Short term marina charges during the cruise

The obvious way to keep marina charges down is to avoid marinas!

SanJuan (21K) SanJuan2 (21K)
San Juan, nr Alicante And a Swedish mono, rolling in
the swell 100m further out
Torrevieja (22K) Benidorm (25K)
You can anchor in Torrevieja And off Benidorm!

So far, we have explored the mainland coast of Spain from Gibraltar to Cabo de la Nao (the jumping off point for Ibiza), the Balearics and Sardinia, with a taste of Corsica.

The coast of Mediterranean Spain is a problem. From Gibraltar to the SE point, Cabo de Gata, there are no sheltered anchorages, and from Cabo de Gata to Cabo de la Nao only Mar Menor and the harbour of Torrevieja. We covered this stretch during April and May 2011, and did stay in quite a lot of marinas. However, in this low season, only one (Estepona, high season starts 1 March) charged us more than 20 euros for our 10 by 6 metre catamaran. North of Cabo de Gata, we found many bays where there was at least shelter from the too prevalent NE wind, so that we only used a marina once, in Cartegena (which is lovely, and does not charge extra for catamarans).

Moraira (66K)
Sheltered bay off Moraira

Most usefully, the bay of Moraira, just S of Cabo de la Nao, provides excellent shelter from all but the South while you wait for a fair wind for Ibiza.

SantElmo (48K)
Sharing a buoy off Dragonera

Once in the Balearics, you need never visit a marina, provided you are prepared to fetch water in containers. And if you only visit during the day to water the ship, the costs are reasonable everywhere except Formentera. As explained in an earlier article (The Balearics, Cruising December 2011), you are never more than a day's sail from a secure anchorage where, if need be, you can sit out a summer gale.

We set out from Minorca bound for Sardinia with some trepidation, because the marinas were reputed to be even more expensive, and there appeared to be long stretches of coast without secure anchorages. However, during the whole of August and September we only spent about 60 euros on marinas.

The obvious arrival destination in Sardinia is Porto Conte, 10 miles short of Alghero. I had been apprehensive, because this is a marine reserve, and its web site announces restrictions on anchoring except in designated areas, but forgets to designate the areas! In practice, this magnificent anchorage appears to be a free-for-all. Over several visits, we spent more than 10 nights there in total undisturbed. The carabinieri, on their occasional visits, only called on Italian boats, possibly to check they had paid their taxes.

As we only discovered much later, Alghero allows yachts to moor along the town quay gratis for up to 5 nights, provided you do not use their piped water or electricity (but this may not be allowed in July and August, and you may have to fight off Ormeggiori, who will tell you it's not allowed at any time). When we did moor here, to attend a wonderful free music festival in September, we of course ate in several restaurants! However, Alghero is something of a gourmet paradise: of the five restaurants we sampled, four were excellent, and all reasonably priced, at lunch-time anyway. There was also a public tap to fill our water containers.

52PConte66 (25K) 56Alghero (27K)
Porto Conte Town quay in Alghero

Thereafter, we found secure anchorages on the W coast at Tharros (free buoys) and Sant'Antioco and on the S coast at Maltafano. In the NE, around the Costa Smeralda and the Maddalena Archipelago, there are dozens of secure anchorages.

The problem areas, then, are:

  • Cagliari
  • The southern half of the E coast
  • The N coast
  • You cannot anchor or moor gratis in or near Cagliari. Fortunately, there is a very reasonable if somewhat ramshackle marina - Marina del Sole - which only charged us 30 euros in August.

    We made the trip from Villasimius in the SE corner to Golfo Aranci, some 120 miles, in four days, anchoring off the beach each night.

    We sailed the N coast in September, when Castelsardo becomes very affordable (16 euros for us). And it is a lovely place anyway.

    SantAntioco (23K) 71Cala Stagnali (23K)
    Waterfront of Sant'Antioco Cala Stagnali

    There are two anchorages we thought outstanding, which Heikell (Italian Waters Pilot) hardly mentions.

    The port of Sant'Antioco lies up a narrow dredged channel between beacons, some of them missing. But, at the end is a charming town with a choice of excellent supermarkets, and a well-stocked chandler. Deep draught yachts can anchor near fishing boats just N of the town.

    The other is Cala Stagnali, on Isola Caprera, opposite La Maddalena. This cala was almost deserted, even in August when everywhere else in the Maddalena Archipelago was crowded out. It is beautiful with great views in all directions, is almost landlocked, has a quay with a public tap where you can leave your dinghy all day in safety, and has easy access to the city of La Maddalena by bus or bicycle.