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SV Red Roo: Cruising to Cádiz

by SV Red Roo 3 Dec 08:53 UTC
The Cadiz Cathedral © SV Red Roo

Splash after all our hard work redoing the waterline and new anti-foul we are back in the water and making great speed. Its amazing how quick Red Roo can go when she isn't dragging barnacles and growth along with her!

Our first mission was to get out of Portugal and back into Spain for visa reasons. This was achieved easily with a 30 nautical miles passage to the river Guadiana where one side of the river is Portugal and the other Spain. We anchored in the river for two nights just south of Ayamonte on the Spanish side. We took the dinghy (recently nicknamed "Patch" after Maree put 6 patches on it whilst we were out of the water in an attempt to get another 12 months out of the poor old thing) to shore in Ayamonte and were actually able to return some of the unused/unopened paint that Phil had brought from Spain for the haul out that wasn't used. Bonus!

It was then 32 nautical miles onto Mazagón. With the highlight of the day being the lovely Bonita Maree caught on Phil's controversial lure. We have taken off the Mackerel rig and put on a pink plastic squid over a three barb hook, aiming to catch something a bit bigger and it is a good choice, however we are of differing opinions on how the lure should be in the water. I believe it needs a sinker on the line to keep it a meter or so under the water where as Phil believes it should be dragging along the surface. Well, he won this round as the Bonita was caught without a sinker. A good size fish which fed us well with two very decent fillets. We waited out the following day at Mazagón which was a miserable wet and windy day without going to shore. We were well sheltered inside the river mouth from everything nasty except tugs. The wind didn't get us, the huge commercial ships and pilot boats going in and out of Huelva further upriver didn't bother us but when the tugs returned from guiding a big ship out they returned at such a speed that we rocked and rolled upsetting everything on the table and sink and getting Phil out of bed in a hurry to save things from smashing to the ground. Damn Tugs!

We set sail for Cádiz, 46 nautical miles away and had a great (quick) downwind sail on an ever building sea. The day started with very little wind but soon built to 15 knots of wind apparent. Down wind sailing with the main sail out to one side and the head sail poled out to the other we were making great speed (up to 9 knots at times) and not feeling the building swell as we were travelling with it. Towards the later part of the sail Phil was getting concerned with the black skies building behind us and decided we should put a reef in the main sail. We turned Red Roo around into the wind which went from 15 knots apparent (with the wind) to 29 knots true (when we were faced into it). Of course half an hour after we reefed the wind dropped off. It gathered itself up again as we entered the marina in Cádiz and was blowing 25 knots when we were trying to berth, once, twice, without success before third time lucky two guys got off a nearby boat to help take our lines, we approached the dock, I handed them both lines and they stood there holding them... didn't secure them to a cleat (despite Phil YELLING at them to secure the lines, I don't think they spoke English) meanwhile the wind got hold of us and we were drifting away from the dock with the bow swinging towards a pylon and the men couldn't hold the lines and had to let them go.... Phil was still yelling.... this wasn't going well at all. We aborted and headed back out to the entrance of the marina where there were large pontoons with only a couple of boats. Further away but much easier in the high winds. We got into one first attempt, only for the marina staff to show up and tell us we had to move as these were for 12 + meter boats and we are just a few cm's under 12 meters. It didn't matter that there were over 30 berths with only 6 boats in them.... sigh....marina's why do we bother! We checked in, did the paperwork so the marina staff could go home (it was their knock off time) and promised we would move. We did move, but not until a few hours later when the wind had abated.

Cádiz is an ancient port city in southwestern Spain situated on a narrow slice of land surrounded by the sea. It is generally considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in Europe, founded as Gadir in about 1100 BC.

It has been home to the Spanish Navy since the 18th century, the port boomed in the 16th-century as a base for exploration and trade. It has more than 100 watchtowers, including the iconic Torre Tavira, which was traditionally used for spotting ships.

