On Wednesday we finally extricated ourselves from Santa Cruz.
We have been there for a very expensive month and are ready to be sailing again.
We sailed down the coast of Tenerife, intending to anchor just before San Miguel marina, but it was dark when we got there and decided it was too dangerous to attempt an unknown anchorage, which is home to several unlit ship sized mooring buoys. The airport lights were also a hazard, as they totally ruin any night vision…….the runway runs parallel to the anchorage……..maybe not the quietest of spots either!!

Anchoring abandoned, we pushed on for San Miguel marina.
As we came in the entry, we spotted ‘Grayhound’, the 1870s replica pilot cutter with Marcus, Freya and their two year old son, Malachi onboard. We first met them in Plymouth and then again in the Scillies. After finding our berth, we made our way round to see them and returned the bottle opener that we purloined back in July!

We spent a couple of hours with them, helping to load all their provisions on board. They carry three crew and up to 8 paying guests, so victualling for 14 for a month or more is a mammoth undertaking, but our Marcus was in his element, hauling on the halyard to swing the supplies from shore to ship.

Seeing their stores laid out and covering every surface of their large saloon, I began to think that we may have to rethink our quantities, especially as there are few supermarkets in the Cape Verdes and things like milk, wine, flour, rice, jam and cereal will be hard to find. We should be fine with fresh fruit and veg and should be able to stock up again on those before heading for Brazil, but stocking up for a month now looks like the best plan.

We set off south on Thursday, after another ‘Full English’ breakfast to set us up for the day, up at the hotel complex. We had hoped to make it as far as Los Gigantos, but the wind dropped and we decided to anchor off the beach at Los Christianos. Having honed our rusty anchoring skills with three attempts at setting the anchor, we spent a quiet night aboard.

On Friday the wind had dropped completely and we were faced with an overnight motor to get to Las Palmas on Saturday, or to go back up to Santa Cruz for the night and then take a broad reach to Gran Canaria, across the acceleration zone at the top of the island early on Saturday morning.
We decided on the latter and had a great sail across, arriving in Las Palmas marina at 1700hrs. We anchored outside the marina, barbecued off the back of the boat and then lowered the dinghy for a quick snoop around the marina, looking at all the ARC boats, ‘dressed’ and nervously awaiting their departure on Sunday morning.

Today, being Sunday is our day off. We have decided that there should be no jobs on a Sunday……so we set off into the marina again to say Bon Voyage to ‘Hecuba’, with Lawrence from Sevenoaks on board, who we met in La Corunia and to ‘Low Profile’ a Moody 47 with Hamish and Deirdre aboard. We first met them at the RAF club in September 2012.
It is great to meet up with people we have met before. It gives us a sense of belonging to a big floating community. After visiting both ARC boats, we left them to their last minute preparations and went ashore to watch the fleet leaving to line up at the start line.

There was a real carnival atmosphere with bands playing and crowds of locals lining the breakwaters to wave the boats off. We gilled around in the dinghy for a while, catching a little more of the excitement of all the crews who have been building to this moment for so long………..that’ll be us soon!

At present, we are waiting on our anchorage in a queue to be called into the now empty marina, so that we can moor up securely, ready for loading children, gear and supplies aboard.
We will stay here for a couple of days and then we’ll do some day sails around the islands to make sure all our sea legs are screwed on and working well!
One more sleep and Dan and Jenni will be here!! …….VERY EXCITED!

Time flies!………
Another week has passed and we are still here in Santa Cruz.
The weather has not been conducive to sailing on down to La Gomera. We have had some strong winds and rain showers and the sea has been choppy, so we have used our time readying the boat.

The sewing machine has been put to good use and we now have a new dinghy engine lifting strap ……. replacing the climbing rope that I’d strung around after the previous strap degraded in the sunlight.

The new lifting strap.... colour coordinated with the logo!

The new lifting strap…. colour coordinated with the logo!

We also have a wind chute for the forward hatch, which I made out of the old mainsail from our first boat, St John II. We worked out that the material is over 50 years old!  After a lot of designing as I went along ……. I think it’s termed ‘an Organic Process’ …… I finally came up with the design in the photo and it seems to work!

The wind catcher in place and working. Not to be confused with the motor boat behind!!

The wind catcher in place and working. Not to be confused with the motor boat behind!!

I also managed to make three vegetable hammocks to string from the mast, across the lower dining area, so that we can keep fruit and veg, and anything else we want to keep safe, up and out of the way during the crossing.

3 hammocks waiting for their hooks.

3 hammocks waiting for their hooks.

First one hooked up!

First one hooked up!

