Sunrise in Mar Menor

We are now anchored in front of Club Náutico La Isleta, in La Manga, where we have been cordially welcomed.

As Luis said: this might be a club, but it is still a port. And good manners and respect for the sea call for ports to welcome mariners. So we are being hosted the way one hosts old friends who come to visit. There is courtesy in La Manga, province of Murcia.

This picture taken at sunrise this morning. iPhone 6 Plus.

This picture taken at sunrise this morning. iPhone 6 Plus.

An Amel Super Maramu in the Mar Menor

Originally, we had no plans to enter this 11 mile by 5 mile hyper saline small sea —the Mediterranean being the big sea.   The charts that we have come to rely the most upon showed Peregrinus couldn’t make it at the first set of Westbound buoys.  Thereafter, we could –in paper– make it, but our Imray pilot book (2014) hints of silting and of irregular, unknown dredging periods.

We were fortunate, however, that along the way we’ve made Spanish friends with local sailing knowledge and who insisted we shouldn’t skip the Mar Menor, and so we decided to give it a shot.  After all, we’ve been known to enter places, from the Bahamas to New Brunswick, with one inch of water below the keel.

We carry three sets of charts of this salty lagoon east of Cartagena, namely

- Navionics (vector, charts fully updated three days prior)
- Instituto Geográfico de la Marina 1:50,000, 1996, (raster, MaxSea on iPad)
- Garmin Bluechart (vector)

It is Navionics that reads that the entrance channel is impassable by anything other than a canoe, and in fact its very chart of the Mar Menor has been presented by others on internet forums as demonstration that Navionics contains imaginary information of the Mediterranean.  However, other than here, Navionics has been good to us.  For all of Spain, Garmin is simply a rasterised version of the official Spanish charts.  And the most updated Spanish charts… are old (1996).  Having said that, the Spanish charts, while showing less detail than we like, show that Peregrinus should enter the Mar Menor without issue.

In any event, Peregrinus, which at the very worst has a draught of 2.2 meters fully loaded, and which has its sensors calibrated to show water below the keel, entered the Mar Menor without issue in January 2016, under the following conditions:

Wind during transit 6 knots
True wind direction 45 degrees
Barometer 1032 mb and increasing slowly

True wind day prior 6 knots
True wind day prior 30 degrees
True wind in Cartagena harbour prior week: 10 knots or less

Least depth seen: 3 feet below keel at the second set of physical buoys
(second set of physical buoys are the first set of buoys shown on all charts, entering from Med)
Second least depth seen: 4 feet below keel, 200 feet west of bridge

Tide: 3.5 hours before high tide
Tide coefficient: 56 (two hours before transit)
Tide range: -0.1 metre (low tide), +0.1 metre (high tide)

Current: 0.5 knots, estimated, Eastbound

Peregrinus , under sail, comes across another sailboat in the Mar Menor.  Note: no waves!  January 29, 2016.  Leica Typ 114.

Peregrinus, under sail, comes across another sailboat in the Mar Menor.  Note: no waves!  January 29, 2016.  Leica Typ 114.

On the Guadalquivir

The river was known to the Romans as Baetis, a name that may have a celtic or phoenician origin.  When the Arabs invaded in 711, they called it "the river of Cordoba," after one of the cities on its shores.  But when other Moors of North Africa known as the Almoravids invaded in 1090, they renamed it "the big river," or Wad al-Kabir; when the Spanish took the river back, in the years 1236 to 1248, they kept this name of Berber origin, latinised as Guadalquibir.

Seville is 60 nautical miles away from the sea, but the river is navigable and the city features a very active cargo and cruiseship harbour.  Peregrinus has been docked at Odyssey Marina for the last three weeks.

We have often used the Guadalquivir as transport, commuting to the city center by Zodiac.  The Sevillanos use the river to practice sailing, rowing and paddling; and in fact a number of them have made it to the Olympic games.

Paddlers and rowers on the Guadalquivir from the Puente de Triana on a Saturday morning.  10:21 AM, 12 December 2015.  Leica Typ 114.

Paddlers and rowers on the Guadalquivir from the Puente de Triana on a Saturday morning.  10:21 AM, 12 December 2015.  Leica Typ 114.

