Thursday, December 29, 2016

Sao Vicente

We have had a chance to take the bus to two small communities on the other side of the island. Our first jaunt was to San Pedro, it was only a 20 minute drive by Aluger. An Aluger is a mini van or a truck with bench seats in the back , and there is no fixed schedule. The Aluger leaves when it is full, and I mean full. 
There were fifteen stacked into this van, we had the bumpy back seat. The ride on this van took about 40 minutes but as we got further and further away from the city and the vehicle emptied we were able to stretch out and we almost had a seat to ourselves when we arrived at our destination. 
San Pedro the first stop had a lovely beach. It seemed to be a fishing community, there were traditional home made boats on the beach.
We saw them bringing several boats in and it was a community effort. There were some men on the beach and others came out from their home and helped manhandle the boats above the high tide mark. At one end of the beach men were banging shells with hammers, we think they were conch. We asked if we could take a picture but were denied, and then one fellow said a euro but we didn't bother. There were piles of shells everywhere all smashed to bits. It was a very poor spot we wandered up the hill and it seemed the further up the hill you went the poorer the housing was. 
The goats were putting the shade to good use in the noonday sun. When we left the Aluger drove down to the beach and plastic bins of fish were loaded on the top of the van and strapped down for the ride back to the city to be taken to the market. 
A couple of days later we headed to Calohoa, we went with the Swedish couple who are anchored next to us, Ulf and Pia.
Pia was a physiotherapist back in Sweden and the two of them spent several summers sailing around Spitzbergen, an island north of Sweden at about 80 degrees north. ANYWAY, we seem to have quite a bit in common and have had great fun swapping stories. 
Here are a couple of passengers from the bus carrying the goods that had been stored on the roof. Notice the roads, they are rock which has been tamped down on the ground wth no real foundations built for the road. Barry says he read these roads can last for twenty years. 

We rode along a valley that was obviously the bread basket of the island. There were windmills along the route, palm trees and gardens with all sorts of vegetables growing.  One fellow got on the bus and he had a sunflower and some coconuts in his hands to take back to his home in the city. He was going  to replant the sunflower at his home in the city. 
Pia and I went for a nice swim just off these rocks. There was a ladder imbedded in the rocks so you could get in and out, very refreshing. We are hoping to leave tomorrow, Dec. 30 and it may take anywhere from two to three weeks to cross, talk to you again or the other side.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Portugese cannons

 If you have been a faithful follower of our blog you will probably remember that we had a thing about cannons when we were in the Caribbean. Well we finally have found some Portugese cannons. They are guarding the entrance to Mindelo Harbour and they have the whole straight between this island and the next covered.  We saw them as we came in and finally got around to go exploring a couple of days ago. If you look carefully at the pictures you can see there are three cannon each pointing in a different direction. There were fortifications as well but we did not venture very far into them as they were full of garbage and ready to fall apart. It is hard not to compare the area to what is available in the Caribbean and realize that this island has not discovered the possible tourist attraction this could be, or there is just not the money available on the island to make it into a tourist spot.
There are stunning views to be had, it was about a 3 k walk out to the point and along the way there were lots of very large homes in the process of being built. This one below had figured out a way to keep anyone from climbing his fence. 

We saw a few infinity pools at the front of some of the finished homes. I wonder if some of these folks don't have some money to invest in preserving those Portugese guns!
We had a lovely Christmas dinner aboard with a young German couple and a Swedish couple keeping us company. The Swedish couple had spent a number of years sailing up in Spitsbergen in the summers , it is north of Sweden about 80 degrees north so we really enjoyed their stories. We are heading off to another island by ferry tomorrow to do some serious exploring and then we will keep an eye on the weather. 
We woke up on Christmas morning and we thought that the fog had rolled in. It was the same again today with very reduced visibility. The locals have informed us it is dust from the Sahara and sure enough the boat is covered in very fine brown dirt. The bottom is also growing a good crop of shells that stick, so a good bottom cleaning is in order before we leave. 

