After over a week of preparation Nina, the 60 feet sailing boat, is ready to sail away.
A good dinner finally all the crew together, the captain Edo gives the safety briefing to remind the main safety rules to be followed and the watch shifts night and day for the coming 8-10 days to Canary Islands.
Blown off the fenders and stored them in the sail room, we install the jackstays, lines that run from the fore to the stern of the boat and to which we will clip our lifejacket in case we need to leave the cockpit to reach the fore of the boat. This safety rule will avoid anyone to fall overboard following for example a sudden rolling of the boat due to a wave or wind gust, maybe at night… a nightmare that no-one wants to experience!
It’s 8.15pm, a couple of hours after the sunset, when we finally untie the mooring lines and leave the red light of the harbour entrance at starboard. A gust of wind hits my face filling me with a feeling of excitement for the adventure that begins and being again sailing!
The moon has already grown over its first quarter and is lighting up the night while we head south till Cape San Sebastian in front of Girona where our route head more Westward and the wind start blowing while we hoist main sail and staysail.We pass in front of Barcelona while heading in the middle of Gulfo de Vera that separate the mainland coast from Baleari Islands trying to reach Cabo de Gata, a challenge that will take us two full days and a night fighting between sudden night gusts that requests us to take up two 2 reefs of the main sail.
It’s this an operation that require to get out of the cockpit, hook up to the jackstay to walk along the deck and reach the mast, halfway of the boat. Once there you need to tie the sail to a hook while hugging the mast a meter above the deck. All of this during day or night while the wind is blowing around you and the boat rolling under the waves force.
Around the Cabo de Gata we get few hours of break from the wind while motoring across the Gulfo de Almeria, to get then again a good push from the wind all the way to Gibraltar that we reach with the sunrise of Monday the 23rd after 4 days and a night of sailing: so far my longest sail non stop! And loving it!
The Gibraltar channel, wide only 9 miles, is one of the busiest areas of the Mediterranean sea with cargo ships and tankers crossing in each direction 24/7.
These giants of the sea proceed at a speed between 13 and 30 knots that together with their tonnage makes for them impossible to promptly modify their route and speed in case of need. This means only one thing: sailing or motoring, right of precedence or not, give them the way!
Moreover at night they appear as a black wall in front of us with just three or four small lights indicating it’s presence and direction.
The sunrise in front of Gibraltar is welcomed by Albi and myself with a shot of rum while one by one all the rest of the crew wakes up in time for the best surprise so far after the dolphins met the last two days. A group of four whales is swimming exactly in the middle of the channel and welcoming us in the Atantic Ocean with a spectacular show.
We sail along the Coast of Marocco and the Spain colonies till Tanger and Cabo Espartel where we head South West toward Las Palmas de Gran Canarie following the most direct line that the wind allows us. Two days on the same tack with wind from portside till the sunrise of Wednesday when we tack after a wind shift and to take advantage of a current that makes us gain a couple of knots.
Leaving the Mediterranean and entering the Ocean required an adaptation in the sailing and especially steering technique, due to longer and higher waves that constantly lifting the stern of the boat making the fore swing from right to left while the boat gain velocity down the steep of the wave and requiring a skilled sensibility that Edo, Albi and Andrea guide us into based on their experience of last year across this Ocean.
The life on board is now set up on a routine of shifts on watch and steering versus the hours of rest to sleep and dedicate ourself to the most various activities from chatting together to reading books and any kind of activity from cooking and taking care of the boat. We pass a couple of hours to do the yearly cleaning and maintenance of our knifes while Albi teach us how to splice a rope, meanwhile he calculate the boat position on earth using the sextant and the stairs. This is a calculation that old sailors mastered and that apparently requires some hours of calculation through the use of complex tables..
Hopefully I will get from him an insight of this magic science in the coming weeks.
The crew on board is simply a great match for all of us!
I will take the time later to tell you about them, but I want to share the unique positive feeling that living on board with these friends and sailing for long is giving me.
The boat has become a new home with the only different of what I find when I step out of the door in the early morning or in the evening. One or two friend sitting in the 3×2 meters cockpit steering the boat and holding our life in their hands, while a brilliant moon is lighting the trail and the imperious waves chasing us from the back, like if they want both to push and help us toward our destination while challenging and testing us and our skills.
Inside, just three steps away a complete different worlds hidden from wind and threats (at least apparently) where the others are relaxing and maybe watching a movie like in a normal house…
That’s simply amazing!
Sea and wind conditions permitting, we expect to arrive in Canarie on Friday around lunch time, after eight and a half days of uninterrupted sailing.
I just ended my two hours of evening shift… It’s not a case that anyone addressing to a boat shall use “her” and that a boat shall always have a feminine name!
Indeed, like a Lady, she deserve to be treated with respect, care and gentle touch and when steering the action must be clear and determined.
A great and reciprocal trust is also mandatory for those sailing with you and in their hands that steer the boat while you sleep.
With all of these we are now flying together on the waves..
4pm will be leaving the bow lines another time…Ocean here we come!
Wish to us fair winds and following seas since as for now the weather forecast is not giving us neither a light summer breeze..
See you on the other side!