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Saturday, December 22, 2018

Passage Notes Cape Verde - Martinique, part 2

Thursday (13th), night shift we are picking up the wind and moving along, just tweaking the course up and down a few degrees keeps the sail from flogging. Fortunately we are still on the pole. We have received texts from family and friends who are following our track asking exactly where the heck we are going. Chasing the wind we are heading more northward but we still have over 1000 nautical miles to go so there is plenty of time to deal with that. We are trying to keep everyone happy, including Destiny, and are working together much better now as a crew.

The night sky continues its entertainment offering up incredibly multicolored and brilliantly glistening stars with the occasional falling star thrown in for good measure. Late morning brought even more whales. We are certainly enjoying their curiosity as they approach Destiny for a close inspection. We have all tried to photograph them but they become elusive when the iPhones come out. During the afternoon I went out on the bow for a while to get a better look and found that this brought them even closer, perhaps wondering what this creature was that was walking around on the big sand-colored fish. To say it was thrilling, even exhilarating being up there with them so close as they breached for a better look and then pirouetted in Destiny’s bow wake is a grand understatement. The color of the water is becoming a gorgeous aquamarine blue and with the sunlight at just the right angle it is easy to see these fantastic creatures shooting just under the surface of the waves. They swim by just abeam then turn to show us their white underside before breaching and then ducking under the bow, ever so gracefully. For a good while several were taking turns and then eventually just one stuck around to circle back time and again. Jim had gone down for a nap but decided this was worth missing a few winks, so he came up to get a few minutes on the bow with the whale. Frank just enjoyed them from the cockpit. He’s had enough time on the foredeck lately. Later in the afternoon I was alone on watch when a large number of dolphins of varying sizes appeared on both sides, some of them must be babies because they would pop straight up out of the water, backs bowed like little bunnies. They frolicked for a short while and then dashed off as quickly as they had come.

Another rough night. Erratic big seas, boat not happy, sail not happy as the date becomes Friday, 14 December. We have a little over 930 nm to go. The promised winds must be hiding somewhere because we are chasing them as best we can, the boat rocking side to side but still getting forward motion. The night was filled with stars spilling gold and silver streaks from the heavens. It gives the impression of Angel tears streaming down. I wonder for whom or what are they crying.
Friday was a good one for sailing, riding the waves and making fair progress; the seas are lumpy and building, but occasionally the swells become organized. It’s quite beautiful to watch a big roller come up behind us building into a great blue wall and then just when you think it will swallow us whole it tucks under Destiny giving her a lift as she surfs it down, then we see the wall emerge at the front of the bow. This sound is soothing to the soul. We are all smilin’ and chillin’.

Saturday, December 15, the wee hours of my night shift the seas are calmer but only just. We are still under sail, thank God. No stars tonight. Clouds and a half moon are prevalent. We are making good time. 
Daytime Saturday has continued to bring enough of a downwind lift to keep the genny filled. Sometimes the side to side rocking gets going like a child having a tantrum, and it takes a while to calm back down. No complaints though as long as we are marching onward. It is now 6 pm, and we have just 690 miles to go.

Night shift, early Sunday (16th),  the shooting, or rather falling stars continue in between cloud cover. I hear but cannot see whales. A squall came through on my watch bringing short-lived good wind and a little rain but when the second one passed we nearly stopped dead in the water. Reluctantly I turned on the engine. Progress is slowing but it has been up and down anyway during this passage. Daytime brought the return of the whales around mid-day. They entertained us for a good while, and when the big swells arrived they surfed with and circled about Destiny. Eventually, the wind abated and the engine came back on. During the evening I received a text from my friend Lynn (Wind Pony), alerting us to watch for a comet tonight that should be visible with the naked eye near The 7 Sisters constellation. She indicated that this comet comes around every 20 years. Sure enough in the hours just before dawn (around 0730 UTC) Frank and I spotted it’s brilliance. From our perspective it looked more like an elongated kaleidoscopic capsule. 

Monday, December 17th. We have had somewhat overcast skies today and are making only fair progress but hoping for a Thursday arrival. We had engine assist for a short while and are enjoying a quiet sail today. No whales or dolphins today as of 3:30 pm. I am exhausted. I try to sleep during my off time but there is so much noise, slamming and pitching that I feel like a zombie with a very sore backside and so many bruises all over my body I’m beginning to resemble a Dalmatian. A few days ago a large wave hit us broadside just as I was entering the cockpit to sit, knocking me backward and slamming my tailbone right down onto the metal adjustment piece of the binoculars.Tonight is my night for two stands of night watches and yet I got up early deciding I might as well sit with Frank for his last hour. The comet was rising just about then so I had it to keep me company. During the next couple of hours it conveyed two separate massive “meteors” that - to my eye - fell ever so slowly and quite brightly down the entire stretch of the sky before suddenly going dark.

