Funchal to Puerto Calero (Canary Islands) 310 miles, 2 days
Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Oct 31 -From Funchal, in Madeira to Puerto Calero in Lanzarote, Canary Islands: app. 280 nautical miles on a heading of 148° Magnetic to the entrance of the Estrecho del Rio, the small strait that separates the islands of Graciosa to the north from Lanzarote to the south. Then, 30 more miles or so around the east side of Lanzarote to Puerto Calero. This was the leg in which we were to leave Portugal behind and in which our luck as fishermen turned around!
We left on Saturday, Oct 26, at 03:40 PM. The forecast called for winds of 15 knots from NE, going lighter as we approached the Canary Islands. Less than 20 minutes after departing we found ourselves in 30 knots from ENE and messy seas. These conditions lasted until we were well clear of the southern most point of the DesertIslands. Needless to say, during this phase we all remembered, in one way or another, the wonderful lunch of fried parrot fish that we had just before leaving!
At around midnight the wind started to drop, stabilizing first around 20 knots. A few hours later it would drop further to the forecasted 15 knots. Finally at sunrise it came around from ENE to the forecasted NE, and that was it for the rest of the morning. Early in the afternoon the wind would go back up to 20 knots and to ENE once again. As far as sails, we decided to take it on the easy side, as we had new people on board (Margarida and Nuno Barreto had come aboard in Funchal, replacing my cousin Luiz.) We spent most of the day with a reefed main and the genoa rolled in a bit.
But the story of this day was definitely about fishing, not sailing or the weather! At around 01:00 PM we pulled in our first fish of the trip: a beautiful bonito, not as big as they make them but tasty just the same! By 02:00 PM we had our second bonito safe in the ice box! And at 02:30 PM we pull in the third one. By this time, feeling that we had enough, we pulled the line out of the water and started preparing dinner!
The 20 knots from ENE would last until sunset, when the wind started to go down again. Throughout the night the wind would continue to decrease until it finally died down completely. By sunrise we were close to the entrance to the Estrecho del Rio, and what an incredible scenery: vertical cliffs on Lanzarote’s side, black lava rock sloping down to the water on Graciosa’s, and no signs of human life on either margin. Quite lunar, the whole thing! As we started to round Punta del Pobre in Graciosa to enter into the strait, the wind went from 0 to 20 plus knots in no time at all (a fact mentioned on the pilots, and for which we were therefore prepared.)
We tried to stop at the small fishing village of La Sociedad in Graciosa. A very good friend of mine, Javier Elorza, strongly recommended this stop to me and Javier has never been wrong on his recommendations! He made a point of alerting me to the existence of this special local wine made from grapes that grow on the lava soils of the island. Unfortunately the small anchorage was up to the rim with boats and the wind was a bit too strong for us to anchor trustingly near town. So not visiting La Sociedad became my first real disappointment on this trip.
We continued onwards to Puerto Calero. The rest of the leg was absolutely uneventful. The wind died down completely as soon as we got out of the strait, and the temperature shot up until it was hot as hell! So we spent the rest of the day swimming by the stern of the boat.
At around 02:00 PM we were tied up in Puerto Calero.
In the canal between La Graciosa and Lanzarote
Kidding around while going slow
Through the Canary Islands 140 miles, many days (but only 1 of sailing!)
Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Nov 2 - This report covers our stay in Puerto Calero; the nearly 140 mile passage from Puerto Calero to Santa Cruz de Tenerife; and our stay in Tenerife.
Puerto Calero - what a place! A marina where the bollards are made of polished brass, the manhole covers are also of brass and the stairs to the floating docks are of stainless steel! We arrived to our berth and had two uniformed attendants to help us with our lines!!! The water was clean, the bathrooms were spotless, and everybody was extremely courteous. Again, what a place!
About Lanzarote - this island is of special relevance to all Portuguese because it is home to Jose Saramago, one of recent Nobel Prize winners for literature. The island is nearly 50 km (30 miles) long by 15 km (10 miles) wide. The scenery is quite strange but charming in its own way - a mixture of low and eroded volcanic cones separated by black lava plains, all with very little or no vegetation at all. It all looks like a chunk of the moon! On the negative side, the island in this time of the year is extremely dry and dusty; and some of the areas by the sea seem to have been taken over by a tourism industry of dubious taste serving an excessively large number of tourists! (Stay away from Atlantico and Puerto del Carmen! Head instead for Tias, a little village a bit further from the sea, near to Saramago’s house.)
