The CBYA visited the Centro de Coordinación de Salvamento Marítimo (Spanish Maritime Safety Agency Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre) in Valencia on Thursday 26th March.
The Salvamento Maritimo (SM) Centre in Valencia co-ordinates all off-shore search and rescue (SAR) and marine environmental protection in the northern Costa Blanca area. On arrival at the Capitania Marítima Building in the port, we were taken up to the fifth floor for an extremely interesting and informative presentation on their organisation, and a detailed explanation as to how they handle maritime emergencies (about 400 a year, including false alarms).
Two important messages were:-
1. In case of accidental activation of personal emergency radio beacons (EPIRBs), we should always call the SM to advise them that it was a false alarm. If we do not, we may find a rescue helicopter hovering over us at our cost!
2. If we sell a boat we must always advise them that the MMSI number for the vessel has been changed. Otherwise, the previous owner could be contacted in the case of an emergency, long after the sale, whilst the stricken yacht may be sinking.
After the presentation, we toured their largest rescue vessel (SAR Mesana) where the first officer and captain gave us an entertaining explanation of their work. It was reassuring to be told that they were on permanent standby and could put to sea within 20 minutes of receiving a call out. The crew work one month on board then have one month’s holiday.
For more information, go to http://www.salvamentomaritimo.es/ and http://www.salvamentomaritimo.es/spanish-maritime-safety-agency/
We then drove to the Albufera Natural Park which is home to the largest fresh water lake in Spain and one of the most important wetland areas in the Iberian Peninsula. It is a place of great ecological interest with rare species of wading birds and a rich variety of wildlife. (Pity the keen bird watchers left their binocs and camera in the coach!) Its waters have been traditionally worked by fishermen and rice growers, supplying ingredients and inspiration for many of the region’s most succulent dishes. See http://www.valencia-cityguide.com/tourist-information/valencia-surroundings/la-albufera-nature-park.html
After a short stroll, and pre-lunch libation, in the village of El Palmar, we gathered back at the bus only to learn that we couldn’t drive to the Restaurante Casa Ángel as the road was too narrow and bridge couldn’t take the weight! We called the restaurant which sent a furgoneta to transport those who preferred not to walk, and a guide to lead the rest of us on the 15-minute stroll through the village to their premises.
We enjoyed an excellent lunch comprising several different starters, which included mussels and freshly caught eels (from the lake), and two different types of paella. The mixed desert was also excellent, although Richard thought the plate was just for him.
After the meal, we all piled into a boat moored outside the restaurant for trip on the Albufera lake.
Another great day out with the CBYA!