Fair winds and farewell Europe

Friday 28th July

Cruising down the Straits of Gibraltar with Spain on the right and Morocco on the left … sea is flat; no wind against us; and it’s a lovely day; what can I say.  After a morning in La Linea to do our last minute shopping (Betrave and I took a taxi to find the only inverter this side of Madrid … we will appreciate it if the generator ever goes out …if you need ANYTHING natucial in this part of the world I suggest go straight to Nautica Linamar) then back to the markets to buy another jamon Iberico … on the GC’s insistence (and I’m sure we’ll be grateful for his bull headedness!).. our newest friend Immaculada who was so thrilled to see us again (how many people buy two whole Jamon of the best quality in as many days?)  Hugs and kisses from her as well as a gift of home made pineapple upside down cake … not quite what you expect

Time for a coffee and uploading the blog before heading back to the boat..

It’s fine and warm; I’m sitting on a chair that a diver brought us in La Ciotat; some flyaway from a superyacht; its sunny and warm and we have whales off our port stern.

The GC just pointed out two speedboats racing across from the Moroccan coastline.  Bloody hell they are fast; two of them; heading straight across to Spain.  It’s such a fine day with flat sea; they are absolutely flying.  Remind me of the cigarette boats between Iran and Oman in Musandam; probably the same kind of cargo …. Drugs and people.  A small boat and a jetski …

On a fine night in La Linea we were woken up by a loud boat going round and round us; then followed by a small RIB which just hung around off our bow (just a few meters) Beatrave woke us all up and we sat on deck till they went away again. Apparently it’s a technique that they use – a loud boat comes to the anchored yacht to see if anyone wakes up; then the other boat sees how many people there are on board.  If no one comes; the yacht is empty and they come on board to break in.

Most nights off Gib we had fog; but on one clear night from 3 am onwards there was so muc boat traffic around we basically couldn’t sleep.  The GC went on deck and watched as boat after boat put out and around Gib; going out with two and coming back in with at least four on board.  It’s a people trafficking system; they seem to be coming in from Morocco.  It’s also possible that they put them on shore at first on Gibraltar but because the border is difficult to cross they then pick them up a day or so later and bring them into Spain.    Once again I bless my first world passport … not for the first and I guess not for the last time.  Freedom of movement is highly undervalued by so many people I guess …

We haven’t been able to check in and out of anywhere properly.  We tried to do it it Gib yesterday but they basically told the GC at the marina that he couldn’t bring the boat in; they had no space; and they wouldn’t allow him to come in by tender to do the clearance.. So he went to the Club that we had been using to access the shore (basically we had anchored off amongst a bunch of other yachts; put the dinghy in the water and come in at the first place we saw which happened to be the Club Maritime Linensis; a local club with a restaurant and some pretty bemused staff.  They charged us the massive sum of 6.05 euros a day to dock the tender … a homey little place with few frills and lots of children.  They kindly gave us a very official looking stamp on a piece of paper.  Hope it will do ..

The calm weather lasted till the night.  Sunset was so perfect that the GC told me to go and sit up at the bow; just to enjoy the moment.  Beatrave joined me and we were rewarded by an enormous whale – I think we went right over him as he sounded – unfortunately no pictures but it was quite the largest whale I’ve ever seen; looked like a sperm whale, and solo so I guess a male.

As we progressed; the wind picked up and night was pretty wet and wild on deck.  This time I have the first watch; so till 1am; and with nothing around on the radar – we had only one cargo ship near us – it gets quite hard to keep focussed on the watch. I can’t write – anyway I don’t like doing that up on deck when it’s this wet; I worry about the computer – but the glow from the screen blinds you to the ambient light and anyway it’s a distraction.  You’re looking; watching; not doing anything else.

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