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August 16, 2007

Dawn in Melilla and dusk in Alboran

BY: Xavier Pastor


© OCEANA / Jesús Renedo


We spent the night anchored off Melilla. From here, we clearly see the entrance to the neighbouring port of Nador. No driftnetters have left there, yesterday or today. The west wind is still blowing fiercely, so much so that it has ripped off one of the blades from our wind-powered generator on the stern. But anchored here, it’s fine. A large number of seiners have gone out and after leaving the protected area of the breakwater, they head east and shelter themselves in the gulf where they will capture sardines and other small pelagic species, probably. Today, the weather forecast says the west winds will be dying down and, after a few hours of calm, a strong east wind will begin to blow. The seiners will have to quickly evacuate the area where they are working. But if there must be wind, at least let it come from the east, because that will favour the route we want to take.

While we were anchored, Carlos Pérez, Juan Carlos Calvín, Juan Carlos Ramos and Mario Conde took the rubber dingy to land, to Melilla, to buy supplies, take out the garbage and purchase other material for the Ranger. The rest of us took turns keeping watch on the port entrance, we cleaned the boat, answered mail, worked on documents or took advantage to make new plans for the following days and months.

At seven in the evening, we weighed the anchor and set sail again towards Alboran. This time, we will keep watch on the western part of the island, where the Alhucemas fleet operates. And we also get closer to the Atlantic, which is our next destination. There are less people onboard and its quite noticeable. We’ll be more comfortable, at least for a few days.

We cover the areas were we’ve registered driftnetters in the past, but there’s no one there. We reduce the watch to the two people necessary for navigation and the rest of us go to sleep while we sail along the African coast at a safe distance.