Christmas and New Year in Las Palmas

On 15. December my mother arrived for a over christmas visit. The first two days it was awful weather with rain and wind but as usual not cold.

Sonntagsfruehstueck mit Gille

One day we went out sailing with Jonas, who originally wanted to sail with me but later decided to sail on a boat in a paid position back to the Mediterranean, which he thought was the better option for his life than to sail across the Atlantic ocean. Let´s hope he is right for his case.

Gille winkt am Ruder

Gille am Ruder Arbeit mit Jonas







One day we rented a car and went onto a tour through the mountains. It was one of the few days during her stays which was just perfect because we had a spotless blue sky.

Las Palmas aus den Bergen gesehen Gran Canaria Inland Nordseite













We went to the small village of San Mateo were they were setting up a life chrismas story in front of the church with sheep, goats, a donkey, rabbits and other farm animals and a real shepherd







and we went to the famous Roque de Nublo on the top of the island.

Rocque Nublo

Rocque Nublo










On Christmas Evening we went to a barbecue party for all the sailors in the harbour away from home. The barbecue party was organised by a German woman whe does this every year since 6 years. You bring your own stuff for the barbecue, something for the buffet and some drinks. There were many people something around 50 to 60 people, mostly Europeans.
On Chrismas day we went on a bus tour to the north west corner of the island to the little town called Gaidar. There is a cave with paintings and a museum but of course on Christmas day it was closed. But because it was beautiful weather we sat on the beach and had a coffee in the nearby cafe.
On 27 December she already had to leave back home.
On 28. December my dear friends Lennart and Silke, both now living in Berlin, but I know Lennart from Hamburg, arrived for an over New Year visit. We mostly met in the evenings because I was busy preparing the boat for the big crossing over the Atlantic Ocean which was now scheduled for the 4. January 2014 with its first leg to the Cape Verde Islands. Also I had to solve my crew problem after Jonas had already said good bye.
I thought I was lucky because Romy, a German woman, contacted me writing that she had seen my ad in the harbour that I was looking for crew. She said she had some sailing experience So we met, she brought her friend with her, I showed her the boat and she asked a lot of questions. She said she would contact me. I also had talked to a young swedish lady who was looking for a boat because her boyfriend wanted to sail single handed on his Folkeboat and she needed another boat to get across as well and I was not sure who of the two ladies I would prefer. Anyway, this situation was resolved by Romy who wrote me an message that she liked our conversation and wanted to sail with me. Ok, I thought, that is a clear answer, I take Romy with us (Marcos and me) and tell Elin, the Swedish lady, that I had found someone. So I did.
Romy came along the next day and we started planning the shopping with a shopping list. Lennart, Silke, her, her friend and me went out in the evening for dinner. On 31. December we five went sailing, there was a lot of wind onshore creating quite high waves. Lennart, Romy and me liked it but Silke and Melanie got sea sick after alreay 30 minutes so we went back to port, with a short stop at the Diesel pontoon to fill up with diesel. Lennart, Silke, Romy and Melanie went home to recover and we met again in the evening to celebrate new year with the two starting with a barbecue on the roof top terrace of their hostel on the Las Canteras beach. It had been agreed that Romy would move onto my boat on 1 January.
But while Lennart, Silke and me were on a walk through the dunes of Maspalomas in the south of the island Romy called me telling me that she had thought about it once more and said that she came to the conclusions to stay on a boat and the ocean for 5 weeks is not what she wanted to do with her free time. I was very disappointed but from  the experience with Jonas I had already learned to take the word of sailing hitch hikers not so serious and that nothing is guaranteed until you left the harbour with them on board. I do not know what happened, may be because her friend was so scared by the waves and the sea sickness Romy as well got her doubts whether she wanted to go or not.
Ok I thought, I will have to explain the situation to Marcos when he arrives on 2. January and try to convince him that we could do the trip also with just the two of us like so many couples do it all the time. Why should we two strong and heathy men not be able to do it?
When Marcos arrived he was always. Talking a lot, 100 things at one time to organise but always laughing and in a good mood. Only when I told him that we might have to go only by two he got a little bit silent. But he was so determined to go especially because he had taken every effort to convince his PhD tutors to postpone the delivery of the next version of his PhD by some weeks he got accustomed to the idea.
So the next day we went shopping to the super market and after it was delivered to the boat we stored it away, especially the water. We were still planning for three people because in this harbour you never know who comes along the next day. Especially I had contact to a man who was coming on 4. January in the evening which was still ok, because we had to wait until 5 January because Marcos needed his last shot of vaccination against Tetanus.
On Saturday 3. January we went shopping to the fruit market for fruits and vegetables, took them by taxi to the boat, washed them on the pontoon and stored them in the nets under deck and in the evening went went with Silke and Lennart to have a farewell dinner.

