Current location for King Malu

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Last day on Jasmine City

This is Tim and my last day on on Jasmine City. Tomorrow morning we will fly to London.

The trip down from Sines in Portugal to La Linea in Spain, via an abortive short visit to Morocco was interesting to say the least. While we were sitting at the cafe yesterday evening enjoying tabas and beef burger and whatever else, Tim was reviewing what I had posted on the blog, and said that I hadn't posted much about the storm. THE STORM. In passing I had mentioned that we left Sines very slightly earlier than originally planned because the weather looked (from the shore) to have improved, but...

Earlier that day another Lagoon, a 560, had moored in Sines. They looked as if they had had enough of the weather and were looking for refuge too. As we left, one of the crew was watching us leave and I could almost feel her thoughts of  'Are they crazy, we're here for the refuge and they are going out in it…'

We motored out into the outer harbour to raise the mainsail. We headed directly but relatively slowly for the extension to the harbour wall as Bisher helmed the boat, Tim controlled the lines and Olivier climbed the mast. It takes a minimum of two people to hoist or drop the mainsail with this new on-boom furling system. We got it up with space to spare before the breakwater, but not a lot.

Having raised the sail we took off with full main and full genoa directly south on a beam reach.  However… having had high winds for a couple of days from the south west and then south, and now from the west the seas were confused and messy. I was eating crystallized ginger - a natural cure for seasickness. Tim's prediction of 3m swell proved to be correct and even the ginger and a week on board didn't keep the sea sickness at bay. I lay down, while Tim cooked dinner for the rest of the crew.

The wind increased during the evening and into the night. Olivier was on watch and Tim sleeping in the saloon so that he was quickly available if needed. Olivier said he saw in one of the squalls the wind increase from the 40+ knots to 50 something, then 60 something then all the way up to 82 knots at the height of the squall. He was bearing off on the autopilot, but decided that against all that he really wanted, they would have to go on deck as the main had to come down, so he woke Tim.

Out to the flybridge they went, prepared everything, started the motors, headed into the wind and awaited their opportunity. The wind abated for a few minutes to high 30s so they took their chance and with Tim on the winches and ropes, Olivier, whose balance is amazing, went out onto the deck and up the mast to guide the mainsail down and put some straps on it. Success. He said it was a good job it was dark as they couldn't see the terrifying seas.

Then we were sailing on just a reefed genoa. However, to say it was now an easy passage would be to make a false claim. The confused seas were crashing on our starboard beam and giving Bisher concerns about what might break in his brand new boat. His cabin is on the starboard side so he got the worst of the crashing. He said he was sure in the light of day we would find a crack somewhere, but we didn't.

Tim then returned to our cabin. He had elected to sleep feet to head/head to feet. This was his pragmatic approach to ensuring that if I did throw up it would be over his feet and not his head! As the boat dropped away from waves I could feel myself flying above the berth. This was even worse for Tim, whose head was at the bow end of the cabin. We got the zero G force effect that some people pay money to experience. Free for Tim and me!

Sometime during the night I was woken to get up because the electronics were not working. The iPad repeater of the bridge navionics was not working. I cannot for the life of me remember now what the problem was, but somehow in my semi-dazed state I solved it and we were back able to helm and watch from the relative comfort of the saloon/chart table. I then raced for the bathroom, while the rest of the crew sailed the boat.

First light saw us with the sea state calming, I came up feeling nearly human again. As the day wore on and the sea state calming and winds down to 30 knots and then 20 and eventually we were motor sailing from Cape St Vincent towards the Straits of Gibraltar.

Final night sailing and Tim and I could take a realistic watch again. My shoulder is now back to 70-80% but I am being very careful and a sudden movement shoots stabbing pain around the top of my arm. This is pretty close to what Tim had over a year ago, so he is very sympathetic and keeps encouraging me to keep my posture good so as to keep my shoulder improving.

After night watch we went to our berths in relative comfort. I awoke early and went up to see the sun rising over the Straits of Gibraltar. It was stunning. It exceeded my expectations. By now we were seeing the big ships entering and leaving the straits. Somehow we had timed it almost perfectly. We arrived at the Traffic Separation Scheme between lanes, having crossed the lane outbound on the previous watch. We therefore sailed up the middle, avoiding the numerous fishing boats and, at the point where all the ferries crossed, moved to the northern coast of Morocco.

The marine band radio announced a pan-pan message asking all ships to look out for a wooden boat with 11 passengers that had capsized somewhere in the straits. There are so many people from Africa attempting the dangerous and often overloaded attempt to covertly get into the EU. We never heard, but I suspect this was another of the casualties of this problem. Poverty creates desperation.

The trip in and out of Smir was uneventful if unsuccessful. Then it was across the straits again, full genoa and engines racing to try to beat the current. Finally arrived that the very beautiful and efficient marina of La Linea. Mooring was tricky as there was a 30+ knot north west wind, but Olivier again proved his capability with the Lagoons and we're safely in Spain. Today we all agreed, this marina is definitely a serendipitous find. Tomorrow, sadly in some ways, we leave the boat. That having been said, I'm really looking forward to seeing wife and family again.

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