So far, since we left Plymouth, UK on 16th July 2017, we have been:
The Canaries 12th September - 4th December 2017
Why are the Canaries Islands called the Canaries? They are not named after the bird, but they are named after the Latin word for dog, which is 'Canis'. When the first European settlers arrived they found dogs roaming the islands.
We spent nearly three months in the Canaries. The time has flown by, Christmas is already around the corner. Mattis had work on Wild Venture, a 70ft boat for what was about 6 weeks from mid-September. In the middle of October, Mattis' Mum flew out to visit us. We stayed in the north of Lanzarote, in a quiet town called La Santa. We had a hire car and explored most of the island, we went swimming to different beaches every day. There were so many different kinds of beaches, some with black sand, white sand and rocky beaches too. We also visited Timanfaya, the famous volcanic region in the middle of the island, Jameos del Agua and Lanzarote's unique vineyards.
After Mattis' Mum left and Mattis finished work, we departed the marina on the 23rd October and sailed 20 miles to the southwest to a place called Punta Papagayo, where we would anchor just off the beach for a couple of weeks. Initially, I wasn't looking forward to being at anchor as I knew how quickly I get seasick and was already anticipating the continual rolling, but after a couple of days, I was absolutely fine. I'd gotten used to the motion of the gentle bobbing and swaying from side to side and I've come to realise that being at anchor is my seasickness cure! Touch wood :)
Our friend Lewis from Arrecife joined us a few days later in the anchorage in Papagayo and we hung out with him on some of the days, in between swimming to and from the beach, going on hikes and fishing. Lewis cooked us fabulous meals before we left, vegetable curries, seafood paella... Here is a link to his blog www.suzerainydays.com
Whilst at anchor, we started learning how to astronavigate with our sextant, repaired our worn sprayhood, made ties to secure our lockers, reorganised our boat to make better use of all the lockers and spaces. In Papagayo, we've been enjoying the rest of our time, fishing and making ciabatta.
When we next went sailing after being at anchor for two weeks, I was much better at not feeling seasick, was able to think so much more clearly and move about more readily. It was a massive relief for us. From then on, it was a completely different experience, I was thinking more technically about sailing, thinking through different scenarios, making decisions about what could happen in various weather conditions etc. It really does change everything, how you feel about sailing and your experience as a whole and anchoring is truly the best thing we have done on our sailing trip so far. I'd recommend it to anyone.
We left Papagayo on 4th November at midnight and set sail 130 miles south west to Tenerife.
Cracks and loud bangs coming from down below whilst underway...
The sail took us 30 hours and it was initially great, after the first few hours we were in the acceleration zone, areas between the islands where wind speed increases as it is channeled between them. But, the last 12 hours were somewhat painful. Most people who own or sail boats will tell you, every sound you hear, you get used to and you know where it is coming from, most of the time. When it is a new noise, your ears instantly prick up and you have to figure out what it is.
In general, when we are underway, it can be somewhat creaky and clanky down below, for example bottles or jars moving in the food lockers or sails filling in again as the boat is rolling from side to side. But on this trip we heard new noises, which disconcerted the both of us. As we were rolling with the sea, there was a loud banging noise down below, almost like a loud cracking coming from either the mast or the bulkhead. The foot of the mast was definitely making creaking noises, but what was coming from the bulkhead were weren't sure about. It was getting to the point where it was getting so loud, that when I was sleeping down below I would keep on waking up every few minutes (even through the earplugs), that I didn't want to be down below anymore. We were both scared and we weren't sure whether we'd make it to Tenerife or not, even though we only had about 40 miles to go.
Mattis went down below and had a look underneath the compartments in the seating area closest to the bulkhead. Sadly, Mattis came back to report to me, that there was what looked like delamination of the portside bulkhead. Where the bulkhead has been attached to the floor of the boat with plywood and fibreglass, when the boat was manufactured, it had actually cracked through at this point where it should be solid and complete.
We decided that we would continue to sail to the anchorage as 1) our lives were not in danger and 2) we need to get somewhere safe so we can stop the boat. It was such a relief to get to Punta Antequera at 4am. We were exhausted from tiredness and stress, but we stayed up a little longer to have some downtime, to think what we need to do next, make sure Jingo was safe and secure in the anchorage and eventually get our heads down for some sleep. We talk about the stress sometimes of having a boat and the surprises it can spring on you, but we wouldn't have it any other way. The excitement, trepidation, ups and downs of emotions, an amazing journey all the same, it's what makes it and it's definitely teaching us how to deal with them in calm way and together.
Punta Antequera, Tenerife. 5th - 7th November 2017
Anchoring in Punta Antequera was absolutely stunning, a charming anchorage with dramatic geology and cliff faces. When we arrived, there were 3 other boats. The next day we met John from the States and Line from Denmark, who were on John's Jeanneau 54ft boat. They were riding past us in their dinghy, we popped up into our cockpit and said hello. It was fun sharing our experiences so far and meeting people of a similar age to us. During the day, the other two boats had left and later in the evening we joined John and Line for a movie night. The next day, John and Line sailed to the marina in Santa Cruz, just 7 miles away and it was just us left. Waking up seeing all of the different colours, layers in the rocks and looking out to the black sandy beach, took our breath away.
