Yesterday we wanted to get up early so we could leave ASAP. Mind you, early for us these days is before 0800, when the sun rises. It was cold and dark, making getting out of bed painful, but we had to do it. We had no time to dilly dally. Fortunately, it wasn’t as cold as it had been all week, so getting up before turning the heater on was a little more bearable. The wind was calm when we awoke. We knew it would change soon.
Eric gave Kosmos a quick wash down. There was jet fuel residue all over the boat, and we are afraid if we go out to sea that it will turn to cement and be difficult to remove down the road. Christi ran to the bakery and produce market for some more fresh food. There was no way we could leave without replenishing the bagels! We went through the rest of the normal routine and pulled out at about 1230. The wind was screaming. We were dreading going out into the open ocean in this weather.
In the strait it was big waves and strong winds. The waves were 2-4 foot rapid sharp waves from behind us, which is certainly easier to take than all the head seas we have been in lately. If we were going the other direction, we’d be sick. Winds were 20-25 knots apparent on port beam. Initially, we had an ugly current against us that slowed down to 3 knots at 1850 RPM for a while, but the current eventually flipped around and we sped up to 9 knots at only 1650 RPM. For just a minute we even reached 9.7. Wow. Our average speed through the strait was 6 8 knots so neither speed extreme lasted too terribly long. The wind also eventually shifted to 15 knots apparent on our port aft quarter. The autopilot didn’t like the sea conditions, it was fighting to keep us on course. The wind and current are pushing us way off.
Of course, it was stressful to be in the shipping lane. There was a lot of very big ships coming and going, but it wasn’t nearly as stressful as Singapore or Suez. Only one ship got a little close.
At sunset, we were nearing the west end of the strait. Just after the sun had dipped below the horizon, when the sky still had some lingering red glow, we could see a powerboat with no lights coming towards us. It was hard to see with the naked eye, but obviously it was clear on radar. Eric changed coarse. It changed coarse. Eric pulled out the binoculars and saw it had guns mounted on it. It came right up to our port side, went around our back, then stopped on our starboard side and flashed a spotlight on us. They called on the radio “Vessel on our port side this is the Moroccan Navy”. They asked a few basic questions, including: name, flag, where were we coming from, where were we going, how many passengers, and any cargo? They seemed to be happy with our answers and wished us a safe voyage, then vanished into the rapidly blackening night.
About 1930 we officially entered the Atlantic waters. This is yet another milestone we have officially crossed the Mediterranean Sea. At 2000 we were still making great speed, doing 6.7 knots at 1650 RPM, which was a surprise. We had expected to slow down once we were in the Atlantic. We hoped the good speed would last. The wind in the Atlantic was erratic, with gusts ranging from 9 29 knots apparent, mostly in mid-20’s, from directly behind us. We are pleased to report that the stabilizers seem to be working fine, but even with the stabilizers working away, we were rolling pretty good from side to side. And the autopilot was still whining like crazy in the following seas. It just doesn’t like following seas very much.
The moon didn’t rise until midnight, and even when it did rise, it was only a crescent and didn’t give off much light. Visibility was poor overall. We did see some lightening behind us, which made us all the more glad we left when we did.
By 0430 this morning the wind gusts were ranging from 14 to 25 knots apparent from our port aft corner. Our speed varied from 6 6.7, and we suspect the variation in speed was tied to how straight we were tracking at the time. After all, it measures the speed going the proper direction. We are rolling side to side pretty good, making it a serious effort to walk around in the boat. This motion certainly isn’t fun, but it really is a lot better than many of the other motions the boat makes in different kinds of seas. If you can’t have flat, this is probably the next best choice.
We had a lovely sunrise. By 0830 speeds were up to between 6.3 and 7.2 knots. Nice. The wind had stabilized some, with gusts ranging from 15 21 knots apparent from behind. The waves are 5 6 feet, long and lumbering, and come at fairly long intervals. We are definitely back in a real ocean! It is bright and sunny out, and there has been little traffic.
By 1700 the winds had lightened up, sea conditions the same. Today was noticeably warmer than it has been in a while, a really nice day overall in terms of sun and temperatures. Of course, warm is a relative word. It is still not warm enough to keep the pilot house doors open.
The reprieve in the wind didn’t last long, and by 2100 it had picked back up to the 15 21 knots apparent it had been averaging most of the day. There is no moon yet, no clouds, and no city lights anywhere nearby, so the stars are really vibrant in the sky. Unfortunately, it is too cold to sit outside and admire the heavens. Even after the moon rose, it was still really dark outside. Not good for visibility. Thank goodness for radar. We slowed down significantly today, averaging only 5.75 knots.