Tag Archives: sailing

Ceuta to Mallorca Part 1

Aiming to arrive in Mallorca by the end of April to meet up with friends from Yorkshire we began our journey of some 600 miles by setting out from Ceuta.

Ceuta
Ceuta

We waved goodbye to new friends, Peter and Annelies on Skadi and Elio and Maria on Sela and headed back out across the traffic separation zone towards the East coast of Gibraltar, and the Mediterranean proper.  The wind was strong so we reefed in the mainsail and veritably whizzed across.  No dolphins this time.

Skadi scoots past-us
Skadi scoots past-us

We were overtaken by Skadi who were trying out their new ‘laminated’ sails.  Very fast.

We arrived in Estepona and since Peter and Annalies were anchoring, we figured we should try that too!  So we dropped the pointy heavy thing off the bow and spent a night bobbing around on the swell in the bay.  Ian had his new App working which tracks your movements on the anchor during the night and sets off an alarm if you start to move away from the anchor.  The App is wittily called “Drag Queen” and in her capable arms we had a fairly peaceful,  if rolly, night.

Keira & Ian
Keira & Ian

Next day, we set off to Marbella and found a nice marina to the Eastern side of the town where we encountered a Harrier hawk in town to scare off seagulls reducing bird poo on the sails. After a circuit of the marina she perched on our boom, and left a present.

Scaring seagulls
Scaring seagulls

We were able to enjoy a long walk down the promenade, people watching and then wandered up into the delightful historic centre to make our way through narrow and attractive lanes to find The Farm Restaurant which is owned and run by the people we had met in Ceuta.

The Farm,Marbella
The Farm,Marbella

Elio and Maria were most welcoming considering we had only met up briefly on the pontoon a couple of days before.  We shared a bottle of wine and had a platter of delicious cheeses and meat for our supper.  The restaurant was simply beautiful, with a secret garden at the side and tables set on the pavement square out front, as well as a lovely room inside.  If you are ever in Marbella, I can recommend it.

Marbella
Marbella

The following morning we were up early to take Keira to the bus station to catch a bus to Malaga airport for her flight home. We shall miss having her aboard.

Determined to try and find some wifi for weather reports and other vital communications we set off to a little restaurant we’d used the day before.  Somehow, between us, we managed to leave our wallet on the wall outside.  On returning there ten minutes later, it, and all its contents, had disappeared. So, the next hour was spent phoning round to cancel cards.  Not only was there our credit card and cash card there were our newly arrived EHIC cards and Cruising Association membership cards!  Very annoying.

So we were even more down in the dumps after that.

We decided to set off to Benalmadena for a change of scene and a change in fortune.  After a few hairy moments when currents and wind were pushing us towards the huge concrete pontoon we set off relatively smoothly.  By the time we rounded the renowned Cabo Pino at the half way point the winds were quite ferocious.  Gusting up to 30 knots.  The direction of the wind (NE) would mean an uncomfortable beat into the wind for the last leg.  Fuengirola, the nearest post of call, is more difficult to enter on a strong NE wind. Not being sure really sure how the weather was going to develop we decided to turn back.  We zoomed into Marbella for a second time on strong winds.

This time we parked bows to to make getting on and off easier.  We have also learnt that it is important to prepare strong lines for whatever the weather might throw at you.  Everything tidy and sorted BEFORE the beers come out!   And that there are simple preparations to do in port prior to leaving that make things a lot less hairy than trying to do them in 30 knots of wind!

Lots of lessons learnt.

Routine

Well, just in case you think this adventure is all about G and Ts on the deck before the sun has even gone over the yardarm, I thought I’d fill you in on the general daily sailing routine on board Linea.

First, obvs, Ian brings me a cup of tea and immediately my first work-out commences.  Twenty vigorous pumps up and down and I can feel the pressure mount.  Some lubrication is necessary.  We use olive oil on the advice of other seafarers. Suddenly, flushing is a lot easier and the toilet (heads!) is squeaky clean.  Frantic, but necessary exercise and then we have breakfast!

