It’s been a busy week but the main highlights include having the A B Sea logo put onto the yacht in place of her old name; and we did some sightseeing around Cartagena while we still had the hire car.
A B Sea’s Logo
As we steam towards the end of getting work done on our yacht, we are turning our sights to the finer points, such as changing the boat’s logo from the old name (Corajero) to replace it with her brand new, beautiful blue A B Sea insignia. To me, it’s been done cart before the horse fashion, because we have yet to de-register the Spanish name and register in the UK under her new name. However, the decals arrived and Jose was eager to fit them while he and his team had time, so as I type this, A B Sea is sitting proudly in the water letting everyone view her new name.
The job was more fiddly than complicated and after a lot of sanding, cleaning and polishing, the new logo was pressed on. If you’ve covered a child’s school books with sticky back plastic, you’ll know how easily you can get air bubbles underneath it. The fortunate thing about placing the plastic on the boat, is that after the sticky sheet with the lettering is smoothed onto the hull, the sheet is peeled off to leave the letters behind. At this point, the plastic letters can be carefully repositioned to remove any bubbles. I’m glad Jose and Fernando did this.
The result of their expertise is that we have A B Sea on both sides of the bow and on the port side of the stern. It seems quite strange to me that after all of these months talking about A B Sea, our yacht actually sports the name.
All that’s left now are the legal processes in Spain to de-register and in the UK to register the new name. There is a bit of urgency on the first part of the process as apparently the Spanish boat registry closes over summer! Oh and of course, we also need to have a naming ceremony.
Traditional naming ceremony
Apparently, it is traditional to call upon the gods of the seas and winds to expunge the old name and then rename the vessel. And I’m a girl who loves a good ritual. In fact, I have even been asked to MC a couple over the years. So I’ve begun reading up on what’s required.
According to Auntie Google, there’s almost a bottle of good red wine or champagne required for both parts of the ceremony to go to Neptune – with all remaining wine to be drunk by guests. It’s advised to spend what you can afford on the booze, as sea gods don’t tolerate meanness! A metal tag with the old name inscribed in water soluble ink is required for the first part, and a silver dollar will be needed for the second part. Not sure where I’ll get the metal tag but I will use a 2 Euro coin for the second part. The ship’s bell has to be rung a lot … and we don’t have one, so I’ll need to get one of those.
You’re not supposed to let others see the new name on the vessel until the ceremony, but as you’ll see from the photo and in this week’s video, unfortunately we’re too late for that. It’s also suggested that the ceremony is done with plenty of friends. “Plenty” is the issue here. We have met a few people since we’ve been in the marina. Most have sailed away or gone back to the UK, but we may be able to invite a couple of others to help us celebrate! We were looking at having a little thank you get together with Jose and his team once all the work was finished so I’m wondering if we can combine the two.
Let’s hope the essence and intention of the ceremony are more important than technical details to the gods!
Sightseeing around Cartagena
What a beautiful city! Cartagena is a large city and major Spanish naval station located on the Mediterranean Sea.
The city was founded in 227BC by the Carthaginian, Hasdrubal the Fair. Embraced by the Roman Empire, it thrived. The reason for Cartagena’s historic popularity was its port which was a most important Mediterranean defence. Even today its home to a large naval shipyard and main military base for Spain.
Because of its strategically placed harbour, mining industry and culture, and built on the back of various abundant cultures including Phoenician, Roman, Byzantine and Moorish, Cartagena is a fascinating city showing its rich heritage in the blend of structures from various eras, often built overlapping each other.
Stuck for choice but not disappointed
When Baz asked me to choose which sights we’d visit on our trip to Cartagena, I was stuck for choice. Auntie Google came up with a dazzling array of places that came recommended. In the end I chose four – three of which were reasonably close to each other in the old city, and one which was a 30 minute drive away, but which was reviewed to have spectacular 360 degree views.
We parked close to the first venue, the Museo Nacional de Arqueologia Subacuantica (the museum of marine archaeology) which contains archaeological objects found underwater, treasure and fossils. The museum contains the nationally valued Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes frigate collection, which consists of over 570,000 silver and gold coins from the late 18th century.
While the museum doesn’t take up a lot of floor space, it has been superbly laid out with a vast array of archaeological finds, alongside impressive modern replicas of cross sections of old boats displayed on walls, shipbuilding techniques, miniature models of ancient aspects of Cartagena harbour, and floor-ceiling glass cabinets filled with a variety of ancient and recent ocean-found treasures and fossils. There are interactive displays and a section where children can simulate laboratory studies.
Barry and I spent a good deal of time inspecting, reading and interacting with virtually every display there and for the entry fee of 3.50 Euros per person, Baz and I came away raving about how great the place was.
We walked up the hill behind the museum to the Teatro Romano (Roman Theatre) which is an amphitheatre that was built by the Romans between 5 and 1 BC. Some of its stones were used during the 3rd century AD to build a market over its remains and after a fire caused by The Vandals in 425 it was abandoned, until the 6th century AD when the Byzantines built a market quarter in its place. A cathedral was then built over this area in the 13th century but it was only in 1988 during the construction of the Centro Regional de Artesania, that the original theatre was discovered. Excavation, archaeological studies and restoration took place after that, and a museum was opened in 2008.
