19. January 2013 · 3 comments · Categories: Posts

Yes, inertia has been broken.

We are leaving? No!


After getting a disappointing weather forecast for our trip to the Cape Verde Islands we all felt restless and decided that moving to another port of call was in order.

We had planned on leaving Thursday night, but there was no wind, so we left offensively early on Friday morning.

I say ‘offensively’ because I am a lazy dog, that does not like to get moving before day light.  But the humans got me up at 5am in the morning and had me doing the last of my ‘toiletries’ before the sun came up.

They wanted to get an early start and escape paying for another night in the port.  Cheap skates!


It was rather ‘creepy’ heading out in the dark at first.  Fuerteventura is not very populated and the coastline around Gran Tarajal is very dark.  With no moon, there was no divide between the black sea and the volcanic cliffs.  The warm glow of the chart plotter was the only reassurance that we were on a safe route.

A gentle wind was blowing off the land, so we fumbled in the dark and raised the sails, heading off west, away from the lightening horizon to the east.


The morning sun brought warmth and the nights dampness started to dry off the boat.  Common around the island, the wind died in the late morning.  It was time to bask in the warmth and catch an early siesta as the boat waddled at a slow 2-3 knots.  There was no way that we would reach our destination before night fall, so there was no reason to waste fuel to move any faster.


I am not falling asleep. I am just resting my eyes.


By early afternoon the winds promptly picked up again.  This new wind was the cool damp air of the Atlantic rushing into the island.  As it built the temperature started to drop.  I was fine, but the humans found they needed to put on trousers and fleeces.

We passed by barren volcanic coast line with beaches that became more golden and sandy.  Small pods of dolphins visited the boat, but did not stay and play around the bow.  By early evening we reached the southern tip and the largest tourist section of Fuerteventura.

Tourism is Fuerteventura’s main industry, and they have been hit hard by the recession.  The island is not really what I would class as ‘scenic’ but if guaranteed sun, water sports or relaxing for a weeks break in a nice hotel is what you are after, it fits the bill for most.

We said goodbye to Fuerteventura and headed out into the channel for Gran Canaria.  We were promptly hit by strong head winds, that were predicted to start the following day.  We reefed (shortened) the main sail to reduce the weather helm (to make steering easier) and headed out into it.  Despite being very heavy, loaded with extra water, fuel and Spanish wines, we were able to make good progress and exceeded 8 knots in the gusts.  Thankfully the sea had not had a chance to build and the waves were small enough that we had a relatively smooth and dry run.


I do my best to help with the helming (steering the boat).


The sun started to set just as the outline of Gran Canaria came into view.

A long way to go yet as the sun goes down.


The strong winds meant a fast passage and the twinkling lights all the way up the mountains became closer and closer.  By 9pm we were only a couple of miles off the port of Las Palmas, our intended destination.  Normally we do not like to make ‘land fall’ at a new place in the dark.  The reasons for this are logical.  First, judging distances at night is hard.  Second, unlit sea walls or other objects can be impossible to see until you are right on top of them.  New extensions or additions are not always on the charts.  Thirdly, it is difficult to pick out navigational and other ships lights against the shorelines lighting.


All of these applied to the approach to Las Palmas.  It is a very busy port with commercial shipping queueing (lining up) outside, coming out and pilot boats zooming around amoung it all.  Thankfully the entrance and throughways are hugh and well marked.  Both the approach to the Marina and the anchorage beside it are well lit too.  We got in and anchored at just after 10pm.


Tuckered out, we had a lie in until late this morning and missed getting sorted and ashore it time for the shop closures a noon on a Saturday.  We will have to check them out on Monday.  The anchorage is well sheltered right in the heart of a hughley industrial port.  Despite it’s industrial nature the harbour is clean, well cared for and used by a variety of water sports enthusiasts.  Their is a town beach at the foot of the anchorage and you have access to all the facilities of the Marina including unlimited WiFi.


Commercial and pleasure boats sharing the harbour

Even big cruise ships come in here

You never run out of entertainment on anchor

Got to love the windsurfers, they have the best wipe outs.


Unfortunately it is not free.  The harbour authority now impose a minimum 41 euro ‘Lighthouse’ tax on all yachts over 12m visiting the harbour.  That covers you for one month.  Sounds like a hidden ‘luxury’ tax to me.  The Marina owns the anchorage, so they also try to collect a 2 euro a day fee.  Lots of people refuse to pay it, but if you do pay you get to use all the Marina’s facilities including the hot showers, WiFi and dock you dingy.  Note:  If you arrive after noon on Saturday they are closed, like everything else, until Monday morning.


