Crossing to the Canaries!
Our 622 miles sail to the Canaries was also a qualifying passage for one of our crew to achieve their RYA Ocean Yachtmaster! Out came the sextants for sun sights, known colloquially as “shooting the sun” and astro-navigation was used to get us from Portimao, Portugal to Morro Jable, Fuerteventura!
The wind blew a steady Force 5 to 6 from the NE which made for classic trade wind (down-wind ) sailing. Although the wind dropped a couple of times and we flew the spinnaker we mainly had enough wind to put one white sail out on either side of the boat which we call goose winged! Until in the final 24 hours the wind dropped altogether and we had to use the engine.
This was a good practice run for our Atlantic crossing which starts in just less than 5 weeks on 24 th November!
We had five crew onboard to help out, so it was a great opportunity to trial 3 hours on watch with 6 hours off, as well as the galley rota! Everyone seemed happy and worked well together and hopefully this system will work for the 3 week passage from Gran Canaria to St Lucia!
Starry nights, sunny days, flying fish and luminous dolphins ( caused by phosphorescence) made for glorious sailing and a stunning dawn landfall off Fuerteventura put everyone in high spirits at the end of this 4 day passage.
On arrival we enjoyed a few glasses of beer and wine and dinner out with the crew.
Once back on dry land Richard and I couldn’t wait to go to sea again and we took our maiden voyage in our new inflatable canoe! Great fun and handy for exploring nearby beaches, caves and rocky lagoons! We eventually got the hang of it but not before I had been hit on the head by a paddle several times! Richard said it was accidental, but I think I will be the back seat driver next time!
In order to explore the barren, blasted volcanic landscape of Fuerteventura we joined a guided walk. The guide led us into a dry rocky ravine on walk up to a tiny chapel situated in an improbable location miles from anywhere!
But not quite! Coincidentally, a film crew were busy constructing a set and growing plants for the scenery for a film nearby! We might even have used Ms A Jolie‘s portaloo!
Only I expect hers will be a lot posher!
The second walk traversed along shoreside cliffs on the wild west coast of Fuerteventura. Here the big Atlantic swell breaks into a white foaming frenzy on the rocky shore. We had contemplated sailing up the west side but it looked very inhospitable for a yacht!
The north island is black and red volcanic basalt and lava formed over 20 million years ago! Desert vegetation dominates with goats being the main life stock that we saw. The South peninsular of Jandia is newer, geologically, and has huge white sand dunes that once formed the sea bed and now make lovely long pale beaches that are a popular tourist resort.
Moonrise at Jandia!
After 5 days berthed in the little fishing harbour of Morro Jable we set off northwards back towards Lanzarote. A two day upwind slog took us to the delightful harbour of Correlajo at the very top of Fuerteventura.
Here we had a few maintenance jobs to do on Celtic Star, including mending a sail, this is when sewing requires a pair of pliers and a palm to be able to push the needle through the heavy sailcloth.
On Saturday we found that our berth had a grandstand view of the finishing line of a swimming race from Lanzarote 7 miles away!
Strong swimmers braved it across the Estrecho de Bocayana between the islands.
Not to be out done, we also donned wet suits and had an excellent refresher lesson at the local dive centre, before they took us across the somewhat bumpy straights to dive at Isla de Lobos. We saw a turtle and a ray and lots of different coloured fish!
Sunday saw us sailing north again across to Lanzarote to a fabulous anchorage at Punta Papagayo where the swimmers had started from! It rained quite hard on the way over and I had to put a coat on! The first time since Brest!! This photo is looking south to Fuerteventura but we could have been sailing in Wales!
Though the temperature was in the low 20’s, it seems very cool and grey to us and therefore suitable weather for a Sunday roast! For the first since leaving Home in July we enjoyed Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes and onion gravy and then managed to stream the Rugby World Cup and watched Wales win against France! It’s a good job we knew the score because I can’t take that sort of stress anymore!
We also celebrated reaching 3000 miles on our trip! Funny to think that the next 3000 miles will only take about 3 weeks not 3 months!
Flaming fish in Fuerteventura! Ha ha!
This week we will explore Lanzarote and on Sunday 27 th we have 5 guests arriving to entertain and take sailing!
After that the countdown begins to the Atlantic- crossing! No stopping us now!
We are having such a good time!