Lagos to Canary Islands

While in Lagos, and thanks to Canadian Paul Baker who skippers and helps with boats there, we were able to fix the U-bracket on the boom to which the main sheet block is attached. The replacement bracket was much strong, and made and fitted by Antonio Viegas, sailmaker. The large Sopromar was too busy to tackle the job while we were in Lagos. Paul also told us were to go to fill our assorted LPG bottles with propane, something we have been trying to do – and failing at – since arriving in the Shetland Islands! This mess of different prone gas bottles and fittings is a real headache for sailors (and no doubt campers too) who cross borders, and it has been made worse by stricter regulations. however, we hired a small care for about €30 are drove 60km or so to a propane filling station some 60km east of Lagos, where the owner had the necessary fittings to fill our Swedish and British Gas bottles, enough to get us to Brazil! WHAT A RELIEF!

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Photo: The reception pontoon south of the footbridge, Lagos, showing the canal through which one enters and leaves. The fuel is at the south end of the pontoon.

 

October 4th was Lisbeth´s birthday, and we had a birthday breakfast, and went out later to find some live music. Nothing notable, but we did meet a lot of cheerful Brits on a car rally to Gibraltar!

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Photo: Viviana, Alice, and V´s brother and his girlfriend arriving on Svalen.

Viviana, Alice and Marilia arrived late pm on Friday 5th, and loaded up their gear, which was a lot! So we finally set off for Lanzarote on the morning of October 6th, with a reasonable forecast. After a good sail in the morning, it got rather rough away from the coast due to cross waves-swell, and the new crew were all sick, including poor 5 year old Alice. We decided to sail back to the next port, Portamaio and take a decision if it was sensible for Alice to continue, or whether it risked putting her off sailing for life. In the end we decided that it was not sensible, and Viviana helped Lisbeth and I to look for an alternative crew to get us to Lanzarote. This we quickly found through a notice posted in Portamaio marina, and Alex and Sara joined the boat after the Brazilian crew disembarked. We then went to anchor behind the breakwater, and near to our friends from Cascais, Camilla, Pim, Anne and Paula on “Rajac”.

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Next morning we set off at about 0730. Alex and I set the spinnaker in light winds, and we made better speed. However, the wind strengthened later and we struggled to get the spinnaker back in its sock!

Spinnaker en route to Canaries

Photo: Nice colourful, large, Spinnaker set and drawing!

On the way to the Canary Islands we had mixed conditions, with some uncomfortable waves, and light winds, but also some fair winds and good waves. Happily Lisbeth was not sick on this leg, and was a tower of strength for the Skipper when the other crew were not so robust.

The Rhumb line distance from Portamaio to Lanzarote is about 552 nm, and we estimated our arrival in 4 days and 4 nights. In the event we arrived in the early morning of 12 October in Arricife, after the wind died and the engine would only run on minimal revs, giving is about 2 knots! So the crossing took nearly 5 days and nights, and we were all pretty exhausted at the end of it.

During the voyage we had dolphins playing alongside, and saw a pod of three small whales. We also had a squid land on the deck, presumably after being chased by a larger fish, and a visiting dove which rested rather shyly on deck for several hours.

In Arricife, it was a holiday on Friday and indeed a holiday weekend. Alex and Sara disembarked on Saturday, and we met Diego from Bilbao on a neighbouring Angus Primrose boat called Looping. Diego is a liveaboard musician and surfer, and he helped us fix the fuel problem ( air in the system – but why?), and came on board for a little wine and home made music, to which Lisbeth also contributed.

On Monday 15th October, Lisbeth and I cast off to sail to Puerto Mogan on the south coast of Grand Canary, a sail of 150nm direct, passing through the passage between Lanzarote and Fuertoventura (Estrecho de la Bocayana).  This seems to be the best direction from the point of view of wind and swell, but we did meet confused seas for a while once through the passage. Nevertheless, we had a fine day and night sail, with  lovely clear starry skies, and visiting dolphins inn the night. Soon we were able to see the city lights of Las Palmas off to starboard.

Photos: (a) Lisbeth at the helm (b) sunset

We arrived in the small and friendly harbour of Puerto Mogan at about midday on tuesday 16th after a great sail of 26 hours, the wind only dying for the last hour or so, in the wind shadow of the island. The two of us managed well, one sleeping or resting in the cockpit while the other was on watch. We had lunch and then a sleep. Later we celebrated by going out for a pizza together.

Next day (Wednesday) we had a nice swim at the small beach, and moved the boat at the request of the marina, and on Thursday John did the laundry in the local laundrette, while Lisbeth went off for a long weekend to visit a good friend in London via Ryanair. Tia (Bryden) and Marco also arrived for a ten day holiday in Grand Canary, and called.

On Friday 19th, Tia and Marco took me on a tour of the interior of the island, up many hairpin bends and close to the Military base and Observatory on Pico de las Nieves, which is about 2000m. I was amazed at the number of small towns and villages there are in the interior, which is where most of the locals seem to live, and where the farming goes on. This island had original inhabitants before being colonised by Spain in the 15th Century, after a long 90 year struggle. The locals lived in caves in the volcanic mountains, and were not people of the sea, it seems. Some still live in the caves. Tia and Marco took me out for a meal in Puerto Mogan later. The Canaries were granted autonomy from Spain in 1983, but remain a part of the EU.

Photos: (a), (b) and (d) mountains and hairpin bends in the mountainous interior of Gran Canaria. (e) Marco and Tia.

On Sunday, Tia and Marco and I went to see the caves at Barranco de Guayadeque,, net Agüimes, where there are still some cave dwellers, including one who collects honey from the wild bees in the mountains. Needless to say we bought some. After a walk through the village, with its small farms with sheep, goats, hens and turkeys, we went to the nearby town of Ingenia for lunch at Bar Cafeteria Nico, where we enjoyed excellent Rabbit, a local speciality. We later attempted to visit the local archeological site in Puerto Mogan, but failed, it being closed. I cooked Chicken, red lentils and green beans Indian-style for us to eat on board, and Tia brought a nice wine from Douro.

Photos: Cave dwellings, farm etc. Last photo of Nico´s Cafe in Ingenia.

Now we are beginning to prepare for Cabo Verde.  Lisbeth comes back tomorrow, Tuesday 23rd, and new crew member Kim Fastning from Denmark arrives on Thursday 25th. Weather permitting, we plan to sail on Sunday 28th. The engine will be serviced tomorrow, 23rd, and the fuel system will be carefully checked then.

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