September on Pipistrelle

It was no surprise to return to find the boat covered in another layer of dust!  While still out of the water (2 days of traipsing sand from the yard up the ladder and onto the transom) we arranged for a coat of antifoul to be applied.  This had to be done by the marineros as yacht owners are not allowed to work on their own boats in the yard.  Under cover of dusk, we did sneakily replace all the anodes in preparation for the crossing.  Once back in the water, we had further preparatory work done for us and found Spencer, the English guy who runs the Alamar Centro Nautico chandlery, really knowledgeable and a great help. We washed all the brown dust gathered in Mar Menor from the genoa and staysail and standing rigging, and waited for a ‘goodies’ box to arrive from the UK containing spare halyards, lifejacket hoods and lights, yet more books and sundries.

We renewed our acquaintance with Wolfgang and Gudrun, a very friendly and helpful German couple on Andante and our neighbours for the couple of days we were in the marina in August.

A delightful Mexican couple, Manolo and Gabriela, our new neighbours on Chamaco, the next boat to us, offered to take us out for the day in their car into the Alpujarra foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

Orgiva – canopies shading main street!

This was really enjoyable, driving west towards Orgiva, and from there climbing up winding narrow roads through lovely scenery around deep ravines to the pretty village of Pampaneira.  Here we explored the narrow streets with their craft shops and weaving workshops.  After a typical hearty Andalucian lunch at a local hostelry which also served a ‘rare’ local red wine, we returned by the evening to Pipistrelle.

Pampaneira – array of coloured rugs

Chillies hanging out to dry

After a week back in the marina, the strong easterly winds were easing and on Saturday 12th September we took our leave of Almerimar and everyone we had met there.  La Herradura to the west provided a lovely anchorage against a backdrop of a picturesque small town with expensive properties set in the hillside.  We swam off the boat in warm evening sunshine – no swell, no wind and no jellyfish!  Next morning we continued to Fuengirola under motor where we anchored to the south of the marina.  By this time the Poniente (westerly wind) began to blow, and after a very uncomfortable night being tossed around we took refuge in the marina.

Fuengirola marina with minarets – sheltered in westerlies

We had made one attempt to get to Gibraltar, but after 6 hours, 20 nm, and 30 knot head winds, with Pipistrelle being virtually stopped by the short steep seas, we decided enough was enough and returned to Fuengirola in 2.5 hours!  There we remained until the winds had abated enough for us to round Europa Point at Gibraltar, and anchor at La Linea, Spain which is north of the Gib runway.

Europa Point – wreck lifting

Gibraltar from La Linea

Here we met Nicole, Shane and family on Grace, a 46 ft Halberg Rassy who come from Australia and are sailing back having taken delivery of their yacht in Sweden.  They introduced us to the Gib Net, which works on a frequency of 4057 mhz on the single side band (SSB) radio at 08.30 each morning.  This is the first occasion that we had really used this radio, and through it the next day we met on air Argonaut, with Diane and Bill on board who hail from Connecticut, USA.  They were on their way to Ceuta from Cartagena, and once they heard we were heading for the same destination, called us up!

Ceuta beckoned for some dry store provisioning at Lidl for the crossing, and an evening off for the cooks.  Now that we understood the tidal flows in the Straits, we had a pleasant beam reach for the 18 mile trip at up to 8 knots.  A wonderful sail at last, with dolphins playing around us, and the Pillars of Hercules to greet us.  It was a short stay in Ceuta – we were allowed only 2 nights there to make space for a regatta at the weekend.

Hercules!

We sailed back to the La Linea anchorage and are now working through the latest list of jobs that should prepare us for the passage to Madeira and the Canaries, and then the Atlantic crossing.  There are 35 yachts at anchor here.  The current tally is UK, France, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, most of whom are waiting to either head south via Morocco to the Canaries, or Madeira to the Canaries, and then across.  We have met Joyce and John Easteal on Fair Encounter who are also taking part in the ARC, and will stay in touch with them on the ARC net each morning at 10.00 on the SSB.  They are now on their way to Madeira via Lagos.  We are now watching the weather very closely, and hoping that on our planned leaving date, 4th October, we will have fair winds.

Weekend weather – so much for an Indian Summer in La Linea!

From the Canaries we will provide a further blog update, and then you will be able to follow our progress across the Atlantic at http://www.worldcruising.com/arc/ .  We will be reporting our position each day, and this can be viewed on Google Earth, which is downloaded from the same site.  We will also be providing reports as often as possible, about life on board, the weather and our progress on the same site.  If you are interested, please do not leave viewing this site and downloading Google Earth until we have started, as you will probably miss a few days, as well as the start.

We are planning to arrive at Las Palmas on the 11/12th November, setting off on the 22nd  for St Lucia.  The distance is approximately 2800 nm, which we expect to complete between 16-20 days.  We hope you will follow us on our voyage!

Wet, wet, wet (and cold!)

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