Please select your home edition
Cure Marine - Cure 55 - LEADERBOARD

From Ibiza in the Med to Graciosa in the Canaries

by Rhys Walters 20 Dec 2022 16:17 UTC
Sailing Yacht Zora © Sailing Yacht Zora

OCC Roving Rear Commodore Rhys Walters gets a grip on single-handing s/v ZORA while Niamh prepares for their wedding. Congratulations Niamh and Rhys!

I'm writing this while some 90M N of La Graciosa, my intended destination. I left Tangier several days ago, I have to keep counting how many because they have sort of blended into one - almost 4 x 24 hours.

Niamh went home about five weeks ago to prepare for our upcoming wedding, so I had to decide if I wanted to find a crew to do the 1100M from Ibiza to Lanzarote or go it alone. Curiosity got the better of me and I chose the latter. It started me thinking: what if I do the first 100M to Torrevieja, then if I want crew I can recruit someone there? Anyway, I get on pretty well in my own company and struggle with new people in my personal space for too long.

We had spent a great summer in Ibiza with other cruising friends learning to free-dive, spearfish, and avoid charter boats. The season was extremely busy and we readily take the blame for arriving at its peak, but once we settled into anchoring a hair's breadth from other boats it was fine - a wild experience, and a stunning island to spend time on. Now it was time to make our way back to Gibraltar, so we split up our entourage of boats and started the long trip back to the Atlantic. Distance-wise it's not far, but the Med is a hard place in which to make non-stop trips, with frustrating wind and a strong current that runs south to north. I could leave with a lovely forecast only for it to never materialise. My boat is 38' LOA and weighs almost 15 tonnes; she doesn't appreciate light winds, so the Med is always going to be a struggle.

After a few days of preparing the boat for solo sailing, I left Ibiza. Singlehanded is different from sailing with someone - in the way things are set up, more inside than outside. I left with a nice light SW breeze, which took me about halfway before it completely died, and after several hours of drifting under bare poles hoping for a miracle, I gave up and motor-sailed the rest of the way to Torrevieja. Sadly these conditions continued, with stops in Cartegena to meet my friend Anne Busch who had Zora's sistership built and sailed her around the world, and on to Almerimar. I had intended to skip Almerimar and head to Melilla, a Spanish enclave on the Moroccan coast, but sadly the forecast again was wrong.

After a few days of waiting for a breeze to get me to Gibraltar, where I was planning to meet up with my buddy boat from Norway, Sytalaus with Jan and Siri, but it didn't look like it was going to happen for over a week. It did however look pretty good for me to get to Melilla, and shortly after from there to Gibraltar. The currents looked very favourable as well, so I decided to leave the next day. The forecast was for 10 to 15K W, but I ended up with 20-25K from WSW, which was fine. The boat was surprisingly fast close reaching across to Melilla, and I made it in good time feeling pretty happy with myself. I was determined to get to Melilla because it's one of those places you normally wouldn't go out of the way to get to, plus I wanted to check out Nador while I was there. Melilla was interesting and worth seeing if you are passing by and if you want cheap fuel.

From there it was a pretty easy hop to Gibraltar. However, a strong E breeze filling in closer to the Strait meant a very messy sea with the wind against current. Dodging ships is also fun, especially with so many in one place, and it does make for good stories.

Once Sytalaus and Zora had been filled with fuel from the cheap pumps in Gibraltar, we made our trip through the Strait towards Tangier, where we planned to leave the boats for a week or so and head off to Marrakech on the train. The sail through the Strait was very fast in a lot of wind. Sadly my friends on Sytalaus ripped their mainsail; other than that, it was a great trip.

The train from Tangier to Marrakech is very convenient and only takes five hours with a change in trains in Casablanca. It's a very well-run operation and I can recommend it to anyone wintering in Tangier. After almost a week in our Marrakech hostel meeting backpackers from all over the world, we headed back to be reunited with our floating homes. Something Lin Pardey had written somewhere along the lines: 'If you can't leave the boat in places while you set out to explore, are you truly free?' This is something of which I remind myself quite often.

Once back to the boat, I checked the forecast and decided to leave the next morning, It was a beautiful forecast that would take me the 600M to La Graciosa without too much trouble. This would be a big test for me, I had offers to crew from other travellers in the hostel keen for an adventure, but by this point I had decided that I really enjoyed solo sailing and this trip would either reinforce that or change my mind.

Whether it was the former or the latter, I shall have to leave for the next newsletter.

Quick Links:

This article has been provided by the courtesy of Ocean Cruising Club.

Related Articles

The Reverend Bob Shepton sails up the Thames
An eye-opening voyage he had never experienced Honorary OCC Member Bob Shepton has sailed far but had never experienced a sail up the Thames. As Patron of the Novara Project, he jumped at the chance to join as crew on this eye-opening voyage. Posted on 20 Mar
OCC announces 2022 award winners
And recognises the Schwartz family adventures with the Barton Cup Now that cruising has returned to somewhat normal territory, the OCC Awards Subcommittee has found numerous achievements to recognise. Posted on 28 Jan
Warmest years and warmest ocean on record
2022 had much stand out news for many of the wrong reasons 2022 had much stand out news for many of the wrong reasons, two of them being climate oriented: the oceans were the warmest in recorded history and the last 8 years were the hottest on record. Posted on 18 Jan
100 anniversary of notable early circumnavigations
In 1923, Irishman Conor O'Brien and American Harry Pidgeon were both girdling the globe In 1923, Irishman Conor O'Brien and American Harry Pidgeon were both girdling the globe in boats they built themselves. Posted on 16 Jan
Commodore Escrich welcomes the first yacht
Shimshal is the first vessel to sail to Marina Hemingway this year Commodore Simon Currin, with his wife Sally, skippered SHIMSHAL into Marina Hemingway on New Year's Day 2023. Posted on 10 Jan
State of the Oceans Report
From pollution and habitat degradation to the impacts of climate change The report explores the state of our world's oceans, from pollution and habitat degradation to the impacts of climate change, Sustainable Development Goals, and protection of marine environments. Posted on 24 Dec 2022
An early spring cruise through Patagonia
Sea Wind left Puerto Williams in Chile under blazing sunshine and light winds OCC Roving Rear Commodores, Lars & Susanne Hellman, s/v SEA WIND, left Puerto Williams in Chile on August 24 heading toward Puerto Montt in Chile, hoping to arrive sometime in November. Posted on 23 Dec 2022
Rethinking Baltic Cruising
Avoiding Russian waters and savouring the Scandinavian Baltic OCC Roving Rear Commodore Andrew Curtain, s/v PILGRIM SOUL, reflects on avoiding Russian waters and savouring the Scandinavian Baltic. Posted on 23 Dec 2022
From Guernsey to the Scottish Isles and Back
OCC Roving Rear Commodores Reg and Nicki Barker report on their summer's cruise OCC Roving Rear Commodores Reg and Nicki Barker, s/v BLUE VELVET OF SARK, report on their summer's cruise in their regional waters Posted on 22 Dec 2022
Across the Atlantic and on to Scotland
Sue and Andy Warman return to the UK after some 66,000 miles of cruising abroad OCC Roving Rear Commodores Sue and Andy Warman, s/v SPRUCE, return to the UK after some 66,000 miles of cruising abroad. Posted on 21 Dec 2022
Ocean Safety 2021 - FOOTERStoneways Marine 2021 - FOOTERPantaenius 2022 - SAIL FOOTER - ROW