Monthly Archives: December 2018

2018 Dec 27, Leaving Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

Today Layla and I finally depart for the Caribbean! We have been putting it off, trying to enjoy the island and our time here, but it is time to go. We met some very nice people and I’d like to spend more time here, though more on other islands. Las Palmas is pretty industrial. A good place to get things done, but not as beautiful as it could be. 

Winds are a little light to start, but from the NE, so perfect for sailing SE to get offshore, then turning SW toward Cape Verdes. We don’t plan to stop, but there is a high pressure area NW of them, so going closer to Cape Verdes should get us a little better wind. Looks like light downwind sailing most of the way. We might have to bob around a couple days while the high pressure zone fills in, but I think it will be a nice passage. Knock wood.

December 24, 2018

2018 Dec 24, Rough Time at Anchor in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

It’s been rough here at anchor yesterday and today. We had planned to leave Sunday, but it was so nice and we finally got a chance to hang out on the beach, so we decided to wait. Mon and Tue had bad winds (from the south) to depart so we thought Wed. That means we’d be here for Christmas, rather than Christmas on the high seas. Instead of nice time on the beach Mon and Tue blew up 20-30 kts from SE, the worst possible direction: just where there is no protection from the open Ocean. The waves were coming in and I moved Goldilocks, so we weren’t in the worst of it, but still pretty rolly, and a boat a little too near to put out a lot of rode. Still, she held fine through it all. Not so for all. Layla spotted an ugly yellow catamaran a couple boats to our port side, hailing port Hilo, HI, up on the rocks, the jetty that protects the big yacht club, Real Club Nautico Las Palmas. I tried to call the marina, but didn’t get through. There was some chatter in Spanish and a few minutes later several RIBS started checking it out. Nobody boarded it though. Within 10 minutes of us seeing her on the rocks the starboard hull (on the rocks) was sinking at the stern, and it just got worse from there.  

About then a large orange rescue boat “Salvamento Maritimo” came out to give it a go. They got close and looked at it for another five or ten minutes, obviously not sure what they could do with it, when yells from a nearby boat drew them to a second boat dragging anchor. This one, a monohull, was not yet on the rocks so they had a better chance of saving it. They dashed over, spent several minutes sizing up the situation, put a man on the stricken boat, and passed him a line. It must have banged about for ten more minutes before they got it away from the rocks. Another 20 or 30 minutes and they had it into the marina. 

As it later turned out, I’m pretty glad we weren’t in the marina. Our location and others we knew got pretty battered and several boats broke mooring lines and some were damaged. We got off lucky. No damage, just a lost day, spent on the boat ready to react if anything went wrong. When two boats drag in your anchorage, and one sinks battered by rocks, You don’t leave the boat. 

I feel so sorry for the cat owners. I never saw anyone aboard that boat, but what a horrible thing to come back to. There is debris everywhere in the water and washed up on the beach. Two days later the boat is completely sunk and still shedding garbage. They are cleaning up the beach, they are cleaning up the water, but the shattered remnants still sit on the rocks shedding more debris. A sad Christmas Eve, and it hits us close to home. 

2018 Dec 13, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

Got a call last night there was a spot available in the marina. They are packed even though the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) has left and dozens of boat with them. It’s their high season and there is  a 2-3 week wait if you want to stay 10 days or more. They give preference to larger boats, and even though they say they are full, there are many slips that have been vacant for many days. 

The harbourmasters are very officious and care much more for their rules than on getting the job done. I have never heard so much verbiage at such a high rate of speed, yet seen so little get accomplished. 

I got to the reception dock at just past 0900 and finally made it to my slip about noon. Most of that was waiting for harbour masters. 

Layla is flying in this afternoon. 

I get a kick out of this place. There are so many young people roaming around looking to be crew. Most have none or very little experience, but several solos and couples come around in dinghies in the anchorage, or mostly walking the pontoons and waiting for someone to let them in the locked gates, either with signs, or handing out pages or cards describing themselves and how they want to sail across to the Caribbean or South or Central America. Some of they seem really great and hard workers. If I had need of more crew this is the place to be. My hardest parts of this passage are already behind me,so no go. It’s a fun place. We have a guy from Latvia who is a yoga instructor, a Polish teacher on a year off, A Polish young woman and older Englishman with no experience, but he plays guitar a little and she plays violin. Very vivacious. More French and Spanish and American and German. It’s quite the crew available here. A smorgasbord of labor. 

