Slow progress…

Well, as I suspected, mother nature did have some more surprises in stock… This time in the form of calms and light winds. I am doing day averages of about 80-90 nautical miles, i.e. a little over 3 knots in average. I have 570 M left to Antigua, so it will probably mean another week on the water.

Someone said it may be that the Azores high has moved south this year and if so, this is the kind of weather you can expect if you go too far north (in normal conditions…).

Anyway, I try to take one day at a time. I have plenty of food and water, only the fruit and vegetables have run out. The rolling can drive you nuts, so I long for a quiet harbor.

21 days – no quick trip this time…

Today is the 21st day out of Las Palmas. I was planning for a 21 day (3 week) passage. I have also managed to get supplies to last this long, e.g. fruit is now running out, I ate the last corn flakes for breakfast this morning, I have 2 slices of bread left, etc.
However, the slow start and the 3 days lost in the westerly winds means that I still have some 1100 miles to go. At the current rate, that means 10 more days…. Anyway I am trying to enjoy the perfect weather and the nice sailing that we have now. I hope mother nature does not have more surprises waiting for me.

I was planning to go to Barbados, but am now looking at Antigua instead. I can from there go south to Martinique, where I will meet the crew that will sail the boat home.

Westerly wind – where is the trade wind?

They say that the trade winds will be more stable if you wait from November, so I assumed it would be good now… However, in the last days I have had 1 day with no wind, one day with SW wind and I have now a strong W wind that only allows a course due South (to be somewhat comfortable). The 15th day, and I am not even half way across. This will not be a quick crossing, that is for sure.

I have plenty of food and water; only fruit and vegetables will run out in a few days. The sun is shining, so maybe I can work on my body tan, while waiting for the trade wind…

The lonley oceans? No, its crowded out her!

I have read that it is very rare that you meet ships or other boats on the crossing. Even during the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) with 220 contestants and maybe 200 other yachts starting simultaneously, meetings in mid-ocean are rare.

I saw some lights and heard talks on VHF, but thought it was local(!) fishermen. I was then passed by one sailboat in the night. They did not respond do my VHF call. The next day another sail boat passed and I called them. It turned out that this was a support boat for 5-6 row boats(!) that were nearby. These were the “fishermen” that I had seen. Later I heard the sailboat talk to one of the row boats, that was about 2 miles from me. I saw their lights throughout most of the night. I did some 5 knots at the time, so they must have been rowing hard…

I had good wind for a while and passed 1000 miles out of Las Palmas, but now it is back to weak winds…

Blogging from the Atlantic 2

Result of the first week: Day distances of about 100 miles. With this speed it will take a while to reach Barbados (I have 1960M left now to go there…). Winds are weak (5-7m/s) and there are not much waves.
What do I do all day? My routine looks like this: I get up around 9, eat breakfast and drink coffee. I may change the sails, like today, when I hoisted my light wind genoa. Then I read or rest a little until 11.30, when I talk to people in Sweden and Caribbean on short wave. I note the position at 1200 and some days I take out my sextant to measure the sun at the meridian passage. This takes about an hour, since I do lots (<20) measurements in order to get a good average. The results so far has been pretty good, compared to the GPS position…
Later, I do lunch. This takes an hour too and then I rest or read. When the sun goes down I do supper and when it gets dark, I go into sleep mode, i.e. I sleep and get up every 20-30 minutes to look around.

Blogging from the Atlantic: The first days has been calm…

I am trying to send blog messages through my Short Wave system. I am getting weather information this way and can also send and receive short emails… Should the Short Wave not work, I can also connect through the satellite telephone.

The first days out of Las Palmas has been good. No strong winds and a smooth sea. I am getting used to the life here, so now I am eager to find the trade winds and get some speed…

Las Palmas!

The weather on Maderia was not that great this year  so I wanted to go south to the nicer weather (all Europe has tough weather I read, so my problems with rain and SW winds appear not too serious, I guess…)

A window to sail to Canary Islands appeared on January 5 and  was quick to grab the chance. The wind was W 10-12m/s but would decrease and change to NW and later to N. The waves (swells) would decrease from 6m to 3-4m.

