

The Balearics mark the boundary of 3 of the Spanish weather forecasting areas (Baleares, Menorca, Cabrera) and as isolated land masses in an expanse of water exhibit unique weather patterns. To cope with the varied conditions through out the islands the weather forecast for the Balearics is divided into 11 regions:

Region Code Area Comment
A Desde Dragonera de Formentor NW Mallorca coast: Dragonera Island to Cape Formentor
B Desde Formentor de Capdepera NE Mallorca coast: Cape Formentor to Cape Pera
C Desde Capdepera de Salinas SE Mallorca coast: Cape Pera to Point Salinas
D Aquas costeras de Cabrera Waters of Isla de Cabrera
E Desde Salinas de Dragonera SW Mallorca coast: Point Salinas to Dragonera Island
F Norte de Menorca North Menorca coast
G Sur de Menorca South Menorca coast
H Este de Pitiusas East of Ibiza and Formentera
I Oeste de Pitiusas West of Ibiza and Formentera
J Canal de Menorca Channel between Mallorca and Menorca
K Canal de Mallorca Channel between Mallorca and Ibiza

These regions are used in the meteo forecasts from Palma de Mallorca. First the general areas are given followed by the 11 smaller regions of the Balearics. The weather is broadcast on the following schedule:

Announcement Channel Working Channel Times
Palma de Mallorca 16 10 08:35 11:35 16:35

The broadcast is made in English followed by Spanish. Given the speed of the broadcast and the monotone delivery it is advisable to have the areas ready to write the forecast into. As names like Formentor and Formentera are very similar it is easy to mistake areas when the broadcast is made. The detailed Balearics forecast does not seem to be included as part of the Navtex broadcast.

Formatera

Puerto de Sabina N 038° 44′ E 001° 25′

The port appears to run the marina which, had we stayed, would have been 70 euros for the night. The capitaneri is in the tower on the central quay along with the fuel pumps and posts the weather inside the door every morning. Water is available for sale to visiting yachts. Dinghies may be tied up on the bay for the travel lift (immediately further in from the fuel berth) but different boats got different stories from the local staff on how long tenders might be left there. There are some smallish marcedos in Porta de Sabina, 6 km away in San Fernando is a much larger hyper marcedo as well as an internet facility that allows diskettes.

Puerto del Espalmador N 038° 47′ E 001° 26′

Not a port but rather a seawater lagoon with mixed holding amongst sand and weed. Weekends are very busy with many local boats spending the Saturday and Sunday. Saline mud baths are in the centre of the island near the lone palm tree.

Ibiza

Playa d’es Caballet N 038° 51′ E 001° 24′

A long sandy anchorage off a popular beach. No facilites are close by on shore excepting 3 restuarants.

Calla Bassa, San Antonio N 038° 58′ E 001° 15′

Moorings and an extended swimming area use up much of the available anchorage. The weed has covered much of the floor and most of the available depth is 10 meters and more.

Estancia des Dins, Isla Conejera, San Antonio N 038° 59′ E 001° 13′

Nets were set in this bay when we visited, local tour boats come from San Antonio to the rock quay.

San Antonio, Ibiza N 038° 59′ E 001° 18′

A large anchorage area south of the ferry fairway, the town has laundry, medium sized food stores, fuel on the ferry quay and internet that allows diskettes at The Phone Box (3 outlets in San Antonio at: Carrera Madrid 8; Carrer Ramon y Cajal 9; and Calle Isidor Macabich 10). Potable water is available from the Club Nautico where dinghies can also be left near the lift out area. A water tap is located near the dinghy dock. It seems that there is a new desalinisation plant which has solved the previous water quality issues although the chlorine level is very high. A chandlery is located across the road from the Club Nautico.

Mallorca

Playa de la Rapita N 039° 22′ E 002° 57′

Anchored on the beach outside the marina in 4 meters

Porto de Colom N 039° 25′ E 003° 16′

The SW anchorage (Ensenada de la Basa Nova) has been filed with mooring bouys which leaves only the anchorage areas on the NE side. Cats and other shallow draft vessels are able to position themselves in the rear of the bouys. There is a large SYP Consum food store 3 blocks up the hill on Carrer Port de Palos which runs up from Ensenada de la Basa Nova. There is an internet facility (no diskettes allowed) at Ricky’s Cafe which is on the square of restaurants 2 streets SW along the shore of the Ensenada de la Basa Nova from Carrer Port de Palos.

Cala Formentor N 039° 56′ E 003° 08′

This cala is now closed to anchoring by bouys marking the 13 meter depth. Mooring is by commercially operated bouys within that depth.