For those not wishing or able to visit the grounds themselves, the Teatro Romano can be viewed extensively from all sides, above and below. That’s what Baz and I did. We followed the signs for the entrance, walked up lots of stone steps to a terrace that is level with the top walls of the theatre. There are fabulous views from this level of not only the amphitheatre, but of the surrounding parts of the city and also the harbour.
Walking around and up more steps, we found ourselves at the Castillo de la Concepcion (Conception Castle). From here were more great views and different outlooks over the city. We decided not to pay the 3.75 Euro entry fee each, as it wasn’t on our list and we had already spent a fair time at the first Museum with two more places still to visit. We were also very ready for lunch and a cold drink.
On our way down the hill on the lookout for a place to eat, we discovered a park and had a play on the wooden seesaw! You’ve got to let your little inner child out to play sometimes!
Menu of the Day
We were stuck for choice when it came to lunch venues as there were lots of little bars and cafes to be found. But we were on a mission: we wanted one that had seating outside, in the shade, and which served the Menu del Dia, which usually gives you a salad to start, mains and a drink. Often there is either tapas or dessert or coffee. The café we found offered tapas as the first course along with salad, so we plumped for that. Baz had pork cheeks which looked tasty, and I had hake in herb sauce. I didn’t eat all of the chips, but I have to say they were the tastiest I’ve had in a long while. Feeling pretty sated – well stuffed – and very hydrated (I’d opted for a mineral water and coffee as well as the included beer), we went in search of Sight No. 3 – the Muralla Punica (Punic Wall).
I couldn’t wait to visit this place. It was old. I mean really old. It was built along with the original part of the city way back in 227BC. It also boasted a crypt with skulls. Ooh - I love ancient history and couldn’t wait to immerse myself in the wall that had stood alongside its early inhabitants as well as being one of few remaining structures built by the Carthaginians. It had been built to protect themselves against attack by the Romans.
At a cost of 3.50 Euros each though, Baz and I were actually disappointed. Not because the wall itself was a letdown, because you can’t take away the historic value of something. It was more because after having had an absolute feast of an experience at the maritime museum, this display felt quite puny, like a couple of dry crackers by comparison. There were a few displays of gladiators and their fighting equipment aimed at children in the small main hall, next to an audio-visual hall where there was a short Spanish film depicting the Punic Wall’s history.
After passing the gladiators, there was a glass floor which gave a full view of the Punic wall beneath, which was quite impressive. Some steps down took us to the wall itself, and then on to the crypt that was built between the 16th and 17th centuries. The crypt contained remains of skeletons and original murals of the “Dance of Death”. The remains themselves were awesome and it wasn’t hard for me to imagine what they would have been like at the time of their use. I was very glad to have visited the early remains of the Carthaginian’s architecture.
There is also no denying that the housing of the wall and crypt have been expertly designed and built. Baz and I were just left wanting a bit more – again I suppose, our unmet expectations after visiting the aquatic museum.
Unexpected detour back to the car
Hot, tired, thirsty and a little tetchy, we were both ready to get back to the car. Google Maps gave way to a good ol’ paper map that we’d received at the Castillo de la Concepcion and we were soon angling our way around the Campus Muralla del Mar. This University campus was one of the first constructions erected as a key Spanish armada base, is now home to the Polytechnic University of Cartagena and it also includes a Casa C-101 Aviojet, which we know well, as this is the plane flown by the aerobatics team that trains over the marina we’re staying at. It was great to see this aerodynamic plane up close.
As HGM (Human Google Maps), I navigated our way through the campus down some spiral stairs which came out about 100 metres from the car. We sat in cool air conditioned comfort for a while as we glugged warmish water and punched the address of our last venue into the car’s Sat Nav.
The Bateria de Castillitos
To arrive at the Bateria de Castillitos where the impressive Guns of Tinosa are housed, we wound our way south east up the mountains away from Cartagena and after a half hour drive, we arrived at this incredible location. The final few kilometres up what one TripAdvisor reviewer had called a “hazardous drive up the narrow mountain road” were well worth the effort, but if you’ve driven along Welsh country lanes, or up to Montville in Queensland, Australia you’ll have no problem!
There was a dusty 1Km hike from the car park to the little fortified structures 244 meters (800 ft) above sea level, which reminded me of a remake of a Welsh castle if Disney got hold of it. Within its walls are remains of military buildings and gun batteries, and at the top includes two massive 381mm guns with 17m long barrels each mounted in an enormous turret.
After exploring pitch black tunnels and spiral staircases, empty bunkers that smelt of urine and engine oil, I even managed to do a Cher impression!
The views of the surrounding coast, Med Sea and Cartagena’s bay were well worth the drive. It would be a great place to explore with kids, providing you keep an eye on them.
We did have (not) fun with the fridge too, but we’ll go into detail on that little popsicle next week.
For now though, we went to Cartagena - where would you visit if you could turn back time?