Our list of recommendations for Lanzarote is limited to two entries - Los Correos in Tias, where we had some very good "tapas", and the McSorley’s Bar in Puerto Calero, a hang-out place for sailors, most of them like us, in the middle of crossing the pond.
We left from Puerto Calero to Santa Cruz de Tenerife on Oct 30, around 11:30 AM. We had nearly 140 miles ahead of us - 7.5 miles to Punta Papagayo on the SE corner of Lanzarote and the rest on a heading of 267° Magnetic straight to the entrance of Marina Atlantico in Tenerife. The forecast called for 15 knots from NE, going lighter in the middle of the night. And that was pretty much what we got. We started with full main and genoa. In the middle of the afternoon we tried to set the asymmetric spinnaker but, as it always happens in these cases, by the time we finished all the set up work, the wind had gone forward enough to make it too tight for the spi. By 1:00 AM the wind had dropped down to less than 10 knots, so we turned the engine on to help a bit with our speed. By 08:00 AM, as we approached the NE end of Tenerife, we entered a wind acceleration zone. (As at the entrance to Estrecho del Rio, the wind jumped from 0 to 20 plus knots in absolutely no time. But again, we had been forewarned of this by the pilots.) By 09:30 AM we were tied up at Marina Atlantico.
Fishing-wise, we did catch two fish on this leg: a small bonito and an equally small-ish dolphin fish. We had them for lunch on our first day in Tenerife.
On the Marina Atlantico - after Puerto Calero, we are back to your average marina! The marina offers very good protection on almost any weather conditions, it is conveniently located near the center of town, and everybody here was extremely courteous. On the negative side, the bathrooms are unacceptable and the place does not have a fuel dock (diesel is brought in once a week on a tanker truck.)
On Tenerife itself - it is the biggest island of the Canaries and it has the highest mountain in the whole of Spain: the volcano of El Teide peaking at just over 3,700 m (nearly 12,200 feet). The main city is Santa Cruz, a rather large and lively town, with an interesting architecture and beautiful gardens. We took advantage of the Nov 1 holiday to visit Puerto de la Cruz, on the northern shore. Much smaller than the capital, Puerto de la Cruz is perhaps a bit more characteristic and interesting for a visitor from outside. The wooden balconies of the buildings in the center of the old town and the remaining of the old fortress are remarkably beautiful. On the bare essentials, we celebrated Antonio’s birthday with a fantastic dinner at the Condal & Penamil House. Let me just tell you this: it was worth the trip!!! We also tried and liked La Romana, a nice and reasonably priced Italian restaurant also in the center off town. On after dinner places, I am sorry folks, but no recommendations! Unfortunately for you and us, our stay on this island has been marked by the need to prepare for the 800 mile passage to Cape Verde. So no after dinner places!
Talking about this prep work, today we should be finished with it and by tomorrow, Sunday, Nov 3, we should have the whole show back on the road again. You will hear from us again in about a week or so and from Cape Verde. Until then.
The famous polished brass bollards of Puerto Calero
The southern most tip of Lanzarote
the main market in Santa Cruz de Tenerife
The old fortress in Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife
Santa Cruz de Tenerife to Baia da Palmeira (Cape Verde Islands) 800 miles, 5 days
Baia da Palmeira, Nov 11 – Here we are in the beautiful Cape Verde islands! From Santa Cruz de Tenerife in the Canary Islands, we made 795 nautical miles in four days, twenty one hours and forty five minutes for an average speed of 6.77 knots. Not bad for a cruiser!
We left Tenerife on Sunday, Nov 3, at 06:45 AM. The last five-day forecast that we had before leaving called for winds of 20 to 25 knots from NE to ENE for the first three days, decreasing to 15 knots and stabilizing from the NE for the last two days. In very general terms, that is pretty much what we had.
For descriptive purposes, this leg can be divided into two different parts - a first one, from our departure in Tenerife to around noontime on Wednesday, and a second one, from then until our arrival. On the first one, we had a fast but not always very comfortable ride. (According to the instrumentation on-board, our maximum peak speed was 12.4 knots, just a tad below our record of 12.6 knots established on the Lisbon to Porto Santo passage.) On the second part of the leg, we had a much slower but more comfortable ride.
