Fully recovered from what ended up being a long, slightly swell-themed sail, we started heading down the coast of Lanzarote.
We hadn’t visited a marina in almost 3 weeks, so really wanted a decent shower. Puerto Calero looked a good distance away and could be a good starting point for getting to Fuerteventura. So off we went
This was mostly an easy downwind sail, with a little rain to start…
We called the marina on VHF 9, they quickly responded and said we could stay for 2 nights.
First, they had us moor on the fuel pontoon to fill out paperwork.
Before then moving to one of the most expensive accidents waiting to happen (between 2 million pound catamarans) alongside the pontoon.
Fortunately, we pulled off a smooth docking without a hitch.
Kathryn was still crazing pizza, as we didn’t find one in La Graciosa, so this was top of our list.
There was a little place called MargaRita on the other side of the marina, and the pizza there was truly amazing.
After a day of recovery from our rather long crossing (we mainly lay around, sleeping eating and watching TV), we headed to shore to wonder around the Volcanic island.
First, we headed up the closest volcano-like thing, where we got a great view of our part of the island, nearby beaches and anchorage.
We then headed to the north shore to see the breaking waves and the few people surfing them.
The north shore also had many rock pools with all kinds of sea life in them.
The most interesting of which was a collection of hermit crabs all trying to get in line to swap shells. We watched for quite some time, but none of them could decide which one should take the new larger shell that they had found.
There was also a self righting sea snail.
Kathryn was craving pizza, so we headed to the main town of the island in search. There was a pizza place on Google maps that should have been open, but sadly not.
We ended up at the popular local restaurant where we had black squid ink paella.
The walk back to the anchorage took around 20-30 minuites and was lit by moonlight.
We spent much of the rest of our time in this anchorage snorkeling around. The water was so clear and warm we could see to the bottom with ease and didn’t need a wetsuit.
This also gave us an opportunity to dive on our anchor to see how close to the rocks we were.
We hadn’t decided if we were going to stop at Tangier or not, as we had heard from some friends that it was going to be full, so also had a plan to head all the way to Rabat.
Not long after setting off we quickly got the rod out as Kathryn saw a giant tuna leaping out of the sea. Within a few minutes, there was a bite, and we spent the next 15 minutes (it felt like) reeling in our catch whilst underway.
A tuna! Our first catch since northern Spain (we think).
As we approached Tangier we saw a whole bunch of boats leaving. This was the moment that we started re-evaluating weather options as well as considering how long customs can take in Morocco.
Rather than stop in Tangier, as we were a week behind our plan, we decided to keep going to either Rabat, Essaouira or the Canaries.
Very quickly we found ourselves 3 days into a 5-day sail.
Throughout our sail along the coast of northern Morocco, there was quite a lot of sand in the air, making everything very hazy, kind of like fog.
The weather dropped and shifted, making it look unlikely we could make it to the Canaries before getting caught in the worst of some horrible swell. As the weather continued to develop we were weighing up Essaouira, Agadir or Lanzarote. Also, playing in the sea 😉
The wind shifted back to something more desirable, as we went for it, all the way to Lanzarote!
While talking about how we might be able to go faster with the wind almost directly behind us, we realized that we had not yet used the mizen staysail.
It’s meant for use when the wind is from the beam to almost dead behind the boat, so perfect!
We spent some time figuring out how to hoist it for the first time, and up it went.
We kept the mizen staysail up for at least 1 day, and it managed to keep our average speed at above 6knots. Epic!
This was the point where we saw a large navy ship behind us. Adam also realized that we weren’t listening on channel 16 (we had switched to listen to some weather, but never heard the broadcast).
Upon switching back to channel 16, the navy ship was hailing us (they might have been for some time…).
They wanted to know the details of the boat, how many people were aboard, and if we had any kids of pets. After a lovely little VHF conversation, they said to have a nice sail and then continued on past us.
The wind and swell continued to build, the staysail came down, and we continued the rest of the sail with a reefed main and a working gib.
In the last 12 hours the swell was probably somewhere between 2 and 3 meters, and quite mixed up. There was a primary swell from the north at 2-2.7m, but also some other swell from somewhere east or south ish that made things quite interesting…
The worst of this came at night, but here is a short video from the daytime before, where we capture the swell size quite well we think.
