Slow Sailing

18 November 2017 | La Palma, Canaries
07 November 2017 | Puerto Santa Cruz, Tenerife
16 October 2017 | Graciosa, Canary Islands
09 October 2017 | Rabat, Morocco
30 September 2017 | Ait Bennadou, Morocco
11 September 2017 | Cadiz, Spain
27 August 2017 | Faro, Portugal
11 August 2017 | Guadiana River, Portugal
04 August 2017 | La Linea, Spain
31 July 2017 | Marina Smir, Morocco
18 July 2017 | Granada, Spain
29 June 2017 | Pollenca, Mallorca
19 June 2017 | Mahon, Menorca
08 June 2017 | Ciudadela, Menorca
26 May 2017 | Soller, Mallorca
06 May 2017 | San Antonio Harbor, Ibiza
24 April 2017 | Ibiza, Balearic Islands
02 April 2017 | Valencia, Spain
21 March 2017 | Brittany, France
22 February 2017 | England

In Between Fixing Broken Stuff

18 November 2017 | La Palma, Canaries
Turns out Tenerife is not only a great island to explore & hike on, you can also find what you need to keep your boat going too. We've been quite busy lately staying on top of things breaking and fitting in the fun stuff we want to do.

Santa Cruz de Tenerife is headquarters for Jimmy Cornell's Odyssey rallies and everybody was piling into the marina while we were there to do last minute preparations. We saw Jimmy in the office, taking care of his flock. Wow, we are all looking older- Jimmy too! He is such an icon for cruising though and it is good to see so many boats heading across. Should help the Caribbean get some money rolling in. We were on an overflow dock out with the megayachts enjoying frequent power outages and card key access malfunctions, sometimes the only way onto the dock was to climb up on the gate and push the handle down using a large PVC pipe while Jon yanked on the handle at the right moment to open to gate. Despite this, it is still nice to be right in the city. This auditorium is right at the marina entrance and reminds me of the Sydney Opera House.
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We used the car to get new batteries which took 3 trips- one to order them, one to go get them and one to bring back the old ones and get 80 Euros back for the lead. This after having just added over 5 liters of water to them! We also finally were able to get our USA propane tanks filled since there hasn't been a place since Rome and we'd been making do with a big orange rusty exchangeable cylinder instead. Jon was able to resurrect our Greek phone which had become totally useless with all the bloatware that Alcatel keeps installing on it. It got to where we couldn't do a thing on it nor have it unplugged at all because there was so much stuff running on it the battery would go dead. But he found a program online where you can basically hide all these useless apps so everything sped up again and we can actually use the smart phone again! Then the wifi on my laptop died. We looked for parts but in the end there is no fixing it since like all electronics, the updates eventually render your device useless. So now I have an umbilical cord that attaches an external wifi antenna. Sweet! Then Jon's laptop died- completely dead, we had good warning but were hoping to avoid having to buy a Spanish keyboard laptop here. But no, he will now have to get used to one. Then a circlip fell out of the end of the spinnaker pole so we had to search that out since we are hoping for a totally downwind passage across the Atlantic with the sun out the whole time and so we'll need the pole! The owner of the chandlery just gave Jon 3 of them for free, on his lunch break when the store was actually closed. People are very kind here. So we feel like we made progress with those things and our backs have healed from heaving around 12 golf cart batteries. We even threw in appts to get our teeth cleaned. We were thinking back to the simplicity of our first cruise in '97 when we had a fridge and a GPS onboard at that was it......

