All at sea. Almerimar, 36 41.86N 02 47.56w

Charles & Maggie Bevis
Wed 28 Aug 2013 13:58
We are ship shape once again, the mattresses and carpets have been returned and all are clean and dry, none the worse for their salty experience! Everywhere below looks good again. We have learned the hard way that battening down the hatches isn't always sufficient and we won't forget to blank off all forward vents should we hit really foul weather. 

Although the news isn't good regarding my mother, she has rallied a little for the time being.  I've had several conversations with one of my three sisters, all are able to visit mum in hospital and are keeping an eye on dad at home.  Following conversations last Saturday evening, they all felt that I should remain here. After much soul searching (and as I'm not in too good a condition for travelling myself at the moment) I have decided to stay. Thanks to technology, I'm able to keep in regular touch.

We've been watching the weather forecasts for a couple of days now and every web site seemed to be telling the same story of strong easterly winds due in this area that could last for several days.  We've had a reasonable week in Gibralter but didn't particularly want another ten days as that would put us behind schedule and under pressure to reach San Carles, which is where we intend to lay Alkira up for the winter.

Charlie was concerned as to whether I felt fit enough to move on, but a further check of weather sites on Tuesday morning revealed a lull in the winds that had been forecast, indeed it was hot, sultry and dead calm, so we decided to get going and move on ahead of the forecasted winds, which now look to be due later in the week.

After hot showers, topping up the water and fuel, we left Gibralter at 10:30 Tuesday morning.

There are dozens of ships of all shapes and sizes anchored off Gibraltar and along this stretch of coast, some waiting to go into port to discharge, others awaiting new instructions - it's very busy.  

We were thrilled to witness the beautiful J Class yacht Endeavour arriving in port just as we exited. Built in the 1930's, now thanks to someone with a bottomless bank account, she is extremely well maintained and raced all over the world amd what a fabulous sight she is, surely one of the best ever.  Charlie saw her again overnight as she passed us, presumably on her way to the Cannes boat show next month.

Tuesday was a strange day, the sea was weirdly calm all day with just light ripples on the surface but no swell or waves whatsoever. As it was so calm, we decided to press on and to miss out Fuengirola and head to Almerimar.  None of the places we planned to visit were of much interest to us and much of this coast being mostly overdeveloped touristy and probably very noisy and busy, but we have to go somewhere!  pressing on overnight was for once, the better option, as Maggie's not up to pulling on ropes etc. at the moment. 

We've had several encounters with dolphins today and on one occasion, shortly after leaving Gib, there was an extremely large group that leapt and swam around us, spectacular. Otherwise, all was quiet with just a small number of craft to be seen. It's been a very hot day and we've sheltered under the bimini the whole time, what a bonus it is.

Charlie was to take the first watch up to 2am. At around 1:30 am he'd heard a clicking noise and a slapping sound on the sides of the hull. On investigation, he discovered a group of dolphins had joined us. The speed we were doing obviously appealed to the dolphins and he'd been watching them leaping around us and swimming around the bow. He came and got me at 2am asking if I'd like to see dolphins by moonlight?  (Earlier, he'd reduced the engine speed a little when I went to bed so that it was quieter and that I might get some sleep, which I didn't, but nothing new there!) 

What a great sight to,see dolphins at night time, made even more memorable as we were sailing directly along a beam of moonlight and could clearly see the luminous stream of bubbles coming off the dolphins as they sped along, we could see their movements under the water more clearly than we ever can in daylight and were even able to tell when they were going to leap out of the water. They stayed with us for quite a while longer but by 2:30 it was Charlie's turn for a rest. We increased our speed a little and this seemed to be a signal for the dolphins to take their leave.  The experience is something neither of us will ever forget.  

Several ships have gone by including the cruise ship Ventura heading for Malaga and whilst it's my turn to keep a lookout, I'm watching a ship called Ocean Dream, according to the AIS, she's doing 15 knots and also going to Malaga. Printed on her funnel and ship sides it says Peace Boat? I will have to look her up on the Internet.

At 4:00 am it's still a warm, calm night with a very light breeze and a little cloud cover. Way off in the distance are a couple more ships for me to keep an eye on, one appears to be another cruise ship heading possibly for Malaga, but it could be going to Gibraltar, as we were told last week that three ships were due in this Wednesday, the biggest being Independence of the Seas, a huge modern ugly thing that doesn't look at all like a ship should and carries huge numbers of passengers and crew. Further away on the port side I can see lights on the mainland all twinkling away. 

At 5am it's now pitch dark, the moon is hidden behind the clouds and there's been a shift in the wind. As Charlie had the sails out trying to capture what breeze there was before he went to bed, I need to do some work to move them across;  this may take some time as I'm literally doing it "single handed!" The lights on the mainland have all but disappeared for the moment, so with quite a lot of cloud and no moonlight, I'm sailing into a black void - ooooh!

Later ...

Isn't it just typical? Charlie appeared on deck at 6:40 and I go to bed for a rest. Within minutes the wind has picked up, gone around to the east and we start bumping our way head on into waves again! If I didn't know better, I'd swear Charlie had a switch!  

So here I am at 9:30, back on deck and still having had no sleep. It's hot and sunny and WINDY.

Several years ago, Charlie and I flew to this part of Spain to look at a boat.  We clearly remember as we were landing, looking down at the landscape and questioning what all the huge white squares were all over the the ground, very ugly and there in their hundreds.  We found out all to soon that they were absolutely massive sheets of very strong plastic. Underneath is where all the fresh produce that finds its way into our stores throughout the year is grown.  It's a grotesque sight and has totally ruined what was once a beautiful coastline and mountainous region.  Fortunately the plastic only reaches up a third of the way on a few of the hills, but it's hard to appreciate the beauty of the mountains when everything in the foreground is covered in plastic.  

Behind this part of the coast lies the Sierra Nevada, a vast and truly spectacular region. We hired a car when last here and drove across it to visit the beautiful city of Grenada. Well worth a visit then and we may try and go there again tomorrow.  We hope it hasn't suffered a similar collapse in its appearance as Seville clearly has.

Wednesday 28 Aug 11:30 - we have arrived in Almerimar, time to say TTFN.