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By No owner — last modified Aug 19, 2018 11:28 AM

 Spain - Profile


  • The most attractive natural cruising areas of Spain are situated at its extremes, the north-west Atlantic coast and the Balearics -  these islands being one of the Mediterranean's prime yachting centres.
  • Slowly but surely however, anchoring in the Balearics is becoming more difficult, with the protection of seagrass prohibiting anchoring in most places and the expansion of mooring fields.
  • In the last decade, Spain's Mediterranean coast and islands have seen a tremendous development in yachting facilities with new marinas being built everywhere, so that one is never more than a few hours' sail away from the next harbour.
  • Good repair facilities can now be found in the majority of Spanish ports, with the most comprehensive, but almost most expensive, being in the prime yachting centres (such as Palma de Mallorca).
  • Facilities are also good in Barcelona and the surrounding area, where berthing and boatyard charges are surprisingly economical.
  • The holding of the America's Cup in Valencia, and the Volvo Ocean Race in Alicante, have meant both these ports now have greatly improved yachting facilities.
  • Cruising the Atlantic coast of Spain can be much more rewarding as nature has rewarded this coastline with an abundance of natural harbours and inlets.
  • Facilities in Atlantic Spain tend to be more basic, with boatyards catering to both yachts and commercial boats. On the Atlantic coast there are good facilities at the new Puerto Sherry near Cadiz. On the North West coast the best range is to be found at La Coruña, where the yacht club can be particularly helpful, and in Vigo.
  • There are chandleries with a good selection in the main sailing centres, but in smaller ports and marinas the availability of spares is limited.
  • Most Spanish yacht clubs are exclusive social clubs, where visitors are not particularly welcome. Those which have docking facilities operate on a commercial basis charging visitors marina fees. Dress etiquette is strict and a sloppy appearance is frowned upon.
  • If heading into Portugal from Spain, be sure to top up your tanks before departure as diesel is cheaper in Spain than in Portugal. Note also that diesel is even cheaper in Gibraltar, and cheaper still in Morocco.

Islas Baleares 10th Edition
Available at a discount through Imray & Bluewater Books
The only fully comprehensive pilot guide in English to Spain's Balearic Islands - Ibiza, Formentera, Mallorca, Cabrera and Menorca. Published in 2015 with updates via the RCCPF in 2017.
For more titles see Spain Publications.


On 17/18 August 2017, there were 2 terrorist-related incidents where vehicles were driven directly at pedestrians, resulting in injuries and loss of life. These were in the Las Ramblas area of Barcelona and Cambrils, near Salou (100km southwest of Barcelona).

In the aftermath of the Barcelona attacks, public attention has focused on immigrants coming into Spain from Morocco. Melilla and its smaller sister city of Ceuta are the only land borders between Europe and Africa making them a convenient route for migrants into Spain. Border controls may well be more onerous here than in mainland Spain.

Thousands of tourists visit Spain every year and most visits are trouble-free.

See for up to date Foreign Office advice.


The climate varies greatly from the Atlantic north coast, which is wet and cool, to the Mediterranean south and east, where summers are very hot and winters mild.

The winds are just as varied, the north coast coming under the influence of Atlantic weather systems, with south-westerly to north-westerly winds predominating in winter and northerly winds in summer, although land and sea breezes can be experienced inshore. This is also the case along the south-western coast during summer, while the rest of the year, winds are either easterly or westerly.

Alternating sea and land breezes are also characteristic of the Mediterranean coast of Spain. Winds in the main blow from the west, northwest, north and east but are influenced greatly by local topography.

The north eastern coast (north of Barcelona) and the Balearics are occasionally affected in the summer by the Tramontana (Mistral), a strong, dry N or NW wind (cold in winter) which blows from southern France. The danger with this wind is that it can arrive with little warning on a calm sunny day and reach gale force in just 15 minutes. It normally blows for at least 3 days but can last up to a week or longer and is much more frequent in the winter months.

The Balearics also experience an atmospheric pressure phenomena during the summer months called a Rissaga or meteotsunami. Whilst not a regular occurrence, it is very difficult to predict and can (if extreme) cause chaos. During a Rissaga, the sea level can increase and decrease dramatically in a  matter of minutes. They are “atmospherically generated waves that amplify as they shoal and then resonate in bays and harbours” and can cause flooding and damage to vessels in port and at anchor.