We set off to shower in the marina shower block, if there is one, and, afterwards, I go to the marina office to return the key and go through the obligatory paperwork. (At least eight pieces of paper,  sometimes twelve!). Since the offices are at the arrival pontoon this usually involves a fair hike to and fro.

Whilst I have been away, Ian has been checking all the weather reports.  It’s no good just checking the one, since the weather is so unpredictable in the Med at this time of year and each one predicts slight differences.  We take the average and add ten knots!

He has re-attached the main sail halyard and unzipped the sail cover.  The navigation has been done the night before, putting all the crucial waypoints into the computer so that we have a clear course to follow.  We have the paper charts and pilot guide to hand, having read up, in detail, about where we are heading, obstacles along the way and the destination port.

Whilst waiting to depart we hear a Pan Pan message going out on the VHF radio to all ships in the Straits and Alboran sea. There is a dinghy adrift with 50 souls on board and we are asked to keep a sharp look out and report any sightings.  We gasp at the thought of people being stranded in those waters with no means to steer or propel themselves in such a busy traffic area.  Hopefully they will soon be found and taken to safety. These messages have become a daily occurrence.

Gathering ourselves together, we remove the heavy mooring lines from the bow and any spring lines we have set up.  Once we are ready, we start the engine and Ian drops the stern mooring line.  I then pull in the slip lines and we back out carefully from our spot trying to avoid the mooring lines of other boats next to us.

‘Clear!’ I yell, and off we go out of the marina.  My first job is to remove all the lines and coil them up to be stowed. For short slip lines this is relatively easy, but lifting and coiling heavy mooring lines presents serious weight lifting for the arms

I carry them back to the rope locker tucked in the curve of my elbow and lying across my hip, like naughty babies and gently lie them in the locker until they are needed again.

Then, I undo all the fenders – one by one – that’s usually eight, sometimes nine.  I carry them to the cockpit and lob them bodily down the companionway.  Next, I have to climb gingerly down to the saloon and push the fenders under the table, wedging them in like sausages in a Tupperware box.

Back up on deck, I check that the cockpit is ready for the hoisting of the sails.  Reef lines (three of them) need to be placed in even figure of eights so that they uncoil without interruption.

The main halyard needs winding round the main winch in preparation for hauling up.  The topping lift needs winching in tight, the vang needs releasing, as does the main sheet.

Soon, we decide the time is right for the main sail to go up.  I head the boat up to wind so that her nose is dividing the air neatly and evenly.  Ian stands at the mast.  I engage Pedro the auto pilot and dart to my position near the halyard.  Ian sweats the halyard, I pull in the slack. Teamwork! So we go on, until the main sail is almost at the top of the mast.  I then begin to winch in a centimetre at a time!  Ian appears from the mast and continues.  Then takes the helm to turn us away from the wind.   He urges me to winch a little more.  I make a tiny adjustment, which he accepts as ‘fantastic’ and, thank god, the thing is up.

No rest yet.  I then have to pull the Genoa as Ian releases the furler and finally we have both sails up!  Still more tweaking to do, so that they are set and I can sit.  But not for long.  This has probably taken the best part of an hour.

All the while we are both keeping an eagle look out, using our fantastic binoculIMG_3067ars (affectionately called ‘knockers’) for Cardinal marks, lobster pots, fish farms, other boats, dolphins and huge pieces of floating plastic sheeting that can blow off the thousands of huge ‘greenhouses’ along this south facing part of the Spanish coast line.

After being head to wind for so long it is also necessary to check where we are in relation to our course and the chart. I nip down below and look at the Open CPN navigation charts on the computer.

I send the latest activated waypoint information to the helm.

Back up top I go to see how we are getting on.

