Global Voyageur

Be a virtual voyager - join the tartan navy to follow the Mackays on their return to Scotland

21 June 2012 | Clyde Marina, Ardrossan
20 June 2012 | North Channel, Irish Sea
17 June 2012 | Bay of Biscay
15 June 2012 | Coruna Marina, La Coruna
14 June 2012 | Marina Coruna, La Coruna
13 June 2012 | North Atlantic Ocean
12 June 2012 | North Atlantic Ocean
09 June 2012 | North Atlantic Ocean
07 June 2012 | Ponta Delgaga
06 June 2012 | Ponta Delgada
04 June 2012 | Angra
02 June 2012 | Horta, Faial
01 June 2012 | Horta , Faial
28 May 2012 | North Atlantic Ocean
25 May 2012 | North Atlantic Ocean
24 May 2012 | North Atlantic Ocean
23 May 2012 | North Atlantic Ocean
22 May 2012 | North Atlantic Ocean
21 May 2012 | North Atlantic Ocean
20 May 2012 | North Atlantic Ocean

Reaching West

31 October 2009
Susan Mackay
Turkey to Tenerife
"I thought once was enough?" This was my brother Peter talking when he heard we were planning a second circumnavigation. Yes, he was quite right. It ought to have been, but somehow the need for another adventure remained with us. They say that many people find it hard to settle down after doing something like that (in our case the Blue Water Rally). It certainly was in our case. But what to do? The possibilities were many and varied. We could stay in the eastern Mediterranean and explore further, gradually make our way westwards exploring many Mediterranean islands, return to our home waters of Scotland. In the end however it was the lure of the ocean that beckoned once more and we signed up for the ARC with the World Arc to follow. A race! We have never raced in our 25 years of sailing but the ARC it was. We still ascribe to the view that not only is it safer, but also we derive infinite enjoyment from sailing in the company of others. (The camaraderie we experienced during the two years on the BWR was second to none). We partied around the world!
After much heart searching Stella, our beloved 20 year old Amel Maramu ketch was sold. The choice was either to keep her and do a major refit which included a new engine, new standing and running rigging etc., or upgrade to a newer model. But the deciding factor for David was that we must have a faster boat, to go at least a knot quicker through the water and not, as David loves to tell everyone, because I now have a washing machine! (Although I must confess, it is fabulous!) We were very aware that rally boats are getting bigger all the time. The World Arc covers 23,000nm in a period of 15 months. It did not escape our notice that the smaller boats on the BWR including ourselves were continually playing catch up. It was hard to part company with Stella. We had had her for 7 years, cruising over 40,000nm, looking after us superbly in that time. Taking delivery of Voyageur, again an Amel and at 53ft LOA, her bigger sister, was as stressful as moving house. It took three truckloads and three weeks to stow everything. But at last she became "home".
We left Turkey in early May after a wonderful farewell party given to us by Yatlift, our boatyard just outside Bodrum, and motored the short trip over to the island of Kos in Greece. The reasons were threefold. Fuel and wine are very expensive in Turkey, much cheaper in Greece and we had a 600 litre tank to fill and a bilge which can take up to 200 bottles! Also after three intensive weeks of fitting out we just needed a breather before the off. To sail westwards across the Mediterranean Sea we chose the more direct southern route, in preference to going round up north, through the Corinth Canal and down and around the boot of Italy. This passage was a shakedown cruise for Voyageur. The time to sort out any issues is well beforehand and not a week or two before the start line.
Leaving Kos we spent a blissful week sailing around a few Greek islands, in the Peloponnese, ones which we had missed on our previous summer cruising programme. We chilled. We cooled off in the deliciously warm waters of the early summer eastern Mediterranean waters. Then it was time to head south to our "jumping off" point on Crete for the westwards push to Malta. Arriving at Agios Nikalaos Marina brought memories flooding back. This was the marina where we chose to end our previous circumnavigation aboard Stella, with Marian and Barrie Waugh to share that final moment with us. Now two years later we were here to begin a completely new adventure.
Leaving Crete we were at last able to put Voyageur through her paces as with prevailing winds coming mainly from the north west meant that much of our journey westwards was hard on the wind and anyone who has sailed in the Med will know the seas can be unpleasantly short and steep, even when it is blowing at Beaufort 6 or 7.
But as Bryan Collins always said the boat can take much more than you can and Voyageur showed us for the first time what she is made of as she powered her way through wind and waves towards our first destination of Malta, while her crew slugged it out!
Our week in Malta was not nearly long enough. The Maltese were the friendliest of people and their history we found quite fascinating but David likes to work a timetable to exacting standards so it was time to move on. I am grateful for that for it is always better to leave when you are still enjoying a place and having fun. Our next passage took us on a route to the south of Sicily, without doubt the most demanding of the whole trip. The waters are very shallow which called for careful and accurate navigation. The weather challenged us too and instead of making landfall for a brief respite at the south end of Sardinia we found ourselves continuing directly on to Menorca, the most easterly of the Balearic Islands. It was worth that extra mile for not only did we meet up with our friends and fellow CCC members Elspeth and Martin Yuill on Pondskater of Kip, but it gave us a couple of bonus days to spend on an island which is still the quietest and least unspoilt of the rest of the group.
