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Fight against the heat

Prototyping windshield cover

We know many friends from Scandinavia complain about the cold summer – so we hope this post doesn’t offend you. Equally, the Canaries, where we are right now, has not very extreme heat compared to mainland Spain and the Caribbean. Still, we don’t enjoy temp below deck that is 30 C or more, especially not during the night. Right now we are experimenting with sun shields, normally used to cover the front windshield of cars, to cover the windows of our pilothouse. So far it looks promising! We have also invested in a standard ventilation fan only requiring 50 W on the highest rpm.

Otherwise, we are now back in San Sebastian, La Gomera, yesterday taking a bus to Vallehermoso in the north. A scary trip on winding roads, but the scenery was fantastic, this part of the island being famous for vineyards. The north east part of La Gomera has much more rainfall compared to southeast, south and west, meaning more green colours. The last couple of days we have also got the spinackerboom bracket repaired. We tried to get information from a large Swedish rigging company since 16 days so fallback was to have a local mechanic to make a new bracket replacing the fragile, aluminium with stainless steel. No doubt for a fraction of what xxx would charge, excluding freight and customs costs. Also got the engine valves adjusted to get rid of a annoying noise and some abnormal exhaust smoke.

Prototyping windshield cover

Prototyping windshield cover

Fan - making a difference below deck

Fan – making a difference below deck

Anchored @ Valle Gran Rey, La Gomera

On our way back to San Sebastian, la Gomera, where our repaired spinnaker boom bracket is waiting, we stopped by Valle Gran Rey for a couple of days anchoring and snorkeling. Water is crystal clear at 12 m depth so no problem to see chain and anchor from deck. Water temp according to our Raymarine log/depth sensor reads 29.5 C but it seems correct readings should be 25 C. Nevertheless refreshing and we are probably having 10 dives / swims per day. Our stopover coincided with a live music festival, as always ending around 5 am but the music was really good. It must be an age thing – we are less positive towards disco music (even louder) playing to 7-8 in the morning.

Valle Gran Rey

Valle Gran Rey

Virgen del Carmen – Tazacorte, La Palma

034A couple of days, several fishing boats in the Tazacorte marina have played extremely loud latino music and tested microphones. Today and in particular this evening we understood the reason why. Today is the local holiday of Virgen del Carmen, a religious festivity devoted to the safety of seamen. The celebrations included a lot of people diving in to the harbour water, a madonna (Carmen) carried from a nearby church to a fishing vessel, and as mentioned a lot of music. Attached is a video clip of the procession passing by our boat on their way out on the bay.

La Palma, muchas bananas

Banana fields surrounding the Port of Tazacorte

Banana fields surrounding the Port of Tazacorte

We have now arrived at the northwestern part of the Canaries, La Palma and the village of Tazacorte. This small town/village on the west coast of La Palma is known for the enormous fields of Banana plantation. We are surrounded everywhere by Banana trees, even small houses uses spare ground to grow bananas. At the moment we are trying to cope with hot and very humid weather so our makeshift Bimini (sun cover) is on. The water temp is close to 30 C and the water is unfortunately not very clear, we think it is because of the agriculture drainage. On our 65 nm sail yesterday from San Sebastian, La Gomera, we saw a couple of large shoals of Dolphins, both large Bottlenose and Atlantic Spotted Dolphins. The sail was again a “performance sail”, we had max reefed sails and still averaged 9+ knots for more than an hour, with max speed 11.7 knots. A big reason was a 1-2.5 knot northerly current so we shouldn’t brag too much about it. We are planning to stay a week here and explore the island by bus and hikes. Hiking is a big attraction on this island with more than 1000 km well marked trails. The island has the second highest mountain in the Canaries of ca 2500 meters. Close to the peak are a number of astronomy installations, built and operated by different European countries, including Sweden. Apparently, as a contrast to the humidity at sea level, the environment at these sites is very well suited for astronomical purposes.

La Gomera

Mirador / Parador La Gomera. Teide, the 3700 m high peak of Tenerife visible in the horizon to the left