By being docked right in the city, we used any spare moments that we were at the boat to enjoy the old buildings, the Plaza Espana with its large green pool of water, and all the pretty parks & museums. The Canarian architecture of the varnished wood balconies is very evident and we like the way the towns on Tenerife and Gran Canaria have been so colorful compared to the first islands closer to Africa where they use only white paint for everything. Time is running thin for our favorite Spanish menu del dia where you get a 3 course meal and a cana at lunch- and here we get Canarian specialties.
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Amidst all the chores, we did a good tour of the island seeing a lot of it. It is so nice to see all the green trees and breathe in the fragrance of pines, flowers and eucalyptus. I only wish that when I looked up into them, I could see the koalas like we did in Australia. It feels like one should go with the other. While it seems a bit uni-dimensional, we keep leaning toward hiking more than anything else. It's just so beautiful with varied terrain and we have a lot to talk about anyway so it is a good activity for that. We did 2 days in the Anaga Mountains, the oldest geographical region of the island and full of trails. They either go straight up or straight down to the sea. Good hamstring & quad work-outs and always lots to see over a picnic lunch. We've met lots of friendly cats & dogs.
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We did another 2 days in Teide National Park. Driving the park road is pretty spectacular especially late in the day when a layer of clouds has formed down low like a valley and you are way above as if you're flying above the clouds. There are sections with old Canarian pine woods at lower elevations as well as raw volcanic scenery up higher where around 4 million tourists a year visit to take in the Spain's highest mountain & its surrounds. You need a permit to reach the summit and for that you have to plan over a month ahead so we couldn't get one, nor a space in the refugio where you could summit first thing in the morning. But we did get to climb adjacent Pico Viejo and still got high with great views of Teide itself at an angle that blocks out the teleferique that carries people to within 600 meters of the summit. And we had this summit to ourselves. Along the way there were a lot of lava bombs & pinnacles of varying shapes & sizes.
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We weren't sure if we wanted to sail around to the northern side of Tenerife or not so we took a great drive over there to check out the marina & coastline. Really steep, twisting roads here! It was a very windy day and the seas were piling up on shore. Then we get to the marina and it's built like a fortress. It's really a work of art as many of the marinas around here are. The cute town of Garachico was once the most important port on Tenerife with great wealth until 1706 when a huge volcanic eruption buried most of the town and filled the harbor with lava rendering it useless. All the wealth moved away and they instead adopted the motto "Strength in Adversity" because they also suffered the plague, a devastating locust bloom, some floods, etc. Since that time, they have never had a port until 2012 when with EU support, they finally got their harbor back. Now it is as loved by the locals for fishing, strolling and doing exercise walks as it is by the boaters. We watched a guy catching fish by feeding them some old baguette, then scooping them out of the water with his hand onto the cement steps and picking them up to put in a bag. Easy dinner.
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Anyway, we decided we wanted to sail around and spend a few days there. Along the way, we got up close to several offshore oil rigs since for whatever reason there are several anchored near shore. The wind had died so we didn't surf into the marina and it was so peaceful to be there. We did a long hike one day up the old lava flow to the volcano that blew its guts out on the town 311 years ago. This town has a great feel and I love the look of it. They've made lava rock swimming pools out of their old harbor and the old fort, the only building to have survived the eruption, still graces the waterfront. We will really miss all the lovely squares and beautiful buildings of Europe.
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We've been meeting some boats headed across and whether our schedules will line up is hard to say but regardless, its nice to hang out with some new faces.

And now we're on La Palma, motored over here today in calm seas. It is very green and picturesque. We'll try to rent some wheels to get to the best of it.
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Exploring The Canary Islands

07 November 2017 | Puerto Santa Cruz, Tenerife
We've been enjoying spending time in the Canary Islands and getting to know each one. We're hoping to do all of them before leaving sometime in December to sail to the Cape Verde Islands followed by the long haul to someplace in the Caribbean, hopefully Martinique. It seems we never have much free time because we are either planning what we're going to be doing or doing what we've planned since there is so much to explore. That and working on our website VentureFarther and trying to keep on top of boat maintenance has kept us busy. So here's a few of the highlights anyway just so you don't think we are sitting around with our feet up drinking margaritas....

Just as many sailboats position themselves in the Canary Islands each Fall to provision before crossing to the Caribbean, so did many earlier adventurers including Columbus. After following in the footsteps of Captain Cook all the way across the Pacific, we are now re-living Columbus's past in museums and guidebooks as he too stopped here to fix his ships and restock. It was interesting to learn that he died thinking he had reached Asia but in actuality of course it was N&S America. The docks are filled with sailboats right now because the ARC and Odyssey rallies are starting soon and except for the fact that it is a pain to not have a full choice of marinas because it is busy, it does feel sort of festive seeing all the flags and spiffed up boats scurrying around stocking up. We are currently in Santa Cruz, Tenerife, a beautiful city and we are front & center to all the action. Well sort of. We are on an overflow dock some distance from the main clubhouse, where the megayachts are. We look so small. The picture above is from our cockpit in the marina looking up toward the mountains behind. We finally had some raindrops today. And we hiked in those mountains!