However, after a couple of days of wind, swell, tides coming in and out around the point and rolling quite a lot, we decided to leave the anchorage and sail to Marina Santa Cruz. We'd had very limited phone reception in the anchorage over the couple of days that we were there and we needed to get signal to be able to get in touch with our insurance company about the bulkhead.
A little video of our time in the Canaries...
Santa Cruz de Tenerife. 7th - 26th November 2017
We arrived at our berth with the courtesy of a marinero on a dinghy directing us on where to go and we sailed into our berth with ease this time, no hiccups, or slipped lines, no bumps or scratches. It's helping us build our confidence and feeling how Jingo moves in tight spaces. Santa Cruz de Tenerife itself is a vibrant, metropolitan city, has everything you need, tram system and can get to the countryside and hills in no time. Tenerife has a completely different feel to Lanzarote.
After we arrived at the marina and when we had phone signal again, Mattis called the boatyard who built the Contessa 32 in England and we were reassured that the delamination of the bulkhead was a common problem. Over 35+ years after these boats were built, it's common for the laminate or fibreglass to lose it's strength after years of sailing in rolling seas and continual movement within the body of the boat. A surveyor inspected the bulkhead and the damage was not as bad as it was first feared. The cracks did not go deeper than what we could see and there was no need for us to lift Jingo out and investigate further. We decided that we would strengthen the bulkhead by re-fibreglassing, basically rebuilding the whole portside of the bulkhead. Mattis has stripped away the furniture, teak veneers as well as removing the heads headlining and heads portlights, which need replacing anyway.
Our time in Tenerife, most of which was spent in Santa Cruz...
My sister Natalie, joined us in Tenerife for a week in the middle of November and we really enjoyed ourselves exploring more of the island. We went to the water park, which was just what we needed and so much fun!
Other jobs we did during our time in Tenerife included...
- Re-bedding all of the portlights, making sure they are completely watertight
- Fitting our spare water tank, which has a 100 litre capacity
- Installing clasps onto the cockpit lockers
- Fixing the broken VHF aerial
- Installing a new anode to the hull
- Buying spares for times when something should fail on our next passage
We toyed with the idea of going to Gambia and Senegal after the Canaries and then sailing to Cape Verde before crossing the Atlantic. In the end, we decided none of them were really for us and we'd much prefer to start making our way to Brazil. We've both never been to South America and have always wanted to go.
November to March are the best months for sailing conditions and crossing the Atlantic. Many people like to cross and get to the Caribbean before Christmas and many like to cross in late December – early February when the Trade Winds are more consistent and crossing takes less time.
Once we leave the Canaries, provisioning becomes a lot more limited and sparse, so we have done the bulk of it here in Tenerife. Below should last us about two months, until the end of January.
We bought all of our fresh fruit and vegetables from the local market a couple of days before leaving the marina, so we can keep them for as long as possible. Alcohol gets considerably more expensive further south, in Cape Verde if we choose to stop there, so we stocked up on everything that we could think of food-wise, drinks-wise and more.
We have an 80 litre water tank below the floor in the saloon and Mattis installed an extra water tank under the seating area, which has the capacity to hold roughly 100 litres. We also have three plastic jerry cans, which will hold 20 litres of water, so all in all, including the bottles of water, we should have just under 300 litres to last us about two months. We worked that out to be 2.5 litres of water each per day.
We topped up on fuel, just by chance we saw the mini fuel station come by the marina one day, so we ran up with a jerry can and filled that up, 87 cents a litre (see picture below). One jerry can was all we needed. All of the other times we've needed to fill our empty cans, we've put them in wheelie suitcases and walked a mile or so to the nearest petrol station. Here, the marina organises for the van to come as long as you let them know a day or so before. Some marinas have filling stations onsite, but so far we haven't been to one.
We are leaving the marina in Santa Cruz during the first week of December and sailing towards Cape Verde and see how we go. We may stop in Cape Verde for just a few days or we may just see how we're feeling and decide to continue sailing and head across the Atlantic without stopping.
Someone who we met here, Alex, told us a famous quote: "Sailor's plans are written in sand at low tide" ~ Unknown. Our plans are continuously changing, there are just so many places to visit. Some of our possible destinations are:
- Sail to Cape Verde (before crossing the Atlantic)
- Sail to Brazil
- Sail to French Guiana
- Sail to Suriname
- Sail to Trinidad and Tobago
Merry Christmas and see you on the other side!
Jingo in Marina Santa Cruz, Tenerife. Freshly scrubbed, stocked up with supplies and ready for our crossing.