Departure: Barbate, September 10 Arrival: La Línea (Gibraltar), September 10, 7.30 pm Nautical miles: 40
A new little milestone reached on our journey – we’ve entered the Gibralatar strait and soon the Mediterranean Sea. Sailing along south edge of Europe with a clear view of Africa feels like an achievement – especially for 2 newbies that just hustle along. Thankfully Kai does on awesome job us our captain and the crew plays along perfectly.
Sailing through the strait of Gibraltar was a lot of fun. The moderate forecasted westerly winds that funnel through the strait became rather strong to near gale and combined with the inflow of Atlantic waters made for a speedy ride. (Note that close to the shore a counter current can form, flowing in the opposite direction). Hopefully our good luck will continue as we sail into the med and we can avoid the rebellious Orcas for just a tiny bit longer.
The close proximity to the African continent has unfortunately transformed those waters into a natural fence for unwanted humans, not to say that man-made fences aren’t been put up daily for fellow unlucky humans. Here and around Gibraltar, dozens, if not hundreds, of desperate humans daily give their own lives in the big fight to cross those feared waters in hope for a better future. Much of this migration is caused (directly or indirectly) by climate change and is therefore only expected to increase. This politically downplayed crisis becomes very apparent along the Spanish coastline, with refugee boats discarded everywhere, and rescue missions coordinated on the radio on an hourly basis. During our Lunch stop in Ensenada de Bolonia, we witnessed first hand how a boat full of immigrants had the luck to arrive safely on European soil, greeted by the coast guard and escorted away, hopefully to better future.
Arrival in Gibraltar, the Journey continued East and we were Greeted by jumping stripped dolphins as we sailed into the bay of Gibraltar, we dropped anchor just next to Alcaidesa Marina in La Linea de la Conception in Spain, just next to Gibraltar. The next morning we entered the marina, which to our surprise was relatively cheap and very nice.
For the nerds out there: The Mediterranean looses roughly 1m of water on its entire surface per year due to the strong evaporation and limited precipitation and river inflow. Thus the constant inflow of less saline Atlantic surface water. This makes the Mediterranean a condensation basis creating some of the most saline waters on Earth, which in turn exit at smaller quantities and in great depths the Gibraltar straits. This affects the global thermohaline circulation, playing a crucial role in deep water formation in the Northern Atlantic – a process expected to be disrupted by climate change, weakening the thermohaline circulation and ending in the Day After Tomorrow – well hopefully only in the movie.
Gibraltar, a monkey business
We dragged our wobbly sailor legs and took up the mission to cross yet another border, this time by foot as we crossed with proper (or semi proper) border control from Spain to Gibraltar, British territory since 17 hundred something. We actually had to walk over Gibraltars runway as the country is so tiny they only had this one semi flat piece of land available, which wasn’t even long enough so it had to be extended into the sea. Luckily for us no plane landed while crossing.
Once in Gibraltar it’s a bit like Helgoland, kind of a tax free heaven with a nature reserve, but famous for macaques (rather than birds). This enormous rock, or mountain, has been of strategic importance for probably forever, and the Brits made sure to take it and defend it with nails and toes. The defences include canons, caves, walls/ fences and a man made network of around 30miles stone carved tunnels, all used in various wars, although it appears that at least the tunnels were never really used. Lastly, and most importantly the Brits deployed the vicious Macaques, imported through a cave network extending under the strait of Gibraltar and connecting directly to the African continent. To the present day this network has not been discovered and therefore some haters say its bollocks.
The Macaques however are real and vicious defending the rocks to the present day from any harmful intruder, and they make sure to steal anything of calorific value from you, protecting you from obesity and a poor diet. Something Pernille found out the hard way when she purchased a Crunchie at the local shop and a monkey did not miss his chance and launched a vicious attack. Pernille quickly retreated in panic and payed the asked ransom of1 crunchie.
Ps. The monkeys are kind and not vicious. They very much mind their business as long as you mind yours. Well there are some naughty ones, waiting to harras you for a snack.
All in all our day trip to the rock of Gibraltar was a bit of a tough hike, but so unique and beautiful – the views, the history and the monkeys are something else.
Covid milestone, In Línea we also hunted down the health centres and with the translating help of the sweetest Indian migrant named Gobind, who had been a resident for more than two decades, we were able to convince the local healthcare employee to sign us up for a vaccine already the next day. After that we felt relived that at least covid wouldn’t hinder the rest of our journey.
Departure: La Línea (Gibraltar), September 15 Arrival: La Azohia, September 20 Nautical miles: 253
*Day sails with night stops in Fuengirola, Motril, Roquetas de Mar and Águilas.
Finally, after 5 months we had really caught up with summer. Although it’s nearly October and we had arguably some very good summer days throughout, something wasn’t quite right. This something was always the rather chilli water, often not too clear or inviting either.
Once you approach the Med, things change. The water becomes clearer, more saline and, most importantly, warmer. We now finally manage to spend more than 5 minutes under water, we get to use our snorkeling equipment, explore the underwater world, while we can just jump of the boat whenever we get too hot. This is freedom right?
We are blessed to have made it so far, but we have to make it further still, so we must keep moving, while enjoying every opportunity in this blue paradise. Because you know the winter might be mild here, but it’s still winter and it’s creeping up on us – and for now we aren’t going further south, just east…
For you nerds out there… The Med is so clear because it’s one of the most oligotrophic seas in the world – stems from the Greek language and means low on food. Which essentially means that only very small amounts of nutrients make it into the Med. If you remember from a previous post, the Mediterranean has limited river inflow, which is the primary input for nutrients. The lack of large amounts of nutrients, especially in the Eastern parts limits the amounts of plankton that can be supported, same resulting in very clear waters. Still there are enough nutrients to support the rich biodiversity of its waters making the Mediterranean Sea a so called biodiversity hot spot.
Departure: La Azohia, September 24 Arrival: Calpe, September 26 Nautical miles: 116
*Day sails with night stops in Cartagena and Torrevieja
We initially considered sailing straight from Cartagena to Ibiza, but firstly the weather wasn’t exactly optimal, but even more so we got diverted rather dramatically as the rescue service called us over the VHF asking for our help – searching for an aircraft! We spent a couple of hours searching the position, including asking smaller fishing boats in the area, if they’d seen an aircraft falling from the sky? Rather funny as non of them spoke English, and we are sure they would have taken action on their own if seen an aircraft crushing down, but well you never know do you ? We never learned what happened, but the rescue helicopter appear to concentrate for a long time on a different location, so perhaps they found something.