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South of Canary Islands
Thu Sep 18 0:00:00 EDT 2008

We left El Hierro, the southern-most Canary Island, Tuesday afternoon. Winds have been very light so far...0-10 knots.

South of Canary Islands
Wed Sep 17 20:08:00 EDT 2008

El Hierro
Mon Sep 15 0:00:00 EDT 2008, El Hierro, Canary Islands

A street in the small, pleasant town of Puerto de la Restinga, El Hierro.

The End of the Known World
Sun Sep 14 0:00:00 EDT 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.

Underway again
Tue Sep 9 0:00:00 EDT 2008, Off Tenerife, Canary Islands

After a month of work at the dock, we are finally underway again. This rock is on the north tip of Tenerife, in unusually light winds.

Little Sailor
Sun Aug 31 0:00:00 EDT 2008, Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands

The little girl has sailed from Tunisia to the Canaries (with her parents).

Thu Sep 18 21:58:46 EDT 2008 | Brittany
What a confident and well dressed little sailor! One senses that she'll circumnavigate the globe before she's twenty! :)
Fri Aug 29 0:00:00 EDT 2008, Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands

I ordered a new roller furler (rolls the sails up when they are not in use) from the USA. FedEx got it as far as Madrid, then it stopped there. After a week, and many phone calls to FedEx and the shipper, I was not getting anywhere. I kept getting told I needed to pay about 30% tax and provide a DNI number (an identity number---proof that I was a legal resident in the Canary Islands) to receive the shipment. Really not being fond of the idea of staying long enough in the Canary Islands to become a resident just so I could receive a FedEx package, I was starting to consider the idea of doing without the roller furler.

I talked with neighbours on the dock, and they told me that a package that has gone to Madrid meant at least two weeks to get to the Canaries. I wanted to leave in less than two weeks, with the furler installed, so had a problem.

As can be the case with otherwise-insolvable problems, a visit to the bar sometimes helps. There I talked to Hugh, a delivery skipper neighbor on the dock had run a charter boat operation in Gran Canaria for a few years, and understood the art of getting parts shipped in. He explained that the strategy was to get the package to the local customs people, who are easier to deal with, as you can talk to them directly. Also that "if anyone in the government speaks English, it is the customs people". Apparently a big concern of Spanish customs with regards to Boats In Transit (boats from other countries, which are not required to pay taxes on items that will leave the country with the boat) is local people pretending to be boats in transit to avoid tax. No one who hears me attempt to speak Spanish would ever mistake me for a local.

We went to the nearby Customs first, they told us to go to Customs at the airport, as it was an air shipment. Customs at the airport directed us to the Air Iberia cargo terminal, where we were further directed to the company that handles FedEx shipments (Transistos Castillanos). Senor Jesus, the very helpful agent, asked his neighbor to translate, and we described the problem. After about an hour of phone calls, Senor Jesus on one phone in Spanish, me on another phone in English, Customs in Madrid apologized for the delay, and explained it was due to the shipment not saying Boat In Transit on it. Two days later, the new furler was in Las Palmas. I rented a truck, drove to the courier company, paid some taxes (the EU charges 2.5% for whatever) and fees, and finally picked up the new furler. Now we just have to install it :)

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