Monday, November 22, 2010

Approaching Gibraltar

After leaving Benalmádena on late afternoon, Saturday, the sky looked something like this. Black and heavy clouds were covering the mountains and great parts of the sea. We realized that the thunder clouds could create some problems and messed up winds, especially with the wind that already were building up, but we wanted to give it a try anyway. Went OK for the first hour, 15-20 knots of wind from the land giving us relatively good conditions, but shortly after we lost it and the winds kicked up enormously.  More to the point, right after we passed by Fuengirola, we noticed the strong effect of the tides (there are no tides to fight in the Mediterranean, they are supposed to start in the border between the med and the Atlantic).
We were hoping to find a current right by the coast which could go our way, but unfortunately we had both wind and currents against us, no matter how we changed direction. The winds were completely erratic, clocking from SW to SE in some seconds and then back to NW where we started. Irregular gusts to 45 knots kicked us back and forth and spray and 1,5 meter (5.7 foot) waves splashed us and the boat full of water from all possible sides - for hours - and then it all went back to completely dead and calm with 5 knots of wind for ten minutes only to recharge and then it all started again. Do I have to say that we did a minimal progress? Ha! You should see the track on our plotter. Back and forth, back and forth.. After fighting with the completely non sense conditions for almost nine hours and only making a progress on the actual route with 18nm, we decided that we have had enough of getting beat up and we called it a day. I suggested for us to go to Marbella to get wasted and forget about the battle for a while and so we did.
We tied up in the fuel dock in Puerto Banus around midnight and went out for dinner and wine. We didn't get wasted though because 1. Alex drinks alcohol only on very rare occasions so I had to be the only one taking on that project and 2. Because one glass of wine was perfectly enough to knock me and my tiredness out. Oh god were we tired. 48 hours of non stop sailing (with a 30 min stop in Benalmáden) totally hit us hard. Haven't done this much sailing in a row since our summer vacation in Corsica/Sardinia/France in August. 
The day after (yesterday) it all looked much better. The sun was back, the dark clouds were gone and we got a pleasant 25-30 knots of wind straight on the beam with occasional gusts to 40 kt. We flew straight towards Gibraltar and we are now safely docked up in Marina Bay. Will show you a video from the passage, later on. /T

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