Early the next morning my dreams of fresh tea and porridge were brought to reality, as Didou’s head emerged in my cabin, the new cut across his forehead vivid in the dark, his own memory from the Baleares. He’d been at the helm since midnight and was surrendering to sleep. I had just enough time to eat my porridge, which had turned into our morning ritual, before Didou collapsed into his bunk.
Polishing off my breakfast in the cockpit, I put my head back and watched the stars disappearing with the awakening of the new day. I had that feeling of ease as Elvire held her course. All she needed were supple touches to the helm to keep her on the right tack. We now had about forty-eight hours to Gibraltar and duty free cigarettes.
The horizontal rain was doing its best to claw through our wet weather garments as the lights of Gibraltar come into view two days later. The swell assaulting the Rock was dispatching twenty-foot jets of seawater into the air and with the wind gusting over force nine as it was reflected off the side of the cliffs; it looked as if life had not changed much on home soil.
The first duty when we had located the correct marina hidden behind the walls of this fortress was to get passed the customs of the Rock. Ian’s eyes gave a concerned look when the officer inquired how many bottles of wine we had on board (these French navigators have a reputation!), luckily our only detected problem was the Spanish courtesy flag still flying off the port spreader. With Elvire and ourselves now checked in and the correct flags flapping in the wind, we made a fast passage by foot to the town centre for a soul-reviving pint of English beer.
The next day was spent in the harbour giving us the much-needed time to prepare Elvire and ourselves for the Atlantic; clean, check and double check. Steak and kidney pies and warm beer for lunch kept the British vibe going and by the end of the day we were fully loaded, with duty free fuel and the water tanks topped up. That evening with the sun setting, we cast off the mooring wraps, ready for our adventure into the “new world”.