Tuesday, December 18th. We have turned southward in order to get a little more comfortable and also to correct our course from the northing we have done. We had a close call with a French sailing yacht last night just as I was coming up to relieve Frank on my 2nd night-watch. Frank had already moved a few degrees off our course because the guy was coming up quickly from behind, bearing directly for us then he drew abeam of Destiny and refused to answer repeated hailing attempts on the VHF. I’m not sure what the CPA indicated on AIS, but I lit up the running lights as Frank made ready to correct yet again when the guy began speaking French into the radio. I answered him in English letting him know we felt he had unnecessarily breached what we consider a safe nighttime radius. He casually bid us a fond good night and continued on toward Martinique. BTW, this is the third encounter we’ve had since leaving Cape Verde. The other two were commercial vessels who were extremely responsive and helpful, passing to our stern once radio contact was established and inevitably these all happened at night.

Wednesday morning, 9:30 am. Engine on, track on for a direct approach to the first waypoint at Martinique. This has been a no drama day. We managed to get below the 200 miles to go mark by afternoon. I’ve been asked what we do while on passage. We read books, sit and contemplate, watch the sea and the skies. We text and call on the “IridiumGo!”, I do squats, stretches and workouts using the companionway steps. I do Sudoku and other puzzle games. Jim spends a lot of time in his cabin reading and he writes a lot. We sit and contemplate some more. I journal. Everyone naps whenever possible. Each day, the person who gets off watch at 4:00 pm is responsible for cooking dinner that night for everyone. I have a lot of prepared meals in the freezer, so that all we have to do is nuke many night. I have stocked this boat with as much imaginative food as possible so that no one will starve. If they do it’s their own fault. We are mostly on our own for lunch and breakfast, and take turns making the morning pot of coffee. Exciting stuff, I know.

Thursday, December 20th. Last night passed without incident. Today we did move the pole to starboard, making the sail a bit happier and are enjoying being under sail again. Our distance to go at 2:00, UTC is 67 nautical miles. Eventually we lost good wind and motorsailed on and off through the day. Before dusk we could see the hazy outlines of Martinique mountains on the distant horizon. Again no drama as night’s velvet blanket fell and we prayed for the moon to rise high enough for us to pick our way into St. Anne’s bay. 

2:00 AM, UTC we motored into the wide open bay, dropped the hook by 2:08, and then Frank popped the champagne cork to celebrate our good and safe arrival. We have finally fulfilled an 11-year dream to sail Destiny into the Caribbean. It will feel real good to sleep as long as we want and without being tossed out of bed or jarred awake by creaking sheets and stressed rigging.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Passage notes Cape Verde to Martinique - part 1

Wednesday, December 5 - Wednesday, December 12th
The date is not optimal for leaving but we are ready and there are schedules to keep so we are going to make a go of it. PredictWind’s passage tool indicates that if we depart today we should have some decent wind 50% of the time, fair wind 30%, and then days without much wind on three of the four forecast models. Forecasts tend to change regularly so we might as well get going. By late morning we had weighed anchor and were off for a rough ride at first “motor-bobbing”, trying to clear the island and then we took off like a shot when the genoa caught the wind. 2080 NM to go to our first waypoint just outside the southern tip of Martinique. Estimated date of arrival if all goes well should be December 21st, and as always we give or take a couple of days so that we have no expectations. At the very least we hope to spend Christmas in a nice French restaurant.

We were going well, averaging about 7 knots and enjoying the ride until we hit the lee of the big island of Santo Antao. Once clearing that island we continued trying to sail for the better part of the day until the decreased wind drove us to deploy the gennaker (asymmetrical spinnaker). Eventually, during the darkest part of the predawn, the winds were giving up on us so the kite came down and the motor cranked on.

We enjoyed a daily dolphin show for the first few days out. At times there were at least a dozen swimming in synch along both sides of Destiny’s bow ducking and weaving as though choreographed by Esther Williams herself. Nothing much else is going on but standing our watches, enjoying some great meals (since it’s calm enough to cook), and also never tiring of the the starlit, moonless nights. Normally, the smell of ocean air is pleasant. The air in this part of the Atlantic Ocean, however, is not. There is something dirty and repugnant about the air here, a smell that I cannot describe and surely wouldn’t want to put into any air freshener. It permeates the skin and irritates our sinuses. The horizon is heavy with haze that likely comes from W. Africa. Perhaps we are picking up the odiferous lingerings of camel dung that travels in the trade winds!

