Firstly, I'd like to welcome Airnavsystems.com onboard, as a new Bigoceans.com sponsor! AirNav build flight spotting software and products, and are releasing a new ship spotting product called 'ShipTrax'. It seemed like a very fitting partnership, and AirNav are assisting with additional funds, which is really what I need at the moment. I seem to be going through what little money I have at a great rate, buying charts, parts, and provisions. Very, very special thanks to Andre for approaching me with the idea, being so fast to help out, and for believing my trip is a worthy idea to support.
It's been a very busy past few days - I sat around sick for too long, and then when a good forecast came my way, it was all panic to get myself ready. As you can see from the above sponsorship, I haven't just been sitting on my laurels. I've also spent over a week waiting on another partnership which would have provided some neat communications potential for my trip to the Canary Islands, however nothing has come of it yet, and it's time for me to leave. If you missed it, there is a photo of the article regarding my Cape Horn aspirations (!!) located here.
Yesterday I provisioned the boat with supplies, which turned out to be an epic job. To begin with, I had exceeded my daily transaction limit at the bank, and only had 140euros in my pocket. I thought this would be enough for 15 days of food, but apparently I was wrong. By the time I was done shopping, my trolley was about to break, and I could barely push it. I tried to get money out, but it was futile, so I hid my trolley in the honey isle, and high-tailed it out of there, feeling really guilty about some poor kid having to re-pack everything because of my stupidity. It was with great luck that S/V Aquamarijn were able to loan me some money, and I ran back to see if my trolley was still hiding. Thankfully it was, and I caught a taxi back to the marina with a boatload of provisions. Putting all this food somewhere turned out to be a new experience, and I know for a fact, I will be finding food purchased in Lisbon, hidden around the boat for many years to come.
So my route now, is direct to the Canary Islands, not stopping anywhere. This is an 800nm trip, which I expect to take from anywhere between 7 and 14 days. I'm not going to mess up my expectations on maintaining a 4kt average like I did across Biscay, which put myself under a lot of pressure to arrive within three days, to tell friends and family that I was ok, and not to send helicopters. I expect to take around 10 days, but up to 14 I think is still quite possible. I have a decent forecast from Commanders Weather, but I've been waiting around today for reasons I'll explain some other time, so already I'm 9hrs behind where I should be. I will be heading 1degree east of a direct line to Lanzarote, anticipating a wind change in a few days to South, which means I will hopefully be in a good position to tack back onto course for the Canaries, without sailing directly into the wind.
'August the mighty Yanmar' has new oil, and I never found an explanation for the overheating. Today I ran it in gear (in the marina) at a decent pace for 30mins, and ran an infrared heat gun on the block, but there were no signs of overheating. Fingers crossed the issue was a bag around the inlet or something simiarly temporary.
I spent last night having another wonderful dinner with the Hooligans et al, and then had a second dinner and drinks with Pedro #1, Pedro #2 and Ana, which was really nice. I'm still in absolute awe at the generosity of everybody around me. Last night I came into my boat, and sat down, and I must admit (I don't get called Mr Toughguy for nothing!) I almost felt a little teary at everyones generosity and kindness towards me. I'm just some guy with a little red boat, trying my best to do my thing, and people are helping at literally every turn. Remember Pedro #1 saved me from a lonely Christmas, invited me into is really great family, fed me, gave me a bed, introduced me to his closest friends, and really showed me a side of Portugal people rarely see. Pedro #2 took me out for dinner and lunch everyday, showing me what amazing food the Portuguese produce, let me sleep in his house while I was sick, took me to the maritime museum, the planetarium and even parted with a bag of food and some extra money, citing I would need it for the marina in the Canaries! The Hooligans (plus Ton & Petra) have been really wonderful company in La Coruna, and here in Lisbon, and packed huge bag of extra Dutch provisions for my trip, and even loaned me a satellite phone (one of the reasons todays departure is delayed, finding a new SIM card) so I am able stay in contact, and hopefully maintain web-based position reports on my 800mile journey. I will miss everybody so much... I wish my boat were 15 times larger so I could just bring all the incredible people I meet along with me. I cannot necessarily return this kindness directly to the people who have helped me, but be rest assured, I will do my very best to 'pay it forward' and help others whenever I possibly can.
Thank you so much Portugal. The Canaries are Spanish territory, so this is the end of Portugal for me, and also the end of continental Europe. I cannot believe I am leaving Europe, after being here for almost two years. What amazing experiences and people I've met, from Berlin, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, England, Belgium, France, Spain, Gibraltar, Guernsey and Portugal. This is my longest solo non-stop voyage so far, over doubling my Biscay distance. I can't wait to reach the Canaries, and look forward to telling you all about my biggest passage so far.
See you in a couple of weeks, and check back when you can, because there is every chance I may be able to get some news up on this site from somewhere out there in the Atlantic. More than likely updates will come via Twitter or onto my tracking page.