We had intended to sail to Port Leucate on the SW coast of France to let the oceoprotec manufacturers look at the Turkish applicators handiwork but a strong mistral prevented this voyage so we prepared to sail directly to Gibraltar from Menorca. We departed from Addaia around noon and sailed across the north coast of Menorca as the wind was more favourable for that coast. It faded with the light so we motored past the lights of Majorca which were very welcome in the absence of any moonlight. The next day the wind picked up again to 30 kts but we made good progress with furled sails.
On Thursday 20.9.2012 we crossed the Greenwich meridian into the western hemisphere and as the wind continued to blow ever more strongly the sea became progressively more roly-poly .
That night we were very thankful for the AIS system because at around 3.00am as we approached our waypoint off the SE corner of Spain it seemed many other vessels had chosen the same point and so this small area of sea was very crowded .Of course it was a black night and the wind was by this time blowing force 9 It was difficult for us to change course as any deviation into the wind would have been extremely rough. It was so simple with the AIS to assess the other vessels movements and we called up three vessels by name and they all very cordially agreed to keep out of our way. Without the clarity of AIS it would have been a mass of lights and being so rough holding binoculars to try and clarify what all the vessels were doing would have been tricky if not impossible. So we turned westwards around the corner without colliding with anyone and then conditions abated and we had a calm journey along the south coast of Spain to Gibraltar .
There were many large vessels anchored along the coast but we sighted the Rock at 11.00am on Saturday 22nd September a very exciting moment seeing it emerging through the haze.
A few hours later we were entering the marina and were overflown by an Easy jet flight that only just seemed to clear the mast ! The marina was just next to the runway but despite that it was not too noisy.
On Monday 24th we took delivery of our new parasailor designed to take the pain out of downwind sailing and it was a great success on a sunny afternoon with a light breeze and flat sea! We had Thomas the expert from the manufacturer on board so learnt the technique from him. It only remains for us to practice. The rest of the week was a continuous downpour which was disappointing but the sun reappeared in time for us to go up the rock and see the apes and the war time tunnels which was very enjoyable. The rock is very historic and has been continuously fought over for centuries which is not surprising given its strategic location and height .Perhaps the electronic age of warfare may give it some respite now.
On Monday 1st October we left for The Canaries, an evening start to try and avoid the contrary currents through the straits .We spent some time calculating the optimum time and we were sailing in company with a catamaran who had decided on the same departure time but it seems we were all wrong as we both experienced an adverse current on the way through! We saw the lights of the |rock fade away …the last glimpse of the Med. through the Pillars of Hercules so no going back now.
We tried the parasailor with some success but could not hold it for very long as the wind became too strong. There was a large swell but not in the same direction as the wind and probably related to a hurricane further out in the Atlantic so it was rather an uncomfortable sail. We had dropped the main early on because it was banging around too much in the swell and the light winds but that evening while trying to enjoy cocktails on the roll we saw the main halyard gradually ascending the mast having parted company with the shackle ! There was no way anyone was volunteering to go up and get it in those conditions so it would have to wait for a calmer moment.
Our course was downwind and as the wind was light and the swell strong we rigged the spinnaker pole to control the large jenny and sailed very successfully for the rest of the way. We had the moon for this trip and had the great pleasure of the unusual mixture of moonlight and sunlight at dawn. On the night of 5th October what we had thought were fishing vessels turned into the lights of Lanzarote and we were nearly there. We went to an all singing and dancing marina Puerto Calera and thoroughly enjoyed all the facilities. Shops, shower and restaurants all within a few metres.
It was here that I achieved the highest accolade from the skipper because I rescued the lost halyard from the top of the mast. A great relief and a fun experience in the flat calm of the marina. Having achieved that we had a day exploring the island by car and it was wonderful with an enormous and most extraordinary larva field which is unchanged since the volcanic eruption of 1730. I think it must be unique and is well worth a visit. We then moved on to Fuerteventura which was nothing like as nice as Lanzarote and is definitely not worth a visit. So no time lingering there but onto Las Palmas about 56 nm from the southern tip of Fuerteventura. We had the most fantastic sail which was much appreciated by us all after the rather trying conditions of the previous voyages. We sailed all the way without altering the sails or the course as the wind and waves were steady all the way ….such a pleasure.
We arrived in the marina in Las Palmas flying our ARC flag to find we were in good company with many others and tied up and the boat will stay there until the Atlantic crossing on 25th November.
Be safe Big Fella!