Thursday, August 27, 2015

Once Again We Cheat Death

That's aviation humor folks. Best said whilst hoisting a cold  libation with fellow pilots at a favorite water hole, in a great hotel,  nearly half way around the world from where they all started about sixteen hours previously. But it can apply in the cruising world as well. The camaraderie is a very big part of the pleasure.
The Rock of Gibraltar on departure
So we made it to the Canary Islands pretty much as planned. Four days, twenty hours and twenty minutes enroute, docks lines off at Queensway Quay Marina in Gibraltar to lines on at Pasito Blanco Marina on Gran Canarie Island. Seven hundred and sixty two miles at an average speed of 6.6 knots. All in all a nice passage with no problems. Sorry, I take that back,  a slider failed on one of the dodger window zippers. We're not complaining very much.

Departure traffic
Leaving Gib was interesting. Currents and tides through the strait are a major factor. I used the waypoints recommended in Jimmy Cornell's books and that was fine. In conjunction with those I took the advice of all the guides and we departed Gib two hours after high tide. That also worked well. We had adverse, but not too strong, tides for the first half of the strait and positive tides for the later portions. I think if I were doing it again I might, after clearing Punta Carnaroo where there are some shallows, hug the north coast a lot closer.  There seemed to be local traffic on that path that may have been in a counter current or at least escaping the main flow. Then I'd go out at Point Tarifa  and cross the strait towards the waypoints Cornell recommends. I certainly would not leave against a west wind, wait for an easterly. As it was we had no problem and escaped the strait easily. There is traffic but its of little concern to anyone who's experienced the traffic around  Singapore. 

Passing Point Tarifa into the Atlantic Ocean
We had light air and actually were on a close reach with main and genoa for the first day.  Then the NE trades filled in and we had 15-20 knots most of the way. The acceleration zones around the islands are very real and we encountered that phenomenon at four in the morning approaching Gran Canarie. We may have had thirty knots in gusts that morning. Be advised! Most of the trip was done flying the full main alone but we did set the asymmetrical chute for several hours one afternoon, went wing on wing with the poled out 150 genoa for the last afternoon and had a reef in the main for a day or so as well.
GPS screen enroute
The Hydrovane did almost all the steering while under sail and worked very well as usual. The only time it needs help is when going fast  down wind in light air. We were doing seven knots boat speed in twelve knots of wind, wing on wing, dead down, and that adds up to only five knots of relative wind over the wind vane, it needs more in those conditions. That, and motoring, is why we have an auto pilot.
Under chute and main'sl
Bill Norton joined us for the trip. Bill and I have been friends and have flown together since university days forty years ago. He also did the NZL to Fiji voyage with us back in 2009. Bill was great crew and great fun as always. Thanks Bill! 
Thanks Bill
We've been in touch with Agustin' Martin' of the Seven Seas Cruising Association for several years. Agustin' lives at Pasito Blanco and has been a fun and valuable contact. He even arranged for someone at the marina to meet us when we arrived in the dark early on the morning of the 26th. Janet was very surprised when someone answered our radio call once we were in range. Much more surprised that someone spoke good English and was there to help us moor. Entering a strange harbor at night is not something we usually do but this place seemed so well organized and well marked it was reasonable.
Pasito Blanco Marina view from the beach
So now we're quite comfortable and learning the ropes around Gran Canarie. We have rented a car for the duration. We took Bill to the airport. We drove up to Las Palmas today and got our passports stamped. We'll explore the island. We've got the usual jobs to do putting the boat to bed for a few months. We haul it out on the 2nd and depart the 4th of September to visit Dennis and Janet Knight in South Hampton for a couple days. We're looking forward to that and to getting home. Its been a great summer, two thousand seven hundred and sixty six miles under the keel this season.

Love to all,
Bill & Janet Wickman
SV Airstream


Mark Lowry said...

Congrats on "Cheating Death" once again! Nice, informative post, as always.

Mark and Deb, s/v Chance

Lollygager said...

Good voyage! Don't you just hate it when the the dodger breaks a fingernail? Just spoils the whole day.

Unknown said...

You two do see the world !!! I'm off to CDG manana- wish I had weeks rather than a day ! Cheers ! charlie

CW Bill Rouse said...

Thanks much for the tips on Gib straits. And the note about increased winds at Canaries. Glad you had an uneventful passage. We saw Seabird off early this morning from Barcelona.

Judy & Bill

Tina & Braun Jones said...

Bill & Janet ~ Congrats on your passage to the Canaries! You are so right about the marine traffic in and around Singapore...and, not unlike Hong Kong or the Bay of Tokyo! See the 'Bird' and friends next week...:-) Take care ~

Unknown said...

sv Amulet

Congrats, also, on your passage. Try to spend as much time as possible to enjoy the Canaries. Have you noticed the Saharan dust build-up on your port side? Just wait--you'll get more.

Nancy & Chris