Rum Sodomy and the Lash

sailing around the world on our yacht, Ruby Rose

Month: October 2015

Atlantic Rally. Las Palmas At Last.

Preparations for the Atlantic Rally

Just over a year ago we booked in our place in the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, and we’ve been anticipating participating in this event ever since. It seems crazy that we’ve finally arrived in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, which will be the jump point for the Atlantic crossing, and our final destination in Europe. We have just over three weeks until we depart, all of which will be spent preparing the boat and ourselves!

But first, let me bring you all up to speed. Last Saturday my friend Laura flew out from London to meet us in Fuerteventura, and the following day we sailed the 45 miles from Correlejo to Gran Tarajal. I’m afraid that Jimmy Cornell never did return to sign our book, which makes me very sad indeed! However, the beautiful weather we had for the sail kind of made up for it. There was, I admit, a few light showers, but otherwise the day was sunny and warm, and the sea was as still as a pond. Perfect conditions for Laura, who broke the news to me as soon as she arrived that she gets sea sick!

a rainbow appears at the stern of our yacht framing  the ensign beautifully

Perfect rainbow off the coast of Fuerteventura

Gran Tarajal is a small seaside town on Fuerteventura’s east coast. It’s quiet and, happily, has almost no tourists, which suited us well. However, Laura was keen to spend a day in Correlejo, since that’s really where the action is, and I wanted to go to the Correlejo dunes nearby, so we jumped on the bus and made the trek back up to the north of the island.

Beach at Correlejo

Two hours and two buses later, we found ourselves walking along a white, sandy beach with crystal blue water- gorgeous! Unfortunately, this was one of the most popular beaches on the island so we didn’t exactly have it to ourselves. It also became clear quite quickly that this was a nudist beach- and it was hard to ignore the simple fact that this is a past-time enjoyed mainly by, er, those of a certain age. One or two younger girls had their bikini tops off, but I’ve not seen so many bare, wrinkly bottoms- and more- since my days as a  paramedic.

Anyway, a swim and some sunbathing later, we continued our walk into town, which was the better part of an hour, and enjoyed a seafood lunch and then cocktails (then shopping at Zara- boozy shopping is never a good choice!), then finally headed home. We were looking at another long journey, but when we saw that we’d missed the connecting bus, and had to wait for an hour for the next one, I employed my sharp bartering skills with the taxi drivers and, to my surprise, secured a cab for just over half of the quoted price.

Ten minutes later and I was wishing I’d just waited for the bus. I’ve had my share of white-knuckle taxi rides, but this one was by far the worst. Half an hour of praying- yes, I found God at last- and we were deposited back in Gran Tarajal, scarred for life.

The day after Laura left, Nick and I spotted a boat that I swear has been stalking us all the way from Galicia- an Elan called AWOL. Lovely boat, that we first saw in Caramiñal being interrogated by customs, I believe. We’ve spotted them all the way down the Spanish and Portuguese coasts, but have never had the opportunity to introduce ourselves. Nick insisted we head over to say hello- social awkwardness obviously no hindrance to him- and so we did. Val and Cliff were very warm and welcoming, immediately giving us tea and biscuits, and we had a good old chat comparing our sailing experiences so far, and how excited we are to be finally closing in on the Caribbean leg of our respective trips. It turns out that they have actually read our blog, which took us aback somewhat! If you’re reading this now- hello!

as we sail along we watch the sun set over the ocean

Sun setting just off the Gran Canaria coast

So, the next day we dropped our lines at 6am and motored out of Gran Tarajal. The conditions were a little cooler than we’d had so far- the jumpers were on for most of the morning and then, later, in the evening. It was a 75 mile passage, and, as usual, we had to motor-sail the entire way. We also had some pretty impressive swell, which led to much speculation as to what kind of sea state we can expect crossing the Atlantic. As I pointed out to Nick- we’re already in the Atlantic! The depths between the different islands of the archipelago were in excess of 1000 metres; these volcanic islands literally plunge directly up from the sea floor. We also saw some minky whales (no autocorrect, not kinky whales!) on our approach to Las Palmas, but the light was fading and I didn’t get a good photo. Hopefully we’ll see them again when we leave!

