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The 14 km of hope – Erica Lush

Today is Monday and we are 300 miles west of Gibraltar.

35 degrees 18.186’ N
11 degrees 59.111’ W
TWS 25-30 kts
TWD 036
Boat speed: 10.4 knots

Proof of gybing practice leaving Gibraltar!

We braved a wet and wild exit from our port of refuge on the South coast of Spain in order to make the best weather window through the Strait of Gibraltar. This was worthwhile because with the weather just behind us (which we would have felt if we left later!) would have been heavy winds and a rough sea state. What we experienced instead was a manageable: 20-25 knots downwind, gybing every few miles to stay out of the Traffic Separation Scheme, and keeping clear of all the shipping traffic turning in and out of the port. Our crew got some great windy gybing practice in. It was also amazing to sail between the “14 km of hope” between Africa and Europe. We left the Atlas mountain on our port side, and wind turbines on green hills alongside happy kite surfers off our starboard side. It became choppy from the current rushing into the Med from the Atlantic after that, but eventually became a longer period and more manageable swells. 

Heather hit a new Maiden Tour speed record the first day, surfing down a wave at 17.6 knots! 

Erica at the helm!

There have been low pressure systems over the north of Africa, so we have been sailing primarily West to avoid headwinds from the low. Now the wind is starting to back (move anti-clockwise) and we are pointing more SW while maintaining the same quick point of sail – approximately 134-145 True Wind Angle. Our goal now is to move South with the wind so that we stay in good wind a couple days from now. 

We had sustained winds up to 30 knots last night with a moderate sea state, so we are currently sailing with the third reef in the main sail and flying our staysail. Maiden has a reverse transom and a big rudder, so quartering waves can be a big job to take on if we want to maintain our heading! We find that reefing helps us to better manage both the wind and the seas. The squalls and rain that were forecasted for this morning decided to spare us and we enjoying beautiful stars, a couple of dolphins, and now a fair weather sunrise.

I am off to empty the bilges, my morning chore! Talk to you next Monday –