Perhaps now it’s calm, it’s a good opportunity to pop to the loo, (sorry- heads!) and it is, of course,at this precise moment, that a huge pod of dolphins decides to make an appearance.  Ian shouts with delight.  I rush up top with the camera and glimpse loads of dolphins in small groups chasing and herding the fish and having a feast but quite far off.  There are a number of seagulls flying along in their wake.  They have discovered that where there are dolphins there surely must be fish.

The dolphins do not grace us with any close up, dip-diving today.

Pedro and Genevieve
Pedro and Genevieve

Surely, it’s coffee time now.  I go back down and put the kettle on.  Coffee and biscuits appear, as if by magic, in the cockpit and we have a quiet minute whilst Pedro carefully steers us along our course.

Suddenly, Ian is digging in the locker for the stainless steal polish.  He sets to, polishing and buffing, around the boat.

Not to be outdone, I decide that this is a good time to start pulling the new dark blue nylon socks onto our scruffy old fenders.  Back down the steps I go to retrieve the sewing stuff.  Pulling the socks over the fenders requires remarkable strength and is akin to pulling tights up wet legs!  Once they are in position, an over-stitch with shearing elastic creates a rope effect and keeps the collar and cuff of each sock in place on the fender.  They do look smart!

The wind remains light and constant, so we decide to get out the mackerel fishing line.  We are sailing over a fishing haven and there are bound to be fish.

Ian dangles the hooks and feathers over the side and within five minutes, he has a bite.  He pulls in the line to reveal the  smallest, spikiest fish I have ever seen.  I put on the gloves and detach the fish from the hook and chuck it back in.  Poor thing looks the worse for the experience.  Having detached the minnow, I throw the lead weight back into the sea,  but Ian has only a light hold of the rest of the line so the whole thing is jerked out of his hand and we watch it drop to the bottom of the ocean, helplessly.

Well, that’s the end of fishing, for the time being but there’s no peace for the wicked!

The wind is picking up and we decide to put the main sail away and use just the headsail as we are on a run and the wind is right behind us.  (It’s safer and a lot easier to put away if the wind builds further.) We turn into the wind, which by now has increased to more than 20 knots, and release the halyard.  The sail drops down almost entirely into the sail bag, just needing a hand to fold in the last metre or two.

We sail along at about 8 knots.  It’s relatively peaceful on this point of sail and we are well-balanced.  I rustle up a quick lunch.

The arrival port is in sight.

Then the foresail needs pulling in.  Ian does the winching and I ease the genoa sheet so that the sail doesn’t get tangled around the forestay.

Then the engine goes on,  and we are motoring towards our destination.  I edge my way along the boat to pull up the motoring cone, which lets other boats know that we are motoring.  Once that is done it’s time to put out the fenders, ready for parking.  I have to go down to the saloon and push all the fenders back up on deck.  I climb up behind them and push them into the cockpit and emerge like a hatchling amongst eggs.

One by one, I carry them down the side of the boat and tie them on to the rail.  Back and forth I go, methodically.  Next, it’s time to get the lines ready for mooring.  Usually we need a stern line from the back of the boat and a bow line at the front.  I dig them out of the snake pit and scurry around to attach and coil them so that they are ready to throw to the Mariners who are on shore. Of course by now it’s blowing a hoollie to bring added spice to our manoeuvres and I know within thirty of minutes of turning the engine off there won’t be a breath of wind.

Whilst Ian calmly steers the boat against the Arrivals Pontoon, I prepare to fling the lines ashore and onto the outstretched arm of the patient mariner. He attaches the rope to the shore and hands me back the end of the line.  I pull this through the fairlead and on to the cleat as quickly as possible so that the boat can’t drift.  As soon as that line is fixed I move to the bow and repeat the process so that we are balanced.  We both breath a sigh of relief and whilst Ian sorts the paperwork out with the Marina Office, I have a quiet five minutes.