Essen m Lennart, Silke und Marcos







So on Sunday 4. January we were actually set for departure on Monday 5 after Marcos would have returned from the doctor.
But then, shock horror, when I climbed off board on Monday morning to take my last shower before departure I noticed a crack in the welding of the stainless steel mounting (Bugbeschlag) where the fore stay (Vorstag) is connected and which holds the whole mast.



I thought, we can not go with such a crack because we would risk the mast. I told it Marcos who was of course disappointed that we would not leave and it was unforseeable how long the repair would take. Plus the next day was a holiday on Gran Canaria and therefore on the afternoon of the 5. January most shops were closed.



Riss in Bugbeschlag
So I immediately started to see how difficult it would be to get the mounting off. Luckily it turned out to be one of the easiest jobs I had done on this boat. Basically I only had to unsrew 5 thick bolts and fortunately all nuts came off without greater problems. I only needed a second hand to hold the bolts from one side while I was turning the ratched. This second hand was lend to me by Elin, the Swedish lady. So with her help after not more than on hour the damn thing was off.
I had already contacted the sailmaker on my pontoon who was also doing stainless steel weldings whether he could weld it. He had said that if I give it to him that lunch he could do it.
Because I had been ready with the demounting before his lunch break I could give it to him in time and he promised to weld it either the same day or if not than certainly the next day (which was that holiday).
Meanwhile Sören had come along, the man I had been in contact about the Atlantic crossing. He turned out to be a very friendly and sociable young man from Copenhage in Denmark. Marcos was around as well and we three had a nice chat together. And because we found each other so sympathetic we soon agreed that he would come with us. He only had to go to his hotel to pick up his clothes. After his return he washed them in the marina laundry, hung them up on board and afterwards we went to Decathlon to shop a sleeping bag and a towel and I had wanted to look at a Decathlon shop anyway. It took us about one hour by bus to go there and one hour back.
Because it was the evening before an important holiday it was a party evening and I had been asked by some other sailors whether I wanted to join them the evening to go out. I said yes and despite our trip to Decathlon I still managed to take a shower and to be in time to meet our party gang.
We went to the old town of Las Palmas which was packed with people. First we had beer with some pinchos (finger food) in one bar, then another beer with some tapas until we eventually found a dancing club where we stayed until 4 o´clock when they closed.
So when I got up with a slight hang over I went to the welders boat and was very happy to get from his wife the welded mounting.
I had bought new nuts and bolts already the day before so Sören and I could mount it back on. We slowly but determined did our work and after something like two hours we had everything back on including the genoa hoisted and furled around the forestay.

