On this part of the trip, we arrive in La Linea on the Spanish side and head off exploring Gibraltar and sailing to Las Palmas on what was by far the roughest part of the entire journey.
As you read in the previous post, we had some engine trouble on our initial attempt to leave Almerimar. On the second attempt, however, the trip towards Gibraltar went all right without any problems. I decided to sail to La Linea on the Spanish side instead, as the marina here was a bit cheaper. I had ordered a new Genoa, Mainsail, and a lazy bag (the bag that the mainsail drops into) for Ellidah and wanted to pick it up the following day in Gibraltar before setting off towards Las Palmas a day later.
After a few phone calls, I quickly realized this wouldn’t be possible…
You may also like: Atlantic Crossing part 1: Sailing from Almerimar to Gibraltar
Ordering New Sails
Axel from Elvsrøm Spain was my contact when I measured Ellidah’s rig and went ahead with the order on the new sails. Initially, I got many quotes and most of them were decent. One was extremely expensive and another was slow to respond and had a seriously long delivery time. I contacted UK Sails, Quantum Sails, Horizon Sails, Precision Sails, H-Sails, ANC-Sails, and Elvstrøm Sails.
After some comparison, Elvstrøm was the one that was able to give me the most bang for the buck at the moment as they had a great campaign going with 25% off + a choice of either a complete Lazy-bag for the mainsail or UV strip on the Genoa included at no extra charge.
That sounded great!
My Lazy-bag was literally falling apart and I desperately needed a new one. Getting one worth 740 EUR (excl.VAT) at no extra charge was a great deal. Then when the price for a Mainsail and a Genoa was similar to the offers from the others, it was a no-brainer. They also had a short delivery time and were willing to help out with getting everything sent to Gibraltar to avoid paying Spanish tax which again saved me another 22% by using the company Gib Cargo.
In the end, I ordered a Tri Radial-Cut Genoa in 10 Oz with UV strip and an X-cut 11 Oz fully battened Mainsail with a full set of Rutgherson sliders. Both sails in Dimension Polyant’s AP Dacron cloth.
The price for the whole shebang including shipping turned out at 6.620, – EUR + 95 EUR to Gib Cargo for storage, exporting, and delivery.
I’d say that is a pretty good bang for the buck when you consider that this definitely wasn’t the cheapest sails I could get, but proper good quality sails for offshore use.
Anyways, I was finally going to get my hands on my new sails, put them up ASAP and get going.
Delays, Delays, And More Delays
This was on a Friday. After much back and forth, I was informed that it could be exported through customs earliest on Tuesday. Or I could pick it up in Spain the same day. But then I would have to pay 22% Spanish tax. Having it sent to Gibraltar was to avoid exactly that…
It turned out that they had been sent to La Linea and were awaiting some missing documents before they could be exported out of Spain. Both Axel from Elvstrøm and the guys at Gib Cargo answered my calls straight away and everything got sorted excellently in a matter of hours. Elvstrøm sent all the necessary documents and Gib Cargo handled everything related to customs and delivered everything at the pontoon 1 meter away from Ellidah.
I highly recommend both of them for their excellent quality and service. (I did not get any discount to mention them, this is my personal opinion).
It was just my bad timing arriving on a Friday afternoon. And of course, in Spain, there is always a Bank Holiday which happened to be this Monday.
Well, at least we got some time on our hands to go and explore!
Exploring La Linea And Visiting The Rock In Gibraltar
In the meantime, while waiting, we went to explore La Linea, Gibraltar, and the famous rock with the monkeys. Walking into Gibraltar is an interesting experience as you have to walk across the only airfield in town to get to the border. Border control is quick and easy.
The trip up the rock was cool with a visit to the old WW2 tunnels and a pretty impressive cave with a light show. I also again learned that the Spaniards continue to party when the Brits in Gibraltar go home. I’m kind of with the Spaniards on this one, and we went for a great night out starting in the Irish Pub in La Linea.
As Tuesday finally came, we took Ellidah over to Queensway Marina in Gibraltar. That took us about 30 minutes. The sails did arrive the same day as agreed, and after spending the rest of the day putting them up and mounting the new lazy bag, I was really happy. They were a perfect fit, and the finish is excellent.
The Genoa looks beautiful with its navy blue UV strip and the Mainsail with the Jeanneau star insignia in the top is gorgeous and crisp.
We were now ready to sail to Las Palmas in Gran Canaria. I was also excited to catch up with my friends on SV Sunday, Ryan, Brittni, and the fierce Jackson (their dog). Check out their cool Youtube channel. Fun fact, Ellidah and I are in some of the videos!
Getting south to warmer climates was also very appealing. We wanted summer ASAP.
Heavy Weather Sailing To Las Palmas
Wednesday, December 08
This next leg of the trip is about 700 NM.
I had been watching the weather forecast closely, but the strong westerlies seemed to be continuing forever and we missed the first weather window because of the delays. Definitely not ideal, but a bit further south, it looked better for the rest of the trip.
There is a strong current running in the strait as well, so our options were to wait for another week until the weather turned around, or bash through it for the first day of this leg.
“Why rush?” are you probably thinking?
Karolius was on a deadline. He had to get back to work at some point and we were already more than one and a half weeks delayed. Then taking into consideration that we’d probably have to wait on a weather window in Las Palmas, I wanted to get us going.
At 12:00, we set off again.
It ended up being just as expected. Slowly motoring against the strong current. 25kt of wind straight on the nose, choppy waves crashing over the deck and spraying the cockpit full of cold water.
The temperature was only 14 degrees, but the sea breeze made it feel much colder and we were all in full offshore gear. We spent the better part of the day just to get out of the strait and continued along the coast quite far west before we altered course to cross the separation zone.
Approaching The African Continent
I was advised by Ryan on SV Sunday to stay well clear of the northern Moroccan coast. They experienced huge waves and nasty shifting winds about a week earlier, and we followed this advice. As soon as we came south of the strait, around midnight, the swell calmed and we had the consistent nice winds to stop the engine and continued under sail.
From reading, listening to other people’s experiences, and taking the time of year into consideration, I expected this leg to be the roughest of the trip.
I turned out to be right.
On our IridiumGO! satellite phone, we made daily updates as we sailed along on a live GPS tracking map. Some of these updates need to be read with a sense of humor and irony and I have put them up in the next post and included some pictures never seen before from the trip.
Continue to: Daily Cruising Log – Gibraltar To Las Palmas