Set Sail and Sailing. 26.26.8 N 19.36.7 W

David Batten
Tue 26 Nov 2013 12:56
Sunday.  The day has come and we put to sea at last.  Such a busy and full on day and with all crew members sending and receiving good bye and good luck emails, no time for blogs.  The atmosphere in the Marina was electric, with last minute jobs like filling up with water, getting fresh bread, ordered from the local baker and baked specially for us after explaining our requirements.  Having a crew member who speaks Spanish has been huge bonus, thank you Jane.  Transderm scope patches applied and lunch prepared so we could all concentrate on the start and goodbyes were said to friends aboard Aspen, Acarius of Plymouth and Thomas from Skara Brae and last but not least, our lovely young friend in the Marina office.  John and Vera came to say goodbye and wave us off as did Venetia's sister Sarah.  Photographs all round and then preparations such as mainsail cover off, hose pipe and electrics disconnected, stern locker closed tightly and all free fall items not yet stowed put away.  

We planned to leave our berth at 12. 00 but the atmosphere was building and our up wind neighbours had gone, so we departed with great skill using a stern warp and engine to get the bow into the wind.  Most exciting part was motoring out of the narrow entrance to the marina with half a dozen other yachts juggling for position.  It was a near perfect morning and we managed to cross the start line without running into or being run into.  The Garmin navigation map showed just a mass of red collision vessels, which fortunately did not make it blow a fuse!

So then it was a run down the coast to get free of Gran Canaria by dark and to try and choose the best course and get some manoeuvring space.   Some heavy squalls and different ideas of which course to take spread the fleet and we only had 6 boats showing on the AIS during the night.  Lovely star filled sky but not much wind, so we did do some motor sailing.

Monday.  Sailing parallel to Coast of Africa to start with, then taking a more westerly course with the genoa boomed out.  Two reefs put in the main before dark as the wind was gusting over 26 knots, no fun reefing at night in the pitch black with that much wind and even so, managed to gybe inadvertently and break the second from top batten.  No marks for Sally on that one!

Tuesday.  After a very difficult night sailing by the lee and with a surprising number of boats quite close to us, including Amokura, who was going much the same speed as us and on a collision course.   "If to starboard red appears, it is your duty to keep clear".  Does this override starboard has right of way over port tack?  After a radio conversation, we agreed that we would slow down and allow her to go ahead, which seemed to take rather a long time.  We would have done better to gybe and go onto the port tack, but there were several boats that we might have got rather close to, so we decided discretion was the better part of valour.  Our rather nice wind chose that moment to change direction which put us on a more westerly course.   Such is sailing!

Wednesday.  Dawn was singularly unspectacular, with lots of cloud.  We have lost all company except for SY Beetle, who is sailing incredibly well.  We allow her to pass to leeward and then gybe and, with all the crew to help, there is no drama.  Wind continues to veer and by lunchtime, the pole is put to bed.  Very pleasant conditions and we have our small part of the ocean to ourselves.


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