Mistral @ Delta del Ebro
Oropesa to Benicarló
Enjoyed Oropesa, pleased I made time for a walk to the old town and castle. It made me a bit late heading off, but that worked well - trying to rest the fingers after all. Sailed past some beautiful looking wild camping opportunities, but then more wind came in and the miles flowed, and once past Peniscola it was back to developed coastline where the harbours are the best bet for an easy overnight. Stopped at Benicarló. Two pizzas for dinner.
Benicarló to Port Marina Sant Jordi -
Rounding of the Delta del Ebro
Quick look at the forecast alert me to wind on the way, probably more this evening / tomorrow. Getting past the Delta del Ebro would be sensible. Easy sailing and a very enjoyable coastline. No swell - wild open and empty, heading out to the tip of the delta. Stop at a lighthouse, assuming this must be near the tip: flamingos and shallow salt lakes. A very beautiful landscape and protected area, that plastic has become an integral part of.
Regardless of our contribution it is still a very special place. Mid afternoon before I set off for the real tip, 12nm further on.
Wind clouds, and healthy enough wind to plane in. Sailing very close in and shallow, to surf the tiny waves, causing the fish - bass? - to flee the predator above.
Round the end, daggerboard down and harden up into the now offshore wind. More wind. Nothing alarming, but decision time: stick by the delta or straight line it to the mountains beyond, 12nm away on this line? Pros and cons for each option. Wind continues to increase. I'm already headed for the mountains. Would have been better to stay close to the delta, but too committed to change plan now. 8nm to go. Full downhaul and outhaul for sail - 'nuclear' setting. Beautiful but forboding clouds dominate the sky. More wind - feeling unnerved now. Spray is picked up and hurled horizontally.
Land 5nm away and wind 35-40 knots: as big a fight as I've been in. Major effort to hold it together as the strongest gusts violently roar though. The only thinkable point of sail close-hauled as I am now; tacking would be impossible; getting going again after a fall so difficult and energy sapping that a fall must be avoided at all cost. Get to the coast, any bit of coast, that's all that matters. Please... mast, boom, sail, daggerboard... just hold it together for this one. The weight of the nose of the board prevents it taking flight - for once is an asset. It ploughs through the chop, slowed up, but steadily and surely.
Within 2nm the chop starts to diminish. Ahead there appears to be a small harbour. No course adjustment needed.
Reach harbour - a mercifully easy entrance, and safety.
That euphoria of having cheated disaster.
Meet Alan, a windsurfer from a while back, now living in a boat, and running a nearby chiringuito beach bar. Offer of a cabin to sleep in, and a place to store gear, all before touching dry land proper. More good fortune that wouldn't be credible if scripted.
AM - migraine. Stress and exhaustion related?
PM - writing this.
Now - going for a pizza.