We left Lisbon as hurricane Berthas wind finally calmed down, although still providing us with the tail end of lots of wind in the right direction for a good sail down to Lagos. The sea was quite swelly making it a bit rocky to start with, but we eventually had a heading which allowed the swells to come from behind us, easing the boats rocking and allowing Maya to surf the waves a little instead. Lots of dolphins spotted on the trip, the thrill of seeing and sailing with them never dulling. What beautiful, playful animals they are. For the best part of the journey from Lisbon to Lagos we were befriended and looked over by 'Sammy the Seagull', a lovely large brown speckled seagull. He would circle us a few times and then land next to the boat, and as we would drift off he would eventually again circle round. This continued for some time, and he returned a few times along the trip also. It was our first real joy of birds at sea, even if only a sea gull and although we weren't at sea for weeks on end, it provided some joy and comfort having our bird friend watching over our passage.
Arriving into Lagos in the early morning was stunning. The white/yellow cliffs and rock faces are amazing, with lots of caves and grottos to explore although we didn't have much chance for this, on this trip. Lagos itself was not our cup of tea. A bit of a package tour trap, extremely busy with English holiday makers. The marina itself was also very expensive. The heat was extreme for the day we were there, perhaps heightened by our sheer tiredness of the few nights sailing behind us. The custard tarts were unfortunately not as good as those from Lisbon which we have now well and truly finished. All we have left of those scrumptious little tarts are the sweet cinnamon smell in one of the cupboards which wafts out still every time you open it. Mmmmmm so yummy!!!!! Rolf having stopped into Lagos before knew of a fantastic fish restaurant, which we all enjoyed.
Making tracks from Lagos quite quickly we left on a other scorcher of a day having another lovely days sailing. Settling into super relaxed mode as evening approached and with the kids all tucked up in bed, we concentrated more on chatting and relaxing rather then setting up for night and the increasing wind. Woops, this meant that as the wind increased to over 30 knots, we then had to reef the main in the dark, with the apparent wind well above 35 knots. Not really being prepared at all made this task quite difficult.... Another valuable lesson. Enjoy, have fun and relax, but always reef when you first think you should, preferably with some day light still about, and always prep for night fall before it's dark!! Then relax after! Arriving into Barbate we looked forward to seeing the Greenland Dock posse and having a bit of a break in Tarifa with them. First we had to round all the tunny nets, made slightly more difficult by the now broken binoculars which we discovered as we headed into port...!! This was also made a bit more nervy as the wind increased as we headed into port, a phenomenon which is becoming more familar to us.
We decided to leave hiring a car until the next day after arriving into Barbate early evening, and instead went straight to seeing our Greenland Dock friends, with Adrien picking us up. A lovely first night at the farm house, with a delicious BBQ full of chorizo sausages and balls, we were truly in Spain now! Audrey and Bertie took much delight at the numerous farm animals all over the surrounding country side and most car journeys were spent with COW and HORSE being yelled at high pitch almost every 3 seconds and a finger pointing out the window. We were all happy to see Kate, Adrien and the boys, and Pato and Jacko; and to meet the Spanish contingency, and have a few drinks and a chat.
Unfortunately the car hire was not very easy from Tarifa, and so it was decided it would be best for Rolf to get the buses to La linear which borders Gibralter to hire a car from there, as we would have to move the boat some time that week to Gib anyway and so it would making the car dropping easier later on. This took the best part of the day, and also meant we would all have to catch a bus back from Gib later that week to Tarifa when we moved the boat, and battle with Gib/Spain border control a few agonising times! A bit of a logistical nightmare in the end, which ate up a few of our relaxing days with the gang in Tarifa. Better ways we could have done it, but hind sight is a beautiful thing!
While Rolf was off getting the car, the kids and I went along with everybody to Tarifa beach. Wow what a sight! Miles of long beach awash with hundreds of kite surfers, like nothing we have ever seen before. The wind was in the right direction for great beach chilling and both Audrey and Berite were in their element on the beach, with the kids and friends. We ate in Tarifa old town that night, and had a selection of delicious Spanish food shared amongst all friends at the table. We went for a short stroll through the town after dinner and discovered how much Tarifa had to offer. And so, started our love of Tarifa, what cool place!
Upon returning to the boat in Barbate to move it to Gibralter, Rolf recognised on the yacht next to us, his day skipper instructor Mike from 15 years ago!! He and his wife were sailing their boat down to Greece. And so it was that we both sailed down to Gib together. What a small and strange world. Happy to leave Barbate marina (which has nothing to offer and was very expensive for what it did offer). We had a brilliant sail down to Gib. Amazing sight sailing with Europe on one side and Africa on the other. And an epic moment finally rounding into the Med. Really felt like we had made a major achievement in our adventure. As we came into Gib the wind picked up to 35-40 knots, making for a fast and fun sail in through all the super tankers. Our first Mediterranean mooring was a bit tricky. A few missed attempts at stern too (Maya really doesn't like going about & astern), bow first was much easier in the end. The rock of Gibraltar looks pretty amazing but the town itself is a bit 'tacky'. It would have to be great money for a short time for me to live there. It does, however, have super cheap booze, as it's tax free, and so Maya is well and truly packed in the bilges with rum, gin, whiskey, and vodka! While we don't drink that much these days, the £6, 1litre bottles of Havana club rum etc just couldn't be missed! We returned, however, to Spain for our food and provisioning shop for the long haul to Alghero, as the food is much chaper and better quality then in Gibraltar. The freezer is now packed full of chorizo sausages and balls!
We returned to Tarifa for a surprise birthday meal for Alex and our last night seeing the Greenland Dock Gang. The restaurant was not a mainstream place, being a specially organised/invite only affair in the mountains near the farm house were everyone was staying. The food was plentiful, fresh and delicious. I think I recall something like 6 courses ranging from pate, to clams, to large fresh tomatoes (the reddest and juiciest), to meat, to a whole fish each! A brilliant 3 piece musical set began after the meal, with 3 local guys on 2 guitars and singing, topping the night off, under the stars. Intending to depart the next morning we set off back to Gib. Sad to say goodbye to everyone but was great to see them all. However, only getting back to the boat at 4am we delayed our departure by a day so that we could recover and prepare the boat properly before the 4 night, 5 day journey to Alghero
We had been told that the diesel in Gibraltar was cheap, so Rolf had stocked up on a few more jerry cans, but were unsure if they would actually fill the cans at the cheap rate. In the end the friendly diesel guy filled our tanks & our cans as we are a yacht in transit for £0.59 a ltr. Brilliant!