Other Mediterranean winds that affect Spain are the Vendaval (a strong SW to W wind that blows late Autumn to early Spring through the Straits of Gibraltar and along the south coast), the Levante (from Gib to Valencia) and the Sirocco (a hot wind blowing off the N African coast bringing haze, cloud and red/brown dust, common in Summer).

Weather Information

Broadcast by:- Radio Nacional de Espana at 1000 and 1300 LT via - La Coruna 639kHz, Seville 684kHz Sociedad Espana de Radio - a programme containing information for commercial fishing operations, plus weather forecasts and sea conditions, is broadcast between 0600 and 0700 LT and again in condensed form at 2205 from La Coruna 1080kHz, Vigo 1026kHz, Huelva 100.5MHz, Cadiz 1485kHz, Seville 792kHz

Spanish weather forecasts:

Spanish Met Office:

Galicia Weather:

For links to free global weather information, forecast services and extreme weather information see the Noonsite Weather Page.

Main Ports

Because of the large numbers of ports of entry as well as marinas which have customs offices where entry formalities can be completed, only the main ports and marinas are listed which are close to Spain's frontiers and are more commonly used by foreign yachts to clear in.

Balearics: Andraitx (Mallorca) , Cabrera , Ciutadella (Menorca) , Formentera , Fornelells (Menorca) , Ibiza * , La Rapita (Mallorca) , Mahon (Minorca) * , Palma de Mallorca * , Porto Colom (Mallorca) , Porto Cristo (Mallorca) , Puerto Pollenca (Mallorca) , Puerto de Alcudia (Mallorca) , Puerto de Soller (Mallorca) , Santa Ponsa (Mallorca)

Mediterranean coast: Aguilas (Murcia) , Alicante * , Almeria * , Almerimar , Altea , Barcelona * , Blanes , Calpe , Cartagena (Murcia) * , Denia * , Estepona , Fuengirola , Gandia , Garrucha , L'Escala - Girona , La Duquesa , La Herradura , La Linea * , Llanca , Malaga * , Mar Menor , Motril , Oliva , Orpesa , Palamos , Portbou , Puerto Banus & Marbella * , San Pedro del Pinatar (Murcia) , Sant Carles de la Rapita , Santa Pola * , Tarragona , Torrevieja , Valencia * , Vinaros

North West Spain: A Guarda , Aviles , Bilbao * , Burela , Corcubion , Ensenada de Santa Marta , Finisterre , Gijon * , Guetaria , Hondarribia * , La Coruna * , Mutriku , Ria De Cedeira , Ria De Ribadeo , Ria De Viveiro , Ria de Arousa , Ria de Camarinas , Ria de Muros , Ria de Pontevedra , Ria de Vigo and Baiona * , San Sebastian , Santander *

South West coast: Algeciras , Ayamonte (River Guandiana) * , Barbate , Cadiz * , Chipiona , Isla Canela , Isla Cristina , Mazagon , Rota , Sanlucar (River Guandiana) , Sevilla *

Spanish North Africa: Ceuta * , Melilla *

* indicates port of entry

Val Ellis
Val Ellis says:
Feb 14, 2018 12:48 PM

Posted on behalf of Jan Harzem

Immigrants at sea
Due to the issue of immigrants trying to get to Spain from North Africa, you will no doubt encounter some of their boats, as we did. Spanish coast guard will put out notifications on VHF about boats that they know of, their approximate vicinity and no. of people on board. My advice is as follows:
When you spot such a vessel, get in contact with the closest MRCC center in Spain or Italy. Get close to the vessel so you can report status etc., but do not attempt to take anybody onboard. Some of these boats have 28 people or more on board. In these areas help is only a couple of hours away. We spotted a small boat about 60 miles south of Carthagena and changed course 90 depree's to investigate. Within 3 minutes we were called up by MRCC Carthagena asking us to help in the search of a vessel with 8 people on board. We followed the small boat for a couple of hours until dusk, but never caught up with the boat as they were going as fast as we were, but gave course and heading to the Spanish Coast Guard who picked them up a couple of hours later.

