After 3 weeks of Gibraltar we felt more or less obliged to get moving again. A bit reluctantly, because we really enjoyed the place, not because it is so English, but because it is so international. There is a lot of history around and once you get away from the tourist crowds in Main Street with all the booze and electronic shops, you get to the real heart of Gibraltar and get to see the real Gibratarians (neither English nor Spanish). And staying in the marina had been fun because we met so many nice cruising people. We even liked the noise of the airfield!
But there came a day with an easterly wind forecast, maybe even strong enough to really sail, a very suitable departure time of 8:30 to catch the tide and so we could get fuel when the fuel dock opened at 8:00, an easterly wind for the next night so we could anchor off Barbate, another good wind the next day to make it to Cádiz, in short just about perfect....
Okay, we had to set the alarm and got up when it was still dark, so not so very perfect. Just before 8:00 we motored over to the “Go” fuel quay and tied up to wait for the guy to open up. Which happened some 15 minutes later and he told us they had run out of diesel! The BP wouldn't open until 9:00 and the Cepsa dock was already fully occupied. It was 9:00 before we managed to set off, the tide was not perfect anymore, but we had got our tank full of tax-free diesel.
Meanwhile misty clouds had been rolling down the Rock, a sight we had seen quite often in the early mornings. In the middle of the bay of Gibraltar there was blue sky above us, but all of a sudden a thick blanket of fog settled around us. Too late to turn back across a bay with heavy traffic and us without radar, so we switched on the VHF and heard the American boat who had left at the same time calling us and warning us about a cargo ship ahead. On the computer chart we could see a wave recorder buoy on our track and luckily the fog wasn't too thick so we could spot it in time. Which was a good thing because it turned out not to be a wave recorder buoy but a South cardinal (quick thinking: a South cardinal is to the South of a danger so you pass it on the South side) and we just made it to the right side of it.
All of a sudden we could see land again, what a relief. At the same time the VHF warned for fog patches in the Strait, thank you very much for your information. The wind picked up and we hoisted the staysail, also to be better visible for the other boats around us. The sea got very lumpy and ideally we should be more inland to catch the better current and be in flatter water, but we didn't dare to approach the shore too much in case of more fog. And more fog came, right in front of the harbour of Tarifa. A ferry had just entered the port and we hoped it would take a while before the next one started to move. At the cape the water just seemed to boil! Not really the way we had liked to say bye bye Mediterranean, hello Atlantic.
On the other side of the island of Tarifa it was like stepping into another world: flat water and no more fog. With only our staysail up we speeded along at 7 knots! Much to our dismay another fog patch enveloped us again. Too late to turn back into Tarifa anchorage so we raced on and anyway why not make use of this wind and current. Fortunately not much later the worst of the fog was gone and we continued a lot more relaxed. The wind had shifted from E to S and together with the current we had an easy sail with just staysail all the way up to Barbate. This southerly meant however no anchoring outside Barbate. This year we only seem to be doing marina hopping, oh well, what difference makes one marina night more or less.
There was a yacht anchored outside and its rocking horse movement didn't make us feel sorry about going into marina shelter. The next morning we noticed it still rolling which made us feel even better about having had another marina night.