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Gibraltar, S/V PEACE AND ALOHA, Update November 2, 2005

Good Morning, Family and Friends,

We departed Almerimar Marina (36 41.7N 02 47.7W) on the southern coast of Spain at 0930 hours on an overnight passage of 113 miles in 24.5 hours to the airport anchorage below the famous Rock of Gibraltar (36 09.2N 05 21.9W) on a very cold (water temperature of 65 Degrees), windy (20-25 East) and cloudy October 26, 2005. We saw many boats traveling in both directions in and out of the Mediterranean. We finally had officially crossed the Mediterranean Sea.

We put the boat back to normal/anchor mode and, after an early lunch, we dinghied 15 minutes ashore and checked in to the country with no problems, hassles, or fees. We walked to the DHL office at the airport to pick up our package of parts for the water maker, the windlass, and computer which Julie had sent to us. Then we needed to go to work! Thursday we had more sun with a temperature of 73 degrees with no wind which made all the boats roll in the anchorage. Many other boats arrived daily and the marina was full of ARC boats ready to head to the Canaries for their scheduled departure on November 20.

Friday was another rainy, cold and windy (25 knots)day so we stayed aboard doing projects in preparation for our departure for the Canary Islands. The winds were down on Saturday morning so we went to the Shell fuel dock next to Customs to fill our tanks with 627 liters of cheaper duty free fuel @38 pence Gibraltar sterling/liter than the BP station next door. After moving to the La Linea anchorage (36 09.4N 05 21.9W) which is actually in Spain and eating lunch, we dinghied back into the dinghy dock at Customs and walked to Safeway, now Morrison's. All other stores were closed since it was Saturday afternoon. All stores are closed in Spain and Gibraltar from noon to 1700 for siesta daily, closed Saturday afternoons and all day Sunday. We were not impressed by the large supermarket and their high prices.

On Sunday October 30, we left the boat after our radio net on 8173 at 0900 with plans to tour the Rock. We decided to tour ourselves and walk up rather than paying for a taxi tour after hearing horror stories about taxi drivers. We walked to the entrance and paid 8 Gibraltar sterling each or 48 Euros entry fee to the Upper Rock Nature Reserve. We walked through St. Michael's Cave full of beautiful stalagmites and stalactites, where they present a music and light show which we missed by an hour. We ate our picnic lunch on a bench enjoying the spectacular views of the city and the antics of the Barbary macaques, the only wild primates in Europe. One jumped up on David since he was carrying figs. After lunch we visited the Ape's Den to view more of them interacting with tourists. We visited the Great Siege Tunnels where we walked for miles inside the Rock. So much for the advertisement: "Solid as the Rock of Gibraltar" which is definitely not solid with 33 miles of tunnels within dug by the British during the Great Siege to provide gun placements. A new display which was not open on Sunday included the tunnels used in WWII by Eisenhower and the Allied Forces. The Moorish Castle was closed, so we left the Upper Rock and walked back through town to visit the 100 ton gun/cannon. We walked back to the dinghy dock, very exhausted after walking "miles" but feeling exhilarated from seeing and learning so much on our tour. We had a fairly clear day for our tour; however, it became cloudy as we were returning to the boat and during the night at about 2100, a squall came through with 45-50 knots of wind with many boats dragging in the airport runway anchorage. Several boats then came over to our anchorage, which was worrisome since they could easily drag into us.

Monday morning Eric dropped David, Jason and Ellen at the fishing pier at La Linea for us to walk to the Carrefour supermarket on the Spanish side to provision for our trip to the Canaries. Unfortunately, it is not safe to even lock up your dinghy on the Spanish side because of theft. Donna on "Exit Only" joined us and we were very pleased with the prices and the products at Carrefour. The last Carrefour we visited was near Cairo on our return from our Nile Cruise. After lunch we dinghied into town in search of art work from Gibraltar. We returned to the boat early so Eric could clean our dinner, calamari which we had purchased at the supermarket.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN! We had no trick or treaters come to our boat this year!

