Voyage 31

Mallorca, Spain to Gibraltar, Spain
August 12-17, 2018

Day 1 – Sunday, August 12, 2018

mallorca_gibraltartnIt has been a week since I arrived at Palma on the island of Mallorca.  In a little over a month, it will be fall and it is time to start making my way to the Atlantic and my planned crossing to the Caribbean.  The hurricane season in the Caribbean doesn’t end until November, but since the weather is looking good for the next few months, it’s time for me to return to the Western Hemisphere.

After checking the weather forecast, I decided an early morning departure was in order.  The winds were light yesterday on the south side of Mallorca, but they were forecast to become favorable this morning.  At 5:43 AM, I secured my dock lines, raised my sails, and headed south out of the harbor at Palma.  I have about 450 nm to Gibraltar, which should take me about a week.  Once I arrive at Gibraltar, I will start preparing for my trans-Atlantic crossing.

I had a great first day of sailing.  The winds were mostly 10-15 knots and I was making a steady 7 knots SOG, sometimes more.  The seas were rolling a bit, but it was very comfortable.

Day 2 – Monday, August 13, 2018

08/13/2018 0537 UTC – 37º 52.63′ N 0º 29.66′ E

This morning, I found the winds were significantly less than they were yesterday.  I checked the forecast and it was not good news.  When I left Mallorca, the forecast was for fair winds all the way to Gibraltar.  That changed over night.  The forecast now shows either no wind or wind in the wrong direction.  As I looked at the course ahead and the forecast winds, I decided that I was looking forward to being out of the Mediterranean.

By late afternoon, there was almost no wind.  I checked the GPS and I have traveled only 26 nm since this morning.  I am currently about 35 nm east of Cape Palos.  I guess when I said that it would take me a week for this voyage, I didn’t realize how accurate that prediction was.

Day 3 – Tuesday, August 14, 2018

08/14/2018 0558 UTC – 37º 15.24′ N 0º 39.79′ W

During the night, I crossed back into the Western Hemisphere for the first time since last year when I was in the Pacific Ocean.  The wind shifted around and required me to tack north and south for a few hours until the wind shifted back to being out of the east.  By about mid-morning, the wind picked up and allowed me to traveled toward Gibraltar at a steady speed of about 5 knots.

After sunset, I was about 170 nm from Gibraltar.  If the wind continues to blow from the east, the rest of this voyage should be very easy.

Day 4 – Wednesday, August 15, 2018

08/15/2018 0616 UTC – 36º 31.29′ N 2º 37.43′ W

This morning, the wind had turned to the southeast a bit, which made for a better sailing angle, but the wind speed was down.  My boat speed was 5 knots at best.  Most of the day was an easy sail.  I passed the point east of the Gulf of Almeria and turned more westerly.  Late in the day, the wind speed continued to drop.

At around sunset, I was sailing under 4 knots.  I checked the weather forecast for the next couple of days and it was not good news.  Between my position and Gibraltar, the wind is forecast to shift to the west later this evening and will stay that way for the next couple of days.  I decided I would turn to the west-southwest, hoping to be southeast of Gibraltar to take advantage of the winds for my final push to the port.  As with all forecasts, what I’m planning may work and it may not.  In any event, I have 90 nm to Gibraltar and it’s looking like I still have a couple of more days at sea.  On the bright side, the forecast shows easterly winds this weekend, which would be perfect if I chose to head for the Canary Islands soon.

Day 5 – Thursday, August 16, 2018

08/16/2018 0620 UTC – 35º 53.14′ N 3º 59.71′ W

The wind picked up this morning, but it was still blowing mostly from the south.  I continued to sail southwest.  The forecast was still suggesting that I would eventually be able to turn toward Gibraltar as I got closer to the coast of Morocco.

By about 9:00 PM, I was about 25 nm south of the entrance to the harbor at Gibraltar.  The wind is still light, so I will probably arrive sometime tomorrow morning.  If the wind speed picks up, I could arrive just before dawn, which would be fine as well.

Day 6 – Friday, August 17, 2018

At a little after midnight, I was about 18 nm from the harbor.  The wind is changing to the west, which is allowing me to sail more directly toward Gibraltar.  The wind is still blowing only 3-1/2 knots with my boat speed at 2.5 to 3 knots.  I’m hoping that I will get some stronger winds once I reach the Strait of Gibraltar.  For now, I will get a little sleep because I still have 6 hours of sailing at my current speed.  I have the helm set to sound an alarm if the wind picks up significantly.

I was back up at about 3:30 AM when the helm alerted me to my increased speed.  I had just entered the strait and my boat speed was 5-6 knots.  I was still a bit east of where I needed to be to sail direct to Gibraltar because of the west wind.  I did a couple of tacks as I crossed the strait.  At about 5:00 AM, I was only a mile from the harbor entrance.  I was still too far east, so I turned southwest for one last tack before sailing into the harbor.

At 6:50 AM, I was secured at the dock at the Mid-Harbour Marina.  The dawn light was just coming up.  Once my boat was secured, I decided to get a couple of hours sleep before going into town.

08/17/2018 0450 UTC – 36° 8.45′ N 5° 21.62′ W

My next voyage will be a little over 700 nm to the Grand Canary Islands.  That will be my jumping off point for my trans-Atlantic crossing.  I will spend a few days here in Gibraltar getting supplies and doing needed repairs.  Provided the weather is favorable, I should be able to head out the first of next week.