During this portion of the trip around Andalusia we had our most and our least productive sailing days. We also had Mother Nature putting out quite a performance to us.
We started this part of the journey in Formentera, where we waited a long time for the right wind to show up and it certainly paid off. Starting from Formentera we sailed 250 nautical miles (aprox. 450 kilometers) all the way to Almeria. This passage took us two days and one night (37 hours), resulting on an average speed of 6.7 knots. For some serious competitive sailors this would be a bad day, but for us… it was AMAZING and we are really proud of it! This crossing was certainly our best sailing so far and we did not turn on the engines for a single moment.
We dropped anchor in Almeria’s main beach and we continue to see A LOT of jellyfish. The water was really transparent and inviting to a swim, but it was impossible giving the amount of these sting little (and big) buggers in the water. At least we got a lot of some stuff done in town. We got our sail repaired, took Feijão to the veterinarian (and got him an EU passport! How cool is this?!), bought two new bottles of cooking gas, top up our pre paid internet, went to the supermarket, etc..
After we got our stuff done, we waited for the wind that would take us to Gibraltar to come. We waited… waited… waited… but since Sarah wanted to get to Portugal early to visit friends and EAT A LOT of Portuguese food we left in a day that showed that the wind forecast for the next two days was borderline “sailable”. Well… it happened that the wind never came and to make things worst we had a VERY strong current against us which endure half of the crossing. This means that we had to motor for 160 nautical miles and that even motoring it took us a lot more than planned given the strong current against us. I really don’t like motoring or three reasons. 1) we are sailing around the world, not motoring; 2) we wasted a lot of diesel (money + CO2) and 3) it built a lot of engine hours, which means that very soon I will need to spend many hours inside the “engine room black box” to service those grease, smelly and hot metal moving elements. Man, when I mechanical charge you a lot of money, don’t complain… just pay it. This is not an enjoyable job… at least in my opinion.
Well, it was not all negative during this passage. In fact we got quite lucky on some other stuff. First, we fished a huge Mahi-Mahi, and, man, they are beautiful and tasty! Feijão, again, was super excited and was the first one licking the shiny swimming thing. The downside was that when Sarah and I are alone we hope to get smaller fishes, but these huge animals come to us (though we are using smaller lures) and we don’t know what to do. Furthermore, his two friends followed him all the way until we brought it into the boat, man, it was SUPER sad. Sarah could not stop crying and we even gave up on eating him. We tried to release it but we were not able to take the hook out of the fish and put him back in the water, so since we killed it, we decide to follow on with plan A: eat it. We were really considering becoming vegetarian and/or not fish anymore unless there is at least six people on the boat.
Second that made it a cool crossing was that since there was no wind, the surface of the water got really glassy and the sunrises and moonrises were amazing, but the sunsets and moonsets were just incredible as they reflected in the water right in front of you (given that we are going west) creating the most beautiful highway for us.
Finally, and most spectacular part of this journey, was that we had dolphins following us many many many times during this leg. The highlight was having four of them paying us a visit at around 3-4 a.m, we named them “the incredible four”. They were ridding right in front of our boat and their movement in the water ignite all the bioluminescence and, again, since there was no wind, the water was very glassy, calm and transparent, which made them glow super bright and clear all around and behind them. It was like watching a few zigzagging green glowing under water comets on an acid trip. It is really difficult to describe it, but all I know is that we are really blessed to be able to witness such a beautiful performance that Mother Nature put out for us last night. I guess it is needless to say that Sarah got all emotional and started crying again. This blue planet we live in is just incredible, I hope we don’t destroy it even further.
At Gibraltar, for some reason the diesel costs 1/3 of anywhere else we have been so we fill up our tanks, got some rest and we moved to Tarifa. By the way, before moving we shared some of our fish with other sailors around the anchorage area. It was a great success and people were asking us advices on how to fish. Can you imagine that? Asking US advices on how to fish… a couple of weeks ago we were completely clueless and I still think we are.
After Giblatar we stopped at Tarifa port. The pilot team had cool orange boats and was really nice founding us a spot inside the port. Unfortunately the cost for staying there was not worth it given the location received a lot of waves created by the entry and exit of speed ferries. On top of that, handling Feijão entry and exit to the port was a hassle since this is a main port of entry from Morocco and authorities wanted to be extra safe about handling dogs (apparently there is lot’s of rabies in Morocco).
I wanted to get some kite action done in Tarifa, but the water was REALLY cold and not really inviting to liquid activities. We even saw some people kiting, but I am reckoning they were probably from Alaska and couldn’t be bothered by the weather temperature.
So we kept moving towards Cadiz, our last stop in Spain before Portugal. At Cadiz we anchored on a really cool spot. It was a narrow strip of sand beyond a series of rocks that disappear during high tide and get totally exposed during low tide. At night we walk around the old city, which is quite charming. Europe has these things that we are certainly going to miss when we get to the Caribbean.
Latter we went to bed and waited for the wind to come to take us to Portugal.
And guess what? The forecast was right, the wind did show up during the night and now we are sailing towards Portugal. Sarah is super excited about it, she can’t stop naming the foods with strange names we are going to eat and friends we are going to meet when we get to Portugal.