Spain - L'Estartit to Barcelona | Distant Shores Sailing Newsletters

Spain - L'Estartit to Barcelona

Sailing Mediterranean Spain - L'Estartit to Barcelona
The morning of Monday September 17 was grey and overcast as we prepared to leave Port Leucate, our last port in France, to sail down the coast - destination Puerto de Estartit in Spain.

The grey gloomy weather was a change from the sunny conditions we had been experiencing since reaching the Mediterranean coast of France. But there was no rain and the visibility was good so we counted our blessings and set off around 0930 after stocking up on a few groceries at the small SPAR grocery store just outside the marina gates.

People are very keen on recreational fishing here and there were lots of boats small and large anchored a couple of miles offshore with fishing rods over the side. At least a third of the boats we saw anchored were sailboats which looked very strange to us! You don't often see sailboats anchored in the middle of nowhere a couple of miles offshore. Offshore they're usually moving, hopefully under sail, and later anchor in some peaceful protected cove. Sailors here use their boats as fishing boats a lot so as we travelled down the mountainous coast we kept dodging all these anchored craft.
Cap Cerbere
At 1330 we rounded Cap Cerbere, 27nm from Port Leucate and another 27nm to go to L'Estartit. This cape marks the border with France and Spain so Sheryl lowered our French courtesy flag and raised the Spanish courtesy flag to show respect for the host country whose waters we were sailing in. Courtesy flags are flown on the starboard halyard on a sailboat. We had cleared into the European Union (EU) in the Shetland Isles in the north of Scotland after cruising in Norway the previous summer and have an 18-month permit to cruise in the EU so while still within the EU we don't have to fly a yellow Q-flag first and formally check into the country before raising the country's Q flag. Since we're foreign (non-EU) cruisers we always check with Customs/Immigration anyway when possible when entering another country within the EU just to be sure since the rules are confusing, Often the marinas take the information and pass it on.

Cabo Creus

An hour later we rounded Cabo Creus.
At Cabo Creus we changed from a southeasterly course to a southerwesterly one and just then the sun came out, a very nice welcome to Spain!
As we were sailing we had very good internet reception (See Paul’s New Boat Blog "iPhone - Sailing the World"). The towers must be on the mountaintops since we were a few miles offshore! In a few days we would be leaving the boat in Barcelona and flying to speak at the Southampton Boat Show in England so Paul was booking plane tickets online and printing our boarding passes as we sailed down the coast! Boy, life has changed and improved from when we first started international cruising in 1989.

Puerto de Estartit
After the sun came out the wind picked up and we had a lovely sail for the afternoon. We'd had the mast down for most of the summer going through the canals so we had planned the first leg of our voyage along the Mediterranean coast in daysails to test and re-tune the rig before heading out into the Atlantic after we reached Gibraltar.
The offshore islands and headlands as you approach L'Estartit are dramatic. Such a fantastic place to make landfall in Spain!
We arrived just in time for dinner so wandered the streets of this pretty tourist town to choose from a vast selection of choices for our "arrival in a new country dinner out". After being in France since May we had to switch our brains into Spanish and found the gears needed a bit of oiling!However in Spain they really cater to tourists and almost all the restaurants had menus printed in English, French and German as well as Spanish and the locals really make an effort to try to speak to you in your own language. It makes you feel very welcome as a visitor. We never like to rely on this however and always make an attempt to learn at least a few important words and phrases in the language of the country we’re visiting. The effort is always appreciated.
Badalona Marina (Barcelona)
We woke up to thick fog the next morning, Tuesday September 18, which was a complete surprise since we hadn't seen fog since we'd left England in the spring! As soon as it started burning off and there was sufficient visibility we headed out once again our course set for Badalona, a suburb of Barcelona where we would leave the boat for the coming weekend while we flew to England to speak at the Southampton Boat Show and for the Southerly Owners Dinner (our boat is a Southerly 49) about cruising and our recent voyage through the French canals. We chose this marina rather than Port Vell or Puerto Olimpico right downtown Barcelona since, due to their location, have high rates. We were quoted prices of 85 euros per night which we accept if we were going to be on the boat enjoying the city but to just store the boat in the water while we were away 43 euros per night at Badalona Marina made more financial sense. And it was a very nice marina with a very friendly staff both in the office and on the docks.
Southampton Boat Show - England
Thursday September 20 we were up in the wee hours of the morning to catch a taxi to the Barcelona Airport and by lunchtime were landing at London Gatwick, picking up a hire car and driving on the left side of the road down to Chichester Harbour on the south coast where we stayed with friends, Hermione and Douglas, who had joined us in the French canals for a while aboard Distant Shores II with their then 10-month-old son, Arthur, and had minded our beloved boat for us the 2 winters that we had stored her in Itchenor at the Northshore boat yard. We also had a good visit with Douglas' mother, Elizabeth, a cracking-good racing sailor (as is Douglas who is an International 14 champion). Elizabeth stars in Distant Shores episode 79 - Chichester Harbour that you'll find in the Distant Shores Season 7 DVD
SB Tower
Friday September 21 was my, Sheryl's, birthday and the 23rd Anniversary of the beginning of our international cruising life. In 1989 Paul and I set sail from Port Credit Yacht Club on Lake Ontario in Canada on my 30th birthday aboard our first boat, Two-Step, a Classic 37 sailboat that we built together from a bare hull and sailed for 18 years putting 60,000 nm under the keel. But Birthday and Anniversary celebrations had to wait. We had a full day speaking to people at the Southampton Boat Show which was a complete pleasure and that night in the dramatically beautiful Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth we gave a presentation about our "Voyage through the French Canals" to 90 people, fellow Southerly owners, at the Southerly Owners Dinner. Although it was a whirlwind working day it was an absolute delight and in the end a perfect way to celebrate birthday, sailing anniversary, and the many blessings and friendships that the cruising lifestyle has brought us over the years.
Saturday and Sunday were spent at the boat show again meeting up with fellow cruising authors, the infamous Donald Street and ever-charming Liza Copeland, meeting up with show sponsors, and answering questions about long-distance cruising.
We finished the weekend visiting sailing friends, Richard and Julie, who are about to take delivery of a new Southerly 42, and their youngest son, James, who had just completed 6 months of ocean voyaging. Lots of good sailing stories to share! We flew back to the boat in Barcelona on the Sunday night energized and ready to explore more of the Spanish coast starting with the fascinating city of Barcelona...

Til then,

Sheryl and Paul Shard
Aboard SY Distant Shores II
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