We came in between Lanzarote and the northern island of La Graciosa at about 5am on Saturday, before getting to our anchorage at 6am ish.
The moon was quite full, but unfortunately obscured by clouds so it was quite dark.
The anchorage was full of boats, but we snuck around all of them right to the front next to the beach and dropped anchor in what we hoped was sand according to the satellite view. We held well and headed for some well-deserved sleep! (pictures of where our anchor landed coming in the next post)
Overall our track looked something like this!
Adams Blog: Global “unlimited” data options: Wraptel, Keepgo & Solis
Who knew a 30nm journey to our planned port of Tangier, Morocco could take 5 days? Well, we found out how that’s possible on a sailboat…
On our first attempt at leaving Gibraltar, we had looked at the tidal stream atlas and decided on a time of the day to leave, it turned out to be a not-too-early 9 am start and we knew it was going to be a windward sail so tacking, something we are quite used to but little did we know just how strong the tides really are in the Gibraltar Straights.
We cruised out of the anchorage just north of the border of Gib (so actually in Spain) at a speedy 6knots across the bay in lovely flat seas, we dodged the giant container ships anchored in the bay as we headed for the Southwest side of the bay.
When approaching one of the ships a little too close for comfort we tacked a few times so as not to lose the wind when going past what is basically a huge wall stationed in the water.
Not even 10 minutes later the water started to get choppy, an indication that the tide in that area was strengthening and the wind was going over the surface of the water in the other direction to the flow of water, Hannah Penn powered through under full sail, we felt good that this sail was going to go well.
At this point the wind speed increased to about 30knots, we reached the other side of the choppy water where there was a strange calm area of sea, we dropped the mizzen as the wind was not going to let up and at the same time found we had left the ladder down in the water at the back of the boat, I took the helm and Adam had to retrieve the ladder with his long arms as we were very healed over.
After sailing into the calm water we noticed our SOG (Speed Over Ground) dropped and our heading which was once a very good into-wind angle suddenly point further and further downwind.. to the point where instead of going forward we were actually headed backward at a diagonal straight into the Mediterranean sea!!
Clearly, the tide was doing something very strange, a phenomenon which we had read could happen around a headland we were passing, Punta del Carnero, leaving the bay and entering the Straights, we had to start the engine as our speed, eastward towards the Med had increased to a staggering 2.5knots whilst still sailing West!
By this point, the wind was still gathering in strength and we knew we were not going to make it to Tangier so 1.5nm into our journey through the Straights we looked into bail-out options, luckily at that moment when motoring at over double the RPM we would usually run the engine at and only managing a meagre 1.5knots over the ground we saw a little cove which looked relatively sheltered in the prevailing conditions, we took that opportunity and headed in checking our trusty Navily app on the way, one review was good enough for us!
We approached the tiny cove (Cala Arenas on Navily) which should have had over 2m of depth below the keel, the depth meter suddenly started dropping much quicker than expected, with 0.8m under the boat we quickly made a turn into the wind and slightly deeper water and dropped anchor, let out 30m immediately and let the boat settle in what was turning into a gale!
So we had arrived in this little cove at about low tide, and this made it lovely and sheltered with a big outcropping of rocks to the windward side of the cove, the wind still howled but the water was flat, we hunkered down after letting out a bit more chain and putting the anchor snubber on to dampen the forces on the boat.
After looking at the tidal stream atlas again wondering why it was so difficult to get into wind we realised we had got the tide timings wrong, by 3 hours! after mistakenly thinking the titles for the pictures were above the relevant information, when in fact they were below.
Waiting it out for 2 days
We stayed in the cove for two nights whilst keeping an eye on the weather, each high tide it got a little choppy as the rocks protecting us got partially submerged, so we created a swell bridle which allowed the boat to sit with her bow into the waves but side-on to the wind.
The rope pictured above attaches to the anchor chain and is also attached to the bow and stern cleats. The chain ends up half way along the side of the boat.
On the 3rd day, we decided it wasn’t worth us trying to get out of the straights until the wind shifted from a Westerly to an Easterly, which was due to happen in another 2 days’ time, so that day we made sure the tides were right and we upped anchor and set off back toward Gib, and fast downwind, down-tide sail that saw us doing over 8knots.
