In our Ocean of Blue

After the news that James’ sister was recovering from her heart…issues, we were determined to keep on moving forthwith. The internet access at Santa Maria gave us weather forecasts and we were sure we could sail, with relative comfort, to Madeira. If that was too much upwinding, we’d just skip the anchorage and travel on to the Canaries. Meanwhile, distance creates perspective and one of the things we pondered on the next leg of our life’s journey was the following proposition: Human people are anchors. In Praia, we met a M/F couple that said some things and made some moves in the direction of friendship that ultimately turned out to be the same old ‘Merican bullshit. Ill will, fake chill, and lies…just like the accumulated history of the country we ran away from. These old and old school propagandists of a past that never existed, who came to a place they don’t belong, to do an antiquated appropriation… Oh, never mind. We were hurt because we trusted those assholes. Fool us again if you must, but we can’t give up the entire concept of friendship because we believe in the ongoing evolution of our species. No, really, we think that someday we’ll grow out of this cycle of petro-evil and ultimately we, the humans, will find a life of balance on this planet that so generously supports our kind. A kind of human who can see a future without a military base in every paradise. Our time in Santa Maria was spent getting loose of the ties we wanted to shake and newly establishing the ones we wanted to maintain. It’s not always easy to make sure we keep people we like in our lives while letting the others fade away. Being at anchor, we were at home. The surroundings[…]

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Madeira to Lanzarote Day 4

Friday, May 10 The wind is gentler again but I hold out hope of arriving before full dark, if not before sundown. For a while there, the chartplotter was tossing up times in the late afternoon but, as I said in the last log, I’ll sacrifice a little speed for a comfortable, low-stress ride. Today I let my feet burn a bit so I’m suddenly very aware of my skin. After these last outdoorsy 18 days, I’m feeling a little crunchy. James says I have “good color” which I think means I’m browning up. My freckles never take over my face completely but they are definitely robust.  Too bad my phone won’t stop touching up my face. It smooths wrinkles and texture, which means it fades out my freckles. I’d rather enjoy the spectacle of crow’s feet splaying from my pushing-50 eyes and keep the freckles. I remember vividly the store clerk in Beebe, Arkansas, who told 8-year-old me they were sun kisses. 1955 Anchored! Not loving the location, but it’s alright.  Anchored position: N 28° 51.577’ W 013° 49.325’Distance over 7 hrs 37 min: 31.8 NMAverage speed: 4.2 knTrip distance covered: 289.3 NM

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Madeira to Lanzarote Day 3

Thursday, May 9 James’ 1200-1230 watch The wind is growing and we’re talking about how to prepare for the acceleration zone off Lanzarote. The Canaries have these zones of higher winds where the steady tradewinds are funneled by the islands. Winds can be 25 knots faster there, though that’s unlikely off the southwest end of Lanzarote. Regardless, we’ll be coming in on a broad reach so we don’t want to get caught with too much sail up. It’s harder to reef going downwind because there’s no way to spill the wind from the sail (luff up) as you lower it. Dena’s 1400-1500 watch Holy shit is it busy around here! There are a couple dozen AIS signatures in range and 5 on screen, zoomed out to 30 nautical miles. Two are coming up from behind at a 30° angle, more or less, and will be passing pretty close to us. This may be the first time I would prefer to have an AIS transceiver rather than the receiver we actually have. Twenty minutes later, I have pulled the second reef and brought out about 80% of the yankee for balance. I have a feeling I’ll be rolling some of that back in before long. We might even end up striking the main if this wind continues building. The cruising guide says it usually calms after dark and that was true last night, when I was wishing for a little more wind to keep us moving over the swells. I have a feeling I won’t be wishing for more wind until, maybe, we round the southern head of Lanzarote and get in the lee of the island. James’ 1700-1800 watch  James made nachos. It was epic. He hadn’t realized how much we were rolling in the waves hitting us on the[…]