Now that we have been allocated a berth we will have to perform the parking exercise all over again.  I fix another bow line.  We untie from the waiting pontoon and motor on over towards our berth.  We usually go bows to with a concrete pontoon because with the dinghy on the stern it means that it is impossible to climb off the boat when the tide drops.

I fling the bow lines again and fix them.  Then I reach back to grab the boat hook and lean over the side of the boat to scoop up the lazy line and take it back to the stern so that Ian can heave up and cleat off the hefty mooring line to which the lazy line is  clinging.

Phew, we are all sorted!  No not quite.

I lug the huge mooring lines, that I put away this morning, back up to the bow and throw the ends to Ian who attaches them to the bollards on shore.  They will take most of the weight of the boat, rather than the thin slip lines which are easier to throw but not as strong.

Then we tighten everything up, Ian ‘sweats’ in the line and I pull in the slack and tie it off.  Knuckles are at risk of rubbing raw against the rough surface of the deck, fingers can be trapped by the force of the lines and we are still not done.

The halyard has to be pinned away from the mast so that it doesn’t clank in the wind and keep everyone awake.  The sail cover must go on to protect the sail from rain and ultraviolet light.   All the lines from the sails must be tidied up and placed in figures of eight around the winches or coiled on the rail to keep them neat.

The wheel is covered with its canvas cover and everything that can be stowed away, is.

Now, and only now, can the kettle be put on for a well deserved cuppa and a quick shower.

But, hang on….we were alongside the Arrivals pontoon at 1500hrs.  How can it be 1820hrs already?

We need to cook some supper and then it’s nearly time for bed!!

Anyone interested need only make the briefest of brief applications to be crew on our next leg!

Ceuta

Ceuta 4

Ceuta – pronounced Thayootah.  Known as Sebta in Arabic.

On Saturday, we braved the waters of the Bay of Gibraltar again and headed out of La Linea de la Concepcion towards Ceuta, a Spanish enclave on the North African coast, adjoining Morocco.

The weather was perfect for me, a few knots of wind only, which meant we had to motor most of the way.  When crossing the traffic separation zone that cuts through the Straits of Gibraltar, it is best to cut across at right angles and do it as fast as possible.  With our newly fixed propeller anode in place we could bomb along at 8 knots.

We did sail for the last couple of hours once we were clear of the TSZ and it was perfectly lovely in the sun.   Keira even extracted and wore her bikini!!!and it is only April!

But best of all, when we were motoring along we spotted a couple of dolphins up ahead.  Soon we were really near to them and they swam right past.  It was a mother and her calf.

Later on, we spotted some more fins carving up the water. Keira lept to the front of the boat, (practically giving me a heart attack!) phone in hand ready to take pictures.  We were so lucky that a small group of four dolphins decided to join us and they played under the bow for a good three minutes before shooting off into the briny blue to our port side.  They were so fast and agile.  Diving over each other in a competition for pole position.  Rolling over coyly to one side so that they could glance up at us and see the tremendous effect that their presence was having on us: One person shrieking about how beautiful they were, one exclaiming about how they could be common or bottle nosed dolphins and one trying to speak dolphin by squeaking, clicking and clacking at them as they rode up out of the water to take a breath.

Excitement over, we arrived in Ceuta and parked up calmly at the part time fueling pontoon and then made our way to a berth near the temporary marina office.  We settled a rather alarmingly expensive, inexplicably calculated bill and swallowing hard headed into the city and made a walking tour of the impressive, old walls of the city fortifications. Ceuta 3

Ceuta 9Then to the centre of town to the tree shaded plaza near a couple of churches.  Ceuta 8A group of chattering people were gather outside the church when the bells of the other one across the square began to chime.  Clanging and clattering with a tremendous peel, bang on the dot of seven o’clock, blocking all chance of conversation.

Ceuta 7

We headed back to the boat around dusk and tucked into a tasty supper, which was one that we had prepared earlier!

