Sometimes plans changes

There is an incredible contrast in the weather, it seems to aways be strong winds in the evening and it calms down during the night and in the morning there is pretty much no wind at all. I assume the strong winds in the evening comes from the hot land heating up the air above it, making it rise. As it rises air from the cooler sea rushes in to keep the equilibrium. Anyway, as earlier mornings, there was not a cloud, the sun was warm and the wind was rather non-existing. Under such circumstances I always try to sail off anchor if the little wind there is allows it. This time both the wind and the tidal current was not in favor, so I had to motor to get into some wind before raising my sails. The goal for todays sail was to get to Huelva, the first Spanish town since I entered Portugal.

As I set sail, however, I realized that the winds were not going to take me to Huelva straight away, I would have to gybe my way over there, and to be honest I realized that the time I had to get there wouldn’t allow such maneuvers. As an alternative I had going straight to Cadíz instead, and the winds in that direction was favorable, so I changed destination. I still had the wind coming in from astern, but as I was sailing now it would be a straight sail directly to Cadíz without any gybing. The only thing was that Navionics calculated that it would take until 3 in the morning until I arrived. I was well aware of this and the alternative, gybing to Huelva, would have me there at midnight – or more likely later.

As the wind picked up as usual in the evening, I actually managed to get to Cadíz at midnight, which was rather welcomed after thirteen hours of sailing. I checked the charts and there are som buoys entering the port of Cadíz that would guide me to my anchorage, just after an enormous bridge. Since I had been sailing during the dark hours all my light sources, mainly my iPad and instruments, were turned down to make as little light as possible. So my eyes were rather sensitive to light at the moment. At that point, staring straight into the lights of a city, trying to single out four red or three green, blinking lights that marked the shipping lane was… hard. Even their lighthouse blinded me every now and then. It didn’t help either that there was a lot of wind power along the coast line, with red blinking lights. As I got closer they were easy to dismiss though, as they started to rise over the ocean.

Eventually I found the shipping lane and followed it in, under the bridge. Which by the way wasn’t hard to spot, it was massive and quite impressive! As I passed under it I was to take a sharp ninety degrees turn to starboard, go into a shallow area and drop the anchor. Quite simple. It was an incoming tide at the moment, but it was near slack tide so it was as shallow as it would get, so as long as I had more than a meter under the keel I would be fine.

As I started to prepare to anchor, I grabbed my torch, got to the bow, opened up the anchor locker, released the anchor so that it could be deployed and looked up to start to scan with the torch. I never had to, I immediately saw one of those small plastic fishing boats coming at me at full speed from port. We would absolutely crash if I didn’t do something, but at the same time I didn’t know if he had seen me and might try to turn to get behind me, so if I tried to do the same maneuver – to turn to port to get behind him – we would inevitably crash as well. Things that goes through your mind, running from the bow to the cockpitin the middle of the night with no lights but the town around you. Luckily the engine was at idle, so I slammed it in full reverse in one go as I entered the cockpit. I looked out to port and saw, as my engine was making quite some noice now, that the person on the other boat finally had seen me. I would guess it was about twenty meters from getting really expensive, but Away was dead in the water now, and he slowly turned his boat to port, making a 270 degrees turn. I guess he didn’t expect to see a 10 ton sailboat crossing the river at midnight. I didn’t expect to see one of those small fishing boats with a small closet sized superstructure heading down the river at that time.

It’s never a dull day when sailing! But now, I anchored and went to bed. The day after there was some wind even in the morning, and it was straight on my nose. It was time to sail off anchor!

More about that in the next post.

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