Bequia, St Vincent, St Lucia
18 January 2017
Photo: Soufriere rainbow
As we were leaving Carlisle Bay, Bridgetown, we passed a young lady on a jet ski that would not start, she informed us her friend had gone for assistance, but we radioed the Coastguard and saw them approaching. Happy she was being attended to, we carried on our way. We had two reefs in the main and Yankee as we sailed in lumpy seas across to Bequia arriving at Admiralty Bay at 08:00 the following morning. Brian went ashore and cleared us in after breakfast.
The constant wind of 18 – 25 plus knots is something we have not been used to for a while, the Mediterranean, also known as the Motoranean, has a lack of wind. We have noticed in the Caribbean most boats sail around with one if not two reefs in their sails.
Admiralty Bay was a very busy anchorage, with local, cruising and charter boats of all shapes and sizes. We woke up on the second morning to find a catamaran had sank, one hull underwater, at anchor close in to shore. When we left several days later, they were still trying to refloat it.
Bequia was a nice stop, given the rolly anchorage we had in Barbados, we were thankful for the lack of roll in Admiralty Bay. Ashore there were walks around the waterfront and across to Friendship Bay, the waterfront had a selection of cafes and bars, along with tourist shops, small supermarkets and takeaways. If you wanted to, you can get most things done without leaving your boat. Local vendors cruise around the bay offering fruit, veges, bread, fuel, water, ice and laundry services. We enjoyed the walk over to Friendship, chatted to a Canadian guy who lives there for 4 mths of the year, and had dinner ashore.
We left Admiralty Bay on 30th January, with two reefs in the main, we motor sailed across the first 5nm of the passage to St Vincent. This can be a notorious piece of water with winds in excess of 30 to 40 knots, so we went with some caution, however the wind gods were kind to us and we sailed in relatively pleasant 15 – 20 knots. We watched as the seabirds, swooped down to catch the flying fish we were disturbing as we sailed along, you could almost hear them say “You disturb them, we will eat them”. At 12:30 we were stern lined to a tree in Walilbou Bay, St Vincent. On our way into the bay we were approached by two separate dinghies with locals wanting to show us to a mooring, we had read in the cruising guide to only use locals with the appropriate credentials, we very nearly left the bay as both were very insistent. However we decided to stay and were happy we did. Walilbou Bay as it turned out was Port Royal in Pirates of the Caribbean and the locals were very proud of having had Johnny Depp in the bay. Ashore there is still some of the old set, along with some props, scene schedules and other memorabilia. We had dinner ashore and chatted to a few of the guys watching English soccer in the bar and then retired back to the boat.
The following morning we left and headed to Soufriere, St Lucia. The town is in the shadow of the Grand Piton, 786m high and Petit Piton, 739m high, two towering monoliths of forested lava, very impressive. We picked up a mooring, 54 ECD (east Caribbean dollars) a night, the bay is a marine reserve and anchoring is prohibited. Again we had guys chasing us in dinghies wanting to assist, for a fee of course, and young boys wanting to take garbage or just asking for soft drinks. This was all reminiscent of Indonesia, but when told politely “no” the young boys left.
The check in process was easy with the Customs and Immigration offices on the waterfront, by the dinghy dock. As it was New Years Eve, the town was getting ready for the celebrations with stalls being set up along the waterfront. We stayed and had a drink, then went back to the Dol, watching the firework displays from the boat. The following day we walked to the Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens, about 20 minutes out of town. It rained, sometimes quite heavily on and off during the morning, it was tropical rain forest territory, but it was warm. There is a small entry fee for the gardens, extra if you want to sit in the mineral pools, however the gardens are pleasant to stroll around. After lunch we took the dinghy around to Piton Bay and snorkelled in the marine reserve. The corals in the reserve were mainly soft corals and there were plenty of fish, but not the vibrant colours of coral and fish we had seen in the Pacific, still it was worth a look, dive tours are available to other sites. You can also hike up the Pitons with a local guide, but with constant rain squalls, which made for impressive rainbows, we decided it was not for us.
