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!

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