Entering the marina here was a little confusing, since it was early evening and all we could see was a mass of lights. Dodging ferries and container ships was also necessary: this is a busy port! There was another yacht right in front of us, so we kind of just followed him in. We radioed up and were met at the entrance of the marina by a guy in a dinghy, who showed us to our berth. It’s all Mediterranean style berthing here, which we haven’t seen since Viana do Costelo in northern Portugal. We were a little nervous, but needn’t have worried- once we’d reversed into our berth, we were securely tucked between two other Atlantic rally yachts, and had plenty of time to sort out our lines. The fact that- for once- there was no wind helped!

as I lay on the pontoon working, Molly the cat joins me.

Nick hard at work. Our neighbour’s cat… not so much.

Yesterday and today have been mainly spent getting started on the long list of chores that need doing before the Atlantic rally- primarily, installing the hydrogenerator, which has involved a lot of swearing on Nick’s part, and many trips to the chandlery. I don’t know how it’s happened, but no matter how organised we try to be, there’s an ever-growing list of things being added to our to-do list. However, we have our priorities straight: after hearing about a Marks and Spencers in town, we went there as soon as the shops opened to stock up on percy pigs. Sadly, the food section was very small, but we still managed to find some mincemeat and pastry cases for Christmas, and we splurged on some fancy Christmas crackers as well.

Me: “Right, how many crackers do we need this year?”

Nick: “Um- two?”

Me: “Waaah!”

So, we have four spare crackers. Who wants a Caribbean Christmas?!

We’ve also done a recce to the supermarket of the El Corte Ingles, which is pretty much the Waitrose equivalent. We didn’t shop in Waitrose in London, but after months of shopping in Hiperdino’s, we got a little giddy at the prospect of something new. They even had Quality Street (€50 euros for a large tin?!). The canned goods isles were of particular interest to us, sadly enough. However, since Nick’s cleared out Gran Canaria’s entire supply of M&S Chicken in Creamy Sauce, I don’t think we’ll be needing much else!

we spent three weeks watching the sun rise over yacht masts

Sunrise in Las Palmas marina

 

Rainy Correlejo

After a few nights at Marina Rubicon, on the southern coast of Lanzarote, we made our way over the 6 mile channel to Correlejo, which is on the northern tip of Fuerteventura. We’d booked a berth, but weren’t entirely sure if our booking had gone through (it hadn’t, as it turned out). This marina- more of a harbour with pontoons, really- was notorious for having no space for visitors available, so we were hoping our luck would hold out and we’d find a space.

Beautiful day of sailing (NOT motoring!)

Beautiful day of sailing (NOT motoring!)

The sail over to Correlejo was beautiful. It was warm and sunny with 10 knots on the beam, so we put the sails up, turned the engine off and enjoyed an hour of blissful, calm sailing. As I said to Nick, if the Atlantic crossing is like this, we’re laughing (right, knock on wood for me please!).

As we approached the port of Correlejo, we started keeping very close tabs on sailing boats coming in and out, keeping our fingers crossed that there will be a space for us. There was no reception pontoon, and nobody answering on the VHF, so we just did what the pilot book said and circled around trying to find a space. A man on one of the tourists boats shouted to us which one the visitor’s pontoon was, and we saw a slightly smaller yacht making their way in to the second-to-last berth. Needless to say, we took the last.

Mooring up was straightforward, but when Nick went to the office to do the paperwork, they told us that they hadn’t received our booking (of course they hadn’t!) and we could stay for two nights. Nick asked for four. They settled on three. So, we’re being kicked out tomorrow.

We went for a walk around Correlejo and made a few inquiries into doing kite surfing lessons. Why, you ask? Well, because Nick’s bought himself a kite board! Whilst casually chatting to one of our neighbours in Marina Rubicon, Nick spotted a kite board on their deck.

“Hey! Is that a kite board? I used to kite board back in the day. You enjoy it?”

“I have no idea whether I enjoy it or not; I’ve never used it. I’m more a windsurfing guy, but my brother-in-law sold me his kite surfing kit before we left, and it’s pretty much just sat there ever since.”

“You have kites for it? A harness?”

“Sure, it’s in the locker.”

“Taking up space!” (This from his wife)

“How much did you pay for it?”

“£300″

(Apparently this is a bargain??)

“You, uh, looking to sell it by any chance?”

Husband and wife in unison: “YES!”

Me: “WHAT?”

Nick: “How much?”

Me: “Hang on, let’s talk-”

David: “£300. I just want my money back on it.”

Me: “Shall we just think about th-”

Nick: “Deal.”