On the first part we had winds ranging generally from 22 to 27 knots going slowly back and forth (around 12 hour cycles) from NE to ENE. The sea state was for the most part moderate, 2.5 to 3 meters (8 to 10 feet), with some intervals during which it was a bit more built up. During this first part we had our main sail always reefed and the genoa opened to a 2 or a 3.
On the second part of the trip we had lower winds, generally anywhere from 13 to 18 knots (with periods of even less than that), and now stable from the NE. The sea state also improved considerably. During this second part we had the main all the way up and a genoa open to a 2 set wing-on-wing (the spinnaker pole is a bit too short to fly the full genoa properly). We also tried to fly the asymmetric spinnaker, but without much success. On the periods of light wind we turned the engine on to help a bit with the speed.
Our landfall in Sal, in the dark of the night, was rather “interesting”! The northern end of the island is either very short on people or in electrical power! As we approached the island, no matter how much we all tried, we were not able to see anything that indicated that we were close to land. Eerie! We finally started to see some inland lights but only when we got to be 9 miles out from the northern tip of the island! Adding to the thrill that night, a bit later we were to find out that all the lights on all the navigational aids on the Baia da Palmeira were off! Slowly, with Nuno at the bow manning the spotlight, we managed into the bay. On Friday, Nov 8, at 04:30 AM we were at anchor!
Fishing-wise, this leg was a bit of a disappointment - we caught two dolphin fishes, one of them decently sized, the other one smaller.
One final note: on Tuesday, Nov 5, at approximately 05:00 AM we entered the tropics!
Before signing off on this report, I must make an addendum to the previous one on the Canary Islands. That report was written and put on-line before our last dinner in town. ... And what an injustice it would be not to include Manolo’s “Meson El Duque” in our list of recommendations for Santa Cruz de Tenerife! We had great tapas and an excellent steak dinner there.
Leaving Tenerife behind
The effort, ...
..., the result, ...
..., and dinner!
The daily shower ritual!
Last lines for the day
A more patriotic moment
A few minutes later!
Through the Cape Verde Islands 140 miles, many days (but only 1 sailing!)
Mindelo, Nov 15 - This report covers our stay in Baia da Palmeira on Sal, the cruise through the Cape Verde Islands (not much of one, actually!), and our stay in Mindelo on S. Vincente.
Let’s start by the plan - after much reading and consideration done on our way from Tenerife, we settled on the following plan for Cape Verde:
·Friday: rest a bit, deal with the entry formalities, and check the local scene.
·Saturday: take care of provisioning and a few other logistics (local money, plane tickets, et cetera); once done with that, move 6 or 7 miles south to Baia da Mordeira.
·Sunday: move another 6 or 7 miles south to Baia de S. Maria (according to my books, both Mordeira and S. Maria were nice bays with sandy beaches.)
·Monday: in S. Maria.
·Tuesday: drop the Barreto’s at the airport; leave in the afternoon to Tarrafal in S. Nicolau.
·Wednesday: arrive in Tarrafal early in the morning; rest a bit and check the local scene.
·Thursday: leave early to Mindelo; if the weather was settled, stop at Palmo a Tostao bay on uninhabited and mountainous S. Luzia (only in settled weather because, per Hammick´s Atlantic Islands, this bay is subject to williwaw type stuff, with winds reaching 50 knots); once in Mindelo, provision, do exit formalities, and leave.
This was the plan. Now let us now see what really happened!
We did arrive to Baia da Palmeira on Friday! This and the fact that the Barreto’s left us on Tuesday were to be the only points on which we hit our plan!! Friday afternoon, the French boat at anchor right next to us in Palmeira left to Mordeira. On Saturday morning she was back on her old spot next to us: too much rolling down there. Hummm! “Ok, we stay in Palmeira until Sunday and then move straight on to S. Maria”. On Saturday night we met Victor, the diver, who told us that S. Maria was worse than Mordeira. Hummm! “Tomorrow we will take a taxi to S. Maria to check the anchorage.” We found S. Maria to be a beautiful bay, with a wonderful beach, a few resort-type developments, restaurants, bars and the like, but we almost got seasick just from looking at the boats at anchor. The beach runs east-west, the swells were coming from the south, and the boats where lined up to the easterly winds, i.e., perpendicular to the swells! “Ok, so we stay in Palmeira until Tuesday!”