svChampagne says:
Sep 09, 2017 01:39 PM

August 2017

Enjoyed the dramatic sights offered by circling Isla Dragonera before dropping hook in what passes for the island’s only anchorage at Cala Llado. A quick jump in the water with a mask revealed a less than ideal anchorage and all who use it should BE AWARE:

Holding is very sketchy. The bottom offers tiny patches of grass amongst a cavernous collection of large and jagged rock. Our anchor bit simply because it snagged a crack along the top of a rock, lucky us. However, an anchor could easily land in any one of the abundant crevasses and become seriously fouled, or it could fail to grab anything. We watched a neighboring boat attempt to anchor several times before ultimately moving on.
There is a massive ridge-like rock amongst the surrounding 5-meter depths than raises much closer to the surface, to within about 2 meters (approximately N 39* 35.18’ by E 2* 19.68’). This rock was noted during my snorkeling explorations, however it appeared far-enough away to not warrant concern. Then, of course at O’dark thirty, a 180-degree wind-shift (seemingly not uncommon in these locales) swung our boat directly over said rock, and thunderous smashing sounds and vibrations had all hands on deck to remedy the situation. Anchor retrieval saw a small glitch but luckily the anchor did come up without too much fuss, perhaps the swing in direction actually helped dislodge us from the our little “crack” holding. At any rate, my imagination was certainly capable of imagining a much worse outcome, and it served as a good reminder to always anchor with a 360* view in mind.
We got underway and decided to cross the channel (less than a mile) in hopes of snagging a vacant mooring ball from the nearby Sant Elm field, we’ll sort the rest out in the morning. All went according to plan, and we were sleeping soundly until woken by a second round of smashing/crunching noises. “You gotta be kiddin’ me!” is all I could think as I hastily wrestled on a pair of shorts before gaining the deck. A large (18-meter or so) motor yacht still tied to it’s mooring ball was somehow tangled with us. Wha? A younger crew member of said yacht was doing his best to fend off the embattled bows. We joined the fight. We soon realized that their mooring had failed and they awoke as surprised as us. The skipper got his engines running, the crewman cast off his mooring lines, and we both parted ways relatively unscathed, thankfully. After the mess I watched their yellow mooring ball bob itself out to sea.

That was the first (and last) time we ever used one of the CBBA mooring balls. I am not writing this post as a targeted criticism against CBBA, nor am I opposed to fixed-moorings. Accidents do happen and even well-made parts do fail. Sooner or later, the sea claims all. That said, we should all be aware that such failures do occur, even in popular, protected, and well-funded first-world cursing grounds. Because we tied-up in the middle of the night and had not paid for the mooring, we were told by a staff member the following morning that we had little room for recourse. Considering that we received only scratches, the other boat was already gone, and that our itinerary was very tight we choose not to pursue the issue any further. All in all it was quite night, but thankfully—for me at least—all’s well that ends well.

I should note that we observed a number of boats using the anchorage at Isla Dragonera seemingly without trouble or hassle. I can only offer an account of my observations and experiences, of course every crew must decide for themselves. If you are new to the Med, as I am, I do recommend diving your anchor (especially if staying overnight) as the holding conditions seem quite differentiated and erratic.

dcaukill says:
Aug 25, 2017 07:24 AM


The drive to protect Seagrass (Posidonia) is making cruising Mallorca (Balearics) at anchor in particular very difficult.
You are not allowed to anchor anywhere where there is sea grass where your anchor or your chain touches it. The "posidonia police" come along and inspect your anchor then tell you to move on, even if your own dive onto your anchor showed no weed present. This is ANYWHERE. So if you drop into a cala or anchor off a beach (e.g. Cala Carogol) they will turn up and turf you off, even where they have not yet laid buoys.

Others have mentioned the price of moorings (Euro 50-100)and the fact you have to book them in advance by phone talking to someone whose English is about as good as my Spanish.

Makes you feel very unwelcome - we shall move on next season.

