17 to 24 October 2016
Barbate N36° 10.56′ W05° 55.80′ to La Linea N36° 09.50′ W05° 22.20′
38nm, 6 hours 30
For rather romantic reasons, we had decided to spend our first winter in Gibraltar. Our sailing journey together had been consolidated during a training course there in 2013 and we had said to ourselves that one day we would return in our own boat. There were also more practical reasons. We thought it might be easier to negotiate any necessary repairs in English and we might be able to take advantage of Gibraltar’s tax status for buying parts. We also hoped that its Britishness might make us feel less home sick for our first Christmas away.
Timing our departure for the Bay of Gibraltar meant the right combination of the notorious tidal flows of the Strait of Gibraltar with the wind blowing in the right direction. Adding to our anxiety was everything we read about the wind off Tarifa blowing at over 30 knots more than 300 days a year. Whilst we had been in Barbate the wind had been blowing easterly out of the Mediterranean. We needed a westerly wind for any chance of sailing but we were running out of tides which would enable us to start and finish the passage in daylight. If we didn’t go we would be stuck in Barbate another week and, whilst there are definitely worse places, we had itchy feet.
We got our last views of Cape Trafalgar and back to Barbate with Vejer above as we left the bay.
At Tarifa we had one of the 65 days when the wind is below 30 knots and barely a ripple on the water.
Before we knew it we were in the Strait and in sight of the two pillars of Hercules, Jebel Musa on the African side and Jebel Tariq, Gibraltar, on the European side, just 7 miles between them.
We had forgotten just how busy the Strait was. At one point we counted 17 tankers coming in and out and then more anchored as we turned into the bay.
Entering the Bay of Gibraltar we were welcomed back by Spanish fishermen, dolphins and a flypast from EasyJet!
Before finding our winter berth in Gibraltar we spent a week in Alcadeisa Marina in La Linea just across the border and where we got the best view of the Rock on our first morning.
Selfie in the Strait of Gibraltar, fulfilling a promise to ourselves.