Final passage of the year

Friday 8 – Saturday 9 November

With ship’s time now back in sync with local, we left Cádiz after lunch, under a clear sky and in a cold wind of around F4-5 from the NW quadrant.  We set a prudent second reef in the mainsail with the staysail to balance, making steady progress to the Southeast.  At 2100 we were just South of Cabo Trafalgar, the site of the famous sea battle where Admiral Horatio Nelson’s British Royal Navy convincingly trounced Napoleon’s combined Spanish and French fleet.  It also gives its name to the Southernmost of the sea areas for the UK shipping forecasts.  It has to be said, for somewhere so important, it is somewhat unremarkable, as the land on which the 34-metre-high lighthouse was erected in 1860 stands only 17 metres above sea level.  Nevertheless, across the dark seas, the land lights of Morocco, the Northern coast of the great continent of Africa, were clearly to be seen, with Spain lying quietly off our port, and around 3000 Miles of the Atlantic Westwards to America.

At midnight the log records “lovely sailing; in sight of Tarifa light”.  Indeed, it is the lighthouses that punctuate coastal night passages, encouraging us ever on our way.  As usual, conditions did not remain constant for long; by 0200 the wind was down to a mere F2-3, and we were in sloppy seas, but at least the strong current was carrying us in the right direction.

Gibraltar at dawn

Now, you may recall from the previous blog that we prefer to arrive in daylight; so it was just as well the lighter wind was slowing our progress, but nonetheless we were well into the Straits of Gibraltar by 0400: us and half the shipping of the known world, it seemed.  As ever, Skipper piloted us manfully and safely to shore-ward of the main shipping lanes, and we wove our uncertain way around a plethora of anchored vessels in Gibraltar Bay, all lit up like the proverbial Blackpool, and into a safe anchorage just North of the prohibited area at the end of the runway North of the Rock, to await daylight for our final approach.

The other reason for the stop was that our chosen marina, Queensway Quay, has a boom set across the entrance overnight to limit swell and debris entering the marina.  After breakfast and a cursory tidy-up, we were able to radio the marina office and make a safe entrance into our allotted berth, where we shall lie safe and sheltered at the foot of the Rock, until the New Year.