Alan and Jean sharing our cruising news with friends, family.

20 July 2015 | Rabi Island Fiji
29 June 2015 | Suva Fiji
18 December 2013 | Auckland
05 December 2013 | Auckland
27 October 2013 | Vavau Tonga
12 September 2013 | Samoa
24 July 2013 | Moorea, Tahiti
19 July 2013 | Papeete
19 June 2013 | Nuka Hiva
02 June 2013 | Pacific Ocean
29 May 2013 | Pacific Ocean
24 May 2013 | Eastern Pacific Ocean
19 May 2013 | Western Pacific Ocean
16 May 2013 | Western Pacific Ocean
13 May 2013 | Isla Isabella
06 May 2013 | Isla Isabella
08 April 2013 | Shelter Bay marina, Colon.
28 March 2013 | Belize
27 March 2013 | Belize
03 March 2013 | Panamarina, Panama

Las Palmas to Carbo Verde Part 1

06 December 2011 | Cape Verde
Atlantic rowers and sailors share the marina at La Gomera

Today as I was peeling a mango, feet braced against either side of the galley as Tuatara's stern corkscrewed down into a hole then rose up 3 metres and bubbles gurgled past the galley port. I suddenly remembered another lunch last December in completely different surroundings, with our friends Julie and Peter in a snowy northern England in front of a cosy pub fire. Driving along snowy lanes to lunch is a world away from where we are now. It is cold but not snowy cold, the wind and easterly swell is pushing us south to the Cape Verde Islands. Today the air is murky with sand from the Western Sahara just 200 odd miles to the east. The sun is a hazy glow. At last I feel we are leaving Europe behind.

The Canary Islands are physically different than anything we saw around the Med but the people are Spanish so many things are the same but slightly different, still familiar. The Cape Verdes are an unknown quantity we are not sure what to expect. The NZ yacht Cuttyhunk reported on the morning Magellan NET that the Cape Verdes far exceeded their expectations, so with that bit of positive reporting we are looking forward to landfall at Mindelo.

8th December

I started this blog near the beginning of our passage from the Canary Islands, hoping to get it finished and posted before we arrived in the Verdes. The wind and sea had different ideas. Although the winds didn't get more than about 25 knots the big swell made the trip a little uncomfortable, not conducive for writing downstairs and writing in the cockpit was out of the question. Most of the time in the following sea we rode up and over the swells but occasionally a wave would slap Tuatara on the side and spray those in the cockpit. The joys of downwind sailing in big seas.

So now back to what we have been doing since my last blog. We left Las Palmas for La Gomera Island as a crew of 3. We had been thinking about having crew for the Atlantic, then by Las Palmas we decided no we were ok by ourselves. Three young men came out to the anchorage looking for crewing positions and there were many more ashore pouncing on any one who looked like a yachtie, asking for rides across the Pond. Some were serious young sailors and many were young people looking for a free ride and I am sure many did not know the bow from the stern let alone whether they got seasick or not. The appearance of many also put us off. One young man a head full of dreads, grubby clothes and a kitten perched on his shoulder was one of the candidates hopefully wandering the dock. Then about three days before we were due to up anchor from Las Palmas we arrived at the dinghy dock (after discussing the pros and cons of crew on the way into shore) and there was Juan a nice young Spanish lad looking for a position. We took his CV and arranged to meet after our shopping. So now we have crew. Juan, a sailing instructor comes from Mallorca, has fitted in well. It has been a learning curve on both sides, Juan especially has learnt some new skills. This is his first trip away from home so he has learnt to wash his own clothes by hand in a bucket and also how to use a tea towel and chop up vegetables!!! Not sure whether those things will help him get that paid crew position in the Caribbean he wants but you never know. His English is improving and we are trying to learn to slow our speech down and not use too many words, especially phrases like.."you know" and "that doesn't matter" two we seem to use a lot. We are also confusing him with some kiwi phrases. At La Gomera Island we hired a car and went on a Tiki tour of the island.

The overnight passage from Las Palmas to La Gomera was a good test for him and by the time we arrived we were happy that he had the skills he said he had. La Gomera is one of the last islands as you move south through Canary Islands. Like Gran Canaria Is it is a round island with one main port. At San Sebastian we shared the marina with many other yachts preparing for the crossing as well as the Atlantic rowers preparing for their long row across to Barbados. The rowers ranged from enthusiastic solos , pairs, fours and a team of 6 woman. One of the most impressive crews is the ex UK forces guys all disabled, one a double amputee from above the knees and a couple of single leg amputees. Many were preparing for between 90 to100 days of pushing their oars through the blue Atlantic. The silver packets of food lined up on the dock did sound appetizing, I spotted custard and berries on one. Although I am sure the just add water instruction could take some of the enthusiasm away, especially after 90 days. I saw one crew working on their boat packing away food all the while tucking into real food while they could, a large plate of steak and sausages. As with us their destination is Barbados and the record is 35 days so maybe if one of them get near that we could still be there to wave them across the line.

We had come to La Gomera because Joe way back in Gibraltar told us this was the prettiest and most interesting Island to travel around in the Canaries. We hired a car and the 3 of us took a day off from last minute boat chores to take in the scenery. Alan drove us up steep hills, down into deep valleys past dry rocky hills, green valleys surprisingly filled with banana palms and then up into the high national park where rain forest rules the ridges. The trees and mosses at the top of the island are very adept at gathering and using the misty clouds as they drift by. As soon as we drove into the cool shade we felt the temperature drop. We were thankful that Harry and Jane from Cormorant had warned us about the cool temperature as we put on our warm sweaters to take photos from the many lookouts along the road side. At one lookout the sun facing rock wall seemed to move with little lizards sunning themselves amongst the crevices. The roads are smooth and well built and fortunately for the photographers lookouts are well marked with a pre-warning sign of a camera, giving drivers plenty of time for stopping. La Gomera is also a hiker's haven with many sign posted tracks disappearing into the trees. Its steep going and the need to be fit was highlighted by a couple of yachties unable to walk for two days after one hike.

The road down picturesque Valle Gran Rey took us from rain forest through dry rocky hills on to banana laden palms finishing at the end of the road beach of La Playa. The hot sunny day had bought out the sun worshipers. The beach was covered in nudists, I hope they all had a towel between skin and hot black sand. After lunch we returned up the twisting road of the Valle Gran Rey, seeing the mountains and villages from a different angle.

Returning to San Sebastian along the northern road through Vallehermoso the mountains still towered above us but they took on a different look, the peaks rose to high points with slopes covered in cacti giving the mountains a green tinge from top to bottom, different from the southern brown rocky crevices. Juan commented that this part looked like he thought Peru may look like, we all agreed and all hoped that one day we would be able confirm the Peruvian look for ourselves.

The next day we did the last provisioning, stocking up with delicious locally grown avocadoes, mangoes and bananas as well as a few Juan favourites such as chocolate milk and olives. Need to keep the crew happy! A dinner out with Stu and Steph of Matador and we were ready for departure to the Cape Verdes. The next day we took a last look at the preparing rowers and motored out past the latest cruise ship, headed SW, 6 days of sailing ahead of us.
Vessel Name: Tuatara
Vessel Make/Model: Alan Wright 51
Hailing Port: Opua NZ
Crew: Alan and Jean Ward

Sailing in the Pacific

Who: Alan and Jean Ward
Port: Opua NZ