One Day at a Time
People frequently ask me "How do you sail around the world on a small boat?".  My answer is always the same: "We do it one day at a time."  I'm the first mate, cook, and navigator on Exit Only.
Welcome to my journal...

Journal 1 - Gibraltar to Canary Islands
Journal 2 - Across the Atlantic
Journal 3 - Barbados to Canouan
Journal 4 - Tobago Cays to Trinidad

Journal 5 - Trinidad to Martinique

23 November 2005/Wednesday/Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands

The weatherfaxes came in this morning showing the weather is going to be favorable for heading south Friday. There are a few boats wanting to leave, so Dave has talked to most of them today. They are agreeing that the weather looks good. More boats are planning to leave after 1 December. We want to leave when the next weather window opens and this looks like this is going to be it.

Diana from ZEPHYRUS and I walked to town this morning. We stopped in a couple of shops to look around, then caught a bus to the Las Arenas Mall. We went there to shop at Carrefour. This is a French grocery store and they have the basics plus a different variety of goods from France. Their selection of French and Spanish cheeses is very good. I wanted Greek feta cheese (this one was made in France) and had to buy that at the deli. I pulled a number from the machine and it was #107. The lighted sign showed #92 was being served. There were only 5 people standing there. Now, how could that be? I stood there for the next 15 minutes and figured it out. People pull a number, then go shopping and come back later. Diana finished her shopping before me, so she stood in line there with my number while I went off and found popcorn, dish soap, salsa, etc. I finished my shopping and came back just as she was asking for my 300 g of feta. I will not be shopping in this store again, but I will remember the shopping lesson I learned about standing in lines at a deli counter.

We returned to the boat around 1400 and as we came back to the boats, Dave, David, and Morgan were heading out to go into town. They had the cameras to take pictures in town of the large dog statues that are located everywhere. They also planned to go to the Las Arenas Mall and take pictures of the beautiful nativity scene there.

I was invited to play Scrabble again today, but told the ladies I had to to put groceries away definitively because it looks like we are really going to leave on Friday. It was a good time to work on the boat because everyone else was gone. I went over my grocery list one more time. Tomorrow morning we are all going to make one more trip to Hiper Dino for fresh produce and bread...the last minute stuff.

We have to go to the fuel dock tomorrow and do a small load of laundry. The guys have filled the water tanks by carrying water jugs today, so we already have water on board. We will be using our watermaker once we are out of this port anchorage. The water is too dirty here to making water. Our filters would be ruined in no time with the oil and gunk in this water. We have heard there is no water for yachts at the Cape Verdes, so boats that do not have watermakers don't even think about going there.

22 November 2005/Tuesday/Las Palmas, Isla Gran Canaria, Islas Canarias, Espana

The weather faxes that came in today started to show some positive changes in the weather forecast in a few days. We are starting to talk seriously about leaving to head south.

We spent the morning checking some more boat jobs off the list...things that need to be checked or done before we leave. I finished putting the groceries away. I went through the two deep storage areas and found flour from Oman! The flour is dry and in good shape, but I pulled it all out to make sure we use it up before I buy more. Don't think that will be a problem as I will certainly be making bread during the next month. I am having to provision here like we did before heading up the Red Sea. The significant difference on this trip is we may not stop until the Caribbean. In the Red Sea we stopped in small villages that only sold basics, but we were able to buy beautiful tomatoes, melons, etc.

Dave and Morgan got in the dinghy and went around the hull trying to clean off the oil that got splashed up on the 160 feet of white hull we have...all four sides of the hulls had oil washed up about 10 inches above the blue waterline paint. About 4-5 days ago one of the ships pumped oil into the bay and every boat in here ended up with oil on their hull and most had oil on their dinghy. David took our dinghy out of the way quickly, so we didn't get too much oil on our dinghy. It will have to be cleaned before we deflate it and roll it up for storage in the cockpit on the trip across the Atlantic.

I had some meatballs left over from another day that I wanted to use today. I made a red sauce and put the meatballs in to heat up while I boiled water with spaghetti in it. About 10 minutes before the pasta would be ready, while the sauce was simmering, a tug boat "out there" put out a very large wake. EXIT ONLY started pitching, rocking, and rolling. I immediately turned the burners off on the stove and stepped away from the front of the stove. The pans did not come off the stove, but the liquids were splashing out onto the sink, stove, walls, floor, rugs, etc. I was not happy (understatement). Something fell on my foot and I had a small cut on my toe. It was the can opener that fell. The boat rocked really hard from side to side about ten times, then settled down. I had to wipe everything within three feet of the stove. We had a big mess to deal with, but no damage was done to anyone or the boat. Dave washed the rugs later in the afternoon and washed the tomato sauce out of the oven mitts I used to steady the pans. The big wake seems to happen only a few times a day, and it is a real bother, but the rest of the time, this has been a good anchorage.

In the afternoon, Sandra on QUARTERDECK invited four women from other boats over to play Scrabble. I went over and got a real lesson on how that game should be played. I am sure I made all of them feel good because I was such a poor player and I was always ending up giving whoever won lots of points. Three of the players were really good and two of us were mediocre. Three of us were from the States, one from Australia, and one from Canada. There were several attempts at putting down a word and spelling it the "British/Australian/Canadian" way. Sandra had a dictionary from the States, so that was the "law". If the word was in that dictionary, we could use it.

We will see what the weather faxes look like tomorrow and make a decision about leaving Friday or Saturday.

21 November 2005/Monday/ Las Palmas, Isla Gran Canaria, Islas Canarias, Espana

It seems very quiet around the anchorage and marina today. After the 230 ARC boats left, we reckon that had to be at least 600 fewer people around today. Some of the boats had two people on board, but some of the racing boats had a crew of 10 or 12.

We decided to make a big grocery run today and get it over with. The weather info coming in is telling us we won't be leaving Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. We walked to the Hiper Dino and I tried to talk to the lady at the service desk in Spanish. We heard if you spend at least 60 Euros in the store, they will deliver for free. Since we are going to have heavy pop cans, UHT milk cartons, etc., we would love to have someone deliver the groceries! The lady understood my question and I understood that we could ask for free delivery.

The guys went off to load up one trolley with the heavy groceries and I started off in a second direction with a second trolley to buy some tinned vegetables and fruits. We usually use fresh vegetables and fruits as much as possible and don't carry many tinned ones, but now I am provisioning for the trip with or without a stop in the Cape Verde Islands. We may go 800 miles and stop in the Cape Verde Islands for a few days, then go 2,000 more miles to the Caribbean. If we are able to catch the trades and the weather is good, we may keep going once we leave here and go straight to the Caribbean without stopping at the Cape Verde Islands (roughly 3,000 miles). Either way, we hear provisioning is not good in the Cape Verde Islands because the variety is limited and the prices are high. We are trying to buy everything here. If we do go to the Cape Verdes and do get to buy some fresh foods and bread, that will be a bonus.

After we finished shopping and went through the check out line, the man who drives the delivery truck came over. We asked when they could deliver our groceries and they said today. We said we needed to know a time and they said morning or afternoon. We said we would take a taxi instead because we were not parked at the dock, but anchored out. The man said he would bring our groceries now...in ten minutes (how long it took us to walk back to the marina docks). No problem. We didn't know how to describe where our dinghy was in Spanish, but I had a map with me, so we could show them and immediately they understood. About 20 minutes later, here the men came to dock #10 with our groceries nicely contained in plastic boxes that keep bread from getting smashed, etc. They stacked the boxes on their dolly, rolled down the dock to our dinghy, unloaded the boxes, and were gone in no time.

I spent the rest of the day putting groceries away. Dave, David, and Morgan went back to Media Mart tonight to look at the merchandise again. I opted to stay on the boat and finish going through the stored food...and catch up on e-mails.

20 November 2005/Sunday/Las Palmas, Isla Gran Canaria, Islas Canarias, Espana

It is quite a challenge sleeping through the night in this town. Today the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) is leaving, so last night they had a final party that ended at midnight with fireworks. From 2200-0000 there was a band playing and singing Latin music on a stage set up by the marina. David and Morgan went over to check it out. Dave went to bed and to sleep. I stayed up and waited to see the fireworks.

