25 January 2020 | Scarborough marina, Redcliffe Peninsula, Queensland
16 January 2020 | Christchurch
22 December 2019 | Christchurch, New Zealand
16 December 2019 | Christchurch, Canterbury, NZ
28 November 2019 | Christchurch, SI, New Zealand
19 November 2019 | Picton, Marlborough, NZ
04 November 2019 | Collingwood, Tasman, South Island, NZ
04 November 2019 | Collingwood, Tasman, South Island, NZ
29 October 2019 | Nelson, South Island, NZ
22 October 2019 | Christchurch, Te Waka o Māui, New Zealand
15 October 2019 | Scarborough, Queensland
05 October 2019 | Scarborough marina, near Brisbane, Australia
16 August 2019 | Southport Spit, Gold Coast, Australia
06 August 2019 | South Stradbroke Island, Gold Coast, Queensland
15 July 2019 | Boatworks, Coomera River, Gold Coast
25 May 2019 | Biggera Waters, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
12 April 2019 | Coomera River, Gold Coast, Australia
02 April 2019 | Southport, The Gold Coast, Australia
16 March 2019 | Southport, Gold Coast, Australia
09 March 2019 | Currigee, South Stradbroke Island, Gold Coast
Tenerife to starboard
11 November 2013 | Off the coast of Tenerife
Got off as expected from the marina in Tenerife. Now sailing down the coast of Tenerife on route for the Cabo Verde Islands-800 miles to go.
Off tomorrow - we think!
10 November 2013 | Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Alison and Geoff
Still blowing strongly here on Tenerife but hope to depart tomorrow Monday for the 7 day passage to the Cabo Verde Islands.
Mackerel Skies in Tenerife
06 November 2013
Strong winds are on the way until Sunday, then by the looks of the great preparations going on in Marina Santa Cruz there is going to be a sudden exodus to points to the south west when the winds moderate. The marina that was quiet a month ago is now awash with just about every nationality. Even a couple of Kiwis turned up the other day, flying the Silver Fern and the Irish Flag. Just to remind us of the potential perils of travelling around in little boats is news of two boats that have ended their Atlantic trips prematurely - one a French boat that hit a rock and dismasted crossing the bar at Rabat against advice from Moroccan authorities (thankfully, the occupants were safe). The other was a British boat that lost its rudder on passage from Morocco to Lanzarote and was towed into Puerto Calero by a Spanish coast guard vessel.
One great thing about the Canaries is that it rarely rains, so preparations to do just about anything occur in dry conditions. One wonders where on earth all the water comes from to keep the millions of residents and visitors quenched on these islands year round. Something is happening in the surrounding towering mountains that we don't know about!!!!
Anyway, we are expecting to head off to the Cabo Verdes either late Sunday or early Monday depending what the grid lock is like leaving the marina.
And in answer to Ken & Lori's question (hi to you in Oz!), it should take around six days to the Verdes. From there to the other side of the Atlantic may take between 14 to 22 days depending on exactly where one heads for. We are still toying with last year's first choice which was the Guianas on the South American mainland, simply because of the lack of yachts, the amount of natural rainforest and the likelihood of seeing interesting wildlife while anchored up one of the rivers. We will make up our minds before we set off from Mindelo!!
South...Until the Butter Melts
02 November 2013 | Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Alison and Geoff, Calm but overcast
Above is a snapshot of the simple route south west to the Cape Verde islands. The small triangles are approximate daily positions after leaving Santa Cruz.
Don't know whether the old sailing ships that used the Canaries ever really did have butter on board, but that's the phrase that's stuck ever since. The idea was that boats used to head south more than west until they picked up regular trade winds, then they headed for the Caribbean, Central or South America. The weather has been hot enough here in Santa Cruz for any butter to melt even before heading South, but it does at least cool down at night.
The boat is ready and filled to the gunwales with water, food and diesel. We will set off, butterless, to the Verdes soon - perhaps in a few days time. As always with the cruising life we change our minds constantly - mostly to do with weather changes and also because of equipment not working.
The side arm of the ARC leaves on the 10th and will be in Mindelo only for a few days, so won't bother us. Mindelo has a very large anchorage.
From Sea View to Street View
25 October 2013 | Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Photo shows the Caldera de Taburiente from the rim in the centre of La Palma.
We finally departed the safety of Las Palmas marina to make the 55 mile passage to the port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. We didn't fancy adding ourselves to the overcrowded anchorage in Las Palmas for more than a night so we headed for Tenerife instead and have now been here for more than two weeks.
