The End of the Known World
14 September 2008 | El Hierro, Canary Islands
El Hierro is the farthest south island in the Canary Islands. It was once known as the end of the known world.
We are arriving here after an overnight sail from La Gomera. The wind was quite light all night, and we spent several hours becalmed, waiting for wind. This morning we changed the yankee (jib) sail for the genoa sail for the light downwind conditions we are expecting to have for this passage and the next. The genoa is harder to handle (can't be tacked), but very nice to have in light winds and waves. It is so low to the water that it gets a lot of strain from white water hitting it when going upwind in seas, so it is only useful in light wind and sea conditions. Changing over to the genoa from the yankee takes most of an hour with three people.
The galvanized hook and turnbuckle on the left are serving as semi-permanent checkstays. We have a running checkstay on each side of the boat, which supports the main mast when the main staysail (voile d'etai) is set. Normally, you let off one running checkstay and pull in the other each time you tack or gybe, which is extra work when you already have three sails to tack. We are testing this arrangement, and may still have to use them as running checkstays under some conditions, so far, they are saving a lot of work when tacking and gybing.