Today is Sunday, Happy Birthday to my little sis, Bev. I called her from the IridiumGo! It’s so nice to have that capability out here to call anyone anytime, and we do. We are back on course yet disappointedly still motoring. We had turned south about a day out from Cape Verde hoping to scoop up some wind but then realized we not only were NOT finding our elusive friend but are going to end up in S. America if we don’t veer northward. We simply must get some wind because, although we carry a lot of fuel there simply isn’t enough to keep this up all the way across this big ocean. We are beginning to see a lot of small blobs of Sargasso weed floating by in the water. Nasty stuff. It will adhere to the hull and slow us even more if we are unlucky enough to hit larger patches of it. PredictWind is forecasting a hopeful 12+ knots of wind in our favor around 2:30 on Monday morning. 

Still Sunday, we were treated to an extraordinary Green Flash tonight! To top off the evening’s entertainment it feels as though those Trades are freshening so the gennaker is going up at last, not yet seeing consistent double digit wind but it feels great not to hear the droning of the engine.

Monday, Dec 10, the wee hours, we are doing very well with sustained winds in the low teens and hitting up to 8 knots SOG. It is a beautiful, albeit stinky night. The eyelash of a new moon crept up into the sky for a very short while only to quickly slip back down the horizon leaving zillions of bright stars above like pinholes in the floor of Heaven. The Southern Cross is visible. There have been quite a lot of falling stars leaving me to wonder if there’s a meteor shower going on out there. Beautiful night.

Daytime...what a day. With the kite we are making up a lot of lost time sometimes reaching up to 10 knots. In the late afternoon two young whales raced up behind and passed us as though we were moving backwards. Later in the day...the winds aren’t terribly high, gusting up to the low 20’s and yet both the halyard and sheet are sounding stressed. The seas are choppy and we are making such good time the decision was made to leave the kite up for the night.  Wee hours again brought action on the deck as the gennaker sheet popped loose from the winch during Frank’s watch. He fought it bucking violently back into place but because it bore so much pressure it took quite an effort. A short while later during my night shift I noticed the block that conveys the sheet from the tack to the winch wasn’t responding so I lit it up for inspection to find that the wheel had broken, probably when the sheet had snapped from the winch, causing it to slip into the mechanism itself. It was now in danger of chafing through so, as much as I hated to wake him, I called Frank up to help me. Jim heard the commotion and came back up as well. There was no possibility of getting the sheet off that block, so Frank set up a backup line to grab the sheet in the event the block blows. Without going into a lot of detail, later in the night during Jim’s watch the kite eventually came down of its own accord when the halyard snapped. The guys wrestled it back up out of the water and it is now secured on deck. I cannot say whether it will be used again on this passage. We are now two sails down, leaving only the poled-out genoa to move us downwind.

When I came back up to relieve Frank a short time after the first incident of the night, he told me he had seen the strangest phenomenon in the sky...he noticed a white blinking light, thinking it was an airplane but then a green laser shot out the front of it into a cloud. The laser extinguished after a few seconds; the white flashing light continued for a few more seconds and then it too went dark and the craft disappeared. I told him (tongue in cheek) it must’ve been a UFO. About an hour into my watch I saw a bright flash light up the southern sky but when I looked out there were no clouds and no lightning. It didn’t happen again. Very strange. When Frank relayed his sighting to Jim, he said it must be the military conducting secret tests where no one would see. Now that’s a bit discomforting.

The 11th, no one got a lot of sleep during last night, with all the theatrics and the disturbed seas, so I slept during my off time during the day and I’ve no idea what the men did. The genoa is up and we are still making fair progress. Night watch was once again filled with falling stars but no drama.

Wednesday, December 12th, a strange day. Wind’s up and down. The seas are all over the place with not much rhythm or consistency. Poor Destiny is tossing about. 10:30 a.m., GMT, marked our 1st week down and we are not yet quite at the half-way point. Feeling frustrated and a bit sore from being tossed around. Praying for wind. As if to send us a little spiritual lift, however, the whales are back now with some traveling in small pods. We think these are juvenile humpbacks. We have counted three different types of dorsal fins in the water; one might be a pilot whale, one was definitely an orca and the humpbacks. None are larger than about 15 - 20 feet in length. Jim spotted something that he thought might have been a turtle. Later in the evening, Frank and I felt like we were in the middle of a highway with whales passing by and then a pod of dolphins shot past. This is the bonus that brings us joy during what could otherwise be a very long, arduous passage. So we are bobbing and hardly moving but hey, we are being treated to a real-time Sea-world out here.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

December 3 - 5, 2018. Mindelo, Cape Verde

The anchorage in Puerto Mindelo is good. It is a large, wide open bay with a sandy bottom and very good holding. The anchor set quickly. 

