We slipped our moorings in Barbate at 06.30, at which point is was barely light enough to see, but getting lighter by the minute. As we edged out of the harbour in the half light, straining to see the tunny nets that we needed to avoid, we were presented with yet another challenge-fog! Yes, it was still there and slowly enveloped us as we made our way under engine in the very still air. We put the radar and foghorn on, and kept a very keen watch for fishing marks and boats.
‘Sealion' had left the marina at the same time as us, and we kept in sight of each other through the fog, much as we had on the rally. Whilst we much prefer the independence we now have to go where we want as and when we want, it is nice to bump (not literally!) into boats we met on the rally and to share a drink once we are safely in port.
The fog didn't last long, it soon became light and the wind picked up, so we set sails and off we went towards Tarifa, the most Southerly city of mainland Europe. Statistics show that winds in excess of 30 knots blow off Tarifa for 300 days of the year, and we were already having 18-20 knots as we approached, so shortened sail ready for the blow. Well, it was obviously one of the remaining 65 days, because the wind then dropped to a gentle 10 knots and we would have drifted slowly round, had it not been for the 4 knots or so of tide plus current that was whooshing through the Straits.
As we sailed through the Straits, we were both struck by the closeness of the African coast with its mountains. The ancient Greeks called these and Gibraltar the ‘Pillars of Hercules' and believed that if you sailed between them you would drop off the edge of the world. As this is exactly what we plan to do on the next leg of our trip, we are somewhat glad they have been shown to be wrong!
We were grateful for the traffic separation zones that operate through the Straits and kept ourselves safely in the small craft zone close inshore.
Having rounded Tarifa gently and wondered at the calmness of this part of the passage, we then found ourselves in 25 knots on the approach to Gibraltar Bay! We absolutely stonked along at 9 knots over the ground into the Bay.
Our first sighting of the Rock was a dim shape through the mist, and it didn't really become much clearer until we were almost in the marina. We were fortunate enough to get a berth at Queensway Quay, and we tied up there in time for lunch. Another milestone in our trip, we just had to celebrate in the time-honoured way, and this time we shared our bottle of Moet with Richard and Chris from ‘Sealion'. Cheers!