Where do we park?
Updated: Feb 26, 2022
When we don’t sail through the night or if we want to step onto land for a visit, we either stop at a marina, anchor in a well-protected area or moor our boat.
Docking in a marina costs as much as a hotel room and reservations are necessary, but we have access to laundry facilities, water and electric hook-up. We can step right off the boat and explore town. Approaching a marina is normally a high-pressure affair. As Captain Dale dodges boat traffic and dock lines strewn everywhere, the crew (Megan and Christine) sets up fenders, hanging them off the sides and stern of the boat using expertly tied clove-hitch knots. They also prepare bow and stern lines to be thrown to a dock hand (if available) who helps secure our lines. Meanwhile, as we pull our behemoth into a small slip between two boats, fighting against currents, wind, etc., we are normally scrutinized by an audience of surrounding boat owners. Of course, all who are watching are willing to jump in and help out should one encounter any challenges. The boat community is quite tight-knit and friendly. Everyone is willing to help each other out and share advice.
Anchoring is free, but you don’t have electrical or water hook-ups and you don't necessarily have access to land. Finding a spot to anchor is a bit of an art, as you have to make sure the sea bed is sand or mud - not rock, or as we discovered via the marine ecological police, sea grass. Apparently sea grass is protected in the Balearic Islands and we have had to download another sailing app to monitor where we can drop anchor. An ideal anchorage area offers protection from the wind, so it is critical to look at the wind forecast to insure we will not blow us into the side of a cliff in the middle of the night or God forbid, another yacht. Thankfully, we are equipped with an anchor alarm, which does sound off if we start dragging anchor or if our boat travels beyond a set limit.
Our dinghy/tender has been useful when anchoring, as we can take it to a beach (if they allow it) or to a dock so we can grab a bite to eat or explore the city. One thing lacking in the Mediterranean, unbeknownst to us, is that we have not found one city that has dinghy docks. In some of the smaller cities, we have been able to negotiate with a friendly restaurant owner to allow us to dock our dinghy for a couple of hours. Larger towns such as Marbella, Malaga, or Ibiza City do not welcome dinghies and are very strict (and downright mean) about allowing you to dock your tender anywhere.
We had an incident at the Club Nautico Marina Ibiza, where we were riding around in our dinghy trying to inquire about a place to dock and a manager spotted us and jumped into a dinghy with his boss and they literally rammed our tender such that their dinghy went up the side of our tender and bumped Megan. They rudely yelled at us to “get out!!!” as if we were criminals. (You may notice a very poor review has magically appeared from some one on a marina website.)
Sadly, I had this image of dining in Ibiza City for my birthday dinner, but we couldn’t dock on the island, so we stared longingly at Ibiza and had take-out from a way overly-priced dockside restaurant. I did appreciate Dale’s effort in trying to make the night special.
Mooring is similar to anchoring, but you need to pay to attach a line from your boat to a mooring ball which is securely anchored to the sea bed. Getting a mooring ball is first come first serve. The benefit of mooring is that in heavy winds, you don’t have to worry as much about your boat traveling very far on its own, but you do need to make sure you do not let out too much line such that you could unknowingly bump one of your neighbors. We haven't moored our boat yet in the Mediterranean, as we have always found a calm area to anchor in, so why pay for one?