Monday, 31 December 2012

Gran Canaria December 2012

Gran Canaria December 2012

Chris and Lyn arrive with a box of spares and goodies! - Thanks guys!

We have been here for nearly a month and it has been quite eventful . Las Palmas is a big town with  everything you could want so reprovisioning is easy. The marina is huge with lots of live aboards and many boats here for refits etc. We have met lots of interesting people and found others we have met before so it has been rather nice.

Along the quay there are several bars and restaurants, several chandlers so almost anything is available as well as a dive shop and a laundry. There is a small general store with all the essentials and lovely bread baked on the premises, so hot bread is often on the menu for breakfast.

As soon as we arrived we explored all the shops to find the best places to buy all our provisions.On my birthday we had a day off and went to yet another Columbus house museum. A beautiful building with very interseting displays and artefacts and two live parrots wandering around at will! Afterwards we had an excellent lunch at a pavement cafe and on the way back walked through downtown to see where the Marks and Spencer was! Being Sunday it was closed!

Another Columbus house

On the 10th I flew to Swizerland for the birth of my little granddaughter, Elise Isabella and had a lovely few days. The cold was a bit of a shock, but I enjoyed it, knowing it was the last cold I will see for some time!


Richard, meanwhile, was working hard on Galene, lots of maintainance and checking that she is ready for her big adventure. She is really ship shape now and looking good. A new addition were the Christmas lights which made her look really festive. We have taken them down today in preparation for our departure tomorrow!

Christmas day was great. There were eight of us on Galene with everyone bringing parts of the meal so we has a feast with not much effort, sitting in the cockpit in T shirts, just like Chritmas should be!

Our Xmas tree

The Xmas day crowd!

Boxing day we were off to the market to order fresh fruit and veg, and vacuum packed frozen meat which should keep for a few weeks in the fridge. These were all to be delivered on Saturday. Then it was off to Hipodino for the dry goods. They deliver free to the marina which is great. Then, of course, we had the problem of stowing everything!

The Veg arrives

Don't sit there - eat something!


Cliff arrived on 28th which really brought it home that THIS IS IT! We are really going.

 Anyway, now the provisions are all away, the boat is back in sailing mode, tonight an excursion ashore to the Sailors Bar to see in the New Year, then to bed not too late and tomorrow - the Cape Verdes!  The forecast looks good North Easterlies F4 - 5 so with the wind behind us it should be a good run down - 870 miles.

New Year's Eve

Pictures to follow, soon we hope!

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Off to the Cape Verdes

We are off to the Cape Verdes on Tuesday 1st Jan and will be updating occasionally via our Satphone. The trip should take 6 to 7 days.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Merry Christmas

Santa Canary Islands style!
As we are not sending Xmas cards this year we would like to wish all family, friends and readers of our blog a very Happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.
Thanks for all your comments and encouragement it really means a lot to us, it is great to get the snippets of news from home.
Fair winds to you all. 
Richard & Rowena

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Gran Canaria - At last

We finally left Marina Rubicon on Lanzarote on the Tuesday lunchtime (4th December). It is about 100 miles so should be an easy overnight sail, we plan to arrive on the Wed morning.

Leaving Rubicon

The wind is from the NE F4 and the swell about 3m with a moderate sea. A bit more swell and sea than predicted. We could do with a little less action from the sea and a little more wind.

We hoist a reefed main and pole out the genoa. The reefed main gives us better stability than with the genoa alone and doesn't blank the genoa so we can show as much sail to the wind as possible.

We toddle off pretty much dead downwind, we are only making just over 4 kts but we have plenty of time.

Later in the evening the wind backs to the North. Running 'goosewinged' the telescopic pole telescopes! The buttons keeping it in it's correct position have sheered off in the process. The pole is now too short for the sail, so we gybe the main and the genoa and drop the pole. We are now sailing a course that is a bit too far west but at least we are now making over 5 kts. We can gybe later if the wind stays from this direction.

Strangely during Rowena's watch we started to sail south! Valiantly, she unlocked the wheel, steered us back on course only to discover a few minutes later the same thing was happening. Very strange. Looking at the hydrovane 'sail' it seemed to be leaning over doing the right thing, on closer investigation however it had become entangled with the mizzen sheet so the movement was severely restricted! Our night time rules forbid leaving the cockpit without the other one being up (elf n safety!),  so the skippers beauty sleep was curtailed. Problem easily sorted, why does it always happen at night?

At 0200 we can see the lights of Gran Canaria on the horizon and then the ferry from Gran Canaria to Lanzarote heading towards us at 19kts! Lit up like a xmas tree she passes us 0.7 mile to our Port side (red to red) shining their spotlight on us as she passed.

We saw a couple of yachts heading the same way, both were motoring, obviously in a  hurry. We are crossing the end of the traffic seperation scheme between the islands of Gran Canaria and Fuertaventura so are keeping a good lookout. Slowly turning towards us is what looks like a huge ship. Rowena is fast asleep and I can see both the red and green navigation lights plus a red light at the 'stern'. Where I would have expected to see 2 white steaming lights I can just make out what looks like white and red above the lights of the wheelhouse. OMG!!

Seen in the bay at Las Palmas!- Note the swell!
What is it? Go to the top of the class if you got it at once, it is a tug with a very long tow! As the clouds part I can see in the moonlight a large tug with what looks like part of an oil rig 0.5 mile astern. The AIS confirms the tug and the course, we hold our course (and our nerve) this will put the tug and tow 1.8miles away at the closest point of approach and will pass astern of us. (Phew!)

We let the tug pass and gybe towards our waypoint off the breakwater. As it starts to get light the wind dies to less than 8kts, with about 15miles to run it is time for the 'iron topsail'.

Las Palmas
Motoring towards the harbour the AIS alarms are constantly going off. There are ferries, and container ships going in with us, a naval vessel doing sea trials at the entrance, anchored freighters, high speed pilot launches and tugs shoving a bulk carrier around in the entrance, plus the local sailing school dinghies, not to mention the usual casual fishing going on!  Welcome to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria! Oh I forgot to mention the cruise liner but she was already tied up.

Old Town & Cathedral

Harbour entrance
Commercial Port

We call the marina and are met by the RIB at the entrance. We have to go to the reception pontoon to check in and be allocated a berth, why we cannot be allocated a berth then go to the office I don't know. Other places seem to work this way. We join the queue checking in, from the time we arrived (10.30) to the time we got on our berth was two and a half hours! Fortunately Rowena supplied me with coffee and biscuits while I waited in the queue. Had the office closed for lunch as advertised there may well have been a riot.

Waiting Pontoon
We are moored bows to with pickup (slime) lines to our stern (med style). Getting off the boat we have to climb over the pulpit not the easiest but with the hydrovane and the shape of the back of the boat this is probably the best way. We will be here until Cliff joins us after Xmas and just in time to meet Chris and Lyn who have arrived on holiday with a bag of goodies for us!