After a champagne toast to our arrival, we all just kicked back and rested for a little while before going to shore to forage for supplies. The first stop for anyone on a yacht is the Floating Bar, which is also the dinghy dock. This makes it difficult to just tie up and head off without stopping for free wifi and refreshments. We found Kundalini in the marina discovering that George (Zsolt) and Omar had flown to Vienna on Sunday, leaving just Thomas aboard. He came up to the bar, snacked with us and then walked us into town to show us the lay of the land. I struggle to describe this place. From my eyes it appears to be an amalgamation of First World and Third World civilization. Many buildings are decrepit and then there are those that are beautiful. The people are primarily of African heritage while the language is Portuguese. Most are very friendly but there are quite a few seedy characters lurking about. I can’t say that I’m terribly comfortable here. That might’ve changed if we had more than two days to explore and tour around but this stop is all business. 

Procuring a replacement halyard was no problem at the tiny chandlery by the marina office. Sourcing a replacement galley faucet was altogether and unbelievably difficult. We trotted from place to place showing images from Thomas’s iPhone to various vendors, only to receive a shake of the head and a finger point in another direction. Eventually the search ended at a shop that sold only kitchen and bathroom supplies. Two things down, a few more to go but it was time for a break, so we agreed to meet later for dinner.

We delightedly snacked on fresh tuna sashimi aboard Kundalini before setting off for a delicious dinner in “the Green Building” behind the marina where there sits a giant keg of “grogue”, which Frank declared is Moonshine. The restaurant serves very fresh and good local style food. There is also live music. We had a fabulous time until we all began to fade into exhaustion. 

The next day we sent Jim up the mast to secure the new halyard. This is his virgin ascent! We’re honored it was to be on Destiny. He said his heart was pounding out on f his chest when he reached the top but we couldn’t tell. He performed the job perfectly. Afterward we went in search of some more supplies, had lunch at the Floating Bar and ran into Eric from Kandu who fortunately happened to have some water filters that we needed. Jim, Thomas and I hit the local outdoor market while Frank installed the sink faucet. The local market was very similar to those we had seen in Tonga and Vanuatu. We only bought bananas and the guys picked up some trinkets for family. We enjoyed another wonderful dinner with Thomas at the #1 restaurant in town. It served homemade Italian pastas and pizzas. Delish!

Now we are preparing for the passage to Martinique, so I’m wrapping this up. Farewell for now...we will be back in about two weeks to give an update

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

November 27 - December 2, 2018 Passage to Cape Verde

Day 1,
Destiny and crew are still trying to get comfortable working with each other and learning... We have some issues that need to get ironed out, hoping it will settle down as we get accustomed to having a crew member, and as he gets used to being in our world with all that we are throwing at him to remember. It doesn’t matter how well or long you have known someone, all bets are off when suddenly thrown on top of one another in a small space for weeks at a time. The slate starts clean, and he has to learn to work with us both in a cruising environment rather than a racing one. We know this is not easy for him but he must earn our confidence and trust by learning how to trust & respect us both as Captain and First Mate. I’m sure he is like a horse at the starting gate, and is frustrated. 

On passage we will each be taking 4-hour watches during daytime, and then beginning at 8:00 pm, the watches drop to 3-hour shifts. This rotates our times in a way that is fair for all, and gives each of us a longer night watch every third day.

Dolphins escorted us for several miles after departure until our speed dropped and we were no longer a viable playmate. About an hour out of Puerto Mogan, we were hailed by a Spanish warship that was conducting live weapons exercises nearby. They kindly asked us to stay at least 4-5 miles away from their starboard side. No problemmo!

Captain and crew raised the gennaker, with some effort as the seas are unsettled and the job seems to have become more complex than I remember since the last time Frank and I sailed it, It has been a few years since we have been in a situation to fly it. This is a treat.
We sailed with it until dark, and then fearing uncertainty with a waning moon, replaced it with the genoa over night. With just a headsail it was an uncomfortable and noisy night, difficult for sleeping. Everyone got tossed about. In fact I got thrown out of bed and slammed my shoulder into a handhold on the wall. I’m already getting bruised and sore all over. I know the men must be as well.
After dinner I heard something knocking around in the galley sink and discovered the sink faucet had broken right off! This darn thing is fairly new only used for about 6 months, but we found the parts are all much for “marine-grade”, right?! Luckily we can still use the extender hose until we make port in Mindelo.

Day 2,
Crew posturing continues but we’re remaining hopeful we can get to a point we can begin to relax and have fun. There is a battle of egos (that we have encountered before), and I’m sure it will subside over time. This is normal but this endeavor should be an exciting and enjoyable passage for everyone; Destiny deserves that as well. It can’t be easy for Jim to suddenly step into our world and adjust to us any more quickly or easily than for us to get accustomed to having him here. It’s coming together slowly. We are trying to get comfortable working together deploying & setting the kite and taking it down as well as working with the pole. We are hoping to leave the gennaker up throughout the night. I’m in a more passive roll than normal and am not required on deck as much but rather at the helm during these exercises and having the view from here is a bit nerve jangling watching the guys struggle on deck with the crazy waves we are encountering. I want them back in the cockpit safely. It’s surely nice to have three people on board for these maneuvers, and to have the safety beacons on all of our vests.