We left Soufriere on 2nd January and motored up to Rodney Bay, this is where Garry is leaving us to head back to New Zealand. Rodney Bay is a large open bay, with a lagoon that includes Rodney Bay marina and surrounding complex. Whilst ashore walking around and having coffee, we met up again with Kerry and John “Lurata” who had been here for a week. They gave us information on what to see and do. The night before Garry left, we took the dinghy across to the Pidgeon Island reserve and had dinner at a little café, Jambe de Bois, limited menu but a quaint, artsy place. We hired a car on 4th and headed to the south of the island where the international airport is. We stopped for lunch at Sandy Beach, Vieux Fort, a mecca for kite surfers and watched a couple of people out kite surfing in the bay. After dropping Garry at the airport we headed back up the east coast to Rodney Bay, along winding, pot holed roads with great views.
On one of our trips into the marina, we met Klaus and Margaret, Starship, and caught up with their news and travels since leaving Barbados. On Tuesday 10th January, after the rain had cleared, we took the dinghy ashore to Pidgeon Island reserve and walked around the remnants of Fort Rodney, an 18th century English fort, used in battles between the French and English. From the lookout you can see Martinique 25 miles north, the 360 degree views from the top are stunning. The entry fee for the park is 18 ECD each, open till 17:00, after then you can have dinner at Jambe de Bois, open till 22:00, without paying the entry fee. We are getting used to again having 12 hours of daylight, with darkness descending at 18:00 each evening. At the moment it makes the nights seem very long and the days short, but that is just where we are. It is also nice to have turtles swimming around the boat regularly.
On Thursday 12th January the wind and swell changed making the anchorage rolly and uncomfortable. As we were booked into Rodney Bay marina on Monday 16th, we decided to go in a couple of days early.
The marina has a selection of cafes, restaurants and a bar, along with a bank, mini mart, good chandlery and tourist shops. Inside the lagoon and a short dinghy ride to another dinghy dock there is a shopping mall with a large, fairly well stocked supermarket, although the local guys in the small boats still come around selling there fruit and veges and Suds laundry pick up and return, garbage is collected from the boat daily. There is also a ferry across to Martinique from the marina. Whilst we were in the marina, the alternator and smart regulator were finally fixed, having failed as we left Tenerife, mainsail off to the sailmaker to have the batten pockets stitched, zips have been replaced on shade covers and clears, stainless steel has been polished, Dol has had a good wash down, although with all the rain in the nights she was pretty good, and other jobs on the To Do List have been completed.
After 10 mths away and several thousand miles, we are heading back to New Zealand for a couple of weeks to spend time with family, friends and grandchildren, stopping for 4 days in Houston with Barb and Frank “Destiny” on the way.
11 January 2017
Photo: Brian and Garry at Mount Gay.
After an early night and catch up on some much needed sleep, it was time to explore Barbados. Brian and Garry went ashore to sort out internet and get some basic supplies while Gail did a tidy up on the Dol. After lunch it was all ashore to watch Liverpool play Everton at the Bridge house bar. We took the dinghy up the river or Careenge as it is known and tied up just past the first bridge. There were still yachts from the Jimmy Cornell Barbados rally stern lined to the wharf and we caught up with Klaus and Margaret from Starship. Along the water front where Christmas trees decorated by local school children, each one dedicated to a different country of the world. We found the New Zealand tree and later Paul and Gloria met one of the children who had decorated it.
The Bridge House Bar is on the waterfront, with very friendly and helpful staff who were very welcoming. We watched the game, Liverpool won 1-0, then went for a walk to find somewhere to eat. After walking through the local area with no success, we went back to the Bridge house and had a very nice dinner.
