Alone Like a Rolling Stone

Farewell Mediterranean Sea!

 Three years ago we went to the Mediterranean Sea with our Katinka to prepare her for a longer stay on board. Now we are here in the Marina Alcaidesa off Gibraltar and close the chapter Mediterranean. Behind the Strait of Gibraltar lies the Atlantic Ocean and we are excited about the adventures that await us there.

Marina Almerimar, Spain

It is four o'clock in the morning and a thick foggy soup hardly shows the hand in front of your eyes. We really didn't expect this when we decided to leave early to start our last Mediterranean stage, from Almerima to Gibraltar. More groping than seeing, I release the spring-lines and check the slip lines once more to see if they can slip out without any problems. Slowly we feel our way out of the box, the fairway was illuminated yesterday, today there is only a wall of fog. Hopefully the maps in the plotter are up to date, I don't feel like running onto a quay wall. Suddenly a green flash penetrates the dense fog. In fact, the first fairway buoy comes into sight, and opposite it, the red buoys are now also coming. We leave the port unharmed and set course for Gibraltar. Only half a nautical mile from the coast the fog has disappeared. According to the forecast, the wind is weak and should not come up until Thursday. Now we have to start with engines. In the afternoon there is indeed some wind and we sail 3 nautical miles, after that it is calm again. In the early evening, to make matters worse, our autopilot says goodbye and we have to take turns at the helm for the rest of the way. Half an hour later we see a school of dolphins. The animals are so playful and dive under the boat to and from the centre. The sun slowly sinks to the horizon as Gaby shouts "There's something in the water ahead! I take the binoculars and count about 20 fins. For dolphins actually too big, so whales. Hopefully no orcas will shoot it through my head. Recently some sailing yachts have been attacked by a group. Nobody got hurt, but the boats got some damage. The whales lie in small groups just below the water surface, so that only the dorsal fins protrude from the water. As we get closer we see that they are not orcas but pilot whales. We reduce our speed and carefully pass the whales at an appropriate distance. They don't pay any attention to us and lie peacefully in the water as we pass by. The day has it in itself, first the dolphins and now whales, we have not seen so many animals as today the whole year. 

The last sea miles in the Mediterranean Sea

At night, I'm sitting at the wheel and still annoyed by the autopilot, when I suddenly hear a snort next to me. Frightened, torn from my thoughts, I look strained into the darkness. Right next to me, at a distance of two meters, a white-striped dolphin jumps out of the water. Out of sheer shock I almost fell off my stool. The little guy jumped out of the water three or four times and was gone just as fast as he had come. Meanwhile we approach, still under engine, Gibraltar. The shipping traffic has increased enormously. Cargo ships standing or moving everywhere on the plotter, over a hundred meters long and almost thirty meters wide. Partly the ships are lying on our way line, so we have to be careful. Slowly the iPad counts down the remaining nautical miles and I count with it. There is a difference between having an autopilot or being at the helm yourself. Gaby and I agree (and that doesn't happen so often) that the autopilot needs to be repaired urgently. Finally we make it, even without an autopilot, to Gibraltar and are here in the Marina Alcaidesa, on the Spanish side of the runway. 


From our berth we have a direct view of the Monkey Rock, but we still want to get on to Madeira as soon as possible, so I start taking care of the autopilot the next day. After I tore half of the boat apart, Gaby is very enthusiastic, I can limit the error to the control panel. A call to Tecnautic confirms the defect and gives me valuable tips on how to use the autopilot anyway. For a safe continuation of the trip, however, a new control panel is necessary, which I order immediately. Nevertheless the defective part did not leave me alone and I started to disassemble it to remove the existing short circuit. What can I say, runs like new. Unfortunately not completely, because I had to remove the defective switch. The autopilot works again, but programming is no longer possible. That wouldn't be a big problem now, but we'll wait until the new control panel comes and then, with the repaired panel, we have a working spare part on board.

Disassembled autopilot

What we experience here in Gibraltar and how our autopilot continues, you can read in the next blog on Glenswelt. Until then, as always, fair winds and keep a stiff upper lip.