The choice of marinas in and around Barcelona
is large and well covered in the cruising guides. What is not so obvious
is how overbooked they get during the winter months.
We planned to spend
the winter of 2007/8 in Barcelona, six months earlier while we were still
in the Caribbean we found that the most popular marina, Port Vell
was already booked to capacity.
Port Vell promised to put us on a waiting list,
but we later found out that this is their default response, and means little.
Others told us that if we simply arrived in Barcelona we would be
able to talk our way into a slip. Ultimately we did not
put this to the test.
There are marinas up and down
the coast including Badelona and nearby Port Olympic only a mile or so away,
but we had set our hearts on spending the winter in the city of Barcelona
and although Port Vell had put us on a waiting list, it didn't seem to be
doing us any good. So we tried calling Reial
Club Maritim de Barcelona RCMB and Reial Club Nautico de
Barcelona RCN B. These are private clubs,
in the same location as Port Vell. They cater mainly to their members, but each
has a few berths available from time to time. RCNB were completely
unhelpful on the phone. Even at RCMB it took persistence
and patience and a total of 6 phone calls just to get to talk to
Sergio, the person in authority at RCMB.
we spoke with Sergio on the phone we found him to be
a charming and helpful gentleman with good English. He reserved a spot for us, and
was good enough to warn us that its location would put us very
close to the pedestrian bridge with its crowds and persistent
Reial Club Maritim de Barcelona (RCMB)
RCMB is ideally located for access
to the tourist areas of La Rambla, Barrio Gottic and El Born, and you will
probably pay less here than at Port Vell, however you will have to fight your
way across the pedestrian bridge to get to town, which is generally crowded with
tourists. RCMB is on the Moll d'Espanya opposite the Mar Magnum shopping
center just across from the famous La Rambla pedestrian street. Bear
in mind that this is a crowded, tourist-oriented area of town and while the
views and location are spectacular, slips on the west side, close to the
opening bridge in particular are subject to crowd noise as well as the beeping
of the pedestrian bridge siren when it opens each half hour during the
day. Slips nearer the opening footbridge are also subject to considerable
swell from time to time from tugs passing outside the marina.
RCMB is secured with electric gates/doors and 24/7
attended reception/nightwatchman governing access. As a 'guest' and not a
member you will not be issued with an access card and will have to request
admission each time you return. The reception staff are friendly and
helpful but only one speaks any English
and a little Spanish goes a long
way here. Although security appears tight, we interrupted an attempted burglary on board when we
were in a slip just inside the marina fence and very close to the public
pedestrian bridge. Later one of our bicycles was stolen while
locked in the bike racks. The whole seafront area of Barcelona (as well as
many other areas of Barcelona!) is prime "ladrone" territory and petty theft
seems endemic. We think the thief climbed over the fence and targeted our
boat which was "low hanging
Most of the resident boats are
locally owned weekenders, one-design racers, small cabin cruisers and fishing
boats and are in the 25-35' category for which RCMB provides finger piers.
Larger boats are accommodated bow or stern to with laid lines tailed
to the dock. There are probably 6 or 7 side tie slips and we were
moved to one of these (to get further away from the bridge/surge) after a couple
of months here. The largest boat here is around 55'.
Dockage rate includes electricity
and water. We got a sizeable discount for making a four month minimum
WIFI is provided
by RCMB for free in the clubhouse and bar area. There is no
password/code. Simply look for RCMB on your brower. Free wifi extends to
the boats within range of the transmitter (probably 25% of the berths).
attended reception desk who will help with mail/faxes etc.
Marineras are very helpful for docking
etc. They will take care of boat chores and wash your boat and
handle boat watch while away etc. for a separately negotiated fee with the
individuals. David was very
helpful to us during our absence over Christmas and
speaks pretty good English.
Racks are provided for bicycles and
guests are not allowed to use
bicycles on the piers.
No Laundry onsite, although
management has approved the installation of a washer and dryer (January 2008 this had not been
Butane (blue tanks)
can be purchased and empty tanks exchanged at the hardware store Ferreteria
Bras. It is on Passeig de Born de Borbo in Barcelonetta a block or
two from the Carrer de Maquinista intersection and the Fastnet Pub, near
Port Vell marina.
There is a very good self-service Lavapress laundry across
the pedestrian bridge on Carrer Nou de St. Francesc. It has 6
new washers and 5 new dryers at around €3.50 per load. If you use their
card payment system you save €.50 per load.
Groceries. For fresh
vegetables, fruit, meat, fish, preserved meats and cheese as well as frozen
products the Barceloneta fresh market is superb. It is a new
purpose-built market and is clean, and closer as well as cheaper than the
famous Boqueria market on La Rambla which tends to fill with
tourists. It is closed Sundays and every afternoon at about
3pm. Built into one end of the Barceloneta market is a good grocery store
(Appearances are deceptive, most of the groceries are out of sight - take the
elevators on the right). The grocery store is open much later than the
market. Around the market are several specialist shops selling Bread, Eggs, Preserves
Restaurants. For breakfast
you should go to El Quim in the Boqueria at least
once. Their Tortilla (Spanish omelette) is huge, amazing and good value at €7.