The boats started leaving the marina around 1100 this morning. There were 230 boats ranging in size from 9.5 meters to 29 meters long. There are two divisions in the rally...a pure racing division and a cruising division. We are anchored near the entrance to the marina, so I could see the boats come out of the marina to leave. Dave, David, and Morgan went in the dinghy to take photos and video of the boats. They got up close and could even talk to some of the people as they were leaving. One boat from New York had three ladies on board taking the boat across the Atlantic. At one point there were boats from one end of the horizon to the other. There was a little wind and some boats had colorful spinnakers flying. It was a beautiful sight and fun to watch. None of us anchored here wanted to go with them though. There is a low out there and it is too early to know what it is going to do. We all will be waiting to see how the low moves. The folks who left today could be in for some nasty weather if the low comes their way. We will be waiting a few days until the low moves on and doesn't pose a threat to us.

After lunch, Blake and Kerrie, from the boat RAKILI dropped by. They are from Australia and are circumnavigating with their three daughters who are 14, 12, and 10. They came by to visit and to see the weather faxes Dave has been pulling down using the information Harold gave him. They were impressed, as we are, by the one program that shows how the weather changes move on the map just like on TV, Dave and David had visited with these folks in Gibraltar, but I had never met them before we arrived here. We hear each other on the radio net, so the voice is familiar, but it is nice to put a face to the name and voice.

After the ARC boats were gone, many boats anchored out here pulled up their anchors and moved to the marina. Several of the local boats had moved out of the marina to accommodate ARC boats, so they went back to their slips. The prices are reasonable, so many of the cruising yachts also moved into the marina. We thought about going in, but decided not to. Dave was in a chandlery at the marina today and the lady was telling him a lot of things were stolen off the boats at the dock while the ARC boats were there. We would rather stay out here, even if we are bouncing around once-in-awhile. At least no one is stealing from the boats out here.

So, we were sitting in the salon in the evening and Morgan went out into the cockpit. He came back and said he thought Dave should take a look at how close we were to the French boat behind us. Wow! We were really close! We quickly took in our anchor. We think someone pulled our anchor out when they pulled up their anchor. The two boats that were in front of us both went into the marina in the afternoon. Our anchor was dragging along on the bottom and slowly, but surely, we were moving backwards. Since there was a lot of empty spots in the anchorage, it wasn't hard to find a good place to anchor again. Once again, all is well aboard EXIT ONLY.

19 November 2005/Saturday/Las Palmas, Isla Gran Canaria, Islas Canarias, Espana

We had a quiet uneventful night last night and everyone finally got an uninterupted night of sleep. Dave and Morgan headed into the marina this morning to check out the chandleries. We needed new water jugs. The jugs we have been using have become brittle from being in the sun so much. We use these jugs to carry water to the boat when we don't have full tanks from using our water maker or the water source is not handy for taking the boat there to fill the tanks. David was on the boat working on the website. I sort of took the day off from boat work.

Diana and I spent the day walking around Las Palmas. Since it is Saturday, we knew all the shops except grocery stores would close at 1330. We walked literally from one end of town to the other. We walked to El Cortes Ingles to check out the grocery store there. The place was really crowded because lots of the ARC crews were grocery shopping for the passage. I had looked in my Lonely Planet book and they mentioned a bookshop and a handicraft shop in Old Town, to the west of where we started. We walked for blocks practicing our Spanish along the way. We stopped every 15 minutes or so and asked (in Spanish) someone to show us on the map where we were now. We picked out a few landmarks, like parks, and asked how far it was to get there. Everyone drastically underestimated how far things were! We kept going and finally located both of the shops. The bookshop only had books about the Canary Islands...in Spanish. The other shop was closed because it was after 1330 when we found it. We headed back in the direction we had come from. After walking a few blocks, we found a McDonald's and decided sit down and have lunch (emphasis on "sit down"...we were tired of walking). Just as we approached the front of the building, a group of 60-70 teenagers with chaperones on a school trip lined up at the door of Mc Donald's and went in four-at-a-time. Bad timing for us. We kept walking all the way back to where we started, El Cortes Ingles, and went to the Mc Donald's located near-by. Since it was 1430, the place was not busy and it was very quiet eating lunch in there. We walked back to the boat dock and called on the VHF to be picked up about 1600.

At 1730 the whole crew went in to see the awarding of the prizes for the art contest. David won third prize! He was very happy with 150 Euros! We were so pleased for him. The marina is keeping the three winning pictures and is going to permanently display them. We took pictures of David's picture and he is going to put a photo of his picture on the web site so people can see it. The rest of us had been telling David if he won, we would like pizza for supper. I think he was a little worried that we meant it. Everyone who participated in the contest received a certificate. The winners received nice wooden plaques and a certificate for the prize they won, plus cash money in an envelope.

We decided to take another bus ride tonight and go check out another shopping center we had heard about called Las Arenas. The highlight of this one for me was the Carrefour store. This is the French grocery store that is sort of like a Walmart. I had been in one in Noumea, New Caledonia, Cairo, Egypt, and La Linea, Spain. In La Linea I saw a denim skirt I liked for a good price and I didn't buy it. I wanted to see if they had it here. We caught the correct bus near the marina and rode to Las Arenas. This mall is situated right on the sea. They have a patio upstairs so you can go outside and enjoy the view of the ocean, beach and city in the distance. We didn't bring a camera, but plan to go back and take pictures from that patio.

Inside, near the patio doors, there is a special Christmas display that is about 60 feet long and 10 feet wide. Figures about 12" tall and buildings of the Holy Land during Jesus' life were made with great detail. The story of Jesus birth is at the right end of the scene and you walk left. There are the three wise men, shepherds and sheep, angels, etc., then the village with people doing everyday activities...shopping in the market, carding wool, making pottery, sewing tents, making sandals, baking bread in a clay oven, etc. There is a guard making sure no one destroys part of the display, so the people are very quiet and orderly when they pass by the scene. We asked if we can bring a camera for photos and they said we could take pictures.

I went into Carrefour while Dave, David, and Morgan headed for an electronics store downstairs. I found the denim skirt I was looking for and bought the Spanish dictionary I had looked at in several book shops in town. It was cheaper at Carrefour. There were multitudes of people in the store, so I decided I would rather come back and have a better look around some morning next week when the crowds would be smaller.

We took the bus back to the stop where we first got on this time instead of getting creative and riding farther to see where the bus goes. Our bus stop was close to an internet cafe with a multitude of activities going on in the same huge room...some kind of gambling (off limits to kids), pool tables, and computers. I was assigned a computer next to three 10-year-old boys playing a computer game together on three different machines. They were yelling back and forth to each other. I told the kid next to me to be quiet and his mother didn't like it. She came over and started talking to the boy making more noise than he had made. I ignored her because I didn't want to argue about it. I didn't speak to her son again either.

18 November 2005/Friday/Las Palmas, Isla Gran Canaria, Islas Canarias, Espana

So much for a good night's sleep last night! We all went to bed early because we badly to sleep. Around 0400 this morning we were woken up with thunder and lightening, then brief downpours of rain. The squall that went through had winds of 20 knots in it and the thunder and lightening was a real sound and light show. We immediately got up and went out into the cockpit to look and see if any of the boats were dragging as the wind whipped us around in the anchorage. Everyone seemed to be holding, so that was a relief. Actually, the rain was welcome, because it meant a good fresh water rinse for the boat. We haven't had a good rain on the boat for months. Dave and I went back to the bunk and Dave went right to sleep. I was awake and suddenly heard an anchor chain going out. I got up again and went into the cockpit in time to see a boat moving left-to-right behind our stern about ten feet away. These poor people must have dragged, taken their anchor up, and now they were out there in the rain in their foul weather gear trying to re-anchor. They picked a bad spot twice and their anchor did not catch, so when they did anchor solidly on the third try, I was relieved for them. The second place they tried to anchor left them too close to us, so when their anchor did not hold there and they moved, we thought that was a good thing. We didn't have to go out and ask them to move. By 0500 we were back in the bunk asleep. Needless to say, we all slept in later than usual this morning.

