Here is the latest SitRep aka Situation Report for the Good Ship Mobius as of 27 November, 2022. Last SitRep took you up to Nov. 16th when we were in the little Spanish enclave of Melilla on the Moroccan coast waiting for a good weather window to make the next jump Westward and across the Strait to Gibraltar.
Where are we and how did we get here?
Zooming waaaaay out here is a screenshot of the satellite version from our PredictWind app which is what Weather Wonder Woman Christine uses most to do all our weather routing, that shows our travels since we left Kalymnos Greece on Oct. 30th, to where we are now at the base of the Rock of Gibraltar. Total route distance from Kalymnos to Gibraltar is 1653 nm.
For those interested, here is the “weather version of this same map from PredictWind showing the various wind speeds and directions as of this afternoon, Sunday Nov. 27th. These weather maps are a bit difficult to read at first so you will likely want to click to enlarge this in order to see the thing white line that is our actual GPS track.
My cartography skills are sadly lacking but I’ve done my best to add some text to help you read this somewhat busy weather map.
To help you read these weather maps, here is the color code for the different wind speeds in kts or Knots with dark Blue being zero wind, Greens being in the 20 knot range, Orange/Reds in the 30’s etc.
In our case we like having a bad case of the Blues!
The shortest version of this latest Sit Rep for those who just want the facts is that we stayed in Melilla for 9 days and then made the overnight passage to Gibraltar over what was American Thanksgiving on the 24/25th. That passage was 144 nautical smiles which we did in 18 hours 5 minutes so our average SoG (Speed over Ground) was 8.0 knots.
8 knots has been our overall average speed on the entire trip so far and now that we have Mr. Gee v2 pretty well broken in and have gained a better understanding of how the boat handles in different conditions and weights, we will start to play more with different combinations of engine RPM, prop Pitch and record the resultant boat speed and fuel burn rates as we seek out the Goldilocks combination for us and Möbius. Our average fuel burn rate at 8 knots is averaging out to be about 1.8 L/nm which we are quite pleased with and we will just see how this varies at different speeds, RPM and pitch. Stay tuned for more updates on these statistics in the coming weeks and months a we gather more of this real world data as we travel.
Crossing from Morocco to Gibraltar
I don’t think I had fully appreciated the fact that the ONLY way into the Med is through the Straits of Gibraltar which is only 13 kilometers (8.1 miles; 7.0 nautical miles) at the Strait’s narrowest point! So there is a LOT of water that needs to flow in and out of that very narrow Strait every day.
This satellite photo from space helps you appreciate just how narrow it is with the Gibraltar down in the bottom left looking across the entire Mediterranean sea. In addition to all the water that, there is also a LOT of boats that also have to go through on their way in or out of the Med.
Here is a shot of our chart as we were crossing the Straits just at sunrise on the 25th. Each of those blue triangles is a commercial ship on our AIS Automatic Information System overlayed onto our chart. Möbius is the little Red ship icon down on the bottom right of this shot. It actually worked out quite well and we only needed to slow down briefly for one ship near the beginning of the crossing to allow him to cross in front of us and the rest all worked out to be far enough away as our wakes crossed.
The Rock isn’t a Hard Place at all!
The past few days we’ve been busy exploring the famous Rock of Gibraltar and all this area has to offer. Gibraltar has been a “British Overseas Territory” since 1713 and is only 6.7 km2 (2.6 sq mi) and completely bordered by Spain on the North, but being at the literal gateway to the Mediterranean it is hugely strategic. Being such a small area means that pretty much everything is within walking distance so we’ve been doing lots and the weather has been grand.
Christine also put her eBike to good use to ride over to the “grocery store to die for” as she described her time in the Morrisons Grocery store that is only a few blocks away from where we are docked in QueensWay Quay and transport about 25 kilos of goodies she found there back to Möbius.
Gibraltar may be small but based on the number of condominiums and new construction we’ve seen this is obviously a very popular spot for people seeking to find warmer climates than most other spots in Europe. Due to Brexit and the Schengen restrictions elsewhere in the EU, Gibraltar is particularly popular with the Brits it seems. The benefit for us is that in the midst of one of these newer developments is QueensWay Quay Marina which is where we tied up early Friday morning to use as our home base to explore the infamous Rock of Gibraltar and wait for the next weather window to cross back over to Morocco and around the corner to Tangier.
Today we took the aerial tram up the almost vertical face to the “Top of the Rock” and had a marvelous time exploring this awemazing vantage point. If you look really, really, really closely can you find Möbius docked in the Queensway Quay marina in the center of this photo?
The Rock itself did not disappoint, either as we sailed by it coming in or up close and personal as we walked around it today.
Pardon the glare through the window but couldn’t resist including this shot that Christine’s quick fingers managed to grab out the window where we were enjoying a bit of lunch. Christine also spent a few hours exploring some of the caves and tunnels on The Rock and we thoroughly enjoyed our time up on The Rock today.
Where to Next?
As you may recall from seeing this chart in previous posts, our intent is to leave the Med and sail across the Atlantic which we are now about to do. Ever dependent upon weather, we are watching what is known as the Azores High which spins up winds in a clockwise direction so we will be looking for low to no wind areas down on the bottom South end of this High such that they will be behind us and helping us along. Marked as “Return of Rally Route” on this chart. Best time for this Westward crossing has just started so our timing is very good to be here now.