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We spent the first couple of weeks touring Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, the dry islands of the chain. Emphasize dry. Twice we had 3 day blocks where the wind switched to the east and brought in the Sahara air and dust that scratches your eyeballs before drying them up till you can't see, or that is how I experienced it. Laundry dries before you can get it hung though! We have been staying in some really nice marinas and the one on Lanzarote was no exception. We had a primo spot in a fishing village called Puerto del Carmen. The are several types of marinas and they vary in price, (all very reasonable) but the ones we like are run by the fishing ports and are more authentic but still purpose built, often spacious marina complexes which is so impressive to me. They are also the cheapest which works for us! It made a great base to explore the island by car and it was always nice to come home to the boat there. We did some unique desert hikes up many volcano calderas on Lanzarote. All the multicolored hues of the lava rock were pretty as well as the visual of the blow-outs that occurred when these volcanoes erupted in 1730 and continued for six years! We went to Timanfaya National Park and saw a lot of great scenery from the window of a large tourist bus because that is the only way you can see the heart of the park. When we weren't being amazed by the scenery we were by the how the bus driver squeezed around tight corners weaving the bus through the scenic drive. While efficient in handling hoards of tourists, it isn't the best way to experience a park. At the visitor center you could see how hot the earth still is in the area as they cook BBQ chicken on a huge natural grill there and can also boil water! It is something to see the amount of lava rock that was thrown from the center of the volcanoes and now forms the lifeless moonscape that makes up a good part of the island. But over time the Canarians figured out how to grow grapes for wine and other produce as some of the lava stone actually holds water quite well. They build rock walls to protect the plants and corral the water which makes a nice landscape too. We visited a couple of wineries, saw the famous green lake which is just a pond of sorts by the sea with an algae that colors the water green, saw the old salt pans, did some really cool rim hikes and also took a day to bike on the coastal path to Lanzarote's capital city. At a pirate museum, set in an old fort atop a caldera, I learned that once the Canary Islands became a popular sea route for tradeships, in came the pirates from all over to take whatever they could. And that some came from Rabat, Morocco, where we just were a month ago. They would kidnap wealthy people and then sail them to Rabat where they were held for ransom!! So everybody was in to it.
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We sailed south from Lanzarote to a little park island called Los Lobos which had its own volcano to hike and also some snorkeling. At times you can see small hammerhead sharks here but in our couple of tries we saw none of course. Things are improving in the underwater department and there are a lot more fish but it still isn't impressive enough to put on our scuba gear. So we moved to Fuerteventura. We anchored a couple more nights off of seaside towns and then moved into a marina for a few days for the easterly breeze. This island is mainly bald. There are no trees and there isn't the degree of volcanic scenery to observe. So we didn't rent a car to tour it. Instead, we did some local hikes for exercise, hung out on the dock with other sailors and did some boat projects. I mistakenly slopped a coat of varnish on the cockpit during the Sahara cook-off which meant that it skinned over too fast and didn't dry properly. I forgot it needs humidity... We serviced the head which is always fun and went about fixing the latest round of broken stuff. Jon said goodbye to his foul weather gear pants as the lining has disintegrated along with so many of our things. And we discovered that the Pactor modem which seemed to be fixed wasn't since it stopped working again. Must be some internal electronics failure. But we have a spare! It was sitting on the shelf in Whangarei, NZ at a consignment shop labeled "Modum 50NZD" and Jon spotted that baby and bought it a few years back. Obviously the owner of the store didn't realize what it was worth (or how to spell modem). So now our onboard email/weather seems to work. Meanwhile the positive latch on our fridge door broke, and those latches Jon bought in New Zealand when he redid the countertop so it is unlikely he will find matching replacements. Oh well. We had a regulator go on the generator so Jon replaced that and the list continues. There is always something that needs fixing.