We awoke to a bright sunny day. The rainstorm cleared the air and left white puffy clouds in a brilliant blue sky. We all went in the dinghy to the dinghy dock inside the marina about 0930 this morning. We went by the information center on the dock and picked up a city map. We also picked up a brochure about an art contest the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) is having sponsored by the owners of the marina. Everyone who is in Las Palmas on a boat is invited to participate. David went to the office to ask about the rules for the contest and he picked up the white board the entry has to be done on. He found out there are three prizes: 1st prize is 400 Euros, 2nd prize is 300 Euros, and 3rd prize is 150 Euros. He also found out the entries have to be handed in before 1800 today.

We all continued down the promenade on the waterfront, crossed a major road, walked a couple of blocks, turned left and saw the grocery store. It was easy to follow Diana's directions to find the store named "Hiper Dino". David sat outside the store and started drafting the picture he was going to enter in the contest. The rest of us got a cart and took a look around. It is a fairly large store and certainly has almost anything we might want. We bought just what the four of us could easily carry back to the dock today. Now that we have sussed out the store, we will do a big shopping trip another day.

Back at the boat, David decided to do his picture with colored pencils because we didn't have paints on board. He included the things required by the contest sponsors...the name of your boat, the flag of your boat, a nautical theme (we guessed they would like an ARC theme). David drew a small EXIT ONLY sailing between the Canary Islands and the Caribbean. He had blue water with the puffy-cheeked wind blowing from the northeast, the sun rising on the horizon in a black sky with stars spelling E-X-I-T-O-N-L-Y. A large hand came down from above and was pushing the boat along with its index finger. It made me think of something I embroidered once..."O, God, the ocean is so big and my boat is so small". We all really liked it. The effect of the colored pencils was nice. The board was painted white. David colored with pencil, then used an eraser to make the pencil strokes disappear and blend into each other. We all went with him to turn his entry in at 1730. We wanted to check out the competition. There were a couple of really nice pictures, but we all think David has a chance at winning one of the prizes. The winners are going to be announced at 1700 tomorrow.

We decided we didn't want to go back to the boat yet, so we walked about 15-20 minutes to the nearest shopping area. The popular El Cortes Ingles stores (it is so big there are two buildings facing each other across the street) are located there. This is a large department store that includes a popular grocery area. We didn't go in, but walked on by to the bus stop. We decided to go to Hipercor, a shopping center on the northwest side of town. Yachties told us about a huge electronics store named Media Mart located there. The bus ride took about 30 minutes by the time we stopped at many bus stops along the way. At the shopping center, we went to the food court for supper. I am trying to remember if everyone yells at malls in the States. We can't remember being in a mall like this before where everyone, children and adults, were yelling. It was amazing. It was also a relief to finish eating and leave that area.

We did go to Media Mart. The store reminded us of Best Buy on its busiest day. There were people in every aisle and you could hardly walk without bumping into someone. Store security people were in almost every aisle, too. Every item that was out so you could examine it was hooked to a security lock and a wire connected it to the display. Sometimes alarms were going off and a clerk had to come turn off the alarm with a key. I wondered how many pickpockets were inside that store just to be in the crowd of customers. We had fun looking at everything and watching the people, but we didn't buy anything.

To return to town, we caught the bus going back downtown. Dave and I studied the bus map and decided we would stay on the bus one stop past where we got on in the shopping area. We thought this next stop would be closer to the seafront near the marina. We had quite a surprise when the bus pulled into an underground bus station! We didn't know which way to go and the bus driver took pity on us. He told us to get back on the bus and when he started out on his route again, he told us when to get out so we were closer to the marina. He didn't charge us for the second part of the ride!

17 November 2005/Thursday/Las Palmas, Isla Gran Canaria, Islas Canarias, Espana

The number one chore on everyone's list today was laundry. There is a laundromat next to one of the chandleries on the marina property. There are four big commercial washers and two commercial-size dryers. We saw people waiting in line to use the machines yesterday, so we thought we would try to get to the washers this morning. Dave and Morgan took the laundry to the laundromat well-supplied with the proper coins I picked up yesterday from the chandlery next door that owns the machines.

In the meantime David and I stayed on the boat taking care of business there. It took about three hours to wash, dry, and fold the clothes, so that gave me time on the boat with two less people on board to get things straightened up a tad. The day was sunny, so I put up the laundry lines on the bow and hung out all the sleeping bags we use as duvets to air out. I figured fresh smelling sleeping bags would go well with the laundry-fresh sheets and pillow cases. The Canary Islands are a lot less humid that Gibraltar was, so we are finally getting the boat dried out after it was in Gibraltar for a month.

Everyone is still tired from the overnight trip coming here plus the wake made by some of the tugboats that assist the ships to the pier for loading and unloading is very big and throws all of the boats anchored here around. This boat motion woke us up in the night when it happened. The ships come in very slowly and we are not affected by their motion through the water. The tugboats rush around making huge wakes. They have to know they are making it very uncomfortable for the boats in the anchorage. We reckon making our boats rock uncomfortably from one side to the other must be the high point of their day. Not all of the tug boats are so rude. It seems to happen about every 3-4 hours.

At 1500 today, the ARC group had a book swap. Everyone on a boat was invited to participate. I took two grocery bags filled with books. We had read all of those books that we wanted to read, and it is a good time to choose "new" books as we get ready to head across the Atlantic. There will be plenty of time for reading books on that passage. EXIT ONLY (David, Morgan, and me), ZEPHYRUS (Diana), and QUARTERDECK (Sandra) showed up with the most books. There were a few other people there. It was very informal...you put one of your books down and pick up one off the table. I put all of the books from one grocery bag on the table, then started choosing "new" books and putting them in the empty bag. The bag was setting on a chair by the table and I had to tell two ladies to stop going through the bag because those were the books I was taking home with me. The book swaps are always fun. We always end up with some books we would never buy, but they turn out to be interesting or fun to read. We also end up with books we don't bother to read because they are not what we thought they would be...not our kind of book. Those books go right into the "trading pile" ready for the next book swap!

We invited Diana and Harold from ZEPHYRUS to come over for a visit after the bookswap. We hadn't seen them since Israel. We had been following each other via e-mail, so we knew where each other had been, but it was fun to fill in some of the details and compare notes on some of the anchorages where we both stopped. They have been in the Canary Islands for a few weeks, so Diana was able to give me some very good information about grocery stores, etc. here in Las Palmas. Harold gave Dave some valuable information about weather faxes and weather information for the Atlantic crossing. Weather is a constant topic of conversation now as we are all getting ready to go across the Atlantic. Everyone is waiting for the next weather window.

The crew of EXIT ONLY is going to turn in early tonight.

16 November 2005/Wednesday/Las Palmas, Isla Gran Canaria, Islas Canarias, Espana

We motorsailed all night and had little or no wind. The swells were fairly large, but we easily rode up and over all of them. They were coming from the east or on the stern quarter, so no problems. We all took some watch, so everyone got some sleep last night. No one was feeling seasick, but the diesel fumes tend to hang around when there isn't much wind, so that made our tummies feel funny. It is better to stay outside in the fresh air when you are smelling the fumes.

Being out all night was amazing because the moon is full now. It was like someone left the light on for us. We had the full moon all night until the sun was coming up this morning. It never really went dark. We could see the glow of the Las Palmas lights from 30 miles out last night, then as we came closer this morning, there were clouds and rain squalls on both sides of us, but we never got wet. The sun was shining brightly by the time we arrived at the anchorage around 1000. The clouds were shrouding the top of the mountains in the distance, and it looked like it was raining way up there. We are anchored behind the breakwater at the commercial port outside the big marina located here.

I made some sandwiches and we had an early lunch around 1100. The guys put the dinghy in the water and mounted the engine on the stern. Dave took David and I into the marina dinghy dock to let us off. Dave took his camera so he could get photos of the 230 boats that are in the marina participating in the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers). This rally will be leaving at 1240 Sunday, 20 November. We will all be here to watch all those boats leave. They have a serious racing division that will leave first, then the majority of the boats that are in the cruising division will leave. Morgan stayed on the boat to rest.

David and I walked around the marina area and discovered the self-service Laundromat. Aha! We will definitely find that useful. Then, we walked toward the city. We walked for about an hour just looking around and seeing what there is within easy walking distance. We stopped by Burger King and bought ice cream cones. Very good. We walked down a major street, then ended up at an upscale shopping center. We couldn't imagine who shops at these shops that have 50 items in them and high prices. Maybe the cruise ship crowd goes there.

