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We arrived back at the RCMB club in Barcelona and spent the first few days tidying up the boat and getting things back into shape. After that we had to decide where we wanted to go, and our initial thoughts were to head for the Balearics as we both fancied the anchorages around Formentera. Prudence then kicked in and we decided that perhaps the islands would best be left to another time as this year we had two weeks as opposed to last years six months and a number of days had already gone. So we headed out of Barcelona and had to time our crossing of the main harbour entrance to avoid the commercial traffic and then we basically followed the 10 metre contour down towards Port Ginesta. En route we saw “fins” in the water but these turned out not to be small sharks or dolphin, but rather they were Sunfish really strange looking and there were quite a number all the way down the coast – neat.
Port Ginesta is around say 3 hours from Barcelona, and when we were approaching the marina we called them on the radio and they allocated us a berth and sent a mariniero round to help us berth Med style as Sun Dogs shape doesnt lend itself to Sara leaping onto the pontoon. The marina complex is quite a size, but whether it was the time of year or the economic situation in Spain, but the place was very quiet and there were numerous boats for sale all around the marina. However it does have just about every concievable service you could wish for in a marina, and one in particular that caught my eye was an old fashioned workshop that specialised in stainless steel work, as it’s proven difficult to find this kind of facility on our travels.
Just outside the marina to the west there is a lovely little beach, again not busy, where one could hire out sun loungers from the small stall that sold drinks ice cream etc, and this was almost like having our own private beach. We stayed for a couple of nights and met up with our friends Pete and Debbie who now keep their boat here, and we all had a really good night out at the local pizza joint.
From there we headed off for a really short trip to Sitges (missing out Garraff which is in between) of around 5nm and have to say that entering the marina everything looked so delightful and pretty – I would go as far as to say that it’s the prettiest harbour/marina we have ever entered, and the berth they had allocated us was right next to the restaurants etc.
We secured the boat and headed off to explore the area, to the east of the marina we saw a lovely family beach, and then we turned west and walked along the coast towards the town of Sitges where there is another small beach nestled in a cove. Now we are not prudes but on this particular beach there was a high number of people absolutely starkers…………………..now have you ever noticed that the people who do this are normally the shape and size that should automatically preclude them from doing so??
Into the town itself and there is another lovely safe family beach, with the old town itself having some stunning buildings, and we were both duly impressed.
Now we both knew that Sitges has a reputation especially in the high season of being the Gay capital of Spain. Each to their own we say, but I have to admit to being somewhat discombobulated when we came across a group of guys one of which was wearing a frock and a big sun hat. Sara was in hysterics at my initial shock/reaction, and also when we sat in a bar opposite the family beach for a coffee, it was different seeing so many guys “mincing” their way along the prom. However we loved the place so much that we stayed there until the Wednesday of our last week. If ever you go there is a lovely Argentinian restaurant in the marina called Rosario’s and the food is simply superb – especially the beef! We are so pleased that we had found such a lovely place a short distance from Barcelona, and we would not have known about it had we romped off to the Balearics.
Berthed across from us was a lovely chap Coco from Uruguay who had spent a number of years in the UK with his family, and he was such a helpful and genuine individual that it was a pleasure to spend time in his company.
From there we headed back to Port Ginesta to check out whether the stainless steel guy could fabricate a new assembly for the bow roller, now this was always going to be a long shot as trying to get things done quickly is Spain is a bit of an oxymoron. Through a mixture of Spanish/English/Pen/Paper the owner Ramon agreed for price X he could and would fabricate this in 316 stainless steel, and have it fitted before close of business on Friday. They came along and took the templates they needed and once this was done they needed the old fabrication off to ensure all the holes would all be in exactly the right place. They are also a bit unique in that they open at 0600 and close at 1400; so Friday 1400 was the deadline for this being fabricated and fitted. This meant Sara and I dropping the sail, disconnecting the furler assembly, then stripping off the old bow roller assembly. Sara had the socket set out on deck while I done my impersonation of a contorsionist in getting to the nuts on the underside with a spanner. It took us a good couple of hours to get this all done and up to the workshop.