Barbados is the most eastern of the Caribbean islands and unless visited on the way in, is difficult to get to as you would have to go against the trade winds from any other of the Caribbean islands. The island is 21 miles long and 14 miles wide, so not huge. Our first impressions of Bridgetown and Barbados have been positive. The people are very friendly, although the accent is difficult to understand, they speak very fast in a mix of English and Bejan. The island was under British rule for 300 years, they have just celebrated their 50th year of independence which was gained in in 1966. Carlisle Bay where we are anchored has been a bit rolly and windy, maybe due to the current weather pattern. The bay is also very noisy during the evening and small hours of the morning as the Jolly Roger disco cruise passes by with all speakers on full volume competing with the Pirate Bar ashore for who can make the most noise the longest. During the day there are numerous sailing catamarans and jet skis going through the anchorage.
Wednesday we headed off to find the Mount Gay Visitors Centre and Bottling plant, the oldest rum in the world, first brewed in 1703. This was top of the Barbados to-do list for Brian and Garry. Along with Paul, Gloria and Phil from Scallywag we spent several hours at Mount Gay, with a tour of the plant and history of the oldest rum in the world. The tour included sampling the different blends of Mount Gay rum which saw the team get a taxi back to town, drinks and nibbles at the Bridge House before staggering back to the boat for an early night. We planned to go for a walk along the beach the following day towards the Garrison district, a UNESCO heritage site with old garrison buildings and George Washington House but the weather had other ideas as it rained heavily all day. Oh well cannot control the weather. We did manage the walk on Friday, but as it was the last working day before Christmas, all the historic sites closed at midday, so we walked around the outside of the buildings and had a nice lunch before heading back into Bridgetown centre. We called into the supermarket in town for supplies, it was chaotic, extremely busy but everyone was very polite and jovial. Across the road from the supermarket there are lots of small fruit and vegetable stalls along the road, and the small “rum shacks” or tiny bars, it makes for a lively, wonderful atmosphere.
Lurata, John and Kerry, another Kiwi boat arrived in the anchorage. We had met them with friends Erin and John back in New Zealand. It was quickly arranged that they would join ourselves and Scallywag for Christmas lunch.
Christmas Eve we picked up the hire car and headed off for the day with Paul, Gloria and Phil, Scallywag. First stop was Harrisons Cave, a cave complex where you can do a one hour tram tour. The cave is young in ecological terms and although it does not have some of the impressive caverns we have seen in other limestone caves, it was none the less interesting. We then drove across the island to the east coast for lunch, along narrow roads and small villages. The east or Atlantic coast was a lot more rugged than the west coast and we could clearly see what was causing the swell that was rolling around the island causing the roll we were getting in the anchorage. We stopped for lunch then continued to drive north, past the Mount Gay Distillery, and back to the east coast, past Port St Charles where there is some new development around a canal type environment. The centre and north of the island is where all the sugar cane plantations are located which goes into making the rum. It was clear most of the 300,000 population live on the west and south coast of Barbados. We then headed to South Point where we left Phil so he could spend some time surfing and the rest of us headed back into Oistins for drinks at one of the many rum shacks. Back to pick Phil up and then home, via the once again packed supermarket. We did not see all the listed tourist attractions during our one day tour, we reckon we had seen enough churches in Europe to give them a miss, other attractions were walks through Welchman Hall Gully and the Wildlife reserve which we did not have time for, there is also a Concorde museum which houses a real Concorde. Oh well cannot do everything.
Christmas Day we had lunch at the Bridge House Bar with Paul, Gloria and Phil from Scallywag and John, Kerry, Mike and Davin from Lurata, all kiwis. After lunch the oldies went back to Scallywag for drinks while the youngsters headed back ashore not to be seen again till daybreak.
We cleared out of Barbados on Boxing Day, leaving the anchorage at 16:30 for the 95nm overnight sail to Bequia (pronounced Beck way) in St Vincent and the Grenadines. We were all pleased that we had visited Barbados as our first Caribbean island.
