We are now in Las Palmas, the main city of Gran Canaria. It is the departure point of our Viking Explorers group that will sail on the 6th January 2023 to Cape Verde and then onto Grenada in the Caribbean.
We are very pleased to have made it to the starting point, along with 23 out of 25 other boats. The other 2, well one is expected to arrive sometime this week and the other is still stuck in Tangiers, unable to find a suitable weather window to bring them to the Canaries.
We had expected to be sailing for 3 months around the Canaries, but due to a serious problem we were stuck in Madeira for 71 days. You may remember that our engine needed to be removed for stripping down, re-bored and re built with as many new spare parts that made it difficult to differentiate between it and a new engine. This process took more time than expected, considering that spares had to be flown into this little island in the Atlantic Ocean from The Netherlands and from Spain. Looking
on the bright side, Funchal, Madeira was a great place to be stuck.
At the time, we were neither disappointed or happy about being stuck – it was a fact and we had to make the best of it. We did not really realise at the time that this was a real blessing in disguise. Not only had we identified our long-term engine problem (which was 100% fixable) but we had time to do the jobs that we otherwise would have done in Las Palmas on our last 3
weeks before departure.
Currently sitting in Las Palmas with only 2 weeks to go, I realise that the planned jobs could never have been finished is this short time period and we were wise to have made the effort to press ahead with jobs when time allowed. In addition, a good week of our time here in Las Palmas was lost due to both of us being afflicted with Covid 19 after a family visit to Europe (What else are families for ?).
Though the engine repair was our main job in Madeira, the process was organised and managed by the local Yanmar representative and his team of excellent mechanics who did most of the hard work. Stripping down the engine created boxes of screws, washers and “parts” that I could never have remembered in which order to re assemble them. However, I can comfortably say that I have been involved with stripping down and re-building a 110 HP diesel engine in my living room – I think not many people can boast about such an achievement and not go through a divorce at the same time.
Other jobs on our list at the time included:
Getting our residency papers sorted for Portugal, with the allocation of social security and digital ID codes
Renew Ingrid’s Portuguese driving license
A small but important operation for Ingrid – removal of a lymphoma in her neck
Replacement of all the fresh water pipes on the boat – this has finally removed the bad smells from our water system
Our “last” mail orders for essential items of equipment that included 3 more solar panels
Wiring up of the solar panel controllers so that once the panels were mounted, the sunshine could be converted into the daily electricity that we need.
Installation of our Starlink satellite system – hopefully the first steps to internet on the high seas, though coverage currently it is still limited.
Stocking up on food and drink items that are unavailable or very expensive in the Caribbean (cases of beer, cases of tinned tomatoes, oats, tomato paste, 30 litres of Olive Oil, vegannaise, mustard, coffee, tea, noodles & pasta – just to mention a few).
Sowing jobs that include the making of the bimini extension for the three new solar panels as well as five large, triangular pillows to prevent excessive rolling in bed whilst the sea conditions are unpleasantly rough. Though Ingrid has struggled a little with all the sowing that is essentially a new skill for her, the end results have been exceptionally good. Custom designing for a boat is complicated, but there is practically nothing “off the shelf” that can be purchased or used.
New Toy purchases have included a drone for some creative photography – and I am happy to say that I have not (yet) lost my drone, though it is my greatest fear each time I am flying it above the water. The creative photography skills have not yet manifested themselves, but I am hopeful that once I have some time to practice, they will get better.
Shortly before we departed for Las Palmas, a young, well presented Frenchman (Jean) came to our boat, looking for a lift to Las Palmas. Though we were not looking for any crew, we thought to help out someone who seemed to need some help – and an additional person to cover a few hours of night watch would not go amiss.
We sailed for 2 days with a steady wind and roughish seas. The sails were well reefed and we made excellent speed of 5 – 7 knots without touching the sails for most of the journey.
Jean did his night watches, but spend the rest of the time asleep, only surfacing at meal times.
He took little participation in the hospitality that we offered and other than wanting to use our boat as a comfortable accommodation and a means of getting him to where he wanted to go. We felt there was no connection between us and even felt a little used. On arrival he had to find other French people to be with and “do young people things” like eat junk food and drink beer.
As you can imagine, once his boat cleaning duties were finished the following morning he was sent packing to join his new boat.
We were surprised to see a tented camp of nautical back packers on the beach next to the marina – something we did not know existed. These backpackers leave the beach in the morning and wander around the marina looking for their next ride. Guitar in hand, singing “I am looking for a boat to sail on”, a cardboard announcement “I want to be in Brazil by Christmas”, “Can Cook”, “Have sailing skills”.
After our experience, we will probably never do this again but many do find lifts from some boats who are looking for crew – good luck to them all. We still enjoy finding crew on www.findacrew.net though.
One interesting part of our crossing from Funchal to Las Palmas was an opportunity to see how our Watt&Sea Hydrogenator was working. We had good boat speeds but unfortunately the power output was not as expected. It seems that the placement on our hull is “not optimal” and we only get about 50% of what power it should generate. Though 50% is better than nothing and it limits the amount of power loss during the night, it is a disappointment to me considering the cost and effort involved in its installation.
Maybe the next time the boat comes out of the water we can consider changing the location but this is a project for the future.
Although the sun did not shine during the 2 day journey, the battery capacity and the hydro generator did provide sufficient power for the duration of our time on the water.
We are therefore still looking to see what solar any hydro power can give us in better conditions, especially with the extra solar power that is being added.
Our 3 additional solar panels are now installed, thanks to Ingrid’s hard work of sowing and designing our bimini extension. It looks great and I am hopeful for the added power this will give, especially as the Pod 600 is not contributing sufficiently.
Other final jobs include:
5 Pillow cases for the large lee pillows – all custom made as usual.
Purchasing fresh food, and cooking for the journey ahead.
Purchasing a selection of drugs and first aid equipment that cost a fortune, but we hope will never be used. We even have a suture kit, should anyone need a few stitches (I cant wait to try this out) - no morphine, so we have a block of wood to bite on.
Preparing inventory lists to find all the food that is stored in each and every little corner that we could find.
Installation of our Sailserver – another GPS tracker and online log book - still need to work this out but you can also find us on Sail Server - Ocean Deva, for details of what our boat is actually doing while sailing.
Whilst in the UK recently, I bought a sextant to assist with astral navigation that any and every ocean-going sailor needs to be comfortable with. The sextant is about 2 kg, but the books of tables for the position of the sun, moon and stars for every second of the day for the year ahead make up many additional kilos.
Though my time is short for a crash course in celestial navigation (The you Tube tutorial is 10 hours), I am sure I will find time to get the sextant out of the box it came in before we depart.
Overall, it all seems quite manic here and difficult to imagine how we will fit all of our final jobs into the available time frame. Though you can be sure that somehow we will !
Christmas has come and gone very quickly this year, all the days seem to merge into a buying, cooking and organisational frenzy. We wish you all a fantastic year ahead in 2023 and we hope to continue to entertain you with our stories and adventures (May they not be too adventurous) .