Monday, November 29, 2010

Rigging Consultant

Here is Nausica Marlin preparing our gennaker for the crossing. Having sorted the sails she went on to teach Sabine quadratic equations in French….

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Gran Canaria

second day of car hire, more winding roads with precipitous drops… but at least there were fences. We did a bush walk, (one kilometre) and ended the day at an extraordinary bit of coast, nice black rock, cliffs, sea. A memorial cross on the cliff, and banana plantations behind brick walls and covered in plastic. It's like an industrial wasteland but you know there are bananas growing inside, and even spotted a bunch of cows through one open door.
Working on the boat between touristing.. grey water pump gave up, and (as we hadn't closed the stopcock) on the same day siphoned a good portion of Atlantic into the shower bay. I've installed a siphon breaker and another pump, so that's all dandy now. Had a wonderful success with the auto-pilot. The blown mosfets have been impossible to obtain, so after much consultation (thanks Russell) I bought the only mosfets available in Las Palmas, despite their somewhat different specs. Filed, bent and squeezed them into the circuit board, held my breath and…. the wheel spins, we have auto-pilot again. It may not last but it was a mighty victory!
Anne and Sabine fly out very soon, but I'll be stuck here for another week on current forecast. Winds are not going our way. It's not a major problem, it's very nice here, just that we are meeting people in Martinique, and we hope not to keep them waiting!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Las Palmas, Gran Canaria

We have settled into the council marina here. There are not many good anchorages around the islands. Daryl organised a lot of Australian boats to park together while the marina staff were too busy to notice, so we have terrific company. Girls fly back to Germany in a week. This morning we hired a car and headed well away from the sea, to Tejeda in the middle of the island. Roads were terrifyingly winding, with 12 degree slopes, much scarier than the ocean! The last stretch, no rail and a long drop, had us all in a quivering heap by the time we got to the end. We climbed up Roque Bentayga, 1404 metres above sea level, so Sabine's highest piece of land so far, although we didn't quite go to the top. Need the Hickeys to push us the last bit! Here is a photo of our special mountaineering footwear for Kathy to admire. You can also see Tenerife, another island over the clouds.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Puerto Calero to Papagayo to Las Palmas

We moved down to Puerto Calero, a nice marina, as we were out of water and internet…
Had a nice time there, saw a yellow submarine full of tourists! Lots of boats getting ready to cross the Atlantic. Then left for Papagayo and dropped the anchor for a few hours. "No Rehearsal" was heading over to Gran Canaria that night and invited Sabine to cross with them…. she didn't pause to think. A nice flash catamaran! So we transferred her to 'No Rehearsal' and set off together. A few hours into the crossing they put up a nice big sail and quickly left us for dead.. they arrived just after daybreak. We, on the other had arrived just before sunset…
However, we did have our rewards! Dolphins stayed on the bow for a few hours, and pilot whale swam by. Then there was the fish…
Anne was on watch, and sometime between midnight and 2AM
I had tarted up one of the lures Steve gave me for crash lines... flattish lead with faded corroded eyes, and a very tattered silverish skirt.... I gave her a clean, a new green skirt, sharpened the hooks. 25m behind on the flash new crash line.... Anne did notice the course was going wrong, but rather than pull the fish in, she adjusted auto pilot to compensate! We ate half of him with 'No Rehearsal' and 'Gone Troppo', and rarely has fish tasted better.

Friday, November 19, 2010


So, Anne and Sabine have flown in from the big Germany for a few weeks in the Canary Islands. Here we are in Arrecife. A safe anchorage, supermarkets. Tried to sort out one of our auto-pilots, but the blown MOSFETs are a bit hard to find here….

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Playa Francesca, Graciosa, Canary Islands

a few views from anchor..
I like it here!

and from a walk to the top.

