Friday 29 April 2005

Sailing Gibraltar

I signed up for an RYA Day Skipper Practical course with Allabroad Sailing and flew down there on April 10th arriving just before noon.

I took a taxi to Marina Bay which was a total waste. You can easily walk there across the runway from the airport terminal. I was very early but I checked in at the office and left my bags. We weren't due to meet until 6pm so I had a good 6 hours to kill.

I wandered around Gibraltar. It's an odd littles place. By and large, it's British through and through but with a healthy smattering of Spanish. There's just one pedestrianised main street...and a big rock. And lots of buildings heaped up on one another clustered around that rock. Being a Sunday, almost everything was closed. I killed time eating and reading a novel I brought.

At six, I met the other students (David, Richard, Ben, Mark), settled into my cabin on the yacht and listened to safety briefing. In all there were two other boats going out so that evening, we all got together for dinner.


In the morning, we met our skipper, another Mark, had another safety briefing and received out safety and all weather gear. Then we went for an introductory sail in the harbour. Gibraltar is famous for it's dolphins and sure enough, a few dolphins eventually joined us playing in our bow wave. Marvellous!


Sailed down to Estepona. Not a whole lot of wind made for a fairly dull sail.


We prepared the boat and slipped our lines before sunrise. We had a beautiful sunrise as we crossed the straits of Gibraltar and headed to Africa. At first, we had to motor but eventually the wind picked up and we were able to sail the remaining distance to arrive at Smir.


We spent the morning practising harbour maneuvers in Smir. The wind had come alive with a vengeance and we were excited to get out and do some sailing.

The afternoon passage across the straits was an adventure. The winds were gusting up to a least 36 knots. According to the Beaufort scale, that's a Force 8 also known as a Gale. Out in the middles of the straits, the waves were two to three meters high. I had a great time sailing the yacht bucking over them. The mail sail was in at the third reef and we had only a tiny amout of the jib out. We probably should have put up the storm jib since we later found rips in the jib.

Ben was amazing. He cooked a huge roast dinner for the crew while the yacht was heaving about. To eat, we had to heave-to and drift in the middle of the gale. We need to wait anyway since I had to get in some night hours and this was our last opportunity.

We set off again at dusk and made port late in the evening.


Sailed back to Gibraltar


Killed the day wandering around flew back to London.


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