Madeira to Canaries

Saturday October 25, 2014

sailing into Canary Islands It feels like we’ve been trying to get out of Maderia forever. Not that we actually want to leave this place, although peaceful anchorages are calling our names and we will be happy to leave the marina life behind once and for all. At least, until we get to Florida next spring and spend quite a bit of time in a marina fixing up our new boat. But as it stands we haven’t felt the gentle sway of being at anchor since our quick stop in Bermuda, and feeling like we’ve been on display to all the tourists and cruise ship passengers that wander past the ‘Dip is starting to get a little old. We haven’t even been sitting in the cockpit because it literally feels like we’re behind the wall in a zoo. Some people have even tried to feed Georgie, as we’ve come out and found bread crumbs on the deck more than once. Yes, it is time to leave, and the weather gods have finally smiled on us and given us a three day window of favorable winds to the Canaries.

Although the swells were confused and coming from every direction as we left the harbor, once we were a few miles out from shore they chose one angle and our ride became much smoother. Having filled the aft cabin with as much Pepsi it could hold and got our hands on the closest thing we could find to Nacho Cheese Doritos (I have to say, ‘queso’ has a broad definition of what kind of cheese is acceptable to pair up with tortilla chips), it was an enjoyable afternoon as we glided out into the great beyond with the sun beating down on us and music floating through the air as we enjoyed our spoils of what we think might be our last modern supermarket for awhile.

While Matt took a late afternoon nap below to prepare himself for the first night watch I was watching the sun get lower in the sky and throw beautiful red hues on the Islas Desertas off to our port side. The sailing was beautiful and it was such a treat after our last passage where nothing was going our way. A huge weight lifted from my shoulders as I had been dreading this trip ever since we docked in Maderia and was ready to tell Matt to find crew to get Serendipity back to Florida while I took a smoother ride back at 35,000 ft. Not actually an option, but this sail was beginning to prove that I could take on the ocean again.

Through the next few days we experienced light winds to none, which meant a bit more motoring than we normally like. Personally I was ok with it though as it meant calm seas and a smooth ride. Exactly what I needed at this point in my life. Even when the winds were lightly floating through at 10-15 knots we had a nice although somewhat slow ride across the water. After having transited the Atlantic at an average speed of 3 knots though, the 4 we were now holding felt like good progress and neither of us minded that the trip would take 3 days instead of 2.5. One more night at sea, but that was fine with us.

The only thing that did get on our nerves was the amount of chatter on the radio. All on channel 16 too, it was ridiculous. None of it was in English, a mix of French, Portuguese, and a bit of Spanish instead, so we never knew exactly what was being said, but it was pretty apparent they were all using it in the way one would chat to friends on a cell phone. Lots of laughing and even the occasional drunk just making random noises. All hours of the day. It became so bad that we eventually had to change the channel just to rid ourselves of it.

Overall the trip passed very quickly with sunny skies and calm nights filled with brilliant stars. On our last night out I was also treated with something I’ve been wanting to see for a few years before we even left for this trip. I have to say that the stretch between Madeira and the Canaries have given us the best phosphorus we’ve seen so far on our travels, which in itself could be mesmerizing for hours as you’d stare at the wake thrown out by the boat. I was doing just this in the middle of my night shift when I heard the familiar sounds of dolphins surfacing and blowing air behind me. Quickly jumping up on the combing I scanned the water to see if I could make them out. For a few minutes they stayed behind the boat, but then I could make out bright blue marks in the water next to me as they caught up and shot forward to the bow, outlining their shapes as they glided by. It was only for a moment, and I’m sad they didn’t stay longer to light up the water next to me for longer, but now I can check one more thing off my bucket list.

The sighting put me into a happy slumber when my shift ended just a little bit later, and before I knew it I was being woken up by Matt as we approached Isla Graciosa and Lanzarote. The sun was just raising in the sky and highlighting all the sharp cones and small volcanoes that the islands are made of. Once more, a stunning welcome back to land. Just a little bit later we pulled into the anchorage of Playa Francesa and nestled ourselves between the fifteen or so other boats already there. Immediately all the hatches and ports were opened up as we let fresh air roll into the boat and and we took up spots in the cockpit enjoying our surroundings. There’s not much civilization around here, but I think a few days of seclusion is just what the doctor ordered. Prescription: filled.

Funchal from the water

Islas Desertas, Madeira

Lanzarote, Canary Islands

Isla Graciosa, Canary Islands

Playa Francesca, Isla Graciosa, Canaires

Besteaver in Canary Islands

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