Sunday 26th October to Sunday 16th November 2008
Rachel and Chris caught the 08.15 train to Faro and their flight home. It was excellent having them here and rediscovering old haunts. After they left we sorted out the boat - much needed, and had Andy and Pam (Port Edgar) and Bob and Loretta (Largs) round for drinkie-poos and then all out for dinner.
On Tuesday Gordon discovered the wrong watermaker had been delivered! I'll let him explain later.We also discovered that Funchal marina, in Madiera, was full, so will probably head instead for a new marina called Quinta do Lorde which is 12m from Funchal.
The weather here in Lagos has really changed over the last few days, with strong chilly winds, rain and cloud. Definitely time to be heading further south. In any case when the bar staff know you by name it's a sure sign you've been there too long.Martin Edge came onboard on 30th October to sail round to Las Palmas via Madiera and bless him brought supplies of coffee. We have a general appeal out that anyone who joins us should bring Tesco's French ground coffee and Marmite!
We spent a lot of time looking at weather forecasts for a reasonable slot for the next leg to Las Palmas and decided Saturday 1st November looked like the best time, so I did huge provisioning and a full days cooking and vacuum packing in readiness.
I prepared 6 evening meals for the duration of this leg i.e.Thai green curry, Pork fillets in white wine and apple sauce, Venison stroganoff, Chicken in olive oil and white wine and tomatoes, Bolognaise, Mince and carrots.Each of these require either rice, potatoes or pasta which is cooked fresh and the appropriate vacuum pack placed in with it to heat through - so one pot, but good food. This is especially useful in a big sea which is the kind we have had so far! The ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) people want to record my method since they hadn't really thought about packing complete meals, only raw ingredients. My way however eliminates the need to store large amounts of veggies and other ingredients which perish, since they are already in the cooked and preserved meals.
As planned we set off from Lagos at midday on Saturday 1st November and true to form by 2.00 pm I was chucking up. (sorry) We had 30 knot squalls lasing up to an hour at a time all through the first night and on the second night recorded a maximum wind speed of 43.9 knots and maximum boat speed of 9.06 knots. Lightening flashed all around us the whole night.
We tied up at Quinta do Lorde at 0135 in the morning after 85.5 hours at an average of 5.58 knots and after a good sleep we moved the boat to our correct pontoon and organised a hire car to go into Funchal. The marina here will be lovely - when its finished! Lots of building work meantime.
Anna Blackwood (Port Edgar) texted us to say she is here with her mother for a week and she has some Marmite and coffee for us. We met them for dinner in Funchal. Anna had brought 1 kilogram of Marmite!!
Gordon and Martin went off in the car the following day to the top of the second highest mountain in Madiera, over 6000 feet. The view was limited due to dense fog but they saw beautiful terraced gardens and fields with houses perched on the mountain sides.
Madiera is a very beautiful island indeed and like no other place. It has a very jagged mountainous terrain and the people have found the most ingenious ways to build and live here. Even the airport runway is build on stilts since there is not enough flat land available.
We left Madiera at 0715 on Friday 7th November and at 1420 the boat log read 11111.1 nm. This two night sail was no worse than any other but for some reason I found it very difficult. Another first, in that I have now developed claustrophobic feelings in the cabin at night! This and sea sickness too! I soul searched over the last two nights of this journey and realised I would not do the ARC across the Atlantic. It was very difficult to tell Gordon who is extremely disappointed but I think the potential for me to spoil the experience for everyone else on-board is quite high and I would become a worry rather than a participating crew member. So no hero's welcome for me. Everyone says I have done the worst bit but no-one can guarantee that and the uncertain length of the journey is too much for me. I will of course provision the boat and help with all preparations and then wave them off, find accommodation in Las Palmas and fly out to St. Lucia in time to welcome them in. Yes I am disappointed in myself but I have to be realistic. I will carry on with the circumnavigation.
We arrived in Las Palmas on Sunday 9th November in beautiful warm sunshine. (saw a turtle on the way in!) After fuelling up we were led to our pontoon and squeezed into a tiny space next to an Island Packet from Florida. There are lots of ARC flags flying her already although there are 2 weeks to blast off.
I left Equinox to join my sister, Helen, for a few days holiday here in Las Palmas, so will hand over to Gordon who will tell you about many events he has attended and people he has met since arriving here.
Now Gordon's bit
In Lagos I tried to get a watermaker fitted which is not needed for the Atlantic nor Pacific long legs but will be very useful in the south Pacific islands where supplies of fresh water is intermittent. The first supplier the boat yard contacted eventually sent a set but it was the wrong voltage so they switched to a UK supplier but they had none in stock and would take 2 weeks to manufacture and deliver a set. So no watermaker.
Our stay in Lagos was very pleasant and indeed some sailors don't get any further. We left Lagos into what we thought would be 15 to 20 knot NW winds which seemed ideal but with some rain . It turned out that the rain shown on the weather chart were squalls. We could see the rain clouds all around and as soon as they hit us the wind increased in 10 seconds to a continuous 30 knots with gusts to 40 knots and rain. The squalls lasted from 20 minutes to about an hour. The rain was cold and sea water spray warm. At night we had lightning all around us which destroys your night vision but I counted down, 1001, 1002, 1003.…. until the clap to find out how far away it was. Most claps we could not hear over the wind noise or were far away. One clap however came when I was halfway through 1001, an almighty crack, a bit too close! During the squalls we had to hand steer, it was like a scene from a B movie which you think is a bit over the top, man wrestling with wheel, buckets of sea water, hose spraying the rain, lightning all around, but it was real for us. Anne was very ill all this time and bravely popped her head up now and again.
We eventually arrived at Madiera at 0135 in the morning after 85.5 hours, tied up and slept. We stayed two nights and left for Las Palmas on Friday morning with NE to E wind 10-15 knots, perfect conditions with no squalls forecast. Indeed it was perfect and we achieved a 24 hour distance of 163 miles. Anne was again feeling ill but also claustrophobic and not enjoying theses longer legs. It was in these perfect sailing conditions that Anne made the bombshell announcement that she will not be doing the Atlantic! I was very disappointed with her decision and we had much discussion. After all she had done the worst part of the trip already and the Atlantic should be much easier. But it is the length of time of the leg that Anne is very worried about. The conditions on the last leg did not help.
We arrived in Las Palmas, sunny and warm. Anne stayed with her sister at a hotel while I readied the boat for the long trip. I have now thought hard about Anne's decision and it is for the best for both us and the continuation of the circumnavigation.
Anne is now back on the boat till we depart. I have attended various seminars here organised by the ARC people but mostly the happy hour at the ARC bar. We had an opening parade on Sunday, where I wore my kilt, followed by a dinghy race like no other. The dinghies were the tenders from the boats or anything inflatable, crewed by fancy dressed crew. A lot of locals took part too. The main aim of the race seemed to be to try to sink your fellow 'racers' with water bombs, flour, water pistols etc. We have also attended crew dinners, met interesting people and enjoyed the weather. There are 220 or so boats here all getting ready for the off on the 23rd. Tom McLuskie (Port Edgar) is here with "Hei Matau" a Farr 36 trimaran. Boats range from a Beneteau First 31.7' with a couple and two small children to a Swan 82' fully crewed up.
Jan Eirik Breen, who came to Spitsbergen with me, and Martin Edge are due soon. Our next task is provisioning.
It will be at least a month before we can send another blog and hopefully with photos this time.
We start the race on 23rd November follow our progress on http://www.worldcruising.com/arc/viewer.aspx and the boat name "Equinox"