We are in the Canaries.

Well more of that later. The trip from Porto Santo to Madeira was very enjoyable. We managed some sailing and the last part, drifting into Quinta do Lorde was delightful. The marina was chosen as reports of berthing in Funchal were not good. Rafting up and poor facilities were not on our list of marina highlights. So what of Quinta do Lorde?  What a surprise, from the greeting by the fast rib, to fuelling and to mooring up, the staff couldn’t have been more helpful. The formalities were quickly done and the marina is part of a hotel and apartment complex with pools, beach club and bar,. and all accessible at a discount. We hired a car and went to the next village with our crew mate Kevin to search out a local fish restaurant. We just looked for where the locals were and this proved to be a fantastic choice, fresh fish and low prices. All three of us couldn’t believe it. We subsequently looked it up on trip advisor and we were not the only ones to enjoy it. The next day Kevin became our tour guide as he had been to Funchal before. We did the usual, cable car, restaurant and road sledge, very popular here! The next few days passed in bliss but the highlight was afternoon tea at Reed's Palace. Kevin had booked it for us via Catharine his wife as they had sampled it before. It was truly fantastic. The sandwiches were sublime, the scones to die for and the tea just right. The view was also fantastic. A bit of old British tradition that has survived and long may it do so.  The next day we went to Santana to view old Madeira. A bit touristy but the thatched houses were quaint. The next day saw our departure for Tenerife. Another two nights at sea, but this time in very calm conditions. No need for stugeron! The arrival was again under sail and we quietly slipped in at dawn to Marina Tenerife. You are meant to book, but being there seems to ensure they squeeze you in! So we are in the Canaries after a journey of 2004 miles. We had to say goodbye to Kevin as he flies back to Lagos. Part of the delight of this adventure is the people you meet. You couldn’t meet a nicer person than Kevin, quiet, funny, resourceful and makes a mean sandwich. We will miss him greatly.

On our own....

The last few days in Lagos were relaxing and we spent some of the time sampling the restaurants. All great, even the Indian!

The next phase was to prepare to be on our own to continue onwards to be in Gran Canaria to make the start of the ARC. But first to go to Porto Santo which is close to Madeira, a passage of 500 miles or so. The Biscay crossing made us realise that the night watches took their toll and fatigue made decision making sub-optimal. We again took the decision to find at least one other crew member and put the advert on Crew Seekers. Unlike last time we had little response so by Monday we sent an email to the webmaster of “Lagos Navigators”, a well known site for the Lagos ex-pat sailing community. We were delighted to meet Kevin, who joined us for the trip.

We set off on Wednesday, 11th September with fair weather predicted. As usual the rolly first couple of days were not conducive to fine dining and all the crew had little to eat as stomachs adapted. We had a fine sail on the first night as the wind freshened but by morning we were making little progress. Downloading the weather GRIBS on the satellite system showed that if we were going to make it before a big blow set in we would need to get a move on. The mighty Yanmar was put into action and we made a comfortable 7 knots towards Porto Santo. We adopted a two hour single handed watch system and this was comfortable. We saw very little shipping and the only interesting encounter was from a large tanker who called us on channel 16 to ask if he could pass us starboard to starboard. Initially I was a bit taken aback to hear “Sephina of Beaumaris” called out on the VHF but realised he had a name from the AIS transmission. I dutifully obliged, as he was a lot bigger than us. We also briefly heard two yachts talking to each other on VHF but never saw them. It turns out that they left Lagos on the same bridge opening as us. We arrived at 4am on Saturday morning just 2 hours before the blow set in. Result. When we had slept and checked in some 6 hours later the two mystery yachts were chatting about how awful the last part of the journey was. Thanks to the broadband satellite internet connection, the large engine and some luck, we avoided taking a pounding.

From WATW

First thoughts on Porto Santo were not encouraging. Very little happening, “one horse town” and nothing near the marina made us question why people raved about it. Luckily we met a taxi driver who offered to show us around the island for 50 Euro the next day. This was a delightful trip and made even better by the personal narration of Antonio who was 75 and was able to bring alive the changing face of the life, culture and traditions of island living. Antonio left us at a great beach-front restaurant to reappraise Porto Santo. It was a peaceful hide away with idyllic sandy beaches without the usual trappings of tourist beach life. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to last long as the big developers have gobbled up sea facing land and only the global recession has kept the builders away. Long may this continue. Next stop Madeira.

 

Technical Assessment so far

 

I know my wife thinks my section of the website is boring as it contains too much technical information but I think it is the time to do a technical review of what worked and what fell off!.

