Half of our week together with Mani had passed in an instant just getting Naima ready and seeing Gibraltar. With only three days left, a boat that shouldn’t be motored too much and the wind on our nose, conditions were far from perfect for leaving on a 150+ nm cruise. On the other hand, it was quite important to us that Naima would reach Almerimar, as we were planning to do much of the needed boat projects there over the coming months. So we simply decided to try anyway and set sails to see where we would make it. With the wind from the East it would be easy to go back West if we didn’t make any progress.
Lets go, says Captain E!!
Leaving the marina was quite exciting. It was the first time that we were sailing Naima. It was also the first time that we had so many big freight ships and tankers around us. When we left Gibraltar Bay, the waves became bigger quickly, but then reduced again as quickly. This must have been due to the currents and tide, which make this strait between Europe and Africa famous. We had had left according to the tide, so it should give us an additional push against the wind into the Mediterranean.
We were lucky. We only had to cut across a couple of times before reaching the other side of the Rock. Then we could sail a NW course close to the wind, which took us along the Spanish coast. Also, on this side of the Rock there were many big ships under anchor and since we didn’t want to give away the ground that we had won cutting across before, our course led us through a field of anchoring giants. A humbling experience (and even more so when Mani steered his “we will just pass in front, or won’t we?, course”).
With the last light we made it into the harbor Estepona. Here we had a shower, dinner, and got some tapas to take away so we had some ready food for the next day. Then went to bed quickly as we wanted to leave with first light.
And we did manage (to our own surprise) to leave, well, at least shortly after first light. From here on we continued close to the wind eastwards along the Spanish coast passing the city of Malaga. As the wind was to change in the late afternoon, we grew more optimistic that we would actually reach Almerimar.
By evening, the wind hadn’t changed. But it had dropped to zero. We figured that this had to be the time between the winds, as it was forecast to change from Easterly to Westerly. As we still had roughly 80 nm to go to Almerimar, didn’t want to use our motor, and were floating in the dark about 15 miles off the shore, we decided to sail through the night. With three people this is actually quite comfortable, as everyone gets to sleep for six hours before it is his shift again. In theory. At least I didn’t sleep much until it was my shift from 3.30 to 6.30 AM.
But the reward was sailing with the right wind and good speed into a beautiful sunset! Our course: point Naima’s nose into the sun. As easy as that. East. With the wind came waves so that we were arriving with a good swell into the marina of Almerimar early afternoon. After a bit of hesitation, we accepted the place given to us by the marineros and even managed to park our boat without causing any damage. It certainly hasn’t been the most epic turn in history, but to us, this was quite a success.
We had arrived and were pretty tired, but also a bit proud of ourselves.
Thanks Mani for sharing this first episode on Naima with us!!