Most of the time we have been furthering our Atlantic Ocean crossing preparations but we have just come back from a week in La Palma and La Gomera, not solely to admire the sea from our apartment window in Santa Cruz de La Palma and the street view from the pension in San Sebastian de Gomera but to undertake some challenging walking trips too. The first one was the Ruta de Los Volcanes, a 20 km path along La Palma's spine snaking past many dormant and extinct cones.
Being too stingy to pay out for a taxi to the start of the trail we walked the 7 kms to the starting point and then had a great walk up and down volcanic peaks but as the bus time to return was getting closer we ducked down a marked side trail which said it was 5.3 km to the highway. Easy peazy we thought, but a 11/2 hour downhill hike turned into 3 hours of hell as we stumbled down a marked but non maintained trail. It was rocky, splattered with countless loose stones and steep at times. Even the goats had found an alternative route!!! It was the worst 1000 m downhill hike we had done after hundreds of kilometres of hikes in Turkey, Crete, the Annapurnas, The other Canary Islands and last but not least the east and west of the US. Oh well we survived and managed to get the bus back to Santa Cruz de la Palma.
Our other walk on La Palma was up to the lip of the great gash in the centre of the island. Apparently, this very place gave its name to the geological feature known as a caldera, but it is not actually a caldera, but an eroded river valley, many kilometres wide It was a spectacular place on a spectacularly sunny day.
An early morning ferry ride brought us to San Sebastian de Gomera on the island of the same name. The island is criss-crossed by walking tracks and we sampled a few, especially the ones that went through the laurosilva forest in the Garajonay National Park which unfortunately on one side had been damaged by fire despite recent attempts at regenerating the forest. We may stop at Gomera or the southernmost island of El Hierro on the way down to the Verdes.
Beautiful Sunny Days in Las Palmas
02 October 2013
We have been back from our adventurous US trip more than 6 weeks now and the transatlantic crossing season is now nearly upon us. Boats like ourselves who are not part of the 250 strong Atlantic Rally for cruisers are asked to vacate the marina to allow for this large onslaught of yachts. They are arriving but not thick and fast so there are now numerous vacant berths.
Our plans are to move on to Santa Cruz de Tenerife at the end of the week to do our final preparations there. Not really a lot to do now as we have replaced virtually half the rig and have really just been tittle tattling around while writing a mish mash of articles for our online clients to save for our next off yacht trip.
We won't be out of sight of the Canaries to around the 2nd week of November and that's all dependent on a suitable weather window,
Better late than never? Humberto is born in the Verdes as we twiddle in a muddle
01 September 2013 | Las Palmas, Gran Canaria
Geoff - grey skies -
Who said houses couldn't sink? Photo shows a house sinking into a sinkhole in Florida earlier this year!
While pondering how long we had been living on the water and how much we still had to do to Saraoni before leaving the marina we came across this quote, by an unnamed author: "A house is but a boat so poorly built and so firmly run aground no one would think to try and refloat it". However, even if houses make terrible boats, boats can certainly be poor houses at times, too.
Proof of the last statement is all around us in and on little Saraoni. We are juggling making money, living, and improving the boat. We have wires dangling everywhere, connecting the wifi internet system and the 240 volts power supply on the marina pontoon with various gadgets inside the boat. At the same time, we are gradually whittling down the number of jobs we think are useful on the boat, most of them not very vital. We seem to end up with mounds of tools, paint tins and other bits and pieces strewn everywhere in sight. Surely if this was a house, there would be more space to do everything? Perhaps not. The Saraoni mansion would be rather like Yacht Saraoni and even Camp Saraoni - always in a muddle!
The weeks are disappearing fast as we near the time when the marina insists on the transientes like us (those without long term rentals) departing from their berths to allow the 250 odd ARC boats space. The question is where we are all going to go until it is safe to sail South and West. There is only one reasonable anchorage in the Canaries and it is right next to where we are berthed in the area next to Alcaravaneras beach, inside the port of Las Palmas. The Canaries are geologically recent volcanic islands, with no natural indents or rias to anchor in. It's not that you can't anchor at all; the winds are almost always out of the north or north east, but there is usually a swell from systems elsewhere at this latitude which make most anchorages uncomfortable, even for multihulls. If and when the wind does shift to an unusual angle, you have to move a long way to get protection. Hence the crush in port.
