It’s a short 160nm passage from Puerto de Santa Maria, Andalucía to Rabat, Morocco. About 30 hours. But it is something more, too : a transition from one great civilization to another, each of which has colonized the other for a period in the past.
The sailing has been varied. We started the day with light winds and our gennaker, just enough wind to move Otra Vida at about 4kts in bright sunshine. The combination of bright sunshine and the gennaker is always a special feeling.
Approaching the Straits of Gibraltar, the wind strengthened as forecast, quickly reaching about 20kts. The gennaker was down well before this, of course, and up went a triple reefed main and a single reefed genoa. We were flying along.
The wind continued to build to rather more than forecast. As darkness fell we were consistently seeing apparent winds of 25+kts from the aft port quarter, meaning true winds of 32+kts, with gusts to about 40kts. Triple reefed foresail and main at this point. Not quite a gale, but getting close.
Otra Vida handled it perfectly and (relatively) comfortably, with only half a dozen or so waves getting in the cockpit. Our D400 wind generator was pumping out the amps, keeping the batteries close to fully changed. Motion was acceptable, even kindly given the conditions. Last year during our refit I moved most of our navigation instrumentation into the cockpit. This has again proven a good move – far less running up and down the companionway steps while on watch. A minor inconvenience: the waterproof LED strip that I used for cockpit lighting still has several LEDs glowing after their seawater shower from the waves. Waterproof while dry is perhaps a better description. Something to add to the To Do list.
Mid way through the night the wind started to drop, as forecast, and now we’re gently gliding along with 10kts of wind on a broad reach, about 35nm to go. We’ll make it nicely for the lunchtime high tide to get across the Bouregreg river bar and into Rabat.
I’m putting some effort into studying weather at present. The wind we’ve had has been due to a squeezed high pressure system, so the skies have been clear and full of stars, and temperatures pleasant. It is just after full moon, and the waves … galloping white horses earlier, gentle waves now … have been easy to see. The moon has just set, orange as it got close to the horizon. I’m sure that hazy colour has some meteorological significance, but don’t know what it is.
To our port side there’s a glow from a town distant on the coast, probably Kenitra, perhaps Rabat. To our starboard side dozens of small fishing boats are working a mile or two further offshore than us, their lights forming a necklace to the horizon. The stars in the sky, the glow from an exotic land and the promise of interesting experiences to come, the gentle rocking of Otra Vida … all is good in this few square meters of the world tonight.