Dolly Partons bra

Mar Menor. Surrounded by jelly fish

28th June 2013
Jelly fish photograph


Cartagena to the Mar Menor


Hannibal had elephants in Cartagena. We have Cygnus III

If Cartagena was good enough for Hannibal to start his tour of Spain in was good enough for us to stay in for a while. We might not have come with a marauding army but we still sailed up the same waters and walked in his footsteps. The difference now is that we were walking on marble streets instead of through elephant dung.


Torres Park in Cartagena

New and old Amphitheatre in Cartagena

Amphitheaters in Cartagena

On any visit here you have to go into “Torres Park” with its ancient castle, beautiful walks and original Roman amphitheatre. It is a place to let history flood your senses and imagine bygone days. Manchester is the modern equivalent to ancient Cartagena. There amphitheatre is “Old Trafford” and they still have rape and pillage on the streets.

Cartagena was ideal for us as Angelina decided to abandon ship and return to the UK for a couple of weeks of family celebrations. As it was our good friends Martyn and Jane from “Yacht Gemini” took her to the airport leaving me and Jordan to fend and forage for ourselves. We needed to find somewhere cheap where we could wait for a while but still be close enough to Alicante to pick her up when (or if) she returned. The Mar Menor thirty miles up the coast seemed ideal.


Human octo-pussies

We were now, down two crew so Jordan and I set off on the six hour sail round the coast. It was pretty uneventful apart from a small dingy we passed close to on the way. In it were Mr and Mrs Nudity who decided that standing up and waving at us seemed a good idea. It was like watching a deranged octopus with so many appendages swinging at once. It was not a pretty sight as I am sure you can imagine.


Shallow depths in the entrance to Mar Menor

The Mar Menor is a large inland water puddle measuring 12 miles by 6. At its greatest depth it is only 6 meters but there a lot of areas that would see us high and dry. The entrance is through some very shallow water indeed and along a canal which has a bridge we cannot fit under. Luckily the bridge opens ever two hours to allow boats through.

We arrived at the entrance to the Mar Menor either early or late for the bridge opening depending on your point of view, so we anchored with only of 1m under the keel. Not a lot but we were still floating. Just!


Watch the bridge!

The video below shows the narrow entrance to the Mar Menor and what can go wrong. Thanks to Chris Southwood who kindly allowed me to use it here.


Just before the appointed time we joined a line of boats moving up the canal waiting for the bridge to open. Over the next 10 minutes or so I used every pair of underpants I had (two) as the depth went lower and lower. On more than one occasion we were showing 0.0m as we went along waiting to grind to a halt on the muddy bottom. There was a strong current pushing us along, no room to turn round and boats coming the other way. The depth meter might have been showing absolutely nothing below us but my own fun meter was showing empty as well. We passed under the bridge and then noticed on the chart that the depth went down lower meaning we would run aground. We edged forwards very slowly (we were actually in reverse gear but the current was taking us forward) and passed over the spot which must have been dredged. We were in the Mar Menor!


The Mar Menor. Shallow and full of jelly fish

The Mar Menor or “the big puddle” as we like to call it is full of very large jelly fish. When I say full it is packed tighter than Dolly Partons bra. You could almost walk to shore on them there are so many. You certainly don’t want a Jelly fish sting as believe me they hurt.

Although there are about six marinas around the edges there is only one very expensive one we could fit in with the depth given and possibly one other. We anchored for the night in the puddle as we had enough scares for the day.


All the marinas are to shallow to get in.

Cygnus in Mar Menor

Cygnus III in the Mar Menor

The following morning we awoke to find that the anchor had not gone walkabout and we were in the same place. We decided to explore our new temporary home and visit the two islands in the Mar Menor to see if they would provide better shelter. We went round to the back of one island to find that we had less depth to it than a politician kissing a baby. Jordan could have walked alongside the boat but we anchored for lunch anyway.

After a snack we decided to see if we could get into the other cheaper marina on the South side of the lake. We rigged everything up and went in… very slowly. Again the depth was dropping off quickly and before we reached what looked like a very narrow entrance my bottle went. Again we had been registering 0.0m on the depth sounder for some time so all we could do was reverse out with all our fenders hung over the side. We did get some funny looks from a boat going in the opposite direction but discretion, at that time, was the better part of valour. Cygnus III also managed to mince several thousand jelly fish with her propeller.


The Spanish Red Arrows

Super Moon over Mar Menor

The night of the “Super Moon”

For several days now we have been swinging on an anchor at night and exploring the puddle during the day. We also have a daily display from the Spanish version of the red arrows that are based close by. I have to say they are pretty good if a little noisy as they make their low fly-pasts. I even had to open Cygnus’s windows yesterday to let them fly through they were so low.

In a few days we will be moving further up the coast towards Alicante to meet Angelina. That is of course if we can actually get out through the entrance to the Mar Menor again.  I have to say that I have serious reservations but in the meantime we will have to suffer in the hot sun. Oh for a nice cooling bit of rain. Know where we can find any?

If you would like to see more of our images of Cartagena you can find them here.



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  1. Sounds like you’re having fun over there. Will you get to the Balaerics this summer? We’re in Trinidad now, doing a STCW course at the local university then flying home for a couple of weeks. Miss sailing and drinking with you! Tim & Nancy

    1. Hi Tim and Nancy, good to hear from you. I have to pick Angi up from the airport on Wednesday and then we will look for the first right weather to cross to the Island. We should hopefully be there by the weekend. Good sailing and look after yourselves.

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