Posted on Feb 19, 2020 by Captain Thierry Simon
Ice cream for everyone!
We did very well so far with our schedule, so I allowed the crew to rest a bit for two days, the time to provision and clean the boat, explore Gibraltar and change the biological beat of the watch schedule. Gibraltar is an interesting example of the British Naval dominance in this world. A very strategic position at the entrance of the Mediterranean Sea, at the junction between Europe and Africa… Walking in the streets, climbing the rock, admiring the breath taking view, appreciating the military genius engineering work done here was a marvellous experience.
We left Gibraltar on the afternoon of November 21, admiring a beautiful sunset and taking advantage of a fair tide, we escaped from the vicious currents of Tarifa. The night fell quickly and we had to find a way between the cargo traffic and the Spanish coast.
We sailed in a light breeze under full main and genoa. The residual swell was uncomfortable and in the afternoon of November 22, we experienced our first break down. The starboard bobstay attachment broke. The crew reacted amazingly fast and brought down the genoa. We managed to secure our loose head stay the best we could. The wind which was blowing 11 knots when the break down occurred, started to increase and very soon the sea got worst. In the middle of the night we had 25 kts of wind, still on the nose and the sea was a real nightmare. Some of the crew started to get sick… Welcome to the Atlantic Ocean!
In the morning it was blowing 30-35 kt with 5 meters waves… We were in survival mode. As the wind was against us and I still had about 450 nautical miles to navigate before reaching Madeira, I decided to start the engines to support the heavily reefed sails. We motor-sailed for 3 days in bad weather conditions. It was definitively winter in this part of the Atlantic Ocean!