28 March 2013
36 10 56. 5 55.8w via Tarifa 36 00.24. 5 36.14
After an evening watching the Easter processions in La Linea, just across the border from Gibraltar we upped and offed at 07:30 to catch the tide(s) out through the Straits of Gibraltar.
We woke to an light offshore breeze with its attendant stink from the petrochemical plant and left in a light drizzle which fortunately cleared a few hours later.
Having left Gibraltar and its monkeys behind the passage through the Straits was uneventful as we'd caught one of the 65 days when it isn't blowing 30 knots on the nose.
The challenge here is to find the outgoing (from the Med) tidal stream where it isn't stopped by the incoming flow of water from the Atlantic. Owing to evaporation and not that many rivers flowing into the Med, at the Straits, the water at the east end is apparently 1 metre lower than the Atlantic end. We were therefore motoring "uphill"!
The steams were just like the West coast and as well defined. 20 yards either side of the tide line meant. 2 knot difference.
In the drizzle, the Straits looked just like the Mull of Kintyre and to the left, Africa could as well have been Northern Ireland.
We did have to motor the whole way. All the way to the metropolis of Barbate. This once prosperous and thriving tuna town is a shadow of its former self and thrives now on tourism as does almost everywhere we've been since Ireland, although I guess right now even the Irish would welcome that.
Barbate turned out to be quite interesting and we had a good cycle round the town and the fishing port. There's still some activity but sadly most of the processing plants are closed. Nae fash! (No fish to our English readers). It has a lengthy prom backed with various eating establishments and a good sandy beach. The locals were out in force surfing and playing handball.
It's Easter here, or Semana Santa as they call it. Each evening there is a procession through the town where the locals, apparently in a gesture, or actually servingw "penance" they lug around a giant float decorated with candles, statues and other finery. We must do some research as it is quite a spectacle although the costumes they wear are a little weird.