36:08.973N 5:21.229W Wed 21st – Thur 22nd Mar 2018. 156nm, 28:20 hours
Snow on the Sierra Nevada:
Approaching the rock of Gibraltar, all green after so much rain:
We are now in Gibraltar and experiencing all those surreal culture shifts that come with being in this little bit of Britain off the tip of Spain. We arrived around midday yesterday after an overnight passage from Almeria, having decided to seize the only vaguely favourable winds which might give us some good progress westward in the foreseeable future.
The passage started with a day’s motoring, apart from a brief, but pleasant broad reach sail in the late morning when the wind was kind for about an hour. We had good views of the Sierra Nevada’s snow-capped peaks and the sea wasn’t too lumpy, but a contrary current slowed us down and a cool wind meant we stayed well togged up despite the blue skies. By mid-evening the wind arrived from the north west and provided us with a challenging upwind sail throughout the night. We haven’t had to do many of those and found it one of our less enjoyable experiences. As ever, Goldcrest coped superbly and tore along despite being close-hauled, but the current continued to take up to 3kts off our speed which was very frustrating. At times we were seriously over canvassed, as it is much harder to face reefing duties when it’s dark and you are cold and sleepy. As a result, we were more than well healed for some time, with not only the toe rail but the side decks under water (skipper seems to remember waking up to see water half-way up the deck saloon windows and so badly heeled it was close to impossible to get up on deck!). It was pretty difficult to move around below on such a sloping platform and going to the toilet took an age. On watch there was no way to sit comfortably at such an angle, so we changed watches more often than usual and tried to catch some sleep in the main cabin in between. We managed to sail a bit more off the wind for brief spells when the wind went more northerly, but as so often, conditions were not quite what the forecasts had led us to expect. On the plus side, we did sail for half the 200 mile passage and now have time to take stock, collect some pre-ordered boat equipment and plan our passage out into the Atlantic. We have family to meet in the Algarve in mid-April, so there is a deadline influencing our decisions this spring!
We continue to have really strong winds and big waves penetrating to the marina entrance. So we had a boisterous and rainy 2nd night here in Gibraltar. The place has it’s positive points however; we’ve done some shopping to make use of Gibraltar’s VAT and duty free status, plus we’ve snaffled a variety of UK provisions so we have less to bring back on our next trip home. D also had a nice run along the top of the rock, past some scary looking apes and down the vertiginous “Mediterranean Steps” on the far side. The photos below don’t do it justice – the steps start off descending almost vertically down a cliff!