21 December 2016
Photo: Skipper and first mate
And we’re off on the Atlantic crossing adventure. It was Tuesday morning 6th December. The skippers from Scallywag, Wind Pony and Dol ’Selene all went to clear out of the Cape Verde Islands, whilst the girls went to the fruit and vege market for fresh provisions. At 11:30 am local time we picked the anchor off the bottom and headed out of the harbour, next stop the Caribbean island of Barbados for Scally and the Dol and Antigua for Wind Pony. Going down the channel between Sao Vincente and Santo Antao the breeze got to high 20 knots but eased as we cleared the islands. Just past the island we saw our first pod of Pilot Whales cruising along.
We settled into our 3 hour rotating watch system which would be in place until we reached the Caribbean. We anticipated the crossing would take us 12 -14 days looking at the route planner and weather on Predict Wind Offshore. We use the application via our Iridium Go satellite device to assist us in determining the most advantageous route to sail, we would head north or south depending on the wind strength and angles. The system worked very well and we were pleased with the accuracy when deciding when to gybe to avoid no wind areas. With 2000nm to sail we could not afford to use the motor too much especially early on as we would not have enough diesel to complete the crossing. As it turned out, we need not have worried as we only motored for 3 hours the entire trip and the only diesel usage was the generator for making water, running the freezer and charging the batteries. When we arrived we could not put all the diesel we had in jerry cans on the deck into the tanks, not enough room.
We also used the Iridium Go for emails and texting. Each morning we would send a position SMS to Scallywag and Wind Pony and in the evening talk to them on the SSB radio at 19:00 UTC. Brian also spent time on his night watches emailing Sakari and Starship, 2 boats ahead of us whom we had met in Santa Cruz, the guys enjoyed keeping in touch and sharing information.
Each morning once it was daylight, we would clear the decks of Flying fish that had landed during the night. There were at least 5 or 6 every morning, some on the back deck and many on the side decks, one evening whilst on watch, one just missed hitting Garry in the cockpit. This was passive fishing, and as the crew was less enthusiastic on this leg for putting the fishing lines out each day, with many days with no lines out, it was the most fish we caught, although we did get one very nice Mahi Mahi on the hand lines as well. We did not see much other marine life except a few dolphins and one more pod of Pilot Whales, there were very few sea birds and nothing else.
The days merged into one as we ticked each one off, and every 500nm we celebrated with a mini magnum ice cream, just to keep the motivation going. It was nice to have a full moon waning on this leg, having the light from the moon made the night watches seem less foreboding, although the moon light did take out many of the magnificent stars. One thing we did have to be very wary of were the Atlantic squalls, they come out of nowhere and can pack a lot of wind and rain. Luckily the radar was very good at indicating then, which gave us time to reef the sails. We got pretty good at predicting which would be the gnarly ones and which would not be too bad. One night was particularly bad and became known as Squall night. At one point as Brian and Garry were taking one of the reefs out, they turned around and saw another squall approach and quickly put the second reef back in, they can literally form that quick.
Cooking was interesting. Mostly it involved reheating pre-cooked passage meals, which went well, but even that saw you chasing the food around the counter top in an effort to get it onto the plates. We all looked forward to getting into port and being able to relax making a meal.
On our last night before making landfall, Gail was trying to sleep in the aft cabin and kept hearing a loud metallic thunk coming from under the bed. Unable to determine what it was, and with a vivid imagination as to what it could be doing, she relieved Brian on watch and he went downstairs and dismantled the bed to discover the spare hydraulic steering ram lashing was just loose enough in the roll of the swell to hit the emergency tiller extension, also stored under the bed. He re-lashed the offending ram and all was peaceful again.
