Friday, September 20, 2013

Last Sausage B4 Africa...or beyond

2013 09 19
La Linea, Spain (beside Gibraltar)

Meredith at Dockside in La Linea, Spain
Gibraltar in the background
We have been lying low in La Linea at €15 a night waiting for the past week of ferocious west wind to quit blowing through the Straits of Gibraltar.  Today is calm and the gribs promise lukewarm wind tomorrow, ten knots or so, but out of the east.  Looks like  we will depart on Saturday.  

The week at La Linea has been put to good use and six hours a day are devoted by both Connie and me to inspecting the boat, replacing and refitting parts on the boat and provisioning the boat.  With an ocean crossing in the immediate future checking systems never grows tiresome.

Gibraltar being duty free
the Cigars, Five Cohiba Siglo IIs
cost a mere
$50.  Score.
Here is one reason you check systems.  Thinking our fresh water pump sounded a bit different in tone I checked it out.  Luck was with us because the pump seals had failed and the pump had filled its little cupboard with water.  The pump would have failed completely in a matter of hours or minutes.  

Connie dried and labelled all the wet cans while I installed our spare pump.  As soon as we fired up the system with the new pump we had problems.  New pump meant different pressures on all the connections.  This little beggar let go, just let go.  The hose clamp fell off the cold water faucet in our head allowing the hose it secured to disengage.  Water flowed at full pump pressure for five minutes before we isolated the leak and got it stopped.  

Poke it, twist it, prod it.  If it is going to fail you want to fail in controlled circumstances. 

Trip Planning

Four elements govern our departure plans: a change in the strong west winds which have been blowing through the Straits of Gibraltar for the past week, timing of High Water at Gibraltar, timing of Low Water at Rabat, our destination, and lastly hazards underway.

Wind: Not leaving in strong (thirty plus knots at times) winds on the nose is obvious.  Today is calm and tomorrow should be mildly in our favour.  Looks like a motor job.

Tide Gibraltar: Tides are in our favour for departure.  High Water Gibraltar on Saturday is about 0500 am so an 0800 departure exposes us to as favourable current through the Straits as one could expect.  

Tide Rabat: This element in the puzzle is a bit more worrisome.  High water at Rabat is about 1600.  We must arrive Rabat on a rising tide.  The marina there will send a guide boat out to guide us over the bar that blocks the river entrance to the marina.  They will only do so, however, on a rising tide.  

It is 155 miles or so from La Linea to Rabat which is a 31 hour trip if we can hie to a 5 knot planned speed.  An 0800 departure Saturday puts us at Rabat at about 1400.  Not much room for error so we will have to be very careful.  On the upside the marina informs us the river has been dredged so we may not have to worry about the bar.  Until we verify it is gone we worry about the bar.

Hazards Underway: Sailing the west coast of Morocco is best done well offshore, at least 15 nm.  Local fishermen string endless miles of net closer to shore than this and such things are well avoided.

Pirates.  Spanish pirates.  Actually irrationally angry Spanish fishermen make life miserable for sailors all around Gibraltar.  The fishermen believe that sailboats disturb the fish.  They take their anger out in unconstrained acts of violence committed against innocent sailors.

IInbound to Gibraltar with a companion boat we were attacked by a Spanish fishing boat.  The Spanish skipper crossed our bow a boatlength in front of us with his massive nets in the water.  Just clearing our bowsprit the moron cut all power to his diesel and left us, with all of forty feet of water clearance.  We were at speed.  While we managed not to become ensnared in his nets it was bone rattling and disconcerting.

Done with us, and he having not created a collision at sea, the Spanish idiot repeated the action against Fabuloso, the catamaran travelling with us.  

Welcome to Spain.  In this country anything is possible. 

La Linea is a nice Spanish town and much maligned by many cruisers.  We find the cafe life of a Spanish city vastly preferred to that of the tourism of Gibraltar.  Gibraltar's claim to fame is her tax free status.  Our experience however is that merchant greed and British pricing have  eaten up any potential cost reductions for most goods.

Connie and I feel ready to cross the Atlantic back to North America.  By now we are anxious to get underway but of course we must wait until midNovember when the trade winds begin to blow.  Until then we will tour Morocco and the Canaries and then spend more time that we originally planned in what is rapidly growing in our minds into a great cruising ground: the Cape Verdes.

So, like the sign at the Wurst House says

Time to stock up.

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