Am Bugbeschlag Der neue Bugbeschlag













Marcos had been out the evening before and had stayed there over night.
Already some days ago we had met the mutual friend Esther of Marcos and a friend of him when Marcos and I had been out one evening with Lennart and Silke. It must have been the 2 January, his first day on the island. Esther is an artist originating from Las Palmas and had just recently come back from London where she had been working. She is doing sculptures, paintings and many other materials. She had been contemplating to come with us to the Cape Verde Islands but eventually had decided that she did not have the money for the trip and the flight back. But she had instead invited Marcos and me for dinner on 4. January and during the dinner had developed to travel with us virtually. So on 6 January she came along to take some pictures of the boat not only from the outside but also the inside in order to write messages to us onto them, messages she would only send to us by e-mail after we had arrived on the Cape Verde Islands.
We will see what that messages are like, they will be in Spanish, so Marcos will have to translate them to me.
So, after all these ups and downs we did our last shopping of bread, a little bit of water and most important gas for the cooker on the morning of 7. January. After a little lunch and the safety instructions for Marcos and Sören we left Las Palmas at 16:00 to Mindelo on the Ilha de Sao Vicente of the Cape Verde Islands.

870 miles from Las Palmas to Mindelo

After we had left Las Palmas we soon had a strong wind from the back and put away the main sail during the first night because a reefed genoa was already enough to give us a decent speed of 5 to 6 knots.
Sören and me became sea sick and threw up from time to time. In the beginning of the trip the weather was very rough with 7 Bft. of wind, although it came form behind we still had rocky movements of the boat. And at least in my case when I am sea sick my blood pressure is low and I also get very cold although the outside temperature was still around 18°C. But together with the high wind speed it was very chilly. However, we all did our watches with three hours during the night (20-23, 23- 02, 02 – 05 and 05-08) and four hours during the day (8-12. 12- 16 and 16 .- 20) and such a three hour watch was bearable time despite the cold.

The usual outfit during the first half of the trip.

The usual outfit during the first half of the trip.









The Atlantic Ocean as it presented itself most of the time.

The Atlantic Ocean as it presented itself most of the time.










The good thing was that there were literally no other ships to be seen so a sharp look around every 10 minutes was good enough and in between one could hide away as far as possible in the cock pit. We got often waves splashing into the cockpit so we were all the time wet and of course under deck it was difficult to maintain things dry as the foul weather gear (Seglerkleidung) was wet. Once we had a big wave coming into the cockpit from the back and it filled the cockpit all the way up to the lids of the storage compartments. But with in 20 seconds the whole was gone through the self draining wholes in the cockpit floor. But Sören was all wet afterwards because he had been directly hit by the wave. Luckily we had the wash boards (Steckschotten im Niedergang) in so no problematic amount of water came in. Only the role of kitchen paper go soaking wet and could only be thrown away.
On the fourth day the weather had calmed down and we could enjoy sunshine in the cockpit. But appetite had not yet really come back.
But on the fifth day everybody had gotten back his healthy appetite so we had a fine tuna salad, we had cofffee, Sören and Marcos interchanged with playing on the guitar and we put out our fishing rod (Angel).

Playing the guitar and harmonica on the high seas between Las Palmas and Mindelo

Playing the guitar and harmonica on the high seas between Las Palmas and Mindelo









Marcos at a typical activity: Setting his GoPro camera

Marcos at a typical activity: Setting his GoPro camera


Apparently we also caught a fish but the moment we had it on the hook, it was already gone and when we pulled in the line all the bait was gone and some blood on the line. It must have been a big fish, too big for our line and it broke.

On the sixth day which later turned out to be the last day, the conditions again got a bit rollier. Around the middle of our trip I had hoped to arrive at Mindelo just before sun set on the evening of the sixth day but it turned out that we had been not that fast enough. So the arrival time was just before midnight, meaning at darkness. I had been worried to arrive there at midnight because the pilot books were talking about unmarked wrecks in the anchor bight I had been thining about to slow down sothat we would arrive at the next morning with sun rise. But then I thought, damn it, why should we stay out a whole night for nothing. I took a closer look at the sea chart and thought that if we keep close to the commercial harbour we should be safe from possible wrecks. So let´s try it.
Coming from sea we first aimed for the light house on the little island Ilheu dos Passaros at the entrance of the Mindelo Bight. From there we turned almost south to head for the outer breakwater (Hafenmole) of the commercial harbour and from there directly east to the ferry terminal. And from there we could see the mast of the yachts in the marina. I originally wanted to moore at the fishing club but there we were told that everything is full and an friendly man in a dinghy guided us through the anchoring boats into the marina. He and another man from the marina helped us with the mooring lines and so on Tuesday 13. January 2015 at 23:45 UTC or 22:45 local time we had arrived after 870nm in six days and 8 hours.


