Our First Long Passage: Gibraltar to Las Palmas

The Plan
The Plan

Finally, our first long passage!

We need to sail to Las Palmas, Canary Islands, for the start of the ARC+ 2022. The ARC require the skipper to have sailed a passage of at least 500 nm in the last 12 months, but I’m also attempting to complete RYA Yachtmaster Ocean which requires a passage of 600 nm with at least 200 nm more than 50 nm from the coast.

The plan (Weather 4D & Routing) tells me that it’s 703 nautical miles (nm) from Gibraltar to Las Palmas, Canaries, and the Great Circle routing gives us 212 nm more than 50 nm from the coast. The weather forecast shows light winds off the coast of northern Morocco so we have to go further out to sea anyway

Goodbye Gibraltar
Goodbye Gibraltar

We slipped out mooring in Queensway Quay Marina in Gibraltar at 5:30 pm on Sunday evening in order to avoid a massive current against us in the Strait of Gibraltar. A few hours later we were dodging cargo ships before clearing the Traffic Separation Scheme and setting off to the south-west looking for stronger winds. We didn’t find them for another 24 hours.


It all went pretty much to plan except the engine is still burning through coolant despite the heat exchanger and turbo being overhauled in Gibraltar last week. The coolant level is reducing even when we’re sailing so it’s probably a loose jubilee clip or something simple like that.

One night we spent quite a while dodging thunderstorms. We dodged them all – but one. It’s great having a radar but thunderstorms move faster than Mistral!

An Achievement!

It was great to complete our first proper ocean passage. 706 nm against our previous longest of 260 nm, five nights at sea against two. We all learned a lot and I’m sure Laura and Martin are more confident about managing the boat on an overnight watch. For the record, the stats are:

  • Distance: 706 nm
  • Time: 4 days and 21 hours
  • Time motoring: 37.3 hours
  • Time sailing: 79.7 hours
  • Fuel used (generator): 16 litres
  • Fuel used (engine): 171 litres
  • Fuel consumption: 4.6 litres per hour (that’s low because we reduced power when we noticed the coolant was leaking)
  • Water remaining: 817 litres (topped up every day by the watermaker)
  • Average electrical drain when sailing: 3% per hour
  • Average electrical recharge rate on engine or generator: 25% per hour