Settling on a winter port for Katherine

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The harbour of Cartagena 

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In the five years that we have been sailing onboard Katherine the end of the sailing season has always brought the same question - where to for the winter. In 2012 our first year of sailing we just kept right on sailing, crossing to the Caribbean and enjoying the sunshine and white sand beaches, escaping the cold winds of winter. 2013 having sailed up the Irish sea we made our way back to Denmark where Katherine spent the winter tucked up in the comfort of a heated shed at the X-Yacht factory in Haderslev. Winter of 2014 after venturing to 70 degrees north and to the archepelio of Lofoten Katherine found a home in southern England, at Hamble Marina, under the watchful eye of the X-Yacht staff. The winter of 2015 after a circumnavigation that would take us back to Denmark, Norway, past Scotland and down the west coast of Ireland, Katherine returned to her same position outside the X-yacht office in Hamble. But finally having headed south we are find ourselves in new sailing grounds and the search has been on for a suitable safe port for the winter of 2016 in the Mediterranean.

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We found that port a few weeks earlier then anticipated in the harbour of Cartagena. Cartagena is in the province of Murcia Southern Spain and has been historically important over the centuries for its well protected harbour. Today it is still home to the Spanish Naval Fleet for the Mediterranean. It was apparently in this harbour that the Peral submarine, the first electric battery powered submarine designed by Isaac Peral sailor and engineer was launched on September 8th 1888. Viewing the “Peral” on display at the Naval Museum one has to think that those who ventured down in submarines in the early days of development must have had an adventurous spirit or a definite dose of madness. 

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The harbour is currently undergoing development of its cruise ship terminal and an extension of the docking area. Despite the current dust the work is generating, the extension of the docking pontoon is creating an additional barrier to any incoming southerly swells, increasing both the comfort and safety within the marina. The marina is also totally secure, has the most helpful staff and is only a short walk away from the centre of town. Add to this the amazing historical sites, museums, the great tapa bars. daily food market, lack of English language and we were sold. 

Katherine had found her winter home. 

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Street Art Cartagena 

Though the sailing was over a little earlier than expected the arrival of visitors was certainly not.

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First to call were Andrew and Pauline Bellamy the parents of Carolyn of Askari. They were holidaying in the area and called in to meet us bringing with them their friends Jonathan and Judith. Both couples hail from England but were making the most of the Spanish Autumn weather, so it was great to enjoy an afternoon onboard Katherine with them. 

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Later in the week Jonathan became tour guide and he and Judith kindly drove us west along the coastline we had sailed past a week earlier, towards the town of Bolnuevo. Highlights of the day included visiting the Bateria de Castillitos a defence outpost that was constructed between 1926 and 1933 as part of the Plan De Defense of 1926, aimed at protecting the harbour of Cartagena and its military vessels. The “Big Gun” of this outpost is a Vickers 381mm (for the detailed orientated) with a length of 17m and an ability to fire a projectile weighing one tonne over 35km. The gun was only ever fired once against Nationalist Forces in April 1937. The architects at the time of construction set about developing an outpost that would not be visible from seas but the ornate turrets does give the outpost a definite theme park feel. The view from the outpost looking towards Cartagena on the day we visited simply picturesque. In 1994 the technology of the site was  rendered obsolete and the site abandoned. Since 2010 the value of the outpost for both tourism and historical importance has been recognised and work has been undertaken to improve road access which given the ascent was appreciated by us. For an interesting article on the “Guns of Mazaron” head to the link

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Erosions de Bolnuevo

We also called into the township of Bolnuevo where we walked the Erosions de Bolnuevo - a section of sandstone cliffs that have been heavily eroded by wind and rain over thousands of years creating an amazing gallery of natural formations. To complete a great day we called into Jonathan and Judith's favourite brewery place  discovered on one of their bike riding days - a cleansing ale providing a relaxing conclusion to a great drive day out. 

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Back onboard Katherine the 15th of October saw Bruce Hilliard of Perth Australia arrive with friends Charo and Ian of Madrid. We last saw Bruce some 7 years ago to celebrate his 50th birthday in Perth, so it was a real surprise to find him in Spain and able to take time from his busy schedule to join us. With Charo in charge of the tourist map we made the most of the two days they were in Cartagena to cover as many of the historical sights as possible. Starting with the lookout from Castillo de la Concepcion where a 360 degree view of the city can be captured allowing both an appreciation of the size and natural security of the harbour and the amount of land that is currently under archeological excavation within the streets of Cartagena. Definitely the star attraction of Cartagena would be the Roman Theatre built in the 1st Century BC and rediscovered in 1988 where it had been buried beneath the streets from the 3rd century Ad, first as a market and later under the foundations of a Cathedral. We first visited this reconstructed theatre in 2010 but even on our second visit this historical site still very much impressed. 

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The very busy 48 hours also included a visit to the Punic Wall, the remains of the original foundations of the city walls built in 227BC, the Crypt of St Joseph an eery and not so pleasant feeling place where the odd skeletal bone still rested, the district of the Roman Forum which included ruins of roman baths and the necessary stop at the odd tapa bar or two. Saturday night we enjoyed a special dinner at La Cathedral, a restaurant that from the streets hides very well the atmosphere that awaits within. There is something very special about dining with Roman ruins beneath your feet. All too soon we were putting Bruce, Charo and Ian back on the train to Madrid, a very busy weekend where many a story of the past were shared. We look forward to the next time. 

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Just a few days later on the 19th October we welcomed back onboard Brian and Audrey Coop. They last visited us onboard Katherine in 2012 in Gibraltar. A very pleasant two days once more wandering the streets of Cartagena were spent. Brian particularly enjoyed the view from the cockpit of Katherine of the busy harbour where container ships, cruise ships, sailing, navy vessels and the odd submarine happened to pass by. We look forward to seeing them again next year as we sail into Alicante. 

So came an end to our visitors and began the work to prepare Katherine to be left for the winter. 

Time to get packing...

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© SV Katherine 2018      Cover Photo: Katherine on Anchor Isle Tabarca Spain