The Excellent Adventures of Island Girl: Lagos, Gibraltar and Alicante

As predicted we stayed in Lagos for several days as the wind was not playing the game, but this was a welcome rest. The marina is great but we learnt a few lessons. First of all it is best to moor off the marina waiting for a bridge as they charge a night to stay on the pontoon. Again if you wish to leave early you should go through the bridge and moor off shore. The marina fees were about 60 Euros a night so we could have saved 120 Euros. A lesson learnt. This is just completely at odds with the cost of living in Spain. We found we could feed ourselves including alcohol for a fraction of the cost in Australia.

We waited for our new crew Sharon Redpath to arrive and then set off for Gibraltar. I had stressed to James that I do not like night transits but he somehow keeps forgetting that. This leg was 120 miles and Sharon is new to this game so we did our watch together for her to learn. We left Lagos at 7am Wednesday and finally arrived in Gibraltar at about 9.30am Thursday.

Sadly we only sailed for four hours on this leg. No wind. We were advised to go to Ocean Village Marina but having stayed there we would now choose Queens Way Marina. There is also the choice of staying on the Spanish side but that entails crossing the border to explore Gibraltar.

We took a trip up the rock with our wonderful taxi driver/guide Neil Clinton (no relation to Bill apparently) and that was awesome. The limestone cave can be used as a concert hall in the summer when the cave does not drip.  The cave was stunning. Only seen to be believed. The top of the rock has several colonies of monkeys. James was not happy.  He hates monkeys.  They were jumping all over the top of the taxi. Very entertaining.

The tunnels were extensive and the history fascinating. I am sure I would not have wanted to be there during any of the many wars that were fought there. I can now see why Gibraltar was so important as a strong hold.

We left Gibraltar on the Friday 29th August at midday and set sail for Almeria. Well set sail is not quite the appropriate term as we had to motor pretty much the whole way. By 6pm we were enshrouded with FOG. We hate fog. Radar was deployed and a careful watch was kept. The fog finally lifted at 11pm and not before time. We arrived at Almeria at 9.30 am after 155 miles. Did I mention that I hate overnights. I think James has finally figured that out. I do not hesitate to make my point of view known.

We went in to the Marina at Aguadolce. We were surrounded by bars and restaurants. We like this place. We found a bar called Mojitos which backed on to the beach and we all had out first swim in the Med. They served drinks to your lounge chair. The only issue was the sand. It was HOT. Now when I say hot I mean really hot. You really had to wear your shoes to the waters edge. The water as divine. Yes my first dip in the Med. Did I mention the Mojitos? 

Again the cost of food and drinks was relatively inexpensive. We had a great meal at one of the many restaurants at the Marina. It is still hard to get used to the fact that no one goes to dinner before 9pm at the earliest and this includes the children. The marina costs were very affordable but the amenities a long walk. We will definitely go back there.

From Almeria went headed for Alicante as we were keen to see the Volvo boats. This was a passage of 160 miles and again at night. What is it with this night stuff. We had a very interesting night. We were constantly dodging strobe lobster pots and no less than 50 fishing boats but the real excitement/terror came at about 5am when we were suddenly bathed in spotlight from a boat that had approached out port stern unseen. Yes that means no lights and no AIS. 

I called James on deck – yes he was asleep again, and he immediately said it was the police. We were soon called to answer the radio. After the second coming of the Spanish inquisition we were asked to stand by. They finally let us leave. However they returned no less than 20 minutes later for another look. James waved and they left. I needed a vodka.  Yes I was now wide-awake.

Alicante was our first experience with the open top tourist bus. We now like to do this at all the major ports as you get a great tour. We were lucky enough to see four Volvo boats and toured the Volvo Ocean Race Museum. Ok those guys/girls are insane. Definitely not for me. The marinas are getting more expensive the further east we go. Apparently September is still peak season. I like to anchor off but as yet we have not inflated the dinghy so that is a bit tricky.

Our next stop was Formanterra, which is just south of Mallorca. James had been raving about a restaurant here and we did in fact anchor for the first time. The restaurant – “Juan a Andrea’s”, actually has a pick up and delivery service.  I would highly recommend the experience. It is a special occasion place as it is not cheap, and you definitely do not need shoes. The floor is all lovely soft fine sand. We spent two nights at anchor and then headed to Ibiza.

Again Ibiza was expensive. We were up to 90Euros a night and then another 3 Euros for a shower. We took advantage of a good water supply to give “Island Girl” a good clean. She really needed it.  We explored the town a little but were all a little low and slow after the previous busy days. 

– Marita Wilmot

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