Broad Reach

Written by Pieter Jan on Dec 2, 2019 — 4 min read

From: Cartagena, Spain
To: Almeria, Spain

We left Cartagena at 8:30. Our plan was to leave at 7:00, but we're not exactly morning people, to put it carefully. It's a great relief Vite & Rêves is able to compensate our dawdling with her speed.

We had a very narrow weather window: A stiff southwester breeze had just stopped blowing and a northeaster storm was approaching fast. It would hit in the evening.

I was more than a bit miffed when the predicted northeast winds preceding the storm were nowhere to be found. Instead we got very shifty light winds, the proverbial silence before the storm. Good thing we didn't wake up too early, only to be becalmed.

Leaving the not very photogenic entrance to Cartagena harbor
Leaving the not very photogenic entrance to Cartagena harbor

We motored out of Cartagena bay and, bit by bit, the wind increased, until it was blowing a nice 12 knots from the northeast. With only the mainsail up we started coasting downwind. The day was dull and grey and full of squalls.

It was like this most of the day
It was like this most of the day

A good thing the sailing today was worth it. Imagine being in a hammock swaying slightly to and fro, that's exactly how it felt like. But this hammock is going places at a nice 8 knot clip.

And dolphins! So many dolphins today! A whole pod came over and played around the bows, leaping in the air. Barbara even forgot to put on a jacket, risking severe pneumonia to film their amusing antics.

 

We crossed the bay in a straight, downwind line. Normally, when you're going dead downwind with the mainsail up, you have to be extremely careful. A slight shift in wind direction or an ill-timed wave can cause a so-called Chinese gibe: The mainsail comes over to the other side with great force and without warning. It has the nasty potential to bring down the whole rig, mast and all.

Not so on Vite & Rêves. Her double main sheets always catch the boom before it can come over. She shrugs off Chinese gibes like she would shrug off a medium high wave. Two Chinese gibes later, I was very, very grateful for this system.

We tried dodging squalls, not very successfully
We tried dodging squalls, not very successfully

We did a third gibe, intentionally this time, around Cabo de Gata, and sped on in a straight line to Almeria harbor. By now it was dark. The moon was too small to penetrate the thick cloud cover. It started to rain. Then a thunderstorm crept up from behind us. I never looked at it, instead kept my eyes on the Almeria city lights in the distance. If nothing else works, a total unwillingness to look facts in the face will see us through. Vite & Rêves lived up to her name and outran the thunderstorm. It rumbled in frustration and electrocuted a few sardines.

On our arrival in Almeria, around 0:30, it started raining harder and harder. We tried the marina. A guy came out in his car and yelled at us “No es posible! Something something catamarán”. I pointed at a spot that was obviously big enough to hold our catamarán. “No es posible!"

Dejected, we exited the marina and tried to anchor next to it. But the place was too deep, too narrow and our anchor didn't take hold. I didn't want to take any chances with the storm coming and after 3 tries I said: “Screw this, I'm tired of this situation. I'm tying off to the forking fuel dock. Funk it.” I may have used slightly stronger language. By now the rain was bucketing down.

We had just finished tying off Vite & Rêves, when the same guy popped up from behind a fuel pump. “No es posible!" Motherforker. I tried to explain that we weren't going anywhere with the storm coming. In the end, he took pity on our soaked souls and said a whole lot in Spanish, the gist of it being: “Oh silly me, I forgot that there's a spot at the end of the marina where your catamarán will fit nicely. By the way, you can't anchor for shit.” To be fair, he helped us moor. The very minute we were moored it stopped raining.

We were glad to be safe inside the marina. About 2 hours later than it should have been, but still. We stripped out of our drenched clothes and went to bed. Apart from the rain, the cold and the big storm chasing us, it was a good sailing day. I heard the wind pick up considerably outside as I closed my eyes and slipped into a dreamless sleep.