Crossing to Canaries? Check!

We left Portimao on Thursday, 1st November at 10 am, filled with great memories, heartbreak over Chica and a new crew member; Jelle’s dad, Tom. We had quite a trip, as many things did not go as planned and some damages occurred, but we made it sound and safe and in record time!

The first part of the trip was easy-going and relaxed, as there was hardly any wind so we had to motor a few hours..until the wind picked up! This meant wind speed between 15 and 20 knots and an enjoyable upwind sailing with nice speed! Close to us was an old wooden Russian ship with lots of sails, a beauty to watch! The weather was nice and the day passed quickly only to be followed by a starry night and a bit less wind. We started our shift-rotation schedule which was: Jelle and I were on deck for 4 hours and Tom for 2 hours. During our shift, Jelle and I took turns sleeping in the cockpit, while the other one was steering/keeping watch. The first 24 hours passed quite uneventful, although the wind direction was not very stable and the sea started to become restless.

Russian pirates!

Day 2 and the wind direction changed, which meant only main sail up and sailing downwind. The waves became bigger and longer, making Libra unstable, but our speed was an average 6 knots, pretty fast! During our night shift, the wind picked up and I accidentally jibed, which caused YET ANOTHER RIP in our main sail! Needless to say, it was not the best turn of events, being in the middle of the ocean, in a dark night (no stars!) with wind speed over 20 knots and waves almost 2 meters high!!! Jelle was surprisingly very understanding about our ripped sail, and I still do not know if he was trying to make feel me better or because he was afraid of a mutiny 🙂

We woke up Tom to steer the boat while Jelle and I put a reef in the main sail, in order to avoid the rip becoming larger. While we were busy with the reef, we noticed that one of the wagons was loose, indicating another potential issue in the sail, at a higher point. First order of business upon arrival: find a sailmaker! The rest of the night sailing was uneventful, and we continued our course with good speed.

Day 3 brought some more wind gusts and a bit of rain. We started up our engine for a few hours to charge our batteries, but continued our downwind sailing with great speed! Even with only our main sail up and one reef, we were going constantly with 6 knots of speed and had crossed over 250 miles! Sailing so far was not hard, but the wavy sea and the wind coming exactly behind us meant we had to CONSTANTLY steer, even during night, which made it a tiring trip more than anything else. (It is also true that steering is my least favourite thing in sailing!)

Another dark night came, with no stars but a dim moonlight, gusty winds and wavy sea. We started our night shifts without problem, until 5am when Jelle smelled diesel. He went inside to check and he found out diesel all around the engine! We had A LEAKAGE IN OUR FUEL TANK! We discovered that our main diesel tank (we had 2) had a rip on the top, and it leaked all over the back cabin! Once again, we woke up Tom to steer the boat, while Jelle and I spent quit some time to clear out the spilled diesel from the engine room. After we had sufficiently cleaned up the boat, we started up the motor and decided to motor the rest of the way , so we could spend our diesel and avoid more leakage on the boat. So new plan upon arrival: find a welder!

The positive thing about motoring the rest of the way was that we could finally put the autopilot on and have a more relaxing time. Also, the wind slowly died out so eventually we would have to motor either way, leakage or not. Moreover, the sea was finally smoother with less waves and Libra was stable and right on course. The rest of the trip continued effortlessly, and we even had dolphins follow us which was a delight to watch!

We arrived in Lanzarote on Monday, 5th November at 10am! We managed to sail 600 miles with a ripped main sail and a leaked diesel tank in 96 hours! Needless to say, arriving in Lanzarote was like paradise on earth, a beautiful, busy marina and sunny weather awaiting for us.

Marina Lanzarote

The sun was shining, the marina was bustling with people and everything around us just urged us to relax and enjoy the summer days in November. Alas, we had to fix Libra and attend all the damages occurred during our crossing. So first things first, Jelle and Tom moved the diesel tank out of the boat and after our arrangement with the marina, a local welding company picked it up. Secondly, we took down our main sail and after contacting a local sailmaker, he picked up our ripped main sail together with our old jib (the one that got completely ripped while crossing the Irish sea) for repairs. The works, however, did not end there. While the sail was away for repairs, Jelle together with Tom found out some other issues on the boom and the vang, which led to even more repairs but also to our meeting with the next boat sailor, Quinn. This lovely Spaniard was not only kind enough to lend us his tools for our repairs, but also his car to drive around the island! Pretty amazing, he? God, I love this country!

