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Date: 07 Oct 2014 14:06:00
Title: Rabat to the Canaries

The last couple of days in Bouregreg Marina were fairly busy. Kath was in her element, a veiled woman with attitude, in the souk buying supplies for our impending crossing, and I was having to deal with a leaking stern gland.

This is where the propshaft exits the hull of the boat. It is packed with a rope-like substance and grease. If it is properly adjusted no water enters when the motor isn’t in use and there is just a slow drip to provide lubrication and cooling when it is. Unfortunately it was coming in by the litre when the engine was running. We tried a local mechanic but it soon became obvious that he knew more about Mercedes taxis than I did and I knew more about marine engines than he did. John from Orca Joss (see previous diary entry), explained that it probably just needed adjusting and that it could be done without taking Caramor out of the water. Not an option here anyway. 

I phoned a friend. Stuart is the marine engineer in Holyhead and a bit of a mechanical genius. Probably because of his involvement with the lifeboat he has always encouraged my attempts to learn how to maintain Caramor’s engine myself. I squatted in the locker looking into the engine compartment with a torch in one hand and my phone in the other and described the set up to Stuart. He talked me through what was needed. Brilliant! The only downside was that I needed two huge spanners.

After trying the souk we took a taxi to an out of town shopping centre. They didn’t have anything big enough. The trip out was fine but the driver on the way back definitely subscribed to the ‘no prisoners Effendi’ school of driving. How we didn’t kill at least six people on the return journey is a mystery to me.

John came up trumps and lent me two pipe wrenches. It took me two attempts but the job was fairly straightforward. The next day I bought two pipe wrenches in the souk. 

The weather forecast was for light northerly winds that would increase in strength as the week wore on, so I gave the port authorities the 24 hours notice they required.

We went to the reception/leaving pontoon a little early the next day so as to fill up with diesel. This led to a lovely Moroccan touch. When I offered to pay by card the attendant explained that we could only pay at the office the other side of the harbour. However, although he didn’t have a card reader he did have a moped! I rode pillion and we tootled off to the office to pay.

We handed in the forms and our passports and half an hour later the customs sniffer dog turned up and gave us the paws up. We followed the escort launch to the river mouth and we were off. 

The rest of that afternoon was a lovely sail with the wind on the beam (at 90 degrees) giving Caramor the theoretically most efficient point of sail. In fact she prefers it very slightly forward of the beam. Unfortunately as soon as the sun went down the wind died completely, a trick it repeated the next night. This mean’t that our first two days were very slow and we averaged only 70 nautical miles a day. After that the wind picked up and we had a very pleasant sail averaging a more normal 110 NM a day for the next three days.

Passage making when there are only two of you is a strange business. It mainly consists of fighting the effects of sleep deprivation. Our routine consists of evening meal followed by 3 hours on and 3 hours off till breakfast. So I usually sleep 2000 to 2300 and 0200 to 0500 and am on watch from 2300 to 0200 and from 0500 to 0800. In the morning I will catch up on a little sleep and in the afternoon Kath does. As long as the wind blows, Aeries our wind vane does most of the work steering tirelessly and leaving us free to keep a good lookout for ships, fishing boats and nets.

One of the effects is that time flows completely differently than in everyday life. If the crossing goes on long enough it becomes a dreamlike experience. Once the wind settled in, the nights were much more enjoyable. The sensation of a sailing boat moving gracefully through the waves, getting ever closer to her destination moves you to unspeakable happiness. The stars are brighter than you ever see on land and now at 30 degrees of latitude they are so very different from at home. Polaris, the north star is far lower and closer to the horizon. Orion, the hunter, rises due east as always, but tracks a different course through the night skies.

At last on the morning of the 29 of September the log reads: “First light. Lanzarote ahead, Roca del Este to port and Punta Delgada light to starboard”. A perfect landfall.

29:13.1N 13:31.8W

Lanzarote landfall

At 0920 we dropped anchor off Playa Francesa, Isla Graciosa after a passage of 471 Nautical Miles in 4 days and 20 hours. (Five nights).

Franco


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