Gibraltar to Santa Cruz de Tenerife

JJMoon Diary
Barry and Margaret Wilmshurst
Wed 22 Nov 2006 15:00
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Friday, November 24, 2006 10:58 AM
Subject: Gibraltar to Santa Cruz de Tenerife

As in 2003 we enjoyed Gibraltar but all are agreed that it is a funny place.  Local taxi drivers haven’t a bad word to say about their home but non-Brits think it a scruffy colonial building site.  We see bags of “history” and some very friendly people but oddities round every bend.  We cannot really work out what makes it tick.  There is a great deal of housing development going on and property is hugely expensive.  Many local working people have to live in Spain.  Why, then, does it look scruffy?  Anyway, the staff at Queensway Quay marina were absolutely excellent in their “can-do” and helpful attitude.  We were sorry to leave but Petra and Uli had joined ship and we had to make the most of the crew. 


Before setting off we went round to the fuel berth passing the QE2 tied up and the Maltese Falcon manoeuvring towards her berth.  I think she is the No.1 sailing super-yacht in the world at present, probably the largest, with square rigged sails rolling into the mast like blinds.   All the mags. have been covering her trials with interest.  We felt we were where it was all happening. 


We left for the Canaries with a good forecast, sailed west beyond Tarifa Point and then turned to port at the end of the Straits separation zone to head roughly south-west.  The course took us parallel with the African coast for much of the way.  During our second night the wind picked up until we realized that far from bowling along in the north-east trades we were fighting a southerly gale.  A bit of a shock.  For twelve hours the wind varied between forces seven and nine, from 42 to 46 knots for an hour or so and I noted at least one gust of 49 knots.  The autopilot could not hold the course and at one point we ran off before the wind.  Nevertheless, the ship and her crew held together well.  Probably really only a “summer gale”.  We found one leak, where the port forward lower shrouds pass through the deck.  The crew noticed that we were getting stronger and more rested as the days went by and we reached Graciosa, a small island just north of Lanzarote, in good shape after just under five days and 610 miles. 


Graciosa is highly recommended by all the pundits as being quiet, off the tourist track, no metalled roads and safe.  All true; the harbour master is a real gent. and a pleasure to do business with.  He insisted on letting us have our first night free of charge and took 6 euros 80 off me for the second.  Helpful Australians who took our lines on arrival I recognized as having been in Poros last year.  They had re-discovered the cruising community after a year in Italy and peninsular Spain and had occupied their berth on Graciosa for seven weeks already.  No electricity or water on the pontoons, mind you, which led to some interesting trips in tenders to the tap on the quay.


Not wanting to miss out on a fair wind we left on 21st November for the 150 mile trip to Tenerife, noon to 1500 the following day and altogether straightforward.  I was called for my forenoon watch with the urgent message “whales alongside”.  I missed them.  A pair of small whales had taken a brief look and swam off.  I am really looking forward to my first whale.


This place is a bit of a contrast; a large bustling town with smart shops and most facilities.  We shall be here at least until 27th.  Once the ARC has left Gran Canaria we shall go there for a rendezvous with our satphone supplier.  Our unit has a “bug.”  He is going to replace it.