Gibraltar - 36 09.5N 05 21.4W
19 August - Well the river upstream of Punta Umbria is a delight and a place to be recommended as a peaceful anchorage - there was some music from the nearby show ground but we slept well and awoke to the sounds of birds. The only drawback to the pace is the shallow entrance - we scraped in the day before with 0.3 m under the keel and so had a slow start this next morning waiting for the same depth of water.
Having escaped at noon, we sailed all day to the south with a nice south-westerly wind, making 7+ knots in a calm sea with dry decks - it was hot. All very strange because all the weather forecasts were predicting easterly winds!
Maggie felt the day was well enough done as we approached Cadiz so we altered course. Cadiz is a big port but has no suitable anchorages and most of the marinas have less than 2 m on their approaches at spring LW. As it was a nice evening we decided to sail on - mistake No.1
During the evening the wind veered and then died before finally coming in from the East - on the nose once we reached Cape Trafalgar. Never mind the wind was still light, the glass was steady and the sea calm. Engine on (shame) and on we went expecting an eta in Gibraltar for 08:00 the following day.
20 August - As we approached the cape the wind came on stronger and the seas got up. There is an inshore passage off the Cape - but quite shallow. The sea was calm so rather than flog another 3 miles to the south I opted for this inshore route. Mistake 2 (Big mistake).
Those of you who sail may have heard of the Swinge, North of Alderney in the Channel Islands. Overfalls there are described as dangerous- well I can now tell you that overfalls off Cape Trafalgar can be just a s dangerous even though the currents are nowhere near as strong. We rounded the Cape at 04:00. In the moonlight I saw a series of large standing waves ahead of us. I reached the wheel in time and made sure we took the seas on the bow. The first three or four waves came over the deck, nos 5 or 6 even reached the windscreen. Impressive or what?
Unfortunately it having been a very hot day the deck hatches were only partially closed. More significantly the bow ventilator (a Dorado type) was facing forward and this was submerged on several occasions. We took on water! Lots of water chiefly through the forward vent.
It gradually calmed down (somewhat) and the wind died away to nothing . investigations down below revealed conditions with which Maggie was not going to be best pleased. Skipper adopts low profile and whistles and mutters to himself and starts the bilge pump.
As we approach Tarifa the wind increased to 38-40 knots and the wave height increased in sympathy. The auto pilot could not hold the course and helm and engine power was needed to keep the bows up into the wind. With the nearest safe shelter some 5 miles to windward - on we go. It was very wet at the helm with spray from forward flying aft - glasses are no good in these conditions. This is the first time we have taken water over the deck and today we have done it in spades (or in buckets). NB Maggie is again not pleased and not happy at this turn of events.
On passing the Island at Tarifa about (09:00).... the wind fell to a calm and then we were then in fog! Thick fog. We arrived in Gibraltar (La Linea) marina at 12:00 tired and depressed with a very wet boat.
The marina were super and found contractors to take away mattresses and carpets and by the evening we had been ashore to the supermarket in Gib and were getting straight once more.
21 August - Maggie went off to Gibraltar in the morning on her bicycle to find a hairdresser. While crossing the airport runway she was involved in a road traffic accident; a car hit a scooter behind her and the scooter rider fell off and crashed into Maggie from behind. The airport police and ambulance service were great but the afternoon was spent in A & E in Gibraltar Hospital! No broken bones but some very painful bruises and scrapes and a sore head.
On top of all that Maggie learnt that her Mum is critically unwell in Preston. Not a good day.
22 August. We continue to lick our wounds while the boat dries out - hooray for sunshine and hot showers. Maggie has a new appointment for her hair tomorrow (Saturday) ......She will walk over!
Maggie will fly back to Manchester on Sunday 25 August (she is too sore to move before hand) and I will take ALKIRA out to anchor off the Marina while I get some jobs done and await her return.
All for now.....
PS - I need a crew - having read the above - anyone want to sail in the Med for a week or two?