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MADEIRA and the CANARY ISLANDS
Hi all, Apologies for some 'non-event' postings of this the second log.  It was Mozilla Firefox's fault !!   Herewith the corrected edition of the Log 2 :
 
 

26th September.  A fine sail under a cloud scudding sky and a worried K sees us land in the ‘Quinta de Lorde Marina’ in Madeira.  The very fair staff gives great service and are very big welcome.  However, the marina is in a very remote area and the ‘old style’ pretend village being created around it is tacky, particularly the quite ghastly stuck on plastic window bars.  Upon arrival K makes a dash to Funchal (capital of Madeira, 20 miles away) to see a GP in a clinic at 20.00  –being Saturday night the marina could not locate one closer – the visit results in an appointment with a consultant being organised for her at 9.30am the following Monday – next day, Sunday was not too much fun!!.  We hired a car to have us in the clinic for first thing Monday with one of the only 2 consultants on the Island – thankfully happiness was restored as the visit to the consultant and blood tests all gave her the thumbs up.  It was a dark 48 hours but the service at the clinic and the speed at which they organised everything   was most impressive. With much lighter hearts we got back into our more normal stride.

The skipper has decided that the rubber high pressure gas line from the gas bottle to the regulator, not changed in ten years, looks perished and needed replacement. We bought a new part stamped with Butane / propane  hose and  connected up.  An hour later a mighty bang and the loud hiss of escaping gas.  Skipper in the cockpit in a nanosecond, switching off the bottle, not breathing and looking around for any smokers... thankfully none. The hose had split but on further examination it was stamped with .2bar not as it should be 20bar.  But it had been sold as the real thing in a reputable chandlery, gas users beware!.

 28th September; Anthony Swanston sailing in on his Belfast registered junk rig ‘Wild Fox’.  Anthony is doing his sailing single handed. We have ganged up with him on many occasions of sundowners, food and craic. On our visit to Funchal we checked out the  harbour which was packed with ‘Mini Transat’ boats  - all other boats were asked to leave for about 2 weeks as Madeira was hosting the  t Mini Transat boats as they paused on route from France  to Brazil - so no room at the inn as it were , but on enquiry we were told we may come in at 14.00 on the day they exit.

3rd October;  We arrive at the entrance to Funchal harbour , Anthony sails over with us on Pylades, to watch the start of this amazing race about 80 boats were taking part all  single handed, (no engines allowed).  They are generally French, about 20 to 30 years old, tough and very fit. As they mill about prior to the start we are hailed by one of the competitors who wished to come alongside.  We hold his boat while he works below on the steering system, we feel privileged to help. The size of the boats and the courage of the participants’ gives one a great boost of confidence for the Atlantic crossing. To make matters worse the normal wind pattern had now been replaced with southerlies which meant that they were sailing not the direct course but to the African coast where there were predictions of favourable winds.  It later transpires that we had photographed the boat and its skipper who  won the race in just under 20days over the 3000+ mile course.

An enjoyable few days in Funchal – we  were right in the centre of the city with its lovely ambience, market and public squares and parks – a touch of auld decency about it – beside us  in the harbour was a charming French couple and their 3 children aged 8 mts, 5 and 7 years, they intend to cross the Atlantic in early December and plan to be back home in the summer of 2010.

9 October : After  two and half day gorgeous days and star filled nights at sea, a mix of sailing and motoring  from Madeira, we arrived to the lovely island of  Graciosa, north of Lanzarote , an island where all roads are sand and the little village wraps itself around a small fishing harbour.  The   village – influenced by the famous architect César Manrique – has a few small shops, a church, some restaurants and a wonderful bakery. The compact marina was full  so we anchored. Later in the day we suss the marina looking for a spot and find a couple who are leaving the next morning at 08.00.  It is a very tricky berth to enter and on our arrival the next morn the wind is rising and the exiting yacht warns us off but we give it a shot and slip in – no damage!  

