Although the plan was to leave Gib on Tuesday or Wednesday for Malaga, at Monday Morning Prayers on the 1st of February it was decided that we should head for Ceuta, Spanish North Africa; it is only 17 miles across the Straits and we had a couple of days to spare. I wandered off to the Chandler for a new Reefing Line and a Bosun’s Chair ,as I managed to break the one I inherited from Michael in Faro, while Mauro did some food shopping and John took charge of the boat. We slipped from Queensway Quay at midday and went around to the fuel berth in Marina Bay and took on 330 litres of diesel for £96!!! Which works out at ….. er ….. 30 p per litre!!!! 30 pence per litre !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Our trip across to Ceuta was uneventful, motor sailing almost all the way in 5 knot easterly winds until about an hour before we got to Ceuta. In Rota John had bought a frozen octopus and today he cooked it so and mid Straits of Gibraltar we snacked on boiled Octopus. Badly done it is like chewing rubber and the suckers get stuck to your teeth, not my favourite seafood; but John did an excellent job and I quite enjoyed it, tasted a bit like squid ……..
Finally, 5 miles from Ceuta, the wind picked up and for the first time since leaving Faro we were under Main Sail and Jib alone, 10 knots of wind on the beam, 4 knots through the water, no engines, no noise, gliding peacefully across the sea towards Africa; cool! All too soon we had to drop the sails and motor into Ceuta harbour and to the Marina. Luckily we have a linguist on board and after my ‘oh so English’ call on the radio to Puerto Desportivo de Ceuta, Mauro took over and got us the berth for the night.
I checked in with the Marina which John and Mauro tidied up the boat and then we went ashore for the evening. Our general opinion was that Ceuta was far more entertaining than Gib. By 8 pm in Gibraltar everywhere was closed for the night. By 8 pm in Ceuta the Tapas bars were closing and the Restaurants were just opening, and although it took us a while to find it, the main street, Paseo de Revellin, is seconds from the marina just under the Statue of Hercules. Walk passed Macdonalds (never a bad move) cross the road and turn right, walk under the road bridge and you’re there.
Ceuta was vey busy and lively and a complete contrast to Gibraltar just 24 hours earlier. We wandered around, soaking up the atmosphere, the beer, tapas and finally dinner. We dined in the Casino Militar, apparently a military veterans club, chosen because John decided to ‘let’s see what happens in here’. And it was a good call, plain decor, minimal atmosphere, simple menu but excellent food.
And so to bed…… looking forward to another dawn departure for Fuen-hhhirola ……….. (My Spanish pronunciation IS improving).