FW: leaving Gibraltar
Gibraltar-Las Palmas Passage Distance: ~750 NM
02/11/2010 Distance: ~134 NM “35:03N 07:51W”
At last the morning has arrived of our first passage. We have been
impatiently waiting for it, as the extra day in
Tuesday morning finally
arrived and we were ready to leave our berth at 8.15am. Why not earlier? The
conditions would have been favorable 2 hrs after high tide at 5.20am. So why
the delay? It is hard to believe but the Queens Quay Marina is actually
physically closed for the night with a floating boom gate. The marina is an
entry point into
At 8.30 on the dot
(we were in
The AIS (Automatic Information System) which gives us the details
of all ships in the neighborhood was beeping almost constantly, warning that we
were just about to run over by a container ship, a fast ferry or an oil tanker.
We were definitely in the way of the Tarifa-Tangier ferries that made three
good efforts to run us down at 35 knt speed. Now, while I cannot say that
ferries are commissioned to hunt for sailing boats, they are known not to
change their course, so it’s advisable for anyone in their way to run for
their life. Eventually with skillful maneuvering and some luck we avoided the
ferries and couple of large container ships like the one called
But our main problem was that we slowed right down. There are all sorts
of beliefs associated with the
On this day the current disregarded the theories about flows in an out of the Med and definitely did not follow the rules of the tide tables. The wind, straight on the nose, was also uncooperative. Thus, with full steam we were just crawling across the Mid-stream section for 4-5 hrs. Around 3.30 finally we cleared Cabo Espartel and slowly the 100HP Volvo started to make a difference and we slowly accelerated. The wind slowly picked up and we started to motor sail. By 18.00 we were flying at broad reach with 8-8.3 kts!
We have all heard and thought about “Sailing into the sunset” so much,now, here we were doing it. The reddish low sky with the glowing sun was so inviting that we followed it without hesitation until the sun disappeared on the horizon. Mark cooked a great curry. We were so busy with sailing and admiring the sunset that it was pitch dark by the time we served the curry.
It was a moonless night. Incredibly black. Against this background the stars put on a great show and our home galaxy, the Milky Way was clearly shining above us. The satellites and airplanes, usually the brightest objects on the night sky, were faintly glowing among the millions of brilliant winkling stars. The night sky looked like a dazzling Tiffany store decorated with sparkling diamonds. Somehow the guys did not like this comparison. I cannot imagine why?
We started our “official” watches: 23-01 Liz; 01-03 Steve; 03-05 Kynan; 05-07 Mark. It was a great night sailing until 02 am when the seas became very confused and the wind direction changed. We were thrown around quite a bit with the main sail up only and but were reluctant to do a full down-wind set up in the dark on our first day at sea.
One newly installed water hose developed a leak and sprinkled water all over the engine room and as a surprising, very disappointing development our 800 Ah battery bank was struggling to cope with Fenix’s night show: lights, computer chart plotter, Navman chart plotter, radar, instruments, navigations lights, VHF radio, fridge, and auto pilot. Probably it didn’t help that during the winter the batteries went flat though we paid the yard for charging them. So we had to start preserving electricity. What a pain! But, changing the Giro compass fixed our autopilot.