Graciosa is a real fav and has not changed much since our last visit 10 years ago.  That evening  daughter Sarah and partner Rupes arrive to stay with us for two days. We meet them off the ferry and have great chats and beers. They have brought their kiting gear and next day  take a taxi to the north ‘windward’ beach. We walk the 6k over later to join them and witness at close quarter the magic of the gear and the action of their kiting.  After a great display of Spanish singing and guitar by the indigenous population we head for a delightful meal where we were treated to dinner  and on the way back to Pylades happen upon a very entertaining ‘Reggie’ pair from Cuba much influenced perhaps by some smoked herbs and providing  great  Caribbean sound in a perfect setting and we, in the best of company.

12th October:  Manage to deliver a slight thump!  to adjoining French yacht while exiting the very tricky berth, but all well as Sarah and Rupes were helping, we dropped them across the bay to the ferry point and with tears, say adieu.  As they leave in the ferry we are hoisting all sail outside the entrance and push south to Gran Canaria.

Prior to leaving we had received an e-mail from Las Palmas marina saying there would be no room in the marina, but as we wanted some chandlery items we went in anyway. No problem was the response if you leave after four days. We spent much on new mast steps to the first spreader, reefing lines, main halyard and countless other bits.  Fergus Brogan arrived on the 15th, we met up with him in the ‘Sailors Bar’ great chat ensues. We get all the gossip from Clare, the continuing slide of the ‘Tiger’ and the ongoing discovery of corruption amongst our public representatives and hopeless politicians, we had a great night, and to boot  Fergus brought the Barrys T.

Next day a swim before breakfast clears the heads and enlivens the day.  Another mast step is fitted, we walk the town and eat great food in a very genuine tapas bar followed by night caps later in the Sailors Bar.  

17th October;  A fine sail south in a wind that touches 30knots in the acceleration zone. The anchor is laid with care in about 9 meters east of the entrance to Pasito Blanco and inspected by the skipper with snorkelling gear. What a wonderful delight in warm clear water with abundant darting fish to accompany one. Dinner and accompliments are served deep into the warm night. The next day we tie at Porto Rico Marina. It is very hot all sunshades are in place the cockpit is like a Bedouin tent, it is a strange contradiction that one spends so long getting to the sun and then spends all this time erecting shades to keep out of it.  Porto Rico is a very tacky place with large ads for the full English / Irish breakfast €4.99 abounding and populated by the most persistent and aggressive sidewalk sales men, best avoided.

The following evening, Fergus B treated us to a very fine meal in town and the appalling nature of the Irish educational system, its superstitious and divisive base was discussed at length, and perhaps even resolved!.  Another v. Enjoyable night – although we did the dog on it with night caps at Auntie Jennys  - all paid a bit the next day !!

20th October FB leaves for Ireland, his visit had been great fun and we were sad to see him go back to the ‘howling wind and lashing rain’. Next morning we motor the 3 miles to Puerto Mogan, a much superior marina where  days are spent doing odd boat bits and some swimming . The water being so warm and clear we took the opportunity to change the prop shaft anode. At least sometimes the skipper can stop talking.  We also fixed the last of the mast steps as Herr Skipper put his first mate through her steps of climbing to the first spreaders and pretending to spot coral reefs (this was her training for possible actions in the Pacific!!).  Puerto Mogan is an easy place to snug into the marina, the town of slightly mannered architecture wraps itself around the boats – the  marina staff could not have been more helpful.  A great night was had when we met Mark Norman and Eileen Kane sailing on ‘En Passant’  and hailing from Kinvara from whence they left in 2008! Small world - we went to the ‘Orillas del Mar’ restaurant where the owner and his friend provided some very good Spanish guitar and singing and were joined by Eileen who writes and sings her own songs ‘most sweetly’. Her guitar playing and singing were a definite hit with all gathered that night.

