This article is in a series of articles about my first trip in our new yacht while sailing in the Mediterranean. We sailed non-stop for three days from Palma, Mallorca to Gibraltar. To read from the beginning of our sailing voyage, go here: My first trip in our new yacht
On the third morning we realised that we didn’t have enough diesel to get us to Gibraltar. The wind was consistently not in our favor so we had to motor-sail against the wind achieving slow progress.
The boys (Simon and the Skipper) decided to find a port on the south coast of Spain to refuel. Around 7:30 am we sailed into Fuengirola – pictured above. All the fishing boats were still out with many making their way back into the marina. The sun was lighting up the hills in the background and everything glistened.
I felt really good and was so happy that I slept
My thoughts sounded like this, “I think I can handle it. I think the Stergeron has seriously helped me. I’m going to survive. We’re so close now. Only a bit more sailing and we’ll be in Gibraltar.“
The sign on the diesel door stated that it opened at 8 am but no one came. Our skipper, Richard, found a number and called someone. He was told that an attendant would open up eventually. Around 8:20 am the boat was fuelled and we set sail once again.
Before leaving we tried to get a weather forecast. Our reports were conflicting. The day before, we discovered a storm was coming so Richard and Simon were working hard to get to Gibraltar before it hit. The recent report was that the day called for sun and light winds. Hmmmmm? Looking at the scenery, I decided the day was going to be wonderful.
Boy, was I wrong about the weather
I can’t be certain when the winds started but it wasn’t long after we left Fuengirola. The boat was going up and down, crashing, swaying, banging. All I could do was lay in the aft cabin. Looking out through the galley to the mid-deck windows I would see the sky and then water, sky, and then water. We must have been going up 120 degrees and then back down.
Things were crashing, water was coming in
I almost wanted to die. As long as I kept my head down, I felt as if I’d survive. Going to the bathroom was an agonizing event. I’d think about it for ½ hour and then I’d scrunch myself down to the bottom of the bed, roll my body off – keeping my head on the bed. I’d sit there for a few moments and then with all my strength I’d force myself to get up and sit down on the toilet. Holding on for dear life, I’d have one foot propped on the side to stabilize me and I’d do my business. Once I was done, I’d leap back into bed.
Sienna was great. She could see that I wasn’t well. She played a bit with Simon or amused herself next to me. Staying on the bed was quite a feat. And keeping Sienna on the bed wasn’t easy either. I put her on the higher side, so she would slide into my back, and then I’d lodge my leg into the sofa next to the bed.
At one point Simon came down to say that we’re in a Force 7 – I’m not sure how fast the winds are with a Force 7 but I can tell you it isn’t nice. After he went back up, my mind would wander and I’d think,
‘What if they got swept away? I’d be none the wiser.’
Both Simon and Richard had life jackets and safety lines on but I had this tiny fear that I’d finally get up, go to the cockpit, and find it empty with auto-helm taking us to Gibraltar. I pushed my fears away. All I could think was, ‘God, please get us there quickly. I don’t think I can take much more of this.’
Then things got worse
Simon came down and said, “we’ve hit a stable Force 10 now. It’s a terrible storm but we’re okay. The boat is handling very well. Richard says that she was made for wind!”
In my misery, I couldn’t help feeling a tad bit excited for Simon. I could tell that he was in his glory. I don’t think he enjoys storms but in a weird man/ego way this storm is allowing him to say that his new boat can handle anything. Does that make sense?
The count-down then began. “Kim – we’ll be there in 3 hours.” I thought, ‘Three hours is the time it takes me to drive from my hometown to my summer cottage. Three hours is a long time. That drive was long and boring. What am I going to do for three hours?’
Well, I wasn’t going to do anything but keep my head down. Eventually, it was 2 hours and then it was 1..,
I forced myself up and went up into the cockpit
Before I got up Simon yelled down to me to poke my head up. He said that water was shooting 50′ to 60′ in the air near the Rock of Gibraltar. I thought to myself, “Even if Jesus was outside walking on water, there was no way I was getting my head off the pillow”
Eventually, I forced my body up. I put my waterproofs on and went up into the cockpit.
As we sailed along the rock of Gibraltar I was in absolute awe
Wind and water were spraying up all over the place. Everything was wet and cold yet before I was this most amazing rock structure. And when I braved the elements and poked my head out from behind the spray hood I could see loads of ships – there must have been 10 I counted before my head started to tingle with spiky rain.
It was dark – perhaps it was 7 pm as we rounded the rock and started to head for the marina. Simon called up the marina on the VHF Radio and requested a spot to berth that would be easy considering the wether. The marina told us to moor up along the wall after pontoon B.
Being up on deck I felt much better and knowing I was going to be able to get off made me want almost want to jump for joy. But there were also some nerves – where is the marina entrance? I can’t see it? Where is pontoon B?
You honestly wouldn’t know the marina entrance was there unless you had a map
Richard took us into the marina. It looked as if we were motoring right into rocks. Only one boat could go in or out at one time – the entrance was so narrow. Once we entered the marina, the winds stopped and things were calm. After a bit of practicing, Richard lined the boat up to moor.
As he backed her in, the dingy that was hanging on the davits hit the wall and it popped. When I saw that happen, I had to stop myself from crying. I was at the end of my rope and I felt as if I was going to break. We secured the boat and I took some time to compose myself.
Errr, well not really. I freaked out at Simon
I spiraled. I yelled at him that the toilets were full of black water, there are leaks on the boat and our captain just destroyed our dingy. At a time when we should be celebrating I was unloading on Simon. After a few minutes, the smoke cleared and I changed my attitude.
We got off the boat, found the closest restaurant (5 feet away) and I ordered a large wine before our server could even say ‘hi’. After a few sips I calmed down, took time to realize the achievement we made, and decided to celebrate our first journey on our new home.
Check out the little video I made including footage from our first voyage while sailing in the Mediterranean: Sailing from Palma Mallorca to Gibraltar
Or…if you’d like to carry on reading all about our journey from selling up and sailing away, you can purchase my book, ‘Changing Lifestyles – Trading the Rat Race in For A Sail Around The World,’