Day 3, 
Night watch last night was awesome for me personally. The moon rises very late, in fact not until the wee hours of the morning, so the stars are brilliant! Several are sparkling in technicolor reminding me of our nights in the South Pacific. The phosphorescence in the water is back, giving off such lovely splashes of sparkle that I find it hypnotic.

Nearing the third hour of my 5:00 am shift, the tack line on the gennaker suddenly snapped, throwing that big kite up into the air. Fortunately, Frank was sleeping in the salon and heard me yell “I need help! Wake Jim!”. Frank was up here in a heartbeat with Jim soon behind. Thank God the sky had just lightened. After quite a struggle, the guys had the thing secured, and we got the headsail back out. We can pole it out but without the use of our Mainsail, we can’t fly wing and wing. (Because t’s much too much to go into, I didn’t mention that while in Marina Rubicon, Frank noticed the mainsail furler bearings in our mast have begun to drop out, we can’t get this fixed here and probably not until we get across).

This has been a hard day - not a bad day, but exhausting for the men, and emotionally and mentally fatiguing for me. We are still sailing without engine assist, first with the genoa (aka: headsail), while Frank re-rigged the kite (aka: gennaker or chute), then after several modifying attempts the kite went back up. We are sailing faster and more comfortably now and pray this continues.

Frank and I were down below when the wind began to build to a point the kite was bucking hard, and then suddenly something, a rogue wave?, hit us hard. Frank flew up the companionway asking Jim what he had done because it felt like we had turned and the sail backwinded, slamming and jerking the sheet hard against the block. The sound from below was like that of a massive bang and an explosion! At this very time the autopilot quit, and I’m not sure what else was happening or had happened because I had my own hands full with things below while Frank spoke to Jim at the helm. I do know that Frank directed Jim had to hand steer for a while, whilst Frank rebooted the system. It was hard going with big seas and no way to manipulate the big kite until Destiny was back under control. It was a tense hour or so. With the autopilot back up and us back on track, we felt it best to drop the kite, and it’s a darn good thing because the modified tack line wasn’t long for this world and would have snapped within the hour. With that secured we raised the headsail, now settling for a rougher and slower ride with the building and erratic seas. Eventually, before dark we got some dinner and I’m praying for a fair night.

Days 4 & 5
The night passed fairly well, although hard for sleeping, all is well. We are averaging a good speed in spite of these confused seas and are still able to sail mostly downwind. We’ve tacked only a few times and are managing to get better at teamwork. We are getting into the rhythm of our watches and individual roles. Jim is a conscientious crew member, and is adapting to being on Destiny, and similarly we are adapting to the presence of a crew member aboard. He is earning our confidence that we will be a well-oiled machine for the two week crossing to Martinique. Not much happening in the way of extraordinary events today.

The night was awfully rough again, no one is getting much sleep but we continue to sail. Frank and I discussed trying one more time with the kite and decided to go for it but when they were almost ready to deploy, Jim alerted Frank that the halyard (damn new halyard we had built last season - grrr) was fraying and a large portion of the inner-coil was exposed. There will be no kite until we replace the halyard in Mindelo.  We get regular reports from the boys on Kundalini who left two days ahead of us. They now call us Mom, Dad and Uncle Jim. We adore them as well. They have made port in Mindelo and have caught a very large tuna. We had something large snap our steel leader, so who knows what we might have caught. 

I’m so tired and sore all over I think my mind is bruised. The wind is too light now for the headsail and since we can’t fly the gennaker we have had to turn on the motor. We will arrive early Morning day morning. We are slowing Destiny so as not to arrive in the dark. 

Day 6
It’s now Monday morning. I’ve only been asleep for an hour but want to be fully awake on arrival. Seeing the port is tonic to our souls and a wonderful sight. There are many yachts gently swaying at anchor and several in the marina. We chose a good spot to drop the hook, debrief and rest before heading ashore.