So now we have a board, two kites and no harness because the bro-in-law kept that for some reason. Thus, kite surfing lessons.

Anyway, we decided that lessons were pretty damn expensive and time consuming, so we’re procrastinating on that one, knowing we’ll probably regret not just paying up and doing it when we have the chance. But hey, if YouTube can teach me how to do yoga, make swiss meringue buttercream and curl my hair, surely it can teach me how to kite surf? Right?

So, Correlejo. It’s quite different to the towns we went to in Lanzarote. There’s a chilled, surfy vibe here, which is quite cool. Lots of hole-in-the-wall type of bars, and plenty of surf shops. It’s a shame that we’re being kicked out of the marina.

A break in the rain in Correlejo

A break in the rain in Correlejo

Or is it? Actually, I think we’re ready to leave. This berth is just not treating us well. I blame the weather also. It’s been bloody awful. Apparently this time last year it was 35 degrees. Today it is 27 (okay, that part it good), but the rain has been absolutely torrential. It started Thursday night, the night we arrived. We were sitting inside watching Game of Thrones and the boat gradually started rocking around more and more with the swell and wind. Then it started raining, so we closed the hatches. Then, we could feel the boat bumping up against something off the stern- sure enough, our hydrovane rudder stock was banging up against the pontoon, as we were moored stern-to. Nick and I rushed out to try and move the boat, which is when the heavens opened and it absolutely bucketed down. Within seconds, we were both drenched. The sea was choppy, causing the boat to buck around like a skittish colt, and as soon as Nick loosened the lines to bring the boat forward, the wind pushed it off the pontoon. He couldn’t hold it alone, and I was the only thing keeping the hydrovane from being dashed up against the pontoon (thankfully we took the rudder off a week or so ago!), so the only option was to get help.

I knocked on the boat next door, and the lovely dutch woman who skippers it poked her head out. “Please, do you mind coming to help us? So sorry!” Without waiting for an answer, I ran back to the boat. Thankfully she followed, bless her heart, and she held the stern off while Nick and I tightened her lines. It only took a minute or so once we had that extra pair of hands, but she was completely soaked and didn’t hang around to chat.

We gladly jumped back on board and dried off, but the work had only just begun. All the little hatches we always keep open had let rain through, flooding random spaces on the boat which we had to clean up. Our bed had gotten wet also, so I got the hairdryer out and dried it off. Then, I got the bread maker out and put it on for our selfless neighbour, wanting to say thank you with a fresh loaf of bread in the morning (yeah, I was feeling pretty guilty!). But then, just as I turned it on, the power went off. Two days later, it’s still off, and won’t come back on til Monday.

The next day was a miserable one. It rained and rained and rained. We had no power, so couldn’t just bum around watching television. Generating power wasn’t proving very successful. As Nick eloquently put it, “This green energy shit is all very well and good, but if there’s no sun, no wind, and you’re not moving, it’s fucking useless.” Well said.

So, today dawned slightly less horrendous, and although it’s been raining on and off, there’s also been sunshine in between showers. And the reason why we’re being kicked out tomorrow has become clear: there’s a rally coming through. We helped a boat in to the berth next door and up walked none other than Jimmy Cornell! Okay, those who aren’t part of the sailing world will have no idea what I’m talking about, but basically anyone doing long-term cruising will have at least one of his books. His books are like our bibles. We have all of them, and they’re invaluable. So, Nick was standing topless in the rain, having just adjusted our lines to accommodate the boat next door, and I thought he was just allowing me the opportunity to admire his fine physique in the gentle rain, but no, he was simply star-struck. I would have played it cool, and been like, I’m sorry, Jimmy who? But Nick’s far more forward than me, and he jumped forward, and said, “Are you Jimmy Cornell? I’m Nick! Can you sign one of our books?” He said yes, but later because he was not only soaking wet, but in the middle of organising his rally, so we shall see!

Sunrise this morning. Why do you only get these stunning sunrises when the weather's rubbish?!

Sunrise this morning. Why do you only get these stunning sunrises when the weather’s rubbish?!

I do believe that brings you up to date. Laura’s arriving tonight, and we’ll be sending her to bed early so we can get up with the sun tomorrow and get the hell outta here. Correlejo is lovely. The marina- not so much. We’ll make our way down the coast to Gran Tarajal marina and hope it’s a little more protected from the swell.

