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Sailing on the Costa del Sol

Spain is part of the European Union and all EU and American nationals can visit the country for a period of no longer than 90 days solely with a passport. EU national can apply for a residency permit if they wish to extend their stay. Non EU nationals can apply for a further 90 day extension. These regulations do not appear to be enforced as far as the yachtsman living aboard is concerned. It is advisable to clear customs if entering Spain for the first time. The vessel's registration papers and the passports of crew members will be required.

A certificate of competence, evidence of the boat's VAT status, a crew list with passport details, the radio license and a certificate of insurance may also be required. A VAT (Value Added Tax) paid or exempt yacht can apply for a "permiso aduanero" . This allows for an indefinite stay in the country and can be helpful when importing yacht spares from other EU countries. Boats registered outside the EU on which VAT has not been paid may be imported into the EU for a period not exceeding six months in any twelve, after that VAT becomes due. This period can often be extended by prior arrangement with the local custom authorities.

There is a legal requirement for foreign vessels to fly their own national maritime flag together with the courtesy flag of Spain. It is worth considering the following equipment when cruising this area. An SSB radio is useful for obtaining weather forecasts. It is very hot in the summer and ventilation is important. It may be worth fitting extra hatches and a wind scoop over the fore hatch 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 outside 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 hazard cruisers should be aware of, the sun can be deceptively strong while the boat is underway, plenty of cream and a hat will go along way to avoid the misery of sunstroke. There is a constant east going current of between 1 and 2 knots flowing through the straight 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 metre at most. This diminishes the further east traveled. The weather is affected by several systems and is consequently difficult to predict. There is an old saying that in the summer months nine days of light winds will be followed by a full blown gale that is inaccurate. A wind from the northwest is known as the "tramotana". It can be dangerous because it can arrive and reach gale force in as little as 15 minutes. It often lasts for 3 days and can blow in excess of a week. The wind from the east, the "levante" can also blow for several days at gale force. Annual rainfall at Gibraltar is 760mm. The Costa del Sol will experience about 4 days a month of fog.

Summer temperatures can exceed 35 degrees C and the winter months see around 15 degrees. The remainder of this article looks principally at the harbours of the Costa del Sol. There are also numerous anchorages bbut only a few of the notable ones are mentioned here. Marina Bay is largest of Gibraltar's three marinas with 350 berths. Most berthing is stern/bow to. Larger yachts can lie alongside. Water and electricity on the pontoons. Within the complex you will find a chandlers, launderette 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 Gibraltar's other two marinas.

Security is excellent with all the pontoons being gated. Within the complex you will find several restaurants and bars. Gibraltar itself was ceded from the Spanish to the British in the early 18th century and for most of it's 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 honeycombed with tunnels constructed at one time or another for the purposes of adding to the defences of Gibraltar. Many of the older tunnels are open to the public and feature exhibitions of how life was for the soldiers of the day. Many of the tunnels are most definitely not open to the public and there is considerable speculation as to what might be seen in these. You can see Rosia Bay where Admiral Lord Nelson's body was bought ashore from HMS Victory following 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 seamen who died alongside him in the battle are buried on the rock at the Trafalgar cemetery.


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