Venture Farther continues to grow with a record 10 new users in a day recently. The subscription service is working out and Jon was able to upgrade the servers so it is faster and can handle the added demand. It is now listed on the OpenCPN charting software official plug-ins page for satellite imagery. As well as SEAiq on the Ipad. We are position reporting on our website and if you are interested in receiving an email whenever we do a position report to see if we are still floating, you can send us a note and we'll get an invite out to you or you can go to yourself to sign up to track us. This is where we will report to from sea.

While at Gran Tarajal, another fishing port, we went for lunch at the "Cofradia" which is the fishermen's co-op restaurant, highly recommended. The waiter comes over to you with a platter of raw whole fishes and you pick which one you want them to cook up for you. He pointed to one and said it was really good and big enough for 2 people so we chose that one. It came with the Canarian style boiled potato (they call them wrinkly potatoes) and a simple salad and then perfectly pan cooked whole fish. It was really good in a simple way. When we got the bill we realized just how good it was as the fish had cost $42! We decided tossing out our fishing line was more economical but we haven't caught anything yet.
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Once the NE trades settled in again, we left and did an overnight sail to Gran Canaria. It was the best sail we've had since we think Indonesia, great wind, flat seas, a partial moon and we arrived at sunrise to a new island. I love those nights. At the southern end of Gran Canaria, there are some Sahara like sand dunes for some reason, called the Maspalomas Dunes. They block out the unsightly tourist development that occurs on the southern ends of most islands here. It was so beautiful to glide past those colorful waves of sand with no one on them and the light just beginning to show them off.
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We had to wait get into our berth so anchored just outside and I had a great swim to clean the bottom some and check to see how the lawn was coming along. Not bad! Our last cleaning has lasted well and I could see where the fish had been doing their part to mow down what growth has been taking hold. We shoe horned our way into the berth at Pasito Blanco Marina. It is a private marina since our favorite fisherman's harbor was full and at these you pay more and get no finger pier! The dock was so low that Jon had to boost me up to the bow each time we boarded the boat. Nuts! But we did rent a car to tour the island and we knew the boat wasn't going anywhere since it was wedged in with fenders. We toured some lovely, flower-filled towns, went to an incredible botanical garden with the biggest cacti we've ever seen along with the same kind of cherry bushes that I had growing up in Miami (with the ripe cherries too), and traveled some incredible roads. The challenge of living on an island that goes straight up from sea level is making roads that can cling to the cliffs and curve around endless mountains. Really impressive feats of engineering and enough to make your heart jump our of your chest with some of the drop-offs or at least risk losing your lunch with all the curves and elevation changes. We ate almonds right off the tree on some of our hikes, visited old churches and went to the Casa Museo Colon (Columbus's House museum) in Las Palmas. They say Columbus might have stopped at this house in 1492 as it was used at that time by the governors of the city but what is more interesting is its old Canarian architecture with large balconied patios, complete with palms and parrots. And also the information on each of his voyages. We did long days exploring Gran Canaria with the time that we had and really enjoyed it. It felt so good to finally start seeing some trees and having the air smell sweet again as opposed to like dry rocks. The Canary islands are a well laid out playground with the usual great Spanish vibe and a lot of variety. We really like them.
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We moved around to the SW side of the island after returning the car to see the town of Puerto de Mogan and also position ourselves for the sail to Tenerife. Called the Venice of the Canaries (by the tourist board) it is a tourist development & marina built around rugged cliffy scenery. The guidebooks say that the British are on the beaches and the Germans are up in the hills and they really are pretty accurate with that. Anyway, it is unique in the theme and all the little bridges are cute but it also felt kind of boring and we were glad to sail off to Tenerife the next day. It was boisterous as we were going to windward but it was fast and despite all the junk we have on this boat, it seemed very happy to barrel along through the waves which made me happy and a bit relieved. It still knows what to do!