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Madeira to Lanzarote Day 2

Wednesday, May 8 Dena’s 1300-1400 watch Sailing at about 2.5 knots is no hardship with the new, calmer sea state. We’re on a close reach, making up some of the easting we lost in the dead air this morning. The sky is overcast and has me feeling sleepy. Maybe I’ll nap on my next off-watch. Yesterday, I tried to rush below to grab the camera and I jammed my second toe on the companionway sill. It hurt enough that I iced it, and I’m glad. I avoided the swelling I may have gotten. The bruising rings the whole toe, probably the effect of gravity but still rather impressively painful looking. No pain at rest, so it’s not bone. Dena’s 1500-1600 watch Not only did I nap, James didn’t rouse me until 10 minutes into my watch! We’re now on a beam reach, or just behind the beam, F2. It’s an easygoing 3 knots. We’re still clouded over and not making much solar for propulsion, but both house batteries are full. Dena’s 1700-1800 watch James spotted a dolphin just before my watch started. It was alone, oddly, and he’s sure it was a spinner so that’s unusual. It paced us, surging ahead and falling behind a few times, for about 15 minutes and then dropped astern, dove, and was not seen again. The cool part was how close it came. I wonder if fishers throw bait to dolphin around here… Dena’s 2100-2400 watch I love this. The sound of water on the hull like surf, the stars and even the clouds that cover them. The wind that sends us rocking across the miles and the belief that we’re here in relation to there. I’m so glad we left Terceira. I needed this. Thursday, May 9 Dena’s 0900-1000 watch Week after week[…]

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Madeira to Lanzarote Day 1

Tuesday, May 7 James’ anchor-up to 1600 watch We’re off!  No forecast in hand because neither of us had time left on our data sims. We tried calling two different boats on VHF but got no response. I don’t know whether they weren’t listening to channel 16, which would be rather scandalous, or chose not to talk to us. Both boats were French and we hailed them in English, after all. James’ 1700-1800 watch Our morning arrival in Madeira gave us all day to do chores and we still had time to get a nap in! It felt good.  The lifeline netting was so worn from being bleached and then being exposed to UV full time for years that it was just coming apart. We removed it and added replacement netting to the shopping list. We got a great deal on 316 grade stainless steel tube fittings from Sailrite when we did the electric motor conversion, but one piece has been driving us crazy. The support tube for the newer, 48v wind generator has an end fitting with an eye that goes to a base with a pin. The pin is a loose fit and it both rattles and lets the top portion of the tower move forward and aft. Just a little, but enough to be irritating. After trying some fancy fixes, we went simple: wrapping electrical tape around the pin. We’ll see! The head’s intake hose started leaking on the last leg from Madeira and, believe me, that’s the best case scenario when you suddenly have wetness under the pump. Any other part of the system and the leakage does not consist of good clean seawater. The diagnosis was a stripped hose clamp, so I pulled the thing off and replaced it. The hose is a little screwed[…]

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Santa Maria to Madeira Day 7

Sunday 5/5 Since we’re not going to stand off and wait for daylight to enter the anchorage, it’s kinda silly to be so wrapped up in the math on when we might arrive, but here I am.  We’re almost 35 nautical miles away so, at a 2-3 knot average speed, that means somewhere between 4am and 9am. We could arrive faster if the wind backs around north as the forecast calls for, but I’m not counting on anything. Meanwhile the alternating overcast and sunny periods keep it interesting, and the mountainous island is abeam to starboard. Plenty to see and enjoy, if I can stop doing math for a minute. Monday 5/6 At anchor  We eased down the lee shore, a rocky spine we then motored back up behind. Two boats were in the anchorage, but one left as we approached. We got the spot I wanted! This is a beautiful place. Anchorage position: N 32° 44.741’ W 016° 42.621’Distance noon to destination: 48.3 NMAverage speed: 2.65 knFinal trip distance: 517.5 NM

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Santa Maria to Madeira Day 6

Saturday 5/4 James’ 1400-1500 watch Between noon and 2, we averaged 5 knots. What’s really amazing about that is how comfortable it is, with a modest heel, less motion in response to much-calmer waves, and a wind that isn’t howling through the rigging. Looks as easy on the gear as it feels on the body. Even Beluga Greyfinger is acting like his anchorage self. It’s ridiculous to talk about “if this keeps up, we’ll arrive by…” because the forecast definitely calls for the wind to weaken and back to the west. We’ll go with main and yankee if we can, main alone if we have to aim too far downwind.  Even so, this fast period has given us a good margin. We can get tucked behind the peninsula and anchored well before the storm up north forces the wind through to northeasterly, as long as we can do better than 2 knots from here on out. More likely, we’ll have a nice day there before the strongest winds hit. Sunday 5/5 Dena’s 0300-0600 watch We’re within 70 NM of the end of the peninsula on Madeira. At this rate, we’re definitely arriving Monday. The only question is morning or afternoon. I’m glad we won’t get there in the dark for both aesthetic and practical reasons, but I wouldn’t mind a morning arrival. It doesn’t sound like we’re moving at all most of the time, but we’re sailing about 3 knots on average on a broad reach with a full main and yankee. It feels like the completion of the calming that started last night, and it feels more comfortable than the actual calms we saw at the beginning of the trip. Dena’s 0900-1000 watch Now it looks like we’ll be arriving in the dark. It’s been wonderful, getting 3 knots[…]

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