Harbour beach with the city

The Marina is right beside the anchorage.

The Marina is hugh.  It is as big as Brighton, but has lots more supper yachts and has great commercial facilities to support it.  Every trade including a sail maker and 3, yes 3, chandlers.  Unfortunately, although the Marina itself is competitively cheap (14 euros a night for us), all the shops around it are overpriced, especially the restaurants and cafes.  But then that is what the tourists, who want to eat and drink with a view of the Marina, will pay.


Every size boat in here including supper yachts on the right


The winds really started to build during the day, so we did not get far.  New anchorage, so we like to keep an eye on the boat when the first time strong winds hit.  Hopefully we will get about town tomorrow, when the winds die, and fill you in.  Good thing, so far, is no one kicked me off the harbour beach.



17. January 2013 · 1 comment · Categories: Posts

Welcome to sailing.

Everything you do is dictated by the weather!  And guess what?  The weather says do not go!


The humans had been checking the weather, but greatly distracted by getting the boat prepared for two Atlantic passages.  After getting everything sorted last night they had a chance to check the final weather download they had done in town.  A depression, heading our way from the North, had deepened.  What that means to sailors is that bad weather is on the way.

It looks like we might get some rough weather on Wed. and Thurs. with waves as high as 6m.  That would be the last two days of the trip and we would be trying to make land fall in that.

I do not mind holding my wee for 24 hours.  I have been know in the past to go as long as 36 hours, but 48 hours or more is pushing it for me.  The humans think ‘getting caught in bad weather in inevitable, but heading out to it is stupid’.  To back up that statement their is an old sailors wise tale.  ‘There are young reckless sailors and old cautious sailors, but there are no old reckless sailors’.

So the human’s are all depressed that they are not going to the Cape Verdes today.  They have ‘Marina Fever’ too, so I have suggested they use the fair weather to head over to the next island, Gran Canary, for a change of scenery.  The depression is coming to the Canaries too, so I have suggested they tuck into the safe anchorage off Las Palmas until it clears.  They have spent enough money in marinas for a long while.


I want to thank and the family and friends that are cheering us on.  We will get out there, do not worry.  Just a short delay.  Keep you up to date on our next ‘launch’ date.


For now I am waiting to here which of the Gran Tarajal Murals is your favourite.  I do want to tell you yet which was my favourite, and effect your decisions.  Hurry up and decide!

16. January 2013 · 2 comments · Categories: Posts


We are off tomorrow morning for another first for us.  This will be our longest journey yet.

About 800nm from Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands to Sal in the Cape Verde Islands.

This should take us about a week.


We think we have everything ready, but you never know what will come up, and what will happen along the way.  We are both excited and nervous about the trip, but it will be a good learning experience for the Atlantic crossing.


The boat is still covered in drying laundry and there are lots of little things left to sort out, so I will have to keep this short.  I will get the humans to help me send SSB updates, weather permitting, along the way.

Wish us luck!!!


Gran Tarajal seafront sculpture


We will say goodbye to Gran Tarajal by having our favourite tapas dish ‘puntillas de calamares’.  Little tiny squids deep fried in tempura batter, a Canarian delicacy.

Gran Tarajal commercial district


Just before I sign off I will give you one last Gran Tarajal mural.  This last mural kind of sets the mood of our departure as we too are moving, but we are bringing our house with us as we sail away.  I call this one Moving On.

Found this one in the commercial district

He has all his possesions on his back

I will not be able to get your comments until I find internet services in the Cape Verde Islands, but I can not wait to see which mural was your favourite.


In the comments section list your favourite mural and your reason why.  See you soon!


15. January 2013 · Comments Off on The Canary Islands:Fuerteventura-Gran Tarajal (Mural 23-Scuba Jockey) · Categories: Posts

Well the human’s are getting closer to ‘launch’.

It is taking them ‘forever’ to get organised.  Warning to those that are following us to sea.  Take the number of days you think it will take to get ready for a long passage and double it.  And try to build in a ‘down day’ before you go so you are not rushed to the last minute.

Once you leave the Canary Islands the price of everything goes up.  We will have to buy even water in the future.  So everything is getting washed, stocked up and stowed aboard to maximum capacity!


They are planning on getting off on Thursday morning, but that only gives them one more day to get everything done.  I bet they will not be ready until Friday morning.

The local winds really build up by afternoon, cool sea air rushing to the island as warm air rises.  These strong winds start late morning and remain strong until dusk.  It will make boat handling hard for the humans, so they want to get off early.  They also want to watch the land recede in day light, so an evening departure is not as desirable.  It will be the last land any of us see for a week until we reach the Cape Verde Islands.