Friday, December 23, 2016

Sao Vicente

This is the Main Street in Mindelo, the biggest city on the island we are anchored by Sao Vicente or St. Vincent. I just love the bright colours they paint their buildings and the verandas with the wrought island railing. The Cape Verde Islands were colonized by the Portugese and they gained their independence in the 1970's without any bloodshed. According to what I read they have a very young population on the islands but they have a good education level. The people are poor and there are street people lying about and there are guys that hassle us as we come out of the marina. Walking on the streets, we have not been bothered very much and the shop keepers are starting to recognize us and say hello. We have been busy looking for boat parts, and finding where is the best place to buy food so we have not been travelling or sightseeing anywhere else. 
We have been having a very social time though which is nice for a change. There are mostly European boats here, lots of French, Dutch, and German boats. We had a Swedish couple and a young German pair over to the boat and we had such a good time they will be joining us for Christmas dinner. I managed to buy a whole turkey, it is only about 4 kilos so will fit in the oven wonderfully. Last night we headed of to a different German boat and Sue and Thomas are hoping to head up the East Coast of the U.S. to Canada, so we gave them a chart book and some tips on where the best spots are. 
On our travels to find a new spark plug for our Honda generator, as of today we have not found one, we ended up on the seamy side of the harbour. There ar at least three large sunken wrecks in the area and this boat looks like it may be the next to bite the dust. 
Cat's-Paw IV is just beside the yellow boat at the back , the small blue hulled boat in front of us belongs to the young German couple. They are only 18 and the skipper has sailed this boat from Hamburg. He picked up his mate in Gomera and they plan to cross to the Caribbean . They are either crazy or courageous, I haven't decided which yet but you have to admire their guts. The boat is only 7 meters, very small, they came here at the same time as us and the boat got completely soaked at one point, all their food was swimming in the bottom of the boat, not fun! 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

At sea

IIt is Day 2 of our passage to the Cape Verde Islands. The winds have been kind to us so far ( touch wood) and we have not had anything that would even resemble a headwind. Purely by chance we sailed when the moon was approaching it's fullest. Last night it was brightly shining for the whole night. When the sun set there it was bright and beautiful in the eastern sky and as I watched it set on the western horizon this morning the rosy peach shimmer of dawn touched the eastern sky as we sailed on a broad reach at about 6 knots. Life does not get too much better than this!  
Last night we were making a sail change when there was a big splash beside the boat. Barry had been cranking in the sail making a lot of noise and there was a big sploosh. We both saw a large fish shaped figure dart away from the boat. It could have been a dolphin, but once they arrive by the boat they usually stay for a few minutes. I didn't hear any telltale breath exhalations either so I don't think it was a marine mammal of any sort.  I guess it will alway remain a mystery, hmmmm.

Day 4
We are roaring along at a great rate. The wind is just as it was predicted, from the port quarter and over 15 knots. Our anonometer is broken so we cannot tell exactly how much wind there is but at the moment we are tearing along at over 6 knots with only the staysail and a triple reefed main. The seas have gradually increased so they are over 2 meters now but the boat is handling them well, although the motion is rather boisterous. We have made almost 150 miles the last two days so if all goes well, touch wood, we should arrive in Mindelo the capital of Sao Vicente, one of the Cape Verde  Islands on Saturday, Dec. 17.
We just took the staysail down and put up the storm staysail, a smart move as the wind is supposed to increase tomorrow. It was good to do it before dark, the ride is smoother and although we may have lost a little speed, I think we will still make our 150 a day!! Fajitas for supper, I had to strap myself in, so I wouldn't be thrown around the galley.  In my humble opinion this is better than bumbling along at 2.5 or 3 knots. 
The triple reef makes the main very small and leaves a lot of room at the top of the mast. 


Shrieking, howling, moaning

Waves building 

Rolling, pitching, yawing 



Day 6

Arrived in Mindelo at 1300 hours. The 794nm trip took us 5 days and 21 hours for an average speed of 5.6 knots with only 2 hours on the engine, 1 hour motoring to get out of the wind shadow of Hierro and the rest getting into and out of the anchorages. The waves on this trip were equal or larger than the ones from Suwarro to American Samoa. Our storm staysail has had little use over the years but proved it's worth on this trip.  The motion  on the boat was rolly but not intolerable and because the waves were from behind the beam we were not slamming around like we would have been if the wind had been on the nose. All in all a good fast trip!! Now to get out those Christmas decorations and see about buying a turkey. 

Our first sight of the Cape Verde Islands, they don't look so green.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Heading South

We are anchored at the back of the picture.

We got ashore yesterday after the wind dropped. It is unbelievable how the cliffs just end right at the water's edge. We are headed for the Cape Verde Islands later today. It looks like a good sailing window. 

