Well, we finally did it! We extracted ourselves from the magnetic pull of Gibraltar and moved on. We left Gibraltar at 0930 in the morning on our way to Almerimar on the east end of the Costa del Sol, our target being to reach Menorca by 6th July when Jacquie’s daughter Sarah and her friend Claire fly out to meet us. Not a problem you might think; only 550 miles which one could drive in a day, but the winds are forecast to be against us for at least part of the time.
We were so glad to be sailing again and what added the icing to the cake was that our friends, Michael Briant and Lou Brochard in their Westerly 43, Paw Paw of London, had agreed at the last moment to come with us. They had big problems with their wind instruments and were going to Almerimar to get them repaired. The facilities in Almerimar were reputed to be very good and the labour costs a fraction of those in Gib.
So having paid our dues to Queensway Quay and said our goodbyes to the many friends that we had made in Gibraltar, our flotilla of 2 boats headed south of the Rock, around Europa point and eastwards into the Mediterranean. The weather was fine, the wind a maximum of Beaufort force 3, or 12 knots, with superb visibility and we expected a gentle run to Almerimar 130 miles or so away.
With an expected passage time of around 24 hours, this would be the first overnight run that Jac and I had made on our own so we were breaking new ground. We had agreed to try a watch system of 3 hours on and 3 hours off and we started this system from midday with one of us below resting while the other looked after Synergy. This meant that Jac would be on watch as the sun set and then she would take over again at midnight. It worked reasonably well but we found that it took some time to wind down and get to sleep in the night hours and we thought that a 4 hour watch period might be better if we did this again.
The passage was an easy one. We were able to get some drive from the sails, but the wind was light so we had to motor sail most of the way and around sunset we furled the head sail as it was just flapping around uselessly. We encountered several pods of dolphins, most of which stayed with us for a while playing in the bow wave and also some larger sea life which we thought were pilot whales, but we were not close enough to be sure.
Jac took the watch as darkness fell, which turned out to be a lovely night, almost still but with a nearly full moon. Churning along under engine the night was uneventful and we even had dolphins with us in the darkness.
Dawn started to break at around 0630 and we arrived at Almerimar at 0730 having completed the 131 miles in 22 hours. Jac and I refuelled Synergy and we were then directed to our berth where we waited until 0900 for the marina office to open.
We were all short on sleep but resolved to try to stay awake as long as possible so that we might catch up the following evening. Michael and Louise knew of an Irish bar that did tapas with a difference. Most people are familiar with the Spanish concept of tapas, small portions of food, normally shared by several diners. The Mac Gowan’s takes this concept to a different level; still tapas but UK or Irish style with fish and chips, curry, chilli, hamburgers and egg and chips on the menu.
And best of all, each tapa is free with a drink. Well………….several drinks and tapas later we stumbled back to Synergy and flaked out at six pm to sleep right through to 0800 the following day, fully recovered from the sleep deprivation of the overnight run.