We arrived in Barbados at midday local time on Sunday 18th December after a 12 day passage. Local time is 4 hours before UTC and 3 hours behind Cape Verde Islands. We had planned on checking into Barbados at Port St Charles on the north western coast. We received an email from Scallywag to say they could not raise anyone at Port St Charles and were heading down to Bridgetown to clear in. We stopped at Port St Charles, but like Scallywag had no luck raising the Port Authorities, so decided to keep going and headed for Bridgetown, 9nm south along the coast. On arrival the Station master asked us to anchor in Carlisle Bay and for Brian to take the ships papers and crew passports into the Customs area to clear in. With 3 cruise ships in port, he said it would be difficult for us to get the Dol onto the customs wharf. While Brian went to clear in, Gail and Garry tidied the boat up and when Brian came back it was drinks on Scallywag to celebrate our achievement.
Now for the boring stats:
Trip time was 12 days
Miles over water: 1933nm
Miles over land: 2088nm
Current assistance: average 0.5 knots
Average boat speed: 7.2 knots
Top speed down a wave: 18.2 knots
Motored for 3 hours out of 291 hours allowing for time changes.
It is still hard to comprehend that we have just crossed one of the world’s great oceans, from Africa to the Caribbean, in our own yacht. It was an amazing trip and we now look forward to enjoying the delights of a new cruising ground.
Cape Verde Islands
21 December 2016
Photo: Santo Antao
Garry, our crew for the passage to the Caribbean arrived Friday evening, 25th November and Bill, crew for Wind Pony arrived on time the following lunchtime, so it was time to clear out of the Canary Islands and drop the mooring lines, Cape Verde Islands here we come. As we motored out of Santa Cruz marina the town clock chimed midday and we were off on the 830nm passage south. As predicted the winds increased as we headed south down the Tenerife coast, the winds funnel between the Canary Islands, we started off with 10 knots and then had a period of 30 to 35 knots which gradually eased as the day progressed and we cleared Tenerife by nightfall. With Garry aboard giving us an extra person for the watch system, we decided to go with rotating 3hr watches, less formal during the day but not negotiable at night. It worked well, the cooking duties were shared and everyone got enough sleep. It is always eerie sailing along at night in the dark, we had no moon, it is hard to distinguish the horizon from the sky, making it difficult sometimes to decide if the light you are seeing is another boat or a star rising. Without the lume of city lights, the number of stars in the sky is amazing and you never tire of gazing at them. The passage was pleasant, we motored more than we would have liked due to the light winds but as we all said we would rather have that than strong winds from the wrong direction. We did have a couple of days with the gennaker up and reasonable sailing, but also a fair amount of motor sailing. Each night at 19:00 we had a sched on the SSB radio with Scallywag and Wind Pony to keep in touch and share fish stories, which as everyone knows can get exaggerated. We saw lots of dolphins and a few birds but mostly lots of blue water.
Each evening before sundown, Brian walked around the boat and did a check of all shackles and the rig to check for anything that might cause an issue. Before we left Santa Cruz we had put a Walder Boom break on the boat which aims to assist in controlling the main boom in downwind conditions and gybing, Brian was happy with its performance and as we have lots of downwind sailing to do in the next couple of years, he reckons it is a good addition, along with the Iridium Go and Predict Wind Offshore which worked well for emails and weather.
Garry had bought some new fishing lures with him so out went the lines on the second day, surprisingly for us we hooked and landed a Mahi Mahi, the first one for us. It was bright yellow and green when we landed it, but as it died, (after the photos had been taken) it lost its colour and became blue and white. Dinner was sorted, pan fried Mahi Mahi, beautiful. Two days later we put the fishing lines out again and had a double hook up, 2 Mahi Mahi at the same time. We kept one and let the other one go as we didn’t need that much fish, so by 10:00 in the morning, the fishing lines were put away and we had fresh fish in the fridge again.
