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The East Atlantic

November 7, 2011

Monday 7th November

Having arrived back in Tenerife a week ago we’ve been very busy exploring the island, planning routes and sampling typical Canarian cuisine to help with menus for the following season. This morning the sun is shining, the cloud that has been covering El Teide (the volcano) has lifted and there’s a gentle breeze blowing.

Here’s how we got from Gibraltar to Tenerife:


Having had our first night’s unbroken sleep in a week we were up early and ready to go. We slipped our lines in the dark at 7am and made our way through the sleeping ships out into the Gibraltar Straits. Our plan was to hug the coast, staying well clear of the shipping lanes until we were well past them and then set our course for Tenerife. As it turned out, there was very little traffic and Dad took us across the first lane into the middle ‘safe’ area between the two lanes. Here we were accompanied by many fishing boats, dolphins, pilot whales and even a shark!

We carried on between the two lanes until we were well outside the entrance to the lanes and then we set our course for Tenerife. Unfortunately there wasn’t much wind so Donkey was kept running at 1800 revs. It wasn’t long before we picked up the famous Atlantic swell which wasn’t particularly big as we’d had the high pressure for two months, but it was enough to make you feel slightly off, not sick, but certainly not quite right. The wind didn’t increase the further from land we went so Donkey was kept on all night.

My bunk was definitely the best place to be and so night watches were particularly challenging as this meant leaving the warmth and comfort of a nice snuggly bunk, getting on thermals, fleece, jacket and oilies. Although we weren’t far from land it was certainly colder than it had been. By Saturday morning we’d started to pick up the North-East trade winds. Unfortunately for us, NE was directly behind us as we heading SW and it was decided that to use the wind we would have to alter course by at least 30 – 40 degrees and the speed we would gain didn’t make up for the distance off course we would be going. Donkey was going to be worked hard!!

The Rock at Sunrise

By Saturday night, after a diet of chocolate biscuits and water for a couple of days, a glass of sugary lemonade brought me back to life and I enjoyed our dinner of Shepherd’s pie (made in France and frozen in our freezer!!). From here on in everyone felt fine and the swell was old news!! The night watch on Saturday was rather exciting as we saw a ship – the first since Gibraltar! By Sunday however we were back to spotting nothing but the odd bird cruising along the wave tops. Even the dolphins had left us.

By Monday, we had a routine going, watches were strictly stuck to and there was even an extra one added in as the sun was no longer rising by the end of the 4am – 7am watch so we added the next one of 7am – 10am. Lunches were light affairs with Daddy creating some concoction most days, the best being a ‘Mediterranean Greek salad’ which consisted of everything in the fridge even though it was only Monday!! Happy hour was usually enjoyed about 5.30pm, when we remembered, with a beer or a lemonade and dinner was accompanied by sunset.

One of our hitch hikers

Tuesday came around and we started to take bets as to when we would see the volcano on Tenerife. As it stands at over 3,500 metres tall we thought it was pretty likely we’d see it before sunset. We all placed our bets, all within an hour of each other, and sat back to wait! We picked up a few hitchhikers that day, a couple of small squid washed up on the back step and a couple of little birds took a rest on the guard rails. By happy hour, and our predicted times, there was no sight of the volcano and we began to wonder if ‘Bob’ (our trusty auto-pilot) had been taking us in the right direction. He had had a couple of moments along the way but had been reset and entrusted again after checking with Dad’s old-school handheld GPS! But it wasn’t long before I spotted the top! Just as the sun started to set we saw the top of the mountain above the haze and all faith in Bob was restored.

We had dinner and we decided to do short 2-hour watches. Our predicted time of arrival was about 2am, but at 2am we still had a few miles to go. By 3am however, we were nearly there and I was called up on deck. We were looking out for a yellow buoy marking a fish farm outside the marina, but after several checks and re-checks and a search with the search light it was decided there was no fish farm and we were safe to head straight for the marina entrance.

First view of Tenerife

Daddy was definitely nervous about entering in the dark as it’s a small marina and under a full moon the whites of the crashing waves on the shore stood out well! We nudged our way in with a search light and a close eye on the depth sounder. Once inside we didn’t expect to find anyone there and our plan was to just tie up somewhere until the morning, but we were pleasantly surprised with the appearance of the night-watch guy who waved us over to a berth and then proceeded to gesticulate at us with rapid arm movements and much dancing about, where the showers were!! It was 4am boat time – maybe we smelled pretty bad??!!

Dad decided that the time in Tenerife was 2 hours before our boat time which we had kept from France. He’d read somewhere that the Canaries went onto UT by the end of September and as it was now October it made sense to change the clocks. So we woke at what we thought was a reasonable time on Wednesday morning and had breakfast accompanied by a ‘National Holiday’ parade in Madrid on the television. After a chat with the harbour guys, Dad and Phil returned with the news that in fact the time difference was only one hour from France, putting us on the same time as Britain. So the clocks went forward an hour and we were finally sure of the time!!

It had taken us just less than 5 days, all under engine, to get to Tenerife. We were very lucky with the weather and thankfully had one of the easiest passages there could ever have been. In total in 10 days we travelled 1525 nautical miles.

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 12, 2011 10:37 am

    Pleased your season went well and you have safely made it down the Med. Sorry we missed you at the end of the season, we looked for you and heard from various Capitaineries that we had only just missed you in some places. We are already well into the plans for 2012 and looking forward to getting back to the warm waters and company of the Riviera again. Please let us know if you will be in the area next season or if you will be moving on to waters new.
    Take care and enjoy your winter waters, Fair winds and smiles to you both
    Neil and Alexandra
    SY Kinsale

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