Monday, November 8, 2010

585 miles to the Canarie Islands

North Atlantic
It's so nice to be in an ocean with long low swell after the nasty seas of the mediterranean! Lovely weather doesn't hurt either. Two days out from Gibraltar, we've had good sailing, but wind has dropped away and motor's back on. A couple of whales, perhaps Minke, came over to have a look as they swam north. A little migrating bird, like a thornbill size (Philip says it's a Chiffchaff!, and the one that came inside the boat is a Barn Swallow) flew straight to my knee for a rest. The rigging is festooned with spider parachutes. They are coming from Africa flying over the waves but I don't expect they will make it!
Caught the first Atlantic fish, a tiny stripey tuna, delicious grilled with ginger etc. (recognise my shirt Bo?)

Gibraltar to Canaries, day 4
At least I think it's day four… It's turning into a longer hop than hoped. Instead of a 5-10kn tailwind we have 2 -3kn headwind, so motoring at 4kn. Yesterday was not a happy day. The big autopilot failed, and after spending half the day head down finding and replacing blown fuses and running tests, I think it's the servo motor on the hydraulic pump, so another expense… Noticed the wall of one of the water tanks is leaking into the cupboard where Navman lives. I've not been able to use sailmail since day two, so I've seen a few emails from Anne, but can't download them. Did manage to send a short one to her. I'm sure the SSB radio should be connecting at this distance, so having attached some loose connections, replaced some cables and installed a pile of clip-on ferrites I still don't have the ocean communication I planned. AIS stopped working again, should have bought the new antenna, but I fiddled till it started up again. Then found the batteries weren't charging from the motor… This is part of an ongoing saga of battery problems, which I thought might all finally be sorted, but.. no! Don't know if it's a problem with the VSR or the Mastervolt or another mystery. Stopping and restarting the motor made the responsible bod behave so they are all charged up again.
However, after some good sleeps, today got off to a rousing start with a nice dolphin fish… didn't manage to land it, but just as well, it was too big for the two of us. So beautiful! I sat down with my morning coffee and made up a short gaff from a big fish hook and the remains of the stupid Italian gaff, so ready for the next one. Pulled out the genaker (that's a sail) and hoisted it while there was no wind. Sorted out where it and it's ropes will go. We'll probably use it a lot in the coming weeks, so good to have it prepared. It's a glorious day, weather is much warmer already, there's a pilot fish hitching a ride on our bow-wave, glassy sea, turtle, lot's of migrating birds and only 176.4 miles to go!
and 10 miles later… we landed a dolphin fish. Sabine (that's the beanie she knitted me) found a the plastic remnant of a lure on the rocks in Italy, I put some hooks on it, and today it finally caught something.

day 5
Morning starts well as some wind finally comes from behind, motor off and away we go. Then away go both reels…. The cheap reel doesn't let out much line, but the TLD25 has braid screaming out despite drag on fairly high. Andy is fast asleep, boat is happily sailing alone at 6kn and it's not going to be easy to stop it. Braid keeps going out so I push up the drag even further. Half the line is out.. push it over into the black zone where it's never been before, hoping to break the lure off but still it goes. Wind in the small fish, it's a nice size mahi mahi, lift him on deck, he unhooks himself and dances a way then up and over the side before I can hurt him. Oh well, one less problem. Braid is still going out, I hold the rod for a while and try to break the lure off by holding the drum with my thumb. I get hot, fish keeps going. Finally he slows so put rod in holder and get some clothes off, by the time i'm back the rod is slung between it's safety rope and the fish, not a pretty sight! The next 40 mins I just hold on, getting the odd six inches of line back then losing it. Fish is having a nice swim, he does lovely white streaks through the waves, 300m from me. This is where the marvellous e-bay Patagonian Toothfish Hook came good. Finally he released himself and I could wind back my line. Thank heavens I wasn't using a Triple SuperGrab NeverLose hook!
Later that day… well it would be good to have a small fish to eat for the next days at anchor? So put them back in and… off go both reels. Braid screaming… then braid not screaming as the ratchet bit flew off the reel and into the 2800m depths! This time I managed to lose the fish before he got much line out, but the cheap reel had a medium fish, and since it hardly works I spent half an hour getting him up from the depths. Patagonian Toothfish Hook then let me go. So arms and legs are seriously sore and I might just use some heavy crash lines for a while!

and there at the bottom is Lanzarote, we've made it to the Canaries. See Martin, it is not yellow!!