Since end of last week we are at San Sebastian Marina, La Gomera. We had a long day sail from Puerto de Mogán, Gran Canarias, experiencing two acceleration zones, with x-beam winds gusts of 40 knots. Good news was that the seas didn’t build corresponding waves so the sail was fast but not very uncomfortable with 30 degree healing at times but no breaking waves. La Gomera is a very different treat comparing to Gran Canarias. Small village atmosphere, all people you meet greet you, very few non Spanish tourists (at least here in San Sebastian).  Beaches here are made from volcanic sand, i.e. black sand and visibility in the water has not been very good as compared to Puerto Mogán. The island is definitely of volcanic origin with the highest peak of close to 1500 meters but due to topology, all roads go through a hub at the center of the island, meaning driving to a sea town, 10 nm from our marina takes close to two hours. Yesterday we took such a bus ride to Valle Gran Rey. We are both used to sheer heights, but this trip was something extraordinary. Roads very narrow, standard length bus, driving on roads that would be rated bicycle standard in northern Europe – wow! Anyway, a fantastic treat costing us 5 Euro each, and memory for life. Driving around Grand Madeira two months ago, we thought Madeira was a Europe record of greenhouse feeling. Yesterday´s bus trip crossing part of “Parque Nacional Garajonay” raised the bar. The luscious, intense greenery consists of a variety of trees and plants, which grow there because of the high percentage of humidity and mist together with a constant temp all year round. The National Park is an ecological treasure which was declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986. Valle Gran Rey turned out to be a nice village with a lot of German tourists and permanent residents.
Yesterday we met with Richard, the owner of  a British flagged daycruiser rigged with game fish equipment. Richard was very happy and explained the two flags at the top of the fishing gear rods, one white and one red, both with Blue Marlin logos. Yesterday they caught a 550 pound (250 kg) Blue Marlin. The red flag indicated they were able to release the big fish alive after one hour fight, which by the way is law in the Canaries from a certain size/weight. Just before this huge catch they had a much larger Blue Marlin on the hook, estimated to 1000 pounds or more, that slipped away in the end. Richard explained these huge fish can become very dangerous as they can jump in to the boat and with a couple of hundred kilos of muscles. We were offered to join him next week, just sharing the fuel costs. We would love to but if we do, there is a risk we have to stay one more week due to stronger winds and swell coming in the next couple of days.

Sailing Letter June 2015

Islas Canarias means Isles of large Dogs, here is one of them

For the month of June we went into working mode. We got a nice place in the marina in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. The first 1.5 week was a bit cloudy, with some drizzle at times, so we used it to do some maintenance. The winches got served and we also did some “head covers” to protect them from sand and sun. The main engine got its 400 hour service and we bought electronic charts for the next coming year(s) or so (?!), covering South Am, Caribbean and part of the Pacific coast, close to the Panama Canal.

We also decided to get the leaking hydraulic furling engine in the mast, fixed. The first “expert” to help us did what many contractors do. He opened up the mast, left some tools and……disappeared.  A week later we found another hydraulic firm that might be able to support. Since we had a rental car we took the engine to the workshop, positive response at first, but the day after it was a no go, “to much to do”. Next company. More positive response and the engine was fixed, tested and we could pick it up the day after. However, when we mounted it back it still did not work. Dismounting and back to the last workshop again. The guy that helped us, Ivan, showed us that it was working in their test bed and decided to make a home visit on Saturday to fix the problem. At this time we started to be rather desperate, but he was confident it was no problem. It was a configuration issue, so after resetting the configuration to our pump size, everything was finally fine!

Parallel with all the fixing, we used the rental car to see Gran Canaria. Winding roads and small villages in the mountains. The small village of Firgas for instance: famous for its water and nice tile work. From the viewpoint on the top we had a beautiful view at Fuerteventura. At the other side of the island we could see mount Teide on Tenerife 60, nM away. It is an amazing sight with a top of 3700 meters. We also followed our newfound friends, David and Angie, for a mountain tour with a small hike. Even if the weather is cloudy in the mornings in Las Palmas, you can always count on the sun to shine in the mountains so it was lovely to walk among the pine trees, admiring the views.

Las Palmas we crisscrossed by foot, both the old part which is very beautiful, and the higher slopes with houses in all kind of pastel colors. There are two beaches in town. One close to the marina and the other on the west side. The latter inspired us to go snorkeling, exploring the reef that cut of the beach from the waves. The fishes were fever but bigger than what we normally se. We were looking for the red Parrot fish that is resident here among the islands, but we had no luck.

June 23rd Peter managed to understand from the TV that something special would be happening on playa Las Canteras that evening. We were there at 22.30, together with a couple of thousands others. Kids, grownups and grandparents. Lots of music and at 12 o’clock the fireworks started. At the same time many people were taking a night swim. We think this San Juan celebration is like the Midsummer we celebrate in Sweden, the shortest night of the year.  (see Peter’s previous blog with photos).

We did a trip on the north coast to Agaete. It’s a small village with an even smaller Port. To get some historical perspective, we looked at the restored graves (1300 years old) from the native Canarians, the Guanches. Also from an historical viewpoint we saw the oldest Dragon tree on Gran Canaria in Gáldar, planted 1719. However the oldest one at Tenerife is supposed to be 1000 years old. The dragon tree is bleeding (red) when carved into. This sap has been used for medical purposes and you can still see lots of carvings in them.

After a major shopping tour, we set sail on the 28th and went south to Puerto Mogan. We anchored in crystal clear water at 8-10 meters depth and spent some days just enjoying sun-and-bath-days. We also had the opportunity to see the landing of approx. 2 tons of Tuna from a small (30 feet) fishing boat.