Equally good are the fried artichokes and fried chipirones (although the
latter were pricey at €15 in 2007/8.) A much cheaper breakfast can be had at
the restaurant in the Barceloneta market (opposite end from the grocery store),
try their Bocadillo con Tortilla for about €3. For a mid-priced dinner
we can recommend the various Taller Tappas outlets scattered around the city
the best one is in the Born, as well as Irati tapas just of La
Rambla. Generally however we were unimpressed with the midrange
restaurants that we visited. Quality is so-so and the menus uninspired
with almost all restaurants in the area catering principally to tapas
tourists. Very few restaurants will serve much in the way of fresh
vegetables and we often got our veggie fix at Fresco, a self-service soup, salad
and pizza kind of place with an all you can eat buffet currently priced at €8
weekdays €10 weekends. Their fresh vegetables are excellent (but some
restaurants in the chain are better than others).
There is a Marine Chandlery nearby,
directions are posted on the RCMB noticeboard. There are also several
chandleries close to the land entrance to Port
Car drivers are generally
polite to cyclists and are aware of bicycles riding on the street.
There seems to be little or no aggresive driving and no road
trails. There are cycle trails throughout
Barcelona. The only area where they are absent is in the very busy La
Rambla area. There is a nice trail that leads along the beach from
Barcelonetta heading East and many of the main thoroughfares in Barcelona
have dedicated bike paths. In addition the authorities seem to have no
problem with people walking on the bike paths; bikes riding on the
pedestrian paths; bikes ignoring all traffic signs, or bikes using
pedestrian crossings. It can get a little out of control and you
should always be on the lookout for pedestrians, cars and bicycles whether you
are on foot or on two wheels or four and whether you are on the road, a cycle
path or the sidewalk!
Security. All bikes should be
locked with at least two chains or solid U bolts and not the cheap ones
either. The best are solid steel and bought in another country so the
keying is unfamiliar to the all-pervasive ladrones. Lock the frame to an
immovible object then lock the front wheel to the frame or (better) to the same
immovible object. Remove the seat if it is a high-end one and finally do
not leave your bicycle locked in a public area at night.
We have seen countless vandalized bikes left chained
to posts and abandoned. We guess this is happening at
Port Vell Marina
After 3 months in RCMB we moved to Port Vell.
on February 1st 2008. The main reason for the move - more
liveaboards in Port Vell mean more neighbors and a more social atmosphere.
As soon as we arrived we were welcomed and invited to the weekly pot-luck
Barbecue party! The Marina is quieter than RCMB, being located a little
further away from the main throngs of tourists. It also has less traffic
noise at night. It is worth noting that persistence pays off. When
we stopped by PV to check on the availability of a slip we were first told that
this would be "very complicated, because as you can see we are completely
full". We politely empathized and lingered, asking what might be available
and when. We were told there may be a space in May! We said we
really wanted one tomorrow (February)! After some checking a slip was
surprisingly found and we moved in. A little less persistence and we
would not have got in. It turned out that the slip we secured
was being held for someone else....
PV is a
commercial marina and it is
unfair to contrast its pricing philosophy from that of the yacht club we
were previously staying at. Suffice to say, at PV if you want anything you
will have to pay for it. This applies to Water, Electricity, Internet and
Laundry. We are on F dock, a wide concrete dock with plenty of room to
store bicycles next to the boat and stands to lock them to. We
are allowed to ride along the docks. Some long-term visitors have even
installed satellite dishes on the dock. Separate storage is available
for dinghies and other equipment, although our dinghy remains on the
PV is in the same former
commercial harbour complex as RCMB and is shown on the Google map
Security appears to be better than at
RCMB. This is a much larger marina, with substantially larger boats.
There are two card key operated gates separating the finger piers from the
general public and a security detail on duty 24/7.
The Marina is usually completely full
during the winter and boats range from some in the 30-35 foot range to the
majority at around 45-55' and on up to several hundred feet. We no longer
stand out from a crowd of smaller boats and this also makes us feel more
secure. All the boats are moored bow or stern to, with laid moorings
tailed to the dock.
PV is pretty well protected from swell, and the only
swell we have noticed thus far comes from the commercial fishing boats when they
return from their daily work at around 4:30p.m. for half an hour or so.
is available through PV at the extremely high charge of €12 per day. The
Marina is experimenting with a type of fiberoptic cable internet but this is
currently on trial and only available to a few boats. We can receive a
weak WIFI signal to Telefonica on F dock, which we have not subscribed to.
We have purchased a Vodafone 3G USB modem that we plan to use while
Laundry is located in the Ladies bathroom, and consists of a commercial size washer
and dryer. There is also an iron and ironing board. Tokens are sold in the marina office. The charge is currently
about €4 per load. We prefer to continue to use the commercial laundromat
mentioned in the RCMB section above which allows us to use several machines
simultaneously and significantly cuts down on our laundry
This marina is closer to Barceloneta but all
the comments above for RCMB apply here also.