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Zhik 2018 Hyeres 728x90

Roving Rear Commodore Report - The Mediterranean

by Grahame Brookes 4 Apr 10:03 UTC

I am humbled and honoured to have been considered & elected RoRC, thanks to the committee and all concerned for their support.

After our 2018 five countries tour in 7 months from the UK, we arrived at Gibraltar for the start of the Mediterranean. Being also Port Officer for Poole UK, I am always keen and happy to meet other POs on route, which we did on a few occasions. We met Alan and Tony, OCC Port officers in Gib who were lovely & very helpful company. The Gibraltar anchorage in the bay was a welcomed sight for some rest after coming in off the North Atlantic. The sandy bottom in the bay is good holding for a peaceful and well earned night's sleep. Transient yachts which may be heading in or out of the Med in that direction in 2019 (Alcaidesa marina la Linea on the Spanish side) is the best marina in my view for supplies/flights/fuel plus tax free chandleries. Worth a visit.

After rounding Europa point on the end of Gibraltar, we visited many ports along the way, all with different characteristics, encountered groups of large dolphins offshore, then we entered the Port of Almerimar with many memorable festivals & events. The highlight for me was the delicious red cherries which were in season. With the area being called the garden of Europe there is plenty of local produce. The area has a classic feel to it, which is very different, with a Spanish Biblical twist.

After pushing on the crew of BV visited and passed many other ports and anchorages along the southern Spanish coast before we decided to visit one or two of the islands. The stand out jewel was the Italian island of Sardinia which has always been on my hit list! After a 15 knot NE wind crossing from Majorca and waiting 40 years to visit, it was well worth the wait. Stunning offshore scenery and beaches. The blue water was perfect for swimming and scuba, and the anchorages were to die for and, thankfully, plentiful. Beware Sardinia is not cheap berthing in the summer for the humble budget yachtsman.

After our Sardinian adventure in October and with the med winter fast approaching, we had to decide where to winter. Because of recommendations from other cruisers, we decided to go back to the Spanish mainland. There we found, in my view, the mainland jewel of southern Spain -- lovely beautiful Cartagena. We arrived in Cartagena at start of winter season last November escorted by the rare sight of whales 3m offshore approaching the port of Cartagena, which was impressive. On arrival we quickly realised six other OCC members of various nationalities had the same idea. Over the winter months, we have all become very good friends, and we are all still there currently doing winter pre-season repairs and checks until May time, when we all decide on our next ports of call in the 2019 season.

Wintering in Cartagena has many qualities to offer OCC members including easy flights for all different nationalities for end of season home visits as the newly opened Murcia airport and Alicante airports are both international. The yacht port Cartagena marina is within 5 mins easy stroll to the town and easy transport connections. The town has many celebratory festivities throughout the year, too numerous to mention, which attracts many different tastes. The entrance to the port is very easy, surrounded by local anchorages. El Portus camp accommodates the keen naturist if that floats your boat. There are chandeliers/lift out facilities and a reliable bus service all within easy reach.

Cartagena has a strong Roman and military connection for the keen historian. The surrounding area has plenty of supermarkets and eateries for topping up on passage supplies. Those of you who visit Cartagena be prepared to be easily seduced by its quality/price and natural charm. Don't be surprised if it weaves in magic on you and you stay longer than you expected.

Over the winter being retired I have been spending my time 50/50 between the UK and Cartagena, I have now adopted Cartagena as an OCC Port, working with the fabulous support from Jenny, which is now giving our members 5% discounts on long or short stays and is highly recommended.

More info in my next quarter bulletin from our Mediterranean cruising and food odyssey.

This article has been provided by the courtesy of Ocean Cruising Club.

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