Dire Straits

Having been monitoring the weather from a week before, it was no surprise to see that our intended overnight to Gibraltar was untenable due to the Easterly F8 gales west of the straights.

Having arrived in Vilamoura via Faro airport, we enjoyed our day, victualling for the passages and watching the tense England football victory over Tunisia with a very forgettable burger. Notable was spotting another Southerly 135, Aurora in the marina and taking note of some of their enhancements that I could use to embellish Hejira. Charlie Hunter who has been ‘camped’ in Vilamoura for a few years had been most helpful in providing advice for the best drying locations in the Faro lagoon, information I have shared with other Southerly owners who I know are heading south.

We had two options given the weather prospects; sit tight or make a passage to the north of the worst of the weather and so shorten the push to Gibraltar. Keen to make progress, we chose to press on with a 90nm passage to Chipiona in Spain but we had to deal with big winds on our arrival which, I am sorry to admit, exposed my seemingly inadequate handling skills in the conditions. With more damage to pride than Hejira, we actually had an exceptionally good seafood meal in the nearest restaurant and this was therapeutic in the circumstances.

With no apparent weather improvement in the crucial Gibraltar straights we took a short hop south to Puerto Rota (recommended) with the intention of pressing on in the moderating (but not favourable) conditions next day and a 75 mile push for Gibraltar.

My crew for this leg to Barcelona is Dave Wright. Dave has sailed with me on and off for nearly 20 years and his usual ‘modus operandi’ (having a stressful job) is to sleep for 3 days and, as I write at 1900 hrs, he is asleep and snoring. Having said that, with just the two of us on board, Dave is shaping up as the most excellent crew and I am sure that, by the time he leaves, he will have honed all the skills just in time to forget them again.

I have to say that I didn’t have much expectation for Dave on the blog front as accountants are not known for their linguistic creativity but he tells me he has been working on a limerick so I feel he must be given ‘his head’.


Dave writes:-



Nick has not really done justice to the meal in Chipiona last night: fish soup, scrambled egg with sea urchins and other stuff was excellent followed by paella from the top drawer. In fact Nick found this restaurant next door to the one we had our “dirty beer” in – I thought  they were both closing – yes there are 2 restaurants in Chapiona – but in fact they were just getting going as people in Spain come out to eat at 10pm (very strange….). Anyway this restaurant was a great find, and palatable, washed down with a bottle of cold Rose. My biggest contribution of the day was to prevent the skipper from ordering another bottle of Rose (although it would have been nice) thereby ensuring we both had capacity (on board) for the cold white port (purchased earlier in the day) which was excellent.


I understand limericks are semi compulsory in this blog so I have applied myself and come up with following (as a first attempt):


I thought I would (try to) write a limerick

But Ollie’s high standards made me hesitate a bit

I’m sunburned and cold

Like Nick, grumpy and old

This is not very good but I tried (that’s the point of it)


Goodbye and thank you – I’m here all week………

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