Gibraltar to Portugal
The first light of the morning saw everyone up to have a look at our surroundings. In typical English fashion it was a grey day and the world famous Gibraltar rock was covered in grey clouds.
After a chat with the marina we pulled up the anchor and headed down there. The strong gusts of wind did not make our life easy coming into the marina, but we got in there with more than one compliment from the neighbouring boats. As we had to come in bow first we rigged up a rope ladder from the bowsprit which was a cause of jealousy from everyone.
As we only intend to stay in Gibraltar for one more night we all headed off into to town for a quick bite to eat and to do some interneting. Before we knew it the afternoon was gone and we decided to head over the border to Spain for dinner. After a beautiful Tapas dinner we retired to the boat. It was a hectic morning the next day as we attempted to get everything done before our twelve o'clock departure.
As we readied the boat for sea Noel went to settle up the marina bill. He came back in a filthy mood and he was absolutely disgusted with every aspect of the marina. Trying not to let this bad experience affect our mood we motored out of the bay and started off on our way to Ceuta. A couple of hours later we came into Ceuta's main harbour and tied up in the marina, assisted by the very friendly and helpful marina staff.
We decided to stay in the marina for two nights giving everyone the chance to visit nearby Morocco the next day. So after doing the fresh vegetable provisioning early in the morning Jack, Gareth and Amiria headed off to the border by bus. After getting through the border control we sought out a taxi that would take us to the nearest main town. After turning down a dozen stupidly high offers a local policeman helped us a find a taxi that we shared with four other people and it was a fifth of the price the others were asking. Once we arrived we were met by a seemingly friendly local who insisted on showing us a market. It was a bustling town with small alleys everywhere with hundreds of small shops.
We were know thoroughly annoyed with our follower, who would not take a hint, even when we were verging on being rude. Eventually we had had enough and told him that we wanted to carry on on our own then two of his mates turned and started shouting all sorts of threats at us demanding money, despite us telling him in the beginning that we wouldn't give him any. Eventually we decided to give them a handful of change and we departed with the help of a friendly local who showed us out of the maze of alleys and back into the open market. After this unpleasant experience we lost interest in Morocco and as it was late in the day we headed back to the border now wiser and less trusting for our experience. We left the marina about mid-morning the next day with the plan of catching the tide to take us through the Gibraltar Strait.
Once we were in the shipping lane we found out much to our annoyance that we had the tide against us. Noel quickly dashed down to work out what was wrong and soon realized that we had forgotten to work out the tides into local time. So despite our best laid plan we ended plugging the tide and even getting pushed backwards for a while.
We spent the night plugging away with the Perkins covering a fair bit of ground until morning when the wind picked up enough for us to hold the mizzen, staysail and storm jib. As the day went on the wind backed around even more until we were sailing beautifully with the Perkins on just to help keep our momentum up.
The conditions stayed pretty even for the next day with a few furious rain squalls that brought little wind but absolutely drenched whoever was unfortunate enough to be on watch at the time. Jack has actually been christened the Rain Man for his ability to get it to rain on him when ever he goes on watch, much to his annoyance I might add. We have been sailing quite conservatively so far due to this coastline being particularly notorious for bad weather this time of year. We do have the luxury of having a biro graph as well as a regular barometer which draws a line on its paper to show us the trend. Noel always makes sure that it is regularly serviced to keep it running smoothly.
Noel decided to stop in a small harbour called Cabo Sao Vincente just to give everything a quite check over and replace the bobstay rope and end to end the main peak halyard.
Our intention was to leave the same day but as it was dark by the time we had finished we decided to stay for the night and leave the next morning. For the first time this trip we lit the diesel stove which saw us all bare-chested from the heat and after the massive dinner that Amiria made we retired to our beds in preparation for the early start the next day.
We were all up bright and early the next morning and we motored out of the harbour with first light. There was barely enough wind to hold the staysail but it went up none the less.
By mid afternoon we had all the sails up and pulling well and peace reigned aboard the Lista again as the Perkins was put to sleep.
As we have not flown the main sail for quite a while it gave us the chance to have a good look at all the rigging on it. Noel was delighted to find that it was all still in very good condition and was performing well.
Through out the night the wind had been going up and down and we were getting the sails down accordingly and by morning we were just left with the staysail and plenty of rain clouds. Even with Jack's unlucky trend showing true there wasn't anyone who got away without getting a soaking.
By about eight o'clock the wind had picked up so we met it with a double reefed mizzen and the storm jib. The third reef went in the mizzen early afternoon with the wind at a force six. The wind stayed fairly steady all night but by morning it started picking up again with it at a steady force seven gusting up to a force eight. As the wind increased its direction changed with it until it was West North West and some rather large waves were now hitting us on our beam.
Noel decided that he would prefer a weather forecast before we round Cape Finnistere so we headed for Vigo on the Spanish coast. As we crossed the continental shelf the waves increased in size so much that we had to resort to hand steering the boat as the auto-pilot couldn't cope. The now much heavier seas required a quick hand on the wheel and you could not stop concentrating for a moment.
All of the sails were doing extremely well pushing us along at a good speed and we were very pleased to see that the shroud protectors that we put on in New Caledonia were still doing a superb job.
Once we had battled our way in behind the Isla Cies we dropped the anchor to await the morning and hopefully better conditions. The tiredness showed on everyone's face having done battle with a good force seven/eight and the big seas that went with it.
After a big Cuban rice dinner made by Gareth who was assisted by Noel we sat back and relaxed with a bottle of wine, toasting Lizzie for taking care of us once again.
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