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Sailing on the Costa del Sol
Spain is part of the European Union and all EU and American citizens can visit the country for a period of no more than 90 days only with a passport. EU citizens can apply for a residence permit if they want to extend their stay. Non-EU nationals can apply for a 90-day extension. These regulations do not seem to be enforced with respect to the yachtsman who lives on board. It is recommended to clear customs if entering Spain for the first time. The ship’s registration documents and crew members’ passports will be required. A certificate of competence, evidence of the boat’s VAT status, a list of equipment with passport details, the radio license and an insurance certificate may also be required. A yacht paid or exempt from VAT (value added tax) can apply for a “permiso aduanero”. This allows an indefinite stay in the country and can be useful when importing yacht spare parts from other EU countries. Ships registered outside the EU that have not paid VAT can be imported into the EU for a period not exceeding six months in any twelve months, after which VAT becomes due. This period can often be extended by prior agreement with the local customs authorities. There is a legal requirement for foreign ships to fly their own national maritime flag with the courtesy flag of Spain.
It is worth considering the following equipment when cruising in this area. An SSB radio is useful for getting weather forecasts. It is very hot in the summer and ventilation is important. It might be worth putting an extra lock on and a wind pick up on the vanguard will help a lot. An awning or biminy, covering the cockpit, to provide shelter from the sun is a must. A cockpit table is useful as eating out during the summer months is one of the pleasures of cruising. Mosquitoes can be a problem and many boats screen all openings while others rely on mosquito coils, insecticides and repellents. Sunburn is the other danger cruisers must be aware of, the sun can be deceptively strong while the boat is underway, a lot of cream and a hat will go to avoid the misery of the sun.
There is a continuous current to the east between 1 and 2 knots flowing through the right of Gibraltar and between the Costa del Sol and the North African coast. There is some tide to be considered at the western end of the region, Gibraltar sees 1 meter at most. This decreases travel further east. The weather is affected by many systems and therefore it is difficult to predict. There is an old saying that in the summer months nine days of light winds will be followed by a full storm which is inaccurate. A wind from the northwest is known as a “tramotana”. It can be dangerous because it can reach and reach gale force in less than 15 minutes. It often lasts for 3 days and can last more than a week. The wind from the east, the “levante” can also blow for several days at gale force. The annual rainfall in Gibraltar is 760 mm. The Costa del Sol will experience about 4 days a month of fog. The summer temperature can be more than 35 degrees C and the winter sees around 15 degrees.
The rest of this article looks mainly at the ports of the Costa del Sol. There are also numerous anchorages, but only a few of the notable ones are mentioned here.
Marina Bay is the largest of Gibraltar’s three marinas with 350 berths. Most of the docking is stern/bow. Larger yachts can stay alongside. Water and electricity on the pontoons. Within the complex you will find a laundrette, laundry and a good selection of restaurants and bars. There is an indoor market less than 5 minutes walk from the marina. Queensway Marina is much quieter than the other two ports of Gibraltar. Safety is excellent with all pontoons enclosed. Inside the complex you will find several restaurants and bars.
Gibraltar itself was ceded by the Spanish to the British in the early 18th century and for most of its history since that time Spain has been trying to get it back. There is evidence of this wherever you go on the rock. The rock itself is riddled with tunnels built at one time or another for the purpose of adding to the defenses of Gibraltar. Many of the oldest tunnels are open to the public and feature exhibits of what life was like for the soldiers of the day. Many of the tunnels are definitely not open to the public and there is considerable speculation about what can be seen in these. You can see Rosia Bay where Admiral Lord Nelson’s body was washed ashore by HMS Victory after his famous victory over a combined French and Spanish fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar. Nelson’s body was returned to Britain for a hero’s funeral, but many of the sailors who died alongside him in the battle are buried on the rock in Trafalgar Cemetery. Take a cable car ride to the top of the rock, stunning views of Spain and across the straights to Morocco. Up here you will also find the famous Barbary monkey colony. Rumor has it that only when the monkeys are gone will the British leave the Rock. A rumor taken seriously by Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of Great Britain during the Second World War, who, knowing that its population was decreasing, ordered to buy more Rock from Africa.
Puerto de Sotogrande is an attractive marina complex surrounded by apartments, shops, bars and restaurants. The overall design was inspired by Portofino. There are
Sandy beaches on either side of the marina and golf, horse riding, tennis and squash courts nearby. One of the most expensive marinas on this part of the coast.
One of my favorites is Puerto de la Duquessa. Not too big and not noisy. The marina is surrounded by apartments, shops, restaurants and bars. The marina offers free medical assistance to its users. There are sandy beaches on either side of the marina. The village of Sabinillas is a 5 minute walk to the north. Another bus will take you to the village of Casares which clings to the side of a mountain. Marbella, popular with the rich and famous, is another bus ride away. Don’t expect to see the famous ones on the bus though, it’s the Ferrari ones. Rent a car and drive to the picturesque town of Ronda.