I walked back to the marina and called on the VHF for a ride back to the boat. David went on into town looking for internet. Back at the boat we gathered the laundry together so we can get an early start on that tomorrow morning. This anchorage is very crowded right now, so Dave had not slept. He was busy watching our anchor and how we were sitting in relation to the other boats around us. The tugboats that go in and out to the commercial ships sure go fast and make quite a wake that makes all the boats dance around a lot. So far we seem to be in a good spot and the anchor is holding well.

15 November 2005/Tuesday/sailing

We spent the morning getting ready to leave this anchorage. I had several things to refill in the galley using the groceries we bought yesterday. I was putting feta cheese and olives to marinate with herbs in olive oil, making the special vinaigrette I always keep on hand, and trying to bake a cake with the new soft red baking pan I brought back from Kentucky. The cheese mixture and the salad dressing went fine. The cake didn't come out so well. I am going to have to try again when I am not so rushed. The cake didn't bake all the way through, so I am going to have to assess what I did, then decide what I need to do differently.

We ate lunch at anchor, then pulled up the anchor and headed out along the eastern side of Lanzarote. We turned northwest and went through the pass between Isla Lanzarote and Isla Fuerteventura (means "strong wind" in Spanish). We had little or no wind and motored the whole way. We had a back-up plan to stop at an anchorage on the northeast corner of Isla Fuerteventura if we needed to top for any reason. When we got there, everything was going well, so we just kept going. We will be out all night tonight as the distance is 120 miles and we are moving along averaging 5-6 knots per hour. Dave would like to have a little wind so he could sail, but if we have to choose between roaring along like we did from Gibraltar or motor-sailing like we are now, we will take the motor-sailing any day.

14 November 2005/Monday/Arecife, Isla Lanzarote, Islas Canarias, Espana

This turned out to be a very busy day for everyone. We have decided we are leaving this island tomorrow and we are going to go overnight Tuesday night to Las Palmas, Isla Gran Canaria, 120 miles from here.

First thing this morning Dave and Morgan took our empty 25 pound propane tank to be filled. They took the bag off Elvin (the grocery carrier with wheels) and used the rolling frame with a piece of wood for a bottom to carry the empty, then full bottle. Once on shore, they had to walk about a kilometer to the place that fills propane tanks. It is one of the few places we have found since Egypt that has the correct fittings for filling American tanks.

After they returned to the boat with the full propane tank and hooked it up, they went back to shore to officially check into the Canary Islands with the port authorities. This procedure took ten minutes and that was that.

While they were doing these jobs, David took me as close to town as possible by dinghy and dropped me off. I walked 15 more minutes to the downtown area of Arecife. I walked around just looking at the shop windows and the people rushing here and there. Most of the shops are open daily from 0930-1330, then close for siesta. The shops open again around 1730 and stay open until 2100. There were lots of local people on the streets, starting off the new week by shopping. I found one of the Hyper Dino grocery stores and went in. This was a medium-size store and it was very nice. The fruits and vegetables were beautifully presented. The bakery goods were fresh and wrapped nicely. I bought enough groceries and some meat to make lunch for the next two days. I didn't want to carry more than that back to meet the dinghy. I also stopped by the Information Center. The young girls in there didn't know the answer to any question I asked, but they kept going back and asking one lady who was having a chat to someone on the telephone. I didn't get much information there, but I did get a couple of lovely brochures showing the volcanoes on the island. I walked back to the meeting place near the fishing boats and called David on the mobile VHF to ask him to come pick me up.

We ate lunch on the boat and ticked of the jobs we had completed in the morning. We definitely decided to leave this island tomorrow, so we talked about what needed to be done before we left. All of us went into town in the dinghy. We went to the cement wall by the fishing steps and climbed up the built-in steps to the sidewalk. We chained and locked our dinghy with two other dinghies to a chain in the wall.

We all wanted to go to internet, so that was our first destination. Halfway through town we met the crew from PEACE AND ALOHA and they were looking for internet. We all went the rest of the way across town together to the internet place. After Dave, Morgan, and I finished there, we left David talking to Sarah on Instant Messenger while looking into a Web Cam. The three of us walked back across town stopping to look in a couple of duty free shops just to see how cheap the prices were. We didn't think the prices were cheap. We also found a photo place that would take passport photos for Morgan to use for the Cape Verde visa application if and when we go there. We stopped by a fishing shop and Dave purchased another lure that he is sure is the right one for Spanish mackerel or mahimahi. He also bought a package of plastic red squid. Our last stop was a different Hyper Dino than the one I went to this morning that was downtown. This one was out of town near the docks and the prices were a little cheaper, but the selection wasn't as good as the one downtown. We shopped quickly for a few more fruits and vegetables, bread, and off we went to the dinghy.

While we were in town, the tide went out. Since the tide is about 10-12 feet, that meant our dinghy was very far down the cement wall in the corner of the area where the fishing boats tie up. None of us wanted to go down those slippery, slimey steps in the dark, so we sat there thinking we sure wished David was there. Amazingly, David came along about five minutes later. Dave, David, and Morgan used the lines from our dinghy and the dock lines holding the fishing boats to maneuver our dinghy out of the corner. David got into the dinghy by jumping a short way off the bottom step. The rest of us walked along the dock to another set of steps that were a little easier to get down, so when David brought the dinghy there, we could step right in. Everyone was safe and sound, but we decided we would certainly not let that happen again. Another good reason to leave, we thought.

13 November 2005/Sunday/Arecife, Isla Lanzarote, Islas Canarias, Espana

The morning began with the sun playing peek-a-boo between the clouds that were hovering around the top of the tallest volcano on this end of the island. We had some ligh rain, then suddenly a glorious double rainbow appeared. The colors were quite strong and we were able to get some good photos of the rainbow.

Hardly anything was open in town today because it is Sunday, so we stayed on the boat most of the day. David and Morgan decided to go see if the internet place was open in the late afternoon. I didn't want to go out in the drizzling off-again-on-again rain, so I decided to wait and go into town tomorrow morning.

This is a nice quiet anchorage, but the weather forecast is showing the possibility of some southerly winds in the next few days. This would not be a good place to be in southerlies. We have decided we will probably head out in a couple of days rather than stay here and wait to see if the wind turns south later in the week.

12 November 2005/Saturday/Playa de Arena/Arecife, Isla Lanzarote, Islas Canarias

We moved today! We took up the anchor around 0900 and decided to go for it. The winds were "down" to the low 20's and the sun was shining, so we decided this was about as good as it was going to get. We headed north between Isla Graciosa and Isla Lanzarote in the El Rio Estrecho (El Rio Strait). The two islands funnel the wind right through this area, so we had 25-30 knots of wind on the nose for one hour before we were even with the north end of Isla Lanzarote. It took another hour to head east and south around the north end of the island. The winds were up and so were the swells, but it was all manageable, especially when we only had a total of 30 miles to go. Two hours after leaving, we headed downwind along the east side of the island and the swells and wind pushed us along at 6+ knots.

We arrived at this anchorage, just north of Arecife, at 1410. There were already about a dozen yachts anchored in here behind the huge breakwater and commercial pier for the island. A cruise ship was tied up at the pier along with a couple of freighters. Obviously, someone had left the anchorage this morning because we moved into a very nice empty spot out of the way of the tug boats and ferries that come and go all day long.

Sandra and Paul on QUARTERDECK invited us over and gave us their maps of Arecife (town) and Lanzarote (island). They are planning on leaving for Las Palmas, Isla Gran Canaria tomorrow morning after spending two weeks here. Sandra gave us good information about what is available here and where to find some specific type shops we are looking for. Not many shops are open on Saturday afternoon and Sunday in the Canary Islands, so we will have to wait to go shopping until Monday. Lesley and Danny, Australians from the boat named MAGNUM, were also there on board QUARTERDECK. They gave us information about the area, too.

It is so nice to be tucked in here behind the breakwater and pier. The wind is blowing, but the water surface is much calmer than it was in Playa Francesca. Dave took David and Morgan to shore so they could walk into town and suss it out. They were looking for internet and telephones. Dave and I didn't go with them this time, but we will be interested to what they find out about the availability of both.

