Leaving for Canaries? When? Now!
05 November 2014 | Graciosa, Canaries
Back from Morocco, we would be waiting in La Linea for a weather window to cross the Straits of Gibraltar and sail to the Canaries Islands. While waiting, we had planned to re-visit Gibraltar, eat lots of meat pies and Indian food, party with the crews of Neptune II, At Last, and Miss Behaving; and have an overall relaxing time. Well, it was not to be. Just few days after returning from Morocco, the weather window presented itself. So instead of all the leisure time and relaxation that I had anticipated, we spent the next few days running around fixing things (which always includes several trips to the Gibraltarian chandleries), packing and storing stuff - dinghy, outboard, anchor, etc.; and provisioning and preparing meals for the passage.
We left midday on Saturday, November 1, 2014. The first 12 hours, crossing the Straits of Gibraltar and along the north coast of Morocco, were windy (25 to 35 knots). Por Dos hit her record speed at 17 knots while surfing a wave for – what it felt like - hours. We had a quick passage, about 3.5 days, and an overall uneventful trip. The only exception was when, on our second day of passage, at 7 A.M., during my watch, the autopilot blinked a black screen (always a bad sign) with a message saying that the ECC had lost communication with the CCE and it was shutting down in 60 seconds. I looked at the screen uncomprehending. The autopilot, true to its word, switched itself off, and I found myself steering at the helm, still trying to understand what just happened. There has been no alarm, no warning, nothing. If I had not been looking at the autopilot screen at the right time, I would not have seen the warning, and I would have been even more puzzled to find Por Dos wandering off-course. I switched the autopilot circuit off and on. Luckily, it came back with no issues. This behavior (warning screen & switching itself off) happened a second time during the trip and, again, came back normally after switching the circuit on and off. Mark disconnected and re-connected the cables connecting some of the autopilot circuitry but he saw nothing obvious to explain the autopilot behavior. Go figure!
We arrived at the Playa Francesa anchorage in the south of La Graciosa island at 3 AM on Tuesday, November 4, dropped anchorage, and slept until late hours of the morning.
We stayed in La Graciosa five days, exploring this volcanic, dry, beautiful island, before sailing to Marina de Arrecife in Lanzarote island.