Transiting Straits of gib Eastbound - Any Tips/Advice?

Richard10002

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As per the subject.

44ft Moody. typical speed through water 6kts. Skipper +1, or 2 crew. Fair amount of experience with tidal gates in the Irish Sea. Want to do it in daylight. Happy to end up in Gib., or carry on to wherever.

Not sure what more to ask

Many Thanks

Richard
 

HenryB

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I went East to West last year. I timed it to be on a day when the wind was forecast to be light, it turned out that there was no wind at all and the sea was glassy calm. I arrived off Gib about an hour before the slack tide so slightly against me. I kept fairly close to the European coast and had no wind at all until past Tarifa. There are many fast ferries and all manner of ships operating close to Gib so wouldn't like to make the passage at night or in poor visibility - I picked up about 90 ships at once on my AIS at one point.
I later took a thrashing near to Cape Trafalgar and eventually turned back to Barbate for some rest - if you go there then be very careful of the tuna nets which start about 100 metres from Barbate harbour and extend 3 miles out to sea.
If you wait for fine weather then the Straits are no problem.
Enjoy the trip,
 

starfire

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Best option seems to be, be off Barbate at hw -5 (Gib) & stay inshore, gives you about 2.5 hours of foul tide, ok then until hw +3. best if winds allow you to reach towards Tarifa.

I echo watching out for the ferries, they run on rails, have no brakes & no regard for anyone else.
 

AlanPound

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Going east is easier than going west (net inflow of water to the Med). If westgoing, get "Straits Sailing" booklet from Gib, as it details the current/tide situation very well.

Yes, stay reasonably inshore.

In any kind of seas, avoid the shallows around Trafalgar - it gets *really* nasty there (stupid enough to do it twice - not stupid enough do it again!)

Nets at Barbate are seasonal - sometimes they are not there, but it will really spoil your day if you get to hit them - keep your eyes open and approach Barbate from the South (the net to the west goes almost right up to the Marina entrance) - usually (but sparsely) lit at night.

Enjoy

PS. Visit Ceuta and Smir, don't go to Tangier.
 

Amphitrite

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The Straits Sailing Handbook is indeed the way to got as it probably is the only source with detailed tidal and current info for the straits - loved it when we sailed in the area.
 

Sea Devil

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I just stay close inshore to the Spanish side if its a foul tide and anyway I don't want to mix it with the ships and ferrys in the traffic zones... From memory there are rocks or a wreck on the headland entering the Agerciras bay...

As others have noted there is a lot of history in Gib - quite a place - after that it is a succession of excellent Spanish marinas all looking more or less the same...
 

capnsensible

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Done this trip 30 odd times, sometimes with tide planning and sometimes just going for it after returning from Azores direction. Inbound is quite straightforward (no pun!) as you will have the inbound current to assist. For three or four hours during a tide period, you will have an element of tide against you, but mostly the water movement will be favourable, you can still make ground against the ebb.
Things to watch for:
There are offshore sandbanks down the coast from Cadiz, I usually stay on the 20 metre contour if coming down this way. Takes about 3 to 4 hours from slipping from Cadiz to being off Cape Trafalgar (where a suitable toast may be made).
Hoya Banks off Trafalgar can get a bit nasty if the sea and the wind are up. There are shortcuts including a passage 100m off the lighthouse but they need care and suitable weather. Best take the longer, safer route to the West. If you left, say Cadiz at first light, you can easily do the rest of the passage in daylight.
Once you turn into the Straits, the wind will either be flat calm (rare but then in June you will probably get fog for the morning too!). At Trafalgar it will be either a bit North of West, or a bit South of East. Important point is that the downwind end of the Strits is ALWAYS windier. If its West, crack on but be prepared when you get past Tarifa. If its East, the first few hours may be a bit tough but it will get easier and at some stage you will get a lot of water movement in your favour. Bale out option at this end is Barbatte, not too inspiring but I have found some great restaurants.
Whatever the wind, stay close to the Spanish shore. This puts you in the Inshore zone of the Traffic scheme and you wont have to worry at all about big vessels. It may look busy on Radar, but you are well out of it. Fishing vessels are more of a concern especially round Hoya Banks. Keep a good watch and alter early. no problem.
Tunny nets will be out but are of much reduced length now and clearly marked. There is usually one off Barbatte (get to the east of it before rounding to enter the port), one off Zahara that will be the main interference and one to the west of Tarifa that you will miss easily as you alter to round Tarifa lighthouse. Tarifa has no interest in passing yacht trade and is only of any use in an emergency.
Thereafter, its lovely scenery, mountains each side, and the spectacle of Gib appearing round the right hand edge of Spain.
Crossing Algeceras bay is the time to be alert for Ferries (west side) and large ships (mostly east side) coming in for bunkering. Lots of small tanker movements as they move around to refuel their large customers. Keep well clear, ther is plenty of room in the bay.
The ferries are probably the biggest hazard but its not exactly the M25. They are quite visible and easily avoided, I tend to make an alteration early and let them get on with their job, especially the fast catamarans.
If you pass on by Gib, once you have rounded Europa Point, tide concerns are over and once through the busy anchorage to the east of the rock, life gets easy.
Should you stop however, all Customs formalities are carried out in the Marinas, the staff are now very good at this. It is worth booking a berth as they are very busy at this time of year but there is a big turnover so If you wish to stay, a day or two at anchor on the waiting list will secure you a berth.
For the definitive guide to the area, try the 'Straits Sailing Handbook' by Colin Thomas. Catalogued by Imray and Kelvin Hughes, or direct from Straits Sailing, an email will get you one for about 7 quid. Includes harbour pilots from Cadiz to Malaga.
Hope you enjoy your trip through, it can be quite something on windy days, but very satisfying. Enjoy!
 

Richard10002

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Many thanks for that - very comprehensive.

Is there any sense in transiting off the African Coast? In an Easterly, the wind should be diverging on that side, whereas it would be converging on the Spanish side?

Cheers

Richard
 

Sea Devil

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There are a couple of good reasons not to use the African coast... There are some substantial over-falls there - have a quick look at the chart - I think it was there that BP John Noaks lost his boat... Also lots of fishing nets floating around from local fishermen...

Tangier on the other hand is just lovely.. one of my favorite places in the entire med area... Security is excellent as the harbour is a 'free port' and folks can only get in and out with a passport... Parking - sometimes rafting is under the police/customs tower. The town itself is a joy as are the souks - If you are passing that way it's a real shame to miss this bit of easy access and safe oriental North Africa...
Michael
 

capnsensible

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No problem! Regarding using the Moroccan side inbound, I have never cosidered it viable unless you specifically want to visit Tangier. Its a surprisingly long way off at the Trafalgar end and it just means you have to cross the very busy TSS twice. Even outbound (to Canaries) on the 6 or so times Ive done it , Ive stayed on the North side until Cape Spartel is well abeam before turning Southwards. Dont worry about wind divergance, Its going to be loads ahead or loads astern, no advantage to playing it at all due to the ground you will loose crosssing the TSS at right angles. Bien Viaje as they say!
 
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