06 April 2017 | St Lucie Inlet, Florida
02 April 2017 | Stocking Island, Exuma
01 April 2017 | George Town, Exumas
30 March 2017 | George Town, Bahamas
22 March 2017 | Elizabeth Island, Exumas
09 March 2017 | George Town, Exumas
04 March 2017 | Thompson's Bay, Long Island
03 March 2017 | Stella Maris, Long Island
02 March 2017 | Long Island
26 February 2017 | Crossing from Water Cay to Comer Channel, Jumentos
25 February 2017 | Double-Breasted Cay to Thompson's Bay, Long Island
23 February 2017 | Double-Breasted Cay, Jumentos
19 February 2017 | Hog Cay, Jumentos
16 February 2017 | Duncan Town, Ragged Island
14 February 2017 | Hog Cay, Jumentos
10 February 2017 | Hog Cay, the Jumentos
06 February 2017 | Duncan Town, Ragged Island
05 February 2017 | Hog Cay, Ragged Islands
05 February 2017 | Duncan Town, Ragged Island
How We Celebrated Our Anniversary
19 December 2013 | Puerto de Mogan, Gran Canaria
Yesterday was our wedding anniversary, 44 years since we tied the knot in Berlin (West Berlin, as it was called then). Burger surprised me with a dozen pink roses, and I pampered him with a special breakfast, his favorite Haribo gummi-bears, and an apropos card (Sailboat with hearts on the sails. Message: "Year after year ... the adventure continues. Happy Anniversary.")
In the evening we celebrated with dinner at one of Puerto de Mogan's many romantic, candlelit restaurants.
In between, we got down to the business at hand: Day Three of repairing the mainsail roller furling mechanism that lets us roll the sail in and out. The roller furling spindle had sheared off and needed reengineering and then welding at the boatyard. The biggest and most frustrating part of the job was dismantling and reinstalling the spindle parts.
Photo: Burger performing surgery inside the mast.
Screws needed to be bored out, shooting minuscule bits of metal everywhere. Tiny needle bearings and ball bearings threatened to scatter and disappear overboard, as a few did. But with trial and error and great perseverance Burger got the job done, with a little help from me (vacuuming bits of metal and searching for tiny bearings!).
Today we reinstalled the sail and put the boat back together again.
Now all we need do is await the next weather window, likely on Sunday, a full week since our first attempt to leave. Instead of Christmas in Cape Verde, we'll sing carols and eat Lebkuchen at sea, and hopefully celebrate New Year's Eve in our next port. Follow our tracks on any or all of the three satellite map links on the right side of this blog's home page.
Halekai Doesn't Want to Leave!
15 December 2013 | Puerto de Mogan, Gran Canaria
Photo: Sailing Off the Coast of Gran Canaria
Well, we set sail for Mindelo in the Cape Verdes Islands today but didn't get very far. Just ten miles offshore the mainsail rollerfurler broke while reefing the sail in a 30 knot gust. So we turned on the iron jenny and motored back to port to lick our wounds. We dropped the sail and did a makeshift job of folding and securing it before returning to the berth we had just left a couple of hours earlier.
Now Burger is busy reeingineering the failed part, which had broken once before eight years ago in the Bahamas at the start of our circumnavigation. Hopefully we can leave in time to still make it to Mindelo by Christmas.
The Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria Were Here
10 December 2013 | Las Palmas
Photo: Christopher Columbus was here: Case de Colon in Las Palmas
We've been to Las Palmas a couple of times to shop at the chandleries and visit friends in the marina there. We watched the frenzied activity prior to the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) departure to the Caribbean a couple of week ago. Over 200 boats left together on a pre-set date that didn't take the weather into consideration, and they sailed right into the doldrums! Some join the ARC for the parties and seminars, and some consider sailing rallies "safety in numbers," but we wouldn't want to be in the middle of a pack all crisscrossing each other's paths.