Despite all our concerns and some final tweaking, it’s fair to say that Ramon, Jordi & the other guy whose name I forget, had done a fantastic job and made it within the agreed time scale, with the last tool off the boat at 1330 on Friday. Really excellent work by good tradesmen and handy to know for future jobs on the boat, though not necessarily during a holiday! Sara didn’t put it as politely as that, but I did catch her drift!!
Here is the finished article c/w with an extra roller on each side for picking up moorings without the need to manhandle the heavy anchor (the old fitting was a single that could only accept either the anchor or a moooring) ………..personally I think it’s all worked out rather well 😉
The weather forecast was grim for the next few days, so we decided that when the boat was back together that we would head for Barcelona and enjoy our last couple of days in the city. Out we went, mainsail up and motorsailing into a sizeable easterly swell which was pretty much on the nose. Poor Sara after the whole bow roller trauma, started to feel a bit queezy as the motion of the boat was pretty foul. It didn’t get any better when reaching the main breakwater around Barcelona harbours (miles of it) as the reflected waves from the breakwater decided to liven things up a wee bit more. So we had Sara down below, me at the wheel in the wheelhouse steering with the main sheet in one hand while altering course and dodging the commercial traffic, whilst at the same time going through water that at times was like the pyramids. I was glad when we got inside the breakwater and into flat waters as after dropping the sail Sara was able to get back up and move around – she had to endure a full three hours of mal de mer………real shame.
Fenders on, lines ready and under the bridge into the club we went with me thinking all we need to do is get the boat tied up and Sara could start to feel a bit more human. As we are going down to our berth the mariniero tells us our berth is occupied and pointed us to go into another which looked a bit tight, but he said it would be OK – so in we try but then Sara starts saying “excuse me Gerry darling but if you continue trying to get the boat into this slot you will no doubt damage the lovely newly painted hull, therefore I suggest we cease manouvering and try another if you please” well it was words that meant similar!!! The mariniero agreed it was too tight and told us to go around to another wider berth where the boat would definitely fit – bloody hell the whole same scenario again – by this time Sara had had about enough, and I would say she was around a 7 or 8 on the Richter scale…………we gave up trying to get onto a finger pontoon and took up the med syle moorings for bigger boats at the entrance. She did start speaking to me around midnight so maybe things were not as bad as I first thought !
Next day we heard that quite a number of boats had to run for shelter into various ports along the coast due to the strong winds and high seas – so our decision to move last night was a good one, as obviously the swell we had come through yesterday was being pushed along in front of this bad weather. One boat that came in was just through the bridge when we heard an almighty clatter of noise and saw that his anchor had just fallen off his boat and the chain was running and jumping about all over the windlass. In the heat of the moment one of the crew was trying to grab the chain and we almost couldn’t look as we fully expected to see digits flying through the air…….really scary sight.
They then motored around to try and bring the anchor back up again on the electric windlass, but the anchor was caught round the main moorings and once again the crew had their fingers and hands next to this chain as it jumped about under tension on the gypsy (wheel shaped part that the chain fits into) of the windlass. Once common sense prevailed they decided the most sensible option was for them to run out some slack and reverse in beside us until they could get a diver arranged. This they did the next day with the diver bringing the anchor up with an air bag and the owner bringing up the slack chain with the windlass.
It was good having a bit of time to enjoy Barcelona before we flew home on the Sunday night and there were some interesting boats in the marina area one of these being replica of a Spanish Galleon which was open to visitors.
This turned out to be more a sort of beach type holiday using Sun Dog for accomodation but it was lovely to feel the sun again, because lets face facts – it ain’t been out much in the UK so far this year!
However really important note to self……no more boat work during any holiday!!