Gibraltar, Spain to Gran Canaria, Spain
August 19-24, 2018
Day 1 – Sunday, August 19, 2018
I had a very productive 2 days here in Gibraltar. I made a few repairs, stocked up the boat with nearly enough supplies for my Atlantic crossing. I’m sure I will be able to get some fresh produce in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria before I head out into the Atlantic. I was fairly sure that I would depart Gibraltar this morning. I was up early and there was a fresh breeze from the east, which is perfect for a sail through the Strait of Gibraltar. I decided it was time to head out again.
At 7:25 AM, I brought in my dock lines and raised my sails. Even though it was almost 7:30 AM, the sun was not up yet. It looks like it will be a beautiful day once the sun is up.
At a little before 8:00 AM, I was out of the harbor and headed for the Atlantic through the Strait of Gibraltar. The wind was blowing 12-15 knots and I had a good boat speed of a little over 7 knots. I was also treated to something I haven’t seen in months, WHITECAPS! I’ve spent so much time the past 2 months beating against the wind or trying to sail in light breezes. This morning, I’m sailing on a broad reach on the port side and it feels wonderful. It feels a bit like I’m flying.
I don’t know what the deal is with me and the wind. By late afternoon, I was off the coast of Morocco and headed southwest direct to Gran Canaria with winds blowing 10-15 knots out of the northeast. I periodically check the wind forecast ahead and this afternoon’s forecast has thrown me a curve.
When I started out from Gibraltar this morning, the forecast showed strong northeasterly winds all the way to Gran Canaria. The latest forecast is showing an elongated low pressure system right in my course path with winds in the center almost non-existent. The forecast shows that the winds are consistently northeast farther off the coast by about 100 nm. So, I picked a spot at 34º 44′ N 9º 12′ W as a point that looks far enough off the coast so that I can continue my sail to the southwest with decent wind. This course change will add about 75 nm to my voyage, but the time sailing will be less than if I tried to sail direct.
The temperature is a very comfortable 76ºF and the sky is clear. The sea is not as rough as it was in the Strait of Gibraltar. It should be a nice sunset in a couple of hours.
Day 2 – Monday, August 20, 2018
08/20/2018 0605 UTC – 35º 1.32′ N 8º 34.84′ W
Last night was an easy night with my boat speed maintained at 6-8 knots all night. I have been sailing mostly downwind since I left the Strait of Gibraltar, so I’m going the same direction as the swells and it makes for an easy rocking motion.
I checked the helm once at about 3:00 AM. The area of calm air off the coast is still in the forecast. I decided to head a bit farther off shore before turning toward Gran Canaria, so my next waypoint is at 34º N 11º W. My GPS reports that I have 132 nm to the waypoint and I should reach it early tomorrow morning, if my wind holds.
I watched a beautiful sunrise off the stern. The sky is mostly clear at my location, but there is a lot of haze at the horizon pretty much in all directions.
Day 3 – Tuesday, August 21, 2018
At around 1:00 AM, I passed the waypoint I had set and I checked the weather again. It was looking like I still needed to be farther west to take advantage of stronger winds, so I placed another intermediate waypoint at 32º N 14º W. After that point, I should be able to sail direct to Las Palmas with a decent following wind.
08/21/2018 0502 UTC – 33º 50.47′ N 11º 16.42′ W
It looks like today will be a lot like yesterday. The wind continues to blow from the north-northeast at 10-15 knots and my boat speed is right around 6 knots. I’m noticing a lot more boats around me on the navigation map. It looks like this part of the Atlantic is more popular to simulator skippers. It is interesting that, during this past year, I have had only one other boat contact me by radio on Zello. It appears that I continue to be the sole boat on Sailaway using Zello as my radio.
In the past 24 hours, I’ve traveled a little over 150 nm. It feels good to make good progress with decent wind to sail. I look forward to the same sailing conditions today.
At about 5:15 PM, my GPS reported that I was about 100 nm from my next waypoint. Once I reach that point, I will have about 250 nm to Las Palmas. At my current speed, I should reach Gran Canaria sometime Thursday afternoon. I’m looking to make a quick turn-around at Las Palmas. I am eager to get started toward the Caribbean Sea.
Day 4 – Wednesday, August 22, 2018
At a little after 2:00 AM, I checked the helm and the forecast. I decided that I had traveled far enough west and decided it was time to turn direct to Gran Canaria. My speed may slow a bit because, with the turn, the wind is almost directly astern. The GPS reports 287 nm to Las Palmas, which is about 48 hours of sailing. So, it looks like my arrival will be Friday morning. I set the helm to stay on course and then I headed back to bed.
08/22/2018 0539 UTC – 32º 9.88′ N 13º 26.15′ W
The seas are more calm than they have been for the past few days. My boat speed is around 5 knots now. It’s not easy to get a good boat speed when the wind is directly astern.
At a little before 5:00 PM, the wind is down to 7-10 knots. The weather forecast suggests that the wind speed will increase a little over the next 24 hours. I have clear skies and the temperature is 73ºF. I think I’m in for another nice sunset.
Day 5 – Thursday, August 23, 2018
08/23/2018 0511 UTC – 30º 26.72′ N 14º 17.94′ W
At a little after 7:00 AM, the sun is not up yet, but the dawn light is coming up. Sunrise should be at 7:36 AM this morning. I checked the helm and I’m still on course. The wind speed came up a bit last night, but more importantly it moved to the north-northeast. With a little over 9 knots of wind, my boat speed is almost 6 knots. My distance traveled for the past 24 hours was 113 nm. The GPS reports that I have 145 nm to go, so I should arrive tomorrow morning.
The past couple of days have been extremely easy sailing. The wind has been constant from astern and I haven’t had to make any corrections to my course once I was able to point directly to Las Palmas.
I checked the weather forecast and it looks like I will have some favorable weather for my trans-Atlantic departure. The wind south of Gran Canaria is forecast to be from the north-northeast at about 13 knots. The wind track shows it blowing from Gran Canaria direct to Barbados. My trans-Atlantic sail will be about 2,300 nm, so I expect the trip to take 2-3 weeks. I can’t see the wind forecast that far out, but it looks good for now.
It’s another clear day at my current position. The weather map shows some clouds at Las Palmas, but they are supposed to be gone tomorrow.
Around sunset, the weather was pretty much the same as it was in the morning. It’s been clear all day and the wind has not been over about 12 knots. It looks like I should arrive at Las Palmas sometime mid-morning tomorrow.
Day 6 – Friday, August 24, 2018
08/24/2018 0537 UTC – 28º 25.89′ N 15º 14.9′ W
I was up around 6:30 AM this morning. The wind has dropped a bit since last night. Now I’m not quite at 5 knots boat speed. The GPS says I have about 20 nm to go.
08/24/2018 1010 UTC – 28º 7.79′ N 15º 25.54′ W
At a little after 11:00 AM, I reached the marina at Las Palmas, was docked and ready to prepare for my trans-Atlantic crossing. I think I will stay her 1 or 2 days before heading out. I am eager to get to the Caribbean. It will be the first time I will be within a few hours of my home port since my departure from Washington State last year.