I will have to get you the last of the Gran Tarajal murals to judge.

Here is one more for now.  I call this once Scuba Jockey.  Have a look.

Not something you see on a wall every day

Check out his crazy face and riding crop.

He does look excited

He is using a worm as motivation for his trusty steed.

Although is ‘ride’ does not look like he is enjoying himself

I will try my best to get you the last of the murals so we can find out everyone’s favourite.

Scuba Jockey




13. January 2013 · Comments Off on The Canary Islands:Fuerteventura-Gran Tarajal-Still here (Mural 18-Red and Yellow Swordfish, Mural 19-Magic Turtle Ride, Mural 20-Fish Bowl at Sea, Mural 21-Songs of the Sea and Mural 22-Posieden) · Categories: Posts

Yes we are still in Gran Tarajal.

It was always our plan to stop some where ‘economical’ and do some work on the boat.  It was a sensible idea, because the summer weather in Britain is so short and variable.  If you really want to be effiecient, go some where it never rains and is sunny every day.  So we had packed the boat up with equipment and materials to do the work and made our way here.


The only trouble was the weather this year.  Everyone agrees it has been ‘frightful’.  So we are behind in our schedule.  We had planned to have all this work done and be in the Cape Verde Islands, south of here, for Christmas.  We had hoped to be at sea for New Years.  But more thing broke down along the way and the weather held us back many times, so we are behind schedule.


I am fine with all the delays.  Does not worry me if we are stuck on land a bit longer.  But the humans have gotten into deep debates over weather to skip the Cape Verde Islands in favour of a longer passage, but earlier arrival in the Caribbean.  In the end the facts were:

-you may only get to do this once and it would be ashame if you miss all the Cape Verde Islands;

-we are going to stay in the Caribbean for a few years, so there is not a rush to see loads before we have to head south for the hurricane season;

-the weather is still good for another month for the Atlantic crossing.

So it looks like we are still going to the Cape Verde Islands.


To help the humans get though their list of jobs, I have decided to help out.

I may not have opposable thumbs for most jobs, but I am handy at some things.

Being short helps somethimes

Yes, believe it or not, I am a dog who can sew.  With electricity available I thought I would get the sun shade made up for the humans.  Unfortunately they did not bring enough material, so my shade only covers the boat from the mast back.  Better then nothing, I say.


Another 30m of beige Odyssey fabric and I would have been able to cover the whole boat

Getting materials and supplies, once you leave, is always a problem

Speaking of supplies.  The spares for the autopilot have finally arrived.  So one of the humans took the bus to the capitol to pick them up.  He said it was not the prettiest of cities, did not have a chandlers (closed down) and no more shops then Gran Tarajal.  He did say the commercial harbour had a small local Marina and some very funky stone sculptures.  Check it out.

Small Marina for local boats in Puerto del Rosario

Sand sculptures in the harbour

Trying to ‘perk up’ the place

But the capitol is just an industrial port and not a ‘destination’ to really visit

Well, I have done my part, and the humans just have to finish off a few more jobs.  Most of the work now is to straighten up the boat, clean out the bulges and cupboards, and get the boat stocked up for the Atlantic.  They have been warned that you can not get many supplies in the Cape Verdes, so they need to find room for 2 months of supplies.  Even my dog food needs a place to be stored up.  To stock up on diesel and petrol they have to trolley it back and forth from the local garage.  A good sturdy trolley is escetial.  Water and fuel has to be brought in by the container full, except in the Marina in Mendello,l in the Cape Verdes too.


Of course we are anxious to get going.  We are the last ones left behind.  Limbo has left for the Cape Verdes two days ago.

Limbo. Breaking free and heading off to the Caribbean via Mindello in the Cape Verdes.

They have only a single season to travel there and back, so they are only stopping at Mindello and then heading across to the Caribbean.  They will head north and return to England at the end of the season.


Well I am sorry I have been too busy to update the blog and send you Mural pictures.  There are lots more murals that I have spotted, but not yet had a chance to photograph.  To make it up to you here are a few.


Mural 18-Red and Yellow Sword Fish

These murals are very where

Mural 19-Magic Turtle Ride

Mural 20-Fish Bowl at Sea


You find them in parking lots

Mural 21 – Songs of the Sea

You find them on road sides

No wall can be left alone here

Mural 22- Posieden

This guy is on the side of the chandlers.
I question the blond hair and brown beard. Perhaps he dies it blond?

I promise to get out and photograph the rest before I go.  For now enjoy.