Stormy Times

We’ve just completed our second week at Marina Lanzarote, and this morning we woke up and decided it was time to leave. Actually, what happened was that I was enjoying a morning sleep and Nick came in at 8am, woke me up, and announced, “I think we’re leaving today. Get up, have some coffee, let’s go!”

“Whaaa?”

“I’ll make you some coffee, then we can get moving.”

“Er… okay. What about that big black cloud above us?”

“Oh, it’s just a bit of rain. It will pass.”

“Well, if you’re sure!”

Arrecife harbour.

Arrecife fishing harbour.

I mean, obviously we shouldn’t have left, but to be honest, there’s been some pretty unpleasant weather almost every day for the past week, and it has tended to simply pass over within a matter of minutes. So we got going, and spent the next 4 hours dodging rainclouds- sometimes with success, sometimes without. We got our rain jackets out for the first time since we left the UK and enjoyed the ride. It was pretty windy- up to 27 knots- and mainly on the nose, but we just huddled under the sprayhood and let the autopilot do its thing. We’re used to that: it’s pretty much all we ever did while sailing along the east coast of the UK.

We're being rained on- but we're still smiling!

We’re being rained on- but we’re still smiling!

So now we’re safely tied up in Marina Rubicon, which is full of English tourists (we drove here the week before last, remember? €3 beers ring a bell?), but we can literally see Correlejo from here, which is our next stop, so as soon as we’ve got a weather window we’ll head on over.

Dodging rainclouds

Dodging rainclouds

Aaaanyway. So, I hear you ask, what on earth have you been doing for the past week in Arricife? The answer is quite simple. We’ve been madly preparing for our Atlantic crossing. Every day that we had the car we did a supermarket and/or IKEA run (yes, we found an IKEA. Very exciting. How is it you walk in not needing anything at all, and yet when you leave you find yourself unpacking a big yellow bag packed with random shit that you suddenly can’t live without?).

So in addition to chopping boards, a new duvet set, a miniature christmas tree, and some battery-operated fairy lights we bought from IKEA, we now have 20 8L bottles of water- actually, 19 now, because the tap water tasted funky, so we’ve been using our water stores- tucked into all sorts of random spaces, as well as two large lockers full of canned, tinned and dried food of all descriptions. We took the sensible precaution of writing down everything that we’ve stowed away in a little black book, otherwise we’d end up with 50 cans of baked beans but no milk, or whatever.

Stowing dried food away in the lockers

Pringles, cereal and biscuits. I think we’ve got all the basics covered.

We’ve also been working our way through a list of pre-crossing chores. Cleaning out all the cupboard space was an obvious one that, really, we should have done months ago. But we also put baggywrinkles on the spreaders (don’t understand that sentence? I promise you, it’s a thing), which we fashioned out of some cut-up pieces of pool noodle which Nick brought back all the way from Australia last year amidst much eye-rolling from me, covered with pieces of an old green towel. Our spreaders now look like they’re wearing tiny green mittens. How sweet.

Sewing his baggy wrinkles.

Sewing his baggy wrinkles.

Nick also cleaned the hull and the rudder from the hydrovane, which kept him out of my way for a few hours, and we finally got the storm jib out and rigged it up. I really hope we never actually need to use it, not least because even in a calm marina with no wind and the sun shining, Nick was climbing all over the forestay like a monkey trying to get the thing over the furled jib, so I don’t know how we’d manage that in a storm. I’m not sure it would be much better than a reefed jib anyway, but what do I know?

Speaking of sailing in dodgy conditions, Nick also moused the third reefing line so we no longer have to climb onto the coach roof to put the third reef in the main- it can all be done from the cockpit. Needless to say, this makes our lives not only easier, but a hell of a lot safer. Permanent preventers were also rigged, which will save time on passage.

Stormy sunset in Marina Lanzarote

Stormy sunset in Marina Lanzarote

 

Anyway, onto more exciting things- for me anyway. I have been baking bread in our new bread maker almost every day, and have so far made a white loaf, a french loaf (whatever that is), another white loaf which was more like a cross between normal bread and a brioche, sultana and cinnamon bread (Nick upon his first bite: “This isn’t cake!” Me: “No- it’s bread. Sultana bread.” Nick, chewing slowly, an expression of extreme disappointment on his face: “It’s like it’s meant to be cake… but it’s not. It’s bread.” Me: long-suffering sigh), and a banana bread (Nick: “This is more like it! Cake! Thanks babe!” Me: long-suffering sigh).

