Sunday, September 13, 2009

Big Seas, Malady of Macsen and Morocco!

Our plan was to leave Vila Real de San Antonio in the early morning to head for Rabat, the capital of Morocco. The wind was high so we postponed for an evening departure. This meant two nights and one day at sea rather than two days and one nights. This is slightly preferable as Emma and Macsen are then, of course, asleep. The Vianto de Lavante had been blowing for a few days and we had postponed our departure to avoid it. The Lavante is a very strong easterly wind that squeezes itself out through the straits of Gibraltar and causes high winds and high seas even where we were over 60 nautical miles away. About six hours into our passage we began to feel the effects of the Lavante, steady 25 knot winds (with frequent gusts significantly above that) and big waves, making for a very unpleasant and bumpy night. Poor Macsen woke early and threw up all over his bed. He sleeps in the bow and thus feels more of the boat bucking about the we do. It must have felt a little like being in a washing machine. Emma was also a little bit sick but she was able to let on ahead of time and I had a pan ready to catch it before we had any more dirty laundry. Both kids rebounded immediately and soon had their sea legs and their appetites back. The wind and waves calmed almost immediately as we passed the southern bank of the Strait.

Just after dinner on our second night at sea, Seb’s fishing reel gave a loud zzzzzing as meters of line were tugged sharply out. We all ran outside to watch as he slowed the boat down and started reeling it in. “What should we do? Should we slow down more? Speed up? Should we reel it in quickly or let it tire itself out? How big do you think it is? Papa, I like fish! Papa, do you think the fish wants us to catch it? etc.etc.” were some of the discussions taking place as Seb wound in the dyneema fishing line. Within 15 minutes we had a beautiful (although relatively small 1.8 kilo) tuna on board. This is an absolutely stunning fish. In the evening of our arrival we shared yummy fresh tuna hapjes and a cold bottle of white wine with the Elena’s.

The warm scent of land hit us about 20 miles off shore. Seb called into the harbourmaster via the VHF at 0545 just as the sun was coming up and a pilot boat whizzed out to bring us in at 0600. We tied up to the quarantine dock and by 0700 we had been visited by a doctor, customs and the local police. All were very friendly and the whole process was impressively efficient . After the entry administration we followed the pilot boat to a berth next to the Elena in a modern and relatively empty marina. We exchanged stories of the rough passage, compared seasick stories and shared the buzz of excitement of being somewhere new and unknown.

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