We sighted the lights of the Cape Verde Islands Thursday night 1st December and gradually closed arriving in Mindelo Harbour, Sao Vincente at 07:45 local time, after 6 nights at sea. We averaged about 143nm days and motored or motor sailed for 100 of the 150 hours, all in all not a bad passage. We anchored in Mindelo and had breakfast then lifted the anchor and went to the fuel dock to fill up. Then it was time to put the dinghy in the water and go to Immigration and Port Police to clear in. We met Lynn, Dick and Bill “Wind Pony” ashore along with Paul, Gloria and Phil “Scallywag”, walked around town, had lunch then returned to the boats, getting together later in the afternoon on Dol for drinks and nibbles. While ashore the guys organised a big game fish day for Saturday, good luck guys the girls are staying ashore. As it transpired the girls did not miss anything as the boys never even got a strike and came home empty handed, oh well no fish for dinner.
Sunday was a chores and maintenance day. Monday everyone with the exception of Paul and Phil “Scallywag”, who stayed to keep an eye on the boats, took the local ferry across to Santo Antao. The ferry took approximately 50 mins, leaving at 08:00 and returning at 17:00. Once off the ferry in Porto Novo we took a taxi van for the day complete with driver. We set off across the island via the mountain road, wow what spectacular scenery, no photograph could do it justice. As we neared the top we stopped to look down into the valley, we were level or above the clouds looking down into what could have been the crater of a volcano that was lush green, with craggy mountain ridges surrounding it, in the distance we could see the ocean. From there we continued up the mountain through very fertile green land with sugar cane and bananas growing, across a ridge with steep fall offs on both sides and down the other side to a town called Ribiera Grande. This was a small town with lots of new development and older buildings on the waterfront. We continued along the coast watching the surf roll in and discussing how this would be a highlight for surfers if it wasn’t for the rocks close to shore and the breaks. From Ribiera Grande we visited Ponta Do Sol, a smaller town and watched locals fishing with bamboo rods in the surf of the harbour. Also in the harbour were lots of small fishing boats, more like large colourful wooden dinghies hauled up on the beach. We stopped for lunch at Paul and then the driver took us up a beautiful gorge with high hills, lots of sugar cane, mango trees and lush green vegetation. We turned around and headed back down to the coast, following the coast, dodging cows walking down the road back to Porto Novo. What struck us was the roads on the island, they were cobbled, and we did not see a tarseal road until mid-afternoon. It was hard to comprehend how long it took to lay the roads over the mountain passes and around the island, we saw guys doing maintenance, laying all the cobble stones by hand, very labour intensive and time consuming. We arrived back at the ferry building in time to catch the 17:00 ferry back to Mindelo harbour.
Mindelo was busier than we had envisaged but not a bad stop. Looking at the weather it looks like the trade winds have filled in and we will probably leave Mindelo Tuesday 6th December, mid-morning and head across the Atlantic 2080nm to the Caribbean. We estimate the crossing will take approximately 12 – 14 days.
Canary Islands: Tenerife.
25 November 2016
Photo: Cable car Mt Tiede
In Santa Cruz we continued to do the checks on the boat in readiness for the Atlantic crossing, including small fixes that Brian said needed doing. One such job was the door to the front cabin which Garry would be using when he arrives. As usual it was only going to take a couple of minutes, it ended up taking several hours and at one point saw Brian locked in the front cabin with a door that would not open, (the handle had been removed) and getting out the forward hatch was not going to be easy with the dinghy strapped onto the foredeck. Gail was sent up on deck to move the dinghy to allow Brian to climb out, an hour or so later the door was finally fixed. The day ended well as we had Klaus and Margaret, SV Starship, from Austria over for evening drinks.