We’ve all certainly witnessed some divine intervention the past few days. Undoubtedly Angels are on this passage with us, foiling a couple of near major upsets. Thank you God, and may you stay with us for the duration of this Sailing season.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

November 20 – 27, 2018 Last day in the Canaries…Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria

I’m trying to write this entry as we prepare for our passage departure for Cape Verde this morning, so it’s a bit of a rush job…
The sail over to our next stop at Fuerteventura was about a 40-mile motor passage. We were so desperate to get out of Marina Rubicon that we didn’t care if we had to swim the leg. Passing by the longest part of the island we were able to see what the guidebooks mean when mentioning the sand dunes of the middle. This island and Lanzarote are very different in that this one consists of miles and miles of rolling sand dunes and is known for its beautiful beaches. Some dolphins came out to play, and although I tried to capture them on my iPhone but only manages to catch the splash. We moored at Gran Tarajal Marina, a small marina down on the bottom of the foot of the island. It was heavenly to be in a comfy place with the quaint little town just a few hundred yards around the jetty to the golden sand beach. There wasn’t much to the town; in fact no car rental, no wifi in the marina and not even a Vodafone shop (rare!) around. As soon as we tied up a couple of young ladies showed up to greet us. One is an American, Claire, who is teaching English in the local elementary school and the other her visiting Norwegian friend, Lindie. Fortunately Claire was able to interpret for us when the marinaro arrived to tell us we could not stay in the berth we had chosen which was the only one available to accommodate our size. Whether it was her charm or lovely looks, we got to stay for three nights. Blissful non-rolly, jerky or screechy nights!  

Kundalini and crew, Zsolt/”George”, Thomas and Omar, arrived early the next morning. We were thrilled they hadn’t chosen to go to Cape Verde directly from Lanzarote.  We chose not to explore the island because of poor weather conditions so spent our time strolling, shopping, hanging out at beachfront bars and cafes and eating.  Zsolt and the guys invited us to dine aboard Kundalini on Thanksgiving night. Thomas, who is a superb chef, prepared the meal of fresh market tuna and accompaniments. It was so delicious, Frank told him we have a spot for him on Destiny. I wouldn’t mind at all although Zsolt and Omar wouldn’t appreciate that a bit. These young guys have really touched our hearts. I wish I could adopt all three of them. Gosh we are really going to miss them when we separate. 

On the afternoon of Nov 23rd, we set off to sail overnight to Puerto Mogan on the southwest end of Gran Canaria. The trip was just ok with decent wind a fair bit of the time but we struggled with the kite. It has literally been years since we had flown our giant asymmetrical “spinnaker”, and unfortunately it is one of the few items aboard we had neglected to pull out for reconditioning before leaving port. Duh! The sail is fine, but we needed to do a lot of lubricating on any metal part of it’s rigging. Finally getting it up, our speed kicked up to around 8 knots for a while, but then night began to fall and we weren’t comfortable leaving it up during the night. There are too many wind sheers and strange currents between these islands. Getting the sucker down was a bit of a Keystone Cops job and quite stressful because we had too much wind, and each of us had one issue or another befall us in our tasks. As evening approached, large waves developed on the starboard beam and throughout the night the wind was up, up, up and down, down, down. No one slept well, but no one ever does on a one night overnight.

As we entered the port of Mogan, Judith Jacbosen, another Island Packet owner was taking photos and  waving us into our berth. We knew Judith from the IPY owners group and from OCC, so finally we got to meet in person. She gave me a quick tour of the port before their yacht set off for Las Palmas.  They are also crossing this year but not until after the holidays.
While at Puerto Mogan we drove up into the mountains and then over to Las Palmas to do a bit of shopping and to meet back up with s/v Touché for dinner. It is so gorgeous here and drastically different from both Lanzarote and Fuertaventura. We dined in a cave restaurant for lunch and noted the many homes built into the caves with great balconied facades facing out from the cliffs. We could spend much longer here but are eager to get moving across. Jim did not join us the first day out, choosing to just hang out around the port. This is good for everyone to have a little disconnection time because living on top of one another 24/7 is tough stuff. We want to remain friends at the end of this!!!

It is now 8:45 on Tuesday, November 27, 2018. We are prepping Destiny for a week-long passage to Mindelo on Cape Verde (Capo Verde to many).

I’m sighing off with a promise to post photos when we are once again back online.  

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

November 1 – 19, 2018 Lanzarote, Canary Islands & Being Joined by a Friend

This post might be a little boring, because although we continued to explore Lanzarote, we soon lost interest in some of the outdoor attractions due to the deteriorating weather. We are only renting cars for a week at a time about every other week in order to split the time between preparing Destiny and touring. With the time change we have limited daylight hours to drive here and are trying to drive only during the day. Driving at night is its own bag of tricks and best performed by locals and daredevils, as the roads are not lit except in the sparsely populated areas, most have no shoulder, and in many areas they simply drop straight off into lava fields. Some of the main roads serpentine up the mountains with absolutely no guardrails. How crazy is that?
The small inner harbor at Arrecife
Vineyards, believe it or not 
A defunct vineyard
We finally reconnected with our friends Mark and Laura Pitt (Sabbatical III) whose yacht is situated at Marina Rubicon. They have introduced us to their favorite places to eat and stroll within the Papagayo and Playa Blanca areas. Here are some photos from a hike with them.
This is a typical "hike"

A little beauty growing right up through the pebbles

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Mark and Laura
We also found a few more boat projects that needed attention and so we tended to those as parts and products became available and spent a lot of time going back and forth to IKEA where space saving products and innovation is king for Cruisers. Walking and riding our bikes along the promenade that meanders for a few miles along the coast has become a favorite pasttime. We went for a few hikes, treks really, OK walks in the rocks! The views are magnificent, digging lava stones from our shoes hasn’t been so magnificent. Our favorite spots for enjoying the dramatic coastline and the panoramic vistas are El Golfo, Mirador del Rio and Los Hervideros.
Interesting roundabouts throughout the island...