Maritime Ode

[...]
Ah! The remote beaches, the docks glimpsed from far away
Then the beaches looming up, the docks seen from close up.
The mystery of every departure and every arrival,
The sad instability, the incomprehensibility
Of this impossible universe
Felt in the skin more intensely at every seafaring moment!

The absurd gulping sobs our souls pour out
Over the expanses of various seas with isles in the distance,
Over far-off islands, coasts left behind as we pass,
Over ports grown clearer with their houses and their people
As the ship approaches.
[...]
——— Alvaro de Campos (Fernando Pessoa), Poesia

Peregrinus  at anchor in the Odiel river, in front of Mazagón Marina, mancomunidad of Moguer and Palos de la Frontera.  Photo courtesy of Javier Delgado.  Sony DSC-HX60V, 10:14 AM, 17 November 2015

Peregrinus at anchor in the Odiel river, in front of Mazagón Marina, mancomunidad of Moguer and Palos de la Frontera.  Photo courtesy of Javier Delgado.  Sony DSC-HX60V, 10:14 AM, 17 November 2015

A visit to the first fleet of the Admiral of the Ocean Sea

Moored at Palos lies a life-size replica of Columbus' first fleet: the Niña, the Santa María, and the Pinta.  It is from Palos that Columbus departed on his first expedition, the 3rd of August, 1492.

The Niña, foreground, sailed three times to America under Columbus, making over 25,000 nautical miles.  In between the second and third expeditions, it was kidnapped by Moor pirates and was only saved because of the daring prison break and escape of part of the crew.  

Niña has about the same nominal dimensions as Peregrinus, except the latter is pointy, and so from its bow it takes more than half its length to get to its broadest point, from where it tapers sharply, whereas Niña gets fat not far from the bow and carries much of its full width nearly to its stern.  This helps explain how Niña had a crew of 24 under Columbus whereas Peregrinus is only rated for eight.  

At one point, we were questioned by the lady at the admittance how had we arrived.  It is not our custom to speak of Peregrinus, but she asked if we were driving –no.  Arrived by taxi, then? –no.  By bus? –no.  Well, how?, she insisted.  When we explained that we had come to Palos by Zodiac from the mouth of the Odiel river, then up the Río Tinto and had finally climbed the iron Muelle de la Reina, the lady was a bit floored, but she walked out of her booth and, like everyone we met at Palos, was most welcoming and helpful.

Palos de la Frontera (of the frontier to the New World, not to the frontier to Portugal, which is some distance away).  3:07 pm 17 November 2015.  iPhone 6 Plus.

Palos de la Frontera (of the frontier to the New World, not to the frontier to Portugal, which is some distance away).  3:07 pm 17 November 2015.  iPhone 6 Plus.


In the Al-Gharb

When the moors took Hispania in 711, they called its west Al-Gharb, or The West.  In Portugal, they still call their South the Algarve.  The kings of Spain, from the time of Alfonso X, the wise, also styled themselves Rey del Algarve; at first, because they claimed possession of the whole thing, and later, after treaties with Portugal, because they remained, and remain, lords of the eastern parts of the old Al-Gharb, and in particular because of their conquest of the saracen kingdom of Niebla (1262).

From the time we passed Cape Saint Vincent, and therefore entered coastal Algarve, we've been astonished at the easy sailing and incredibly good weather enjoyed here, and, particularly so, east of Faro.  The explanation is that the upper section of the Bay of Cadiz, from Faro to the Guadalquivir, forms the ultimate shelter from Atlantic and from Mediterranean storms, while maintaining the warmest weather in Europe.

And so today we entered the Piedras estuary, at El Rompido, near Huelva, and this does not look like Europe at all: it feels as if we are somewhere in the Caribbean.  

No wonder the moors liked it.

El Rompido, Piedras river, Cartaya, in Huelva.  iPhone 6 Plus, 5:54pm 12 November.

El Rompido, Piedras river, Cartaya, in Huelva.  iPhone 6 Plus, 5:54pm 12 November.