All week, Marcus has been preoccupied with, and initiated into, the ‘dark art’ of electronics.

He started with trying to get the new Garmin GPS linked to the charts that we have on the lap top. By linking them up we can get a little boat shape overlayed onto the chart on the screen, showing our actual position.
Like all electronics, it’s never a simple job. Luckily Magnus was still around to help work out how to get the wiring configured. Once installed, the whole display went haywire……luckily Bobby, a Serbian on a Contessa 32, and especially Marcel, a French man, who we first met in Bayonne on ‘Blue Gin’, were sympathetic to our lack of computer literacy and both came aboard to get the lap top and the GPS to talk to each other sensibly! So many languages…Serbian, Swedish, English, French and Binary Code!!

The result is a totally independent set of back up charts for the whole world, linked to a self contained GPS that we can unplug and stash in the oven, along with the lap top, should we be caught in lightning…….the oven works as a Faraday Cage rather than producing an updated version of a TV dinner!!

The GPS mounted and attached to the laptop.

The GPS mounted and attached to the laptop.

Flushed with success and ready for another round in the ring with Electronics, Marcus bit the bullet and decided to take Kevin up on his offer to sell his Pactor Modem to us.

Kevin and Irene live on board their HR 42, here in the marina and are not going to be needing long distance weather again, so when they heard we were trying to decide whether to recommission the Sailor satellite internet, or buy a Pactor Modem, Kevin offered to sell us his…..By way of a simple explanation, this little box of tricks allows our long distance radio to receive weather forecasts when we are more than 200 miles from land, so it’s a very important bit of kit, but because the modem is a few years old, it took 3 days of  testing and wiring….rewiring and retesting before it was successfully installed.

The Pactor Modem resting before it was mounted in the cupboard.

The Pactor Modem resting before it was mounted in the cupboard.

Once again the help, advice, expertise and time were willingly supplied in the guise of Alan on ‘Ticketeeboo’ , a Discovery 55…….(Marcus’ dream boat).
Alan spent hours with Marcus on his boat and ours until he had updated the connections and got it all working. We had a ‘thank you’ dinner with Alan and Sue on Saturday night, sharing a bit of Marcus’ expertise with them. They are a lovely couple, down to earth, knowledgeable and good company.

Writing this, I realise what a very productive time we’ve had this week. Our ‘Jobs To Do’ list is finally showing signs of shrinkage. Usually we tick one job off the top and add three to the bottom! We still have things to do, but some of those are waiting until Dan and Jenni arrive on Monday…….we don’t want them thinking they’re on holiday!!

We are still in Santa Cruz!

The main reason for staying here was that we were waiting for our mainsail to be mended and returned as we noticed a series of small holes where the sail rolls into the mast. It would appear that the rivets that join the mast are standing proud, which means that when the sail is reefed, it catches on a starboard tack. We have tightened the furler while the sail’s been off and hope that remedies the problem.

The other reason for staying is that we were waiting for Maimai to arrive and to meet up with Magnus and Sara again! The sail is back and refitted and Magnus and Sara are here and about to leave. We are planning to move on to La Gomera, an 80 mile sail, once we have sorted out the GPS connection to the lap top….probably Tuesday.

It’s been difficult to get wifi connection, so I will fill in the exploits of the last 10 days.

We had a little problem when we inadvertently starting to put diesel in the water tanks! After taking the tops off the tanks under our bed to check the damage, we discovered the diesel was still in the filler pipe …..phew!  We dismantled the pipe and, after rigging up a series of extension hoses to reach the toilet, Marcus flushed the pipe through with washing up liquid and near boiling water, followed by several gallons of fresh water, while I furiously pumped the toilet…..Another lesson learned and no damage done.

Halloween saw Marcus frightening small children! We signed up to be a ‘trick or treat’ boat and Marcus dressed up in his pirate gear……any excuse to dress up.

Trick or Treat!

Trick or Treat!

The longer we stay here, the more people we meet! Whilst I was away, Marcus was befriended by Richard and Jo on Owaissa, a couple from Portslade and Benoit and Caroline aboard a catamaran, Vaga, from Belgium. Benoit was a bad influence on Marcus and they spent a day spending far too much time and money in the chandlery.

Benoit and Caroline sandwiched between their crew.

Benoit and Caroline sandwiched between their crew, Marie and Paul

We spent a couple of meals together and discovered that Benoit is a great cook…….marinaded tuna melted in the mouth. Now all we have to do is learn how to rig the line so we can catch some en route and stock up with lemons for the marinade.

We have at last found some netting to secure all the stuff on the shelves when we’re underway. I have also made a prototype vegetable hammock. I have two more to make and then we’ll string them across from the mast, above the lower table.          Handicrafts R Us!