In Funchal harbour the wind was weak, but as soon as I got out of the harbour entrance, I had to reef the sails and the sailing was rather rough. The wind did not decrease as promised, nor did the wind change to NW until a day later… I seem to attract the strong winds on my trips….

I got sea sick again and was not very active the first 2 days. The sails were reefed so I was not concerned about the boat. If the wind would increase, I was OK. Even with the sails reefed we did some 5 knots.

The first day took me here (morning of 6/1):

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=31.31331,-16.02476&ll=31.31331,-16.02476&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

24 hours later I was here (7/1):

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=29.52642,-15.3038&ll=29.52642,-15.3038&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

I missed the Islas Salvages. I passed in the night and made sure I had a good distance to them. They must be one of the most odd places on earth. Close, but still far away. You need a permit to go ashore, but even that only when the wind permits (and it did not when I passed…)

I realised I would not reach Las Palmas before dark and would not try to enter at night, so I tried to slow down in order to arrive in the Friday morning. However, I was outside the north end of Gran Canaria around 2am, so I had to sail back and forth until the sun came up. There was quite a number of ships and rain showers during the night, so my radar alarm went off every so often…

Anyway, as I came into Las Palmas, the sun came out and it was warm! Las Palmas is cheap, which surprised me, but I cannot stay too long. I want to provision for the long sail and get going!

Here I am now:

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=28.12851,-15.42669&ll=28.12851,-15.42669&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Happy New Year from Funchal!

The Funchal fireworks are famous (at least around here), so I moved the 30km to Funchal in order to see them.

I first got a place outside another boat:

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=32.64508,-16.91006&ll=32.64508,-16.91006&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Then, later in the evening, moved to a more permanent place, further in:

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=32.64575,-16.9094&ll=32.64575,-16.9094&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

The fireworks was indeed the  best I have ever seen. Most were launched from the waterfront, east from the harbour, but there was also a number of other sites (I counted to more than 10, but people say 40 sites). The rockets were synchronised, so the same type/colour came from many sites at the same time – amazing! 17 tons of fireworks are rumoured to have been used… Many boats went out to see it from the water, but that looked dangerous (dark, many boats, acohol, attention on fireworks, etc.), so I stayed in the harbour. There were thousands of people down by the harbour, trying to get a good place to view…

Normally, 2 cruising ships lie in the harbour, but this night, there were 4 in the harbour and 2 anchorded outside.

I tried to take some pictures, but they do not show the real thing. I found some web sites that have videos, though. Try:

http://www.madeirablog.eu/

http://www.gettyimages.co.uk/detail/95515026/AFP

Here is my attempt:

January 1st turned out to be a perfect “summer” day – 20 degrees, blue sky and very weak winds. A nice change from the last 3 weeks of rain and strong winds…

On Madeira

I sailed across from Porto Santo to Madeira. I am now here:

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=32.74166,-16.71186&ll=32.74166,-16.71186&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

The sail took almost 8 hours. It took some time to get out of the wind shadow of Porto Santo. Once out, I had a bumpy ride with the wing backing to west, so I had to use the engine the last part. Some dolphins came to visit, but they only stayed for a minute or two (no time to get the camera out…)

The marina here is rather new and is part of a development, which is still ongoing:

The marina is very nice, just check out the toilet/showers:

like a 4 star hotel…

I have not dedcided wether to stay here when the family comes, or if I should move to Funchal. The outer piece of the penisula here is a national park, with walking trails. Maybe we can come with the family to walk a bit.

Lazy days on Porto Santo

I have been on Porto Santo for 2 weeks now, and it is a good place to relax. However, I have not only relaxed, I have tried to do one thing from my to-do-list every day… For example, I took my outboard engine to a mechanic and had it serviced. Then I painted it to make it less prone to be stolen:

I set up the sail on the dinghy and we sailed it. (Fernando from Mallorca is sailing on the picture):

I did a painting on one of the harbour walls (I will probably not get a prize for the art…)

I have had good use of my bicycle:

It has taken me to the hills above the harbour:

…as well as to the north side of the island:

(Madeira lies like a shadow some 30 miles/60km away).

The village center is prepared for Christmas:

…the reindeer look a bit out of place among the palm trees…

I will not stay here for Christmas, though, but I will go to Madeira. On Sunday, it looks like a good weather window for the crossing, then the lows are lined up again with SW winds….