November and December 2009
Canaries and Away we go
Our departure from Rabat was delayed one day because high waves were crashing at the entrance to the river thereby closing the port. But the next day we departed in the company of a New Zealand boat, Remedy, and headed out for the Canaries in brisk winds that promised to increase during the four day sail. Well the winds increased and the waves really picked up so we ran hard to make the island of Graciosa before nightfall on the third day. At anchorage we experienced a really good blow and sat tight for over a week.
Finally the winds abated but then the forecast was for strong southerlies. So before the winds clocked around we moved to Arricife, the major port on the island of Lanzarote. We anchored near the commercial docks that provided us some protection from the southerlies.
Well the winds turned out to be a non-event but we decided to stay put and work on provisioning the boat for our crossing and squaring our gear and doing a little sight seeing. The island host a cruise ship or two almost every day but there is little on the island of historic significance or natural beauty to see so the locals make the most of the topography and have created sightseeing locations for the volcanos, the caves created by the volcanos and a cactus garden. Our one day tour found all the significant spots and we enjoyed the day in the company of Wayne and Doanne from Bali Ha'i III.
Some believe the Canaries were first discovered by our friends the Phoenicians. At a later date the islands were named after the number of dogs (canes in latin) on the islands. The struggle to control the islands ended with the Spanish in possesion and during the Franco era the islands and most of Spain was opened for tourism.
This is where the Canaries found it's future. The mild climate and good winds soon made the Canaries a popular destination and now development or overdevelopment is the bane of the islands. Immigration is also a particularly knotty issue due to the close proximity to Africa, only 60 miles away. Illegal immigration creates some difficult choices for the residents. Okay you've got the picture.
We departed Lanzarote and sailed to the Gran Canary Island, anchoring at the port of Las Palmas. We were able to have our SSB repaired and of course pick up a few more provisions before we checked out.
To see our Flickr set of photos from the Canary Islands just click on the "smiley face".....
ARC vs NARC
Just last week the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers departed Las Palmas for Rodney Bay in St Lucia. For a fee of around $1500 you can join the rally and cross the Atlantic in the company of about 200 boats. The participants are typically undertaking their first ocean crossing and the rally organizers provide a way of easing the many chores such as getting weather information, finding repair parts or mechanics, organizing a radio schedule, clearing customs and immigration for both ends and they provide some training. Also included in the fee is a great deal of camaraderie, cocktail parties and a few t-Shirts (additional T-shirts are available at $35.00 each). The NARC's (Non ARC's) scoff at this since they already have a bushel basket of T-shirts (albeit most with oil and rust stains), establish their own radio net, carry their own repair parts, pull their own weather and have a cocktail every night while not underway. But people who participate always rave about the event and it makes sense. Yachties who have worked hard to reach this point want to share the experience with someone who will appreciate the adventure. Good at 'em. This years event consist of 200 boats of which only 18 are crewed by 2 people.
And we're off
Departing on Saturday the 28 we found light winds after reaching the end of the island and motored through the night. The next day the winds picked up and we flew our
spinnaker for the first time since the Pacific. For the first three days we have found a bit of rain, wind gust and very light winds but for the most part enough winds to allow us to sail in the right direction. Oh yeah, we caught a fish the second day out.
This is a special two month edition.
Well there is a whole lot of nothing to report. We made about 150 miles per day and caught a few fish but for the most part the voyage was about getting up and looking around every 15 minutes when you were on shift checking for traffic and then resting for four hours when you are not. On our entire trip we probably didn't see more than five cargo ships and two sailboats. There were a few days of high winds and confused seas, but for the most part we were thankful for the weather and were able to sail straight into the anchorage.
We made landfall at Antigua after 20 days. Now that may sound fast or slow depending upon your experience but as a gauge Christopher Columbus made the same voyage four times and on the second trip he made it in 21 days. Speaking of Columbus here are some details of his life you may not be familiar with:
- At age 25 Columbus, an ordinary seaman, was shipwrecked off the coast of Portugal. He had to swim about six miles to find his way ashore and to his good fortune he traveled to Lisbon where he met and married his first wife from a poor but nobel family.
- Columbus moved to Madeira with his wife and spent a decade of his life expanding his knowledge of the sea and the currents while traveling to the Canaries and the west coast of Africa. Finally in 1485 he moved to Spain to search for patronage for his great exploration and in 1492 was financed by the King and Queen of Spain after driving a very hard bargain that greatly benefited Columbus. If any thing was discovered on his voyage he was to receive 10% of all riches and enough titles so that he could do what he wanted as far as governing any new terriotorities.
- At age 41 Columbus set off on his voyage to find a western route to the Indies. The first to spot land was to receive a pension of 10,000 maradives for life. Although lookout, Rodrigo de Triana, was the first to call "land ho" Columbus claimed he had seen it the night before and pocketed the 10,000 maradives.
- Upon his return he was hailed a hero and on the second voyage left with 17 ships, two of his brothers and boat loads of greed and avarice. No one was looking to settle in the new world but only to get the gold and run.
- After his third voyage Columbus was returned to Spain in chains because he was such a poor administrator. He had been stripped of all of his titles but was able to plea his case before the Spanish monarchs and again was absolved of any wrongdoing.
- On his fourth voyage Columbus was marooned on Jamaica for a year because his ship had succumbed to sea worms. When he was finally able to return to Spain he was gravely ill and so was Queen Isabela. In the end Columbus was stripped of all his titles but did retain a 2% interest in all riches recovered from the new world.
So this is why you have to work on "Columbus Day".
Well the season is upon us and here on Shiraz we are getting ready to celebrate Christmas. So let us wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.