Straits of Gibraltar to Canaria
Sep. 06, 2016
Good-bye Mediterranean, hello Atlantic! We departed Alcaidesa Marina in La Linia around 6pm, right at the top of high tide, but in hindsight, we should have left about 2-3 hours earlier. About half way through the Straits of Gibraltar, we had a mess of waves in every direction and a current against us. We had no choice but to motor through it all night long. Once around the point of Morocco, the winds died and we continued to exercise our Perkins for the next 24 hours. It was unbelievable to me that the seas could be this flat in the Atlantic Ocean.
There was a lot of ship traffic to keep us sharp during the day, but it was the fishing boats that kept us on edge during the darkest hours. Most of the fishing vessels did not have AIS (Automatic Identification System) equipment, so we were not able to see them on our electronic charts. At first, the sheer number of them confused us, and the flashing red lights on their boats did not help matters. We finally got a hold of someone on the VHF radio who confirmed that they were, in fact, fishing boats. We just stayed our course and tried to keep out of their way.
The VHF radio channel 16, by maritime law, is supposed to be used as an emergency calling channel. Our radio operators card, which we both took the course on how and when to use it, did not prepare us for the insane activities of the obviously bored ships crew transversing these waters. Every night, beginning at 9pm (must be a change of shifts schedule on the ships), channel 16 would be overcome with singing, wining, lewd comments talking to whomever they could agitate enough to respond to them, and would continue until well after midnight. Forget trying to make a MAYDAY call in this area at this time of night. After three nights of listing to this, I had reached my patience limit and at a pause in the ranting I took the mic and chimed in giving the brain challenged individuals a lesson on proper radio etiquette. As Robert tried to warn me, this only served to fuel their craziness. So we changed the channel. Unfortunate for anyone nearby who may need assistance, as we would not hear it.
Day 3 of our passage we found some good wind and were making tracks. This has been an on-again / off-again few days of intermittent winds. Our motor was definitely getting more exercise than our sails. After 3 days at sea, you start to settle in and really get your sea legs, so the motion wasn’t bothering me nearly as much. Robert even had the wherewithal to make bread from a recipe he had learned to make while doing a delivery on S/Y Venga last May. On a roll, he then made crepes for breakfast (another recipe learned while on Venga). All this cooking and eating prepared Robert for a good 3 hours off, and he took to his bunk while I took watch.
By the 9th of September (day 4) we were in sight of our first Canary island. We decided to stop and anchor just north of the island of Lanzarote on the south side of La Graciosa. It was a quiet little anchorage and we would be able to rest and organize our boat a little before joining the Barbados 50 Rally.
Two days later, and a whole lot more rested, we motored the short route to Marina Lanzarote where we would meet Jimmy Cornell and the rest of the Barbados 50 Rally organizers and joining yachts.