Understandably, when the school kids are on holiday and the beach is busy, the Alcaravaneras anchorage is forbidden to anybody wanting to anchor there for more than a day, but it opens up in a week to all-comers, simply because the port authorities know that there is nowhere else for them to go. The problem starts when the area - a good anchorage in anything other than south east winds - fills up as the marina transientes leave and the Atlantic crossers who are not in the rally arrive from the European mainland. In high season, there could be 100 boats all trying to anchor in the same small space. There are other marinas elsewhere in the Canaries, but they also suffer congestion and it is hard to find out whether they have space or not.
We have been watching the weather in the Atlantic more carefully now. Despite the predictions earlier this year for a more than active hurricane season, the Caribbean has been very quiet so far - some tropical waves and lows, but no full blown hurricanes, which is very unusual. A rapidly developing low over the Verdes is about to drift north out into the wastelands of the mid Atlantic, and has now been named Tropical Storm "Humberto", threatening nobody in particular. It may be the Atlantic's first 2013 hurricane and the latest ever recorded. It is a reminder that the ITCZ, which spawns such lows, must move south towards the southern hemisphere before we leave here.
The marina is otherwise quite busy. The number of ARC flags is gradually rising, but there is no real feeling of crossing fever yet. The would-be hopeful crew members who were here and La Linea in large numbers in November last year, looking for a ride across to the Caribbean or South America, have not yet arrived.
17 August 2013 | Las Palmas, Gran Canaria
Hot, sunny and calm
Photo shows Saraoni all trussed up in the Las Palmas marina berth
We got back to the boat yesterday after what seemed to be a never ending trip from Seattle. Our last minute decision to ditch the Greyhound trip from Vancouver to Toronto meant our choice of affordable plane flights was more limited, so we had to stop over in the Minneapolis airport departure lounge in the middle of the night for 6 hours . Then we stopped over in Bethesda for 2 nights to say farewell to Alison's Aunt. We completed full circle here in a way by making an impromptu and rather long walk down the old C & O Canal and the Potomac into downtown D.C. - back in the same woods as those we first encountered further upstream at Harper's Ferry, where we started the first of our long hikes now three months ago.
A four hour bus trip to New York was followed by an overnight flight to Heathrow, where we had to stay nearly three nights in a nearby cheap hotel. We didn't out of principal wish to pay 35 pounds each for our backpacks on Ryanair so we stayed in a hotel instead and caught up with a couple of relatives who live in and near London. Gatwick and Heathrow airports have really polished up their terminals but luxuriously furnished loo facilities seemed a bit over the top.
Gatwick airport was brimming with happy holidaymakers as they waited for their dawn flights to the Med and other places not so faraway. The Las Palmas flight seemed to be overwhelmed with dribbling, crying children and parents trying to console them. Kit and Belinda off Quilcene met us at the airport.
We haven't left Saraoni for so long, before but deliberately took advantage of the new engine installation so we at least didn't have to worry about starting issues. Apart from a little dust on the deck all the new covers were still intact, not a drop in the bilge and chafe preventers on the ropes hadn't slid a centimetre. This three month period is the longest we have ever been away from either of our two boats and everything worked on return.
The weather here in the Canaries is hot - too hot for walking, but the water looks lovely and clear and very inviting. We will get out our surf boards from their resting spot under our bed - not used since the East Coast of Oz - and try the snorkelling at the marine reserve south of the airport.
The marina was ok about extending our berth period until the end of September. That's when non permanent berth renters have to shift out to the port anchorage to allow room for the two ARC rallies. Everyone is always talking about hard times in Europe, but there always seems to be plenty of cash available for the increasing number of boats that join the ARC rallies every year - one of them (the new ARC World Rally that will eventually go through the Beagle Channel at the tip of South America) is going via the Verdes, so that means Mindelo on Sao Vicente island may be more crowded than usual this year. Not good news for us, but maybe the ARC boats will all prefer to fill the bouncy Mindelo marina and not clog the anchorage.
Hopefully we will get all our boat work done by the time we exit from the marina and see something of the other islands under sail while we keep an eye on the wider weather picture for the two passages across to the Caribbean. It's not going to be a very early departure as tropical lows do form to the west of the Verdes in the hurricane season and annoying southerlies sometimes set in late in the hurricane season from the Canaries to the Verdes for a few days. We will be craving for that 15 to 20 knot NE with a steady swell.