Friday 21 August 2015

Passage Log, Horta to Santa Cruz, Tenerife - Stars in the Ocean, Birds in the sky (with photos, corrections etc)

The cruise so far

Day 1 Wednesday 12/8/18

At 1230 I went to the office to check out and then helped Bill and Adnam moor up for fuel before their departure. I said my good byes to them and then headed back to the boat. Bill is heading for the Canaries too but probably via Madeira and so hopefully will meet up with him again. Back at the boat we said our good byes or rather bon voyages to Jean Baptiste, Susanne and Essen and via him to Mahammad and cast off moorings at 1330 and headed for fuel dock and immigration clearance.

Fair winds and good sailing to all the great seafarers I met in Horta, for their onward passages.

After fuelling up we headed into the main harbour where we stowed our lines  and fenders, rigged Angus for sea and given the fresh north easterly breeze, put in a reef.

We then had a glorious sail down the west coast of Pico accompanied by pods of playful dolphins. One individual seemed to take a like or dislike to Angus because "he" repeatedly swam up to the stern of the boat and poked Angus with his nose.

After a couple of hours we were becalmed in the Lee of Pico and had to motor for an hour or so. Bernie volunteered to cook whereupon the wind returned and we were close hauled in order to lay our course and in the freshening wind had to put in a second reef. Poor Bernie bravely carried on in the galley and produced a hearty supper. Unfortunately we didn't all manage to keep it down!

We were now taking water over the bow and side decks and soon had water dripping in the fore hatch and saloon windows! I will have to take them right out and re bed them in in the Canaries!

We adopted Bernie's watch system - from 1800 each of us was on for 2 hours then off for 4, then from 0600, on for 3 hours and off for 6. Every 3 days we each get a watch starting at 1800 and have the job of cook the dinner.

Day 2 Thursday 13/8/15

I don't think any of us got a lot of sleep during our off watch periods. The focastle where I was sleeping was both damp and doing pretty good fair ground ride imitations! The saloon berths were probably less mobile but still pretty damp. The night though was pretty clear with wonderful views of the night sky and I saw another very impressive shooting star.

We all made a beeline for our bunks during the day as soon as our watches had finished and made do with only a bowl of muesli prior to dinner which I cooked. The weather was miserable despite the rapidly rising barometer.

A damp day at sea

The wind was still fresh from the East and we therefore remained close hauled under two reefs and the water continued to seep in the fore hatch and the Saloon windows. It was actually the greyest day at sea of the entire cruise, the first day during which the solar panels were unable to completely replenish the batteries. Daylight ended with the Amp hour count at minus 24. Another day of that would require running the engine for a few hours to replenish the batteries. Once again we all spent most of our off watch time in our bunks. The best part of the day for me though was seeing my first whale. I heard a gushing noise and saw the spray from a blow about 100 meters off to starboard and then saw the whale swimming on a parallel course. I could only see its top but it looked quite square in section so I think it was a young hump back of about 10 metres.

That night was more of the same close hauled sailing under two reefs with water dripping in! I was beginning to think that David and Bernie may be having second thoughts about signing up!

Day 3 Friday 14/8/15

A much more enjoyable day. I took an early watch The wind had moderated considerably in the early hours and so Bernie and I shook out the reefs before he went off watch. The sun was out too and stayed out the rest of the day enabling the solar panels to replace all but 3.5 Amp hours of the 40 consumed by the end of the second night.

Good sailing
We all spent a bit more time up and in the cockpit when off watch and socialised rather more. In addition to another late muesli breakfast, David and I even had lunch of a sandwich which I washed down with a small beer. Before lunch I took a much over due check around the deck and noticed the goose-neck pin had worked loose again. This time it took all three of us to get the boom positioned in order for me to knock it back in. Lesson learnt, this time I taped and lashed over it to prevent a repeat performance. Occasional checks during the rest of the passage revealed it shifted a little twice more but the tape prevented it from moving much and it was a simple job to knock it back in.