Port of Estapona is a medium-sized marina with the usual development of restaurants and bars.
Puerto de Jose Banus, the marina of the rich and famous and the prices reflect this. The whitewashed Andalusian-style buildings surround the marina, which houses boutiques, bars, restaurants and night clubs. There are several Yacht Charter and Yacht Brokerage operations in the marina complex. Marbella is 15 minutes away by car or bus. A good beach west of the marina that belongs to the hotel and allows access to the mooring holders. This can be arranged at the control tower. Many golf courses in the area.
The small marina of Puerto de Marbella is surrounded by tourist developments. The marina can be noisy at night during the summer months. The wind from the east, south and southwest can produce a strong wave in the port. Be prepared to double lines. Beaches on either side of the marina, but these are very crowded during the summer months. The city itself is worth exploring. Do not miss the famous Orange Square located in the heart of the city center.
Puerto de Cabopino is a pleasant, small harbor surrounded by Andalusian-style houses that makes a nice change from the normal high-rise developments. Good shelter in the harbor. Limited space for transient yachts and it is recommended to call ahead to confirm there is a berth available. Marina charges are on the high side. Cabopino beach, with its fine sand, is considered one of the best on the Costa del Sol
A good shelter can be found in Puerto de Fuengirola. The nearby town is both noisy and very busy during the summer months. All provisions can be purchased in the city. There are good beaches on either side of the marina, but they are very crowded during the summer months.
Port of Benalmadena is a huge marina with more than 150,000 square meters of water. There is a good shelter with the only swell that is experienced in a gale W. While the surrounding area is the usual black high survivors, the marina itself is quite attractive. It was named the best marina in the world in both 1995 and 1998. There are more than 200 commercial premises including shops, night clubs and the usual numerous restaurants and bars. There is also a marine life center. There are good beaches on either side of the marina. Malaga airport is only 8 km away.
Port of Malaga is the main commercial and fishing port of the Costa del Sol. The only facilities for yachts are in the Real Club Mediterraneo de Malaga and there is little space for visitors. Malaga, known as the “City of Flowers” is interesting and fascinating. It can be reached on foot from the port.
The small port of Puerto del Candado is located 3.5 kilometers east of Malaga. Suitable for vessels pulling 2m or less. With strong winds from the W – SW a considerable swell develops and the port becomes uncomfortable. Port charges are low
Port of Puerto Caleta de Velez is a quiet fishing port 22 kilometers east of Malaga. There are beaches on either side of the marina.
The anchorages of Fondeadero de Neja and Cala de Miel are both worth a visit. Cala de Miel has a spring of fresh water.
Marina del Este is a purpose built marina amongst a huge housing development in a beautiful area. The wind from NE – E produces a limited amount of sea in the marina. Port charges are high in the summer months. There is a small beach near the port and a swimming pool in the yacht club. There are prehistoric caves to be seen in Nerja. The city of Granada and the famous Alhambra can be seen in a day trip. Like the valley of the Alpahurras, with its charming villages, above the magnificent Sierra Nevada.
Once a small fishing port, Puerto de Motril has become a commercial port serving the inner city of Granada. Beaches on either side of the port.
The port of Porto di Adra was founded by the Phoenicians and has been in use ever since. Today it is a commercial and fishing port. The constant movement of fishing boats causes a lot of disturbance. Services are limited. Port charges are high. Beaches on either side of the port. The town of Adra is small and has little in the way of development for tourism.
Puerto de Almerimar, a very large marina with capacity for more than 1,000 boats. Excellent shelter from all but strong SW winds when some swell can build up towards the harbor entrance. Prices are low. Surprisingly so compared to some other marinas on the Costa del Sol. Sandy beaches on either side of the marina. This part of the coast is covered with plastic greenhouses, it must be seen to be appreciated both for the vast number of hectares under cover and its ugliness.
Port of Roquetas del Mar is a small fishing port. Strong winds from the SE – NE make the port uncomfortable.
A good shelter can be found in the Port of Aguadulce, except with the wind from the ESE that can cause some swell that makes the conditions uncomfortable. The marina can accommodate about 150 boats. The complex includes a swimming pool and a squash court. Sandy beaches to the S with waters clean enough to deserve a CE blue flag. Two 18-hole golf courses.
The Port of Almeria is a commercial and fishing port. Yachts use the Club de Mar del Almeria. There are several large rusting industrial structures nearby dominating the view and giving the place a rather gloomy feel. In general, the shelter is good, but strong winds from the E produce a tide that makes it uncomfortable in the marina. The Alcazaba d’Almeria, a Moorish castle, is worth a visit.
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