Firstly, thanks a lot to Ben from Amsterdam for the donation! Also thanks to my long lost Aunt, who seriously sent me an email with some paypal funds that started with ´you probably don´t remember me, but I´m your Aunt!´. Well, Laurel, don´t you worry, I remember!
The last post on my Lisbon to Canaries trip was written while at sea, and didn’t truly encompass the final leg into port, so here is a little more information on my arrival.
I was so anxious in the final day of sailing to get into port, I couldn’t busy myself with anything other than writing a post for the website, or fidgeting with the sheets in the cockpit, anxiously wondering if the objects in the horizon were actually becoming bigger or not. The wind had swung around to the south, and ‘August the mighty Yanmar’ was on duty to get home, Constellation having crawled to a halt, with me just wanting to tie up and go to sleep as soon as possible. It seemed to take forever to round Isleta, and when I finally arrived, I became absolutely disorientated, with huge tankers and pilot ships steaming in and out at three in the morning. It’s a really simple entry, but I was just so tired, lights blinking everywhere, and a myriad ships to steer clear of, I couldn’t quite work it all out. I contemplated just setting the ‘Windy the Windpilot’ back on duty and sailing back offshore until daybreak, but I just couldn’t do it. After ten days, land was just there… I could see it. Tenerife was on the horizon, with ferry’s chugging past my stern, so I decided to just do the night entry and get it over and done with. Eventually I was so frustrated, I put Constellation in donut mode (lock the tiller to port, engine in tick-over so you simply circle going nowhere) and went down below to sort things out navigationally. I programmed a two-leg route and just followed it into harbour, which all became clear after about ten minutes. I tied up to the visitor pontoon, and felt distinctly depressed. I have no idea what I expected to feel or experience, but it was like running an ultra marathon with nothing at the finishing line, except a dusty old cactus and a hand painted sign saying ‘Caribbean, 3000 miles to go’.
I disembarked onto dry land for the first time in ten days, and felt land sick. I swayed a little and walked around to check the marina out. For some reason I just saw really big yachts, and felt even more depressed. I instantly thought ‘oh, it’s that kind of marina’. So I went back to the boat and curled up to sleep. At 9am on the dot, there was a tapping on my cabin roof, with some stern looking harbour master telling me to register and pay at the office. I just wanted to throw a wash board at the guy and go back to sea; after all that tension over ten days to get here, it all just really sucked. I can’t think of a more eloquent way to describe it. I registered and signed about five hundred forms with alternating signatures, just to be annoying. At least the Spanish are a notch down from the Portuguese when it comes to paperwork, but still, really, I’m an EU boat with an EU passport. Who cares? Just let me in already, borders are so last century.
I got my pontoon, and moored bow-to. The mooring here is stern-to, but as I’ve said before, I never back into places with the steering gear on rear end. Luckily some friendly people on the pontoon helped me dock, as ‘slime line’ mooring can be difficult singlehanded. There is a technique for it, but there must have been 20kts of wind blowing from the stern, which wasn’t assisting me in any way whatsoever. After getting safely tied up, I looked around to see what the vibe was. For the first time on my trip, I was surrounded by what seemed like permanent liveaboards. Clearly Constellation and I had been pidgeon-holed into the gypsy stereotype, and I was set among my brethren. I guess it beats being moored up next to the 120ft multi-million dollar ketch from Guernsey…
Below is a really short film (requires latest Flash player if you just see a blank space) with just some quick clips of my Canary trip. It has music playing to it, so if you’re in an office, turn the speakers down… Your boss doesn’t appreciate you watching clips about sailing. You might get crazy ideas! The conditions were not all as placid as they are shown in the clip, but one hardly runs for the camera when other things must be tended to.
The day of my arrival coincided with Jack arriving. What timing! I had been calling home on the satellite phone to pass on the message that I was going to be at least a day late, however on on the 9th day I was making such good progress I changed my ETA to ‘early on the 26th’. It was nice to have a friend around after such a long period alone, having only my engine and windvane to talk to since Lisbon. Jack was really great, feeding me delicious food, and even renting a car to explore the island with, which was amazing. I rarely get to go inland, and I also rarely get to drive. Therefore I was able to get two years of non-driving crammed into two days. I believe Jack will continue to walk around with his hands held in front, in a motion that may suggest ‘I am just resting my hands on the dash, I don’t really think they will assist my survival in an accident at this speed, but it makes me feel safe’.
For those that haven’t been to the Canary Islands, all I can say is: Wow. I arrived here with no expectations (the best way to be; you’re always impressed), and was just utterly amazed by the landscape. It was almost too incredible to appreciate. The weather here is perfect too, around 24degrees during the day, and 19degrees during the night. At long last, after all my complaining, I have finally hit the warm latitudes… The water is a nice temperature too, and if you ever come here, go direct to Agaete, it’s amazing.
I wanted to film a Western with Jack in the mountains, but alas time didn’t permit, and both of us had forgotten our guns and horses back at the boat anyway. I was constantly looking for props for the film (tumbleweeds etc), and our only piece of costume was a garishly coloured ‘Havana Club’ cowboy hat we found on a park bench the day before, clearly forgotten after a long Saturday night at the Carnival (I forgot to say, it’s festive season here!). We both felt the film could win awards, however in the end, we decided to go swimming at the beach instead.
Jack left for Berlin today, and I managed to drive back unassisted from the Airport without having an accident… Remember, I’m from Australia, so I was driving on the wrong side of the road. I feel a little bit hollow after the tense time at sea, having someone around for the past five days, and now this, just a quiet existence in the marina again. I have a reasonable amount of work to finish off before I leave, however I am tentatively looking at departing for the Caribbean on the 10th of February. I have some significant route changes planned (no, they don’t involve Cape Horn!), but there is no use talking about them until I make some decisions… I will have absolutely run out of money again once I hit the other side of the Atlantic, so that will be the third time I´ve gone broke since I began my trip. First it was in Amsterdam, then La Coruna, and soon the Caribbean – Third time lucky! So, in the next few days, I’ll write another update about all about the excitement that surrounds my preparations for 30+ days in a bathtub on the high seas, on a dollar a day!