A turn in the weather meant that we had to stay a further two days and nights in Ceuta.  With 40 knots of wind in the Straits we were so glad we stayed. So we spent a day happily catching up on maintenance, cleaning, paperwork and blogs.

Maiden Voyage – Portugal to Gibraltar

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Our first visitor came to stay this week.  We were delighted to welcome my great friend,  Paula Vickers, aboard.  Staying for one night only after a busy working week for Dial an Exchange in Portugal. Paula arrived on a sunny Friday afternoon and all too soon was jetting back to Blighty.  It was great to catch up.

Over the preceding few days we had spent all our time prepping the boat for sailing.  We checked the life jackets, took back the serviced life raft, fire extinguishers and the new EPIRB; refitting the VHF,  washed some of the lines to get the salt off, deep cleaned the deck and polished the chrome, translated labels from Dutch to English and hoisted the dinghy.  We also sorted the rope locker, marveling over the impressive collection of hose pipes and fittings, filled the tanks and stowed everything away safely, including Ian’s bike, which was shoe horned onto the bunk room.

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Saturday brought the arrival of ship mate David Heane who was to assist as crew in delivering the boat to Gibraltar, one hundred and eighty miles away.   Priorities, though, first we had to find somewhere to watch the rugby.  So, we grabbed a taxi into Monte Gordo and found a strange little sports bar where the rugby was in full swing and beer was on offer.

We were up bright and early on Sunday morning and the Marinera came to help us with the turning of the boat in the marina.  It was a beautiful morning with bright sunshine and flat calm which really helped us manoeuvre out of the restricted space.

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We gave our new friends Tristan and Sue of SY Minerva a wave as we passed by and headed off down the long channel of the Guardiana River and out into the Atlantic.

First stop, Mazagon Marina about 30 miles off.  We had very light winds initially but they built until we were able to deploy Genevieve the genaker, which quickly became Ian’s favourite sail.

This huge sail pulled us along at almost the speed of the wind.  We made much better progress.  We realised that since we were now in Spain protocol requires that one should change the courtesy flag on the starboard spreaders. We successfully removed the Portugese flag and attached the Spanish flag.  Somehow, the string to which it was attached had become jammed in the pulley and nothing was happening to lift the courtesy flag to the required height.  We added it to the list of jobs for the skipper to do the following morning.

Winds dropped so we chugged into the marina and were finally berthed by 2000hrs; a long day, but we all agreed it had gone very quickly.  We headed for beer and wifi and then quickly rustled up a spag bol and collapsed into bed.  Next day, we were up fairly early and the first job was to hoist Ian up the mast so he could fix the pulley.  IMG_2829He was trussed up tight in a harness and attached to  halyard.  We pulled him up to the first set of spreaders, winches creaking disconcertingly as he rose high above the deck.  Mission accomplished.  He fixed the problem and we were sorely tempted to leave him up there on the naughty step!

However, we decided to let him down so we could continue the trip to Chipiona.  We made good progress and were berthed early enough to grab a shower and head into town to replenish food stocks at the Allimentacione.

Moments after completing our provisioning duties, we walked down to the delightfully un-touristy town centre where we spotted a brightly lit bar on a street corner.  Serano ham legs were hanging from the ceiling like a collection of upturned, day-old, party balloons.  We suddenly noticed that we were all exceptionally thirsty, so we piled in and plonked down at the scrubbed Formica table and ordered beers.  We were presented with a menu by the friendly Spanish waiter and tried to match the overflowing and delicious looking tapas dishes on display with the names of the dishes on the menu.

IMG_2837Los Faroles turned out to be absolutely fantastic.  We were the vanguard of a run on the place and within ten minutes of us sitting down, the place was packed with Spanish families, couples and workers on the way home.  All chattering nineteen to the dozen and enjoying the tapas.  Fabulous evening, scrumptious food.

DCIM100GOPRO
New boat speed record

Next day, we set out to Puerto America at Cadiz.  The wind was strong today and we were tied up on the arrival pontoon by 1600hrs.  Absolutely shattered.