On the 24th  we  move out on to anchor that we might leave early next morn.  That evening a huge chartered catamaran populated by what we perceived to be lager louts anchors close by and shatters the peace of the evening with pounding rock.  Just before the skipper ‘lost it’ the sun turns to a ball of fire in the sky as it sinks to form a miracle sunset, another miracle occurs -the music in the cat is replaced by a classical aria and against all odds a beautiful moment ensues.

25th October;  05.00 sail is set for La Gomera 75miles to the SW. Once the west headland of Gran Canaria is cleared the wind picks up and a fine bit of sailing ensues. At 09.00  Mount Tiede, the highest mountain in Spain, materialises it is a magnificent sight. Pods of pilot whales break the surface and Atlantic dolphins frolic at the bow all in all a pretty impressive welcome to La Gomera.  The marineiro directs us to a berth into which we simply do not fit and have to tie near the entrance in much surge and squeak. The next day K uses her charm and we are directed to a far nicer berth.  The boom is taken apart and all internal workings are cleaned and oiled. Swims are had off the adjoining beach but the water surging on the dark brown volcanic sand has the consistency and appearance of oxtail soup and does not prove to be inviting. We meet again Adam, an English guy, sailing single handed from London to the Caribbean and hoping on his way to raise money for the Great Ormonde Street Childrens Hospital in London – he left London in 2008 in his 31ft Westerly never having sailed before – he was refused entry into the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers because he is sailing single handed and suffers with a disability .  His aim is to raise funds for the hospital. It is a tall order he has cut out for himself, he is good company and we wish him well.

29th October;  The bus for €2 takes us to Pajarito  high into the mountains of La Gomera and off on a trek across one of the marked trails. It is mainly damp hardwood forest with the clearest of cool air in a wonderful marked contrast to the warm air at sea level. A  mountain stream falling into a crystal clear pool persuades us to shed our clothes and plunge into heaven itself. When we reach El Cedro we discover a remote restaurant ‘La  Vista’ which overlooks the  huge valley leading to Hermigua there we had a small jug of wine and magnificent lunch which matched the setting. The lady who ran the establishment directed us to the path leading down into the valley and down and down we relentlessly wound our way.  Looking back up our descent path was truly awe-inspiring. 

When within 100meters of the main road we were in time to see the last bus fly past.  Nothing for it, but to hitch, as the 20 kilometre walk back over the mountains did not appeal. Just before darkness when many had passed, a most charming young man stopped and drove us to the marina. It took about three days for the legs to get back to normal.

1 November:  It was Eileen the singer’s  birthday, and we went out for eats, wines and beer.  Main topics were the wipe out of the world wide fishing industry, the dangers posed by the decline in coral reefs to the carbon sinks they provide and James Lovelock ‘Gaia’ theories.  All in all, a fairly good reason to keep drinking.   We also did some gossip (K said!!)

2 November ;  Time is surely flying and  the long sailing days and nights ahead get closer, the mood in the marina quietens, there is more talk of weather forecasts, the best web sites, SSB connections (ie. Single side band Radio with which one hopes to pick up forecasts when crossing the Atlantic ) – this time round we notice a lot of security bars on boats ie. stainless steel bars which block all the bigger access points on the boats – we are carrying them ourselves !  They are meant to keep us safe from intruders – this all points to a big lack of security amongst the sailors heading further south.  Many are now sailing in groups of 4 or 5 or more – this certainly was not the case 10 years ago.  Of course, there is the stocking up of food, drink, boat spares and medical supplies.  K is now organising extensive food lists and trips to supermarkets – all of this hopefully to see us through the next stages of our voyage - a full inventory of stocks and a menu for each day for the next 6 weeks and research has to be carried out on various tins and what they taste like.....easy on the tomatoes.  Our plan is to head south to Cape Verde Islands and then across the Atlantic to Barbados . Hopefully you will hear from us then. 

Mileage to date 2659
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Posted: 5:44:41 PM - 11/3/2009

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