July 2 we  sailed over to La Gomera experiencing the acceleration zones between the islands with 40 knots of wind, but that is for the next sailing letter…

Nature

  • Trumpet fish
  • Large Lizard
  • A white blob (leather coral or snail) not identified yet J
  • Two types of crabs: spider crab (araña in Spanish) and Jaca (sp.) with red front claws.
  • Flame of The Forest Tree: Gulmohar tree is regarded as one of the most beautiful tropical trees in the world. The tree grows to a height of about 20-25 feet usually but can and does many times reach a height of 50 feet.

The tree is an evergreen deciduous with the branches spreading wide and forming an umbrella like canopy. It remains green throughout the year wherever there is enough water. However, in areas in which it does not have access to water in the dry season or during times of drought it sheds its leaves.

Gastronomy

  • Almagrote (fresh cheese with pimiento and olive oil, spicy sometimes)
  • Ropas Viejas (old clothes), which is a mix of meet, potatoes and chick peas
  • Goat cheese with palm honey and pastrami
  • Bonito: we bought a 2 kg fish that will last for 4 dinners. It is a Tuna type fish with red meat.

Until next time,

BR, Eva &Peter

Puerto de Mogán

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After 4 weeks in Las Palmas marina we arrived yesterday at Puerto de Mogán after a 30 nm sail in good winds. Due to the “acceleration zone” which adds up to 15 knots to existing wind speed, we had some strong winds and reached 10 knots of speed over ground at times which we are not very used to. We are anchored 200 meters from the marina entrance with very little swell but a lot of waves due to passing ferries, jet skis, glass bottom boats, submarines (!), banana boats, paraglide speed boats and so on. The water is crystal clear and there a number of large caves were paddle boats can go in so we hope to do some good snorkeling later today.

San Juan – Midsummer celebration

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Out of coincidence, a couple of days ago we saw a note on a supermarket that they were closed 24th June due to ”San Juan”. Checking the net and local papers we found out that San Juan is the equivalent to “Midsommar” (swe) or Midsummer celebration. Yesterday evening we went to the major event area at Playa de Las Canteras. We enjoyed a cover band playing a lot of 70-80’s pop/rock tunes and the beach was completely packed with people – as always a blend of kids, youths, parents and elderly people.  Families of three generations had a feast of food and drinks with tables and chairs brought to the sandy beach.  At around 23.45, at least 400-500 people, young and old, suddenly appeared in swim suits and went in to the water. At 24.00 a fantastic firework started lasting 20 minutes. Later, bonfires were lit. All in all a fantastic night with a lot of happy, smiling people and no signs of violence or misuse of alcohol or drugs.

Spare parts in place and time for a swim

005Finally, after 3 weeks, we have now got the hydraulic furling gear working, without leaks, mounted to the mast, boom in place and with no damage to body or boat. We are always extremely careful when working on the boat. The boom weight is approx. 150 kg, the hydraulic unit 35 kg producing 150 Nm torque. Reason for the time to get the hydraulic to work was that the technicians recommended did not deliver. Finally this week we got hold of a new professional technician who did the job in 2 days. Unfortunately he, by mistake, configured the motor/gearbox to the wrong type of pump (it all has to do with liters per minute), which gave us a headache, but today Saturday, he were here and made the changes. Anyway, now everything except sail is back in place, with no leaks, and we have learnt a lot of new things about hydraulics.

Thanks to our sailing friends of S/Y Hurah we were advised to get “Spanish for Cruisers”, an extremely useful book to aid communication with a focus on sailing terminology. It surely helped conversation about technical matters. 003After a full week of work on the mast, tomorrow we will take some “time off” and do some snorkeling on the west facing “Playa Las Canteras” beach. Weather is very nice with about 25 C air temp and 24 C in the water. We have extended our stay at Las Palmas Marina for a week, so our plan is to sail over to Tenerife by next weekend.

Waiting for spare parts…

Dismounting 40 stainless steel bolts from  aluminum after 30 years, not my favourite work...

Dismounting 40 stainless steel bolts from aluminum after 30 years, not my favourite work…

Because of the extensive maintenance projects the winter of 2013/14, until now we have not had any serious issues with critical systems on the boat. Since we left mainland Spain though, we have had a leak of oil from the mast furling motor/gearbox. Not much leak but obviously annoying and clearly a serious problem if the furling broke down completely. So, Las Palmas Marina will be a longer stay than planned. Even though we are in a place well served by authorized dealers and chandlers, hydraulic spare parts of equipment, designed 30 years ago is not very easy to get. Our rig manufacturer is Reckman and the advice given by their service team was to send the complete, 20 kg, furling kit, to Hamburg. Knowing the hassle with cross boarder transports in Spain, last time we had to wait 4 weeks for customs release, we opted to try a local company used to service hydraulics systems used by trawlers etc. The hydraulic components are all based on standard Danfoss components so, fingers crossed, we have the gear fixed by tomorrow. Meanwhile we are enjoying the surroundings using our Fiat Panda rental car, great deal by the way of 4 Euros/day.

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