Cesar Manrique designed sculpture in a roundabout

The walk to Playa Blanca from Marina Rubicon

Looking back at Marina Rubicon from Playa Blanca

A little bit now about our Hungarian neighbor who is without a doubt the kindest, most generous young man we have met. When he told us his name, one that doesn’t have very many vowels, we must’ve looked really puzzled so he said; “Just call me George!” Right away he and Frank became buddies, although our Hungarian language skills are nonexistent and his English is spotty but improving, we manage to enjoy one another’s company a great deal. He brought us several cans of very expensive teak oil that he didn’t need after treating his own decks, and from there the gifts and generosity continued to flow. One week he had several visitors from home who prepared delicious Hungarian meals, always making enough to bring us “leftovers” enough to feed the Jolly Green Giant. One day it was Hungarian Goulash, another it was homemade crepes rolled with various sweet fillings, other times it was a variety of portions of whatever they were eating or had purchased. George will not let us pay him when he buys an extra amount of something or other to bring back to us. So, we have him over for drinks and meals and help him whenever he needs an extra hand for a job. George has already sailed around the world in a race but now he is preparing his large personal yacht for passage and has started a YouTube channel about his adventures that is subtitled in English. We love him and we love it because his adorable personality shines right through in his clever videos. His channel is called Kundalini Sailing. He has a lot of fun with it, as do we. We invite you to check it out:
November 14th- Jim Collins has arrived!!!! Jim is joining us for the passage to Cape Verde and then onward to the Caribbean. He is an avid sailor and is looking forward to an ocean crossing. Frank and I have always done passages alone but are now 10 years older than when we first started out and are quite happy about having another set of eyes, ears, limbs and brains for this final step across. His luggage was nearly empty because he needed the weight capacity for the bottles of single malt Scotch he brought for Frank. That is a very good way for a guest to arrive on Destiny. We had planned to take him around the island for about three days to see the sights and then head to Tenerife before moving on but once again the weather is giving us the old; “Oh, I don’t think so!” attitude. It is windy, stormy and cold but we did manage to take him up to Mirador del Rio, Cueva de los Verdes and El Golfo. He and Frank set off one day to gather fishing equipment for the passage and more junk food because every passage needs a fair amount of that. 
Jim Collins with Frank

Some of the interior of the Cueva de los Verdes formed by the volcanic eruption

Can you see the monster in the cave?

A view of Graciosa Island from Mirador del Rio

The marina continues to be very uncomfortable. Two nights after Jim’s arrival we actually snapped a dock line, ripped apart right at the dock cleat. No one is sleeping well and the level of irritation over this is about to trump the fun factor of being here. 
We are casting off this morning to make a 40 NM trip over to Gran Tarajal on Fuerteventura, the next island over, and we think we have tempted George and his two crew, Thomas and Omar to join us. Im surrounded by handsome men, what more could a woman want?

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Oct 11 – 31, 2018 Lanzarote, Canary Islands

We are now in Marina Rubicon located at the bottom end of Lanzarote Island, aka The Devil’s Island. The marina is surrounded by restaurants, cafes, bars, retail shops of every kind, markets, a good chandlery, a dive shop, a laundry, rental car kiosks and of course several ice cream shops (this thrills Frank to no end). There is a lovely resort-style pool that looks very appealing but which we have been told is so icy that only the brave will attempt to take a plunge. It is beautiful and could be paradise but…our berth here gets a disturbing amount of swell and thus we have positioned 8 fenders between Destiny and the finger pier. Our neighbor is a very friendly Hungarian guy who lent us even more fenders to place between his yacht (Kundalini) and Destiny. We have all become very close as friends and berth-mates. Not much helps alleviate the sound of rubbing fenders, stretching dock lines and screeching metal on the docks. It is hellish during daylight hours. At night it is unbearable. Trying to sleep through the night has become an absolute challenge due to the constant jerking and snapping of the dock lines even though some of ours have built-in springs. On several occasions one of us has been standing or walking through the boat when a sudden jerk causes us to lose our balance and fall down or into something. I’m covered in bruises and told Frank I’d better start wearing long pants and shirts with sleeves so people wont think my husband beats me – ha ha. Thankfully we have a lot of good restaurants to choose from so I’m not doing much cooking and look forward to meals off the boat. The positive side is that at least we no longer have to Med-moor…
View of Destiny in her berth from our favorite cafe
arrival dock at Marina Rubicon

cool apartments/townhomes 
 Our first several days were spent addressing boat issues and doing routine maintenance (always). We enjoyed dinner one evening with friends we had met while in Agadir, David and Marilyn on s/v Blue Yonder, whose yacht is moored up the coast at Puerto Calero. Thanks to their introduction and David’s sponsorship both of us are now members of the prestigious OCC, the Ocean Cruising Club. 