I think that pretty much brings you up to date! Tomorrow: banana bread, but with more sultanas this time thanks very much. And later in the week: my beloved friend Laura is coming out to stay! Laura, I hope we make it to Fuerteventura to meet you- because the long term forecast in one big fat low pressure system sitting over the Canaries for pretty much forever.

DSC_0066_edited-1

 

Bread-makers And Other Essentials

Well, the clue is in the title. This week’s big news: we bought a bread-maker! Totally unnecessary and indulgent waste of space on a 40ft boat? Or essential piece of kit that we couldn’t possibly live without as we plan for a life on the water? We shall see.

Our first loaf!

Our first loaf!

We are still in Arricife, in Lanzarote and we have now been here a week. Unbelievable- time is speeding past! Arricife is a small, quiet town, away from the riff-raff of the tourist resorts. It has a sweet fishing harbour, surrounded by a quayside of bars and restaurants, and a high street that doesn’t have much going for it, except a well stocked supermarket- but it holds a certain charm nonetheless. There’s a small swimming beach about a 10 minute walk away and a hypermarket a 5 minute drive away, as well as a series of chandleries on the other side of the marina. What else could we possibly need?

If the answer to that is a couple of friends to pass the time with, well, rest easy: John and Sandra made their way down from Gibraltar and arrived here a couple of days after we did. It’s been great catching up with them again, and we’ve been taking it in turns to cook for each other. It was at their urging that we bought the bread-maker, since they have nothing but praise for theirs. In fact, the suggestion that we buy a bread-maker was met with nothing but scorn from Nick (I was on board immediately, obviously!). However, the real deciding moment came when I had the oven on for, like, 15 minutes to cook some scones and Nick practically melted as he was putting the new lee cloth up in the saloon. He vehemently declared the galley a non-baking zone now we’re in a hot climate. I sweetly reminded him of his plan to bake bread as we cross the atlantic and, after a moment’s pause, he conceded that perhaps a bread-maker was the way to go after all.

Road trip!

Road trip!

The Marina Lanzarote is brand new and very modern in design. A row of square white buildings lines the promenade, holding host to a number of shops, bars and restaurants. It is, as we’ve discovered, the place to be on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and- for some reason- Wednesday night and, lucky us, we’re about 30 metres from the bar that is the hub of activity until the early hours of the morning. And I mean, early. I was up this morning at 5am and there was still music and the general sound of merrymaking. Happily, with our cabin fans and earplugs, the noise is effectively drowned out, so our sleep remained uninterrupted for the most part. Our neighbours weren’t so lucky, though, and left in a huff the other day after demanding a refund from the marina office.

Speaking of neighbours, this marina has a fantastic atmosphere, quite different to anywhere we’ve been so far. Almost everyone we’ve spoken to is in the Canaries with the intention of crossing the Atlantic, either with one of the various rallies on offer, or independently. So there’s a bit of a ‘we’re all in this together’ attitude, which is very pleasant. There’s a lot of conversation between yachts, calling out to friends, waving and nodding at others as they walk past. It’s lovely.

We also bumped into Mick and Fiona, which some of you may remember from Falmouth and, later, Galicia. They have the same boat as ours, and so a huge amount of conversation is dedicated to comparing notes. They were here for our first couple of days before they headed back to the UK.

Lanzarote lanscape

Lanzarote lanscape

However, it hasn’t all been socialising. Oh no, we’ve hired a car also, and spent a day exploring the island. The landscape is volcanic and quite stunning in a bleak and stark way. We drove past the national park and, on a whim, decided to enter it, assuming that we’d drive up to a lookout, park, take some snaps, and drive out again. After balking at the €9 euro per person entry fee, we were bemused to find ourselves ushered onto a coach with a bunch of other tourists and driven around the park for an hour, complete with a commentary on the history of the landscape- which, unsurprisingly, consisted of a number of fiery eruptions over the centuries.

Volcano-y!

Volcano-y!

We also drove to the other two marinas on the island to check out whether we could be bothered moving the boat. After paying €6 for two small shandies, we’ve decided that no, we’ll stay right where we are, thanks very much.