Several boats left Gibraltar on November 1 but we decided to wait one more day for a better weather window on Wednesday. We went ashore for last minute items such at ice cream and oatmeal from Safeway and we purchased a beautiful Gibraltar Crystal vase. All afternoon we were busy preparing the boat for off shore: dinghy away, stowing all our provisions, jack lines out, engine room check, etc. etc.

Poor Eric! He experienced another birthday on passage: number four out of seven on passage! This one was a BIG one - 30! We enjoyed a small birthday party for Eric with tacos and ice cream for dessert before we left. He will have Ghiradelli brownies to celebrate after we arrive in the Canaries.

We left La Linea/Gibraltar at 0600 November 2 to pass safely and quickly through the Gibraltar Straits with tide and current, but we did NOT time it right (actually we don't know of anyone who did!) and often had strong current against us. We did catch two fish but had a HUGE swell from the west right on the beam, and found ourselves motoring at sunset. We motored through the night and much of the following day. We exchanged weather information on our net with boats heading to the Canaries: Exit Only (Dave, Donna, David and Morgan), First Light (Jill and Andy), Max Grody II (Peter, Eileen and Ryan), and PK (Peter and Karen). Our weather information indicated that 40 knot winds would soon overtake us so Max Grody II diverted to Casablanca on the west coast of Morocco. The rest of us carried on because of the possibility of difficulties about entering Morocco. Ellen made several passage meals that afternoon in preparation for some rough weather.

On November 4, we had 20-25 knots of wind with rain in squalls and building cross seas. PK diverted to Agadir, another port on the west coast of Morocco. We were already passed that port when he informed us of building winds and seas. They reported huge surge upon entry. Both Max Grody and PK encountered less winds in the harbor, but they still had to sail to the Canaries and those two harbors leave much to be desired with regards to safety, security, and dealing with being tied along the cement wharf with large boats around. First Light almost had a knock down and we talked on our SSB radio every two hours with them and Exit Only. At about 1700 hours we laid four warps, two long and two short ropes dragged from our stern to stop us from surfing the waves and keeping our speed in check with 40 knot winds and 20 foot cross seas. It also helped to minimize broaching. First Light was able to get their main down, but took a wave in the cockpit which went down below, so they had quite a mess to clean up. None of us slept much that night. Eric and David were trading off shifts of two hours on/two hours off. At midnight we had a big wave dump water into the cockpit, but nothing came below since we had our boards up, unlike off Cartegena, Colombia, when we encountered breaking waves of 16 feet and winds to 36 knots, which was actually more dangerous.

On November 5, we discussed with the others our entry into Isla Graciosa in the Canary Islands. We decided to go north around Isla Alegranza, the most northerly island, before turning south, praying for enough protection from the wind and waves on our beam after turning. We had advice from other cruisers who had traveled the same course in strong winds and large seas. Thankfully the winds and seas did moderate, so that we had no problems sailing around the islands and retrieving all our warps back on board. We anchored at 2230 hours on November 5 at San Francesca Bay, Graciosa Island (29 13N 13.31.8W) in the Canary Islands. First Light arrived safely at 2300 hours. We were anchored with 13 other boats. We usually never enter an anchorage at night; however, with CMAP, guide books, a large spot light, radar and forward-looking depth sounder (Eco-pilot), we had no problems. We were thankful to be at anchor after three nights at sea traveling 595 miles in 3 days and 5 hours. Exit Only arrived the following morning.

Thank you for your patience while we continue to write past updates and to reply to your much appreciated personal emails. We are still in St. Anne, Martinique, waiting for the strong (30+) winds to subside before heading north to the Virgin Islands, where Julie, Chris and grandbaby Paul will come for a visit! Please stay in touch and send us your news. Please let us know if you will be in the Caribbean, Virgin Islands, Bahamas, or Florida this spring, we would love to see you!

Take care. Be safe. God Bless! Fair winds and calm seas to all our cruising friends!

With Love, Peace and Aloha
Ellen, David, Jason and Eric
January 23, 2006
St. Anne, Martinique