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….

Porto Santo

5 days and 6 nights – that is how long it took to get here… I started with the outgoing tide on Saturday (around 17:30) The forecast was for the wind to shift slowly from SW to NW. I motored due west and at 2am, I was hit by a rain squall and then the wind shifted quickly!

I made good speed and around 5am, I passed the route from Gibraltar strait to cape st Vincent. It was like passing a highway, I had to stop and let a big ship pass before I crossed! At 9am, I was here:

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=36.12285,-7.53778&ll=36.12285,-7.53778&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

The next day came with continued good wind (around N 10-12 m/s) and I sped on. During the night, I felt the smell of fish, but since there was a ship close by, I thought it was from there. The next day I found this in the cockpit:

My first flying fish! It was some 20 cm long. It had been laying there since the night before and was stiff, so I threw it overboard….

On the morning, I was here:

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=35.1703,-9.55804&ll=35.1703,-9.55804&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

I got very seasick, so the first two days, I ate nothing, just drank water and rested in my bunk. Every time I hade to go up and fix something on deck, I threw up afterwards – terrible!

The third day came with less wind and calmer sea (yes, the 2 m swell was there, but that only makes you go up and down, slowly. I did not feel anything from this, only the difficulties to see ships, since they dissapear behind the swells!). The wind died down and I motored most of the day. When the wind came back in the evening, it was dead on the nose! I tacked through the night… (at 9am  I was here:)

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=34.20859,-13.78859&ll=34.20859,-13.78859&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

…and all day against this SW 10-12 m/s. The waves built up during the day, so I made less and less progress. Finally late evening, the wind died down, and I could start going towards the goal again.

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=33.76377,-15.32327&ll=33.76377,-15.32327&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

In the morning, there was a weak wind from N, so I sailed on. I could see that I would not reach Porto Santo before dark, so I took it easy, planning to wait the night outside the port. When I had some 40 NM left, I started to look at  the horizon. But not until after lunch, when I was around 30-35NM from the island, it suddely appeared:

I tried to lower my speed to arrive the next moring, but a little after midnight, I was outside the island. The wind turned to SW, so I stayed on the east side. I let the boat drift and slept. 4 hours drifting one way, the 3 hours drifing the other way. By 6:30 I was up and headed round the corner towards the harbour. I came into the harbour when the sun had come up and was waved in to a place on the pontoons.

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=33.06202,-16.31568&ll=33.06202,-16.31568&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

I was expecting a lot of boats in the harbour, but, hey – where IS everybody? There is only 4 of us here…

Many people have painted their yacht name on the harbour wall, much like in Horta on the Azores. I saw many Swedish names, some of which I know from before. I will need to do something similar too!

Madeira have no beaches, but Porto Santo has a beach, 8 km long!

Preparing to sail to Madeira…

I moved to Rota, a small town on the north shore of the Cadiz bay, in order to wait for good weather to sail to Madeira. I am here now:

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=36.61617,-6.35409&ll=36.61617,-6.35409&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

The window appears to be here now, so I am thinking of sailing today (Saturday) or tomorrow… Follow my progress on the SPOT site. (I plan to send a position every morning, whie sailing).