We’ve also decided to take advantage of the fact that we’ve got a car at the moment and start stocking up on provisions for our atlantic crossing from a nearby supermarket. Sandra’s made me nervous with her talk of preparing meals in advance and calculating exact quantities of rice, pasta, whatever for everyone. She’s already bought all her meat in Gibraltar- it’s currently residing in her freezer. So Nick and I have jumped on the organisation bandwagon and have started buying up tins of peaches, bags of pasta and packets of instant mashed potatoes. Not to mention 100 litres of bottled water which some nice young man helped me carry from the car to the boat! Oh yeah. I’ve still got it.

 

 

The Other Side of Sailing

Lest you all think that our lives are a little too easy these days, allow me to provide some perspective.

We spent a few days in Agadir, and a quick walk around this recently-built town revealed that the marina- which was quite lovely- was by far the most attractive part. As a result, we didn’t spent too much time exploring, and instead Nick went surfing at nearby Anza beach.

We had planned to spend perhaps a week in Agadir, but to be honest, the town itself has little to offer apart from a long, wide beach and a promenade of ever so slightly tacky bars and restaurants- and if we’re after beach-front dining, we might as well be in the Canaries!

So we checked the weather on Saturday, and found that if we left the following day we would avoid some heavy swell setting in Tuesday night. The wind was forecast to be 15 knots from behind, so we decided to take advantage of the weather window. That didn’t give us much time to get supplies (the nearest supermarket was a taxi drive away) but we figured we had enough on board to deal with a 220 mile passage.

The usual beaurocratic run-around ensued, as the police were unable to surrender our passports to us without customs giving them a thumbs up. Nick was told to go to the customs office the night before departure, which he duly did, but there was some issue with our boat apparently (an issue that was never explained to us and I’m fairly sure was fabricated) and a full-blown argument between the police officer and the customs official ensued, leaving Nick standing around feeling exceedingly awkward. Eventually customs agreed to hand over the relevant documentation the following morning, which- to our surprise- they did. Passports stamped, we then fuelled up and by 9am, were motoring out of Agadir marina.

Leaving Morocco behind was an odd feeling. Nick always says that you can never be sure of how you feel about a place until you’ve left it, and the experience has become a memory. We loved sailing down the Moroccan coast, and there were aspects of this country we found absolutely amazing. But it was also a little tiring having to go through a song and dance with the police and customs every time we not only arrived at a new port, but wanted to leave it, and I personally was sick of walking around in 30 degree heat in long pants and t-shirts! Plus, the lack of booze was becoming a serious, serious problem.

So, off we went. The sun was out, it was hot and the sea was the most beautiful cobalt blue I’ve seen yet- is this the colour it’s going to be from now on?! It was so clear, the rays of sun penetrated the water creating a mesmerising matrix of golden lines floating through the still, deep sea. Just stunning.

A friendly- and probably very tired- little bird came to visit us about 40 miles out from the coast!

A friendly- and probably very tired- little bird came to visit us about 40 miles out from the coast!

However, it was going to be ‘one of those days’ that perhaps- correct me if I’m wrong- only sailors understand. First the wind was very light and coming from the south (i.e., from our port side since we were heading south-west). We duly launched the code zero, which served us well for some time, and then the wind shifted and were coming from about 150 degrees to port. Nick and I looked at each other and said, “Shall we give the Parasailor a go?” So, we dragged the Parasailor out of its locker in the fore cabin, furled and took down the code zero, then launched the Parasailor. Those of you who are sailors realise that this is far more complicated and involved that a brief sentence makes it sound. For those of you who keep their feet firmly on dry land at all possible times, suffice to say this was a process that took about 45 minutes, and was pretty physically demanding.

Of course, it was at this time that a pod of dolphins came to visit, coming alongside for a gentle swim as we bobbed around doing a whopping 3 knots. They looked stunning in the clear water, and their underwater antics were clearly visible from the deck. Unfortunately, Nick’s a tough skipper and doesn’t give his crew time to appreciate- let alone photograph- these things when there’s work to be done, so I wasn’t able to give them the full attention they deserved. Needless to say, as soon as we were done and free to admire them, they buggered off.

Anyway, the Parasailor was up for a full 10 minutes before the wind shifted again to about 90 degrees, so, with a long suffering sigh, we took it back down and just put the jib out for a bit.

The wind then came around so it was on our nose, then shifted north so we were now on a port tack. Fine, whatever. Then, as I was casually sunning myself on the coachroof, minding my own business, the wind picked up from practically nothing to 17 knots! We went from a gentle motor sail to batting along nicely.