Sea chart of the bight of Mindelo

Sea chart of the bight of Mindelo








That makes an average speed of 5,7 knots! Not bad! And all just under a most of the time reefed genoa. So, as usual, after all everything went well. I wonder sometimes how helpful some pilot books are if they seem to describe things more complicated then they actually are. Why can´t they just describe how the straight forward way is and what the restrictions are, i.e. what dangers are to be observed. Then everybody can take his own decision whether he/she wants to do it or not.
Despite we were tired, after our mooring beer we headed for the town because after all that sitting and lying in the boat we wanted to walk. After some looking around we asked a local lady for a place to eat and she guided us to a bar where we got pizza. It was the worst pizza we had ever eaten but under the given circumstances it was great. After the dinner we went to sleep and all three of us we dreamt wild dreams.

Rain and sunshine in eternal spring

I spent a few days on the anchorage while my crew mustered off (hat abgemustert) to pursue their own itinerary. Because a storm was forecasted and the ground of the anchorage had not a good reputation for its holding character in storms I asked in the marina despite it was still full with boats waiting and preparing for the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC). And luckily I got a nice berth in the central area of the marina.
Anyway, these days before the ARC were really crazy. People everywhere, queues in the chandlery, in the toilet and showers, everyday more people arriving by plane or boat, the bars packed with people. But I had planned to be here because I wanted Jörg Drexhagen of to take a look onto my SSB. It took a few days until he came on board. Meanwhile I was reading the ads of people wanting to crew on a boat that crosses the Atlantic. I hadn´t tied the last knot of my mooring lines and already people came along the pontoon and asking whether I need crew. I answered yes I need but only for January. For most of them that was not interesting at this moment but this way I met some really nice and lovely people. And also old aquaintences arrived with their boats from the various surrounding islands like Fuerteventura and also Madeira. E.g. Makara who had left Madeira with us but had spent a week on Tenerife or Trude who had left Cascais with us.

Checking the SSB
Ok, I had Jörg on board and after looking and checking and doing some tests with whistling into the handset of the SSB-radio he said that the ground of the system is not good enough and that I should paint the bilge with copper paint he is usually selling but he was out of stock, that the radio is transmitting with only 50% of its capacity because it is built this way and that I need 3 to 4 stand offs for the antenna cable which I could buy from him for 25 Euros per piece. For a better ground he offered me to buy as a makeshift for 180 Euros three cables I should lay along the bilge. He also took a look at my VHF-radio and said that it is sending only with a fraction of its normal transmission power and that I should better exchange the decades old Danish VHF for a modern one. The analysis of the two radios cost me 50 Euros.
I at least ordered a new VHF in Bremen at SVB which was sent to Leo in Hamburg because he was coming to visit me that coming week.
When he arrived the weather was quite bad so we spent the first day to install the VHF which all in all was not a difficult job. So now I have a proper DSC device and we even managed to connect it to the GPS so that it also transmits the position in case of an emergency.

