Plastic coated shores of Andalucia
On Thursday morning, Sept 22, the first day of shorter daylight hours after the autumnal equinox, we motored out of Almerimar marina and along the plastic covered coast.  It's not pretty to say the least, but these greenhouses provide lots of food and flowers for markets.  Since entering the Med in June, 2009, we have enjoyed being a part of Europe (especially our winter in Gaeta), walking in the paths of history, and seeing old friends and meeting new.  On the other hand, the sailing was not great and wonderful anchorages few and far between.  We've loved our time here and made the most of it, we think, but we are happy to be sailing west.  We can return by air, so it's not "goodbye Europe" completely.

ship adrift, on our path
Now it is HELLO, GIBRALTAR!  It was an easy overnight motor, although the Med stayed true to its nature and our forecast easterly winds (favorable) became westerlies within 6 hours, and we motored into the wind, with adverse currents too every 6 hours.  The biggest challenge was the large numbers of ships just drifting on both sides of our route.  It is too deep to anchor, so while they wait for a berth in port they save fuel by drifting.  Thank goodness for AIS, because in the "old" days we would have both been up puzzling over lights and directions and collision paths.  Now we can check the AIS data and see that they are pointed one way, yet moving at less than 1 knot in another direction--definitely drifting.  We still remain vigilent, since there is always the odd ship without AIS or with a malfunction, and of course the yachts and fishing boats rarely have AIS transponders.

Now here we are in Gibraltar at last, and we really feel that we have started on this next phase of our cruising.  Many of the other boats here are also crossing the Atlantic this season, so there is lots of talk about paths--Morocco?  or Madeira?  or Atlantic Spain & Portugal? or ???  As usual, we aren't sure so we will wait to see how the winds go when we are ready to leave.  Meanwhile, you can see from the photos that there is lots to see and do here.  We have to climb the rock, see the apes, see all the war memorials, and share sea stories with other cruisers.  Dale (Jane's sister) will come to meet us next Wednesday, and we'll save some of the Gibraltar touring until she gets here.  She will be with us to the Canaries, and luckily she is relaxed about what path we take.  It will all be good we know.
We got back aboard Cormorant late on Thursday night, after a long saga of missed Space-A flights from the USA to Spain.  Our 3rd try worked and on Wed. we flew from McGuire Air Force Base to Maron in Spain Again we met some wonderful people on the flight.  Jerry and Ann live part of the year in Spain and once aground, they rented a car and we drove to the nearest town and went directly to the National Police station.  Our absolutely first order of business was to get an entry stamp into our passports so we would be legal in the EU and Schengen.  After a coffee together, they dropped us at the bus station in town, and we rode buses all day to get back to Almerimar and the boat.  It was heavenly to sleep in our own bed and feel the boat rocking gently.

The main reason for no photos is that we have been contorted in strange positions trying to get wires into impossible places.  At one point yesterday I was curled up inside the lazarette pushing a wire while Harry balanced on top of the arch trying to see it going past the small outlet.  Somehow now the wires are in and we are still talking to one another.  We are installing our new AIS transponder, which means that not only will we now be able to see information on where ships are, where they are going, how close they will come to us, and what their name is, our own boat will also show on their screens.  Hopefully this will make them even more aware of a tiny sailboat out there with them.  We plan to leave tomorrow or Thursday for Gibraltar so we will certainly get a good chance to check it out.  There could be over 100 ships within range as we approach the harbour.

We promise there will be more photos next time.  Maybe we'll even take one of a Gibraltar ape.