Richardss says:
Nov 18, 2016 08:29 PM

Wintering in Spain at Sotogrande

WE are leaving out boat out of the water at this marina the cost seems reasonable for a 13M sailboat at 4200 EU. The boat yard appears organized and there are lots of staff and security people around

Val Ellis
Val Ellis says:
Oct 22, 2016 10:37 AM

Posted on behalf of Mark & Lisa Powell

A warning to non-EU cruisers in the Med.

We would like to pass on our experience yesterday with French customs. As the website correctly states, non-EU registered boats may remain in EU waters for 18 months before payment of VAT is required. We entered the EU last July, after crossing the Atlantic in May and then spending some time in Portugal and “resetting the clock” in Gibraltar in July. Therefore, the boat could stay in the EU until Jan 2017 without paying VAT. However, before returning the US for the winter, we obtained a “Precinto” (6-month customs bond) in Spain. This basically put the boat in bond while we went back to the U.S. for 6 months. Our understanding was that this Precinto would stop the Temporary Importation (TI) clock for 6 months, effectively extending our time to 24 months in EU waters before VAT payment is required.

Yesterday, while motoring along the south coast of France (near Bandol/Toulon), we were approached and boarded by French customs. Because out boat has only been in EU waters for since last July (13.5 months), they were very cordial and we had no problems. We also showed them our Precinto from Spain. They were completely unfamiliar with this document. I also showed them the paragraph in the IMRAY cruising guide describing the customs bond and 6-month extension. In no uncertain terms, they told us that France does not provided such an extensions and that they would not recognize or honor this Precinto from Spain. They kindly suggested that we sail to Tunisia for a day to “reset the clock” before our 18-month deadline in Jan 2017. says:
Nov 10, 2013 06:04 AM

The above report is VERY astonishing!
Spain, having been hit by the crises quite hard (unemployment rate shooting to an average of 50%!) is in desperate need of funds - and they go and look for income wherever they can.

Very recently a yacht ("Air") has been seized by the authorities in Palma de Mallorca for an outragous claim for "back taxes" because it had advertised on its website to be available "for charter in the Western Med"!
Mind you: They have not advertised to be available for charter in Spain and they have not been caught actually doing illegal charter in Spain - just the mentioning on their website was enough for the authorities to seize the vessel!
The owner - a billionaire - has received very little sympathy from the public when he was billed € 20 Million(!) for the authorities to again release the yacht! While I have to admit that I can also keep my sympathies at check for people in that income range, I still feel that the concept behind this system to compensate for a significant drop in income from the yachting industry should be taken as a major alert to all of us!

Also very important to keep in mind is, that Spain may be a "member of the European Community" - but only on the paper. Sad truth is, that there is a lot of corruption and at least "massive bending of the law" going on - and foreigners cant expect to see much help from their own governments because by them Spain is considered a "law abiding member of the EC".

See for your info the story of an attempt to make a salvage case out of a simply emergency reported on our blog at: (in German and English) as well as an at least as outragous story that is still happening to us which you can read up at: (in English) or at: (in German)

As far as importing your boat to Europe I would most seriously dispute Spain to be the "by far best place" to go about this.

If you are comming from outside the Med, I would strongly recommend to go about this in Portugal (where most people speak English on top of it!).
I personally know the first hand story of a large 38m Schooner that had been imported to the EC in Lissbaon with the Authorities happily accepting the value stated by the owner as a basis to compute the taxes. (Which, in that case were rediculously low!)

Another good option I have heard a lot about is Croatia. But also Greece seems to be a place where one can strike a fairly good deal with just a tiny little bit of negotiation.

On the other hand does Spain, France and most of all Italy have the reputation of being "hard headed" and especially if you run into an official having a bad hair day can quickly get out of hand.

Just my 2 Cents.....

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Oct 25, 2013 01:11 PM

Posted on behalf of Don Stewart, SV Glenn Farr
By far the best place to import your boat into in Europe is Spain. The valuation of the boat is based on the "blue book" price (or if your boat is not listed, then listed sale price of your model boat or similar found on the internet). This was the case with my sailboat. Of course there were a number of different boats for sale. They took the middle of the road price. The procedure is then to take 10% of that price and charge VAT/IVA on that. So for example, if your boat is valued at $50,000 then you pay VAT/IVA on $5,000. The whole process took place at the customs office in Barcelona. This was the only office we had to visit. Officials were very friendly.

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