Las Palmas has little of sightseeing interest, but yesterday we strolled around the old part of town and went to the Casa de Colon, aka Columbus House, built in the late 15th century. It's purported that Christopher Columbus visited here, since it was the Governor's House at the time of his voyages that stopped in Las Palmas. Today it's a museum with detailed maps of Columbus' four voyages and other nautical and historical exhibitions. Definitely worth a visit. Amazing how accurately the ships sailed across the Atlantic and back again, given that the only navigation aids were a compass and a hand log. Back then they didn't know about hurricane season in the Caribbean, and sailed across in the summer. Lucky for them there weren't any major hurricanes during his four voyages to the New World.
Then we made our way to the Las Palmas Marina and enjoyed happy hour aboard the catamaran, La Perle Noire
. We met Aussies Deb and Jim in Turkey two years ago, and they're on the same track. Maybe we'll spend Christmas together in the Cape Verdes!
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We Love to Go A-wandering ...
09 December 2013 | Gran Canaria
It's been 10 days now that we've been waiting for a weather window to depart, but the wind keeps blowing from the wrong direction, or doesn't blow at all. We have no commitments so we're not in a rush, and with the temps in the low 70's it's a great place to to do boat chores, take long walks and take day trips around the island. We marvel at those we see sitting in their cockpits reading in the afternoon, something we never seem to find time to do.
Yesterday we went hiking for several hours in one of the island's many nature preserves, the Barranco de los Cernícalos ravine near Lomo Magullo, just inland of the city of Telde. It was good to stretch our legs what with the weeks of sailing ahead of us. Considering how close the preserve is to the east coast resorts and Las Palmas, we were surprised to encounter no other tourists, only a few Canarean families who were walking their dogs and grilling at the picnic area. Evidently the locals prefer it that way. It was poorly signed and would have been hard to find without our Tom-Tom GPS app.
The area has a high water level and gets more rain than other parts of the island, making it a major agricultural center. Water rushed alongside us for much of the trail and some was diverted by canals and pipes to irrigate crops. There were even some small waterfalls. Bright green clover blanketed the ground under the wild olive and willow trees, such a pleasant change from the dry, barren terrain of much of the island.
We passed by a farm where a bunch of goats were clambering up and down a vertical stone wall. This little guy took his time figuring out his next step:
We also visited the nearby village of Valsequillo, known for its almond orchards, strawberries and other crops. The houses were painted cheerful colors and everything looked neat, tidy and prosperous.
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28 November 2013 | Gran Canaria
Happy Thanksgiving to our family and American friends! Burger cooked up a storm and we celebrated with our traditional meal: turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, German Kloesse (potato dumplings) and Rotkohl (red cabbage).
When the weather allows we'll be leaving to sail across the Atlantic, and we'll be posting our progress here. Our GPS position will show on the "Follow Our Tracks" satellite image map to the right. It will also show on the Yotreps map tracker, click on the link on the menu on right. Our AIS position will show on the www.marinetraffic.com map when we're sailing close to shore.
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27 November 2013 | Fataga, Gran Canaria
It was fun having company aboard for several days, and it was a bit of a letdown to see them leave. But now it was time to begin preparing for departure and provision for the Atlantic crossing. First item on the list for Burger was to don his diving gear and dive under the boat to clean and grease the propeller while I stood watch and lent assistance with the hookah.
Next day we rented a car and combined business with pleasure. First we hunted down some boat stuff at chandleries in Puerto Rico and Las Palmas, then drove north from Maspalomas to explore a new part of the island. The windy road threaded along steep mountainsides and through the Valley of the Thousand Palms, where camels were sitting on their haunches awaiting customers.
Our destination was the tiny cliffside village of Fataga, where we lunched on tasty tapas and beer while sitting on a patio overlooking the vast vistas surrounding us. Tourism was very low key, just a few hikers and bikers. After exploring the cute little town and its artesan shops we drove on to San Bartolome, but it was a bit lacking in interest. On our way back through Fataga we stopped for coffee and cake in a cafe/art gallery.
Our final destination of the day was our favorite Lidl supermarket, where we filled the car with all manner of edibles that should last us far beyond our few weeks at sea. We even found a plump little turkey for our Thanksgiving dinner!
