[Clan Sinclair]
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7 Roses
   & Zolo
Elba to
Tim about
   Zolo in

Zolo 6: Barcelona to Gibraltar, Published 3/19/2000

Rain, winter and bad weather reached Spain shortly after the arrival of 7 Roses, continuing the training period of the north Atlantic and making the solitary route of the next few days a bit more challenging. My companion, Jack, had to get off in Barcelona for personal commitments and won't be back for 2 or 3 weeks. The trip continues with the faithful 4 footed crew: Sultan is charged once again with the role of being the only man on board and Stella with her duty of careful watch off the bow. The only one who for some time now has been refusing to carry out his duties is the famous autopilot, immune to every repair and technical intervention. The only solution will be to replace it, which I will do in face of the solitary voyage ahead. The autopilot is equivalent to two crew members who don't get tired, don't eat, don't sleep and don't complain. It is bad enough to be deprived of it when there are the two of us but now that I'm alone it is truly torture. Every maneuver of the sails takes three times

The sky is cloudy and the wind is moderate from the south-southwest as we leave the port of Barcelona. The statue of Christopher Columbus, from high on his pedestal, indicates the route to the east, towards the Indies that led him to the islands of the New World. From one sailor to another, he receives all my respect and in his gesture I sense his auspices for a safe trip on that ocean where his dreams resided as well. The trysail and jib are towards the shore and the relative calmness of the sea allows us to slowly sail close-hauled. After so many miles sailing with both of us, I now find that complete harmony that develops between the boat and "man" when sailing alone. The senses become more refined and I share a complete mutual understanding with the surrounding nature and my small floating universe. The hours of not being able to leave the helm are tiring but they pass quickly when cheered up by the shifting melody of the sea. In these past few days I don't spend more than 12 to 14 hours sailing a

From Tarragona to Valencia the sea reminds me of the Adriatic, with low shoals and strong mistral winds that follow the course of the Ebro to its mouth. In this stretch of sea, a strong tailwind has allowed 7 Roses to maintain an average of 7 knots for more than 8 hours, a speed that has been reduced drastically in the afternoon thanks to the inevitable daily dose of a headwind. It takes six more hours of coming about under squalls of rain to cover the remaining 20 miles to Peniscola. I had already planned this stop after reading some interesting information on a text about the Templars. Peniscola was a seat of the Knights Templar who built a strong fort there during the end of the 13th century. On the headland of the ancient city, the perfectly preserved castle still dominates the bay. Subsequent fortifications closed in the citadel and the peninsula, which was once linked to the mainland by an thin bridge of sand.

In the ancient winding alleys and the tiny port, the passage of time seems to have stopped. In the afternoon, the day's fruits of labor are sold in the picturesque fish market while the vociferation of the fishmongers echoes through the entire village.

7 Roses is moored in the third row, next to the last fishing boat to enter the port. The atmosphere is cordial and dinner consists of a portion of gilthead and five tasty "langostini" offered by the fishermen. Add a nice rice sidedish and the day's toils vanish one bite after the other. Bad weather the next morning saves me from having to get up early and by following the advice of the fishermen even 7 Roses gets a day of rest.

Peniscola has been the most enjoyable stop since Barcelona. The coast of Spain that runs from the Pyrenees to Alicante was completely unknown to me before. In previous trips crossing the Mediterranean from east to west I had always preferred the quicker route in the direction of the Balearic Islands which is easier sailing. The low shoals of the eastern coast cause the sea to quickly become deep and choppy, there are few places of safe shelter and most of them are not easily accessible with east winds.

Only the last three hundred miles of Mediterranean remain and I ask a great gift of them: sun, blue sky and tailwinds until Gibraltar.

Last changed: 00/06/17 16:41:37 [Clan Sinclair]