Guide For Sailiors

Robin Knox-Johnston the first man to sail all alone around the world non-stop once said that having a boat was the ultimate freedom. For us on the Costas of Southern Spain the big question is where to go. The best parts about cruising the Costas is that we have two parts to it the Med and the Atlantic It is nice to start inside the Med in June and work your way outside to the cooler air and water for the hot months of July and August.

Port Hopping In Andalucia

Let us start in the East:
Almerimar is a huge and under-populated marina 100 Nautical miles east of Marbella. For a motor yacht this is some 5 hours away, while for a sailing yacht it is some 15 hours sailing. While the main marina of Almerimar does not have a lot to offer nearby Almeria has a yacht club basin from where you can explore Almeria. The nearby marinas of Agridulce and Las Roquettas offer alternative places to spend a night.

Coming westwards the next stop is Marina del Este some 30 Nm west. This is a small but very picturesque marina snuggled up against the spectacular cliffs of the Nerja area. There are many good restaurents to be found in the marina and there are a couple of good dive centers for the scuba enthusiast.

The Puerto Pesquero at the eastern end of Marbella does not accept yachts. The Puerto Deportivo however does and is in the heart of Marbella. In summer it is heaving with people and the old town of Marbella is definitely worth a visit. Beware of surge in the entrance, Puerto Jose Banus is arguably the best known port on the Costa del Sol famous in the seventies as the hang-out of the jet-set. I remember pulling in with a yacht in the early eighties and being stunned by the yacht with 2 leopards on the aft deck. Today it is still quite an up-market place and worth a couple of nights but try to avoid July and August when it is fully booked.

Estepona is more down to earth and first choice for many cruising sailors who stay for the winter. Good facilities and plenty of visitors berths but beware fuel is only available in the fishing port from Monday to Friday.

Puerto Duquesa has developed a good atmosphere over the years and many Costa regulars keep their boats there. Again good facilities and many visitors berths however please beware the entrance is shallow and completely untenable in any kind of swell.

Sotogrande has solved its surge problem by extending the Muelle de Levante, and it shows in the number of boats that have filled up this spacious marina in the last year. There is no town as such around the marina which makes bit isolated however it has excellent facilities, the biggest travel-lift on the coast and many visitor berths. The marineros are very good in helping you into your berth.

Gibraltar boasts a selection of marinas from the original Sheppards marina, to the adjacent Marina Bay marina to the new Queensway MarinaSheppards also has a shipyard and travel-lift and is a great place to have work done at a very reasonable rate. Queensway is newer and cleaner and closer to the centre but I still always go to Marina Bay. Dont forget your passport!

Alcaidesa Marine is designed as a multipurpose area that will have the services with which a Marine must be of high quality sports, those directly connected with the activity: slipway and dry marina, fuel supply and sanitation, and the complementary parking vehicles, landscaped open spaces, promenades and a large shopping area. Easy access.

Tarifa is qualified as a port of call, only for emergency. A tiny harbour that is accessible to yachts beware the strong currents and tides and the entrance. It is best to approach this harbour at slack water.

Further up the coast towards Cadiz there is Barbate  which has a good marina do not be tempted to approach to the entrance at night as there is shallow water all round the approach channel  so if you get it slightly wrong at night you are stuck.

Then there is the lovely city of  Cadiz. There is a tiny harbour right inside the old town. If your boat is about 40 feet and the weather is good this is simply the place to explore Cadiz from Across the bay is the large marina of Puerto Sherry . This marina has excellent facilities and a large shipyard. And best of all is right next to Puerto Santa Maria where the seafood is divine. Head for the paseo maritimo and you will find food stalls with gambas, calamari, mejillones etc.

From Cadiz it is only a 20 miles to the entrance to the Guadalquiver and Seville At the entrance is the village of Chiclana. The passage up the river Guadalquiver through the spectacular Doñana bird sanctuary can take a few hours due to the speed restrictions. Many birds migrating from Africa stop over here. In the center of Seville is a marina, and a yacht club. Try to get a berth at the yacht club where they are very welcoming and friendly.

As the Med fills up for the silly season (July and August), there is only one choice a GO WEST  to Huelva. A new marina at the entrance to the river though isolated is only a days sail away from there to Villamoura on Portugals Algarve coast is only another days sailing. From Villamoura to Lagos is a few hours. An another hour takes to you to Cape St. Vincent also known as the twin capes. Just inside this cape is a tiny fishing village with a stone pier. This is one of my favourite places. The scuba diving in the grottoes below the twin capes is spectacular, the water is crisp and clean, the villagers friendly and welcoming. You can even get fuel here but it involves calling for a tanker, which then has to reverse back down the stone pier. And you can buy fresh fish and seafood direct off the fishing boats when they come in at night.

By Kim Skov Nielsen ©tarifatravel