I’m brushing up on my sextant skills with the aim of taking (and passing) the Yachtmaster Ocean exam in Las Palmas when we get there. My 500 nm qualifying passage will be Gibraltar to Gran Canaria in October.
The plot today went well, all things considered. There was a clear view of the sun in the morning so I did a standard Sun Sight which plots as a Line of Position. In this case, 112 degrees from my chosen position and 10 seconds (nautical miles) away from it.
The second shot today is known as Sun Meridian Passage. The idea is to take six or eight shots before and after noon and work out the time and angle of the highest point of the sun. At local noon you are on the same meridian as the sun (the sun is directly north or south of you) so the result is a line of latitude, in this case 36 deg 51.1 seconds North. The was a lot of high cloud at 1400 local so I wasn’t very confident of accurate readings.
Finally, in order to fix your position at the time of the second sight, you move (advance) the first Line of Position by the course and distance sailed between the first and second sights, in this case 290 deg and 12 nm. Where the Advanced Line of Position and the noon latitude cross is your position! Magic really.
The final plot looks like this:
The noon sight was taken after we had dropped anchor, so I took a screenshot of my iPad which shows the boat location (red arrowhead) and my calculated position (white circle) about 8 nm apart. Good enough for sailing the oceans!
Sunday finds us in Alicante Marina meeting Tim & Jane from their flight from London. The first night we spent on the anchor off the island of Tabarca, about 10 miles south of Alicante.
Next we headed south to Cape Palos, and took a couple of sun shots with the sextant en route (5 miles out, not bad!). Once there, out came the paddleboard.
Next stop was Carboneras Beach, with a great view as long as you’re not looking west (cement factory). On the way we intercepted Brizo, a Discovery 55 owned by some of Tim’s friends. They were on their way to get a new engine start battery so we left them to it.
At Carboneras we took the tender ashore for some urgent provisions, a cocktail or two and a rather disappointing meal. Win some, lose some.
Then finally we took the opportunity to practice with the cruising chute in light winds. Too light, really, but a good learning experience all the same. Back in Aguadulce Marina we had a meal ashore (half a metre of pizza) before saying good-bye, for the time being, to Tim & Jane.
After three weeks in Palma, with lots of guests and lots of boat work, we finally left two days ago and are now at anchor off Formentera, south of Ibiza.
Improvements to the boat include: new water heater, new capacitors for the generator (one failed), new main halyard swivel (came from Ipswich) and new solar panels. Everything seems to be working well except the solar panels which appear to be producing only 3.5A out of a theoretical maximum of 18A. The boat draws 11-12A when sailing so we’d be happy with anything above 9A.
Tomorrow we’ve got a long day to the mainland (probably Calpe) then we gently sail down the coast to Gibraltar – more soon!