The guide books we have about the Canary Islands say Arecife, a town of 45,000 people, is not a touristy town, but there are tourist enclaves located on big beaches north and south of this town. This island is famous for having 300+ volcanoes located here in an area that is 60 kilometers/36 miles long and 21 kilometers/13.6 miles wide. The topography reminds me of a moonscape. UNESCO has declared the whole island a biosphere reserve, so lots of money has been given to the people to develop tourism in such a way that the island is not destroyed by the tourists who come here.

The most famous person who came from this island is an artist named Cesar Manrique. He died in a car crash in 1992, but his artistic and ecological influence is supposed to be evident all over the island. His house was actually in a lava tube. I don't know if we will get to go see that or not, but it is a tourist site open to the public.

11 November 2005/Friday/Playa Francesca, Isla Graciosa, Islas Canarias, Espana

We had a good night's sleep last night even though the wind is still blowing very hard, day and night. The weather reports show the wind is going to be high (25-30 knots) for the next couple of days, then it is going down (15-20 knots) Saturday or Sunday. We are hearing the anchorage at Arecife, Isla Lanzarote is well-protected and seems to have less wind than we have here. That would be nice. We are actually looking at the windward side of Isla Lanzarote off our starboard side. To get to the other side of that island, we have to go about 5-6 miles into the wind before we can go up and around the northern end of Lanzarote and head downwind. We keep hoping the winds will go down so we do the "into the wind" part in less than 25 knots of wind.

David took the dinghy and went into Caleta de Sebo, the village on this island, around 1230 today. None of us wanted to go with him and get doused with waves splashing into the dinghy. It is very tempting to think about going, but the reality is whoever does go gets pretty wet in all the splashes. Morgan chose to stay on the boat today after his adventure going into the village with David yesterday. When he returned, Dave and I asked him to take us into the beach closest to the boat. I wanted to walk around and stretch my legs. Dave wanted to take some pictures of the plants growing on the sand hills. We were able to get into the beach without too many splashes hitting us. As they day was quite windy and overcast, there were only a few people out hiking on the hills, no one sunning themselves on the beaches, and no one surfing on the rollers coming in at the southern tip of the island. We walked for about an hour, then headed back to the beach where David could come in and pick us up.

We have been listening to several cruising boats on the daily radio net talk about the anchorages they are in. Part of the wind is coming from the position of the Azores High, which seems to be stationery over the Canaries right now, and part of the wind is just "usually there". Evidently, some of the beaches in the Canaries are so famous for steady winds that surfers, windsurfers, and kite surfers come from all over the world to enjoy the winds.

In the meantime, the boat is looking better and better everyday as we put away dried ropes, fold dried clothes, get the salt rinsed out of the cockpit, etc.

10 November 2005/Thursday/Playa Francesca, Isla Graciosa, Islaas Canarias, Espana

Another night of winds blowing hard has turned into another day of winds blowing hard. We are starting to feel rested, so we are starting to think there must be some other anchorage in these islands where the wind doesn't blow right so hard across the anchorage.

David and Morgan took the dinghy all the way to Caleta de Sebo, the village on La Graciosa, today. Dave and I chose not to go after we took a long look at the wind and the waves. The journey was certainly possible, but the fact was you knew that would be one wet dinghy ride with the waves splashing, especially on the windward-way to the village. Coming back downwind would not be so bad. I did put in an order for some of those nice bolillos, little oval loaves of bread from the bakery.

Dave and I spent the day cleaning up the boat. This is the first day since arriving here that we have felt rested and had the energy to tackle the job that needed to be done. Dave started in on the salon. We needed to do things like switch out the books about the Mediterranean with the books on the Atlantic and Caribbean. The books we are using are kept in a handy place, while the other books are stored away where they are harder to access. The safety gear we keep in the salon when we are on passage needed to be put away in the forward lockers. After a few hours, we were looking good again.

I tackled the aft port cabin where I keep my things plus some deep-storage items we want, but don't need right now. I hadn't really worked in the cabin for a long time, so there was quite a lot or organizing to do. That job is 90% done now, so things are packed better and will stay in place when we go on the next passage.

I went through all the stores again checking and rechecking what food we have on board. The Canary Islands are supposed to be good for provisioning, but I have to make sure I have a list of what I want to buy before I get to a large grocery store. On the one hand, I am trying not to over-stock as we head to the Caribbean where we can buy anything and everything. On the other hand, we still have 800 miles to the Cape Verde Islands, then 2,000 miles across to the Caribbean. We are going to need food! At least I hope we have a good passage and everyone feels like eating! The word we are hearing on the radio net is that provisioning for anything except fresh fruits and vegetables in the Cape Verde Islands is not good, so major provisioning has to be done here.

All is well on board. We are wishing the winds would stop blowing so hard so we can easily move on to the next island. The weather reports say maybe the winds will be lighter this weekend.

9 November 2005/Wednesday/Playa Francesca, Isla Graciosa, Islas Canarias, Espana

We all had a good night's sleep last night. The wind blew 20+ knots all night, but we didn't feel much action inside the boat. We all felt much better this morning than we felt yesterday.

At 0930 we all got in the dinghy and headed for the beach. We pulled the dinghy up in the same area where we went in yesterday. The wind was blowing so hard, there were not many hardy souls on the beach yet when we were there. The few people we did see still had jackets on.

Today it took an hour to walk into the village because Dave and I were taking photos along the way and David was shooting video. Morgan was carrying the garbage bag, looking for a waste bin. There actually are waste bins on the beaches and on the sand hills. Tourists are allowed to camp in tents on the sand hills, so there are people camped here and there all over the island.

Shops were open when we arrived in the village at 1030. We went straight to the bakery/patisserie and bought ice cream. Sitting on the harbor wall in the sunshine eating ice cream was good. I bought bought local oval loaves of bread for the boat and one pastry for all of us to share and taste the local product. It was yummy, so I asked the lady what the pastry was called. She said it was called "cabello de angel" which means "angel"s hair". We didn't see what angel's hair had to do with the pastry we ate. There must be a story that goes with the name.

Dave, David, and Morgan went to see if the Internet place was open. I went into one of the grocery stores for loaves of sliced bread. When I came out of the shop, Dave, David, and Morgan were back. The Internet place was not open. Someone told us later the man's wife was supposed to have a baby any day now, so maybe today was the day.

We decided to get something to eat for lunch around noon. We went to a couple of cafes or restaurants to see if we could get a sandwich. They only served proper large meals. The guys decided to go into the store in the center of town and bought sliced cheese and chips while I went back to the bakery and asked for four small loaves of bread to be cut for sandwiches. The lady told me the loaves of bread, when cut for sandwiches, are called "bolillos". Back at the town center we made cheese sandwiches and sat there in the sunshine. As we were eating, here came Jill and Andy from the yacht FIRST LIGHT. They walked into town like we did. They are on one of the boats that was out there with us on the way from Gibraltar. They took a wave into their cockpit that went on down into their boat. There was quite a mess for them to clean up when they arrived here. They got the fixin's for sandwiches, too, and we all sat on the wall in the town center area across from the harbor talking about the trip and getting acquainted. A few minutes later, here came Ellen, David, Jason, and Eric from PEACE AND ALOHA. They brought their dinghy around from their boat to the harbor. We talked with all of them, too. Other yachties from the boat GOLKA came up and started talking to Jill and Andy. All of us talked mostly about our trip here and the unanimous opinion was we were all glad to be here even if the wind hasn't stopped blowing yet.

We walked around the village taking a few more pictures plus video, then headed back across the sand toward the dinghy. Once again the 20-25 knot wind blew us back at a faster pace than we made on our way going to the village into the wind. We walked through the small group of people on the nude beach to get to our dinghy. We came back to the boat easily, but the 20+ knot wind gave us a good splash now and then. We carry all of the cameras, wallets, groceries, etc. in dry bags, so the only thing that got splashed was us.

Back at the boat everyone was ready to sit down and rest. We reckon walking over 1-1/2 hours in the sand carrying cameras and a few groceries was a pretty good workout. We have enjoyed this stop, but we are starting to talk about moving on to the next island, Isla Lanzarote. We are all wanting to know if there is an anchorage there where we can get better protection from the constant wind.

