On June 16th, we said a bittersweet farewell to the Mediterranean Sea. On arriving in Gibraltar after a windy night passage, we understood that we were once again at a crux point and the meeting of two worlds. The Atlantic Ocean, and home were calling.
Prior to this point, we had spent a week in Cartagena Spain with our wonderful friends Phil, Tom, Stan and Ted on their sailing boat Bella. Bella’s crew are family friends from the Isle of Wight, with 2 boys exactly the same ages as ours. We had set out from the UK together last year and had become steadfast cruising buddies. We were all overjoyed to see each other again and some lovely catch up conversations were had over cockpit dinners discussing our winter experiences, Tabasco’s return home and Bella’s long term cruising plans. Whereas our sailing plans had been for one year only, Bella’s crew are setting themselves up for a 2/3 year sailing experience. They are super excited about seeing the Med and perhaps crossing the Atlantic next year.
Re. Covid 19, we were expecting strict controls, but Spain was just moving into their Phase 2 rollout and had a relaxed approach to quarantine. We remained cautious out and about but we thoroughly enjoyed the company of our friends. The boys immediately picked up where they had left off and spent a full week playing contentedly together.
On leaving Cartagena we teamed up with another boat, Vela, also sailing home. Onboard are a young Danish family: Daniel, Sofia and Vito. It is nice to have company and others to talk through weather, sea states and passage planning with. Vito is 2 years old and learned to walk onboard. We are really impressed by how this couple manage such a bundle of energy and joy on the sea.
We undertook a calm 24 hour passage to arrive in Motril. Sailing along the Costa Blanca was beautiful. With natural reserves along the coast line and the Sierra Nevada mountains as backdrop, its beauty was an unexpected surprise.
From Motril, we took the next big step of arriving in Gibraltar (a 24 hour passage) and with that ending our time in the Med. It was a windy and tiring upwind sail in 25+ knots with some nice tacks along the Spanish coast. It reminded us that upwind sailing is doable when necessary.
On approaching Gibraltar, the fact that we were leaving Italy behind weighed on our minds. Alongside Ireland, Italy is a second home and we were so grateful to have given the boys an experience of their heritage by spending 6 months there. They now speak Italian very well but they also realise that other countries and cultures have so much to teach us. More importantly, it has shown them the similarities between nationalities and that universal values such as kindness and generosity of spirit, as we had experienced in Sicily, can be found everywhere and are to be dearly cherished.
Two days after we reached Gibraltar we had some very good news. The Portuguese marinas confirmed their reopening post Covid closures; we were free to proceed to Portugal.
So with enlightened spirits and slightly heavy hearts we passed the Rock and sailed into the Ocean. We mentally geared ourselves up for some big sailing trips across the south coast of Spain and up the windy Portuguese coast, hoping to dodge the hefty northerly winds.