The longer we stay here, the more ‘stuff’ we seem to accumulate, the ‘need’ being stimulated by the various tales and experiences we hear about. I now have fins,snorkel and diving goggles after hearing about wrapped lines and anchor problems. We have a new Garmin GPS to link to the laptop, so we have back up charts and positioning ……. of course it didn’t come with connections, so it’s taken a couple of trips to the electronics shop to try to get the right connections…..hard to explain in Spanglish! We have also shelled out for a repair to the main Nema computer, as a tiny chip had failed and we couldn’t get all the info up on the repeaters.

On Tuesday we went to the local Health Centre to try to get our Yellow Fever vaccination organised. The receptionists were far from helpful and once again we found extreme kindness from people who witnessed our dilemma. An Indian lady from London acted as interpreter and then a very well dressed lady offered to drive us to the International Vaccine centre in her 4 litre Jag! On the way she phoned her daughter to meet us, as she spoke very good english. The daughter then came in with us and stayed until the very helpful receptionist got a doctor with excellent English to speak with us……..the upshot was that we got an appointment on Thursday and are now both fully certificated!

We have received so much help and kindness from all the people we have met. Fellow sailors are always ready and willing to help with any problem and we have picked their brains on SSB, DSC, fishing techniques and computer connections. In our turn we have helped with mending a spreader, rigging spacers on an aerial and being a safety line handler for a diver.

With so much goodwill around, how could we resist a party! You can take the man out of the restaurant, but you can’t take the restaurant out of the man!

The Crowd in the cockpit

The Crowd in the cockpit

The other half of the cockpit

The other half of the cockpit

Standing room only!

Standing room only!

We had a great evening with 22 of us in the cockpit ……very cosy and cosmopolitan with Irish, English, Belgian, Swiss, Swedish, French and Polish all literally rubbing shoulders with each other!

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was sad to say goodbye to the family. we had a great week with them and enjoyed being grandparents.

Grandpa being beaten at Connect 4!

Grandpa being beaten at Connect 4!

A great week!

A great week!

Having waved them off we returned to a somewhat empty boat, only to be invited aboard Patrick and Patricia’s boat for drinks with friends of theirs from Wolverhampton……never a dull moment.

On Tuesday, after a ‘full english’ in the very ‘brits abroad’ village (we didn’t take up the offer of a pint of beer for E1!) we made our way back up to Santa Cruz as Marcus didn’t fancy staying in San Miguel for the week while I went back to England. We still have jobs to be done on the boat and there are more facilities in Santa Cruz.

On Wednesday I set off for the airport, which is back down in the south of the island, and headed for Gatwick. it is a strange feeling to fly for 4 hours and cover the same distance it has taken us 4 months to achieve by boat!! Having been picked up by 3 young men at the train terminal in Gatwick………they needed a 4th passenger to make up the numbers for a half price group ticket to Victoria…..I arrived at Victoria where Jenni met me with the car and drove me to her house for the night. It was lovely to see her so happy and confidently negotiating London.

The next day I drove to Dunmow to see Mummy and, being such a sunny day, we set off for lunch at Hatfield Forest ….. always a delight .Mummy’s energy and enthusiasm for life is inspirational. I only hope I have enough of her genes to be half as with it when I get to 94! On Friday we spent 6 hours around the shops in Chelmsford…….another feat of stamina! Saturday we took it easy, but with Liney and Libby arriving from Ireland, there was no bed until all her chicks were safely home!

It was wonderful to all be together on Sunday and share Sunday Lunch. We are so lucky to all get on so well and share in each others lives, albeit from a distance. It was sad to think that it may be the last time we are all together for some time, but the internet is a wonderful thing and as I left, we agreed to Skype on Tuesday when I got back to the boat, so that Mummy could see where we are. If she were 10 years younger, maybe the internet and computers would not have been so alien to her and she would have been able to cope with the technology herself……as it is she walks down to the library every week to get the blog printed out and then files the copies. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!!

Having left Dunmow with all the stuff we’d ordered on the internet packed in a case for the flight home, I set off for Southampton to visit John, Russell and Vicky. I arrived to a second Sunday lunch, which I managed with no problem! It was good to see them all and I was able to go with John to Moira’s grave and take a picture of the head stone for Marcus to see. She would have been so interested in our exploits and would have been Skyping us regularly I know!

On Sunday night, the big blow that had been forecast, blew through and just like 1987, I managed to sleep through it all!

I made my way back up to Jenni’s, ready for a 5 o’clock start on Tuesday. It was lovely to see everyone and top up the ‘family love’ banks, but coming back to the boat made me realise it really is home …….. the sunshine and temperatures in the high 70s does help!!