During my first watch of the night I watched a beautiful sunset develop which was followed by a sumptuous starry night sky with the arc of the milky way clearly visible. We made an average of about 3.5 k heading broadly SE for the Canaries during the night which remained clear and starry.

Day 4 Saturday 15/8/15

Another sunny morning with a light wind. I was on the best day of the watch system; I went off at 0400 having stood the 0200 watch, and was now off until 0900, with David standing the 0400-0600 watch and Bernie the 0600-0900 watch. I had another muesli breakfast with David when I got up and we chatted in the cockpit for an hour or so enjoying the sunny weather and gentle sailing with the boat making 3-4 knots. The wind died at about 1300 and so after a tuna sandwich lunch for all we put the engine and motored until 1800 when a light breeze from the NE returned. At local noon - 1330 Bernie gave me a Sextant lesson and with his help I took a noon sight and managed to get a longitude to within a few minutes of that displayed on the GPS. Encouraged, I got my books out to refresh my mind on the technique for the afternoon sight but succeeded only in falling asleep and so the afternoon sight went begging!

Later I noticed the foot of the Genoa was pulling out of the groove in the foil. On closer inspection it was clear that the luff edge that slides in the foil had frayed. With David's help I got the luff back in the foil and lashed the tack to the bottom of the foil to prevent it from pulling out again. I'll replace the sail with the newer one before setting off again.

Bernie was on galley duty again and knocked up a very tasty tuna and pasta dish followed by tinned mangoes for desert. We discussed progress and reckoned we should make half way by tomorrow night (a way point to the NE of Tenerife [check] was 870 from Horta). I headed for bed again after dinner. My next watch was at midnight. The night was quiet and the sky clear with a beautiful quilt of stars spread out for our pleasure. The wind remained light from the NE and we slid gently along at average of about 3 knots.

Day 5 Sunday 16/8/15

I was cook again today and so had the first 3 hour watch of the day starting at 0600. David dished up the muesli before he relieved me at 0900. I was then off watch until 1500.

We were visited by a large pod of spotted dolphins during the late morning many of whom leapt out of the sea as they headed for us from some way off. They stayed playing around the boat for about 20 minutes. This time Angus was left unmolested! Yet again I tried to take some video footage but with little success.

Lunch of cheese and tomato sandwiches reduced our stock of tomatoes to one half and our cheese to a quarter pound. Dinner would later consume quarter of an onion and quarter of a green pepper and reduce our stocks of those to three quarters and one quarter respectively. We had rather under provisioned our fresh food stocks!

More Sextant lessons followed lunch but produced a very poor result which remained unresolved. The wind gradually increased after lunch so that by mid afternoon we were bowling along at 5+ knots with the wind just aft of the beam. I took the 1500 to 1800 watch. I had David for company for most of the watch and he unveiled the secret world of the modern model railway enthusiast. A highly technical, technological, creative, logistical, international and social world it is too.

After my watch I cooked dinner - a corned beef and bean curry with basmati rice. It went down surprisingly well.

We had a minor scare during Bernie's 2000 to 2200 watch when the Genoa started flogging wildly but it turned out that the sheet had just worked lose from the winch.

By my watch at 2200 the wind had increased further and we were pretty close to needing a reef often making 6k. During the two hour watch we reeled off 12 miles. Apart from the exhilarating sailing, there were two events of note. One was the arrival of a flying fish in the cockpit. I've heard that they often arrive in large schools and one can end up with a large number for breakfast. No such luck on this occasion. No companions followed and so I took pity on the single fish and returned him to the ocean before he expired. The second was the incredible phosphorescence in the water. As the boat cleft the sea she created galaxies of brightly tumbling stars to port and starboard.

Day 6 - Monday 17/8/15

I held the 0400 watch and by 0530 the wind had noticeably strengthened and the boat was storming along at 7.5 knots with Angus struggling to maintain control. I called the others up and we put a reef in the main and Genoa to settle things down. Poor David got the short straw because by the time we had finished it was time for his watch at 0600.

