In the footsteps of Nelson

I’m not sure the terminology of the title is completely correct – its hard to be in someone’s footsteps if you are both on a boat. But whatever, I was really excited to sail past Cape Trafalgar, which had a significant impact on the last 200 years or so of history. Especially now that they have discovered the fact that Napoleon was planning to invade Sydney, right up until the point where Nelson wrote his name into the history books.

I always thought that Trafalgar was somewhere around France given it was a French-English get together and was quite surprised to find it way down the bottom of Spain. Well there you go.

Anyway, it wasn’t til about 11am that we managed to get La Mischief into the water and off we headed East. As we closed in on the Straits of Gibraltar, we started to see Africa off in the distance.

Those wonderful northerlies suddenly deserted us as we headed towards the Straits of Gibraltar and we found the wind right on our nose.  On with the iron sails.

With the wind against us and the late start, we were going to break our 2pm rule by quite a bit. And did we pay for it. Cape Trafalgar is a nasty little Cape to go around with lots of shallow water quite a fair way out and boy to we feel it.

La Mischief handled the rough and tumble with a plumb, and we were tied up at the collector jetty in Barbate just after 8pm. Fredy had advised to go around the Tuna nets that go way out to sea, but the charts were fairly good and we could easily go through the 500m gap between the start of the nets and the harbour break wall, so we went the much more direct way.

We were surprised to find the office still open and I’ve got to say it was one of the best little marinas we’ve been to. We ended up checking in two nights as the next day was no good to go through the Straits.

Paul and Ness, whose 60 foot catamaran Paradise, we had anchored beside in Cascais came and helped tie us up and low and behold, Stan and Paul both worked in nuclear power plants, Stan being an engineer and Paul a nuclear physicist. Paul had also worked on nuclear subs, which had Stan fascinated.

Two days gave us time to check out Barbate, and despite what the cruising guide said, we found it a great little town. Fredy told us about how the King of Spain goes to Barbate just to eat their red tuna so Stan and Judy hopped on their bikes, after chatting with Paul and Ness and headed for a restaurant at 10pm. I stayed and went to bed.

Next day, I went and explored the town and checked out red tuna sashimi at one of the many beachside restaurants. Found some good internet access so was able to chat with both Cas and Alex, which was great.

In the afternoon, I trekked along the top of the impressive cliffs towards Cape Trafalgar. Saw a mad kite surfer miles out to sea, skimming along in the stiff breeze. Tarifa just up towards Gibraltar is world-renowned for its wind surfing and kite surfing. Hence why we were waiting an extra day.

Back at the marina, I called in on Paradise and Paul and Ness fed me a beautiful curry. It was finally good to get into the social side of the cruising life. One of the attractions is the friends you quickly make and bump into from time to time. Up until now, we hadn’t seen too many cruisers, but now the cruising season was starting and boats were appearing.

Then it was off to bed, ready for an early start as we sailed out of the Atlantic ocean and into the Med. Wow.

For photos of Barbate see

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