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August 18, 2007

Taking refuge in Barbate

BY: Xavier Pastor


© OCEANA / Jesús Renedo


After sailing through the night protected by cape Espartel, south of Tangiers, we decided to cross the Straits from south to north and take refuge in Barbate. The east winds are blowing at more than 40 knots and the Tangiers netters are surely not going out to fish during the next few days. They need dark nights and relatively calm seas. They have the darkness, but there is an important storm that prevents them from setting the driftnets. We’re in the recreational port of Barbate, managed by the Autonomous Government of Andalusia and built next to the traditional fishing port. There are about twenty seiners there, dedicated to capturing small pelagic species (anchovies, sardines,…) and on the dock, we can also see a few dozen enormous anchors used to fix the nearby tuna nets. The almadraba is spectacular and ancient activity to capture tuna in a sustainable manner that is disappearing due to overexploitation caused by large seiners, deep-sea longliners and the tuna farming business. The recreational port is peaceful and organised, not overcrowded, and no foolish urban developments have been built around it yet. It is truly a pleasant place. The quality of the water could be improved; there is a lot of floating debris and occasionally, the smell of spilled fuel. But all in all, we are comfortable here, especially after having spent a week jumping around out there.

We take advantage and relax a little. We use the showers in the port instead of the buckets of salt water we normally use to wash ourselves. The showers have hot water and the facilities are quite clean. The designers, builders and managers of public bathrooms, however, -and not only those in the port of Barbate, which are not the worst we’ve seen by far-, should be forced to use them daily for at least one full week. “Let’s see, Mr. Architect, or Mr. Foreman who has pocketed all the cash: you are going to shower in these facilities that you have designed and built, and charge for their use. Where are you going to hang the clothes you’ve taken off or the clean clothes you’re going to put on? Where in this shower stall can you put the soap or the shampoo bottle? How can you manage to direct the water spray so that it’s aiming towards the centre of the shower stall and you don’t have to lean up against a wall to get wet? Then try to shave. Does it worry you that none of the lights installed over the mirrors actually work? And what are those power outlets good for if they don’t have any electricity? And what about that cheap electric hair dryer that’s been broken since the week after the grand opening? How about installing a reasonably sized toilet paper dispenser? Small inconveniences? Sure, because you don’t use the facilities you designed, built or manage. . You simply pocket the money you charge for them. By the way, maybe you could inform your sector magazines about how to avoid the puddles of water, the chipping of recently applied paint, the rusting of recently installed elements… That way you would contribute to helping us feel we’re not in a third world country… and cheated”.

Once the crew is clean, we face the tons of dirty clothes we’ve accumulated during last week’s trip. Buckets on deck and the Ranger’s cables used as improvised clothes lines for t-shirts and pants in all shades of blues and whites. Then, the rush. For a few hours, each crew member takes advantage and leaves the boat to take a stroll through the nearby town. Juan Carlos, the cook, is also off tonight and the people organise themselves to have lunch and dinner elsewhere. Only a couple of us stay onboard to rest or solve some pending matters. By the way, it’s amazing how Jesus Renedo, the captain, knows someone from his life as a sailor in each and every port visited by the Ranger.