So the first few days were full of repairs and constant walks in the numerous shops around the marina which admittedly, have a plethora of tools and accessories, even better than mainland Europe! The quality of service and the availability of spare parts, tools and general things have definitely painted us impressed! It was not all work and no fun, though, we did occasionally go out for dinner and drinks (at Tom’s cooking turn), and we tasted some delicious fish and meat as well as our new favourite white wine: Bermejo seco.

On the night of 10th November it was the first day we left the marina and we drove up the Jameos del Agua. Jameos del Agua is a fascinating series of volcanic caves which also serve as a culture center and restaurant, created by Cesar Manrique, a famous local architect and artist. We had a lovely 3-course dinner with a bottle of wine and also listened to live local music, an amazing experience!

Sunday is the day where the island’s biggest open market takes place in Teguise, the old capital, which normally is quiet but on Sundays it just bursts with locals, tourists and live music performances, so we could not miss that!We then continued our road trip to the north, not without making a lunch stop in Haria, a cute little town where Cesar Manrique lived and died. We then continued north and stopped at Mirador del Rio, another building of the famous artist and took photos of the breath-taking views of the island Graciosa opposite Lanzarote. After a coffee we drove to the northest city, Orzola and we did a small walk around.

Lanzarote is way nicer than I expected, with many volcanoes, but also very green, covered in cactuses, palm trees and other trees. The houses are simplistically pretty, mostly stone-built, white with green, brown or blue windows and doors. The most interesting part, however, is the black ground and the stone-walls, result from the several volcanic eruptions.

Monday was exploration day 2, but this time we drove towards the east, to the Timanfaya natural park. Timanfaya is the biggest volcano in the island and the area surrounding it is special preserved, so we had to take a bus tour to explore the park. It was an interesting route, but the day was rainy so our photos were not so successful. The scenery was inspiring and quite versatile too! Following our volcanic trip, we continued to the south of the island, towards the other marina, Marina Rubricon. We strolled around the marina and had huge lunch at a local pizzeria. Another great day in Lanzarote! Monday night was a book-signing event with Jimmy Cornell, a well-known sailor who has sailed around the world 4 times and has written books about sailing and ocean -crossing. We attended the event and we now have a signed copy of his latest book!

Tuesday, 13th November we used the car for groceries and also for a small trip to our favorite winery, Bermejos! We were the only ones there, exploring the area and also did some wine tasting! Definitely worth the drive! In the afternoon Jimmy had presentations about climate change and Atlantic crossing, so that is how we spent our afternoon!

The following day we walked around and ended up at Castillo San Jose, a 18th century castle which was transformed by Manrique into a museum of modern art. We strolled around the contemporary art exhibits and enjoyed a fancy lunch in the restaurant, overlooking our marina. On our way there w also stumbled across a local artist, Antonio, who made small and big boats out of old metal barrels. So fun!

During the next two days we were once again busy with boat chores and also a bit relaxing and strolling around Arrecife. Friday night, however, was Tom’s last night with us and we decided to celebrate by going out for dinner at our favourite restaurant, Strava bar. Little did we know that this night would be so amusing! At first, the group of locals sitting to the next table had a guy with guitar who was playing and they were all singing along. Soon after, a second group of locals joined in with another guy playing the guitar. A little while later, the lady who worked in the restaurant appeared with a violin and we all ended up creating a big group of friends, singing along Spanish and occasionally English songs. Needless to say, we arrived at the restaurant at 7 in the evening and we left around 2 in the morning, having had delicious meal, too much to drink and a jolly good time! Such a great farewell to Tom!

Saturday was the day Tom was flying back to Holland, so we did our last touristic visit, at Castillo San Gabriel, a 16th century castle overlooking the Atlantic ocean. We had a coffee in the busy main street of the city and had BBQ for lunch! We dropped Tom at the airport and Jelle and I returned to the boat after stopping at Decathlon for some necessary supplies.

We are now preparing to leave the marina after 2 weeks, and we have our tank fixed, our sails repaired and our boat cleaned in and out! Can’t wait to go sailing and anchoring again!

Stay tuned as we explore more of the Canaries and avoid tropical storms!