Night Watch

Rolly Seas on Sunday

05:00 Monday 23 September.  Been on deck for an hour or so, the grey gloom of dawn is all around. What wind there is has gone around to the west Temptress is motoring with a scrap of jib to steady her course through the sloppy seas left over from yesterday’s easterly F4. The skies have clouded over since my last watch which finished at 2 am so there is no moon to write by.

The skipper went to his bunk leaving the first mate with the only ship for miles. It uneventfully passed ahead from right to left on its way north. Now there is a single white light just ahead an off to port, probably a yacht. It is not on the AIS and the sea is way too deep at over 2000m for a small fishing vessel to be laying pots or nets. Wonder who they are? It seems to be on the same course as us. Two hundred and twenty nautical miles down, less than sixty to go to reach our destination of Rabat, Morocco. Is the yacht heading there too?

Sunday Evening Sunset

Despite crossing some of the world’s major shipping tracks to and from the Straits of Gibraltar some hundred miles or so to our left (east of the boat) we’ve seen very few ships except on the AIS which at times has had a continuous trail of overlapping triangular green icons. The VHF has been busy with radio operators calling one another to arrange starboard to starboard passing/overtaking or the like. We also realised tonight that the AIS is not always the miracle tool it seems, one large passenger ship turned out to be an enormous tanker when it finally appeared over the horizon confusing the skipper somewhat – one watch officer presumably didn’t check which ship type they were selecting when configuring their set.

Yesterday the skipper informed me that we had had a net net day in terms of power – amps consumed equaled amps generated thanks to plenty of wind and sun. The water tanks are full despite the skipper forgetting to push the lever over to direct the water made into the tank the day before yesterday after we left Sines, Portugal. As we’ve been motoring at intervals overnight we’ll have ample hot water for showers too, it will be nice to arrive clean and fresh. Looking forward to when we arrive as I’ll be able to charge my toothbrush. Having one of those little rings you balance it on to charge may be neat but it is difficult to keep it there at sea and I forgot to do it whilst we were at anchor. Cleaning your teeth with a “dead” electric toothbrush is not the most efficient of processes.

Approaching Rabat Entrance, Monday afternoon

There has been little wildlife since we sailed south of Cabo Sao Vincent, only the occasional bird. The first day as we headed south off the remainder of Portuguese coast there had been lots of dolphins and gannets to keep us company. Now though I can smell the hot musky scent of land a bit like damp wood on the breeze. This westerly probably came across the Sahara and over the mountains of northern Morocco to reach my cosy corner of a rather dewy cockpit. It has been great not to need oilies and thermals at night. A long sleeved t-shirt, light trousers and thin fleece is all that is needed to ward off the relative chill once the sun has set. Keeping the cushions dry is though a necessity; fold it over when not actually sitting on it otherwise you quickly get a damp behind.

I’m signing off to do a scan of the horizon and make some coffee. It will soon be light and at 08:00, time for the skippers watch.

Log: Sines, Portugal to Rabat, Morocco – 284nm


  1. Keith thank-you! Our next port is as yet undecided but it'll be somewhere further south down the Moroccan coast. We fancy Mohammedia with it's rather unique mooring facilities – anchor off the pontoon and take a line back to a boat already moored!


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