The port staff asked us to move to another berth just in case several 20 metre yachts might arrive and want to moor for the night.  So we had to un-tie  and go through the trauma of parking all over again.  My least favourite part of the day!

By this time, the wind had really got up and was 18 knots and gusting much more.  In a confined space this makes manoeuvring tricky, because big areas of the boat tend to act like a sail and make steerage challenging.  As we pulled up alongside the pontoon a particularly big gust began to push the boat away.  The breast line that was ready didn’t quite make it to the pontoon first time. Suddenly, the stern was being blown across and with no other boat in the pontoon there was nothing to cushion or stop our progress horizontally into the berthing bay.

With the bow being the only place to get ashore I was commanded to leap to the pontoon in order to assist David who was already there.  I prepared to make the leap from the pulpit, the highest point of the deck, calculating my trajectory so as to avoid the anchor and the bow spirit sticking out insolently in my way. It was at least four feet down to the pontoon far below.  As I rather nimbly, I thought, began my descent,  my left ankle kicked up hard against an errant spinnaker pole with enormous force.  Since the pole was firmly strapped on to the rail, it did not budge and my ankle received the most tremendous clonk. By this time I was airborne and cat-like somehow managed to land on the foot of my one dodgy, previously broken, ankle and judo roll to my feet.  Now, I was aware of a tremendous pain in my left ankle and realised that I now had two dodgy ankles to contend with!

Finally, we managed to sweat the boat I towards the pontoon and get her sorted.

After a medicinal snifter, whilst applying an ice pack fashioned from a frozen chicken fillet to my elevated limb, we all decided we needed a nap to get over the trauma of the berthing.

Awaking at 1930hrs we set off for Cadiz town, me limping on both sides, where it soon became apparent that something was happening.  There were people everywhere. We followed a group down a maze of streets off a huge square and came across a little bar on a street corner with a free outside table. We descended and abandoning any attempts to say more than ‘por favor’ and ‘gracias’ ordered a range of tapas by pointing at plates of food on other people’s tables.

It was delicious! Swordfish, anchovies, sardines, potatoes and sea bass.  All the while the crowds were building up along the street adjacent to us.

We heard drumming and a procession of people marched past us clad in white robes and hooded headgear, topped by an enormous point; like extended dunces hats with a KKK mask attached, swiftly followed by three crosses. Ahhh! Now we could see that it was an Easter Passion Procession.

The file of people continued to go past down the narrow street.  A huge and ornate wooden sarcophagus was carried by, then finally an elaborate silver one with a model of Mary Magdalene perched on the top. Everyone clapped and then almost immediately started to disburse as the heavens opened.

Luckily, we were kept dry by the huge umbrella above our table. We waited for the shower to abate and then headed back to the distant marina.

Next day we set off to Barbate.  The last, most Easterly port of call in the Atlantic.  We left after an engine check, hoping to complete the 37 mile trip in good time.

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There was very little wind, however, and quite a moderate swell, so we wallowed about making slow progress.  Eventually, we pulled up at the visitors pontoon at dusk.  The light drops very quickly here so by the time we had negotiated a berth via Google translate with the security guard, it was really quite dark.  The marina was well sheltered and so we smoothly slipped along side the finger pontoon, no heroics today, to park quietly there for a few hours.

In double quick time, we rustled up a supper of ham, cheese, salami  salad and potatoes; showered and set the course for the following day’s sail to Gibraltar.

We decided to leave at 0500hrs the following morning.

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(Poor David would be glad to get back to work next week, for a rest!)   The distance was at least forty miles on a straight course and was further complicated by tidal streams and currents with which we needed to coordinate as we squeezed through the Straits of Gibraltar. (Dire Straits?)

