Nearly a week after I left, I am finally writing up about my holiday! This last week back has been a bit of a whirlwind with unpacking (finally finished that this morning), enjoying the bank holiday and catching up on work for my clients, which was not nearly as bad thanks to the wonderful Rosie at Wise Owl Admin covering one of my clients whilst I was away.
For more pictures of my adventure, check out the rest of my photos here.
Saturday 18th May
After a lovely ride out on Archy, with mum on Belle, where both horses were impeccably behaved, I just had enough time to finish packing and jump in the shower before heading down to Ringwood to catch a coach to Gatwick, and then an airport shuttle to my hotel. Made it there in time to catch a beautiful sunset out of the window and Doctor Who on the TV before an early night. My plan of a lovely relaxing night was somewhat hampered by a very annoying screaming tantrum (which hope was coming from a small child) and then a returning party of drunken or very tired people some time later.
Sunday 19th May
Stupidly early start to get to Gatwick for check in at 5 for my 7am flight: I’d much rather be there in plenty of time and have longer to read my book than be worrying about traffic when cutting it fine! Unremarkable flight, slept for most of it then got chatting to the lovely couple sitting next to me who were coming out to the place they bought out there after having first come to Gib 50 years ago on their honeymoon.
I dropped my bags off for the day at a little floating B&B called Con Dios (check them out if you want cheap accommodation in Gibraltar) and then had a wander round the marina before settling down with my book for a long, lazy lunch at Bianca’s until meeting up with the instructors and the rest of the people on my course with Rock Sailing Gibraltar. My instructor was Les, a bit of an Essex boy ex-high-powered-businessman who gave it all up to come sailing after the breakdown of his marriage and retiring. My crew-mates were John (retired P&G ‘big cheese) and Steve (semi-retired but still consulting in the business of in-flight entertainment… which he practically created. Clever guy), both in their 60’s doing their Day Skipper Course (the next one up from me) but good people and lots of fun. I found out later in the week that John used to be the boss of one of my clients ‘back in the day’ – it is a very small world. We then went out for dinner at Charlie’s Sports Bar and had our first night sleeping on board.
Monday 20th May
After the safety briefing was out the way the rest of the day was a little disappointing: the weather was dreary and the wind non-existant. Whilst waiting for Les to get a copy of the boat’s insurance certificate, more than a little annoying that it wasn’t there already, John and Steve were working on the passage plan to Ceuta for the evening so I got some extra training on navigation thrown in. In the end we didn’t head out to Ceuta on Monday because the weather worsened and we decided to head out on Tuesday come-what-may (within reason!).
Tuesday 21st May
An early(ish) start saw us leaving the marina at bout 9.30 and heading out into the Bay of Gibraltar and across the Straits of Gibraltar under motor because there was still very little wind. Crossing the Straits was very interesting in working out how you navigate through one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. Fortunately it wasn’t that busy on Tuesday so we had an easy introduction.
Fairly early on in the morning we were joined by a pod of dolphins who swam with the boat for a good 10-minutes, playing in our wake and generally being adorable!
We moored in Ceuta, Spanish Morocco, at about 1pm and headed out to find some lunch and explore the city. We found, having been tipped off my Les, a charming restaurant in the grounds of a Moorish Castle where we got a three-course lunch (with good sized portions) for €6 each. After some investigation of the Castle grounds and a gentle walk back to the marina we (meaning Steve) plotted a course to Estapona, to depart about 5pm and reach Estapona in the wee small hours of the morning for a night sail.
We managed to get some sail out on our trip back across the straits as we met force 6, gusting force 7 winds (23knotts, gusting 30knotts). On the journey we saw sunfish, flying fish and another (or the same) pod of dolphins came and joined us around dinner time.
We reached Estapona around 1am after a long, cold sail (not helped by the fact that my borrowed wet weather gear was neither waterproof nor windproof) and we were moored and in our cabins by 2am. Basically they give you a night sail on the competent crew and day skipper courses to show you why you don’t want to be doing them until you are far more experienced. Not an easy thing to do.
Wednesday 22nd May
Departed Estapona after a shower (in portacabins as they have decided that the start of high-season is the time to refurbish their toilet/shower block) and breakfast we departed about 10am for a gentle sail down to Sotogrande.
Not quite so gentle in 25knott winds with 38knott gusts when I took the helm! We got lots of tacking practice in, which was a bit disheartening as after 5-hours we had come less than a third of the way along our course as the wind was against us. At 3pm we switched on the motor and made the remaining 2/3rds of the journey in 2-hours.
After a lovely supper in a Belgian restaurant (of all places) courtesy of John and Steve, we headed back to “Bombay Saphire” for a comparatively early night at 11.15pm!
Thursday, Friday and Saturday updates will follow tomorrow.