Day 394 – CANARY ISLANDS: Bobbing in the marina

“At least there’s less dog shit here. France is dog shit central.” – Skipper Steve Dewhurst lamenting about too many drunk British tourists in Las Americas, Tenerife.

We were hoping to head out today. However a quick check of the weather maps showed little improvement on the wind situation. Skipper Steve decided to wait it out another day.

Typical architecture in Tenerife, Canary Islands

I have been all but confined to the small area around San Miguel marina for the last few days, so I have had little chance to see the sights of this interesting island, Tenerife. Tenerife is part of the Canary Islands, belonging to Spain. hey are however, closer to the north west coast of Africa. The architecture is positively Spanish mind you.

The island is volcanic. The highest point is at the top of the volcano at 3,600m. Beaches are black volanic sand.

Vegetation on Tenerife, Canary Islands

The plan for tomorrow is to leave, regardless of the wind. Better to bob out in the ocean than in this marina, Steve says. So hopefully this will be my last update for a few weeks. The crossing is scheduled to take 21 days give or take. That means that I should be back in email contact by around the 15th of September. See you on the other side.

Or perhaps we should hijack the tourist submarine here in the marina. Perhaps then we could forget the wind…

Tourist attraction - a real yellow submarine - in San Miguel, Tenefire, Canary Islands

Day 393 – CANARY ISLANDS: Lazy Sunday

“Quick! Look rich!” – Skipper Steve Dewhurst upon seeing tourists looking at the yacht in the marina.

“I’ll be buggered if I’m going to go out there today!” said Steve when he climbed out of his berth this morning.

The wind was blowing from the south this morning. And less than a wind, a breeze. No use in going out from the marina to do 40 miles a day into the wind for four days, when we can wait four days for a good wind and do 200 miles on that first day.

Good logic. So depending on the wind, we may set off tomorrow.

Mast (San Miguel, Tenerife, Canary Islands)

We managed to pick up a wireless internet connection from somewhere today. That means that I have been able to update the website. Happy days.

Just a reminder that once we are under way, the yacht can be tracked via our GPS tracking system at a website called Yacht Control. Once at the front page of this website, login with the following details:

Username: u_CAT008
Password: WHALE

The capitals do matter.

Once logged in, you can see our position, indicated by a catamaran graphic. Cool, aye. You can zoom in and out using the panel at the left of the screen.

Day 392 – CANARY ISLANDS: Melted butter

“Go south till the butter melts, then turn right.” – Skipper Steve Dewhurst on how to get across the Atlantic.

So the plan was to set sail today. However the wind was not 100% great, and there were still a few things to organise before setting off. One of those things was to get the VHF radio aerial up the mast. The mast is 15 metres high.

The joys of being a crew member - hoisted up the mast to check rigging (San Miguel, Tenerife, Canary Islands)

Into a climbing harness I go, and I am winched up the thick aluminium mast. I push back the nerves, and try to enjoy the sights. After a few moments I am feeling comfortable and can pluck up the courage to take a few pictures.

The joys of being a crew member - hoisted up the mast to check rigging (San Miguel, Tenerife, Canary Islands) The joys of being a crew member - hoisted up the mast to check rigging (San Miguel, Tenerife, Canary Islands)

I tie the aerial up to the mast, and down I come again. The rest of the afternoon was spent…yes, cleaning the exterior of the boat with a toothbrush and Ajax powder.

In the evening we went to a local internet cafe to check the extended marine forecast for the Atlantic. Steve pointed out various weather patters, notably hurricane Dean, about to make landfall on Jamaca. I wondered out loud how we were to know whether we were going to be engulfed in one of the ‘H’ words, and Steve reassured me that he will be downloading weather forecasts daily via VHF radio during the trip. Via the radio, he can download full resolution weather maps onto his laptop.

