Between Europe and the Islands

January 8th 2020 – Imagine sitting on a boat with two other people whom you have only briefly met in the past. After 4 days at sea you finally arrive in a beautiful anchorage. But you can’t go ashore! The outboard engine is stuck in limbo and we are stuck onboard the mother ship. And yes one oar is missing so the dinghy was completely out of service.

Alexandra and Nadine having a few arrival beers

We’re at anchor in the bay of Playa Francesca on La Graciosa’s south east coast. The famous and normally very crowed anchorage all for our self’s. We’re glancing over at the volcanic peaks and the incredible landscape. Can’t go there. We swim, cook, drink, play card games and catch up on sleep. Breakfast on day two, we look at each other amazed and it seems we have all been thinking the same: if we don’t have the strong urge to go on shore now to get some personal time and space, this might just be a good sign. We’re getting along well, laughing a lot, still a bit high from our trip down from Portugal. I guess we feel like acomplished sailors already.

On day four we leave for Arecife but not before sailing over to visit the small harbor on La Graciosa. We have not cleared in yet and tell the officiales that we will only do a quick stopover and then complete our clearance in Arecife. They look at us sharp just about to say “no”, we return them three huge smiles and some of my good sounding grammatically terrible Spanish and oh wonder we get permission to go on land for a few hours and even leaving Fitz Roy on the customs dock for free! Hombres, Gracias!

We explore the island on foot and have some nice lunch and a beer before leaving this lovely desert island. It’s 4pm and we tack north into some strong winds that channel between the islands. Rounding the northern tip of Lanzarote, night came over us and we had a light north easterly air brining us south along the east coast. Nadine and I are in the galley as Alexandra shouts at us “satelites!” she points to the moonless sky above us and there we see it, 50 satellites flying by in a row, a proper pearl chain brightly lit! It is completely science fiction stuff. Elon Musks project Starlink which is run by Space X and has concession to shoot up 11900 satellites until 2021 with aditional 30k units pending. That is 5 times as many satellites as have been launched into space since invention of satelites in 1957 all within two three years. Nuts!
Marina Lanzarote is situated inside the commercial port of Arecife and has some reefs in the final approaches but with charts, radar and a good eye we make it in at around 9pm in complete darkness without any issues or doubt.


Boat work and Sailing friendships

What followed is a week of intensive work on the boat, some frustrating moments with local workers and our first real sailing friendships! Sailing friendships are characterized by quick formation, a lot of warmth, depth and trust as we share a common faith out there. A common enemy, which is boat work, then of course good humor, thirstiness and the awareness that we soon will be separated again, sometimes until the next stopover sometimes for good.

Here are some of the characters we met in Arecife: Thomas, German citizen in his 50ies on a Bavaria, he sold his insurance business, spends his time down here working on the boat looking for a partner. When I asked him for some help with my fridge he said: “forget it, I know nothing about that, I’m sewing new cushion covers I’m good at that”.
Tobi and Julia in their 30ies/40ies on a Dehler “Lagertha” leaving the rat race early to find some new adventures and troubles at sea and boy they found them, to the point that they decided to postpone their Atlantic crossing a year and get to know the boat better.
And finally there was Walti, a Swiss cargo train driver who was sanding and painting his steel boat for months, always just days away from leaving for Suriname. You guessed it he is still there.

We had so much stuff to get done but we would always find time to joke around, go out for dinners together with all of them and talk about boats our live choices and the world. To keep this short I will spare you the nightmares with the local technicians and how we solved everything on our own in the end.

La Graciosa

La Graciosa, January 2020

It’s time to leave. Nadine and Alexandra execute another amazingly well planned food shopping round. Cans of beer, cans of tomato, pasta, pesto and fresh produce piles up on the jetty as the delivery boys bring box after box down to the dock. Of course our friends come over to share some of that “we are leaving” feeling and before we know it some of those cans open them self’s and we have a little cockpit party. There is still so much to talk about. It’s getting dark and at 9 in the evening we remind our self’s that all our food is still on the dock. Everybody lends a hand and 15 minutes later the food is stored and we head off to a nearby restaurant.

Sunrise on our approach to Porto Calero

Final repairs and prep in Lanzarote

The alarm goes off at 5 a.m. and we’re setting sail for Porto Calero, where we are scheduled to haul out at 8am to compltet a series of jobs before being put into water again at 4pm. A busy day lays ahead. In a combined effort a mechanic and I change the shaft seal and all four silencers (engine mounts) and realign the engine all while the girls organize the storage of food and beverage. Exhausted we go to the marina restaurant and eat a burger, it’s Friday evening and I would like to hang around and have some beers but we are just too tired. Tomorrow is another busy day. The weather looks good for heading south and once again we prepare for immediate departure. We work through the day, take a nap in the afternoon and leave Puerto Calero two hours after Sunset. 800 nautical miles to go to Cabo Verde. It’s a beautiful and quiet night, we don’t yet know that we soon will run into trouble with the engine again and that we will be doing this passage engineless.