Friday, December 09, 2016


We are on the south shore of Gomera, the fourth Canary Island we have visited. The scenery on this shore is marvellous. There are huge towering cliffs rising up from the sea on the entire southern coast. The first place we stopped was behind a point that protected us from the east but the anchorage was open to the swell from the south. You see the spinnaker pole hanging off the side of the boat, our flopper stopper is in the water dampening the roll of the boat.  It is a life saver.  
When I asked the Québécois couple what this island was like she told me there were 'ippies. I did not really understand until we arrived. They are living in caves all around this beach, they are nudists and lay about the rocky beach in all their glory. One has a kayak and paddles up and down the bay fishing, yesterday as I went for a snorkel there were two skin divers spear fishing. There were not many fish down by the rocks close to shore, I wonder whether they had fished the area out?
Yesterday we moved on to a small settlement at the southwest corner of the island. This was scene at sunrise today. We have not been ashore yet as it has been too rough to get the dinghy down and contemplate where to dock it.  We are planning on leaving in a few days for the Cape Verde Islands.  It should be about an eight day passage so we should arrive in the week before Christmas. I am going to wait until we get there to put up my Christmas decorations as they will just bang around too much while we are underway. 

Monday, December 05, 2016

Exploring Tenerife

We sailed over to the island of Tenerife a few days ago. It was only a 40nm sail. We started out motoring and then sailing very slowly, the wind gradually strengthened and shifted until it was on our nose blowing over 20 knots . We had two reefs in the main and only about half the Genoa and we were going like a bat out of hell. It was great after the slow sails we have been having lately.  We stopped at a great anchorage for the south winds, Bahia Abona there was a sand bottom and the holding was super. 
We met another Canadian boat in the anchored, they are from Quebec and they had quite a story.  The parents with their seven children left Canada 5 months ago. The youngest child was only 1 month old when they left. We had them over for coffee and they invited back on board for lunch.  The father Marcus had refinished the interior of the boat so that it would fit the need of his large family.  There were three cabins, one for the parents , one for the girls and one for the guys. He had built an amazing amount of cupboards and drawers for all their belongings, we spent a very pleasant afternoon visiting and I enjoyed making Christmas figures out of playdough with the kids. 
The anchorage became uncomfortable with a wind change so we motored down to a marina. The next day we set off to ascend the highest mountain in Spain, Pico Tiede. It was a great ride up the mountain, forty kilometres the bus zigged and zagged on the switchback to the bottom of the gondola lift in the National Park
We went from sea level to 3550m or 11,660 ft. in one day, I don't think I have ever been higher while having my feet on the ground. 
The peak was very impressive if you look closely at the photo you can see where the gondola ends about five hundred meters from the top. If you wish to climb to the top you have to book well in advance because they have had to limit the number of people going up because of the damage to the environment. We were able to hike around the side so that we could see the three islands to the west of Tenerife, Gomera, La Palma and Hierro.  
There were some absolutely stunning views, this one is of the north of the island with a large city at the upper left of the photo. 
We are hoping to leave today and do another short sail over to Gomera the next island along and possible wait there for a good weather window to go to the Cape Verde Islands. 

Sailing Info.
We are using the crusing guide called Atlantic Islands issued by the RCC Pilotage Foundation. I will include all the anchorages we have been in on the Canary Islands. 

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria   28*06'9 N X 15*23'9 W
We anchored just outside the marina in 10m 
Decent holding good protection except from southeast
No charge in 2016
Dinghies can be left at dock in marina. 

Puerto Mogan on Gran Canaria  27*48'9 N X 15*45'8 W
We anchored in 7 m outside harbour entrance
Open to south wind and swell very uncomfortable in these conditions
Marina is touchy about how long and where you leave your dinghy

Bahia de Abona on Tenerife 28*09'2 N X 16*25'7 W
We anchored in 8m in sand
Super holding there is a northern part of the bay too but open to SE wind
Did not go ashore but Sandy beach with few amenities. 