8 November 2005/Tuesday/Playa Francesca, Isla Graciosa, Islas Canarias, Spain

Ooooeeee...we are really tired this morning. Last night, about midnight, we felt like we were out at sea with those huge cross swells again. Hard to believe, but the 20-knot wind that had blown since we arrived here, finally stopped blowing. The problem was the left-over seas were still here and all the boats were being pushed around by the waves and currents. We got sideways to the waves and the tomatoes in the galley went flying, among other things. Dave was up and out in the cockpit with our 12-volt search light turned on trying to see how all the boats, including us, were rearranging themselves with the wave activity. Two of the boats behind us dragged, but that didn't directly affect us.

The wave action kept up for a few hours before the wind started up again and blew 20+ knots. The wind kept all the boats pulling from their anchors in the same direction and made the waves start coming from one direction instead of several directions at the same time. We got back to sleep about 0400. No boat was endangering any other boat, but we knew a problem could develop, so we had to keep a lookout until the seas settled down. Another night without good rest.

In the morning, we cleaned up the salon and put away the gear we use to make a bunk up when we go to sea. We put bags of ropes, our emergency parachute, and pillows to make a comfortable bunk for Dave to use at sea. One of us can be on watch while Dave sleeps in the salon. This means he is handy if we need to ask him for help when we are at sea. I made hamburgers for lunch. Just like in Jimmy Buffet's song, these "Cheeseburgers in Paradise" sure hit the spot after a week at sea.

Dave, David, and Morgan took the digital camera and video camera to shore after lunch. They headed for the trail that wends its way up the closest volcano to Bahia Francesca. It took them about 1-1/2 hours to climb to the top. The path made a gradual climb up the medium high volcano. They found the northeast side of the volcano was blown out. The center of the caldera was filled with rocks. They saw some lichens growing, but there were no other plants inside. The winds continued to blow all day and Dave thinks there was 25-30 knots of wind at the top of the volcano. They could see quite a distance from the rim of the caldera and took lots of pictures.

I chose to stay on the boat and relax. Last night was a short night. I put on a movie I had seen before, but enjoy, and worked on some paperwork while the movie played.

After everyone was back on board, later in the evening David popped popcorn and we all watched a movie. The lights were turned out early in the evening on EXIT ONLY, everyone hoping for a calmer night than we had last night.

7 November 2005/Monday/Playa Francesca, Isla Graciosa, Islas Canarias, Espana

We had a good sleep last night because we were all exhausted from arriving here yesterday. The wind has not stopped blowing hard since we arrived. The boat was still moving around all night, but it didn't keep anyone awake.

We spent the morning cleaning up the boat. Since we had sea water splashing into our cockpit, everything has to be rinsed with fresh water and allowed to dry before some of it can be put away. We had to wash the ropes we trailed as warps to slow the boats surfing down the huge waves, the tablecloth on the table, some clothing that got splashed with salt water, etc. The dinghy had to be unrolled, inflated, put in the water, then, the motor was dropped down and attached. I made pizza for lunch, so that was a good reward for a busy morning's work.

After lunch, David, Morgan, and I got in the dinghy and headed for shore. We needed to land the dinghy where the waves were coming onto the beach with the least wave action because the wind was still blowing over 20 knots. The best landing area was right in the middle of the nude beach! Honest! We have been at many beaches and seen many tourists sun-bathing topless or nude, but we have never had to land our dinghy on their part of the beach! We pulled the dinghy high up on the beach and just kept walking over the hill toward the village.

The walk over the sand to the village called Caleta del Sol was very interesting to us. It reminded all of us of the desert areas filled with hummocks in Saudi. There were many tourists walking and biking through the dunes on a track used by the multitude of Land Rovers from the village or some, like us, took off and walked through the loose sand moving around large and small hummocks capped by succulent plants from the cactus family. It took us 45 minutes to come to the edge of the village. We read there are 625 people living on this small island and it looks like most of them live in the small village. The houses are all white-washed and accented with bright blue doors and window shutters. A few of the doors and shutters are green. This may sound like Greek villages, but there was not an arch or dome in sight. All of the buildings are squared-off and have flat roofs. Most of the dwellings were closed up, so we think many of the people either have holiday homes here or they don't live here when it is not high tourist season. Many tourists ride the ferry from Orzola on Isla Lanzarote (a 20-minute ride) to come here for a day trip. Many tourists come here to walk, surf, windsurf, kite surf, dive, and sun bathe (both dressed and undressed beaches available!).

Besides houses, we found three small, but well-stocked grocery stores, a bakery, hardware shop, butcher shop, post office, dispensary, internet cafe, and ATM. Unfortunately, this is Spanish territory and they adhere to the tradition of "siesta". Shops are open from 0900-1300 and 1700-2000. We arrived at 1530. A few small cafes were open, but everything else was closed. We walked around looking up and down the streets getting a feel for the layout of the village. Lonely Planet/Canary Islands describes the village as a "cross between a bare Moroccan village and a sand-swept Wild West outpost". I would have to agree, except they didn't mention all the Land Rovers! There are various generations of well-kept Land Rovers parked on every street. They are painted a multitude of bright colors and well-maintained. These aluminum vehicles are perfect for the windy, humid, and salty atmosphere found here. We knew Dave is going to love this place when he sees it...Land Rover World!

At 1700 we bought some hamburger at the butcher's shop and a few groceries at a grocery store. We headed back over the sand hills to the dinghy on the beach. It took us 35 minutes to walk back from the village because we had learned to stay higher on the hills and the way was shorter. We also had the strong wind at our back pushing us along...we were going downwind.

Back at the dinghy, the sun was setting and the beach tourists had left for the day. The sun was setting beside one of the volcanoes overlooking the bay where the sailboats are anchored. It was quite beautiful.

6 November 2005/Sunday/La Graciosa Island, Canary Islands, Spain

We arrived here around noon today. It was definitely a relief to arrive here. The winds are blowing 20 knots here in the anchorage and it feels like nothing at all! Everything is relative, isn't it? Coming in from those rough seas and 30-40 knots of wind, we can tell a big difference. PEACE AND ALOHA and FIRST LIGHT, boats we came from Gibraltar with, are anchored here, too. There are about 18 boats anchored in here now.

It is also a little warmer here. The cruising guides say that the Canary Islands are a year-round beach destination. I am now realizing these beaches must look wonderful to the Brits who are having cold, wet winter weather in England. I am wondering if the British tourists are swimming in the water here. The water feels a little chilly to us, but Morgan says he has been in colder water in Canada. Again, it is all perspective.

A hot lunch of tuna melts on croissants and a green salad sure tasted good today. No one has been eating much when the sea was so turbulent the past couple of days. Tomorrow I am going to make pizza.

Morgan got more than he bargained for on this trip. Of course, now the trip across the Atlantic will seem pretty easy. That is the upside! We were never in danger or worried for our safety, but we are definitely glad that part of the trip is over. We have had bad weather when we were beating into it on our way to New Caledonia one time and that time we went on our parachute anchor for 19 hours. We had bad weather in the Red Sea when we were beating into it, and that time we turned around and went back 40 miles to the bay we had left from several hours before. This time, we had huge waves coming at our stern. Dave was really pleased with the way the boat handled the sea state and continued downwind. He was especially pleased with the way the rope warps he put out tamed the swells. He had never done that before. The monohulls that put out warps found it really made a difference for them, too.

I cleaned out the frig, checked all the produce, cleaned up the galley, and reorganized all the bits and pieces that went flying on the passage. We had things fall off their place that haven't ever moved on a passage before. Morgan must think we are "just saying that", but it is true. This passage was one we will be comparing things to for a long time.

The bay where we are anchored is well-protected from every direction except south. There are rocks and sand beaches. There are 2-3 smallish volcano craters that look fairly easy to climb. We can't see any ice cream stands anywhere!

5 November 2005/Saturday/Sailing

We had quite a rough day out here yesterday. The winds were blowing between 30-40 knots most of the day and night. The sky was overcast from 0400 yesterday morning until late afternoon when we started to see the smallest bits of blue sky. We even had some rain showers now and then.