We rounded the corner into the bay and anchored up in the lee of the wind in the southwest corner of the bay.
We tucked ourselves in close to the shore and made the most of our extended trip near Gibraltar by going snorkeling and watching The Witcher on Netflix!
Second Try for Tangier
So the time came when the wind shifted to an easterly giving us a downwind sail, perfect! Now reading the tides correctly, which included making sure you had adjusted for the different time zones (being so close to Spain, Gibraltar and Morocco our phones didn’t know which country to pick up!)
We headed out again and this time was much faster, expecting a very windy sail we only need the genoa out, and even then we only had all of it out for about 1 hour till we decided we would have more steerage if we furled some in. Still, we maintained about 7knots SOG.
We stayed close to the north shore of the straights, well out of the shipping lanes to the south of us, this gave us a little protection from the building waves in the center of the channel.
The time came when we need to make a slight turn south and venture more into the open water, soon though we found ourselves being thrown around a lot in the steep waves which were forming due to the strong tides and equally strong wind, we tried for about 30 mins to make our way out but decided it would be too dangerous when we hadn’t even got a 1/4 of the way across and one wave threw the boat sideways-on to the waves, which were easily higher than the deck. At that point, we turned back north to more sheltered water.
Carrying on, on the north shore we made our way to Tarifa, a Spanish town with an outcropping of land which gave perfect shelter from the building conditions.
We tucked ourselves in behind the breakwater where a number of pro kitesurfers were having a great time in the high winds and flat seas.
Taking shelter from real storm-force winds
We were forced to drop anchor in water much deeper than we would usually choose, about 8m under the keel, which meant we had to let out about 50m of chain because we didn’t want to interrupt the kiters and decided we would move closer after they had finished.
Into the afternoon the wind grew stronger and stronger. We contemplated an alternative anchorage, heading off a little downwind, but it was far less protected and we found ourselves motoring back to Tarifa and moving closer to shore.
We had about 5m of depth, the usual ratio which we use when we anchor is 15m + 2x the distance from the seabed to the bow, so in normal conditions, we would have let out 35m max, but as the wind was due to blow at over 110kph we decided we should probably use the whole lot, which is 60m! and then we used 3 snubber lines equally loaded to the front anchor bollard and two outer cleats to reduce to load that any one line would take as we sway from side to side in the gale.
The evening brought winds of over 50knots (92kph) and it was expected to rise during the night, with the anchor alarm set and with howling winds we tried to get some sleep, it was a restless night, and waking in the morning we found that our wind instruments were no longer working and the boat had a thick veil of salty sand plastered to the front of everything, the windshield, rigging, masts, deck, but at least we didn’t move an inch in the night, our storm anchoring tactics had held firm.
And that is how you achieve going nowhere in 5 days!
Everyone that owns a boat, should regularly check and service their seacocks by turning the regularly and regreasing them when out of the water. We try to make a habit of turning all of our seacocks a few times each month and noticed one of our Blakes seacocks was getting progressively harder to turn.
Somewhere around Cadiz we could no longer turn this seacock. We had no plan of getting out of the water any time soon, but would really rather be able to close it if needed.
We seacock in question is photographed below after servicing it. It’s in the engine bay under the waterline. This seacock is attached to some drainage holes in the cockpit floor. Nice and easy to access and work around!
The seacock after being serviced
After some online research of others with Blakes seacocks saying anything from “careful heating of the outer body” to “hitting as hard as I dared” we came up with a plan to tackle servicing this seacock from inside the boat while in a marina.
Getting it moving again
First, we took the cover plate off the seacock which can easily be removed but loosening and then removing the two bolts on either side of the handle.
The seacock with cover plate removed
We put a spanner around the square part of the seacock at the base of the handle to apply some turning pressure while gently and repeatedly knocking the end of the handle with a hammer.
It would have been nice to put a bar over the end of the handle to be able to apply some more turning force, but we didn’t have anything readily available that fit. A spanner seemed to do the job.
After quite a while of trying to turn and knocking gently in all directions, we thought it wasn’t going to budge, but finally, it started moving.
It was moving, but still very stiff, we wanted to take the whole thing out, give it a clean and regrease before putting it back together again.
Covering plate, spanner, bungs, rags, hammer etc.
