Weather forecasts had been downloaded and studied a hundred times. Tide charts had been gone over, and now it was time to untie those mooring lines, leave La Linea, and head out into the Strait of Gibraltar. There are still so many places we have not visited which were on the list, but, as Alec says look at what was not on the list, that we have visited. Sadly because of time we were going to run directly to Las Palma - Gran Canary, and not stop off on the Moroccan coast like we had first planed. Time dictates that we keep moving. But, first we motored into the fuel dock in Gibraltar to fill up our two diesel tanks and 11 Jerry Cans. The water tank is full and the water maker has been checked over. Stores have all been stowed. Now we are as ready as one can be. Down the rhumb line we have just over 700nm to go.
lantic was much longer. Not only were the seas in the Straits rough, but there was plenty of shipping about.
Then just after 2245 we have rounded Cape Spartel on the Moroccan coast and it is now time to change the navigation card in our chart plotter from the Mediterranean one to the Atlantic one. Oh help, the Canaries do not show on it. Well the outline of the Islands show, but no details of ports or depths. We were assured they were on it when we purchased it. We do carry a paper chart and the Cruising Guide for that area so were covered, but it would have been nice for them to show on the chart plotter as well. Still all the African coast is showing and so are the Cape Verdes further to the south west. We will have no problems with navigating our way there.
It was funny, once we rounded Cape Spartel we lost the winds and had to motor sail. This is how it was for the next couple of days – little to no wind !! The morning of Day 3 see’s the winds picking up but only for a few hours and then we were back to motor sailing by the afternoon. The nights were surprisingly cold and there was no moon so it was pitch dark. The following day we tried to fly our Spinnaker (MPS) but the winds were too light for it to fill out. It was not until the evening of day 4 that the winds finally kicked in and we were away. With winds now gusting to 28kts we reefed down. Seas picked up to 3mts for a time but they were following and SHAMAL’S stern would be gently lifted and we would surf down some of the waves. It was not uncomfortable and the boat handled the conditions very well.
We arrived into Las Palmas on the morning of the 24th December. (Great we had made it for Christmas.) That proved interesting, as we neared the harbour entrance we had seas bouncing off the breakwater with swells of 4mts. We felt a little like a pea in a pot of boiling water till we entered the harbour and the swells subsided. We checked into the marina and tied up to the pontoon. The winds were still gusting over 20kts and the skies were hazy and full of dust from the Sahara. It would stay like that for the next couple of days. Log 819nm. Time 5 days 21 hours 15mins. Average Speed 5.8kts.
Las Palmas – Gran Canaria – Canary Islands
Here we are now sitting on this small rocky volcanic Island, one of seven main Islands that make up this archipelago, about a hundred and twenty miles west of Morocco in Saharan Africa, out in the Atlantic Ocean. We could be sitting in any modern Spanish coastal city. The Canary Islands have been part of Spain since 1479. The overall population today is over 2 million. With it’s consistently mild all year round climate it attracts over 2.5 million visitors a year. Oh help you can now imagine what it is like. A huge cruise ship port which can take up to four LARGE cruise ships at a time (and they came and went constantly during our visit). Every second building – especially in the southern city of Maspalomas – is a hotel, and thousands of tourists wandering about. Las Palmas is the largest town in the whole group. The Canaries are one of the main stop-over Island group for yachts doing the trans Atlantic. It is a great place to stock up and get last minute boat jobs done. By now the main group of yachts have left in a rally called The ARC. They depart before Christmas. The rest of the yachts leave when they are ready, usually waiting for the NE trade winds to kick in.
We had made arrangements to meet up with Lloyd off s/y ‘'Dejavu’’, the only other ‘Seawind’ owner who is also doing his circumnavigation, Lloyd’s yacht is the Seawind 1000 model. He was able to join us for Christmas dinner which was great. Christmas Eve had us running around the shops at the last minute to find a large Chicken to go with all the other goodies I had with us.Las Palmas had really thrown itself into the Christmas spirit with wonderful Christmas decorations up all over town.
Mehmet had been a wonderful crew member on that first leg, taking his responsibilities seriously and doing his three hour watch without any problems. He had received news from Cyprus that some family business had come up which he urgently needed to return for. He was hoping to come as far as the Cape Verdes with us,but flights out of there are not as often, and connections more difficult to make, so sadly he had to leave us here in Las Palmas.
Before he did we did outings together, one taking the local bus to the end of the Island to visit Maspalomas, had meals out and explored the local area.
Mehmet flew back to Cyprus, and Alec and I set off for more stores. This time it was just a stock up of fresh fruits and vegetables. We had arranged with Lloyd that we would do the next leg together. We decided that once everything was ready we would check out with customs, fuel up, check out of the marina and anchor out in the bay for the night in order to get a good nights sleep and an good start the next morning. Lloyd had a crew member with him for the Atlantic run. Mark, a young Swiss guy. So both yachts made ready for departure.
Will sign out for this leg.
The Admiral and The Commander.