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Date: 19 Oct 2012 13:01:00
Title: Where the fog are we.

The sails repaired and the gas bottle filled we were all ready to leave.
However the fog had other ideas and was not about to be cooperative.
Having sat it out for 2 days we finally decided to leave in thick fog, and
head to Gibraltar where we could fill up with fuel (tax free !!) and spend
the night at anchor. Carefully and with the help of radar we headed south
towards the Rock. Visibility was about 100 meters so it was quite intense
watching the radar and trying to monitor the ships congregating by the
Straits. The whole thing was very eerie, as we could hear the fog horns of
all the big tankers at anchor. We slowly felt our way past invisible ships,
and then one, at anchor, appeared out of the gloom. Just a massive bulk a
hundred yards away.
As we came close to Europa point, the southern tip of Gibraltar, the fog
lifted and we were treated to spectacular views of the lighthouse and the
Rock itself as it emerged from the gloom. By the time we had refuelled in
Gib and then sailed over the border, a few hundred meters away, dropped
anchor in La Linea on the Spanish side of Gibraltar, the fog came down again
like a blanket.
The following morning we woke to another blanket of fog. We thought about
waiting, but decided we needed to get off-shore to escape it, so again
carefully weaved our way out of the busy harbour and into the Straits of
Gibraltar, again relying on the radar.
The Straits of Gibraltar have a rather interesting water flow. There is a
continuous flow of water into the Med, a current, to replenish the
evaporation from the massive enclosed area. But to confuse things there is
also a tide that ebbs and flows East and West every 6 hours. It results in
streams of water travelling in different directions within a few yards of
each other.
The sail south, off the coast of Morocco gradually improved, and by the end
of the day blue sky and lovely wind. A rather tense contact with a cargo
ship happened on the evening of the fourth day. We had been monitoring a
ship heading in our direction for a couple of hours. Even before it came
into view our navigation system calculated that the CPA- Closest Point of
Approach- would be half a mile and that is close, so we were keeping a
constant watch. It was dusk and the ship gradually got closer aiming right
for us. It seems strange that in a wide open ocean there can be a chance of
collision. By right, we should maintain our course and the ship should
adjust course but we had no idea whether the ship had seen us and there was
no reply to our radio call. Would she pass in front or behind. Impossible to
tell. It was now bearing down on us and finally we decided to reef sail, and
motor at full speed to starboard, all deck lights illuminated. And then two
massive blasts from the ship's horn, almost eerie in the vast openness. Two
blasts were good, it meant 'we are going to port'. The ship had seen us and
was moving away. Settled down to dinner, steak, and another night watch.
Next morning, Sussanne was on watch as we sighted the northern tip of
Lanzarotte and by 1100 we were tied up in Porto Calero marina.

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