Aventura Zero Logs , News

A successful end to our maiden voyage

Aventura Zero journal

2 – 5 November


The timing of our departure from Ceuta had to be very precise so as to catch the favourable west-setting current through the Straits of Gibraltar and, hopefully, stay with it for a while. Rafael Ponce, a friend from the Cadiz Yacht Club and local pilot, had generously offered to meet us at Chipiona, close to the mouth of the Guadalquivir, and help us negotiate the challenging 50-mile upriver passage to Seville. After days of frustration, this time we had good winds on the 100-mile passage and were spot on time for our rendezvous.

The local pilot launch made a perfect approach, came within a couple of centimetres of our starboard hull so that our guests could step onboard as if from a marina pontoon. With our limited range under power, and the hope to make it all the way to Seville on one tide, I regarded Rafael’s offer as a generous sign of friendship, and certainly didn’t expect him and Susana to come loaded with gifts.

The tactics were similar to sailing the Thames to London. We crossed the river entrance at the optimum time and Rafael told us that if we managed to maintain an average speed of 7 knots, the favourable tide would stay with us all the way to Seville. That meant almost full power for our motors and possibly outside our battery capacity. But finally, luck was on our side, an easterly wind breeze came up and we were soon sailing at more than 6 knots with an additional 2.5 knots by a friendly current.

The combination of favourable wind and current allowed us not only to reach Seville on one tide, but also with our batteries at more than half their capacity.

Because of the official status of the Elcano Challenge and our special relationship with the Spanish Navy, our host, the Naval Commander of Sevilla, had arranged for the busy road bridge, which only opens twice a day, to be specially opened for Aventura Zero to pass into the inner harbour. In pouring rain we headed for the pontoon that had been prepared for our arrival and, as we got closer, I could not believe that the person who was ready to take our lines was none other than Javier Albert, the Naval Commander himself. At 2 a.m. local time!

Our 1000–mile maiden voyage from La Grande Motte has come to a successful end. It was, at times, a challenging experience but full of useful lessons.  Our long voyage can now start in earnest.

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