Sipper Steve pointing out Hurricane Dean as he checks the marine forecast (San Miguel, Tenerife, Canary Islands)

Day 391 – CANARY ISLANDS: Sailing is 10% sailing and…

“Working on a sailboat is 10% sailing and 90% cleaning.” – Steve Dewhurst

The boat that we are delivering on this trip has been sitting in the marina in San Miguel in Tenerife for one month. The previous crew that got it from France down this far disintegrated due to some of the crew members running out of time, so the whole delivery had to be abandoned.

The crew seemed to have left in a hurry, because there are more than 70 or so bottles of mineral water and lots of food left on the boat. The time the boat has sat here however has meant that it is very dirty. Covered in fine dust, apparently blown from the African mainland. I spent the best part of a whole day washing the boat down, scubbing it with detergent, and then scrubbing it again where there were small spots that needed extra attention. I agree with Steve’s reasoning – do it now rather than the end of the trip when we are all tired.

Lagoon 420 sailing catamaran (San Miguel, Tenerife, Canary Islands)

Basically, the boat needs to be delivered in as good a condition as possible, as Steve and Ellie get rated on a scale of one to five, five being the best, on how the boat is delivered. Aparently, they mostly get fives with ‘a few fours every now and then’. The scrubbing is rewarding however – nothing quite like a nice white boat. Ellie is on stainless steel duty, polishing the metal parts.

Day 390 – FRANCE and CANARY ISLANDS: From La Rochelle to Tenerife

Did lots of flying and ‘normal’ traveling today. Flew from La Rochelle (France) to London (England), then from London to Tenerife (Canary Islands, off the coast of Morocco, North Africa). It was six hours of flying in total, but much more waiting.

It took one hour and a half to get through immigration at Gatwick Airport in London. The lines were rather rediculous. An elderly lady standing in front of me to whom I began chatting to mentioned that she kept losing her place in the line because she had to go and sit down often. I offered to keep her place, and she wandered to the front of the line and waited for me. Good Samaratin deed of the day.

In London I had four hours between flights, so I dashed into central London to the Decathalon store to buy a life jacket. Apparently the marina in San Miguel is in a small town where getting such things is a little difficult. It was only 8 GBP for a simple off-shore life jacket, so no worries.

I made it back to the airport with 20 minutes to spare before takeoff. I was ushered through the lines of people to the front and made it onto the plane just in time.

I arrived in Tenerife at 10:30pm, and met Steve, the Reliance Yacht Management skipper for the trip from Tenerife to Tortola, British Virgin Islands. He is a down to earth guy, extremely experienced in sailing, of course, with more than 25 trans-Atlantic trips. Most of these have been delivery trips, delivering French-made catamarans. He used to be an electrical engineer before switching to sailing more than 15 years ago. The frist thing I noticed about him was his weathered face, creased at the sides of his mouth due to an ever-present easy smile.

Frist-mate is Steve’s partner Ellie. She is a diminutive woman who enjoys laughing and makes effort to make you feel welcome and comfortable on the boat. Ellie has done 11 trans-Atlantic crossings with Steve, and together their total sailing miles top 250,000.

Steve and I chatted on the way back from the airport in the hire car, and he mentioned that he prefers inexperienced crew. That way, he can teach them without having to put up with ‘arrogant sailing school prats with all the training and no experience thinking they know it all’. In any case, the Steve and Ellie are a great duo, and I am sure that we will get on well.

The catamaran we are delivering on this trip is a Lagoon 420, a new ‘hybrid’ catamaran with electric motors. The batteries that run the motors and all electrics inside the catamaran are charged by propellers when the yacht is sailing at full speed. When the yacht is moving slower than full speed, a (very inefficient) diesel generator charges them.

The yacht is, needless to say, brand new and very spacious. I have my own double berth (sleeping quaters with a double bed) with ensuite with toilet and shower. The boat holds up to 300 litres of fresh water, so hot fresh water showers will only be a once a week affair, but I can hardly complain.

My berth on the Lagoon 420 sailing catamaran (San Miguel, Tenerife, Canary Islands)

More photos tomorrow when the sun is up…