So to the hits. Well surprise surprise I thought the aircon was a luxury we would probably not use until the Caribbean but it has been a Godsend in reducing the temperature in the boat in the evenings before bed. As it uses mains power and this is seldom metered in marinas then hey why not use it. Well we have. The little A65 WiFi plotter mounted under the spray hood has been another success. As we often sit under the spray hood and the helm plotter is behind us and one on the chart table is not visible, we have used the A65 most of the time. Linking in a second AIS has also been great as it is this plotter that we first look to for traffic. On the couple of occasions we have had fog it has delivered. The mast head camera and 32 inc TV have also been a success. Having a view down below of the sea is very helpful and it has also been useful in marinas watching life go by. The sad thing is on an earlier passage in Southern Ireland at the start of the trip a little leak in one of the port windows produced a drop or two of water on the bottom of the TV screen and soon vertical lines started to appear. TheTV had to be replaced. The leaking interscrew is yet to be replaced but we have an Irish poncho to put over the TV in case of further water. The replacement of the batteries with Rolls heavy duty AGMs has also meant we have not had to worry about power. There is 750 amps and we have never been down to less than 400 and we have not scrimped on power usage. The electric furlers on Main and Genoa have also made life easy. So far they have performed flawlessly so fingers crossed they will continue to do so. The new Yanmar has been a dream.  We've had to motor a great deal and it is now up to 160 hours, 140 of them on the trip so far. It was also a very good decision to replace the primary fuel filter to a Racon as when we had fuel problems earlier it was this device's location and ability to filter out large particles that saved the day.

So the mistakes/less well performing systems. The main Raymarine E120s seem to loose sync at least two or three times a day. The wind instruments also do likewise requiring a power off to reset them. Annoying but not dangerous. The autopilot has worked well and we upgraded it at the start of last season to a Simrad planetary gear unit. However, the linking arm failed on passage two days ago. The pin in the quadrant sheared. It was interesting to be reading Jimmy Cornell’s book “A passion for the sea” that evening.  I had just reached the chapter on self steering. It appears he has had the same problem and has had to replace the link pin at least once a year. If it is a user serviceable item why don’t they supply spare pins? James the marine engineer from Kika has bolted the link arm straight through the quadrant with an M10 bolt. That will not shear but it has led us to think, is the design a sacrificial one? The fix works for now but we need to get it checked out when we get to Lagos in a few days time. The Anchor Buoy was lost overboard in Ireland and the design of the stainless steel carrier for the foredeck needs a locking device. Another one is on order but at £250 it is a sad loss. I will not be so careless in future. Other great items are the ice machine, washing machine, mobile printer and Sat Coms. Enough of the technical as we are in Sines in Portugal and will soon be in Lagos for some R&R before the trip to the Canaries.

 

End of Chapter 2

If I was writing a book this would be the end of chapter 2, chapter 1 being the buying, refurbishing and sea trials of Sephina. It would be a long chapter full of technical details that would put the average reader to sleep. Chapter 2 would be the beginning of the round the world adventure and would finish with our arrival at Lagos in Portugal. So that is where we are. So much has happened but today we went to the beach and had a swim. Now that doesn't sound significant but it is. I would like to say it was a day without boat jobs but the morning saw fixing the holding tank pump out, and checking the autopilot drag link. But back to the significance..... sailing around the world should be about getting to exotic places and enjoying the culture and life. Well the fact we had time to go to the beach was a delight. As to the culture I am not sure the Algarve can be classed as a new culture as everyone speaks English and the restaurants and bars are either owned by English families of cater for them. But the beach was fantastic. Gold sand and lovely Atlantic breakers and although initially a bit parky it soon warmed up. There will be more beaches to enjoy and I will need to invent a scoring system to rate them. So if I give it 5 that gives both room for improvement and latitude to reflect the truly awful. Lets hope we never score less. I am reminded of a Jeremy Clarkson article where he reflected on what makes a great beach, white sand, miles of palm trees, clean blue sea and no tourists. However that means no beach bars for that cool beer, no water sports and no sun-beds and would have third world infrastructure to support.  OK so maybe the St.Tropez beaches are at the other extreme of the spectrum but I am determined to find my ideal beach. I have a sneaking feeling it will have to have Wi-Fi!!!!!

So what next. The preparation for the crossing to the Canaries, the parting of our friends from Kika who are off to Morocco and the looking forward to our new friends from Gozwaz and there will be more tales to tell I am sure. So tonight we are taking the crew of Kika, Jon, Colin and our engineering support James out for a fish dinner to say thank you for being our mother ship for chapter 2.

 

Spain

As we are about to leave Spain and I thought I would reflect on life so far. The journey has had it's ups and downs but the ups significantly out way the downs. The rough second part of the Biscay crossing has faded and the day sails in the Spanish Rias  have been a delight.  It is a shame that we have to "rush"  to Lagos to make the crossing for the ARC. I can see why if you stay too long you may never leave.  There are many cruisers who say once you have left the Rias you are leaving real life and entering tourism. Lets hope not. The living on the boat is in fact a delight. The preparation on those cold days in Conwy has certainly paid off. We have a very comfortable existence. TV, Internet, HD films, washing machine,ice maker and espresso coffee all add to the even better lifestyle of just sitting out on deck admiring the sunset in another great location. Sephina  herself is attracting lots of attention and she certainly looks fantastic as Ju keeps her shining. So the downs, missing family, friends and old work colleagues. I hope the blog keeps us in contact to some extent and thank goodness for our good Internet access on the boat. We use it more than we imagined. We are currently in Baiona in northern Spain and setting off for Portugal tomorrow. Yesterday we had the privilege of seeing the Spanish Cycling tour pass through the town. What a spectacle. As an avid TV Tour de France follower it was a great experience to see the breakaway rush through closely followed by the peloton. And boy does the peloton rush past. You can feel the wind created and the closeness of the riders is breathtaking. On our last day in Spain we are preparing for the next leg and it will be an early night tonight.