Passage to the Canaries by JoJo

Passage from Madeira to the Canaries December 2014

We finally left the beautiful island of Madeira, heading south to the Canaries. I say ‘finally’ because we had not meant to stay so long. First the gearbox spline broke unexpectedly and expensively, then we had to wait out a gale. Then the leisure battery decided to die, at the weekend, just as we were about to leave! But if none of this had happed we would not have explored Madeira so extensively.  We found the Madeiran people very friendly and helpful, going out of their way to help us.

Land Ho!

It was a fast and furious passage, in a rough sea with strong winds of force 5-6 gusting 7.  The wind blew us to the Canaries in 53 hours. We logged 263 nautical miles sailing at an average of 5 knots. This is the fastest passage we have had so far.  We had the mainsail reefed and just the staysail up forward.  Island Swift sailed very comfortably with this reduced rig and had a great romp speeding south.  We hardly changed the sail positions or wind vane the whole trip. It was also the wettest trip so far, with a swell of 4 metres. Occasionally, if the main hatch was open, a wave would rise up and fall straight down into the cabin.  Simon and Finbar both got soaked on one memorable occasion.  I had just warned them both, that they should get some oilskins on.  But no, they did not think so.  A minute later the Atlantic Ocean decided to show them that it was not so tame as they thought!

Very little cooking was done on this passage, even making and drinking a cup of tea was hard work.  Luckily we had a good supply of mince pies that we had made in Madeira.

At anchor off the island of La Graciosa
The sun was setting as we closed land, the island of La Graciosa, at the east end of the Canaries. We rounded the southern end of the Island in twilight, with the full moon giving us sufficient light to see into Playa Francesca bay. There were three other yachts at anchor, none had anchor lights, but my sharp-eyed crew managed to pick them out.

We put the anchor down, I made a big hot stew, and we played a game of cards. We were happy to have arrived safely. The next day we went walking and snorkelling to discover our new volcanic surroundings.

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