The next place we want to visit before we sail back to Lagos is Cadiz, one of the oldest cities in Europe dating back to the 13th century BC. But first, we have to cross the Strait of Gibraltar when the conditions are right. Because we sail, we want any wind blowing out into the Atlantic. We also want to cross the Strait of Gibraltar with as little countercurrent as possible.
The tidal current in the Strait of Gibraltar often amounts to 2-3 knots and at certain times it is even greater. In addition, if there are waves going against the tidal current, short steep waves are formed that can make it completely impossible to pass.
The tidal current always flows towards the place where the tide is low. This means that when the tide is increasing in one place, you have the current aginst you to go there. The tide current is at its weakest when it is high or low water.
There are several factors that must be met in order for us to have a comfortable sailing to Cadiz.
- Wind from the right direction.
- Correct tidal current, at westerly wind, pass Tarifa around high tide
- Leave Gibraltar when the sun rises to be able to be in Cadiz while the sun still is up
Unfortunately, the weather forecast shows winds around the west next week and we do not want to wait that long for perfect conditions. The day we will sail to Cadiz, the forecast shows light wind from the southwest in the morning. In the afternoon, it should turn to the west and increase slightly.
We leave Gibraltar at dawn to reach Cadiz before dark. When we get past the Gibraltar cliff, we met this 400 m long container ship that can carry over 20,000 containers.
They really are the giants of the sea. They are 60 meters wide, so they have about the same area as 4 football fields. They go fast too, over 20 knots, but it is not noticeable until you get close to them.
It was a nice journey through the strait while the sun rises behind us. To get a weaker countercurrent, we chose a route near the Spanish coast, about 500 m from land. Sometimes we even got the current with us due to the vortices that form near land.
We arrive in Tarifa as planned and the Atlantic Ocean is calm and nice so we do not face any unpleasant waves.
A few hours out from Tarifa, the current turns and is with us a few hours when we sail towards Cadiz. We have nice sailing in an increasing breeze that slowly turns to the west. About an hour before we arrive at the entrance to Cadiz, the wind turns to the northwest. To make it to Cadiz before it gets dark, we use the engine to keep us on track.
Cadiz is located on a large sand reef that forms an island in the delta where several rivers flow into the Atlantic. From the seaside, the city is dominated by the large hotels located along the long beach on the southern part of the island, and behind the hotels, the pylons rise to the large suspension bridge that connects Cadiz with the mainland.
To get to the marina out at Puerto America, we have to round Cadiz on the north side past the old city with its old fortification at the far end of the cape.
We dock at half-past five and just have time to check-in before they close the harbor office for the day. From the marina, we have a view towards the harbor for the cruise ships. When we get there, Iona is in the harbor. The vessel is not quite as large as the largest container vessel, it is 50 m shorter. There is room for over 5,000 passengers. I do not think there were so many onboard this time, on some of the ship’s balconies people are standing and watching the sunset.
We stay in Cadiz for a week, the city turned out to have a lot to offer and in the next story, we take you to the old parts of the city. Among other things to La Caleta, where a scene in the Bond film Die Another Day was filmed.