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Far from the Madding Crowd
26 November 2013 | Gran Canaria
On another day the four of us set off in Ingrid and Peter's rented bright red VW Golf (aka Rabbit) and visited the interior of the island. We had intended to go hiking but the weather didn't cooperate, as we would have been caught in the low level clouds that descended from the mountain tops in the afternoon. We did take a trail for a short distance from where we could see the towering volcano Mount Teide in the "ocean of clouds" 40 miles away in Tenerife. At over 12,000 feet high, Mount Teide is the highest mountain of Spain, and last erupted in 1798.
Instead of hiking we spent a delightful day exploring the small mountain villages and enjoying the gorgeous mountain scenery. Peter steered us expertly along the curvy narrow roads and Burger navigated on our iPad, while Ingrid and I enjoyed the magnificent vistas of Roque Nublo and Roque Bentayga (see photos).
We had a tasty lunch in Tejeda, in a tiny cafe that doubled as an art gallery. The artist himself served us delicious cheese and sausage tapas with wine. After a visit to a botanical herbs garden, we bought almond pastries and take-out coffee that we ate while enjoying the views from a park bench. We then took a tour of an historic cave house in tiny Artenara, where people still live in houses built into the mountainside today.
Considering how tourist season is in full swing, it's surprising how few other tourists we encountered. It seems few venture far from their beach resorts.
Back in Puerto de Mogan, we had take-out pizza and beer in the cockpit, a lovely end to a lovely day.
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White Caps, Golden Dunes and Green Flash
24 November 2013 | Puerto de Mogan, Gran Canaria
On another day we took the boat out for a spin. There was no wind as we motored past the scenic cliffs of the southwest coast, and we anchored off a little cove. But our plans for lunch and a swim were rudely interrupted by a sudden squall that came out of nowhere and whipped the waves into whitecaps, putting us suddenly on a lee coast. So we returned to the marina, and tied up to the fuel dock to top off the tanks. While there the wind veered around and gusted to 40 knots, pushing us onto the harbor wall, where we were forced to remain till the wind subsided. Ingrid and Peter assisted with fenders and lines and got a little taste of maneuvering in tight quarters, as Burger expertly steered Halekai
in reverse into our berth.
Yet another excursion we took together was a drive up the coast to Maspalomas and hike through the sand dunes to the beach, not realizing that we had chosen a route through nude gay territory! (Sorry, no photos taken!)
Back in Puerto do Mogan, we walked along the cliff path at the edge of town and taught our guests how to see a green flash at sunset.
Then we splurged on dinner at a gourmet restaurant owned by Dieter and Christel, a couple from Berlin who've been in business here for 28 years.
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22 November 2013 | Puerto de Mogan, Gran Canaria
Since leaving the U.S. to sail the world in 2004, we haven't had any guests on board. Our nomadic lifestyle means that we can't give people much notice where we'll be when, and much of our voyage has taken us too far away for affordable travel. But knowing well in advance that we planned to spend November in the Canaries, we invited our good friends and former neighbors from Germany, Ingrid and Peter, for a visit. We helped them celebrate Peter's recent retirement from his career with Lufthansa.
Our guests came laden with welcome additions to our larder: Lebkuchen, Stollen and our favorite Niederegger marzipan, just in time for Advent season; specialty sausages and hearty sourdough rye bread. I quickly whisked away the sweets so they might at least have a chance to last till Christmas.
Ingrid and Peter were good sports and adjusted quickly to board life, and using the marina restroom showers ashore. Entertaining guest while in a marina is a lot easier than at anchor, and the two dozen inviting cafes and seafood restaurants in Puerto de Mogan, just a few steps from our dock, meant we didn't have to prepare all meals aboard.
The local beach is small and crowded, so we all went swimming and sunbathing together at the Marina Pool Bar, a cafe that allows patrons to use their lovely pool. It was a kind of mini-vacation for Burger and me, since we seldom spend our time lounging at pools. The water was refreshing--my code word for chilly--but invigorating and the exercise did us all good.
On our first evening together we had dinner at a seafood restaurant overlooking the fishing boats in the harbor, then took a walk through town and had a glass of wine at a cafe with live mariachi music.