On Palmeira - the “town” is nothing more than a little tiny fishing village, most of it a bit run down, but with everything one needs for a nice stay: two nice bars with esplanades and very cold beer (Capricornio and Arminda); one kind of like a more traditional restaurant that also sold freshly baked bread every morning (Continental); a few other less traditional restaurants (I am not even sure that the one where we had a great charcoal-grilled chicken had a name; the thing looked more like someone’s back yard); a little grocery store (Continental); and quite a lot of super friendly people (as a matter of fact, finding friendly people would be a constant throughout these islands!)
While at anchor in Palmeira, we visited S. Maria (mentioned above); the salinas (swim in water on which you can’t sink!); Pedra de Lume (a small beach where you can get the excess salt from the salinas out of your skin); and Espargos (the “big” town in Sal; it’s worth the trip for provisions or if you are looking for a nicer restaurant and/or bar; for the former, try the grill house Dinamica, for latter, try the Cafe Violao.) But Palmeira was it! The little place does not have the size of Espargos nor the looks of S. Maria, but it was by far my favorite on the island.
For the mariners in you, the anchorage in Baia da Palmeira provides adequate shelter for winds from the north to east to south, but it is wide open to the west (not much of a concern in November.) We found the holding to be good in 3 to 5 m (10 to 15 feet) of water. (Good holding was a concern because the place was windy and packed with boats - more than 30 on a few nights while we were there. Doing a slalom going backwards in such a maze while towing my anchor down is nowhere on my list of the top 500 things that I like to do!) We had no problems with swells, but we did have problems with dust in the air! There is absolutely nothing that can be done about this light brown stuff that arrives here from the deserts in Arica. Just be prepared for it! Water and diesel are a bit of a problem in Palmeira as both need to be jerry jugged to the boat, the water from the public fountain that runs until lunch time (do not miss this opportunity for great socializing with the local town people!), and the diesel from a gas station in Espargos.
We left Palmeira on Tuesday, Nov 12, at 05:30 PM, soon after dropping the Barreto’s at the airport. The passage to Tarrafal consisted of two legs: a first one of nearly 75 miles on a heading of app. 270˚ Magnetic to Ponta da Vermelharia on the SW tip of S. Nicolau, followed by another 10 miles or so parallel to the coast to Tarrafal. We had winds of 14 to 20 knots from NE for most of the trip, until it finally died down completely as we approached Tarrafal. There is nothing else to report about this leg.
We arrived to Tarrafal on the following day as the sun was rising. The anchorage looked nice but it was packed with more than 50 boats or so, most of them on the Iles du Soleil rally. We would have to anchor way outside on way too much water. Additionally, we were having a few operational problems with the motor of our dinghy, so we decided to continue onwards.
By 07:00 AM we were on the road again, now heading to S. Luzia and with nearly no wind at all. At 08:30 AM, still not too far from S. Nicolau, we pulled in a very nice sized tuna. We had not finished cleaning it when the wind picked up to 25 plus knots from the NE, and the sea became totally confused. Very uncomfortable indeed! Worse yet, it meant no stopover in S. Luzia! We continued straight on to Mindelo, the last port on our cruise through these Islands! The ride stayed uncomfortable all the way to the end, as the wind never came down much nor did the sea improve.
On Wednesday, Nov 13 at 02:00 PM we were in Mindelo. We anchored on nearly 3 m (10 feet) of water over muddy sand. We found the holding to be good again, thank goodness, because like in Palmeira, this place is also windy and packed with boats. Also like in Palmeira, the harmattan dust in here is also a problem. (We left Cape Verde with a boat that looked like she had just finished a safari through the Sahara desert!)
Our stay in Mindelo would be marked by lots of work and very little fun. Provisioning in this town for a 13 to 14 day passage proved to be quite a challenge. We run between Serradas (the local “supermarket”), five or six other smaller grocery stores, the Shell Select convenience store at the gas station, and the local market. On each one, on any given day, we would find three or four things that we needed. At the end we decided to adjust a bit our list of needed stuff: what we could not find, we did not need!
Much more challenging that finding food was getting diesel and water on the boat. To top our tanks, we needed nearly 400 l (app. 110 gallons) of water and 100 l (app. 25 gallons) of diesel. These quantities had to be carried to the boat on 25 l (app. 6 gallons) jerry jugs! Quite a few trips indeed! (Ah, the glamour of the boating life!) We ended up hiring some local boys who did this thankless task for us.