Getting it out
With some plastic sheeting covering the engine, and wooden bungs at the ready, we attempted the old switcharoo, replacing the seacock with a hand, and then a bung.
The water sprayed quite high, so we were thankful for the plastic sheet. But we managed to get it out and replace it with a wooden bung with only a Litre or so of water making its way into the engine bay.
The parts & service
All of the parts needed a good cleaning.
We cleaned all of the parts with Swarfaga and wire wool, removing all of the old grease and any built-up gunge acquired from the sea.
This will be out last morning in sight of the rock of Gibraltar, and what a beautiful final sunrise. It’s been a nice week or so, but we did get a little caught out by winds and tides, spending more time here than originally planned Made use of 3 different anchorages and 1 marina, getting lots of boat jobs done, walked up the rock (pictures to follow), did some snorkelling, but still no fish yet. Next stop Morocco
A big sail even if it was downwind.. but it wasn’t, we tacked all the way from Cadiz to Gibraltar, over 60 in total, we basically tacked every 30 mins for about 28 hours straight!
And experienced just about every wind condition you could possibly think of, from none at all to perfect conditions with about 16-17 knots and often gusts came through of over 30, they were very sudden and quickly disappeared but not quickly enough to keep full sails up, so throughout the day and night we were putting more sail out, then less, then more.. it was exhausting…
When we neared Tarifa there was a lot of wind and there were many kitesurfers out making the most of it, at one point it looked like they were racing us.. I think they’d win pretty easy tho!
The thing which did go in our favor for the most important bit was the tide/current going through the straights of Gibraltar, somehow we managed to time it well to be going in the same direction as the 3knot tide which took us nicely into Gibraltar in the early evening.
On our way into the Bay of Gibraltar, we passed a number of huge container/cargo ships, hiding in the mist.
Dolphins saw us into the bay before disappearing into the night 🐬🐬 no pics this time tho 🙁
We arrived more quickly than expected even with all the tacking and we had reserved a marina spot for the next day as there’s no anchoring allowed in Gibraltar, so we sailed on by and anchored to the north in a Spanish anchorage, I didn’t realize quite how small the country is till we sailed from one end to the other in about an hour!
As we came into the anchorage we spotted a boat that looked strangely familiar but not because we had seen her before, she turned out to be another Nic 38 from the same era as Hannah, called Salara.
After a night under the suspension bridge, we made our way to a marina for some much-needed tlc.
We are getting better at this slip mooring, everyone else makes it look so easy in their boats with bow thrusters and controlled steerage in reverse! Neither of which Hannah Penn has! But after an uneventful docking we were able to have a real shower and Hannah was able to have her salty deck hosed down too, a nice and cooling thing to do as the heat was almost unbearable, luckily there was a bit of wind so we forced some air through the boat with the scoop
That evening after it started to cool down we ventured out on the hunt for fresh fruit and veg, not far into our journey we noticed that the place was packed out with cars parked literally everywhere! And wondered if there was a big event happening
Soon we heard a brass band playing in the distance and went to find out what was going on, we discovered this band playing and watched for a while before moving on, still wondering if they just practise here or if there was something more going on
We walked through the old part of Cadiz, it’s a beautiful historic city with strong religious ties, which we discovered in the form of a celebration festival depicting scenes from the Bible and Jesus’s life and death, each scene was like a mobile shrine which was guided through the streets each with its own brass band and many people guiding it with lot candles
They all arrived in the main square in view of thousands of onlookers, it was even televised and we saw people watching it from pins and bars nearby
After trying to see all the different scenes, which there were about 10 moving slower than a snail! We quickly hurried to a shop outside of all the chaos of people to find some dinner, it’s safe to say we didn’t make it in time to do a proper shop as was planned! With a couple of mins to choose some food before they closed for the night, we found some things to make sandwiches and ate it all at the side of the street!
After the evening’s excitement, we wandered home along the waterfront, where there was a park with some of the most amazing trees I’ve ever seen
One of many ancient trees in the park
The next day we got on with a few boat jobs including one which we had been putting off for a while…cleaning and replacing the plug/handle of an underwater sea cock because it had seized up and couldn’t be closed.
We will write about this in a separate post as it might be quite interesting for other folks with these seacocks.
A job well done and we didn’t fill the engine bay with too much water in doing so.