HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANN!
Just after midnight, when we should have
been arriving in our original destination of Chipiona, we were only half
way across the Gulf, and the wind was increasing. I watched the wind
speed climb through 20 knots, 22, 24, 25....reef the main....26, 27...not
again I thought, it was the 1st of last month when we had the Biscay
storm....28, 29, 31....another reef in the main, and the headsail, then
the moon disappeared and now in total blackness....32, 33, 34, 35.....the
boat burying her nose into every other wave, sending spray over the
cockpit, still short seas making it a bumpy ride. With Dee still in bed
and me tired and unable to use my left arm because of a shoulder injury
sustained when I fell onto a winch in Lagos, I reduced sail to bare
minimum, eased the sheets out and let the boat make slow progress to the
north-east whilst I went below and warmed a can of chicken soup before
grabbing 20 minute catnaps in the cockpit until daybreak.
At sunrise, the wind eased and we were able to resume
our course ESE for Rota making a steady 5 knots or thereabouts. Below, I
could hear an awful metallic banging noise coming from forward and
realised that the anchor must have come loose in the bow roller, a trip up
to the bow was needed - and that was rising and falling into each wave, so
wellies on, clip onto the lifeline and inch my way forward to the sharp
end. Whilst I secured the anchor and had several 'sea showers', I
noticed that our bow navigation lights had been smashed off during the
night - another job to do when in port! During the last 10 miles to the
marina, the wind picked up yet again and we had to reduce sail, eventually
dropping it all and motoring for the remaining 3 miles directly into the
wind before turning into the narrow marina entrance and berthing at noon.
We completed all formalities with the authorities and washed the salt from
the boat before having a shower and a late lunch. The wind continued to
blow sixes and we decided to rest for the remainder of the day and have an
early night, leaving the town to the sailors of the American Fleet berthed
in the Naval Base one mile to the East.
2/12/06 Did some shopping
for provisions and replaced the nav light with an old repaired one until
we can buy new in Gibraltar. Received text from Moody Time, telling us
they were still in Vilamoura and intended to sail again for Rota tomorrow
(Sunday) morning at 5am.
3/12/06 Colin and Trish
arrived on the reception pontoon at about 8pm having had a good crossing
of the Golfo de Cadiz, and we all strolled into the town for a beer in the
ever present Irish Bar.
5/12/06 Our intention to
sail today has been thwarted by dental problems! I was kept awake all
night by severe pain and found myself walking around the town and along
the beach at four in the morning, chewing aspirins to alleviate the
agony. The town is a myriad of narrow cobbled streets, with Moorish stone
arches and pretty squares and plaza's, all decked with Christmas lights,
nativity tableau's and 'Felices Navidad' signs which is an alarm call that
it will soon be Christmas. (photo)
Onboard and especially at sea, we are totally isolated from the
commercialism of the season and apart from a few carols in the supermarket
of Cascais, the time of year has largely gone un-noticed. At daylight,
knowing there was nothing wrong with my teeth and suspecting an abscess
which proved to be correct, I set off in search of El Dentista. Unable
to find one which was open, I went into the Farmacia and trying to
remember any of my night-school Spanish asked the pharmacist if he spoke
English - he didn't! Hey ho, so the conversation went like this.....
"Hola, buenos días. ¿Habla usted ingles?"......."No"........"Ah....er....er.... ¿Puede ayudarme? Tengo una
flemón, me duele mas por la noche. ¿Tiene usted algo para una flemón?"
Now, the pharmacist gave me some tablets and told
me "Tome usted dos pastillas cada
vez con agua, tres veces al día" - to take two with
water, three times a day - which just turned out to be Ibruprofen
but it cured the problem and the pain eased, which is just as well because
for all I know, I'd just told him I had a strawberry up my backside and he
had replied "I'll give you some cream for it!" Anyway, maybe it was
beneficial that we didn't sail, for the wind didn't do as predicted and
started to howl a Force10 later in the day, ripping the headsail from a
boat moored just across the pontoon from us. Spain has a Bank Holiday
tomorrow the 6th and another on the 8th, so everywhere will be closed
07/12/06 0830 - With a
forecast of light winds for the day (F7's tomorrow), we sailed from Rota,
into the Bay of Cadiz and an area which witnessed one of the most
significant naval battles ever fought.
At the beginning of the 19th
century, Napoleon's ambitions to invade Britain depended on his navy being
able to protect his Grande Army as they crossed the English Channel. The
English fleet under Admiral Nelson, charged to prevent this, attempted to
blockade the French and then followed their fleet across to the Caribbean
and back to Europe. By October 1805 the combined fleet of French (Admiral
Villeneuve) and Spanish ships (Admiral Gravina) were anchored under the
protection of the forts of Cadiz. On the 20th October the combined fleet
under Admiral Villeneuve sailed from Cadiz heading in line to the
southeast in a light wind. He was unaware that the watching English
frigate HMS Sirius acted, through a line of relay ships, as eyes
for Nelson's force, which gave chase. Nelson briefed his captains on his
unconventional plan of attack. On the morning of the 21st, Villeneuve
turned his fleet back north towards Cadiz. Nelson made his memorable
flag signal 'England expects every man to do his duty', and at 1215 gave
his final message to the Fleet - 'Engage the enemy more closely'.
Nelson's 27 ships attacked the
combined fleet of 33 ships in two columns. His flagship HMS Victory
(Captain Hardy) led the weather column, HMS Royal Sovereign
(Captain Collingwood) the lee. By late afternoon the battle was over, the
combined fleet was destroyed or scattered without loss of a single English
ship, and Nelson had been shot by a French marine from the fighting top of
the Redoubtable. Napoleon's invasion plans were thwarted and
Britain controlled the seas - 'Trafalgar' shaped the course of European
history for 100 years.
Nelson, a national hero, was
buried in St Paul's Cathedral. His famous statue on it's column overlooks
London's Trafalgar Square. The second ship in line behind HMS Victory at
Trafalgar remains immortalised as The Fighting Temeraire - the most
popular work by W.M.Turner who painted her in 1838. HMS Victory,
built in Chatham and launched in 1765, is the only surviving 18th
century ship of the line in the world and remains in service with the
Royal Navy in Portsmouth Dockyard.
After leaving Rota, not wanting to
become a statistic of 'friendly fire' from our trigger happy stars and
stripes allies, we altered course to starboard in order to give a wide
berth to an incoming destroyer and Rhumb Do passed the outer fort of Cadiz
to port at 0915, on a due south course, under mainsail and engine making
6.5 knots into a sunny day. By 1100, we were under full sail and off
Sancti Petri, continuing south toward Cabo de Trafalgar. At 1400, with
the Cape of Trafalgar on the port beam and the African coast of Morocco
ahead, we heaved to, stood on the stern and dipped the ensign, observing
two minutes silence for the sailors of three navies before downing a glass
of 'Nelson's Blood' in true naval fashion! We then rounded the cape and
set course for Barbate de Franco some 8 miles to the East and the most
easterly marina in the Atlantic, arriving there at 1630 as the weather
deteriorated. A forecast from the marina office confirmed F7's for
tomorrow with rain, poor visibility and rough seas.......looks like we
will be here for a day or so!!
torrential rain and strong wind have passed through and we left the marina
at 0900 heading south to Gibraltar and hoping that we have picked one of
the 60 odd days a year where winds in excess of 40 knots do not
blow through the Straits past Tarifa. The city of Tarifa, at only 8
miles distant from the coast of North Africa, is the most southerly in
mainland Europe and is famous for it's strong winds which make it Europe's
boardsailing capital. At 1230, we had Tarifa light about a cable off our
port beam and were enjoying a pleasant - albeit a little cool sail in a
northerly wind, making 8.3 knots in bright sunshine . Half an hour later,
"The Rock" was in sight and came fully into view as we rounded Punta
Carnero. The passage across Gibraltar Bay proved to be the bumpiest and
slowest part of today's voyage and we constantly changed course to avoid
the commercial shipping which seemed to be going in all directions.
However, by 1430, we were moored 'bows to' in Marina Bay, Gibraltar - with
the airport runway only a hundred yards away to starboard! A visit to the
supermarket showed depleted stocks because of the two Spanish holidays
during the week.
11/12/06 Black Monday!
Another totally sleepless night last night.......a north-easterly gale
blew up around midnight and we were in trouble. Mooring here is 'bows to'
onto static, non-floating concrete pontoons, with a 'lazy line' astern.
The wind was straight onto our stern and was blowing us toward the pontoon
- dangerously close to the pontoon. Donning full foul weather
gear yet again, I eased the four bow lines and tightened up the lazy line,
but the sea surge was tremendous and we were moving forward and back by
about 10 feet. Even though I also had the engine running full astern for
four hours, I was unable to prevent the front of the boat from hitting the
concrete and we suffered considerable damage, the pulpit has been pushed
back and torn from the deck, all guard wires are now hanging slack and we
have a major repair job on hand. It is only 8am and not yet light, so as
yet I am unable to assess the total damage - and the gale rages on!
Winds continued into the evening and
the next morning.....the pulpit is going to need replacing, it is either
fractured or broken in three different places, bent backwards and out of
the deck at two fixing points. The anchor has been pushed back in it's
roller, bending a 12mm diameter stainless steel securing pin into a 'P'
shape which will have to be cut off in order to release the anchor. The
third set of navigation lights have been smashed and lost overboard. All
four bow mooring lines have snapped and been replaced, only to snap again
- we now have six lines to the shore......how long will they last? The
boat is now pulled about twelve feet from the pontoon and impossible to
get either onto or off, without going onto the boat next door which is
unattended and has also suffered serious damage to the bow, along with
many others in the marina.
12/12/06 Located a guy
called Mike who can make a new pulpit for me.........but not until the New
Year because of work load, so we are unable to move from here until then.
It seems that lots of boats at the other marina here (Queensway) were also
damaged during Sunday night/Monday morning. How have these marinas
managed to stay in business for so long with antiquated pontoons and
little or no protection from the winds and sea surge? The adjacent marina
with floating pontoons is Shepherds and although that may, or may
not alleviate the surge problem, the marina has now closed and is part of
a housing development.
14/12/06 Up again at 4am
with high winds and surging, tending to lines and trying to stop the bows
snatching. The awful sound of fibreglass, wood and steel crashing into
concrete from other boats on the opposite pontoon, their masts
reverberating with each thump into the unforgiving material, shouts from
different crews as they also struggled with mooring ropes. This is a
nightmare, no other jobs are getting done as all my time is taken up in
preventing more damage.
17/12/06 Things have
settled down somewhat, the winds have died and last night was our first
totally calm and peaceful evening, with only the gentle creaking of
stretching ropes to disturb our sleep. May it remain so for some time to
come! Yesterday we witnessed the inaugural Iberian Airways flight into
and out of Gibraltar - we could hardly miss it really as the airport
runway is literally only 100 yards away on our starboard side!! The
flight apparently caused serious disruption and large traffic jams at the
border, which was closed whilst television crews and reporters covered the
photos) We still have
no price for a new pulpit and I dread to think what it will be - Mike has
now finished work for three months and is going to Thailand, leaving a
younger chap named Dean to run the business, so I will need to chase him
for a quote. We are still having difficulty in getting on and off the
boat and have looked into various methods of doing so, all of which are
At last some reasonably good news! I heard from Darren
& Vicki some days ago, who informed me that their yacht Sentito had been
found by a ship and later salvaged. However, it is not quite the happy
ending and they are having trouble with insurers. Again, Darren has
posted a request on the YBW Forum which you can read
here. Should anyone be able to offer
advice or help, I'm sure that both he and Vicki would be only too pleased
to hear from you.
23/12/06 Christmas Eve tomorrow, all the
marina bars and town bars are packed with office parties, Main Street is
full of shoppers, supermarket shelves have been stripped by swarms of
locusts (or so it seems).........it just remains for us to wish family,
friends and fellow sailors A Very Merry Christmas........enjoy!!
26/12/06 That's it for another year!
Christmas Eve was exceptionally warm, no need for coats whilst walking in
town. On Christmas Day we had the full traditional dinner.......roast
Barbary Ape, potatoes, sprouts etc. (or it could have been turkey!!), then
walked out past Rosia Bay, the 100 ton cannon and onto Europa Point,
allegedly the most southern point of Europe and where Hercules is supposed
to have separated the continents of Africa and Europe. It was a lovely,
clear sunny day and the Atlas Mountains were plainly visible across the
Strait. On returning through the town's high street, we came across an
ape who had wandered down into town and was busy emptying a litter bin in
his search for food. He then frightened the life out of a poor guy
passing, by grabbing hold of his packet of crisps and also a bag of toffee
which he was probably taking home to his kids!
Thank you to all who sent us Christmas
cards, SMS texts and e-mails wishing us well over the Christmas period and
for the forthcoming year of sailing, they are all very much appreciated.
TO MY MUM!
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