That didn’t last, and after a while the wind shifted around to about 100 degrees off starboard and died off to around 7 knots, so, with another sigh, we got the code zero out and put it up.

I only have pictures of this lovely tiny bird this week- sorry!

I only have pictures of this lovely tiny bird this week- sorry!

Dinnertime came and went, and I went for a lay down before my watch at 8pm. This is where the fun began. The wind built and built until Nick was forced to put two reefs in the main, and reef the jib as well, and when I came up at 8pm, we were absolutely racing along, which was a good thing. The bad thing was, of course (and you sailors already know what I’m about to say), it was bloody, bloody uncomfortable. We had a steady 20 knots, gusting up to 27 knots. The swell also built to what was probably around 3 metres, with a short wave period, making things pretty bloody uncomfortable if not downright hairy.

What would have been an exhilarating day sail, was an exhausting night sail. Neither of us got a wink of sleep. It’s not just the rocking and rolling of the boat, it’s also the fact that a boat under sail in those conditions is very, very noisy. Everything creaks and moans, and there’s always something- actually, many somethings- that bang up against something else with every roll. The bottles in the booze cabinet (Nick stuffed a pillow in there, which he forgot about until today), the chopping board against the cupboard, the tins of beans in the locker next to my head, the glasses and mugs, everything practically. That’s not counting the various items that go flying across the floor every time we hit- or, more accurately, are hit by- a particularly big wave. The herbs, which we put down below to keep them from becoming missiles down the companionway like last time, ended up on the floor. We just looked at the mess of soil, water and herbs and ignored it. The forecabin, when I eventually went in there, looked like a bomb had hit it. In short, it was mayhem.

The winds finally died down around 6am, although the swell continued to make our lives uncomfortable, but at least we both managed to snatch an hour’s sleep or so.

That day passed in an exhausted haze. Dinner time came, and we were both so tired that cooking something was almost beyond our capabilities- but Nick rallied, as he so often does when I give him that look (you know, That Look- the one that says, “Feed me, or you’ll be sorry”) and made a shepherd’s pie entirely out of tinned and packaged food. And, it could have been the sleep deprivation talking, but I swear it was bloody delicious.

We approached Lanzarote in high winds again- but at the very least our arrival time was 10:30pm, rather than the 3am time we’d anticipated upon departure from Agadir- so we headed for the marina and, after a slightly confusing and winding entry channel, tied up to the reception pontoon and went to bed. The wind was throwing water up against our hull, creating a rather irritating slapping sound (again, those who sail know what I’m talking about here), and I lay there with earplugs doing little to muffle the noise, thinking, “How am I ever going to be able to sleep with this noise?” The next thing I knew, it was morning.

I shall leave my musings of Arricife until my next blog, partly because we’ve only had a quick walk around town, and partly because I’ve already reached over 1300 words and you’re all probably like, “Is she DONE?” But we’re very glad to be back in Spain and we can’t wait to explore another part of the world.

Until next time! Sorry about the lack of photos by the way!

Two sides of Morocco

When we first arrived in the fishing port of Essaouira, we fell in love. It was mad, vibrant, full of life and colour.

However, after 5 days of constantly battling against the army of tiny flies that were invading the boat, we were ready to leave. Furthermore, after a long weekend of painting and repairing their boats and nets, the fishermen returned to the water on Monday, and by Tuesday the port was a little TOO full of life. Seagulls, cats, not to mention all the fish. It also got to the point where our Moroccan neighbour was constantly asking for beer, money, cigarettes, and, although he had been hugely helpful and we were thankful, our patience was wearing thin. No. It was time to leave.

Essaouira port.

Essaouira port.

However, we made the most of our time there. On Monday, I went for a 3 hour horse ride (while Nick got a cab to the Carrefour and stocked up- bless), which took me down a deserted beach on horseback. It was beautiful and very serene. Of course, I couldn’t walk properly for the rest of the day, but hey. It was worth it.

We also ate out for almost every meal- ostensibly because we were trying to conserve water (there was water available at the port, but only the hardiest of digestive systems could have swallowed it and escaped unharmed), but mainly because there were so many awesome restaurants in Essaouira, and I was keen to find a truly delicious tagine. Happily, I did succeed, but I think we’re both a bit tagined-out now.