Thursday 10th November we picked up a hire car and headed down to the south of the island to Los Gigantes, to stay at Gail’s brother and sister in laws apartment for 4 days. On the way down we drove through Los Cristianos and Los Americas, the tourist hub of the island. Apart from finding nowhere to park, both places were so crowded and over the top with resorts, shops and bars, we happily carried on and stopped at Playa San Juan for lunch. Los Gigantes is a lovely, small holiday area which nestles beneath spectacular cliffs, more our type of place, quiet enough to enjoy but with enough to do. Friday we booked a taxi and headed up to Masca village to do the walk down the Masca valley to the beach where we would catch a water taxi back to Los Gigantes. We were very glad we did not decide to drive to Masca village, the very mountain narrow road winds its way up the hillside to the village with very steep drop offs. The walk down took us approximately two and a bit hours although we did not time it. The track through the valley winds its way through impressive rock formations, gorges and streams, challenging on the knees as it is all downhill. You can do it in reverse, get the water taxi to the bay and then walk up, either way it is classified as “popular, though strenuous hike.” Sunday we headed off to the National Park which is centred on El Tiede, the volcano that dominates the island at 3,718 m. You can trek to the top if you apply for a permit, or do what we did and take the cable car to 3,555m, either way it is very cold at the top, you go from the heat of the park to -2 degrees celcius when we were up there. There are many walks and other interesting areas to look at in the park and we had an enjoyable day, meandering our way around.
On our return to Santa Cruz, we decided to drive along the west coast stopping at Garrachio for morning tea, again over mountain roads but not as bad a Masca. Garrachio was an interesting coastal town with natural rock swimming pools. Next stop was Icod de los Vinos to see the thousand year old Dragon Tree with a circumference of 20 meters and 16ms tall. Not much else to see, so we took the picture and moved on. Next on the visit list was La Oratava, a town with a beautiful historic centre. Unfortunately as we have found in Tenerife, getting a parking space was impossible, so we drove through and carried onto La Lagunna. The historic centre of La Lagunna was declared a World Heritage site in 1999, and we were lucky enough to find a park and wandered around looking at the cathedral, the tower of the Church of la Conception and the cobbled streets.
The marina at Santa Cruz has a buzz about it and is a hive of activity as most of the boats here are getting ready to cross the Atlantic to the Caribbean, including the 20 or so boats in the Odyssey rally that leave on 19th November. After seeing the rally boats off we decided to take the bus into Los Cristianos to watch the All Blacks and Liverpool games, being tourist destinations we knew there would be lots of bars and cafes showing the games. After getting off the bus In Los Cristianos approximately j50 mins later and wandering down to the waterfront, we were surprised at how pleasant it was. On our previous visit by car we decided not to stop, however the waterfront is a traffic free zone, the boardwalks were wide and nicely landscaped, there were the usual hawkers and people trying to get you into their cafes or bar but it wasn’t the zoo we expected.
Back at Santa Cruz, Wind Pony and Scallywag arrived on Monday morning, 21st November from Lanzarote. We had a couple of days finalising preparation including shopping and the skippers seriously looked at the weather patterns. Scallywag decided to head south to the Cape Verde Islands on Thursday morning and we set up SSB schedules with them to keep in touch.
Garry arrives on Friday evening 25th November and our planned departure is Monday 28th, although it is now looking like it will be as early as Saturday as the guys are watching a weather system in the north Atlantic which is creating a less than ideal weather pattern just of the Cape Verdes later in the week . Bill, Wind Pony’s crew arrives Saturday morning and we may well clear out and leave as soon as he gets here, joining all the other boats that leave Santa Cruz daily.
This really will be farewell Europe as our next planned stop is the Cape Verde Islands off the African coast, then onto the Caribbean.
Canary Islands: Lanzarote, Fuerteventura.
20 November 2016
Photo: Casear Manrique wall art.