Dave and David wrestled two long lengths of rope over the stern with the ends of each connected to the port and starboard stern winches. The ropes had to have chafing gear put on them so they don't chafe through. All of this is a challenge on a constantly moving boat. These "warps" (ropes) act as a stabilizer on the stern and keep it from slewing around as we come off a huge swell. The swells are quite large and the boat was surfing down the waves too fast for good control. Having the warps out there really made a difference. The boat speed slowed down and the stern stayed straighter. This is the first time in all our years of sailing that we have deployed warps. We were glad to see they really work!

Yesterday we were bouncing around so much, I did not fix a hot meal during the day.. Today I managed to make toast and scrambled eggs with onions and potatoes in them. Wasn't gourmet food, but some hot food made everyone feel better. Everyone is eating well and no one is feeling sea sick. Another good thing!

At 2100 last night (4 November) we were located at 31.38 N, 11.19 W. This morning (5 November) at 0900 we were located at 30.50 N, 12.13 W. Dave and David were up almost all night last night monitoring the sail (we have only a tiny part of the headsail out), the warps, and the general wind and sea state. Dave talked to several other boats out here, too, every couple of hours. The monohulls are getting tossed around more than we are and have taken waves over their sterns. One monohull had water come down their companionway and their books and other things came off a shelf and ended up on the floor in the water. They are going to have a mess to clean up when they get into a bay and can anchor. We have had a few splashes into our cockpit, but only spashes, no waves have come in. Morgan and I took watch today so Dave and David could catch up on their sleep.

The two larger monohulls will be arriving in La Graciosa Island tonight. We will arrive at dawn tomorrow. We are all heading for Playa Francesca on the south end of the island. We are all looking forward to this land fall! Everything is fine on board and everyone is doing well. We have told Morgan this is all the rough weather sailing training we are going to give him!

4 November 2005/Friday/Sailing

A cold front came through last night about 0400 this morning. This affected our local high by making the sky full of clouds, the rain came, and the winds were up to 25+ knots. That is the bad news. The good news is the wind is behind us! We are being pushed by all this wind strength in the direction we want to go! Back in the Red Sea we were going into the waves too often, so having the waves with us is definitely a good thing. I tend to compare everything with the Red Sea, so by that standard, this is not too bad.

We are doing fine bouncing along here. It isn't scary, just a lot of motion. No one wanted a cooked lunch today, so I got the day off. No one is seasick, but they are only snacking and not eating big amounts of anything. I was able to go down into the galley, brace myself in front of the sink, and do up the dishes collected there. We are not too uncomfortable.

We are in touch with a few other boats regularly in the morning and evening, but with this worsening weather today, we have been talking to each other every two hours. Two of the monohulls, PEACE AND ALOHA and FIRST LIGHT reported getting thrown around pretty roughly on these waves. When this happened, they had plenty of sail up and were really moving fast through the water. They slowed their boats down and are feeling much better as the day goes on. One of the boats, MAX GRODY, went in to Casablanca. Another boat, PK, went in to El Safir. These are ports on the Moroccan coast. Since we are 140 miles from the closest port on the coast and 220 miles from our destination, La Graciosa Island in the Canary Islands, we opted to keep heading south.

It still is far from warm, but the air temperature is definitely warmer. I am only wearing socks, long pants, and a t-shirt in the day. I won't need my sweater, jacket, and scarf until it gets dark! Progress! I am writing this e-mail at 1430 in the afternoon local time (+1 GMT). We are actually seeing some blue sky peaking through and a few rays of sunlight now and then. We are moving right along, rocking and rolling, but managing quite well on board. Everyone but me is sleeping right now. Dave was up most of the night keeping an eye on the weather. He pulled in weather reports all night and all morning.

Last night at 2100 we were located at 33.07 N, 09.31 W.

3 November 2005/Thursday/Sailing

We managed to find enough wind to sail most of the afternoon yesterday. The huge swells have been rolling in from the Atlantic toward the Moroccan coast, coming on our starboard side. We easily ride up and down with the 15-20 foot-high swells. The swells are not as large as what we remember from the Pacific, but they are big. When the wind went down to literally nothing, we ran one engine and easily moved along at 5-6 knots per hour.

The weather last night was cold, but a little less so than the night before. We are still wearing socks, long pants, sweaters, coats, hats, etc. on watch. Morgan and I did the middle-of-the-night watch from 2300-0200 last night. We are having Morgan share the night watch with each of us on this passage so he can get some experience and find out what we are seeing and looking for. He has done a proper sailing course in Florida and done a lot of reading about sailing. His knowledge base is quite good, so this trip will help put a practical face on the theory he has studied.

These nights there is no moon, so the stars are absolutely brilliant. There are so many visible stars that we usually can't see, it is almost a little difficult to pick out the common constellations. I find myself looking twice at familiar formations and being surprised at how many stars are located in that area. The number of falling stars or meteors we have seen has been remarkable. It is almost like a nightly meteor shower "show of shows".

We are seeing a few fishing boats and freighters off the Moroccan coast, but the traffic has not been heavy. Last night at 2100 we were located at 34.35 N, 07.40 W. Everything is fine on board. No one is sea sick and everybody wants to know "What is for lunch?" when I wake up in the morning!

2 November 2005/Wednesday/Sailing

We had at least 30 miles to go from La Linea, Spain/Gibraltar to get out of the Straits of Gibraltar and away from the Spanish coast. Part of the time we had a current with us and the wind behind us, so we moved right along. We used the motor until we got through the Straits of Gibraltar, then we were able to sail until 0500 this morning. A wind shift occurred and the light wind came right on the nose, so we are motoring again now. We saw several ships moving along the Moroccan Coast last night and lots of fishing boats with bright lights shining to attract squid and fish.

The first hint of the sun coming up happened about 0645. It took another half hour to turn into full sunrise. We are glad the time change was done last Saturday night, because a week ago it would have been 0745 before the sun started coming up. The temperature last night in the middle of the night was quite cold. All of us were wearing long pants, socks, sweaters, coats, and hats when we were on watch in the dark. One of the reasons we were happy to leave on this passage is we know it will be much warmer when we arrive in the Canary Islands. That is something to look forward to!

We guess 5-6 boats left for the Canary Islands when we did yesterday. We heard on the radio net that round 10 boats left this morning. We are all part of the last group that will be heading down this season. The Blue Water Rally (a group of boats that pays someone to organize their circumnavigation for them) left for the Canary Islands two days ago.

At 2100 last night we were located at 35.41 N, 06.06 W.

1 November 2005/Tuesday/La Linea, Spain and Gibraltar

David and I made the last trash run and quick stop at Safeway all before 0900 this morning. It is 0920 now and we are getting ready to leave for the Canary Islands. The trip is roughly 600 miles and we are thinking it will take 5 days. The weather looks good.

28 October 2005/Friday/Gibraltar

Today we took a four-hour tour of "the Rock". The four of us took the dinghy into the Gibraltar dinghy dock by the Customs trailer. We stood outside the Gatsby's Restaurant waiting for the bus to come pick us up at 1430. The bus picked us up at 1445. There were 17 people on the bus, most of them from the UK. We were wearing sweaters and raincoats. The people from the UK were wearing t-shirts or cardigan sweaters. One lady was wearing a sundress! The temperature was about 16 C/in the low 50's F. The driver/guide took us on a historical tour of "the Rock" that lasted four hours.

14:45 - Bland's bus picked us up at Gatsby's Restaurant. We drove along the west side of "the Rock" to the Caleta Hotel to pick up some more people. The guide told us we had to backtrack to the town center because the tunnel that used to allow vehicles to drive around the rock has been closed for the past three years after an accident happened in the tunnel.

14:56 - We went to an overlook to see Catalan Bay. This used to be a fishing village where Genoese fisherman settled after WW II. We could look up and see the old rainwater catchment system made of concrete and corrugated tin. The water that was caught would be directed into cisterns inside "the Rock". Today, Gibraltar has a sophisticated desalination plant, so the cisterns are not in use.

15:02 - We drove along Devil's Tower Road. The Devil's Tower was used in the 1800's to spot ships approaching "the Rock". We passed the monument to the memory of the Polish General Sikorski. General Sikorski was Prime Minister of Poland during WW II and head of the Polish forces in exile. His airplane crashed off Gibraltar on 4 July 1943. The propeller from the destroyed plane was made into a monument to the General.

