I didn’t realize how fast the time was slipping by as we hung around La Linea and Gibraltar. We are in Arrecife on the island of Lanzerote in the Canaries now. Since picking up my brother we have moved a little over 650 miles. Not much actually. But for the first time in a while, I don’t feel like I need to be in that much of a hurry. Oh, and it feels great to be in an ocean again.

My brother, Sean, flew into Gibraltar almost a month ago. I waited and waited for him to come out of the airport terminal. The tiny airport was pretty much empty and I still waited around. I knew he was there as I saw him get off the plane from the observation deck. Finally the doors opened and he came out, without any luggage! So we made the short walk across the runway (yes you walk across the runway to get back to Gibraltar proper) and waited for three days for the luggage to arrive. This was a bit rough since besides his clothes the luggage also contained all sorts of parts for Slick. Finally it came though.

We toured around Gib a bit, it isn’t a very big place but it certainly seemed expensive. Even though it has a really low tax rate, everything has the same price as Spain, except the price is in pounds instead of euros. This automatically made it twenty percent more expensive, at least. There were also no cheap eats to be had there. We realized we were spending too much money on things and decided to make a tour of the rock and then head back to La Linea.

The Rock of Gibraltar was great. We elected to hike up and down instead of taking the tram. The whole rock is full of tunnels and harbor defenses and things like this. At the look out on the top there are monkeys (or little apes) that are pretty funny. They will gang up on the tourists, maybe one will climb up onto the victim and pose for a picture and then two others will come and try to take the person’s bag or camera and then they all run and see what they stole. We were pretty lucky not to get assaulted but we saw some people who were not so lucky. The hike ended with a fantastic walk down the Steps of the Mediterranean to the Pillars of Hercules. Lots of steps switch-backing down a shear cliff above the Med. Very nice.

The next day we returned to La Linea, this takes only about twenty minutes. On the way in I could here a Polish accent calling my name and when I looked over I saw Miros, a single handing friend whom I had not seen since Palau. He managed to catch me, again, and he didn’t even ship his boat. The first time he and I met was in Fatu Hiva, a long time ago. Once we got the formalities out of the way I went over to say hello. We had a long talk about our respective trips over a few bottles of ethanol-based liquids. He expressed all the same sort of reservations that I have had the last few years, the things that no one really talks about or thinks about when setting out to sail around the world. It was quite refreshing to hear that I am not the only one worried about my future employment prospects, unable to have or keep a relationship thanks to the distance and always leaving, being over-budget, tired of sailing and traveling, the loneliness and occasionally just out and out depressed among other things. After some commiseration we decided we had better talk about the good parts of the lifestyle. He and I have both had a great time but we are done. He is finished now with the circumnavigation and has a little Atlantic Circuit to do and I have what I have left. This is an interesting contrast considering all the boats around us just beginning.

During my visit with Miros though, one of the many backpackers looking for a ride came along. He didn’t end up going with Miros, so we picked him up instead. His name is Maurice. We had a few dock parties and then the weather finally let up enough for us to head out. The first day we made the tide and the wind was fairly light for the Straights of Gibraltar so we didn’t have much trouble. I could definitely see though how if you made a mistake with the tides and the wind was not quite right then you would really be in for a terrible trip making no headway and just getting beat up. We, fortunately, didn’t have that problem. Even though all the advice about when to leave conflicts a bit, we chose to go 27 hours after high tide. The ship traffic was not so bad either and after passing Tarife we turned to cross the shipping lanes and head for the Canaries. It was completely moonless and the pollution coming off Morocco was incredible. It was that sickly sweet smell of burning trash. A terrible thing.

The next day, we had many sail changes as we tried to find the optimum combination for the very little wind we had. I wanted to only take 4 days for the 650 mile trip, so we had to average 6 knots. Well, in 8 knots of downwind breeze that is pretty hard. Eventually we put up the Number 1 jib and the cutter. We also flew both spinnakers and eventually ended up motor sailing until the evening blow which gave us a chance to sail. This was how it went everyday and we were frequently escorted by dolphins and even had a little bird that was far too far from land and had to come rest on Slick. Night time was nice with three watch standers, although the nights are long up here. The numerous shooting stars and incredible luminescent plankton provided adequate distraction. I guess the transit was pretty boring over all but Maurice was a very good watch stander and Slick motored and sailed well and we made it in 4 days.

On the morning before we pulled in we had a fish hit. We were up watching dolphins when the reel went off. Being under motor I was using poles and was not expecting anything large. Well, by the time I got back to the pole almost all the line had been stripped out. I dialed up the drag but their was only a little line left in the reel to try to fight the fish. Whatever it was, it was big, I guess a tuna by how deep it must have gone. Eventually, much to my annoyance, the line snapped. Later we caught a small tuna, maybe 6 pound or something, as a consolation prize. It was on the new real, Okuma, so I got to test him out. He is not as powerful as the Penn 9/0 Jim Gentry, but he got the job done anyway.

Arrival was straight forward and we took a berth in the brand new Marina Lanzarote in Arrecife. We have been here since. Maurice headed off on another boat and Sean and I have just been hanging around, fixing things and getting work done. But we have managed to meet some interesting people. Mostly all the people here are crossing the Atlantic this winter, some will go on to the Pacific and others will just make an Atlantic Circuit. Sometimes I feel like I am a senior and many of the people around are freshmen. That’s OK I suppose, I have all sorts of things to give them, just no wisdom.

The second night after we arrived we had a dock party with the neighbors, then eventually they left. And on one day a whole crop of single-handers arrived from Morocco. We have been hanging out with them and they have been over on Slick for a few drinks and last night for dinner. Quite nice, and interesting folks too. Here are two blogs from them: one is a Turkish lady who is traveling to benefit Turkish girls her blog is Rota Atlantik , and the others are some guys from Alekistan .

Anyway, despite my reservations about bothering to go anywhere, we certainly need to leave. And I certainly have the equivalent of senioritus. Partly because I am anxious to be done and partly because I still seem to have no idea what comes next after the trip. In the mean time though, what comes next is a short cruise around the Canaries and then picking up Mathew and setting across the Atlantic!