Crossing to mainland Spain from the most westerly Balearic island of Formentor, we spent the next two weeks coast hopping until we reached Almerimar, where we took the opportunity to return to our home near Malaga finally removing, amongst other things the many souvenirs which we had collected during the two years of the Blue Water Rally.
Back aboard Voyageur we readied ourselves for the final push to Gibraltar. Arriving off Europa Point in a "pea souper", fog horns sounding from all points of the compass, we crossed our outward track of four years ago, and could finally say that we had indeed completed a circumnavigation of the globe.
There followed a most frustrating seven weeks sitting under the "rock" waiting on vital spares for the boat. In spite of its vat free status we would not recommend delivery of anything to this lump of limestone at the gateway between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea. Paperwork for the importation of our goods proved extremely complex and confusing and if it had not been for the assistance of a local service agent we think we might still be waiting. Although it was a real pain to be stuck there for so long, it did give us a chance to sort out remaining boat problems and to provision for the next two years (there is a huge Morrisons!) Cup a soups (a wonderful invention), rooiboos tea bags, mincemeat, Christmas pudding all came aboard, not to mention plentiful supplies of duty free gin. At last we were able to leave, and shot out of the straits with up to a four knot of favourable current under our keel on our way to Madeira, but not before a brief stopover at the tiny island of Porto Santo, 31nm to the north east and not before the boat and her crew had made their mark by way of a harbour painting on its massive breakwater wall. We felt immensely proud to put Voyageur's name as a "centrepiece" to the Scottish Saltire.
Now into the "autumn" of our summer cruise and with an abbreviated circuit of the Canary Islands due to the delay in Gibraltar, we did a whistle stop tour following Jimmy Cornell's recommended route which takes you around in a clockwise direction. Beginning with Lanzarote, (we missed out Fuerteventura as there was no room for us in Puerto del Rosario), we visited Gran Canaria, Tenerife, La Gomera and La Palma. To ensure a place in the marinas we always had to book ahead, something we are not accustomed to doing but it always worked well and removed the element of doubt for although anchorages are to be found, all round protection is definitely not. With a persistent low hovering over the Azores making for some unusual weather, which included south westerlies, in contrast to the more normal prevailing north easterlies, David was in constant weather watching mode. What would we do without online weather? With five days in advance, it is really all we needed for sailing the few hundred miles between the Mediterranean islands and the Atlantic Canaries. He even studies wave heights assiduously. The Atlantic swell really does make its presence felt out here. From La Palma, the most westerly island of the archipelago, we turned back east once more to Tenerife, revelling in beautiful beam reach sailing which the north westerly wind gave us, a welcome and wonderful change after very many months of beating to windward. Voyageur and her crew were in their element.
To sum up, our favourite Mediterranean cruising ground so far is the Greek islands, where it is still perfectly possible to find empty anchorages. The other great advantage is that all the islands are easily within a days sailing, if the weather turns nasty and you have to run for shelter. Malta is a terrific place to visit when passing through. We could have feasted on its rich history for many weeks. Of the Balearics, Majorca was just too busy for us, Menorca and Ibiza much less so. With a smaller boat many more anchorages would have been available to us. Although the marinas on mainland Spain were very welcoming to us and reasonably priced until west of Malaga, we would not choose to repeat that part of our trip. It was to us boring. We have been thoroughly spoiled over the years with sailing in Scotland. Finally of the Canaries, again there were few options for anchoring, but as long as you don't mind staying in marinas it is a great way to visit this archipelago. Year round sailing has to be the real attraction here but you do have to get the weather right. Wind acceleration zones between the islands make for some exciting sailing. Of the islands we visited, Lanzarote and La Gomera were our firm favourites.
It came as a surprise that we saw so few boats during the 3394 nm westwards passage. But the majority of marinas with the exception of one or two were at near full capacity.
So where are we now? Voyageur is about to head for Marina Las Palmas, Gran Canaria where she will join this year's ARC along with 220 boats from a wide range of nationalities (thirty two) for her first Atlantic crossing to St Lucia in the Caribbean, our second. Thereafter she is participating in the World Cruising Club's second World Arc rally departing St Lucia, January 2010, returning April 2011. Exciting times. Altogether it has been a very successful shakedown cruise but this is where our adventure really begins....
If you wish you can follow our online adventure at
Vessel Name: VOYAGEUR
Vessel Make/Model: Amel Super Maramu 2000
Hailing Port: Rhu, Scotland
Crew: Susan and David Mackay
David first learned to sail on a Loch Fyne day boat out of Helensburgh Sailing Club on the River Clyde in his mid twenties. With the arrival of a family he did not do any more, until in 1984 we bought our first boat, “The Golden Soak”, a Matilda 20. [...]

Our motto:Carpe Diem

Who: Susan and David Mackay
Port: Rhu, Scotland