Monkeys on Display
03 November 2013 | Puerto de Mogan, Gran Canaria
The small, crowded marina was a bit of a letdown at first, after the lovely new Rubicon Marina we just left in Lanzarote, with its floating pontoons and finger piers. At 25 year old Puerto de Mogan we were berthed alongside the harbor wall not far from the ferry dock, with no privacy from all the tourists who peered curiously at us if we were on deck. But worse than that was the 7-foot tidal difference, since at low tide we had to be monkeys to climb ashore. Agility has never been my forte.
But after a week of complaining we were finally able to move to a berth at the far end of a floating pontoon, which solved both problems. As you can see from the photos, it's quite lovely here, with narrow pedestrian lanes and bright fuchsia bougainvillea decorating all the arches.
The many restaurants and cafes are top quality (with top prices!) and two good supermarkets are a short walk away. Most of the tourists are Scandinavian, so the stores cater to their needs. Being of Swedish descent, I even understand a bit of their chatter. It's a family oriented resort town so it's quiet at night, no loud music along the waterfront.
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Coming Full Circle Since 1975
01 November 2013 | Gran Canaria
Photo: Puerto de Mogan, Gran Canaria
Sadly we bid farewell to Lanzarote and our friends there, as we had promises to keep ... Friends from Germany will be flying in and visiting us aboard. We plan to spend the month of November in Gran Canaria, where we'll provision and prepare for the Atlantic crossing next month.
Strong wind and hefty seas made for an exciting broad reach between the islands, a 130 mile overnight passage. Not wanting to alarm me, Burger "forgot" to tell me that our new wind instrument registered 35 knots gusting to 40 during his watch in the night. I learned it from another sailor the next day, who'd sailed down at the same time. But Halekai was up to the challenge and this time nothing broke, a good omen for the voyage ahead?
When we spotted the bright lights of Las Palmas on the horizon, Burger reminded me that we had now come full circle around the world! We left Germany aboard our first boat, Phantasus, back in 1975, and stopped in Gran Canaria on our way across the Atlantic.
Our circumnavigation aboard Halekai, begun in 2004, will end when we reach the East Coast in the spring. (Well, that's open to interpretation, since we shipped Halekai from Thailand to Turkey to avoid the pirates.)
Happy Birthday to My Schatzi
27 October 2013 | Lanzarote, Canary Islands
The birthday boy made his own birthday cake, a Schwarzwaeldersahnetorte (aka Black Forest cake) which, according to family tradition, we enjoyed for breakfast! After distributing generous slices to our neighbors, we went birthday gift shopping at the weekly tourist handicraft market in Rubicon. Burger got quite a haul: two t-shirts, shorts, a leather wallet, and a wine cooler. That evening we had our favorite sushi at a Japanese restaurant. It was a lovely day!
More Amazing Manrique
26 October 2013 | Lanzarote, Canary Islands
On our third day, we hit three more highlights of the island, all handiworks of, you guessed it, Cesar Manrique: The Jardin de Cactus, a botanical cactus garden with unusual specimens from around the world, enhanced by Manrique's sometimes comical art; the Jameos del Agua, an underground lake and restaurant located inside a giant lava tunnel; and the Cueva de Los Verdes, a huge cave inside the same lava tunnel which holds a concert hall and a shallow lake with the most amazing optical illusion reflection.
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25 October 2013 | Lanzarote, Canary Islands
We ended the day with a drive through the central wine country, and a visit to the El Grifo Wine Museum, and finally, wine tasting! Do view our captioned photos showing the unique vineyards in black lava soil and rocks, designed to capture the moisture.
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Mountains of Fire and Street of Blood
25 October 2013 | Lanzarote, Canary Islands
Next day we visited the National Park of Timanfaya, where we took a guided tour bus around the incredible moonscape of volcanic cones, craters, lava fields and ash. Although the last eruption was nearly 200 years ago, it appears very recent due to the dry climate and therefore lack of erosion. A restaurant, with food cooked over thermal heat from a hole in the ground, is housed in a large round building with panoramic views of the Park. Who oversaw the design? Cesar Manrique.
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We then had lunch in Teguise, once the capital of the island, a small town with cobblestone streets and houses dating back to the 15th century. We walked down the "Street of Blood" (Callejon de la Sangre
), so named for a massacre by pirates in 1596.
Nearby the Castle of Santa Barbara stands at the top of a hill, strategically built to try and protect Teguise from further pirate attacks. The castle now houses a pirate museum, one of the few tourist sites not attributed to Manrique, but worth a visit nonetheless. The displays mentioned just about every famous cutthroat pirate in history, since the Canaries lie along the route of the early explorers, traders and slavers between Europe, North Africa and the New World.
In Pursuit of Cesar Manrique
24 October 2013 | Lanzarote, Canary Islands
We rented a car for three days and set off to day trip around the island. Considering that it's quite barren, Lanzarote surprised us with its unique beauty. Tourism hasn't destroyed it with overdevelopment such as the along the Costa del Sol. Why not? Mainly because of the influence of one man, artist/sculptor/architect Cesar Manrique, who was born in Lanzarote.
Not only were many of the major attractions of Lanzarote created by Manrique, but he oversaw the architectural planning of tourist development for the whole island, beginning back in the late '60s. One of his goals was to protect the environment and cultural history of the island.
We started out with a visit to one of Manrique's former homes, converted during his lifetime into a museum. Built on top of a "ropy lava" field, he incorporated the black lava with whitewashed tunnels, open seating areas with palm trees and cacti, an enticing small pool, and enclosed rooms with window views of volcanoes. All sprinkled with his art, sculptures and landscaping.
CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS!
Later we visited a centuries-old military fortress, the San Jose Castle, overlooking the harbor of Arrecife, the capital of Lanzarote. The castle has been converted into a contemporary art museum and restaurant. Who oversaw the project? Cesar Manrique.
Last stop of the day was at our favorite supermarket chain, Lidl!
Luxuriating in Lanzarote
22 October 2013 | Lanzarote, Canary Islands
After a few days we sailed down the west coast of Lanzarote to Marina Rubicon, one of the nicest marinas we've been to. Tasteful "zeri-scaping" (plants adapted to the desert climate) and attractive low-rise hotels, restaurants and shops line the waterfront, and there's good walking on the paved promenade along the coast in both directions, from Playa Blanca to Cap Papagayo.
We met up with some boats we know and got acquainted with our dock neighbors, all boats on their way across the Atlantic soon, so we had lots to talk about.
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It seems that even a short trip offshore results in something new that needs fixing or replacing, and in this case it was the wind instrument for the top of the mast. Burger had fixed it several times in the past but this time it was beyond repair. It had served us well for 20 years so it wasn't surprising that it finally gave up the ghost. When we were in the boatyard office asking about repairing our outboard motor, there on a shelf was the exact model wind instrument that we needed!
Grateful to be in Graciosa
19 October 2013 | Graciosa, Canary Islands
sunny and warm
Photo: At anchor in Francesa Bay, Graciosa
After all the time we've spent in marinas while in the Med and Morocco, what a pleasure it was to put the anchor down in Francesa Bay on the southern coast of Graciosa, one of the smallest of the Canary Islands. Despite its barrenness, the landscape has an otherworldly kind of beauty, with the multi-colored volcanic cones, and the golden sandy beaches.
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The bay is sheltered by the island itself to the north/northeast and the high cliffs of Lanzarote just across the channel to the south. Its location makes it a logical first stop when sailing down from Portugal, Madeira, Gibraltar and Morocco, so it wasn't surprising to find a couple of dozen sailboats at anchor. We saw boats from northern Europe, Australia, South American and Canada, but ours was the only American flag.
The water was clear and inviting but just a bit too chilly for our taste, although some hardy souls--especially families with children--were plunging in, and enjoying the sandy beaches. We launched the dinghy but couldn't get the outboard to start, so we paddled ashore and walked to the little fishing and tourist village of Caleta de Sebo about a mile or so away. There we found the "Hamburgesa" wifi cafe and caught up with the news of the world. The government shut-down was finally over!