Bucket List: Gibraltar

I have been researching Teka‘s history. I think I am really starting to get somewhere, which is quite exciting., although there are still gaps. Decades long gaps. You can see what I’ve come up with so far by clicking here or navigating your way to the ‘About: Teka’ page. I will update that page as I find out more.

Looking in to all the places she has been works wonders as inspiration of places we want to go. Sometimes, when it’s cramped and damp it’s easy to forget that. Keith summed it up nicely the other day: We need to take her out. Living in a tiny house isn’t worth it, unless we use the sails! At this point we are very much at the local, costal, day sail stage. We are still learning. But the reason I want to do this (Keith’s reasons are overlapping, but not quite the same) is because I want to go places. Many, many, places.

One of mine is Gibraltar. It’s pretty much a given, really. Before the grand adventure we are intending to spend a season in the Mediterranean, and it would be tricky to get there from the UK without passing Gibraltar. It’s a somewhat less controversial destination request than, say, Madagascar. I have similar reasons for wanting to visit them both, though. When I am not Annie-with-a-boat, or Annie-the-bartender, I am Annie-who-is-interested-in-evolution. Specifically primate evolution. Madagascar is home to lemurs, and Gibraltar used to be home to Neanderthals.

Gibraltar are very proud of their Neanderthals, and have some rather amazing sites. Gorham’s cave, for example, has some intentional Neanderthal etching. Very exciting stuff, if you are me. That is another benefit of travelling by boat, when that boat is your home. There is less of a rush. Fewer compromises need to be made. We are intending to go everywhere that we want to go, so long as it isn’t too dangerous. The spot I want to visit in South Africa might have to be achieved by more conventional means, as the roaring forties are, well, roaring. But generally, the world is (will be) our mollusc. We can go somewhere, and, if we like it, stay for a while. If it’s rubbish we can leave on the next tide. At this point we have got a rough idea of our routes, but at this stage it is constantly evolving. Now we just need to do it…

(Caveat: that’s not all we need to do)

Lemurs at Bristol zoo. Because they’re cute. Photo credit: me.

Our first voyage

April 1st 2017 Bristol harbour to Portishead Quay Marina

After wintering outside the Arnolfini in Bristol, it was time to move on. Our entire pontoon had been full of boats on winter moorings, so everyone’s time was up. It was a little sad to see it gradually empty as everybody moved on.

There had been some bad weather warnings on the run up to the trip, but apart from a few early morning showers the weather was perfect. Locking out of Bristol and heading towards the gorge is no simple task: we have two tall masts and so several bridges had to be swung to let us through. Apologies to anyone who is reading this who was caught in the traffic jam be caused at Cumberland basin!

We motored along the gorge. It turns out that there is no better way to see the suspension bridge than from below – it is an incredibly dramatic view. There is some great wildlife spotting opportunities too: we saw a tree filled with grey herons, and a flock of small black and white birds skimming over the water. Everyone was in good spirits. I took the opportunity to take to my favourite spot – sitting on the base of the bowsprit – as we hit the channel. I half expected it to get a bit choppy but it was incredibly calm.

Once we were in the channel we decided to set the jib. It is by far our smallest sail, but it added over a knot to our speed. I can’t wait to try out the others! It was so beautiful that we were tempted to continue on our bearing, as we were headed (more or less) towards the Caribbean. Unfortunately, although the entire crew had bought biscuits along, we didn’t think we would have enough food for an Atlantic crossing, so we stuck to our voyage plan and turned in to Portishead.

Crew: Bob, Keith, Annie, Paul, Hugh, Roger

10:12 342(T) SOG: 3.7knots – Passed under the Bristol Suspension Bridge

11:00 323(T) SOG: 4.0knots – Passed under the Avonmouth bridge

11:10 312(T) SOG: 5.1knots – Set the jib

12:15 – Locked in to Portishead

Time completed: 4 hours and 50 minutes

Days run: 10.8 nautical miles

Average speed: 3.84knots

Maximum speed: 6.77knots