Trip on White Ibis starting 2016-09-11 in BSAApril17
Sept 2016 (in the Canary Islands)
Starting on the 11th, a week of seminars, open to everyone, was presented by Jimmy and his team. This was really useful, prompting many questions and answers and sharing of experience and concerns.
An exciting demonstration by the lifeboat and rescue helicopter was included, which included setting off a liferaft on the pontoon. The CO2 comes out so fast to inflate the raft that it made quite a patch of dry-ice, then the raft hissed as it heated up in the sun and released excess gas. The helicopter pilot was very smart, an Hispanic James Bond.
The limited yacht facilities on Fuerteventura led the rally to organise a coach and ferry trip there, on September 20th which was very nice of the local tourist office though it is a shockingly unvegetated place.
Gran Canaria (arrived September 25th, Las Palmas Marina)
We had the engine serviced, while I watched and took notes on how it was all done. They had a clever home-made electric oil extractor which was clipped onto the starter battery.
We had a quote for a sun awning, but there was not time enough to order the material and complete the work.
The “walk of the 3 Chandlers” became a near-daily ritual, accumulating parts as jobs progressed.
Tenerife for first of two weeks (arrived September 28th, Marina Santa Cruz)
Our next sail was to Tenerife, which was rather wonderful; away from the overdeveloped tourist area, Santa Cruz is a town with character. The modern electric tram took us halfway up the mountain, to the fresh air and interesting architecture. We saw a wind-ensemble concert of film music by Shirley Walker. Later, when we visited the Astronomical Observatory we recognised the composers, helped explain the hydrogen filter on the telescope set up for visitors, and thanked them for the stirring evening.
After our second week in Tenerife, we went to La Gomera for a stopover on October 9th. This is Jade Barnes’s favourite island so far, and our passage from it to La Palma was our best sailing; roaring along at 8 knots.
La Palma makes more from bananas than tourism, so has very few of the disused terraces that make the other islands look somewhat neglected. The town water was delightful; we washed out our tanks and re-filled, no need for bottled water for a while.
Leaving La Palma for El Hierra on October 15th in dead calm we tried out the motor on max power for an hour; the water bubbled and swirled around the stern, covering the step, as we rolled along at 7.5kts. Once we had caught up the boats that had left promptly Jade allowed me to throttle back to our cruising speed of 6kts.
The wind picked up while Jade was resting and I put out both sails on a broad reach, which gave us 5kts from 10kts wind, rising to over 6 as wind increased. This was our first trial of Harriet (the wind vane) which went OK, reminding us of the need to balance sails well.
El Hierro was rather wonderful, pumping water between a pair of reservoirs to store wind energy they manage to make half the island’s power (the ‘Gorona del Viente’ project)
After a fabulous rabbit stew on a French boat, we departed for the Cape Verde Islands around 4am on October 16th. Sailing along merrily under a starry sky was wonderful. The wind faded, so the evening meal of spaghetti was eaten on deck in some style but with a gently throbbing motor as ambience. Fuel planning for a 700NM trip made us reduce engine speed to a more efficient 1700rpm.
The HF radio has been a great comfort, allowing us to chat to other in the rally ahead and behind us, as well as picking up weather.
The crossing was very peaceful, in the main, but tiring as we had not bedded-in our watch-keeping pattern. Too often I didn’t get quality sleep in my 3-hours off, due to fetching HF-weather on the computer, taking sun-sights, or listening to podcasts while not feeling tired.
Nov 2016 (arrived at Mindelo in Cape Verde Islands October 23rd.)
The high drama all occurred at the start from Mindelo to Barbados on November 9th. Coming out in 40+kts we lost the tie-on straps on the bimini, suffered a gybe when the preventer anchor parted (which smashed the main-sheet blocks) and tore the jib. It was great luck that all this happened on the first day, as it was still reasonable to turn back; albeit we only managed 2kts with a boat-speed of 7kts as we motored into the headwind. Even though the port workers were all off shift when we returned, we had a docking crew; three Barbados-50 boats that had yet to leave all turned out to help with lines when they heard us on the radio. That moment we were so glad to be on a rally.
With excellent work by Togo (the dockmaster and sailmaker) and crew, everything was replaced or repaired the next day, and we set off again two days late on November 11th.
The wind after this was on the light side, after the initial blow, and the crossing was quite peaceful. Several days we motored, and some sailing days only covered 80 miles, all the time enjoying the 360-degree horizon and occasional wild-life.
One bit of wild-life I didn’t like was the tiny jelly-fish that stuck on the spinnaker sheet when it dragged in the water. I only realised what it was after I had spread it across my legs while re-packing the chute and sock into its bag.
Landfall on November 29th, at the shallow-draft harbour, was a quiet affair but we were soon met and spirited off to the Pirate’s Cove bar for a double rum-punch and macaroni & curry feast. That gave me a rum-coma and we slept well until it was time for the Independence party in the cricket ground nearby. Not content with one party, we stayed for Christmas, and then for New Year; which in Barbados is preceded by “Old Year’s Night”. A merry time was had by all.
Jan 2017 Leaving Barbados, to Martinique for a week with friends, then Antigua with family
March 2017 in Antigua
The One Day International cricket was a grand experience, especially with England winning all three matches; that made the goat curry, seasoned rice and jerk chicken bought alongside the ground taste all the better.
Met many people on the pontoon; from Nova Scotia, Russia, and USA, as well as plenty of British and quite a few OCC members. I was presented with our OCC burgee here, having qualified as full members on our Atlantic crossing.
With Jade back in the UK for three weeks, I got some boat jobs done, and re-started reading Barnaby Rudge. The local supermarket and laundry kept me fed and comfortable while alone.
Two buses got me to the airport, and we took a taxi home where Saturday was spent watching the end of 6-nations rugby, then we walked to the beach for a swim. It is easy to become complacent, but the beaches and surroundings here are peerless. Magically calm and lovely.
Plans (updated March 2017)
Winter - More Caribbean
As Summer (and the hurricane season) approaches - Bermuda, New York, The USA eclipse Aug 21 where to view it from? - New England, Nova Scotia.
Then as winter approaches we will "follow the fall" south, like Alan’s “Cat friends”
Probably another Caribbean season, then Panama, and on to Australia.
March 19th. A day trip to the anchorage outside Jolly Harbour, for some jobs and lunch on the hook. We cleaned up the swimming ladder, replaced a bung, and I relieved the waterline of its "beard" of weed. I used a line from the bow to avoid being swept away by the mild current, and needed to “swim at” Ibis to let me scrub the waterline with a brush. My old dinghy buoyancy aid helped keep my up. Coming back in to tie up we had help from the staff to attach the two bowlines, two short stern lines and one midships spring to a "pile" that is the local version of stern-to mooring. Having rested here since 20th Jan, it was good to be out on the water again.