Bay of Biscay to Gibraltar

Sheppards Marina
June/July 1983We pointed our nose South,  put our trust in the Gods (and the Shipping Forecast) and snugged everything down so it wouldn't fly about should we get some weather.  As luck would have it the wind was pretty much on our back and we flew across the Bay.  One day while up on deck everyone had their noses stuck in some form of reading material I just happened to poke my nose over the spray hood and noticed a flock of small birds fluttering over a spot directly ahead.  This merited a closer examination and there, on the nose, was a hump in the sea.  I quickly ran back to the wheel, turned off the autopilot and made a quick turn to starboard.  We passed within 30-40 feet of the hump which we decided was probably a dead whale.  If we had hit that it would have been game over as we were going over 6 knots and would probably have done major damage to the boat. 
The Shipping Forecast kept waning of gales off Finisterre and the skies clouded over plus the visibility go slightly worse.  We came level with the Cape, and guess what, they got it wrong!  The wind gradually decreased throughout the day and we had a nice lazy sail down the coast.  By the time we came to Portugal it was much warmer and we got rid of the heavy clothes, had a much needed bath on deck and decided to fly the cruising chute.  We got the bright idea of attaching the bosun's chair to the outboard end of the chute and managed some good photos, plus a few dunkings.  Everyone took their turn, what a lot of fun!
The trip down the coast was stuff dreams are made of, with light winds off the starboard quarter, warm temperatures and slight seas.  The left turn at Cape St. Vincent was the beginning of the eastward journey to the fabled Strait of Gibralta,r although I think the Pillars of Hercules sounds much sexier.
We picked up a westerly and were flying through the Strait accompanied by dolphins and pilot whales.  We were also joined by a boat from Vancouver, Canada, a Greek returning home in style.  He had a big cage on the fordeck with a parrot, all he lacked was a peg leg and an eye patch! Arrgh!
Gib is visible from a a long way off and it seemed to take forever to get in.  After 9 days at sea we were all looking forward to a nice hot shower and a more stable platform plus a cold beer wouldn't go amiss!  The sun was just getting ready to dip below the horizon by the time we got tied up at Sheppard's Marina, boy did that feel good.  Not one single thing broke, nothing went wrong, no personal conflicts and we made it safely, this we considered a major achievement.

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