Passage to the Canary Islands

Mon 3 Oct 2005 14:02
We left Gibraltar on Friday, blazing through the Straits with our big spinnaker up, passing Tarifa in very quick time.  When the wind reached 35 knots we decided to take the spinnaker down and got it in a wrap around the forestay - really not the place to do it with a very busy shipping lane there as well as a terrific tidal race.  The situation brought back memories of Cowes Week 2001, where we did exactly the same thing, and where we discovered the solution.  We gybed onto port (ignoring the spinnaker pole) and it unwrapped itself.  We were then able to get the snuffer in place and get it under control. 
That was three days ago - we are now three quarters of the way to Lanzarote, the closest of the Canary Islands.  We have had some superb sailing in the Atlantic with huge rolling waves and constant winds.  After sailing in the Med, we enjoyed having 20 knots of wind all night last night, without it dying half way through.  There is currently about 200 meters between the crest of each wave and the view from the top is superb, although last night it was rather a case of waves coming from all directions and pitch darkness, making it uncomfortable and difficult to steer. 
So we have now covered over 2000 miles since the start of our journey.  Our trip to Lanzarote is 570 miles; around 4 days at sea.  We have seen more amazing wildlife:
Pilot Whales
Our previous sitings of whales were of sperm whales and these behaved very differently.  Note how they are swimming towards our boat!
Yes, more dolphins
We have also seen a turtle (we had the spinnaker up so went by too fast to get a photo) and Alice and Pip are sure they have seen a jellyfish with a sail(?)
Tarifa Lighthouse at Atlantic side of the Gibraltar Strait
Juliet at helm
The fishing has been more successful recently and they caught the fish below, which we think was a snapper.  It tasted really good!  Unlike the tuna which I think I need more practise at preparing. 
This morning at around 11am we saw a partial eclipse of the sun.  The picture is not too clear but shows how dark it became.
A big Atlantic roller wells up behind Keoma
The children have adjusted to life at sea well.  Alice has a daily throw up, but is very nonchalent about it and usually carries on the conversation throughout.  Pip's sea legs are amazing - she can sit down below in any sea state, doing schoolwork, reading, colouring etc.  As for us adults, we are suffering sleep deprivation from the night watches, but apart from that are fine. Eleven days ago we were in Palma. Of the last eleven days, eight have been sailing days. Tomorrow we shall arrive in Lanzarote.