Ibiza Here We Come.
It's 20:15 on the 4th Aug, our position is 38deg 04.01 N 00deg 03.0W which corresponds to 78nM south west of Ibiza. I'm writing this as we motor in nil wind expecting to arrive in Ibiza in the early morning. We left Gibraltar at 10:45 on the 1st Aug. Just our luck that on the day of our departure the wind in the Strait of Gibraltar flipped to a cool and humid easterly. The moment we turned left at Europa Point to head for the Balearics we were enveloped in a thick sea fog that condensed on everything and made the atmosphere so cool that we had to don wet weather gear. Luckily Citadel is equipped with radar and AIS but that does not mean that your most useful tool, the mark 1 eyeball, should be retired. Not everything shows up on radar especially other small craft constructed in non-metallic materials. Two hours into the trip we had a shock when we came within a few meters of a large RHIB lurking in the fog no doubt waiting to unload its cargo of Moroccan cannabis onto a Spanish beach . A few seconds after they appeared they disappeared into the fog to the evident relief of both crews. Criminals don't like to be disturbed!
By the early afternoon the visibility had improved to around 3nM as we made a beeline for Cabo de Gata, just beyond Almeria. It's the cape where you can starting altering course to the north. Unfortunately Cabo de Gata was still a night away so we soon agreed the watch roster and settled down to a night of motoring in negligible wind. This is not all bad, no wind generally brings flat seas and everyone is grateful for a gentle start to developing sea legs.
The following morning dawned with much better visibility and by 11:00 we had all our sails out and within 15 minutes we were down to a heavily reefed mainsail and staysail as the breeze freshened to 25 knots gusting 30 knots. Unfortunately this stiff breeze was right on the nose and as we rounded Cabo de Gata it backed round to stay on the nose. Even the most tenacious sailors have limits and when this breeze slowly died we had no option but to start up the engine once more. During the afternoon we discovered two small but irritating defects. The hot water system was failing and our genoa sheet was shredded by the pulley brake in the stiff breeze. We needed a marina where we could diagnose the former and find a chandlery where we could buy new sheets. We selected Cartagena a large naval base, cruise terminal and with good yacht repair services.
We arrived at Yacht Port Cartagena at sunrise after a tedious night passage. By 08:30 we were berthed, connected to shore power, water and had been given WI-FI access and put in touch with a mechanic! Yacht Port Cartagena gives all its customers a gold standard service which is difficult to beat. The last time I was in Cartagena I arrived at 03:00. Even at that ungodly time there was a helpful "marinero" providing pilotage instructions and then helping to take lines. First things first, so we headed for the showers to get two days of salt and dried sweat off our skins! An hour later we have lifted the floorboards to provide access to the hot water system and we have decided that the thermostatic mixer valve is the source of our problems. "Rojo" (Red) arrives and he concurs with our diagnosis and heads away to buy the required valve. Meanwhile two of us head for the chandlery to buy new genoa sheets. By the time we return to the boat Red is completing the installation of the new valve. After testing we feel proud of ourselves. In one productive morning we have dealt with two defects and now with have the rest of the day to explore
Cartagena. What a delightful city it turned out to be. There are museums, bars, restaurants and a vast pedestrianised city centre to satisfy the most demanding of tourists.
It was with regret that we left Cartagena this morning but we are on a timetable to link up with three crews in Sardinia and Sicily so we are keen to be ahead of our own self-imposed timetable. Today we motored across towards Ibiza in the flattest sea I have ever come across, spotting leaping dolphins and tunas, floating turtles and flying fish. How many can say they've seen swordfish leaping clear of the water?
I live in hope that the wind will pick up and we will be sailing again soon