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Date: 08 Nov 2009 13:00:02
Title: News and photos from Morocco to the Canary Islands

We left Rabat, Morocco, at midday on Monday 2nd November. For the first 2 days and nights it was gusting 15-28 knots, so for 36 hours, with both sails up, we reefed the Main, turned off the autopilot, and got the windvane (steering) up and running.  It was a wonderful sail in very confused seas.  The wind then dropped a little, and we had to run the engines, (alternating between the starboard and port side) and the swell increased to a more rhythmic 4-5 metres.  Most nights dolphins converged on the bows, and after clipping onto the jackstays, we lay upfront and watched as they danced and hurtled themselves around the bow, at incredible speed, intelligent eyes peering up as we peered down.

 

We did our usual 3 hour nightwatches.  These can be the longest, loneliest hours, or more often, the most thought-provoking and peaceful.  It is the only time on deck alone, to observe the ever-changing sequence of the large waves rolling, watch the stars, trim the sails and admire the phosphorescence leaving a bright path in Talulah’s wake.

 

Days on passage are spent, again, sail trimming, plotting courses on the chart, updating the log hourly, fishing, clearing logs below, sitting upfront talking (weather permitting!), SSB radio contact with other boats we know on passage, baking fresh bread, and I try to make it a rule that once a day we all sit down for a proper cooked meal (even if the swell has somewhat curbed our appetite!)  On day 3, still not a fish landed on any of the 3 trailing lines (I sometimes wonder if the weight of the lure is slowing us down), it was time to dig out the “jamon” (a 12 month cured leg of pork) from the bilges, and feast on this and fresh baked bread.  It was delicious.

 

On our 3rd night the black clouds formed menacing shapes against the greying sky and the wind picked up quickly.  Shane and Jon have done such an excellent job re-rigging the reefing lines, it is now so much easier to put in 3 reefs.  Not-so-distant squalls form large pink blotches on the radar.  On Thursday 5th, we reached the Canary Islands, and dropped anchor off Isla Graciosa, a remote and stunning (6x3km) island with five beautiful volcanic cones…. Worlds away from the tourist mainstream.  Shane and Jon quickly had their snorkels and flippers on, dived down to check the anchor, and then a swim through clear turquoise water to the island.

 

On Friday 6th we set off early to sail down the west coast of Lanzarote.  While flaking in the anchor chain, the gas strut blew on the windlass locker, and hit Ali hard on the back of the head.  So as the winds picked up, we set off south, cross-eyed and with a thumping headache (me, that is!)  We had our most exhilarating sail yet, as the winds gusted up to 33 knots, and the large frothing waves broke over Talulah’s coachroof.  It was a magical and awesome 6 hour sail, as we reached 11 knots, Talulah raced along as fast as her 41 foot of waterline and heavy load allowed, sails, keels, wind and waves balancing one another perfectly, all the way to Rubicon, South Lanzarote.   At one point we had a hammerhead shark surfing on the waves just metres behind Talulah!  A few well-deserved beers on arrival.  On Saturday we had to get up early (painful as still exhausted!), hire a car, and drive to Arrecife, to clear customs and get our passports stamped by the police as we had sailed in from Morocco (and Jon is flying home so it was close timing for him!)  It was a wonderful excuse to spend the day exploring Lanzarote and its volcanic landscape, which has an otherworldy and stark appearance, with the occasional palm filled valley visible through the endless crinkly black lava fields.

 

Jon sadly left us, and we waved him off on his ferry to Fuerteventura , to fly home.  He was brilliant company, and so good at joining in with all the boat jobs.

We are now surrounded by lots of other yachts, all different nationalities, and endless chatting about departure dates, landing spots, and the best route to take across the Atlantic ….

 

 

 

You can knot be serious! Jon “enjoys” a spot of fishing, after his lure got caught in his fishing line and caused an almighty tangle.  And guess what? He undid it!

 

 

Ali is justifiably proud of her baps.  Fresh made bread en route.  An impressive feat considering the rolly conditions.

 

 

Well hello there!… dolphins cavorting around the bows and distracting us from duties

 

 

Jamon (ham)… and lots of it … with no fish on the hook, it was time to fish this one out of the bilges

 

 

Is it a sign?  It’s a beautiful one if it is.

 

 

Land ahoy!  What a welcome sight.  Morocco 3 days behind us, the Canary Islands ahead

 

 

Volcanic formations approaching the anchorage in Isla Graciosa, Canary Islands

 

 

Jon about to test drive his new flippers, and a well deserved swim in the crystal clear water.

 

 

Force 7 (gusting 8) winds whipped the sea into a bit of a frenzy as we sailed down the coast of Lanzarote from Isla Graciosa.  But our brave little boat and crew were equal to the challenge.

 

 

Yep, it got a little lumpy.

 

 

At least the sun’s starting to shine. Even if the waves are still huge.

 

 

Lava field and volcanic hills of Lanzarote

 

 

Lava meadow, Lanzarote


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