Oh yes, and there is siesta. Shops are mostly open from 0900 to 1300, then closed for siesta until 1600 then open 1600 to 1900. Takes a little planning to buy something. 

2018 Dec 11, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

I made it to the Canarys!, finally!! 

We had a really fast passage. 700nm in about 5 days. That’s blazing for Goldilocks. This is the first time I’ve had such a downwind run, but granted the first bit was motoring because there was no wind near Lisbon, then last morning there was no wind and we motored about 6 hours. I keep the engine speed down around 1700rpm so boat speed is just about 5 knots. 

When the wind did pick up it was about 12-19kts apparent. When you are running your boat speed is subtracted from the  apparent wind, so true winds were about 6 knots more. We spent a lot of time over 6 knots and quite a bit at 7 and 8. Hit over 10kts once but that was surfing for a couple seconds so doesn’t really count. In the end, very good speed. 

The start was pretty rolly. Far bigger waves than our modest wind could provide so I think they were from storms to the west. They started at about 2m and later were 3-4m. Nothing outrageous, but we were rolling a lot and especially as we were wing and wing (mainsail one side and genoa poled out the other side) the sails didn’t stabilize the boat very well, so cooking was hard. Sleeping was mildly uncomfortable, but no problem for me. Jean didn’t sleep well, but he never did at sea. 

We saw several  pods of dolphins, and I saw one pilot whale, take a breath one time. A sparrow or two flew around us but never managed to land. One did land, but not for long. Poor, tired creatures. 

Overall a great trip. Last one for Jean though. He got off in Las Palmas. Good at steering and on watch, but otherwise not great crew. 

Layla is coming aboard for the rest of the trip to USVI, so with her to stand a watch and allow me to get some decent sleep, we’ll be all set. 

Now it’s time to provision and make sure the boat is ready for the next ~2400nm. 

2018 Dec 10, Making great time to Gran Canaria!

From the looks of it, Goldilocks should make it to the Canaries in the next 24 hours or so.

The following message is from Captain Hoy:

Last night wind veered E so I took down the spinnaker pole. Now port tack straight towards Las Palmas. This morning wind lightening so slower but still good.

Yesterday dolphins swam by but didn’t stay. Venus is very bright when it rises. I guess wise men are making their way towards it😆. We’ll be there soon!

2018 Dec 8, Out of cell range off Portugal

Captain Hoy is finally out into the wild blue yonder. Headed for the Canary Islands.  He is hoping to reach it in 5-7 days.

Captain Hoy sent this In-Reach message today:

It’s clear, sunny, rolly and sailing downwind at about 6 kts, sometimes 7 and even 8 with a big gust. Nice change from the beatings we took farther north!

Check his current position by clicking Where’s Goldilocks above.

2018 Dec 6, Along the coast of Portugal

2018 Dec 6, 0001 UTC
Wind is picking up a bit from NE. Set sails, turned off engine and making about 6 kts in the right direction!! Yay!! Seems Iike it’s been awhile that it hasn’t been a fight.
Now nearing Cape St Vincent!
Coming in close enough to get cellular weather update, then veer off through the shipping traffic lanes and into more open water. Still a lot of shipping heading from Med to North America but it shouldn’t be too bad.

2018 Dec 5, Cascais Portugal to Las Palmas, Gran Canaria

Departed the marina in Cascais, filled with 117L of diesel at 1.44/liter, and on our way about 1300. Nice, clear day with hardly any wind, but it should fill in from NE later.
I spent 2 days working on the shift cable. My aluminum steering pedastal is 36 years old like the rest of the boat, so it takes some gentle coaxing to come apart and go back together. It’s good now and ready to go.
Unfortunately I didn’t get to see much of Cascais. Only this morning did I get out of the marina for a short walk around, mainly the touristy bits near the waterfront.
Almost no wind so motoring.