first long passage accomplished
the canaries are shivering!
08 November 2011 | Lanzarote, Canary Islands
November 6th, Marina Rubicon, Lanzarote, Canary Islands
Yes, it has been quite some time since our last posting but in our defense we have been at sea in the Atlantic, out of electronic gizmo range.
This morning, the 6th of November, we limped into Marina Rubicon’s entry area under reefed main and jib and called on the radio for assistance docking as our “steel sail” (engine) wouldn’t start. They sent out a RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) and the operator moved us into an anchorage with the help of some fellow yachties who were anchored nearby. After dropping anchor we started to straighten up the boat and I noticed we had begun to drag anchor and were not holding in one spot. So again I called the ever helpful Marina and they again sent out the RIB. This time they stuck around long enough to find it didn’t hold again and so the group in their dinghy’s and the Marina guy in his RIB maneuvered us into the Marina (which is what I had expected originally!) and got us tied up alongside (which made the girls very happy as there was now 220 volt electricity, water, showers, stores, etc. without having to go ashore via dinghy). This is an excellent Marina, friendly, modern, stores, restaurants, and all the other facilities you could want for 26 euros a night including water and electric. In the past five years there are maybe a handful of Marinas that I could heartily indorse as being of superior quality and value for the fees and this is one of them, Kudos to Marina Rubicon!
That was our arrival.
Now our departure. In the Military one uses all the time and information available to “plan” and continuously update and adjust the plan to suite the changing situation. Sailing is a lot like that in a way. One plans and schedules “things” like departures, based upon weather and other factors and then adjusts to the changing situation. That was our departure thing as well. We planned several departures as reported in earlier blogs and some that weren’t, and for one reason or another (Auto Helm Controller failed, weather wasn’t as forecast, etc.) we were unable to execute the plan. In this particular departure you have to consider the Strait of Gibraltar. It is a relatively narrow passage between North Africa and Europe and it is where the Atlantic Ocean feeds the Mediterranean with water (the Med is about a meter lower than the Atlantic. Therefore, the wind and currents play a more serious role for transiting sailboats trying to pass through. For us a 40 hp motor is not a real powerhouse to propel a 37 foot yacht. Our top speed under ideal conditions might be say, 6 or 7 knots. When you put a wind in front of it, it cannot achieve that speed. Now, at certain times the tide or current in the Strait runs as much as 4+ knots (against the way we wanted to go of course) and then you have to factor in the wind which because the Strait is a narrow passage accelerates tremendously and if it is calm in Gibraltar, in the Strait it could be blowing 30-40 knots. All of this goes to say that you have to have the right combination of weather, timing (two tides a day), and scheduling to go. Some yachts have waited weeks and weeks for the right weather window and while we didn’t get delayed that long we did have weather change our schedule several times.
We finally made it and transited on October 29th though weather wasn’t ideal but it was acceptable. It took all day from 0900 to 2000 at night to get through and out into the Atlantic far enough that the current wasn’t adversely affecting our movement. Without detailing the rest of the passage let it be said that we had too little wind, too much wind, squalls, and an engine that quit three days out of the landfall at Lanzarote, but all in all despite being tiring it wasn’t a bad passage. The normal transit time is from 6 to 9 days depending upon factors beyond our control and we made it in 8. It could have been 7 days if I would have agreed to make landfall on the north end of Lanzarote but we arrived there after dark the wind was up and gusty, I had never seen the harbor, and I had no engine, so I opted to continue to sail on through the night to Rubicon on the South end of the Island and this turned out to have been a very wise decision, score one for Captain Bob. So now we are here tied safely alongside. Tomorrow I get the Volvo Penta Engine guy to come look at our engine, the Raymarine technician to come and troubleshoot our auto helm (the drive unit went out despite having replaced the controller in La Linea) and find out how long we will stay here before continuing on to Las Palmas on Grand Canary.
The saga goes on. As of the 7th we still had no internet coverage so this is being posted later, don’t know when yet but I will keep adding to it until such time as we can get wifi and post it. Even our Vodaphone wireless broadband dongle won’t get enough signal strength to connect.
Finally some internet coverage, slow but functional. So today we post.