Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Gibraltar to Gran Canaria

12 Dec

Setting off today 2hrs after high tide, so I can be in the strait by highwater +3, to make the most of the tidal current.. Trip expected to take 6-7 days..

It has been a bit of a wait, but being in a nice place with new and old friends makes most things bearable.. The view for the last (almost month, expectation was 10-14 days) has been the one below( with some rain and wind). Troll world approve of the boat on our port side..

Phillip came to see us off the dock and we were off at High water +2 Hrs - the reason for this particular departure as there is generally an Eastward flowing tide of 1.5knots. Due to tides one either gets a tide flowing into the Med (Low tide), or out of the Med (High tide). If you leave at the wrong time, it makes for a loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong trip into the Atlantic, if you leave at the right time it is much easier..

Farewell Gibraltar
We left the dock and immediately we had favourable winds - we were doing 8-9 knots, the wind was 15-20 on the beam.. Just the start one could ask for... We made it to the channel at highwater +3, just as the current was turning and in 40 minutes we would be pushed out the Strait of Gibralter into the big sea....

Well that was the plan.. As soon as we got into the channel, the wind died down to 5kts from pretty much any direction it felt, it would just make things up as it felt... I decided to stay close to shore, and as a result I didn't get the full benefit of the current. Be the time we got to Tarifa, the current was helping us along and we were being pushed along by about 1.5 kts, this continued pretty much all the way to the tip of the Cape Spartel. The wind on the other hand wasn't out helping other boaters... But by the time the current kicked in the wind was back and was pushing us at a nice 5-6knots...This took us to 02h00 in the morning at that time, we had crossed the shipping channel and we were in the Atlantic Ocean, so we started our usual watch rotation... We sailed through the night

13 Jan
Sunrise over Uuuufrika

The wind died down at about 10h30 and it was back to slave power.. We relied on the slave for the remainder of the day as the wind was blowing at 3-5kts with perfectly calm seas..  

14 Jan
We continued to rely on the slave till about 08h50 and then the wind was back helping us and we we sailed along till about 21h00, when the wind went off to help someone else..

15 Jan 
At about 06h00, the wind came back to help... It started off at a very pleasant 16knots, the forecast we had was for it to get up to 25kts..  That was not to be... The wind did work it's way to 25, then it got carried away and was having such a ball it jumped up to a high of 37, ...  I reduced canvas at 20kts to 1 reef in main and Genoa and when it inched it's way past 25, I put the second reef in and the wind at this time was getting carried away - it was constantly blowing 35-30.. The Atlantic was behaving like the med, with short waves and from two directions.... 

The wind was blowing in the direction we were heading, so I dropped the main as we were going to broad reach/run with the wind and the dominant wave direction. As we were dropping the main, the 2nd reef blew.... At this point I had a flashback - when I first sailed the boat with Ryan - he commented on the weird setup of the 2nd reef and one had to be careful and not overy ham fisted otherwise one would be likely to rip it.. If only I had remembered... So we only had a main with reefs 1 and 3... The rest of the night we just rode the waves with a hint of genoa, boat speed was 6-7 kts, but our ground speed was as fast as 10 kts.. Otto, was again the star of the night helming us safetly. There were one or two moments, when two cheeky waves, out of the blue, decided stow aboard by blind siding us... Fortunately the only managed to partialy get on and went on their merry way...  The wind continued to howl up to 37kts the whole night. We doubled up on the watches and therfore we all didn't get much sleep..

16 Jan
The wind died down to a pleasant sub 30 knots at 7h30 and continued to die down the rest of the day, the ocean also started calming down and by late afternoon, the wind was down to a pleasant 20 and we sailed on our merry way and even had a braai..

17 Jan
We got sight of land - 

Land Ahoy 
The Island of Lanzarote in the distance.. Closely followed by another awesome sunrise...
Sunrise close to Canaries
 The wind died down later in the day to a 10knots and directly behind us - so I tried out poling the Genoa with my boom - I don't have a spinaker pole...  This worked quite well and we were doing 5.5 knots from about 12 knots of wind...

The rest of the day, the wind died down to below 10knots and the sea had calmed down to nice roling 1m swell... We relied on the slave to take us to Las Palmas and at about 07h30, we saw the island, a welcome sight.. As an added treat, we had a pod of seadogs, welcome us - they were swimming with the boat, one could almost touch them, they would shoot off and in the distance you could see them launch themselves into the air... A most welcome sight, land and seadogs!

Seadog greeting us( and probably thinking funny silly slow fyshe, hurry up, follow me)
 Las Palmas de Gran Canaria ahead..
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We filled up with fuel and docked, rinsed the boat and then went to Sailors bar for Pizza and a beer.. I also received an update - the first aid kit had arrived in Gibraltar and Pill had kindly collected it..

We also found out that sadly Michal would not be joining us to the Carribean and so we will have to find new crew... Another thing we discovered is that the customs on the island are extremely unhelpful of processing packages to boaters - one boat left Gibraltar shortly after we arrived and had been waiting here for a part they sorely need to clear customs.... That king of foiled our plan to have the first aid kit couriered...  Fortunately Michal kindly offered to be flown to Gibraltar collect the kit and bring it back to us...

I  re-checked all the forecasts I had when I set off and not one of them mentioned anything above 25 in the area we were going.. Non of  the navtex forecasts had a Gale warning along our route - only Gale under way was in Algeria... Yet another dose of humility for muggins....

Our planned route (blue) and actual route

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