Sailing to New Places

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A glimpse of Mount Teide on Tenerife from the rain forest in La Gomera, nestled in the valley is Marina San Sebastian

In the past 3 weeks we have sailed to and visited 6 places that are completely new to me.  Despite my years of experience, I still get excited at the prospect of sailing somewhere new.  I enjoy the opportunity of giving my mind a work out and putting my navigational skills into practice. I just love listening to the weather forecast and then studying a chart to work out where to go.  Top of the list of considerations is always ‘Can we get there’ and ‘Will it be safe’.  I find it extremely fulfilling and rewarding to arrive and be glad we made the right choice!As we have mainly been sailing in the same area with the same wind conditions for the past 3 months, the opportunity to visit new places doesn’t happen very often. Our Canary Island dash was carefully planned into the schedule to give us the opportunity of visiting a few new places before the end of the winter season, but this last week my skills have been really put to the test due to the complete irregularity of the weather.

We have just finished our final relaxed cruise around Tenerife and La Gomera.  When planning for this trip we wrote the itinerary assuming the wind would be from the north or north east as is usual.  We were nearly right on day 1 – we started with 15 knots of wind from the north east, but by the end of the day we had 30 knots of easterly wind, charging us towards our destination in Marina San Miguel.

On day 2 we found ourselves ‘beating’ to La Gomera in a westerly wind!!  Velvet Lady sliced her way through the flat sea to complete shelter in Marina San Sebastian.  Day 3 and the forecast was for a southerly gale, what a good day to visit the rain forest.  Days 4,5,6 – south becoming south west then north west – what now!  Basic seamanship – shelter behind a big lump of land! Usually grey and miserable in the north east wind acceleration zone, the east coast of Tenerife was stunning under blue skies and bright sunshine and we found ourselves a little gem.

At the end of the fourth day we anchored somewhat tentatively in a curved bay behind some jaggy looking rocks which gave us protection from the SE right around to the north west. There was a small amount of swell to rock us to sleep.  From here we sailed northwards past Santa Cruz to the tiny and pretty bay at Bahia de Antequera.  If the pilot books were anything to go by there is nothing here – but there were two houses on the shore and a trip in the dinghy revealed a cave which had quite recently been used. It was kitted out with a kitchen worktop, cooking equipment, table and chairs – potatoes and cleaning materials still in evidence. Tucked at the back of the cave was a small sleeping area and even a very nice religious shrine.   Imaginations ran wild as we discussed who might have been here last and what the cave was for.

For our final days sailing we explored further north along the coastline and ventured out into the huge Atlantic swell before returning to Santa Cruz.  We logged 167 miles and although our trip didn’t resemble the itinerary on the website one bit, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  The unusual wind direction was matched by huge amounts of blue sky and sunshine and it was the hottest it has been since we got here in December. Summer is definitely on the way and seems right that we are just about to head north again.

This week reminded me how difficult itinerary planning is.  I am sitting at the moment putting the final touches to our programme and the itineraries for September through to December.  I know full well that the chances of following them are limited but understand that future guests must be given a flavour of the kind of sailing they might expect to do.  Please do remember when reading all of our itineraries they are for guidance only –
Richards favourite saying is that you can either chose where to go or when to get there but never both!
We do however make sure on all our trips that we plan and leave enough time to get you to your departure airport!

Tenerife to Madeira next, and we are rubbing our hands with glee as this unusual weather is continuing and the forecast for Thursday and Friday is again SW winds – hurrah!

Canary Island Dash

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Wonderful two weeks, very varied sailing conditions, excellent patient teaching and great food and company.  Very sad to leave

We’ve just completed a very busy fortnight sailing 511 miles and visiting 7 different islands in the Canary Archipelago.  What a variety of weather we have had doing it. 

Very light winds on our first day, so we spent the afternoon watching the RC44 regatta in Lanzarote; plenty of sunshine and great weather for swimming in La Graciosa; a beautiful starry night for our first night sail from La Graciosa to Fuerteventura followed by plenty of wind and fast sailing in the acceleration zones between Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Tenerife and El Hierro.  Fantastic reaching between El Hierro and La Gomera,
where we took a day out to visit the rain forest before a long beat back to the North of Tenerife. 

Whales, dolphins and flying fish joined us on our passages, and much time was spent with the camera trying to capture them.  As always they are far too quick for me resulting in lots of photos of water!

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RC 44’s sailing off Puerto Calero in Lanzarote – We had great view of the start line 

So how did Richard get on with a group of 5 ladies?  Sailing the boat was no different to usual but there were definitely more ‘friendly discussions’ about whose turn it was to wash up than ever before. Everyone agreed that Richard was a great cook, and they liked having their food prepared for them but apart from cooking Richard was elbowed from the galley as the girls all helped with setting and clearing the table, washing up, and peeling potatoes!  It is quite a challenge on a 14 night trip to provide a nutritious and varied menu, but as usual the guests said the food was fabulous and we should say more about it on the website! 

Our varied menu included salmon steaks, tuna steaks, fish pie, coq au vin, beef casserole, lasagne, roast pork, pork kebabs and more.  With a vegetarian on board we also added spinach and ricotta quiche and bean stew – surprisingly though, with all this, the most talked about was jacket potatoes with fillings on the first night at sea!  Also popular were our good old English puddings, Apple Crumble, Mince meat tart, Trifle, sponge pudding and custard and the piece de resistance one night – Xmas pudding and brandy sauce!

Well with all this talk about food – its time to go and start cooking for our next trip.  Our last relaxed week in the Canary Islands before we start on our programme of longer passages to get us back to UK and up to Norway for the summer.  Why not join us for a slightly longer sail and learn what ocean passage making is all about!