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Homepage Slider Sailing and Travel — 16 October 2013

We’re back on board and back on the high seas. Yes, me hearties the crew of Jade is reunited and within a cat fish’s whisker of Gran Canaria for the start of the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers).

Sky on passage to Canaries
After a lovely few weeks back in England, the kids and I flew to Malaga, spending a couple of nights with our good friends The Pratts before joining Jade in Fuengirola.

While we were enjoying a family wedding and catching up with everyone in the UK Alex and Keith sailed from Corfu to Majorca where they were joined by Keith’s daughter Bo and her boyfriend Alex. As it turned out Bo and Alex were a great help to the fellas and their holiday turned into more of the working one as they were roped in to do all sorts.

As a crew of 7 (5 big and 2 mini crew) our first stop en route to the Canaries was Gibraltar where we hoped to stay at Ocean Village Marina. However, despite receiving an email suggesting otherwise, as we approached we were told there was no room at the inn that day, the next or in fact for the next few months. Gulp! Instead, we ended up staying in La Linea marina on the Gibraltan border.

When we wanted to go into Gibraltar we had a short walk through border control giving us time to take in the HUGE queues of traffic waiting to get in and out. I think the queues are bad enough at the best of times but are particularly bad now as the Spanish/British argument over Gib has flared up.

Despite the very slight inconvenience of having to cross over into Gib and the tax free export issue the upshot of staying at La Linea was a fantastic view of the Rock and being able to witness all the passing phases of sun and stars passing over it.

We did go on a supposedly educational trip to the Museum of Gibraltar. I can’t tell you much about it as Noah and Ferne spent most of the time freaking out about the mannequins and the dark cellar. One thing is for sure, Gibraltar has been the site of many an invasion and that Rock has seen a lot of action.

Bo and Alex left us in Gibraltar and from there we crossed the Straits (think London rush hour) and spent a few nights in Marina Smir in Morocco. The marina was basic but very clean and surrounded by some really nice restaurants. We had a particularly tasty Tagine for dinner in La Cote Marine, served up in bubbling clay pots.

We then spent one night in Cueta, a Spanish enclave. It was, perhaps not surprisingly, just like being in Spain. As we approached the marina I excitedly called out that I could see a huge Zara clothes shop, cue some groaning from the captain and muttering something about fenders, ropes and other stuff!

Ferne on Jade during crossing to Lanzarote

We left Ceuta at sunrise (sounds impressive but it didn’t’ come up until 9am) and ventured out into the Straits. Alex had been trying to make sense of the tidal times for a few days – a feat made more complicated because each of us seemed to have a different time on their watches/clocks. In the end it meant that first we had to sail close to the Moroccan coast and then make our way in the central shipping lane and then over to the Spanish side of the Straits. It took about 5 hours to get out – not bad considering we’ve since heard of someone who took 36 hours to escape!

The wind was blowing nicely so we decided to head straight to the Canaries which meant 5 days at sea without stopping. Yikes! This was the first time the kids and I had sailed overnight and would be a good test run for the 20 or so days it will take us to cross the Atlantic to the Caribbean.

Thinking that now was the time to start really acting like a sailor I ‘cowboy’d up’ and volunteered to become part of the night watch. A rota was drawn up and before I knew it my alarm was ringing to get me up for my first shift.

During the first few days we saw quite a few boats at night. It’s really hard to decipher lights, size and distance of boats in the dark so that kept me busy for a while using the binoculars and the AIS on the iPad.

Sometimes a really big wave would sneak up behind me when I wasn’t expecting it – those times were a bit scary. Other times they were rhythmic and gentle and I popped on my headphones and really enjoyed the feeling that we were racing along. Often hours went past without seeing anyone or anything except waves and the phospherence. If you ever need time and space to think about ‘things’ this is it!

In the daytime the sun came out and things felt calmer even though they were pretty much the same conditions as they’d been at night. By the end of the 4 days we were covering about 125 NM a day and going up to 9 knots (am I beginning to sound a bit more technical?!)

Land was spotted on Tuesday afternoon and we approached Lanzarote feeling very jubilant that we’d made it without any hoo-has. The kids had been as good as gold and barely batted an eyelid. We’d carried on with schooling throughout and being out at sea made not a jot of difference.

We spent six days at Marina Rubicon in Playa Blanca, Lanzarote. Despite references to Lands of Grotty this place is far from it. It does feel a bit ‘Disney’ as it’s all very new and sparkly but there’s also a really nice vibe about the place. The restaurants and bars are great, there’s a tourist market twice a week on a Wednesday and Saturday, a pool and possibly the best showers and loos ever! (Oh and did I mention that Cats pay less than monos!) RESULT.

As well as the super dooper loos possibly the best thing in Rubicon was that we finally met other families doing the ARC. It took the kids the obligatory 2 seconds to get formalities out of the way before they were playing and from then on it was a joy. As well as them making friends it was the first time we’ve got to have a good chat (and a drink) with other parents/sailors/humans who can understand the ‘joys’ of family life onboard and of course talk about the ARC.

More to come…

Michelle x


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