Riders on the storm

Lady Stardust Faro-Portugal to Barcelona - 2010
Paul Collister
Sun 1 Aug 2010 17:33

POS 36:9.487N 5:21.979W

Sunday 1st August


At 3pm I was woken by crashing and banging as things began escaping from lockers and shelves due to the height of the waves throwing us around.  Paul said the wind had got too strong for it to be safe so he’d turned the boat around and we were headed for a port called Barbate to wait for things to calm down. I went up to see how things were and was surprised that it was still quite warm despite the wind, rain and rough sea.  Getting into the harbour was quite a smooth affair despite their green light being out of action. Picking the correct lights out in the dark can be tricky when so many around are twinkling and flashing.  Once berthed on the visitors’ pontoon it all felt quite surreal.  At 4 30 in the morning the marina was deserted. We were surrounded by what looked like huge empty warehouses and there was one man in one of these – he looked like a silhouette or a shadow in the dim light and the distance and was walking up and down aimlessly. Very loud house music was booming out from somewhere nearby but we couldn’t see anyone and then two officials appeared on the wall above and asked the length of the boat.  Paul explained we just needed to stay a couple of hours until conditions at sea improved. They said we’d need to pay them three euros - then disappeared and never came back. We had a couple of brandies after this and sat listening to the house music (which was great) and watching the solitary man waving his arms around.  It felt a bit like watching and being part of a Chemical Brothers video.  We set off again at 10 30 after a couple of hours sleep and discovered that the warehouses were canning factories and that the solitary man had probably been fishing after spotting others fishing there as we passed it.


The waves were still quite high and there was a fair bit of wind – which steadily increased to 25 knots.  Paul said we’d have to go back to Barbate if it reached 28 knots.  Simon couldn’t cope with the steering so we had to hand steer in half hour turns. Progress was very slow due to going against the current and into the wind. Sometimes speed dropped to less than one knot so that we veered off course - it was one step forward and two back but I was keen to keep going. Despite the difficulty I was quite enjoying battling against the elements and we were hugging the coast so weren’t as at risk as in an open sea.  The coast towards Tarifa has a rich history of sea battles, Roman, Greek and Phoenician journeys and pirates.  It was beautiful, too – lovely sandy beaches and pretty houses with lots of elegant wind turbines turning behind them.  It was also very exciting to see the North African coast appear and the ferry for Tangier pass by us.  We got to Tarifa at 3pm and had lunch once safely anchored (no mean feat in 26 knots of wind).  The anchor came out after a while and we were drifting backwards so rather than re-anchor we decided to head on for Gibraltar.  It took four hours – most of which was in strong winds and rough seas but it was worth it to see the rock of Gibraltar looming out of the sea –twinkling with lights in the dark and

magnificently huge. 


We anchored on the Spanish side in a place called La Linea. Anchoring was a long and tricky process in the dark and it was 11 30 by the time we were able to relax. Paul made us an omelette and we sat in the cockpit watching a midnight firework display across the bay.