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Sailmithril: The voyages.

To the Canaries

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To the Canaries
Newry

Under way at last.

WIND WHAT WIND.

 

Mithril locked out of the Newry ship canal on 25 July with 12 crew, a press photographer and a t.v. reporter on board. So many people turned up, as it was a lovely day for a trip down the river to Warrenpoint. Peter and I then spent the last of our English money on chocolate and ice cream and were up at 05.00 the next morning to catch the tide out of Carlingford Lough. We’d calculated that we should arrive in Arklow early the next morning but after a couple of hours an investigation of our new GPS had us motor sailing to make the most of a fair tide and arrive in by nightfall the same day. I think we had been on kilometres to start with hence the longer passage time. We tied up alongside a couple of disused trawlers in the Arklow basin and waited for the wind to shift away from the south. We waited a week and had thoroughly played out the delights of Arklow. The offshore wind farm was a splendid sight in a rosy dawn when we did eventually leave on august 1.

 

With fuel prices being so high at the moment we decided to sail all the way to Gran Canaria regardless of how long it took. We started off well with some 130 mile daily runs and on the latitude of Cape Finisterre we had a northerly gale. This belted us along for a while and we even had to stream a warp to help the autopilot steer straight. You would have thought the new wind generator would have been performing well also but it didn’t seem to like strong winds and warm days and would stop generating at 30 knots and just whizz round generating only noise. We’ll have to have words with the manufacturer and see if this is likely to occur in the Southern Ocean when winds of 30 knots are common. In which case it’s going overboard as the noise would drive you demented.

 

A couple of days later however and the wind had dropped to nothing. We seemed to be caught in an eerie fog also which turned out to be wood smoke from a forest fire in Portugal. It lasted more than a day and given that we were more than 70 miles offshore it must have been some fire. On our way north in April we had seen slicks of Portuguese man-of-war jelly fish in this area and now we were seeing very strange white blobs floating past. They were like puffball mushrooms or overgrown golf balls with a colony of tentacles and bladders under the surface – no idea what they are.

 

We continued to have light winds from then on really and it took us 18 days in the end to get to Gran Canaria with daily runs of 33 and 25 miles only sometimes. But to motor would have cost about 50 every 24 hours so didn’t seem worth it. We caught a few fish mainly skipjack tuna and dorado. The skipjack we threw back as they are flavourless and tough. The only reason they are canned is because they survive the pressure-cooking process. Our Australian fish book doesn’t waste any words on stripeys as they call them telling you not to bother even using them for bait; not even your dog will eat them they say. The dorado are a different story; excellent, firm, tasty fish.

 

And just as a windfarm framed our departure so too a windfarm was our landfall. The northeast trade wind makes sure these power a whole industrial area on Gran Canaria.We are now anchored again at Anfi del Mar between Arguineguin and Puerto Rico and we were surprised to find that there are no other cruising boats at all in the area. There may be some hidden in the depths of the marinas but there are none on anchor. It is hot and muggy with noon temperatures up to 30C. We have a few jobs to do aboard before we go on to South Africa. Our new compass isn’t working and needs re-wired. We then have to do our fresh produce and meat shopping. Hopefully though we will get away from here before the end of the month. Next log from cape town.

copyright Geraldine Foley 2008. "sailmithril ocean sailing adventures."