17 to 25 May 2019
Le Brusc, France to Roses, Spain, N42° 15.57’ E03° 10.14’, 134nm, 20 hours
to Cala s’Alguer, N41° 51.68’ E03° 09.41’, 27nm, 4 hours
to Blanes, N41° 40.31’ E02° 47.59’, 21nm, 4 hours
With growing trepidation we had watched the mistral rage through the notorious Gulf of Leon. We had heard the horror stories of 50 knot winds and 6 metre waves so we were determined to wait for the best weather window we could get. It would be about a 24 hour passage and we needed to get it right.
So the day after Stefan returned to Toulon we hopped round the coast to an anchorage off Le Brusc. We intended to spend a couple of days more on the French Riviera, maybe even stop at Marseille, but whilst we enjoyed being back at anchor we studied the weather forecast. We had good conditions for getting across the bay so we decided to just do it!
The conditions were great for sailing and we made good speed. The swell was not too bad. It was a little dull and miserable with occasional rain showers. 20 hours at sea meant napping when and where we could!
We arrived on the Spanish side of the bay just before sunset but our intended anchorage at Cadaques was not safe with swell creeping in so we had to carry on to Roses where we anchored under a rainbow just as the sun disappeared.
The Gulf of Leon might have been kind to us but if we hoped that Spain would bring better weather, we were wrong!
When we recovered from our long night and day at sea, we took the dinghy ashore for lunch and reacquainted ourselves with Spanish food. It had been two years and we had forgotten how much we loved all the small dishes of tapas. Patatas bravas, boquerones fritos and pimentos padron will remain firmly on our list of favourite Mediterranean food.
But we had barely had time to clear our plates when the storm clouds gathered and we thought it best to get back to Pintail sharpish. We sat out the rain for the rest of the day.
There was a Roman settlement in Roses but other than a walk around its perimeter walls I kept to my no more rocks promise. When the sun finally came out, just as we moved on along the coast, we got a distant glimpse of the snow covered mountains surrounding the town.
Our passage to our next port of call took us passed the Medes Island, a rocky collection of peaks out of the sea protected as a marine reserve for its biodiversity. Underwater caves provide safe havens for lots of species of fish and fishing is prohibited.
We anchored for the night at Cala s’Alguer. For the first time this year we had company in our anchorage tucked behind a rocky peninsula topped with the ruins of a castle. We took the dinghy to the deserted beach and climbed up and over the headland. In the woods we found the Barraca d’en Dali an artist studio built for Salvador Dali in characteristically surrealist style.
From the cliff top we looked down on a tiny bay with caves in the cliffs so when we got back to the boat we took the dinghy round to find them by sea and drove right through one of the caves.
At our next stop in the town of Blanes we anchored outside the harbour for one night behind the town’s rock but then went into the marina to enable us to explore the area a bit more.
Blades is a lovely seaside town and we enjoyed the quirky sculptures along sea front, the Sardinistas dancing their traditional dance and the giant ant which it is forbidden to ride.
We had been totally spoilt with the gelato of Italy but when the sun came out I couldn’t resist trying out some Spanish ice cream. I can report that this one was very good indeed!
Blanes is home to one of the best botanical gardens in the Mediterranean so on perhaps not the best day for exploring outside (the rain was back!) we walked up the hill to the Jardi Botanic Marimurtra. Dull and drizzly it definitely was but the shapes and colours did their best to distract us.
With over 4000 species of plants from five continents the gardens stretch across the cliffs looking down into the sea and across the town and with all the recent rain were full of lush greens and bright blooms.
We had originally planned to continue down the coast to Barcelona but it was going to be very expensive in any of its marinas and as we had both visited the city before we decided to use our time in Blanes to take a day trip inland on the bus to a city neither of us had explored before…