Part 1 - to Cabo St Vincete
With our determination to make Gib for Saturday when Cathy and Charlie arrive we were determined to make a dash for Gin. The weather GRIB's all suggested that if we could get south and round the headland then winds would go SW to 25knts. No issue for Watermark IV and her 15m's of length. Indeed, we motorsailed down the coast of Portugal where there is no where other than Sines to pull in. So this one was a leave and commit with our first bale out being Lagos in the Algarve if required.
We made great progress in what was a very sloppy sea, think I talked about that in a previous blog. We rounded St Vincent and were so pleased with ourselves that the southerly hadn't kicked in - great timing. As we rounded I took the opportunity to download the latest GRIB files. This new feature on the iPhone4 in iOS 4.3.1 allows me to use it's 3G capability to set up a hotspot on board for the iPad and Macbook Pro. Just like have a Wi-Fi router on board......... The files confirmed that winds would turn SW upto 25knts.
Part 2 - to Gibraltar
We settled in for the run to Cape Trafalgar, some 150nm. These headlands are historic names and it's fascinating to think of the history and what has gone on before as Watermark passes each one.
Hmmm, the winds increased, and increased, and got to 25knts and then continued on to a steady 30knts. we had wind upto 33knts for good periods of time. What I have discovered with offshore sailing through Tony is it;'s not about the wind but about the waves. Yet again we had a very large quartering sea. Again wet and uncomfortable. It's even worse at night in the dark. The winds sound noisey, the waves are the size of Everest. It's difficult to steer because you can't the next bif wet ones. On serveral occasions I got out of my pit to check the watch man was still there after a wave comes crushing down on the boat.However - Tony tells me this is all standard when you've delivered as much as he has. In these conditions you go from pure exhilaration with the performance of the boat to sheer terror and fear incase something breaks.
the other tip from the experience on board was about boat balance (ration of foresail:mainsail) and the fact that the boat must have speed to drive through. So, left to my devices, I'd have been putting sail away, this crew had me putting more out......Crickey - the racing man lives on in me. The consequences of this can be seen in the key facts below:
Max True Wind Speed (Max TWS) 40.0knts
Max Apparent Wind Speed (Max AWS) 34.5knts
Max Speed 12.7knts
Avg Speed for leg 7.3knts
Watermark IV was steaming and we cut 6hrs off the arrival time.
However, there was one nasty trick in the tail. As we rounded Gibraltar harbour a massive Severe Gale 9 hit us. It was punishing. We rapidly dropped the mainsail and carried on with only the Jib trying to avoid the commercial shipping moored up in the harbour. That lasted right up to the marina itself then died away - typical. The last whipping on what has been a challenging experience getting Watermark IV to the gateway of the Mediterranean Sea. So, I find myself in the Marina Bay Marina, Gibraltar with a glass of wine. My new crew turn up tomorrow at lunchtime, Cathy and Charlie and then another completely different adventure starts.
Sun shinning through the clouds looking out over the Atlantic Ocean
Early morning watch with Tony.....
My first sunrise overlooking the Med Sea. Watermark powered up by Team Arun Sails.
(Thanks Arun - they have taken a beating and stood up to the promise of bullet proof sails......)
North Africa behind me......
Our first view of Gibraltar Rock...... Hmmmm, is it really late April 900nm south of the UK. More like middle of the winter.
Safety moored up and the celebrationary drink with the Rock in the background.
Thank you so much guys............first drink of the trip.!!!!!!
(From left to right - Alain, Me, Graham, Tony)