About Mindelo itself - in comparison to Palmeira, the place feels like a city. Most of the older part of town, with its colonial buildings and cobbled streets, is mostly clean and well kept. Most of the people we dealt with were very nice, but one must be a bit more careful. (A small, and hopefully not political incorrect note: for me, it was a great surprise to find right in the middle of main square, a small but extremely well kept memorial to Luis de Camoes and his Os Lusiadas. Camoes was a 16th century Portuguese poet, by far the most famous and celebrated of all Portuguese poets to date, and Os Lusiadas is his epic poem exalting the great dids of the Portuguese navigators of the 15th and 16th century. Together with a few other signs that you see throughout the city, e.g., the memorial to Gago Coutinho and Sacadura Cabral, the Casa Benfica, and the Cafe Lisboa, it gave me the impression that Cape Verde, unlike most other Portuguese ex-colonies that became independence more or less at the same time, respects and even honors its pre-independence heritage.)
We went out for dinner once, and the lucky restaurant was Pica-Pau - a small, kind of “dive-ish” place that has become a bit of an institution among sailors and which serves a rice with seafood supposedly as good as any other rice with seafood anywhere else in the world! On that same night we went for some local music at Cafe Nela’s, a place that I also strongly recommend to anyone that visits Mindelo. During the day, in between food and water runs, we hang out at the Club Nautico, a super nice and clean bar, with very cold beer and a very deceiving name, located on the waterfront street facing the dinghy dock. Great hangout indeed.
While in Mindelo we never left the city, so there is nothing for me to say about the rest of the island!
We left Mindelo for the 2100 mile passage to Point-a-Pitre in Guadeloupe on Monday, Nov 18, at 03:00. More on that leg on my next report.
At Saozinha's bar
The salinas of Sal
Trophy near S. Nicolau
Memorial to Luis de Camoes in Mindelo
The Barreto's Report by Margarida and Nuno Barreto
Cascais, Nov xx – We were excited about this trip from the moment when Jorge first invited us for it. This trip was going to be our first blue water passage; it would give us a chance to visit places we did not know; and would allow us to “live” on board for a few days. The difficulty was to organize our time to be able to fit it in our vacation schedule. Eventually everything worked out OK and soon we were counting down the days for our departure.
We arrived to Funchal, and found our friend Joao Rodrigues waiting for us at the airport. After a short tour through part of the island, we finally joined Jorge and Antonio for dinner. Soon after dinner we were back on the boat and it did not take long until the light waves rocked us to sleep,
On the following day we had a memorable lunch of “bodiao” and “lapas” in a traditional restaurant in Canico. Very pleasant! Soon thereafter we were leaving Funchal behind and heading for the Canary Islands. This first leg will be remembered mainly for our first “rough” night at sea, our first fishing experience and the beautiful sunrise on our arrival to Lanzarote. We were in Puerto Calero, Lanzarote, for two days. The marina is spectacular and has all the facilities sailors need (including fresh baked bread every morning!) We had the opportunity to visit part of the island and it was impressive with almost no vegetation at all, just dark dry land everywhere.
During our passage from Lanzarote to Tenerife we had the opportunity to swim in the blue deep sea. It was a short leg, barely 24 hrs at sea but it was our busiest night on watch, with so many other boats in our range of sight.
Tenerife is a sort of miniature of the place where we live, the shops and the night life is the same, only the language is slightly different. During our stay we celebrated Antonio’s birthday, visited Puerto de la Cruz and tasted almost every “tapa” available on the island.
We left at dawn to Cape Verde. The trade winds soon started to blow, making the passage very pleasant. During the five day trip, Nuno improved his fishing skills, catching two out of three fishes including the biggest one! Margarida, after two days of warm fresh water baths, joined the rest of the group on salt water bucket bath at the stern of the boat. By this time we were already well in the tropics...
Cape Verde was an all new experience! The inhabitants are very friendly, very helpful and they speak our language, which made us feel at home, especially at “Saozinha’s Bar”. Four days in Sal were enough to visit the whole island; Espargos, Santa Maria and Salinas are all worth visiting.
Looking back, we gained a few pounds during this trip. Jorge petted us with his appetizers, his pancakes and basically everything that came from his kitchen. The blue water passage was almost everything we expected, we were sad not to continue to the other side... Antonio was a good company, always ready to share his knowledge with us, although after this trip (his and Jorges´) fishing theories will have to be reviewed...
During these days we were not able to solve all the problems of the world but we will keep trying!!! We could not finish our report without thanking Jorge once more for the great time we had on board his boat.