Playa de Chinguarine on Gomera 28*02'3 N X 17*10'5 W
We anchored in 10 m over rocky bottom
Average holding, big headland to hide behind
Rocky beach to land dinghy but no amenities ashore, subject to swell

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Puerto Mogan

We are on the south side of the island of Gran Canaria and it is tourist central. All along the coast are vacations towns with rows of condos built into the side of the hills.  The cliffs rise up from the sea making for stunning scenery. To the east of us there is an area of sand dunes, the sand having blown over from Africa resulting in a totally different ecosystem.
Yesterday we took a ferry along the coast and then a bus back.  Barry took some great pictures that shows you what a playground in the sun looks like in the Canaries. 
This is Puerto Mogan where we are staying.  When we arrived we anchored at the mouth of the marina. The first two nights were okay but on the third night the wind changed and as there is not protection from the south the waves and the swell rolled in.  Unfortunately they were from different directions so the boat rolled and rocked, neither Barry or I got any sleep. Luckily there was a spot in the marina so we are staying here for two nights, we will leave for Tenerife tomorrow on a good southerly wind. There are not rows and rows of condos here so it feels a little more quaint than the other towns. 
We walked up to a viewpoint above town this morning, it wasn't too far and Barry's back seems to have recovered very well so it was great to stretch our legs. Puerto Mogan has had a settlement in this valley for 1300 years. There are  archeological digs on the other side of the valley the area apparently had good fertile soil, good access to the sea and all it's bounty and of course it's excellent climate . I asked one fellow and he is renting a house for 500 Euros a month, maybe we should live here!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Christmas preparations

I am making my shortbread cookies today. It is a little hard to get into the Christmas spirit when it is warm, and there is no snow, and there are palm trees instead of evergreens. I did my best though I put on some Christmas carols and I could not help but be inspired by the voices of Pavarotti and Mihalia Jackson. 
I am pretty sure one of our daughters used to pick off the cherries every year but I still put them on.    There will be no home made Christmas cake this year, I can't find all the ingredients, the cherries and the peel and Barry says that 2 1/2 hours of cooking uses up too much propane. I was thinking of substituting figs and dates for the cherries, etc. but that might have been like the year I tried to make a no candy decorated gingerbread house, it was creative and unusual just a bit lame though!!  Hope everyone is getting into the spirit of Christmas and enjoying your Christmas baking. 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Gran Canaria

We spent a week exploring around the city of Las Palmas on the Island of Gran Canaria. Las Palmas is a big city with a population of over 400,000. This cathedral is called Santa Ana, we got to go up to the top and take in the view but the rest was not open to the public. 
We also visited a museum of Christopher Columbus. He stopped here on his voyages to the new world. It is about 500nm from Spain and was a logical place to reprovision. We learned that the inhabitants of the Canary Islands were made to emigrate and made up much of the population of Cuba. They also settled in Texas and Florida. 
We went to a science museum and enjoyed trying out the exhibits. They had puzzles of shapes that you had to manipulate and textures that you had to try and match to it's mate by feel, Barry enjoyed getting in the F-5 cockpit. 
The next day we took a bus to the town of Galdar, where there are painted caves.  These painting were made 3,000 years ago and they are protected in a sealed space which is climate controlled.  There is a huge excavation around the cave and these ancient homes were excavated. They have done a great job of protecting the area and there were very informative films about the original inhabitants. We went to another museum which was the hope me of a former artist. There was a great display of dried gourds called calabashes. 
The drive on the bus was very scenic as we travelled along the coastline. 
Galdar was located at the bottom of this treeless hill. We are currently underway heading to the south of the island.  There are supposed to be some good dive sites there and we haven't been diving since we were in Cuba, it's time. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


We took a bus to the north end of the island.  It was very volcanic along no the shore and there were some lovely cliffs along the shore. 
We found some crab shells along the shore.  They do not seem to offered on any menus on the island so perhaps they need to grow a bit larger. 
There were a couple of dwellings along the shore.  They had stacked up lava as their walls , I imagine that the insides were quite dark and dingy. 
On the weekends there is a huge market in a town about thirty kilometres from where we were staying.  We went on the bus with a couple from Austria, there were lots of booths, but not as many food stalls as I thought there would be.  We happened on a demonstration of traditional Canarian dancing. I really enjoyed it. 

At one end of the market there was a demon of some king blowing a conch shell,  I loved his outfit. 
We waited almost a week extra to meet up with our buddies, Kathy and Jeremy from Sal Darago. We last saw them in Antigua, in the Caribbean and we first met them in Cookstown, Australia. We sailed up the east coast of Aus. with them, through Indonesia, across the Indian Ocean, hiking in all sorts of wonderful locations. We hung out with them in South Africa, Namibia, and St. Helena, they travelled the same path as us and them after Antigua they went h me to England and completed their circumnavigation. It was wonderful to see them again, we had sundowners three days Ina row and played bridge one night, the women cleaned up, just so you know. It was a slice. 
That is what it is all about, the people you meet and the memories you make.