Not only that, there were the usual plethora of man made obstacles to avoid, such as; massive tuna nets laid over vast areas, military exercise zones, underwater cables suspended two metres below the surface. All of these are charted so routes can be planned accordingly, however, we would be sailing in the dark for that added extra challenge!   We would need to be able to identify all the different flashing, occluding and constant lights in our sight lines so we would know where we were in relation to the chart.  Also, in coastal waters, car headlamps can be a bit off-putting too!

In addition to that, there are the veritable mine fields lobster pot floats to keep an eye out for and skirt round.

During the week we had become accustomed to being alone on the wide open sea.  Sighting another sailing boat was unusual.  We spotted the odd ship in the distance and checked their identity on the AIS tracker.

So, as we approached Tarifa, the part of Europe closest to Africa, we were interested to see things becoming distinctly busier on the traffic front.  There is a traffic separation scheme, for large cargo vessels, operating in the Straits.  We saw it in action.  We checked the details on the AIS of one of the ships as she passed us by some two miles away.  345m long and 50m wide! Yes, that’s correct! 345m long! The circumference of her deck being almost a kilometre!  And then there’s us – 13m long.  Definitely don’t want to get in the way of one of those.

There are entire books written about transiting the Straits, with warnings about overfalls, currents and counter currents as the Atlantic squeezes into a narrow eight mile stretch of water.  For example, it is said that the wind blows at Isla Tarifa at 40 knots for 300 days of the year.  It is also said that, ‘If the wind is light at one end of the Straits it will be blowing hard at the other.’  This is exactly what we experienced as winds built during the course of the day.  Luckily for us it was one of the other 65 days on which we passed Isla Tarifa,  our half way point, and although we had planned to anchor in the lee of the island to eat lunch and have a nap we decided that with the fair wind we should just crack on.  By the time we reached the mouth of the Bay of Gibraltar the wind had reached 30 knots.

We tonked on with the wind behind us, gybing three or four times.  Exhausting work, winching in the main sheet each time on a powered up sail.  It was precarious to put the preventer on the boom each time we gybed but somehow we manage to do it all whilst cooking and eating  scrambled eggs on toast.  IMG_2842The skipper was on the helm so David had to feed him!

Suddenly, we saw The Rock of Gibraltar ahead.  Straits screen shotThere were vessels everywhere, travelling in every direction, at ridiculous speeds!  I was detailed to keep track of them all.  A large red vessel crossed in front of us and we skirted her stern.  A huge cargo ship surged past our starboard beam at twenty four knots.  Ships lay at anchor on both sides of the bay, either waiting to off load cargo at Algeciras or Gibraltar.  Fuel ships hugged up against other vessels to fill up their tanks.   We bravely sail in amongst these giants.  The wind is strong, the waves moderate and the current carries us along.  We make good progress even with two reefs in the sail and half the head sail in.

Before long, we spy the breakwater up ahead.  We head for the reception pontoon and two mariners are there to help. Wonderful.

We complete the copious paperwork for the fifth time this week and are allocated our berth.

We limber up for the gymnastics associated with parking our boat by rearranging the fenders and recoiling our lines.  We complete the calisthenics necessary to to kick our legs over the rail, mooring lines in hand, and perch, precariously on the rail.  The finger pontoon looms ever closer.  Notoriously thin and wobbly, they are not the greatest thing to try to jump on to.  Their minimal width does not allow an extra step to counter forward motion.  It must be a standing landing.  David jumps with the grace  and delicacy of a man half his size and age.  He makes it, with barely a wobble and hooks us on.  The wind pushes us away.  We utilise another cleat and manage to pull clear of the boat next door.  A bow line is attached and all are sweated in against the wind and current to sit us fairly close up against the pontoon.  No damage done, except to David’s finger which is scraped, bruised and bleeding all over the pontoon.

IMG_2917So happy to have survived the Straits (not so dire, after all), sailed 180 miles, and to have arrived in this spectacular spot, under the Rock, tucked into the marina of the appropriately named town of La Linea.