Sailing to Lanzarote



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Lesley still in hospital I had to leave and head south. A new engine was awaiting us in Lanzarote and we needed time to get it installed. Already we where 4 weeks delayed. The weather was also changing as the autumn approached. The massive lows created by hurricanes on the other side of the Atlantic travelling travelling to our side of the pond where getting closer. At the beginning of the hurricane season they travel north to the UK and Norway creating what we know as autumn storms at home. But later in the season they move south also affecting the weather al the way south into Portugal at times.

Waving goodbye to the kids at the dock was very emotional for me. The boat and this trip is a family project and setting sails without them onboard just did not feel right. Their cabin stood empty with pictures of favourite horses over Camilla's bed and a big box of Bionicle Lego on Colin's. Teddy bears looking at me from the bookshelves. Leaving Lesley "alone" in a foreign hospital was not the kind of thing I ever thought I could do either. Surely I needed to be there for her? But both Lesley and I knew what I had to do if we should still have the option of sailing across the seas to the Caribbean. So I had to go. Not at all like we planned it, but then again if I wanted life to be as planned, I should not have agreed on this adventure in the first place. Is not the very essence of adventure that it is unpredictable and that you are to be tested on the way?  Lesley is very strong. She keeps her spirits up and hangs in there always keeping a positive attitude. A very admirable trait.

Leaving Cascais marina a brisk force 6 from the north west propelled us south. Coconut gently ploughed down the waves picking up speed and averaging  7,5 knots for hours. It was the best sailing we have had so far on this trip. Mads and Magnus who joined as delivery crew enjoyed hand steering trough the night.  The Portuguese trades blow from a northerly direction along this coast from early summer through to autumn sometimes taking you as far south as the Canary Islands. A strong low pressure is generated over Iberia and over the Sahara by the heat of the sun. As colder air from he Atlantic rushes inn to fill the gap the trades are formed. The old seafarers have taken advantage of these winds since the days of the great discoveries. Columbus himself followed the Portuguese trades to the Canaries like we are doing before heading south and west riding the Atlantic trade winds as we intend to do in November.

Mads doing sailing "heavy rock" style...

Trond adapting a more sedate style while Magnus is keeping a sharp look out

A day and a half out the wind died on us. It was predicted so no big surprise. A low pressure was moving in from the Atlantic upsetting the stable weather  patterns in the area. A reminder that we left at the right time. Brasil1 (Volvo Ocean Race) where happy about this. At last they could go out and test their equipment in a proper gale. It was reported a force 9 out there when I last looked. Speaking to Lesley on the satellite telephone she told me about very large swells in Cascais. Good think we left when we did.

Trying to keep moving in the light's air we hoisted the spinnaker. The large swells and confused seas made it difficult to sail as the wind pressure disappeared. The spinnaker helped for a little while and then went out with a bang. The jerky movement of the boat in the swells was to much for it. The sail ripped all along the seams and we had a hard time getting it onboard. Looks like it should be possible to repair, but it also meant we had to slow down. That night we only had the Genoa out saving the mainsail for later. We did not feel like being too adventurous after the spinnaker blew out.

As we got further south the temperature increased significantly. From spending our night watches in full wet weather gear we where fighting for some shade. In the afternoon we slowed down the boat threw a fender on a line over board and dived into the clear blue Atlantic. It was magic! We felt so refreshed and alive with 5000 meters of clear blue sea under you and an endless sky all around.

Various marine life..

Looking for dolphins we where puzzled by some brownish things floating around. In the end we decided to have a look and settle once and for all what sea creature this was. Approaching slowly under motor we saw a small head popping up looking at us and some clumsy fins or legs paddling away. It was a turtle! And this time the real thing. We thought we had seen a few in the Biscay as well. But later it turned out that they where Atlantic Sun fish, an even stranger creature, sunning itself before diving deep into the blue for something to eat. Look it up! We had a look at one at the aquarium in Lisbon, which is by the way an amazing place.

After having to motor for nearly two days the wind came back to us. A 12 knot breeze from ESE brought Coconut back to life. With a full main and genua she took off across the flat seas doing 6 - 6.5 knot. Wonderful sailing. Kind of reminded me what sailing is all about. But how long was Adam in paradise? A brisk force 6 from SW concluded our trip. Rain and rough seas the last 18 hours until Lanzarote offered some protection and we finally moored safely in Marina Rubicon.

When at sea you do long for land. The goal is clear and the job to be done quite simple; get there safely and swiftly. But what hits you as soon as you reach land is the many practical issues that has to be organised. Mobile phones ring, SMS and email are to be answered, a part for the boat is to be ordered, a ticket is to be booked on a flight somewhere, bills are to be paid, laundry ...... . Life speeds up leaving you dazed and longing for that next voyage and the simplicity of life at sea.

PS! Friends and family

Lesley is recovering in a hotel in Cascais Portugal spending most of her time in bed. She has been there for one week and has another two to go. Why not give her a call? +351 936337559


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This site was last updated 30-10-2005 17:10:36