Waiting for a weather window

Approaching Gibraltar under Parasailor

We're at anchor here at La Linea, just to the North of the runway of the Gibraltar airport. It's been a busy few days, but I'm getting ahead of myself. The trip from Cadiz to Gibraltar started easy in dense fog and no wind but as the sun came out, the VHF came to life: a sailboat was reporting on channel 16 that it was being attacked by 3 to 4 Orcas! As it turned out, the boat was just 4 miles ahead of us on our direct course to Tarifa at the Western end of the Strait of Gibraltar, so we decided to divert to shallow waters along the coast. The attack lasted some 30 minutes and after another 30 minutes or so, the Orcas were back!

We later caught up with the boat that was attacked, a Swiss flagged Beneteau. They said that they had some damage to the rudder but were proceeding to Gibraltar without problem. When we got to the Alcaidesa marina on the Spanish side of Gibraltar, we saw another Beneteau which had been attacked some time ago. The lower half of the rudder had been bitten off! This is becoming a real issue around Gibraltar with at least one attack every day in the last week. https://www.orcaiberica.org/maps-of-interactions.

Orcas were at work

The Covid restrictions in Gibraltar ended up being a total non-issue. Our plan of avoiding the 10 day rule worked like a charm: Wolfgang and Achim walked over the border and Roderick and I, having been in Spain for 10 days or more (and therefore not needing a test), went by Kincsem. Neither Wolfgang and Achim nor Roderick and I were asked even a question about complying with the rule. We spent a nice day in the Queensway Quay marina in Gibraltar, and everyone on board who hadn't seen them, got to see the apes on the Rock. We also got to fill up the fuel tank with diesel at BP 58c per litre - vs. Euro 1.45 on the Spanish side. The fuel dock also sells spirits at record low prices - $40 for 2 bottles of Scotch and a bottle of gin! Nice!

At the fuel dock in Gibraltar

After a full - on shopping run, we've now moved to the anchorage outside the Alcaidesa marina waiting for favorable conditions for the sail to Madeira. Gibraltar is definitely one of the weather holes on this Earth. In Tarifa, at the Westerly end of the Strait, it blows 30 knots or more 300 days a year. Mostly, this is when it blows from the East. The other thing to watch out for is the currents which can run at more than 3 knots. They mostly run into the Med, which is losing water to evaporation more than the Atlantic. So there's only a narrow window each day when the current is slack or runs Westward. Right now, we are in a West wind situation which means we need to tack out of the Strait, dodging orcas and ships in the process. The traffic separation zones here do not leave much room on either side for a sailing vessel going upwind. Ideally, we would have an Easterly which will happen on Thursday. But we've decided not to wait that long - we'll be going tomorrow morning early with a favorable current. The routing shows strong winds on the beam for most of the trip to Madeira after we clear the Strait. We've looked at the "incident reports" and it looks like the Orcas are on the Northerly side of the Strait, just West of Tarifa. So we'll be on the Southerly side; hopefully, we won't see them.

Three dudes doing the dishes, with the lone female, Almut, taking the picture! Almut is a great cook and the rule aboard Kincsem is that whoever cooks doesn't clean!


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