Sailing to the south of Gran Canaria

Helicopter rescue demonstration for the ARC participants

Helicopter rescue demonstration for the ARC participants

The next day the ARC had its start and after we had seen off some boats who I had met, like the boat and same skipper I sailed the ARC two years ago, we also set sails to sail just 9 miles south to Taliarte. We arrived there a little after dark. I knew from the hand book that they had no facilities for visiting yachts but we saw a nice swimming pontoon where we moored. But instantly a security guard showed up and told us in Spanish that we should leave and go to Las Palmas. We asked why we could not stay there and he said very excited and determined that the pontoon belonged to the city council and nobody was allowed to moor there. When we did not immediatly showed a will to leave he asked us for our papers. The problem was that the pontoon had no connection to the land so we could not just hand him our papers. He then told us to come with the boat to the quay wall. I did not like that idea at all because the wall was made for fishing boats with big dirty tires as fendrs, rusty chains and bollards big as our boat. And even worse the wall had an edge jumping back almost exactly at the height of our deck and there was still some swell in the harbour. With fenders hanging quite high we could just avoid the boat being pushed against this edge. This was the situation at low water so after a while the water had risen and the edge was no problem any more. But due to the swell the boat was still moving forward and backward a lot and I was all the time afraid of it hitting the really horrible looking wall. At low tide it was so high and no ladder anywhere we had to build a rope ladder from some lines to get onto the quay to give the guard our papers. He drove away with them and came back 10 minutes later. He handed us our papers back and said we could stay for one night.
Ok, „thank you“ we thought (and some more things I will not write here) and so we stayed. We cooked a simple pasta dinner.
In the middle of the night I woke up at high water although I had not set my alarm clock. I checked the mooring lines and the fenders, adjusted their height a little bit but overall everything was fine. Now at high water it was no problem to reach the quay, I could step down from the deck onto it.
The next morning after breakfeast we set sail, just the genoa, and sailed in a beautiful downwind course to Posito Blanco. The wind was blowing with force 6 but only until a certain point where many wind mills were installed.

Tarjana - Posito Blanco

Leo and me on our way from Taliarte to Posito Blanco

Beyond that point the wind had almost completely died and we even had to tack (Kreuzen) the last few miles.
Posito Blanco is a yacht harbour next to a golf course in the middle of nowhere. When we moored at the reception quay Senem and Didem, two Turkish women from  Istanbul, who were looking for a boat to cross the ocean and who I had met in Las Palmas, visited us and we walked to Maspalomas, a well known big holiday place with only hotels and holiday apartments but it has a wonderful beach with big sand dunes.

Palm Trees

Lying under palm trees!

SeaBelow from mast top of neighbouring boat Lisa

Picture taken by the crew of the German yacht Lisa who we had met first in Cascais in Portugal and who were lying next to us in Posito Blanco.

On Maspalomas beach walk

With Senem and Didem on the beach walk of Maspalomas

Sunset Maspalomas

Sunset at Maspalomas light house

Im Cockpit

Perfect sail back to Las Palmas

We admired the sunset and went to one of the many restaurants there. They had to go back to their hosts and Leo and I sailed the next day to the just 6nm distant Puerto Rico. A place even more purpose developed for tourists. It was a beautiful sail, no ocean swell, bright sunshine and a light breeze. We had beer on the beach and afterwards checked the bars out. It was off season so in most bars were not many guests, only in the Rock´n Roll bar were many people. We got ourselves a beer and because it was still early in the evening, we sat at a table with anti-slip stainless steel sheet metal as cover. I found that strange but took it as just a design item. But not long after I had put my glass onto this surface a waiter came and politely asked me to put the glass in the Rinne that was on each side. I did not understand why but did as I was told. Not long after Leo had come back from the toilet we learned why. One of the body builder shaped waiters jumped onto the table and started to dance. Immediatly several short skirted and high heeled girls jumped onto the table as well, now dancing right in front of us with skirts short that you could see almost everything.
Aha, we thought, are we men supposed to dance there as well? At least for me it would have been a bit difficult, because the beams of the ceiling were so low, that I constantly would have hit my head.
Anyway, after a while this dancing was over and because it had gotten late, we drunk and we wanted to sail 40nm miles back to Las Palmas the next day we went to sleep.
The next morning we found much better wind then forecasted meaning we had the wind from the back almost all the way up the coast. One hour before sunset the wind died and came back very weak from ahead so for the last 8 nm we turned the engine on because we wanted to be in the harbour at a reasonable time.

