This was always going to be the big journey. About 1000nm which is 1150 miles across the Atlantic. We set off at about lunchtime and headed East. Michal and I in particular had a heavy heart due to the aforementioned alcohol ban.
On the whole the passage was pretty uneventful. We had reasonable winds which allowed us to make progress without being covered in Atlantic spray and tossed around in bed when we tried to sleep. We even had quite a bit of sunshine.
Since the Transatlantic mission began Captain Alex has been desperately trying to catch some fish. Ideally some tuna so we can have some fresh sashimi – sadly, as I write this, we have yet to catch anything except a bit of plastic. Happy to know that we’re cleaning up the oceans.
Along the way we had a visitor who flew in and hitched a ride with us for a while. We tried to feed him some sausage but he wasn’t interested. He did have a little fetta cheese which seemed a little odd to me.
We sail in support of Ukraine.
A couple of pictures of me, because we all know how self obsessed I am! Fortunately for all concerned I wont be posting pictures of when we stopped 270miles from land in 4000m deep waters and jumped off the boat to bathe. By this point it was about 7 days since I last showered and my hair was truly disgusting. We jumped in, clothing optional, and I washed my hair in the Atlantic.
Along the way we were privileged to experience some truly magnificent sunsets which will be a post all of it’s own soon but here’s one…
The catamaran you see in this picture is Lady Helen Africa. They contacted us via VHF since they were having problems with their AIS and couldn’t see any of the shipping nearby. Since we were about to pass through the Straits of Gibraltar [ a massively busy shipping lane ] at night – this was not cool. So they agreed to follow behind us at a distance of about 1 mile and use our AIS capability to dodge tankers, cargo ships and cruise ships. This was a cunning plan until the sun set and Michal and I were in charge of the boat. When it gets dark things tend to get difficult on a boat. Michal and I spotted a red light flashing light quite nearby and sailed past it realising it was a red flashing buoy. Up ahead there were loads more of them in a line. We then spotted a fishing boat steaming toward us flashing his massively powerful spotlight at us. We could hear some chatter on the radio but it was in the cabin and we were busy up on the cockpit dodging buoys and wondering why irate fishermen were hounding us. Predictably it turns out all these red flashing lights were of course the fishing nets. So we changed course to the North as did our catamaran tail. Then we ran into some more fishing nets and had to turn West to avoid them, which is the exact opposite the direction we wanted to go in. At this point the Lady Helen Africa came back on the radio to ask in their best French/English what the f*** we were doing. Michal responded that we were dodging fishing nets. We eventually spotted a gap between two lengths of fishing nets that would allow us to bypass them and crack on to Gibraltar. We went for it and the Frenchies followed.
As we passed through the nets and back into clear water we paid a little more attention to the radio and heard the fishing boat captain shouting at all the other ships nearby to go North and avoid his nets. We really could have done with a radio in the cockpit. At this point it was about 1am so I went to bed leaving Michal and Alex to sail us through the Straits.
Due to me being utterly confused about whether our roster was on Canary time or Spanish time and also the added uncertainty about whether my phone was on UK time, Canary time or Spanish time I managed to set my alarm two hours earlier than necessary. So instead of getting up at 7.45 for my shift I managed to get up at 5.45 – a mere 4.5 hours after I went to bed….a mere two hours after I got to sleep since my feet were absolutely freezing! I was however rewarded with a rather spectacular Mediterranean sunrise.
So eventually after five days at sea, 140hrs without a single drop of white wine, tantamount to a week without a schnifter of red wine and in dog years pretty much a month of no booze whatsoever, Gibraltar hove into view.
Putting on my very best upper class British accent I contacted the Queensway Quay in Gibraltar on VHF but was told they had no space. Very disappointing that they didn’t make room for a fellow Brit but we eventually found a space in Alcaidesa Marina which is Spanish territory but is a short walk into Gibraltar. We didn’t have a berth immediately but were advised to go to the waiting quay and sort out a berth. So eventually, after five days of travelling across the Atlantic via sail and motor, trying to keep up a solid 5kts so we could make it in time to pick up the rest of our crew [ Josh, Josh2 and Pawel ] we made landfall.
After an hour or so of waiting around we were assigned a berth, we motored over, parked up and….