So, 5am Tuesday morning found us emerging into our cockpit, coffee in hand, bleary-eyed, ready to leave. The fog was thick, and the lights from the port and breakwater barely penetrated it. We dropped our lines, along with a Maltese boat we were rafted up against, and followed him out of the harbour and into the blackness of the open sea. We followed his light, a small white orb bobbing around an indeterminable distance from us, and hoped that any small fishing boat (there were quite a few leaving the harbour) would be able to avoid us- because there was no way we could see them, since many of them carry no lights and the fog had reduced visibility to about 10 metres.

The moon was just visible, but blurry and indistinct through the fog. The water gleamed faintly, but above it was nothing but dull blackness. It was disconcerting to say the least, and we kept our speed down and studied the radar obsessively.

It was fairly miserable for the first 4 hours. The entire cockpit and deck were soon dripping with water. We had a fine layer of tiny water droplets on our jumpers and hair; it was damp, cold and miserable. However, finally the sun rose and burnt through the fog, revealing a warm, sunny day with not a cloud in the sky. Heartened, we put the fishing line out, and were rewarded some hours later by the biggest fish we’ve caught to date! We ate it that night, pan fried with a little lemon and butter, and boy, it was amazing. We gave quite a bit to our Maltese friend, Peter, and we still have about 3 kg left! Fish tagine tonight, then.

We're eating tonight!

We’re eating tonight!

Of course, when it rains it pours, and at the same instant we caught this amazing bonito, a large pod of dolphins chose to visit us. I spared a few moments to snap some pictures of Nick with his catch, then I raced up to the foredeck to watch the dolphins, leaving Nick to deal with killing and gutting the fish on his own (not that I’m usually an active participant in this activity… my role is more a supervisory one). That done, Nick grabbed the GoPro and joined me on the foredeck. We got some pretty nice underwater footage of some of the dolphins playing under our bow, and I promise to put it up on the website as soon as I can. Last time I tried to embed a video into a blog, it crashed the website for some reason. I’ll need to find another way. In the meantime, it’s up on Facebook. If you’re not my mother, or a friend, and you’re just a random reading this, first of all- hi!! Second, there’s a link to our Facebook and Instagram profiles on the sidebar, if you want to check it out. Like our page, follow us, etc. You know the drill.

Dolphin playtime

Dolphin playtime

Anyway, these dolphins. Wow. We’ve had dolphins many times, but these dolphins must have been in a particularly good mood because the show they put on for us was awesome. They were leaping completely out of the water, as if to say, “Look at me! Look what I can do!” Or, perhaps, “I’m SOOOOO happy!” It was absolutely beautiful. Unfortunately, our GoPro stick broke after we put it under water- it’s obviously not strong enough to deal with 6 knots of resistance! Luckily we didn’t lose the camera- the two pieces remained connected by a flimsy piece of the plastic film covering the pole. Phew.

So, after the dolphins came another type of drama, of the less enjoyable type. Our watermaker has been turning itself off, which is highly, highly inconvenient considering we’re planning to cross the Atlantic next month, and I’ve heard that water’s kind of important to one’s, you know, survival. We’re going to carry as much fresh water as we can, but we’re a 40 foot boat with 4 people on board, so there’s only so much we can take. I’m certainly not about to sacrifice my chocolate supply to find room for more water, and Nick would rather die of thirst than give up his peanut crisps. So, in short, we need that watermaker.

Nick called the manufacturer who wasn’t sure what the problem was- apparently in 8 years, he’s only had 2 faulty watermakers, and there’s a 5 year warranty anyway; ours is 2 years old- but he’s coming out to Gran Canaria for the ARC, and will give us a new unit, free of charge. We were pretty pleased with that, but of course, it doesn’t give us much time to test out the new unit once it’s fitted. There might be an element of crossing our fingers and hoping for the best. Isn’t there always?!

Agadir marina- a world away from Essaouira!

Agadir marina- a world away from Essaouira!

After a long, varied day, we arrived into Agadir literally as the sun was setting. After the smelly, fish-strewn, cat-filled port of Essaouira, Agadir was almost like arriving in a totally different country. In fact, the marina wouldn’t be out of place in southern Spain. It’s new, clean, upmarket, quiet, and attractive. As a final bonus, it’s the cheapest marina we’ve stayed at in all of Morocco. Sadly, the wifi connection is poor to non-existent and the water is still undrinkable. Our tanks are full though, so we’re cool.

We plan to stay here for a few days- or more, if there’s surf, but it looks pretty flat to me at the moment!- and then back to Spain. How quickly the last few week’s have gone!