11 July 2008 | East of Tenerife, 28 30.6'N:16 1.3'W
Richard successfully repaired the engine in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. Yahoo! Just in time for us to depart and pick up George who would be returning to Santa Cruz, Tenerife, on Sat. 7/12. On Friday, July 11th, Richard and I readied the boat in the early morning, and peacefully departed the harbor of Las Palmas.We set our sails for the 50 mile journey to the anchorage of Punta de Antiquera, Tenerife, a few miles above our final destination of Santa Cruz. We would anchor at Punta de Antiquera for one night before continuing on to Tenerife the next day, as a way to break up the trip.
What a glorious sail! The sun beat down brilliantly, the wind drove the boat at 7 knots, and the waves broke over the bow, boisterously billowing across the deck like frilly-skirted Can-Can girls. Other than the surrounding blue, our only other companions were mysterious, brown-backed sea birds who swooped and wheeled above the sea, taunting the waves, hunting for small, ill-fated fish just beneath the surface. By 18:20, we had only 13 miles to go to our anchorage, and we were still cookin' with gas at 7 knots! It was at this point that Richard noticed the rudder squeaking, this time loudly, and he decided to grease the pintles while I kept watch for traffic.
Now, allow me to interject that one of Richard's many charming qualities is that he almost NEVER curses. So when I heard Richard quietly say, "Oh sh*t," I knew something was wrong.
I turned around to see Richard bent over the stern of the boat in pretzel form, holding onto something with some effort. I looked over Richard's shoulder and saw a big white thing dangling and dragging off the back of the boat. What is that? An albino dolphin? No, it's the rudder...that's come off. Double YIKES! Richard instructed me to get some extra lines that he used to lash the rudder more firmly to the boat, and we then towed it. While Richard was busy securing the rudder, I'm quite pleased to report that I somehow managed to wait a full ten (anxiety-ridden) minutes before I asked Richard, "Do we need to call for help?" to which he replied, "No, why would we need to?" Perplexed, I replied, "Ummm, because we have no steering and we're in the middle of the ocean?" Richard looked at me quizzically, and said, "We can use the main rudder." Oh. Oh! In all the time that I had been on the boat, I had not realized that we had been steering with the AUXILIARY rudder. What an overwhelming relief to learn that we had another rudder to steer with. PHEW! I was wondering why Richard was behaving so calmly while I was ready to set off all the flares on the boat. So, we switched to steering with the wheel which is connected to the main rudder. In spite of dragging our "coattail" rudder, we managed to sail safely into our isolated and ruggedly beautiful anchorage of Punta de Antiquera, and anchored in 8 meters. In the quickly waning light of the sun sinking behind the cliffs, Richard and I brought the auxiliary rudder aboard with the fisherman halyard, and laid it to temporary rest on the deck, where it resembled an unconscious, beached whale (big boat, big rudder). It was a meditative moment.
Exhausted, we went to sleep almost immediately after anchoring, the tranquility of sleep only being temporarily interrupted by Richard noticing at 05:00 that the anchor had dragged about 150 meters. In silent, sleepwalking, automaton fashion, we re-anchored and then slept peacefully until after daybreak. Time to get the boat ready for our sail to Santa Cruz, pick up George, and repair the auxiliary rudder. Ah, sailing....always an adventure. :)
In the picture above, the red thing you see to the left is the windvane blade, that turns the auxiliary rudder to steer the boat at a constant course relative to the wind. When not sailing offshore, we disconnect the windvane from the auxiliary rudder and attach a tiller to the auxiliary rudder to steer manually.