We are tied up at Marina Santa Cruz and have rented another car to see Tenerife, an island we have been excited about for quite some time. It has lots of trees, steep mountains and more!The only way to really see or do anything is to have a car and we figure there will be a lot of "down time" at sea so we're living it up while we can! But Evergreen never lets us forget it. We will start the day today researching places to get new batteries as ours seem to be getting weak fast. We had to add over 5 liters of water a few days ago. As usual, the boat always gets the biggest presents!

I have some more pics to include here and will when I have time. Until then clicking on any pic (except the first one) should take you to the album...

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Bone Dry

16 October 2017 | Graciosa, Canary Islands
We arrived in the Canary Islands a few days ago after an 80 hour passage with no wind. Mind you, we left without wind in the forecast since there was nothing for more than a week and we didn't feel like waiting around for it. So we sailed for 6hrs and motored for 74! People often keep better track of miles traveled over a cruise than we do (we don't) but we did make a milestone this time which was 3000 hours on the engine!

Other than rigor mortis from not being able to move around and a touch of boredom, it was an easy trip and we saw many seabirds, two different types of dolphin, a whale breaching- probably a humpback but we were too far away to tell, a bit of trash and once again, a warbler joined us for a rest on deck for about 24hrs. He left when we just started seeing the islands. Was he headed to the Canaries I wonder? We saw less ships than we were supposed to and got no weather and no emails. We had two electronics issues- both the AIS and our Winlink onboard email system decided not to work out of the blue so we busied ourselves trying to think of what might be wrong but didn't get to the bottom of it till we arrived. Turned out a small fuse had blown in the AIS system and then the firmware for the Pactor modem all of a sudden required an update in order to work so Jon had those both fixed in a morning. It was OK going without those to get here but we sure hope things go smoothly for the longer trips ahead.
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We were able to pull right into a marina on the small island of Graciosa, which is right next to Lanzarote at the top of the Canaries chain of islands. It is primarily sandy beaches and old volcano calderas, no cars except some old Land Rovers that they use for taxis on the all sand roads and a quiet, picturesque, whitewashed town that is very low key. So a great place to walk and relax some in a cute setting and have the boat secure. And the marina is really pleasant. On the day we got here, the wind turned to the east and this brings on what they call "Calima"- boiling hot dry air from the Sahara, laden with red dust and it got windy. So even though we left the Sahara, it had now come to us! It is a kind of dry that makes your skin hurt but laundry is bone dry in an hour! It finally broke today and the wind is back into the NE with more humidity but the vis has yet to clear. We can breathe easier now with some moisture for sure. And we are more comfortable in our skin.
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It has been a bit of a mind bender going from Moroccan culture to here, part of Spain. At its closest point, the Canaries are 55 miles west of Morocco and yet, it is a completely different world. We arrived late in the day and strolled the town, which fronts a beach and the marina. Kids were playing naked in the sand, adults were clinking beer bottles toasting the sunset in their swimsuits, people were still in the water and there was this free & easy feeling. The only noise were the laughing voices and the waves lapping along the shore. A whole different place. A whole different way to live.
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We've been enjoying hiking all around the island and up to all the calderas that have a trail. It is beautiful in its stark way. I read something that said that volcanic landscapes are like Marmite. You either love it or hate it. We are back to chugging large quantities of sports drink and sitting on the seawall after our hikes eating flavor-ice pop-cycles that make us cough. What IS that chemical they put in those things? We've met some other boats and have sampled some Canarian food together- I had limpets last night for the first time. They are basically an aquatic snail. I'm not sure I will ever crave limpets but it was good to try them. I think.
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Tomorrow we will move around to the the island of Lanzarote. The car rentals are back to the kind of prices we like- $4/day! So we are going to rent one for a bit to tour around.
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Vessel Name: EVERGREEN
Vessel Make/Model: Tashiba 40 Hull #158
Hailing Port: E. Thetford Vermont
Crew: Heather and Jon Turgeon
Over the years, we've explored much of the Caribbean Sea & Atlantic East coast on 3 different long term trips. In January 2012, we left the USA and headed for the Pacific. We visited the Galapagos, French Polynesia, Samoa, Cook Islands & Tonga before heading to New Zealand. We've enjoyed thousands [...]
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