Now well into its fourth millennium, the ancient centre, surrounded almost entirely by water, is a romantic jumble of narrow winding alleys connecting large plazas inside the old city walls where the Atlantic waves crash against eroded sea walls. In addition, the city is dotted with numerous parks where exotic plants flourish, including giant trees supposedly brought to Spain by Columbus from the New World.

It was also in Cádiz that we spotted a magnificent large Australian flag on catamaran entering the marina. Phil quickly made his way to the pontoon to say a cheery G'Day and take their lines to help them tie up. David and Mary on Adventurous hail from Adelaide – South Australia (our capital city for the 15 years when we lived in outback SA, albeit 600km from where we lived). Here is where another lovely sailing friendship began to flourish – they, like us were heading south to Morocco.

Before leaving Cádiz we had to get our passports stamped out of Spain/EU/Schengen, this is always an adventure and is never usually as straight forward as it should be but to our pleasant surprise we had a good run. We did have a decent wait for the official Maritime Police at their office, but were kept in good company with the crew from a cruise ship docked in Cádiz also waiting. We got into conversation with them and were talking about where we were all from, they hailed from India and when told I was from Tasmania they instantly smiled and said Ricky Ponting! We were called into the office first (despite the cruise ship crew having been there an hour longer than us) and with minimal questions were issued a nice big square stamp out of Schengen

From Cádiz we originally intended to sail straight to Morocco (around 60 nautical miles) but after waiting for strong winds and large swell to die down we were left with minimal winds which would have made it tight to get there under sail within daylight hours (now being November the days are getting noticeably shorter). We therefore we decided to buddy with Adeventurous and divide it into two passages anchoring overnight in Barabate (37 nautical miles away), leaving then just a short 25 nautical mile hop over to Morocco.

The passage to Barbate overall was good (even though we didn't catch any fish) and if it hadn't of been for two hours of next to no wind dropping our speed considerably we would have sailed on and easily made Morocco that day but we were in no hurry and a night on anchor is a free night so stuck with the plan.

We also took advantage and sailed in nice and close crossing the reef to view Cape Trafalgar the site of the famous Battle of Trafalgar. The Battle of Trafalgar (21 October 1805) was a naval engagement fought by the British Royal Navy against the combined fleets of the French and Spanish Navies, during the Napoleonic Wars. Twenty-seven British ships led by Admiral Lord Nelson aboard HMS Victory defeated thirty-three French and Spanish ships under the command of French Admiral Villeneuve. The Franco-Spanish fleet lost twenty-two ships and the British lost none. During the battle, Nelson was shot by a French musketeer and he died shortly before the battle ended. We have visited the famous HMS Victory ship which is in Portsmouth Naval Dockyard and is still in commission in the British Navy, when we were in England two years ago.

We anchored off Barbate and awoke the next morning to thick fog, enough to put Red Roo off – we don't like fog, give us large swell and high winds any day over fog. We got on the VHF radio to talk to Adventurous to advise them we were staying put until the fog cleared only to be picked up and heard by Jake and Lucie on Ragtime who were about 10 miles out from us sailing from Faro to Gibraltar. We had met Jake on the island of Alderney (Channel Islands) in January 2016 just a few short months after we set off on our adventure. We also caught up with him again in May of this year when we stopped in Alderney on our way from the UK to France where we learnt that he was also joining the cruiser lifestyle and with his lovely girlfriend Lucie, they were taking Jakes grandfathers boat Ragtime to sail to the Mediterranean. They confirmed they were nearby and that there was indeed thick fog out there and that since we were at Barbate they were going to use it as an excuse to stop and were coming in to join us. Fantastic.

Meanwhile the fog cleared, but we stayed to catch up, we had a great night onboard Red Roo sharing a meal and a few drinks. Spirits were not even dampened when Phil took the dinghy to collect them and bring them over to Red Roo only to get the outboard engine on the dinghy caught in a fishing net marked only with small corks the size of a bottle top floating just below the surface. Phil and Jake eventually untangled it and got the motor going again... the motor Jake sold us in Alderney the first time we met! It's a small world.

This article has been provided by the courtesy of SV Red Roo.

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