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Azure II
Family Cruising
16 miles to Rabat
Rodney
09/28/2011, Gibraltar

Well that was a fun night. First we had a very nice sail from Gibraltar until about midnight. We sailed with our double reefed main until we rounded the Moroccan coast in a brisk 25 knots. Then we dropped the main and hoisted the spinnaker. We sailed with the spinnaker until about midnight when the wind started to move forward. It was time for the iron horse so then we started to motor.

We kept a very attentive watch because we new there were many Moroccan fishing boats along the coast. We also stayed over 10 miles offshore to avoid them. The shipping lanes are about 20 miles offshore so we were content in our happy place. Everything was great until I got up for my 6 am watch. I got up to relive Ted and noticed he looked a little wet. Then I noticed that we had motored into an extremely thick fog bank. Man I hate fog!

You know the feeling you get with your face pushed up to the windshield of your car while driving in fog. So now imagine doing the same thing while sitting on your hood. Now it is my watch and instead of noticing the lights on the horizon, I am looking for anything that shows up in my running lights. Unfortunately the sun will not rise until 8:30. Then about 7:00 I saw a light off my port bow. I deviated to starboard and then I felt the boat go form 5.0 knots to 1.0 knot. I thought to myself, I hope that is not a fishing net? Then the fishing boat starts motoring toward me flashing his lights. He pulled up to me and spoke in perfect Moroccan - and I answered in perfect English. Then he waved a piece of his net and I got the picture. I stoped the boat and he pull up as close as could and cut the net.....then he just motored away leaving the rest of the net caught under my boat. Such is the life at sea.

I need to wait until daylight to go for a little swim....

Gibraltar to Rabat
Rodney
09/26/2011, Gibraltar

Tomorrow we are leaving Gibraltar in route for Rabat Morocco. Our new crew consists of Ted Floyd and Cliff and Carrie Fischer. We are planning to head west while the currents are favorable and then cross the shipping channels at 90 degrees. There are a huge number of ships that traverse the straight every day. We will be watching them closely as we make the final left turn. Our plan is to sail all night along the Moroccan coast and arrive in Rabat in the morning. We need to wait for the tides to rise in order to enter the river. I have heard that the marina will escort all the boats into the harbor. We will be making the trek with another Ausie catamaran that is also going to the Canaries. There are quite a few boats that are crossing the pond around the same time that we will cross. We are forming a net in order to keep track of everyone on the SSB radio.

Gibraltar
Rodney
09/22/2011, 20 Miles out

We have 20 miles to go! I just got up, and was greeted with overcast skies and 69 degree weather - kind of reminds me of home. What a strange night we had. About 8 last night we started getting an adverse current. It built steadily until midnight where it peaked at 3.5 knots. I knew that the currents can get strong as you approach Gibraltar, but we were still 60 miles away. Our ETA dropped from this morning to about 6 pm. We were kind of bummed for a while, but such is life. We will get there eventually. The current finally went slack at about 3 in the morning so now we should get in around 10am. The other strange thing that happened last night was the drifting ships. We have seen lots of ships, big ones, small ones, red ones, blues ones, ones anchored in the middle of the Med - but never just drifting. So far we have counted 10 of them. Their AIS info says "Not Under Command" that is really assuring. Anyway we are winding our way through them.

After 8 days underway we are really looking forward to staying put for a while. John and Jim will fly out on the 25th. Remember Ted - he's got coffee - is arriving today. My old friends Cliff and Carrie Fischer are flying in from Kasakhstan - remember the movie Borat. Cliff works for Chevron and is on assignment there. He heard about some of the great delectibles that other crew have brought along. Instead of Trader Joes Maple Syrup he is bringing a jug of fermented mare's milk, camel milk and some boiled horsemeat. Too bad Jamie is not here - he would get really excited.

Almost there
Rodney
09/21/2011, Almeria

I take back what I said yesterday before about the 30 and 0. We had a beautiful day of sailing with 15 to 20 knots of wind from directly behind us. The problem with that wind direction is the main always wants to gybe. So we just took it down and flew the spinnaker alone. Wow what a great feeling! the boat was totally balanced and we could now sail as deep as we wanted. I think we may be adopting this new sailing configuration for the Atlantic Crossing.

I just got up for my 6am shift. Man it is hard to get out of bed when is dark and cold outside. And you are all nice and warm snuggled in a down comforter. Yes it is cold outside can you believe 72 degrees. I have been living in a 85 to 120 degree sauna for the last 6 months, and now I am eying my sweat shirt. Another odd thing is the time change. We have gone though two time zones over the last 800 miles so now it is getting dark earlier. We are 130 miles away from Gibraltar so things are looking pretty good for an early morning arrival on the 22nd.

Last night was a real nail biter. Remember that we have not seen many ships since we left our friends on the North African Coast. Well we found all of them. They are between Formentera and the Spanish coast. Of course we did not hit the shipping lanes until midnight with 20 knots blowing. You could see them lined up on AIS in both directions for miles. So now we are a rabbit trying to cross the freeway without getting quashed. It took over 3 hours until we were safely across, but now the feeling is the same as after you drive over the bridges into Alameda.

I have some bad news and some good news. The bad news is that I just ground up our last batch of coffee that Jim brought. He was so kind to bring two pounds of Pee'ts Major Dickasons blend. We drink a lot of coffee on Azure II and good coffee is a real treat. I still cannot understand why you cannot buy dark roasted beans anywhere in the Med. It's such a pity. Oh ya I almost forgot.....the good news is that my buddy Ted will meet us in Gibraltar tomorrow with two more pounds of Peet's !

Cartagena
Rodney
09/20/2011, Sailing

After provisioning yesterday we made our way to Cala Talamanca and found a nice spot to anchor. We went ashore to verify there were no terrorists - none were found, but we did find a nice palapa on the beach that specialized in mojitos. The setting was really nice with some local flamenco guitarists adding to the ambiance. After a delicious dinner we made it back to the boat to await the 30 knot winds that were about to arrive. They did, right on cue, and our mighty rocna anchor did its part to make sure we had a good night sleep. Wow, it was so nice to actually sleep verses getting up for my 12 am and 6 am shifts. The next morning we motored to Formentera where the crew of Azure II spent some time last year. We anchored near the beach and swam to shore to continue our search - definitely no terrorist. For some reason Jim was fighting the urge to go commando. At least he asked us first.

Azure II just crossed the Prime Meridian. This is where you go from having an east longitude to a west. It will probably be quite a while before I will have an easterly position again. Gibraltar is 270 miles away now and we should arrive the morning of the 22nd. We are still hoping to do some sailing, but it usually the wind blows 30 or 0 and right now it is 0.

Ibiza
Rodney
09/18/2011, At anchor

We arrived in Ibiza at 7:00 this morning and went to shore to fill up with fuel. Then it was off to the anchorage to make water and catch up on some boat chores. John and Jim took the dinghy to shore to supposedly just get groceries - but later photographic evidence caught them at some swanky Ibizan restaurant sampling the local wares. Meantime the captain was diligently readying the boat for the next leg of our journey. The weather front is supposed to move through at 9:00 tonight with 30 knot winds. We should be safe and sound in our anchorage trusting our mighty Rocna anchor. We are planning to get underway around 7:00 in the morning. The final leg of our journey is 380 miles which we should do in 3 days. Lets hope we do not get anymore terrorists or weather systems impeding our travels!

Photos Here

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