Goodbye Portugal, hello Spain 19th October

Madeira to the Canary Islands is about 250 miles depending on intended landfall. Last time we visited La Graciosa, tiny, almost unpopulated with two small settlements and few real roads, then spent time on Lanzarote, another magnificent volcanic island. From there we anchored off Gran Tarajal and Morro Jable on Fuertoventura before reaching Las Palmas on Gran Canaria. This time we are heading for the western islands, aiming for Tenerife with Mount Tiede a very high volcanic peak which should be spotted from miles away. It is the highest peak in Spain at 3,717 metres and is often snow capped. The Canary Islands get their name from the huge black dogs the explorers found on Gran Canaria, not the birds. The first 24 hours of sailing has been mixed, with little or no wind sometimes from a helpful direction other times not! We've motored or a total of 9 hours in 3 blocks; sailed at 6-7 knots with the cruising chute in only 7 or 8 knots of wind on the beam; drifted at between 3 and 5 knots with white sails with no more wind but it started veering and dropping. We put the genoa away at the 0500 watch change and put the engine back on. Even if the wind had stayed slightly aft we would not have used the chute overnight, just in case of adverse weather. It takes two of us to lower it, both needed on deck, one to lower the halyard (the rope which pulls the sail to the top of the mast) and the other to pull down the huge sail in its sock and stuff it into its bag. That is not the sort of thing you want to be doing in the dark, though we would of course be clipped on and could turn on the new deck lights. Food as usual plays an important part in passage making. Dinner was Spaghetti Bolognese cooked by John. This morning I made pancakes (American style), eggs and bacon. Distance travelled in 24 hours about 120 miles, not rapid progress but with some sailing in next to no wind! The second day has been boring! We have been motoring non-stop since 0500 yesterday. The sea is almost mirror calm with just a gentle swell rolling across. We had a brand new 44 ft catamaran in our sights for about 18 hours from 0600 to midnight as it slowly overtook us. They are on a delivery trip to the British Virgin Islands from the Southampton Boat Show, due there on the 26th October but they won't make it! The only highlight of the day was spotting a succession of turtles. One came close enough for us to see the pattern on his back, but not his head, so our best guess is either a Loggerhead or a Green Turtle. One thing is certain, they weren't full grown. One of them played tricks on us, waved a flipper then dived down, resurfaced and waved the flipper again. We lost count but we spotted about a dozen, all heading towards Madeira. Dinner last night was Barbootie, a South African recipe of chicken cooked with tomatoes, onions, apple, apricots and banana with a touch of curry powder and served with rice. It was quick, easy and very tasty. Distance covered is a bit meaningless when you aim the boat at the destination and crank up the revs, though we slowed down a bit overnight to make it quieter down below for sleeping. When we re-engined Fair Encounter John did a seriously good job of soundproofing the engine bay, something which wouldn't be possible on Starblazer unfortunately. We arrived in Marina de Santa Cruz on Tenerife, all tied up by 1535. The trip totalled 237 miles through the water, approximately 262 over the ground which means we had half a knot of helpful current if our log is reading accurately. Check out the sea state in the photos.

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