Arrecife to La Palma – Day 2

Blogger: Mariel
Time: 17:35
Location: A sunny cockpit, approaching Tenerife

Blogging in the cockpit is not the usual approach, but I have been excused as we are once again in calm seas with not too much wind (although still under sail), and because I had my first quick dash up into the cockpit this morning after a minute too long down below having a wash, getting changed into day clothes and trying to make myself breakfast. I got as far as two cups of tea before the cereal was abandoned in the bowl in the galley and I was sitting on the edge of the cockpit, gulping in the sea air and focusing on the horizon… The cup of tea helped, and I’ve been fine for the rest of the day thanks to Gill’s sea bands on my wrists, plenty of time at the helm, and lots of sleep between watches, but have been excused from below deck duties until tomorrow when my sea legs should be stronger!

Today has otherwise been a fairly quiet one after yesterday’s departure excitement. We put the sails up as the sun started to sink yesterday, and were rewarded with dolphins in every direction who came to send us on our way. Multiple pods came past the boat, and four swam right along the bow as I sat out at the front, watching them weave through the water and listening to their clicks. We were even treated to a visit from a usually shy Risso’s dolphin – we had seen a single, larger and slowly moving fin in the distance for a while and had wondered what it could be – a fat dolphin? A whale? Maybe even a shark?! But when it came up along side us it was unmistakable – at least twice the size of the other dolphins, with a blunt nose and mostly white and covered in scars from other Risso’s teeth (according to our cetaceans guide). Luckily, a German family had told us about a mysterious whale/dolphin that they didn’t recognise on their cruise into Marina Lanzarote at the weekend, and they had borrowed our guidebook to identify it as a Risso’s, so we knew it immediately.

As the sun set, the dolphins left us, and not long after, so did the wind. To begin with, we used the wind as much as we could, but it took us off course down the coast of Fuerteventura. When Gill and I were on watch in the evening, we lost the wind completely, furled the foresails and started the engine again to avoid an unintentional stop in Fuerteventura… The sails were back up again a couple of hours later, and have been ever since. My 11.30pm-2.30am watch was fairly uneventful. John and Gill put a reef in the mainsail at 1am when they swapped watches as the wind rose (briefly) to 17 knots. By the start of my 5.30am-8.30am watch, the moon had set and all the other lights were showing – a sky full of stars, phosphorescence as waves broke down the beam, and the glow of Gran Canaria to the south. The stars in the east slowly disappeared as the sky grew lighter, and Gill and I watched the first sunrise of our voyage.

Everything is easier in the daylight. We soon noticed that Paul-the-wind-steering’s strings were not as tight as they had been, and as we attempted to tighten them, realised that one was no longer attached at all… We’re not sure how, but Paul had maintained our course for an unknown period of time despite being partially disabled – what a superstar! The problem was soon diagnosed and resolved by Gill with a handy piece of rope, and I retired to bed.

Today’s main excitement has been the regular updates from the Canary Islands radio, with a lovely coastguard who practically sings out the channels to listen to the latest weather reports on each hour. And a close call with a tanker who didn’t answer our radio calls despite being on an exact collision course in less than 30 minutes… We eventually got through once we could almost read their name off their bow, and a very casual reply came that they would turn to starboard and pass us port-to-port… Difficult as we were both heading west, so we suspect they had not seen we were there and only glanced at their AIS when our radio call was finally picked up. The last half hour of that watch went very quickly in all the excitement.

Now it is time for me to change into warmer night gear and join my watch with John D. HOpefully we’ll have time for another choir practice before it gets too late. Last night we had an introductory session that nearly brought Irish John up from his bed to join us, so we are starting well!

The wind has dropped off again, but we are hoping to make La Palma before nightfall tomorrow. All in good spirits and (relatively) well rested for a first 24 hours plus at sea (Irish John has enjoyed a few trampoline bounces in the forepeak).

Use with SHOW JOURNEY to track our progress.

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