Our route, Lanzarote to Grenada

Stravaig'n the Blue
Wed 6 Jan 2021 21:52
Current position: 28:57.780 N 013:32.363 W  (Marina Lanzarote, Arrecife)

The shortest route from Lanzarote to Grenada is shown on the screenshot (white favourite symbols at days 1 to 10 and 15).

The problem with the shortest route is the band of light winds (in blue) just to the north of it. This is the boundary between the easterly trade winds that prevail south of 30N and the low pressure systems that prevail north of 30N and which bring the UK and Atlantic Europe wet and blustery weather from the west.

It wouldn’t take much for this band of light winds to push south and for us to end up becalmed. Worse still, another low pressure system like the one that is approaching us at the moment could work its way south to give us head winds.

In days gone by, sailing ships would avoid running into these problems by sailing south west from the Canaries towards the island of Santa Antão in the Cape Verde group until the butter melted at which point they’d turn west for the Caribbean. Unfortunately we keep our butter in the fridge but we can receive accurate weather forecasts as often as required.

So we will keep an eye on the weather and sail a track that will be a compromise between minimising the distance travelled while ensuring we stay in good winds. It is therefore likely to be south of the shortest route for much of the way.

With the wind from the north, we will also have some localised routing decisions to make on day one.  As we come round the south side of Fuerteventura, we will hit the high wind acceleration zone between Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria. And once we are through that we will run into the wind shadows cast by Gran Canaria and then Tenerife.

One option is to follow the route and just grin and bear it and the other, more likely, option is to head south west to give us a more sailable angle through the acceleration zone and the possibility of avoiding the wind shadows. The second option is also consistent with us needing to be south of the shortest route line for the reasons set out earlier.