 

Friday we met up with Tash, Chris and the kids. Ice creams all round and the kids played in the massive lake/fountain in the main park, that is until a police car sounded its siren and they were told to get out of the water!! A bit of overkill for a 5 and 8 year old offenders? We took the crew aboard to check out their quarters and broke out the hammock for some swing time!

Maybe they'll adopt this ride in Thorpe Park?

Maybe they’ll adopt this ride in Thorpe Park?

Saturday morning the crew moved out of their hotel and onto the boat. Everyone was happy with their quarters and once stowed, we took Charlie and Freya off to find a swimming pool, while Tash and Chris got some time in the town. The pool we found was a bit of a trek. Unfortunately the whole complex of outdoor pools wasn’t open and at first we thought we’d walked all the way for nothing……luckily there was one pool open and the kids had a whale of a time, I got to swim with them and Grandpa read his book!
On Sunday, we decided to do the tourist bit and hired a car to go around the island whilst Tash and Chris took the kids on the tram up to La Laguna.
One of our aims was to go and check out the anchorages further down the coast …. just as well we did the rece, as all the anchorages mentioned in the cruising guide were either not deep enough or too rolly.

Not really a viable anchorage!

Not really a viable anchorage!

We left the coast and headed inland and upwards. El Teide is the highest mountain on the island and for that matter, Spain! It is classed as an active volcano, as it last erupted less than 100 years ago. The road wound its way up through terraced villages,

You'd have to be fit to live here......or die young!

You’d have to be fit to live here……or die young!

pine forests, tunnels and precipitous rock faces. Marcus refused to stop at one view point……it was just too close to the edge for comfort!
The landscape looked like something out of an old wild west movie or a deserted planet from a sci fi set. The power of the volcano is tangible with fields of lava that look look freshly tilled soil on a huge scale and the sides of El Teide soaring above the road as it cuts through old lava floes and strange stacks of eroded pumice.

Wild West backdrop

Wild West backdrop

Just to prove we were there!

Just to prove we were there!

Our return route took us down the through the tree line and out of the clear blue skies into the thick fog of the clouds that hang around the mountains. Relying on the sat nav, we took an exciting route down through the back streets and dirt tracks of Orotava. At one point I had to get out and walk ahead of the car, that was in danger of grounding on the centre of a well worn lava block cobbled track.

Lava block cobbles ..... this is the bottom of the track.

Lava block cobbles ….. this is the bottom of the track.

When we eventually got onto a recognisable road, it was so steep that we couldn’t see the road over the bonnet so Marcus was steering between the houses that were lining the street!

There goes the road!

There goes the road!

Lovely to get away for a day and forget the endless jobs.

At the north end of the island is an imported beach. The sand is shipped in from the Sahara and palm trees and ‘shady trees’ have been planted at the back of the beach to give loads of shade. An artificial reef has been formed, that allows some rollers into the lagoon at high water, otherwise it’s as calm and warmer than the pool we went to.

Our first taste of Beach Paradise!

Our first taste of Beach Paradise!

Sun, sea and sand........perfect

Sun, sea and sand……..perfect

All kids need is sun, sand and sea so a great day was had by all…….Marcus actually went swimming!!!

The following day we set off for San Miguel Marina, a 6 hour motor sail. Charlie and Freya both had a touch of sea sickness, but managed to shake it off and enjoyed the trip.

A bit queasy, but perking up.

A bit queasy, but perking up.

Ginger biscuits were the order of the day!

Happy crew

Happy crew

More happy crew

More happy crew

On Saturday our crew abandoned us to go and meet up with friends at Siam Park , a water leisure park nearby. We spent the day on the Internet catching up with paper work and trying to upload pictures……without success.
Sunday, we blew up the little dinghy and Charlie had his first go at rowing. With both engines mounted, we took both dinghies out of the marina and anchored them in the bay, whilst the kids jumped off into the water

Testing out the new buoyancy aids

Testing out the new buoyancy aids

……….living the dream!!
Monday was their last day, and Charlie spent most of the day perfecting his rowing technique.

First stokes

First stokes

Off the tether and getting the hang of it

Off the tether and getting the hang of it

He was off the tether by lunchtime and by the evening he was onto his fifth plaster for his ‘rower’s blister’ and dreaming of having his own dinghy in Granton harbour!

Trips around the marina

Trips around the marina

Monday.......he's now an expert!

Monday…….he’s now an expert!

Freya is a little too young to join in, but did act as passenger. It brought back memories of Dan and Jenni and their forays in the same dinghy nearly 20 years ago.