An hórreo in Galicia

Galicia is blanketed with hórreos (from Latin horreum, granary).   Ever so charming, most older homes here had one, and although rarely in use anymore, people keep them because of nostalgia, aesthetics, and status signaling.  We sat for a while in the spectacular one at Quinta San Amaro in Meaño, which has been converted into a reading room, and where the walls have been replaced with glass.

We liked the one at the Pazo Baión winery, which we toured, and which has been moved to the top of the hill, where it stands,  stately overlooking the vineyards.

Peregrinus  has been docked at Villanova de Arousa for a week, waiting for a weather window to sail on South to Portugal.  In the meantime, we rented a car and explored the Rias Baixas, Santiago de Compostela, Pontevedra, and Vigo.  The crenellations on the tower at Pazo (palace) Baion are only 100 years old, added by the nouveau riche Galician guy who went to Argentina, got fabulously rich, and bought the Pazo from the counts who built it before Columbus found the New World.  Leica Typ 114, 9 October 2014.

Peregrinus has been docked at Villanova de Arousa for a week, waiting for a weather window to sail on South to Portugal.  In the meantime, we rented a car and explored the Rias Baixas, Santiago de Compostela, Pontevedra, and Vigo.  The crenellations on the tower at Pazo (palace) Baion are only 100 years old, added by the nouveau riche Galician guy who went to Argentina, got fabulously rich, and bought the Pazo from the counts who built it before Columbus found the New World.  Leica Typ 114, 9 October 2014.

In Brigantia

A second corner of Hispania looks to the Northwest where the city of Brigantia lies in Galicia.  A high tower, an observation point towards Britannia, rises in the city.
      ––– Paulus Orosius,  
Historiarum Adversum Paganos Libri VII,
Anno Domini 417

The  Farum Brigantium , built when Trajan was Emperor (AD 98 to AD 117), is 34 meters tall to the base of the light, which still stands, plus perhaps 3 more meters for the now disappeared light housing: 37 meters in total height.  Compare to the first skyscraper, Chicago's  Home Insurance Building  of 1885: 42 meters.  Brigantia sat halfway across  Via XX - Bracara Augusta-Asturica Augusta , i.e., Roman Highway 20, from Braga in Portugal to Astorga in Spain.  Brigantia is now known as La Coruña, and  Peregrinus  docked at the Real Club Náutico de La Coruña for a couple of spectacular days.  Leica Typ 114, 28 September 2015.

The Farum Brigantium, built when Trajan was Emperor (AD 98 to AD 117), is 34 meters tall to the base of the light, which still stands, plus perhaps 3 more meters for the now disappeared light housing: 37 meters in total height.  Compare to the first skyscraper, Chicago's Home Insurance Building of 1885: 42 meters.  Brigantia sat halfway across Via XX - Bracara Augusta-Asturica Augusta, i.e., Roman Highway 20, from Braga in Portugal to Astorga in Spain.  Brigantia is now known as La Coruña, and Peregrinus docked at the Real Club Náutico de La Coruña for a couple of spectacular days.  Leica Typ 114, 28 September 2015.

Castillo de San Felipe, El Ferrol

This fort was built in 1557 to protect the Royal Shipyards, and  Peregrinus  anchored right in front of it for an entire week.  Today El Ferrol is still a major naval base and we saw F-101  Álvaro de Bazán  and F-103  Blas de Lezo  go in and out right by us.  27 September 2015, Leica Typ 114.

This fort was built in 1557 to protect the Royal Shipyards, and Peregrinus anchored right in front of it for an entire week.  Today El Ferrol is still a major naval base and we saw F-101 Álvaro de Bazán and F-103 Blas de Lezo go in and out right by us.  27 September 2015, Leica Typ 114.

The view while dining in Asturias

At the foot of the Picos de Europa, on the Bay of Biscay, sits the welcoming fishing village of Lastres (Llastres, in Asturian).  Safe harbour, free dock.

The village of Lastres from the deck of  Peregrinus .  Top middle: the bell tower of San Roque, which marks every hour.  10 September 2015, Leica Typ 114.

The village of Lastres from the deck of Peregrinus.  Top middle: the bell tower of San Roque, which marks every hour.  10 September 2015, Leica Typ 114.