We arrived back in Rubicon Marina, Lanzarote at lunchtime on 5th October after a busy time in the UK. The boat was all good and we set about doing more work in preparation for the Atlantic crossing. One piece of work we had not factored in was to install a new hot water cylinder, our old one decided to spring a leak on our second day back. Lucky for us the marina chandlery had one that fitted, but as usual with these things it took 3 elapsed days to get it installed and fully operational. The Canary Islands have very few good anchorages which makes it difficult to plan for changes in wind direction and weather, the options for changing bays is very limited and with Rubicon Marina starting to fill up we had to make a decision on whether to stay in the marina or try and find an anchorage. Talking to people who regularly cruise the Canaries, and contacting other marinas, it appeared there were no vacancies on Fuerteventura or Gran Canary. We discussed the options with Wind Pony and Scallywag and decided to extend our stay. We then contacted Santa Cruz Marina, Tenerife and brought our dates forward and decided to do an overnight sail direct to Tenerife at the end of October. Rubicon Marina is quite a good place to be stuck, it has plenty of cafes, bars, sports bars, restaurants and a market two mornings a week. The walk into Playa de Blanca is along a nice boardwalk and there are options for other walks along the cliffs and surrounding areas.
Wednesday 19th October we took the ferry across to Fuerteventura for the day with Dick and Lynn “Wind Pony”. There are several ferries that do the trip, which only takes 25mins. Once in Corralejo, we tried to get a hire car, not easy as the first three hire car companies we tried had no cars available. Luckily the fourth one did, so off we went to explore the island. Fuerteventura, like Lanzarote is volcanic and has lots of volcanos but without the lava flows of Lanzarote it has a desert feel to it with red sand and not the variety of things to see and do. We visited a La Casa de Los Coroneles, an old colonial house with great views, the Centro Arte de Canario and then headed across the top of one of the scenic roads that went over a mountain ridge between Betancuria and Pajara. The road was extremely narrow and winding, passing cars coming the other way was interesting, but the views were spectacular. We stopped at the top lookout which has a couple of very large bronze statues of Guise and Ayose, the warriors who were the chiefs of the two kingdoms on Fuerteventura before it was united following an invasion by the Normans in 1402. From there we wound our way down to Pajara for lunch, where Brian ordered a pizza which, when it arrived would have fed the four of us. As we walked around the small church, Nuestra Senora de Regla, we commented that it looked like two separate churches with the centre wall removed. True enough when we looked outside at the two entrance doors, they were two churches or more accurately one church built in the 17th century which was ‘extended’ in 1952 by adding the second section complete with its own alter and nave, very cleverly done. From there we went to Ajuy to walk along the cliffs and view the caves and then drove back along the east coast, stopping at the impressive sand dunes for a walk, then dropped the car back and had a cool beer on the way back to the ferry. Once back in Playa de Blanca we stopped for tapas and the walked back along the boardwalk to the marina, the end of a good day.
Before leaving Rubicon, we decided to end for end our anchor chain. As we rarely use more than the first 50ms of anchor chain, the galvanising on the last 50ms was in good shape, by end for ending it, the unused chain would become the usable portion. Finally on 31st October it was time to leave Marina Rubicon for an overnight trip to Santa Cruz marina, Tenerife. We have completed most of our check list for the Atlantic crossing, the freezer is full of passage meals, cupboards are loaded with dry goods, rig and engine checks done, sails good and crew is ready, Garry will join us at the end of the month. Unfortunately for Wind Pony they have a mechanical issue which will prevent them from making the trip to Tenerife, but hopefully they will follow in a couple of weeks in time for the crossing. We left Marina Rubicon fuel dock at 15:00 and had a great sail for 100nm of the 130nm trip to Tenerife, finally turning the motor on at 05:00 as the wind died and came from behind us. The crossing was totally uneventful even though we passed through a major shipping lane and must have seen at least 20 tankers on route to various places around the world. As we arrived at Tenerife, we were greeted by a pod of pilot whales, cruising along as we approached the harbour and tied up in Santa Cruz Marina at 11:15. The harbour looks like a main centre for oil platforms and ships of various shapes and sizes, although all are huge, including the largest seismic survey ship, the Ramford Titan, as Brian said “the weirdest looking boat he has ever seen”, it was triangular in shape. Class Afloat, a fleet of tall ships where students undertake academic study whilst sailing to different continents was also in port.