Living Aboard In Spain During Winter
BACK TO CARTAGENA
I only had a couple of brief visits to Cartagena. The first was just after I bought Ellidah.
While the previous owner packed down his belongings onboard to make Ellidah ready for me, I jumped on the bus to check out the town and the marina, Yacht Port Cartagena.
I noticed right away that the staff was really good people and they let me in to walk around and have a look. There is quite a big winter liveaboard community in YPC and I quickly decided that this would be a good place to park the boat for the winter.
Cartagena is still alive and buzzing during winter, in contrast to other more touristy towns where everything closes down out of season. It seemed like a perfect fit as I was going to spend quite some time there.
The second time I visited Cartagena was during The First Proper Sailing Trip Onboard Ellidah.
I must say I did prefer the sea route to the road route. There is something special about entering a town by boat and I still get excited every time. Even if it is somewhere I’ve been before.
If you read the previous posts, you probably remember that I sorted out the paperwork and booked my berth for the next 6 months in YPC during this visit. After finishing our little adventure up the coast to Alicante and back, I was again putting my feet down in Cartagena.
Check out Castles, Beer, and Goodbyes in Alicante to read about our trip down from Alicante.
SETTLING INTO THE MARINA LIFESTYLE
I’m a very social person and I like meeting new people and making new friends. You might think: “Why on earth would you go and live alone in a sailboat then?”
The answer is really simple. There are lots of people living out their own dreams in their boats. At some point, many of them went through the same phase as me when they chose this lifestyle.
The Mediterranean weather is unsettled during the winter and many prefer to hunker up and get cozy in a marina during the chilly months.
This makes popular liveaboard marinas like YPC a nice place to meet like-minded cruisers. Having the marina within walking distance of a brilliant town is also a big bonus in case you get bored of just walking around the marina.
The days passed rather fast and before I knew it, I had gotten to know many new people in this thriving community.
Sundowners with new friends in different boats, tapa nights in town, bar hopping followed by horrible hangovers, Sunday BBQ gatherings, making local Spanish friends, and lots and lots of boat work.
SOCIALIZING IN MY NEW HOME TOWN
It is late October 2019.
If you read the previous post, you probably remember that we made some noise arriving in the marina. One of the guys who helped us with the lines when we finally parked up was my new neighbor, David.
He lives aboard his Dufour 425 and had been sailing around the Med for many years.
The two of us quickly became good friends. Since he already sailed around the Med for so long, he gave me lots of good tips about the different places around, weather systems and taught me a lot about sailing and the cruising lifestyle in general.
Little did I know back then that we would be neighbors throughout an international pandemic with national lockdown and later set off side by side with each of our crew to sail around the Balearic Islands the following year.
More on that later.
I also met Marky, who was running the local daily VHF net where all the cruisers shared information and got in contact with each other.
Everything from selling treasures from the bilge to announcing the time of the Sunday BBQ. He was also the only other Skipper in YPC about my age so naturally, we got along well.
Then there was the legendary Oscar. He lived in Cartagena and worked as a regatta instructor right next to YPC.
We met by coincidence in what was to become my go-to spot for pool and beer, Radio Bar. He and some friends were playing pool and I asked if I could join in.
I got introduced to his friends who were also locals and just like that, I had myself a network of both local friends and fellow cruiser friends from the Marina. What a joy!
These are not the only ones I met, but I’m introducing you to them now because they all play a central role in the story ahead and I will mention them regularly.
TIME TO DO SOME WINTER SAILING
After finishing a work trip to Norway, I felt that it was time to set off again and do some sailing.
The Mediterranean weather is usually settled in the summer and unsettled in the winter.
This means that storms and bad weather happen more rapidly during the winter months, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible to sail during winter.
Quite the opposite actually if you time it right and keep a close eye on the weather forecast.
Especially on the western side, the Med winter is mild and temperatures can reach 20 degrees on a good sunny day.
We had a really good trip up to Alicante earlier and sailing along the Spanish coast is easy peasy. Two friends from Norway were keen to visit and get a taste of the cruising life, Karolius, and Bjørn – Gunnar.
The weather looked good and we headed off to Alicante again and ended up sailing roughly the same route as the previous trip.
This time we also made a visit to Tabarca, a little island southeast of Santa Pola which was really nice with a cool ancient castle. I probably said it before, But I love castles. Almost as much as Volcanoes.
No snapped throttle wire this time luckily, but we got stuck in Alicante for a few extra days due to some shitty weather. Other than that, the trip was exceptional.
LEAVING EUROPE AND DOING OUR FIRST PASSAGE AND NIGHT SAIL
Christmas came and Christmas went. I spent this one offshore at work up in Norway.
Traveling back and forth between the Mediterranean and Norway for work regularly shows how big the contrasts are in northern and southern winters.
The weather is cold in Norway in December, and the North Sea can be really furious. I’ve seen 70-80kt of wind and close to 20-meter-high waves.
The weather wasn’t that bad this time, but as I sat out there, I was dreaming of myself away to the next adventure in the warmer climate.
Ellidah is a Norwegian registered vessel and Norway is not a part of the EU. The EU regulations state that a vessel not registered in an EU country with EU taxes paid can only stay a maximum of 18 months at a time.
As soon as you have been outside the EU, the clock resets and you can go back and spend another 18 months.
Making a trip down to Africa would solve two problems. My urge for summer temperatures and Ellidah’s urge to reset the EU clock.
I decided to make a trip down to Saidia in Morocco, which is right on the Algerian border and pretty much straight south of Almeria in Spain.
My Spanish friend Oscar and my Swedish friend Christian were super stoked on this trip which was about 430NM both ways. We were also excited about doing some night passages for the first time.
I’m going to write a separate post about our African adventure. Christian is also putting together a movie from the trip, so stay tuned!
Did you like this article?
Leave a comment below!