The currents through the Straits of Gibraltar are quite strong because the Med is actually lower than the Atlantic due to the amount of evaporation. That’s good news as evaporation must mean sun – something we’d been in somewhat short supply of so far this trip.
There’s an optimum time to leave Barbate to catch a good tide through the straight, but we decided to leave a couple of hours before this as we were keen to get safely into a marina according to our 2pm rule, as this is a notoriously windy part of the world.
THe winds tend to be all over the place down here. Its effected by many things – the Atlantic northerly trades, the warm air off the Saraha and the tunneling effect of the Straits themselves.
We started off beating into the wind and then it gradually shifted south and then West, dropping off to next to nothing. Then it slowly built to 10-15kts and by the time we passed Tarifa we were flying our geneker.
We kept it up all the way to Tangiers as we gybed and dodged the shipping, which wasn’t too bad, excepting for the Tangiers ferry that came directly for us at 35kts. It was an awesome sight as it slipped past our stern.
We had a great time watching the dolphins play all around us and I even saw a sun fish. Another first for me.
By the time we had crossed the shipping lanes and got to the Morocco side, the wind had built to 25kts and we pulled down the geneker. We passed by Tangiers and then the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, a bit like a Spanish version of Gibraltar in Morocco.
By the time we rounded the Cape at the end of the Strait, it was blowing 35kts and we had a couple of reefs in. Then as we went down the Moroccan coast it dropped away again.
We motored the last little bit into Marina Smir, where we would stay for our entire stay in Morocco.
It as good to be in the Med. Felt like quite an achievement.