15:04 - We passed the Cross of Sacrifice monument dedicated to the memory of those who fought in WW I & II. We drove past the walls of the city center and the guide pointed out the reclaimed land that reached far beyond the original walls of the city. We passed Eliott's Monument dedicated to the General who defended Gibraltar during the Great Siege. As we drove around town, the guide pointed out the gates, walls, and fortifications that are part of the history of Gibraltar. The first gate opened in 1727, then others opened in 1859 and 1884. The water used to come right up to the walls for protection and defense, but today 30,000 people live in Gibraltar, so they have reclaimed land and built high-rise apartment houses.

15:09 - We passed the monument dedicated to the Repatriation of the Evacuees in WW II. People were sent to British held lands as far away as Jamaica. We passed the large modern Safeway grocery store where we have been buying provisions (us and everyone else in Gibraltar! The place is always crowded and it is a challenge to drive the trolley around in the store.). McDonald's (the "American Embassy") is located near-by. We drove by the new hospital located on the flat ground at the foot of the "the Rock". The old hospital was located up on the side of "the Rock" and the guide said the ambulance had a difficult time getting people to the hospital. At this point we headed up "the Rock". The day was already overcast, so we headed directly into a cloud that had settled over the upper parts of "the Rock". Both Greek and Romans mythology tell about opening a waterway that became the Straits of Gibraltar. The Romans called "the Rock" by the name "Mons Calpe" referring to the numerous caves inside. "The Rock" is one of the Pillars of Hercules. The other is located on the Africa side of the water in Ceuta. The Muslim invasion of Europe began with Moors coming to "the Rock" in 711 and moving north. The Berber chief leading the Moors was named Tarik Ibn Zeyad. The Moors called "the Rock" by the name "Jebel al Tarik" meaning "Tarik's Mountain" in Arabic. The English put "Jeb" + "al" +"Tar" together and got "Gibraltar".

15:15 - We drove past Water Front barracks, Ragged Staff Gate, Trafalgar Cemetery (the Battle of Trafalgar was fought between the British and Franco-Spanish fleets near Gibraltar at Cape Trafalgar in October 1805), the huge modern ship repair docks in use today, and the New Mole House used by the Gibraltar police since 1830. We stopped at Nelson's Anchorage to see the Victorian supergun, the 100 Ton Gun, fondly called "the Rock Buster". The gun was one of four built in Italy in 1870 and upon arrival here, it took three weeks to transport it one third of a mile from the docks to its emplacement. A sophisticated hydraulic system moved the gun. Response time was three hours, but the prime targets were approaching sailing boats (prior to the steam era), so this was plenty of time. The gun had an 8 mile range and could fire every four minutes. Nelson's Anchorage is where the HMS Victory anchored after the Battle of Trafalgar with the body of Admiral Lord Nelson on board. The guide said they wanted to take the body back to England for burial at St. Paul's Cathedral in London, so they put the body in a keg and filled it with rum. The story goes that all the rum was missing (drunk during the passage), so that is where the phrase "drinking Nelson's blood" comes from when referring to drinking rum. Hmmmmm!

15:18 - We drove through a tunnel in "the Rock" on the west side to Camp Bay. A protected beach area with saltwater pools is located at the bay. A waterfall at the foot of "the Rock" was a surprise because we had heard about the lack of water here. Turns out, the waterfall is overflow from the desalination plant.

15:25 - We drove through another tunnel as we went south around the edge of "the Rock". There are 32 miles/54 kilometers of tunnels inside "the Rock", so the guide told us "Solid as the Rock of Gibraltar" isn't very solid! We arrived at the Europa Point lighthouse. This lighthouse has stood here for over 150 years. The overcast day made it hard to see Spain, Africa, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Med from the viewing platform. The splattering raindrops sent us quickly back into the bus. Our Lady of Europe Catholic Church and Ibrahim-Al-Ibrahim Mosque (paid for by King Fahd of Saudi Arabia) are located on Europa Point, the most southerly point of land in Europe.

15:40 - We passed the Royal Naval Hospital where there was a medical officer assigned to the Barbary Apes during WW II. Winston Churchill knew that tradition said, "As long as the Barbary Apes live on Gibraltar, the British will be in Gibraltar", so he had Barbary Apes (actually tailess macaques) imported to "the Rock" to keep up morale. We passed large parking lots full of white 4 x 4's owned by the UN. They keep the cars here and ship them all over Europe and Africa when they are needed.

15:43 - We passed the monument to the Pillars of Hercules and stopped at the Upper Rock Nature Reserve entrance. All along the narrow road going up "the Rock" we saw rings set into the rock. These rings were used to attach ropes that were used to haul the cannons up "the Rock".

15:49 - We stopped at St. Michael's Cave. This is a popular tourist stop, but is only one of 150 caves in "the Rock". This cave was used by Neolithic inhabitants, Romans, and other explorers. We walked through the well-lighted cave full of stalagmites. One of the larger caverns is now used as a venue for concerts. During WW II the cave was set up as a hospital, but was never needed. 1610: We saw a sound-and-light show inside the cave telling the history of the cave. Before exiting the cave, we were warned about the apes watching people come out of the gift shop carrying plastic bags. The apes equate plastic bags with food even if you are carrying postcards. There, outside the gift shop was one of the largest apes we have ever seen! In the parking area apes were climbing on top of the cars and buses. We are not partial to getting close to apes, but the Brits in the group were actually trying to pet the wild apes and taking pictures of their kids giving the apes food (in front of the signs that say "Don't feed the apes! 500 pound fine!"). The Barbary Apes are fed and cared for by the Gibraltar government.

17:11 - We left the apes and headed higher up "the Rock". We passed "Ince's Farm gate". During the Great Siege (1779-1783), Spanish troops were gathered on the east side of the isthmus protected from British fire by "the Rock" itself. A projection of "the Rock" called "the Notch" would have been a perfect place for gun emplacements to protect the land approach. Sergeant Major Ince received a prize of a farm, a horse, and money for devising a way to get guns to "the Notch" to defend "the Rock". Ince devised a plan for making tunnels with gun emplacements in the rock overlooking the frontier between Gibraltar and La Linea, Spain. The dust grew thick in the tunnels they dug using crow bars, sledge hammers, and dynamite, so they blew a hole in the side of the tunnel for ventilation. Voila! The ventilation holes made perfect places to aim the guns at La Linea. "The Notch" was eventually reached by a 230 meter tunnel. The large chamber called St. George's Hall was hollowed out. The heavy guns were placed with aid of large iron rings attached to "the Rock" by 30 centimeter-long spikes. Molten lead was used for adhesive. Two chambers were built for storing gun powder. Leather curtains were hung behind the guns to keep sparks from flying back into the chamber and igniting the gun powder. Life-like figures dramatize what it would have been like to be in the tunnel when the guns were firing. Loud!

17:55 - We stopped at the "Gibraltar--A City Under Siege" exhibit. There have been 14 sieges of "the Rock", but "The Great Siege" is represented by an old structure filled with figures dramatizing how it was to live there during those times.

18:10 - Driving down "the Rock" we passed the Moorish Castle. This castle was originally built by the Moors in 1333 AD. The tower has been rebuilt more than once. The British flag has flown over the castle since 1704. Today, the castle is used as a prison, but future plans are to build a new prison and make the castle into a tourist stop. Tourism is the number industry in Gibraltar today.

18:14 - We came through the southern end of the city center and passed the Sacred Heart Church, built in 1854 by English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Genoese immigrants. The Garrison Library has a 300 year-old dragon tree in the garden. The Covenant, built in the early 1500's, is the official residence of the Governor. We passed the Gibraltar Museum and the Communications Center where Eisenhower and Churchill planned WW II battles.

18:25 - The tour ended in the City Centre. It was still raining and the huge dark cloud was still wrapping itself around the top of "the Rock". We enjoyed the tour very much and felt we learned quite a lot about the history of the area. We asked to be dropped off at Safeway so we could pick up a few groceries before heading back to the boat. We stopped at McD's beside Safeway for a quick supper, then got groceries.

Back at the dinghy, it was getting dark. We went out to the boat and could see at least 20 other boats anchored in the Gibraltar Bay. There are more in the La Linea Bay. Everyone is waiting for the weather window to open so we can head to the Canary Islands. It looks like we will be leaving next Tuesday, 1 November, heading south and west.


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