We finally broke free the following week, renting a car to tour this fascinating and tragically beautiful island. The roads are surprisingly well kept and beautifully maintained as is evidenced by the numerous bicyclists we found ourselves dodging everywhere we drove. The landscape on the other hand is very uninviting; not just rocky but ominously jagged and dangerous and yet the island is full of hiking trails. We passed the strangest vineyards and farms cultivated out of the red and black rocky sand. Vines are burrowed down into the sandy ground as if they are being sucked down into a funnel in order to protect them from the high winds and harsh environment. Between the strange landscapes and interesting architecture it is a joy to drive around the island because each time we pass from one area to the next we are met with a new surprise that nature has wrought.
Our first destination on this jaunt was to Timanfaya National Park situated in the heart of The Montanas del Fuego where, in the year 1730, a massive volcanic eruption began spewing over 48 million cubic meters of lava that devastated over 200 sq kilometers of the island over a 6-year period. This shocking landscape reminds us of images of the moon’s surface. Frank said he thinks this is what the Earth will look like 100 years after Armageddon. Chilling. After completing the 14k bus tour through the park we enjoyed lunch at the Cesar Manrique designed “Restaurant del Diablo” where food is roasted on a grill built over a volcanic vented open pit. The panoramic views from the restaurant are fantastic!
Entrance to the park

Volcanic chicken!
Our next touristy day was another Cesar Manrique adventure that led us along his artistic footprint around the island, stopping first at the Monumento al Campesino, the “Peasants’ Monument” erected to honor the island’s laborers whose handcrafts are still taught today in the adjacent visitors center and museum. There also happens to be an impressive and beautifully designed restaurant in the complex that serves delicious local Canarian cuisine. Of course we stayed for lunch before moving on to the Fundacion Cesar Manrique. This was one of his two homes on the island built into the lava fields. This one is very literally built into the multi-level volcanic formations, incorporating large air pockets and lava tubes in such a way that the house flows along with the natural flow of the lava, forming lounge rooms, bedrooms, terraces and very cool tunneled passageways throughout, ending in a paradise that surrounds a pool. His architectural style accommodates the formations rather than the other way around. Within the home is a gallery of several of his works and information about his Foundation that strives to preserve the island.

at the Foundation

Cesar Manrique's home at Haria

Cesar Manrique's home at Haria

Frank discovered that Lanzarote has a golf course about 15 miles from this marina, and quite close to Puerto Calero so we made a drive by one day on our way to visit David and Marilyn for dinner. It looked OK, rather rough and rugged but we wanted to be able to say we played golf in a lava field so we booked a tee time for a few days later. I had just begun golf lessons this past summer barely finishing before we returned to the boat, and had not yet played a full 18-hole round. The driving range is laid in volcanic stones, rather unappealing and weird. The course is bizarre! There is some grass, but strictly along the fairways with no out-of-bounds area, so a ball that doesn’t make the green goes into a pile of lava rocks and often completely out of site. We got hit with two gusty and very wet storms while playing but we persevered noticing other players bailing out completely, and in spite of not playing very well we both had a great time and laughed a whole lot!

a home on the golf course

the trees separate one fairway from another
view of the golf course from the entrance road

One of the tee boxes
 Continuing the Cesar Marique theme, which is nearly impossible not to do here, we spent a day driving up to his home and studio in Haria.  After I snapped a couple of pictures of the living room I was quickly approached from two sides by angry docents waving arms and telling me we were forbidden to take photos, OOPS! His studio is housed in a separate building and has been left as it was on the day that he was killed in an automobile accident on this very island. After visiting this home we headed over to Lago Mar, another absolutely marvelously designed home by Manrique. Omar Sharif owned it for one day before he lost it in a Bridge Game. What a terrible shame! This home is unbelievably beautiful, sexy, avant-garde and one that you can imagine a movie star owning and throwing lavish parties for all the beautiful people in his life.
Lago Mar

Lago Mar

Lago Mar

Lago Mar

Lago Mar

One of two pools at Lago Mar

One of many staircases at Lago Mar

One of the garden areas at Lago Mar

The other pool area at Lago Mar

El Golfo  
Time to end this version…it’s getting too long and I want to include photos.
More later!