Polenca N 040° 04′ E 004° 08′

A very large harbour able to hold many yachts in 2 to 3 meters anchoring over a dirt and weed bottom. A supermarket and internetcafe (permitting diskettes). There is a combination chandlery and photo developer, the local ferreteria (iron monger) has some yachting supplies in their upper floor, a sail loft is located between the chandlery and the ferreteria. The marina at Alcudia (10 km by bus or bike) is much bigger and better provisioned with chandleries, a sail loft and wood and metal workers. The local water is quite brackish and although drinkable is not pleasant.

Minorca

Cala de Son Saura N 039° 56′ E 003° 54′

The swimming beach is now bouyed off, anchoring over sand or weed.

Cala Taulera, Porto de Mahon N 039° 25′ E 003° 16′

During August (i.e. peak season) this anchorage filled up when the weather built outside the harbour and emptied down to 8 or so boats as conditions improved. There is a daily influx of 10 or so local boats for the afternoon only. It can become quite crowded, all bouys and berths were totally booked in the harbour itself and this seemed to be one of two anchorages available. The other one is in the vicinity of Isal del Rey but is in 10 or more meters of water. Cala Taulera provides anchorage in 4 to 6 meters over a sand-like bottom. Although the RCC pilot mentions charges being made for anchoring in the cala, none were made while we were there. The dinghy ride to Mahaon proper is 45 minutes at cruising speed. The only dinghy dock appeared to be at the west end of the Sunseeker marina, next to a floating restaurant. As all the three floating pontoons (there is now a third one immediately west of the Isla del Rey which the RCC pilot does not list) depend on going ashore by dinghy there is not a lot of tie up space and it is sometimes full. After securing the dinghy walk west (i.e. to the left) along the water front until the first combination of road and stairs. At the top on the left is a fish market and then next to that a fruit market with a large Spar supermarket in the basement. On the far side of the building holding the fruiat market and the Spar is an internet cafe. The three floating “island” pontoons provided water and garbage collection and would have cost 14 euros per night for Maringret. The chop and wash from the numerous power boats leaving the harbour at full speed can get bad on the pontoons (especially the one at Isla del Rey). Cala Taulera was virtually smooth other than the tourist “glass bottom” boats. Water is available from a coin operated water pontoon near the two “island” pontoons. It is also available from the fuel station for a charge. Other boats found 2 supermarkets at Cala Fonts where apparently a city bus left for Mahon centre and dinghy tie up space was available.

Cala d’Addaya N 040° 01′ E 004° 12′

Protection from all directions in a picturesque cala. The RCC pilot is optomistic about the water depths in the middle and inner half of the cala: we found 2 meters at the mid point (i.e. the bottle neck) and a 10 meter boat was trapped in the inner half for 3 hours attempting to find the actual path in it had used. Two boats (one sailing and the other power) were washed up on the inner shores of the cala.

Puerto de Fornells N 040° 04′ E 004° 08′

A large anchorage (able to hold 100 yachts or more) with a variety of depths. The anchorage is very busy with dinghies, sailing dinghies and power boats criss crossing the harbour. Two local food stores of medium size and the restaurant and hotel L’Algaret has two internet PCs (diskettes allowed).

Cala de Algayerens N 040° 03′ E 003° 55′

Anchoring in 3 to 4 meters over sand, the easterly arm of the cala is now partially bouyed off. There is a garbage receptacle in the parking lot ands the next cala to the west (Cazla Morell)has basic level provisioning.

Overview (Valenciana)

Valenciana is comprised of the provinces of Castellon, Valencia and Alicante.

Puerto de Siles N 039° 40′ W 000° 12′

The marina has a few visitor berths, depths seem to vary. The facilities were starting to get run down in 2003 but the price of 24 euros per night was more expensive than most others. Water and electricity are on the quay, showers in the clubhouse basement. 8 km walk to the ancient city of Segunto with its extensive castle perched on the hill above the town. Provisioning is good with a Carrefours, Lidl, Aldis, Consum within walking or bus distance.

Overview (Catalunia)

The Catalan culture of Spain’s south-east coast is vastly different from those which we had previously visited. It is perhaps the most distinct of the Spanish regions.

