Thursday 15 November 2012

La Harradurra and Benalmadena – Sailing the Costa de Sol of Spain

October 23 – 24, 2012

We needed to wait until the marina office opened for us to check out so by the time that was all done it was almost 9.00am by the time we said goodbye to Almerimar after quite an enjoyable week long stop over. We set sail west along the coast on our way to a little place called La Harradurra we’d chosen as our anchorage for the night. Once more the wind was quite light in the morning so we motor sailed across very calm seas.
The snow on the Sierra Nevada reminded us winter was well on the way.
In the foreground is yet another old fort and more greenhouses 
The snow on the peaks of the Sierra Nevada ranges combined with the cooler air temperature reminded us again that the seasons were changing and our days of sailing in board shorts and bikinis were behind us for a while. The crystal clear air did provide us with some great views though. This section of the coast is a mixture of the greenhouses we’d become accustomed to and smaller tourist developments all with the dramatic back drop of the rugged high ranges behind.
Click on any image to see larger versions
The wind did pick up a little through the day but with 47 nautical miles to cover we didn’t have the luxury of  bobbing along slowly under sail only. The diesel stayed on but the combination of main and motor actually gave us good speed covering the distance in 7 hours 45 minutes. We averaged just over six knots for the trip despite keeping the engine revs down in the economic range. Our track info even showed we’d hit a max of 8.6 knots at one stage. Woohoo!!!
At La Harradurra we were well on our way to Gibraltar
We anchored at the far end of the beach (Photo from the internet)

We reached La Harradurra well before sunset which is always the aim so you can see where you’re anchoring.  Despite its obvious tourism focus, compared to so much of the slap dash rise development we’ve seen right along the both the Costa del Blanco and Costa del Sol, this is quite an attractive spot. The beach is set between two mountains, and is thus well sheltered from most winds other than south to south-west. 
Nice and calm anchored off the beach at La Harradurra
We tucked in close to the eastern end of the beach and were well sheltered from south easterly wind and swell. It is a stunning bay, which is a favourite spot for scuba diving. The sea bed around here is apparently home to the remains of 25 Spanish naval galleons that were wrecked in a storm of 19 October 1562. Hmmm! We’re certainly glad that here in 2012 we haven’t had any October storms like that one.
On the beach at Hurradurra. What a great spot for wedding photos

Alcheringa was again used as a backdrop as a photographer brought happy newlyweds down to the water’s edge for a lengthy shoot. We expect they would have been great pics across the bay into the setting sun. It would have been great to be able to see the shots he took.
With this background, the bride and groom in the foreground on the beach
and Alcheringa in between, we wish we saw the wedding photos.

We definitely would have like to have stayed on for a day’s exploring here but once again the weather forecast said go so we went. We’ll be passing by this way again in the spring when we head back east to the central Mediterranean so maybe then.

Since we’d enjoyed Malaga so much during our Spanish road trip back in April, (Check that story out at ) we’d originally planned to make a stop in the city of Picasso’s birth but it turned about to be impossible to get one of the very limited number of berths inside the harbour. There were really no viable options to anchor out anywhere given the southerly winds on their way. Malaga is really not geared up for visiting yachts at all which is a pity because we’re sure a lot of cruisers would love this historic city.

With no anchorages along this section of the coast providing shelter to the south we chose a marina at Benalmadena 37 miles away from La Harradurra where we would stay a day or three depending on what it was like.  We still had a week up our sleeves before we planned to be in Gibraltar so we were in no rush.
These guys and girls are always welcome around Alcheringa's bow
We sailed right on by Malaga and across the huge bay where we were again joined by a large group of dolphins who kept us entertained for quite awhile. Their antics ducking and weaving around the bow are fantastic and it’s so cool when they swim along on their sides checking you out. Looking into their huge eyes you can almost sense them trying to communicate. Either that or their silently laughing their heads off at the geek with the camera almost falling overboard trying to get the perfect dolphin shot.
Here's looking at ya Kid!
Karen keeping a close eye on this one's course off Malaga

Our next task was dodging big cruise liners as no less than three all came out of Malaga within half an hour and cut directly across our course. Power may have to give way to sail in theory but we have no intention of testing that one out. We always keep out of the way as much as possible. They’re way to big and fast for us. The first one to go past was a sister ship of the Costa Concordia that ran into rocks off the Italian coast and sunk so we weren’t taking any chances of this Captain’s driving being as bad.

A sister ship to the Costa Concordia off Malaga
One our way we had heard a series of Pan Pan radio calls from the Spanish Coast Guard asking all ships to be on the lookout for a vessel that had left Northern Africa with an unspecified number of people on board headed for the Spanish Coast. Unfortunately we heard later that the boat full of illegal imigrants had capsised in the Straits of Gibraltar with considerable loss of life.
Search helicopters returning over Benalmedena
We arrived in Benalmedena mid afternoon to find a horrible, gaudy tourist development gone wrong and an overpriced marina with crap service. We stopped at the fuel dock and checked in at the office where the staff were quite gruff and anything but helpful with information. We then moved over to our allocated berth where we found they had a weird type of shore power outlet we’d never seen before. To use it you have to pay a hefty deposit to hire a matching plug off the marina but it’s not an adaptor. It’s just a plug. You’re supposed to take your plug off your shore power lead and rewire this one on. Yeah right. We could go without shore power for a night so we gave that whole stuff around a miss. The WiFi proved useless in our part of the marina so the only service we actually could use was the water but with our tanks almost full we didn’t bother with that either. Regardless, we were charged for all three on our invoice. AT 54 Euro ($66) it was almost five times dearer than Almerima where everything worked fine and the staff were friendly.

The further away from Benalmedena the better it looks. Just don't get close
Marc ready with the lines as we enter Benalmedena.
This boat with a broken mast and massive damage from where the rig came
down on deck was across from us at Benalmedena

The marina itself is filled with ugly apartment blocks that are the result of some wacko architect’s idea of ‘Moorish’ influence. These are surrounded by restaurants all with a different theme but each with an aggressive hawker out front trying to lasso you inside for exorbitantly overpriced British pub grub. No mate we don’t want to pay 16 Euro for the ‘best fish and chips in Benalmedena.’ No we don’t want a Guinness pie and chips for 14 Euro and you can stick your 15 Euro bangers and mash.

After one short walk we couldn’t wait to get out of the place.

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