By mid morning on Bernie's watch the wind had strengthened further and a second reef was required. We were making great progress, averaging just under 6 knots, with the instruments predicting arrival off NE Tenerife by Wednesday evening. During the afternoon I saw my second flying fish. This time it avoided the boat and flew for approximately 100 metres before returning to the ocean. A wonderful sight.

Today it's David's turn to cook and whilst writing this, the boat lurched off a wave and his preparations ended up all over the cabin sole (floor)! Somehow he managed to serve up a delicious omelet followed by a rich fruitcake he had brought with him.

I was on the 2000 watch. We had a great sunset....

The night passed with the wind remaining in the NE, Force 6 for the most part and we made good if damp progress south eastwards at 5-6 k under 2 reefs.

Day 7 Tuesday 18/8/15

By mid morning the wind had eased sufficiently to shake out a reef and we were sailing in the sun with a more or less dry cockpit (which was not the case overnight).

Progress had been so good overnight that by mid afternoon I committed the cardinal sin of anticipating our arrival at Tenerife. We deliberately kept our speed down to 5 k so as to arrive at Santa Cruz in the morning of the 20th. Out came the Pilot book and we studied our options and hazards. We opted for the big Santa Cruz Marina near the town rather than the slightly smaller more attractive Tenerife marina, and noted the acceleration zones around the NE corner of the island which we would pass through or near and would therefore have to have our wits about us. Santa Cruz, should also give me a fair wind passage to Pasito Blanco on to the south coast of Gran Canaria, where I will leave the boat for September and October.

As soon as the Pilot book was back on the shelf the wind headed us and died and we were left flopping about with the sails banging and crashing as we went nowhere. We still had a reef in at this point but before deciding on whether to shake it out we downloaded a grib file over the satphone to check the weather over the next few days. It showed light north easterlies getting lighter nearer Tenerife for the next three days. So we shook the reef out and within 30 minutes the wind was east by south east Force 5. However, that only lasted an hour and by the time I came on watch at 1800 we were nearly becalmed again. Good conditions for Bernie to knock up his tuna necoise, which went down very well. Overnight we continued to make good but again damp progress. I really must sort out the fore hatch. Fortunately in these warm latitudes a damp berth is nowhere near as uninviting as it would be back home!

Day 8 Wednesday 19/8/15

I was on the 0600 watch (and will therefore have to cook this evening; we have one quarter of an onion and plenty of garlic left so I can liven up the packets/tins a little). We had a spectacular sunrise which I managed to capture.

Bernie relaxing below
 A lovely day with the sun out and only the odd dollop of water in the cockpit but not quiet enough to open the fore hatch!. The boat has sailed along happily at 5-6 knots under all plain sail on course for our way point just to the north east of Tenerife. At the time of writing this section (1320) we have 85 miles to go to our way point with an ETA of around 0600 tomorrow. A lot can change between now and then however!

Day 8 Thursday 20/8/15

Well we stayed on track more or less and had a very pleasant sail this morning. We rounded the NE corner of the island around dawn in gentle conditions and ran down the coast with only a hint of the dreaded "Acceleration zone" and arrived in Santa Cruz at 0930. Since our arrival we've noticed the winds are gentle in the morning before building to fresh/strong in the afternoon. I'll look to leave early one morning therefore (probably Sunday).

Salty Sea Dog in repose

Salty Sea Dog in action

Disturbed only by a close encounter.......

The coastline is spectacular....

We celebrated our arrival by rigging the cockpit table and brought out the rum....

And started to dry out....!

Santa Cruz will win no beauty contest prizes but the marina has got internet (albeit very slow in the marina) and showers and laundry and should provide for all all our needs. The marina appears to be in the middle of a building site and according to the Pilot, that has been the case for some years. Thankfully however the showers and loos are up and running (but take your own soap).

The old town behind the docks and water front is actually very pleasant. There are museums and other cultural centres and one could probably spend an enjoyable week or so here.

The food is great and cheap and the waiters couldn't be more helpful. 

Our celebratory dinner

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