Back in Las Palmas

The next day the skipper of the German catamaran Cayluna celebrated his birthday and had invited us among other German sailors to the Asian restaurant Wok in the El Muelle shopping centre near the cruise ship terminal. It was really excellent all-you-can eat-buffet where you could choose also raw meat and sea food and get it cooked in front of your eyes in the kitchen. Especially the meat was excellent, seldom found in restaurants.
The next day, Saturday, Leo and I went to the Las Arenas beach on the west coast of Las Palmas to watch the high waves because a storm was blowing like it had not for ten years the people said. The beach was closed for swimming and we were hiding behind a corner of a house for not to be hit by the rain and wind and in the evening we went out dancing with Senem and Didem. The next day, Sunday, Leo already had to fly back home.
The following days I spent with working on the boat and with Senem and Didem and their skipper and his first mate, because they had meanwhile found a boat. They left on 6. December and hopefully they have a safe journey.

Senem good bye on True blue Didem good bye True blue True blue



















New try to fix the SSB
So, after everybody had left I was able to concentrate again more on my boat. I called an old German guy to look once more into my SSB. He was the first one to examine the machine in a way I thought it should be done. I brought a device with him to measure the sending signal and the reflected signal, which tells how good the radio is working. He said the antenna tuner was ok, but that the radio had a problem and he took it with him. When he brought it back he was very pleased with its function. But he said as well as others before that I have to improve the ground of the antenna. For that we went to a shop to get 3,5sqm of copper foil I put into the bilge, soldered the stripes together (die Blechstreifen zusammenlöten) and he also wants to make me a new antenna because the thing also did not work properly.

In den Seilen hängen

In Leixoes waren wir schlußendlich eine geschlagene Woche eingeweht und sind so manche Nacht ordentlich durchgeschaukelt worden. Zum Glück gab es in dem Hafen aber eine Menge andere Boote aus England, Schweden, Irland, Belgien und Frankreich, die so wie wir auf dem Weg nach Süden und die meisten auch auf dem Weg auf die Kanaren und in die Karbik unterwegs waren. Einige waren als Ehepaare unterwegs, andere als Freundesgruppen oder auch einzeln. So habe wir aus der Not eine Tugend gemacht und uns mit allen Abends in einem Restaurant getroffe, als es draußen stürmte und regnete. Zum Glück war es nicht kalt, sondern immer um die 20 Grad warm. Am letzten Sonntag war das Wetter dann wieder sommerlich, weil aber die meisten noch darauf warteten, daß sich die Wellen von einer Woche Sturm erst einmal wieder beruhigen, haben wir noch mal mit allen am Strand gegrillt.

Sonst sind wir mit dem Bus, Taxi oder der Stadtbahn nach Porto gefahren und sind dort im Regen herumgelaufen bzw. haben uns in Museen, Kirchen, Portweinkellern und Cafes und Restaurant vor dem Regen versteckt.Wir haben aber auch viel geschlafen und gelesen.

Am Montag Morgen sind wir dann nach Lissabon gestartet und das Meer war schon wieder ganz ruhig, so ruhig, daß auch der Wind fast mit weg war. So haben wir die 175 Seemeilen in 51 Stunden zurückgelegt, davon aber 18 Stunden motort und dadurch ca. 45% der Strecke zurückgelegt. Aber dabei haben die Mädels ausgiebig gebadet und wir haben unseren ersten Fisch gefangen.

Jetzt sind wir in Seixal gegenüber von Lissabon am Tejo, wo das Boot auch schon gleich aus dem Wasser genommen werden konnte, um so  wie geplant, hier den Borddurchlass für das Echolot reparieren zu lassen. Morgen soll das geschehen.

Bilder gibt es hier: