Shane's Gibraltar to Arrecife
25 September 2015
Hello I'm Shane, another guest blogger. I went to college with Liam and work on an offshore supply ship in the North Sea as Liam had been before he retired. This was my first time on a sailing yacht and I really enjoyed it. Sorry if the blog is a bit long and boring. It's transcribed straight from my notes and I didn't want to leave anything out. Because that's how I roll.
12th September 2015
Depart Gibraltar 0615. Nice calm morning. Liz at the wheel. Got cold once we entered the Straits (still dark) and I put on a jacket and woolly cap pretty quickly. I took the opportunity to warm up by making breakfast. Clonakilty black puddings, tomatoes, scrambled eggs and fried bread was appropriate I thought. Neither Liz nor Liam could finish theirs so I had their leftovers. It occurred to me that the last time I was through the Straits of Gibraltar was 15 years ago on a container ship. I didn't think I'd ever be here in a 38 foot sailing boat. Passing Tarifa we saw swordfish and tuna and good tide rips. At 1000 we set the main and the jib; Liam is great. We ran the engine for the day with sails set, doing about 4.5 knots. At 1800 the wind had picked up a bit. Alter course 20 degrees to port and stop engine. This is the first time under sail alone since I joined on the 7th. 2200- on watch with Liz. The wind eased off so got the engine going again. We had dinner which Liz had prepared yesterday. I was hungry as hell so I had a second and third serving. Lovely starry night. The Milky Way is very clear. Plenty traffic to keep me on my toes after Liz went to bunk. Shore lights still visible.
13th September 2015
I woke up about 0800 to the sound of men chanting, possibly from lots of Africans in dug-out canoes surrounding us. Or Liz's music. I stayed in my bunk in case it was the former. But it turned out to be an eerie sound the shrouds sometimes make in the wind - what a relief. We did a bit of sailing and tried out the wind pilot - a mechanical device which, once set up, will steer the boat according to the relative wind direction - but this proved a bit complicated and we gave up. After a few more hours in bunk I made a salad and Liam heated up the remainder of yesterday's leftover mince. I'm still hungry as a horse and finished Liam and Liz's leftovers. Motoring along now and chatting with Liz about life in general when we are joined by a dozen or more dolphins. A nice afternoon; dry, warm but not hot, high clouds. I argue with myself as to whether the wind has increased a few knots or if it's just wishful thinking. I'd like to get under sail again. We're doing 3 hours on, 6 hours off. The Man/Kavanagh safety management system; wear a lifejacket at sea, don't leave the cockpit when on your own on watch, wear a harness at night, don't fall out! Liz stresses these points at handover. I sometimes forget to don the lifejacket during the day. Liam has a chat with Liz and me about filling in the log, which we've not been doing. In the real world of shipping this would be an almighty bollocking. But this is not the real world. It is the magical world of sailing and we have a chat instead.
14th September 2015
00-0300 watch. A quiet night. A few falling stars. Very clear. The loom of a city 40 miles to the East. Liam wakes up when I get a VHF call from a tanker. The tanker asks my intentions. I ask if his decklights are on. He says no but we are on a collision course. I tell him I can't see him for the lights of a fishing vessel right ahead of me. He suggests we both alter to starboard and leave the fishing vessel in between. I say that would be a good idea. He passes to port. All of his deck lights are on (there's no fishing boat). Liam and I spend an hour or more talking about nothing before I go to bunk. 0900-1200 watch. Liz makes me coffee and toast. My hunger is gone today and I feel normal again. Not a knot of wind. Bollocky calm. I read my book; The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson. By 1100 the wind has freshened to 10 knots. Liam pops his head up and we enthusiastically discuss making sail. I insist on a toolbox talk. First we set full sail on the main, then the Genoa and lastly the jib. By 1130 we're hitting 5.5 knots. It's peaceful without the engine. Liam is great. Liz cooks lunch in the pressure cooker. Boiled ham and spuds and tinned veg. Liz is great too. Although the wind eases a little we continue to sail through the afternoon. Liz overhauls a winch. At about 1700 we take in the jib and the Genoa and deploy the gennaker for testing. This is a light but relatively fragile sail normally kept in a bag below deck. It is apparently handy for use in light winds. When we had finished with testing and stowed away the gennaker I made an omelette. Liz sat on hers before she ate it. Liam decided it was a good evening for sundowners so we each cracked open a tube; this is my first beer on a boat at sea in 14 years. Things I like to do on the Odyssey; Wear nothing on my feet (just as well because I've nearly run out of clean socks). Eat and sleep, although my hunger and tiredness have now gone. Daydream; I'm good at this. Talk rubbish with Liz and Liam; I'm equally good at this.
15th September 2015
0300-0600 I make myself a ham and cheese sandwich before going on watch. The mayo is towards the back of the cupboard and will take a lot of rooting around to fish out. So I have marmite in my sandwich instead - It's ok. I neither love it nor hate it. Midday-we transfer all but one of the jerry cans to the fuel oil tank. Between Liam and myself we work out the fuel consumption to be just under 3 litres per hour. Liz makes a nice pasta thing. During the afternoon we all take turns washing ourselves on deck, first with buckets of seawater then a rinse with fresh water. I sit on top of the cabin in my birthday suit smeared in un-lathered Dove for Men - it's doesn't lather up with seawater - and I think 'isn't this just dandy?' I wash off with fresh water from the shower bag that Liam bought in Lidl for a tenner. Liam, who is supposed to be keeping an eye on me from the safety of the cockpit is doing his best not to keep an eye on me! We sail nicely through my 2100 to midnight watch.
16th September 2015
I barely woke when Liam started the engine during the night and was out for the count when Liz woke me at 0545. I can't find my toilet bag in the mess of clothes I've got stacked on top of a spare sail. I give up looking for it and don't brush my teeth. Liz makes me noodles and a cup of tea. I fight to stay awake for the next two hours. It's quite cold and I wrap up well. Daylight comes and I pull the engine back at 0820, set the Genoa to full sail, set the job and leave the main as is with one reef in. We make about 5 knots and I stop the engine. Liam turns to at 0900 and we set full sail on the main. By 1300 the wind had dropped away and we're under engine power again. I make a salad of tuna, sweetcorn, olives and red onion and fry up some tortilla for lunch. This process takes ages, mostly fishing through the many cans of food in the lockers looking for the right one. After lunch I have a look at Liz's fishing gear and make up a hook and otter board. We haul in the existing lure which is gone. We've been towing an empty line. I start to tow the new arrangement but have no luck. In the evening Liam makes rice and chorizo for supper. I have a second and third helping. We each have a sundowner. Sailing nicely at 5-6 knots we try the wind pilot again but it needs more magic. We put a reef in the main before I knock off at 2100. Despite the toolbox this doesn't go as well as usual and we make a small mess of it. Lack of communication between Liz and myself. My face feels hot despite being in the shade all day.
17th September 2015
00-0300 was a quiet watch. Sailing slowly. As the wind dies I take in the jib to fill the Genoa. There's bioluminescence in the water like stars in the sea by the hull. By 0300 the speed has dropped to about 2.5 knots. Liam has gone back to sleep after waking him so I wake him by starting the engine. At 0900 I come on watch, today with SPF30 on my face. Liz and I talk about nothing for a while then we read our books. We set full main before lunch which Liz has prepared. Pasta and anchovies. I have a second helping. Land is in sight. Despite full sail we don't make the 5 knots of speed required to arrive at the anchorage during daylight. So we motor on. Liam asks me to tip out the dish water which unwittingly has a fork and knife in it....tools are now in short supply. Liz is reading 'Eclipse' which is part of the twilight series. After 68 pages nothing has happened and she has me under pressure to finish mine so she can have it. I turn to about 1700 and read a bit more. We finally catch a fish. One solitary mackerel but we consider this a great achievement. We make good speed under sail while approaching the island of Graciosa which is just north of Lanzarote. Once anchored Liam cleans out the grey water tank while I fillet the mackerel. For supper we have rice and Chinese sausage, beetroot and red onion salad, fried mackerel and a belly full of beer. After some difficulty I book a flight home using Liz's phone. It starts to rain. DPA Steve Malone calls for a chat but we've had too much beer and talk rubbish.
18th September 2015
Liz makes pancakes for breakfast. We weigh anchor at 1040 and sail straight off the anchorage. We tack our way North East through the strait between Graciosa and Lanzarote before rounding the North headland of Lanzarote and sailing down the East coast. There's a good breeze and we make about 6 knots. We sail goose-winged (a sail on each side) with the wind right astern for a while just to try it out. Eat noodles, drink tea and listen to the Dubliners for the afternoon. We sail all the way to the entrance at Arricife. It's a nice new marina with shops, restaurants and bars. After sorting out the arrival paperwork we have a few beers, joined by Paul from the Pieces who Liz and Liam have previously met. He has the most sunburned face I've seen on any man. After well needed showers we wander into town for tapas and wine. It is very nice there.
19th September 2015
Today Liam hired a car and we went touring around Lanzarote. After stopping at a winery along the way we continued on to Montanas Del Fuego which is one of the larger volcanoes on the island. We failed to realise that we were supposed to get on the tour bus in order to get to the top of the volcano so we missed out on what we had really paid for and instead just got the amusements around the restaurant and souvenir shop. We stopped further down the road at the interpretative centre which was nice. And then onto the Cueva De Los Verdes which is a lava cave towards the north of the island. In the evening we visit Paul on the Pieces and share a bottle of wine and then we all go to town for food and more wine.
Well I went home the next day feeling satisfied with my adventure but sad to be returning to the real world. My trip on the Odyssey was a very memorable and enjoyable one and to be honest a bit of a surprise. As someone who works in the North Sea for a living I really didn't think I'd enjoy sailing on a 38 foot yacht for a whole variety of reasons I won't bore you with. After two weeks on there I found myself a little bit hooked. Where before I thought Liam and Liz a bit daft with their idea of buying a yacht and taking off for a year and a half I now find myself a little envious of them. I wish them all the best with their adventures and hope to join them again soon for more fun.