This is also the time when the large Atlantic Rally Crossing or ARC begins and as per this real time position update, about 200 boats left the Canary Islands on the 20th and are in the positions you see in THIS real time position map courtesy of the ARC web site. And you thought the Straits of Gibraltar were busy! The ARC and other rallies are more and more popular for their safety in numbers and ease of crossing advantages as well as the high social factor but not our cup of tea so we are purposely trailing well behind them and more likely that we’ll leave the Canary Islands in about two weeks from now, mid December.
As of tonight, Sunday Nov. 27th, weather is looking good for us to cross back over the Straits starting tomorrow and the next few days. We will most likely stop next in Tangier for a brief tour of that interesting city before we continue south hopping along the coast of Morocco and over to the Canary Islands. We will again let weather and whim dictate how many hops and stops we make along the way and will update you in the next SitReps here as to how that all goes.
So that brings you all up to date on the latest from the Good Ship Möbius and our thanks to all of you for joining us on this latest adventure of the Nauti Nomadic Grandparents. We’ll be back in a week or two with then next SitRep so please stay tuned for more to follow as we continue our journey West and across the Atlantic.
When you have an opportunity, please share with us some of your daily “do list” of what it takes to keep things Bristol fashion, ship shape. I know that in addition you have various monitoring systems including your’s and the Captain’s experience lesson base.
Being endowed with a vivid imagination, I wonder what would happen to an ARC if as rogue wave washed through? https://nautil.us/when-good-waves-go-rogue-rp-234995/
I’ll do my best to continue posting updates as we continue our passages West, across the Atlantic and into the Caribbean over the next few months. I don’t think “Bristol fashion” applies too well to these XPM style of boats as a key design goal was to minimize maintenance to new lows and to have a very “industrial” exterior esthetic with unpainted Al, no stainless, wood or paint, etc. but I will continue to relate the day to day experiences we have with keeping Möbius as ship shape as we can as we continue to put her through her paces as the nautical smiles go under the keel at a good pace for the next while. Right now we are sitting in Tangier Morocco waiting for a good weather window to head down to the Canary Islands which seems to still be a ways off but gives me time to get more of the boat jobs done such as setting up more of the many monitoring systems you mentioned.
Appreciate your long and continued company on this grand adventure John, thanks.
Thank you for the update.
It brings back pleasent memories.
MY QASWA (a Stadtline 39, Alu.), my son and I stayed in the same marina just a few months ago.
Before making the way back to the homeport Hamburg/Germany, “on the outside”/Atlantic.
Have you seen parts of Portugal in your previous trips? It would be a shame to miss, as you are so close.
Please have and enjoy a safe trip.
Memories are all we have really so glad to know that these posts are helping you enjoy some of yours all the more. We have spent quite a bit of time in Portugal, though not so much by boat but enough for it to be one of our top countries to spend more time in. Schengen limitations thwarted our hopes to spend time there this season as we make our way out of the Med but we’ve been really enjoying the North African coast so it is all good.
We’ve had a great run weather and sea wise since leaving Kalymnos in Greece at the end of October and are now in Tangier Morocco waiting out a prolonged round of some troublesome Lows that are offshore in the Atlantic so we can continue south on the coast down to the Canary Islands where we will start our Atlantic crossing over to the Caribbean. Current forecasts are not showing a break for us yet but we’re in a very good spot here in Tangier and enjoying this latest city and marina while we wait. Looks like it will probably be at least another week, but then weather is always an uncertain affair so we’ll just keep hoping for a favorable change to low winds and seas for our next run down to the Canaries. Patience is indeed a virtue for safe and comfy passage making and all our dates are self imposed so we’ll continue to wait for Mother Nature to bring us her gifts.
The Schengen advantages are taken for granted by people living INSIDE the “Freedom of movement” Schengen Zone.
Some EU passports make travelling the world fairly easy.
The younger generation <45 have not experianced the way before. They do not know the hard bordercontrolls (e.g. FRG/GDR iron curtain)
Only hearing about the difficulties of people like you, or travelling to Britain post BREXIT, let people think about it again.
40 years ago I myself was surprized by the VISA for Spain in my fathers passport.
Having flown there earlier just presenting my German ID card no Visa needed.
My father had been in Spain under the Franco governmet not that long before myself…
Let us hope that the world will become more open to people travelling……
I know wishfull thinking.
Good observations. I lived in Germany several times, most recent 1980-1984 and so like you said, I’ve got first hand experience of how things were before Schengen and how big a difference it is now to just drive/sail/fly in and out of Schengen countries with essentially no border crossing requirements. I clearly see the differences and benefits and the “freedom of movement” is indeed a very good thing and one I support whole heartedly. I understand the 90 day restrictions on amount of time one can stay within any 180 day period, I just hope that they evolve this so that people such as cruisers like us, can apply for extensions to be able to stay longer, enjoy and promote the areas and add to the economy of these regions. So I think many/most parts of the world are becoming more open and easy to travel within and just hope this evolution continues and perhaps speeds up a bit.