Barcelona N 041° 20′ E 002° 10′

There are 2 marinas in Barcelona: Port Vell in the old harbour and Port Olimpic facing the Mediteranean. Maringret paid 25.64 at port Vell and wouuld have piad 21 at Port Olimpic (high season rates). Yachts put onto the A pontoon at Port Vell as we were should be aware of the lax security on that pontoon and the noise from the floating restaurant which is barely 10 meters away. Also the Discotheque boat operates on certain nights and is moored immediately adjacent to the A pontoon. After a completely sleepless night we were moved to another pontoon and enjoyed the remainder of our stay. Water and electricity are on the pontoons with showers and (cold water only) washing machines ashore. Dias and Spar (renamed to “Superavui”) food stores and a choice of internet cafes (some of which permit the use of diskettes) are located in the Barceloneta district which is immediately adjacent to Port Vell – Port Olimpic is a 10 minute walk away across Barceloneta. Lidl, SuperSol and Carrefours food stores are a 15 minute bike ride away. The marina office has a booklet entitled “The Yachtie Yellow Pages” which lists the many services of interest to yachters (including a second hand chandlery). There are a number of chandleries and also Marina 92 which is 10 minutes walk away along the north side of the harbour has a 150 tonne TravelLift and virtually every type of shipright imaginable. The city of Barcelona is immediately adjoining Porto Vell with all the services and attractions of a major world class city. The main tourist office is in Plaza Catalunya and has a map available of the extensive bicycle paths covering the metropolitan area.

Madrid N ???° ??’ W 008° 23′

We travelled to Madrid from Lisboa, Portugal but it is equally feasible from any major Spanish coastal town or city. Madrid is a city that has many riches that are worth taking in and is very straight forward for visitors to get around. Most bus and train terminals are integrated into the extensive metro system and if not directly connected are never a long walk from a metro station. We found accommodation rather straight forward by using www.softguides.com. Rooms around the center seem to run 30 euros a night for a double room with shower. From the center area, the world famous Prado Museum as well as the Thyssen-Bornemisza, and Sophia museums are all walkable. The Plaza Mayor, home of the infamous Spanish Inquisitions, Royal Palace and the Egyptian Debod Temple ruins are as easily reached on foot. A day trip to view El Escorial palace is also worthwhile.

  • Yachting is not a common past time in Spain. Services were provided for foreign yachts as they were for tourists visiting in cars or campers. The facilities for yachts are better than we encountered in Galicia but still many harbours have very little available for yacht maintenance. So when you hit a harbour that has a chandler or work shop that you need you are well advised to consider taking advantage of it.
  • The “marinaras” employed by the marinas to berth boats will not always have any knowledge of boat pilotage. Currents, winds, prop walk etc. are all foreign concepts to them and often what they tell you to do will not agree with manouvering your boat in closed quarters. Should anything go wrong, the total blame will rest with the yacht skipper, i.e. you, so as always any such advice must be taken within its context.
  • It was only after re-entering Spain on the southern coast after cruising the Portuguese coast that we realised that the prices of Galicia are some of the highest on the Atlatnic Iberian coast. Caruna (the Clube Nautico) was probably the worst value for money given the facilities and what they charged.
  • As a cruising area, the Balearics are quite different from the rest of Spain. Marinas are high price but anchorages are plentiful. With the various island coasts, shelter or cruising areas can be found for most weather conditions. But weather is fickle in the islands and the forecasts must be monitored accordingly.

The Spanish Tourism agency publishes a map of Spain called “Mapa Puertos Deportivos” (Map of Marinas) which details all the yacht facilities available.

Galician Tourism office

Spanish Meteo Office website (and use the Free Translation website to translate the Spanish to English).

University of Barcelona website (and use the Free Translation website to translate the Spanish to English).

Imray publishes addendums to the RCC Pilots “Atlantic Spain and Portugal”, “Costas del Sol and Blanca” and “Costas del Azahar, Dorada and Brava” on their website

“South West Spain & Portugal Cruising Companion”, 2001, by Detlef Jens published by Yachting Monthly, ISBN 0-333-907736. We didn’t use this book but met other cruisers who used it and liked it.

Mundo Nautico is a free (trilingual: Spanish, English, German) newspaper available at various Spanish marinas. Its inside back page lists a lot of marinas and their charges. It is published in Palma de Mallorca.

For a land based guide book we tried the “DK Eyewitness Travel Guide” which we found to be a good complement to having a sailing pilot and the tourist publications. Previously we had used old copies of budget based travels for other countries but when your travel and accomodation (and board if you wish) is taken care of via your boat, they seem a little inappropriate. The Eyewitness Travel Guide uses many photographs and illustrations to portray both the overview and detail of both regions and specific sites. We will certainly look for these publications for our next countries. Our Portuguese guide had street indexes for the Lisboa city maps where as the Spanish one didn’t have this which was a shame.


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