SAILING TO - AND EXPLORING - CANARIAS

The times were troubled. I had good and bad news. The good was that my check ups were good, the bad that my dear aunt was not good. Travelling back to Belgium had stressed me so much that  I decided the best solution was to set sails again.
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November - December 2020

It was a short sail from Quinta do Lorde to Gran Canaria, but I was anxious because I didn’t feel completely fit. On the other hand, I knew the ocean would cleanse me, and left.

The first day went on smoothly with a gentle breeze pushing me towards the Desertas. Contemplating the majestic mountains with their earthly colours highlighting the ocean blue soothed me.

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Unfortunately, the waves came back once we left the protection of the islands bouncing on Giulia’s side. And all the accumulated tensions came out. I got seasick. The wind wasn’t that strong, and Giulia remained manageable. The constant side to side movement was tiring though. I spend most of the time on deck looking at the magnetic ocean’s waves with the changing lights. Taking a second reef somehow reduced the annoyance and made me feel less sick. Passing past the Selvagems at sunset of the second day was very special as these islands are quite small. I felt glad of my good navigation. 

The Selvagems in the setting sun.
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Approaching the Canaries brought stress back because on the VHF a missing sailboat was announced, and also drifting inmigrants dinghies. I felt very nervous at the idea of meeting one of the last ones as I wouldn’t feel capable of not assisting them – and just giving their position – as the authorities required. The wind died, I sailed a little under Code S, and then preferred to switch on the engine to arrive at a reasonable hour. The impressive Teide volcano popped out of the mist at sunset. I was almost there.

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At last El Teide

I arrived in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria around midnight and entered after letting a cargo leave the harbour. The cargo actually helped me to recognise the entrance beacons among the city's light.

Anchoring became a nightmare though as the anchor wouldn’t hold and there were many boats. I wouldn’t have succeeded without my friends’ help that luckily heard my shouts in the early morning.

It took me a few days to recover from the accumulated stress and feel confident to go on again.

Ten days later we left Las Palmas de Gran Canaria for Garachico in Tenerife. I was glad my friends were to cast off on their boat. It felt reassuring and I needed it. We left at dawn with a good breeze upwind to the lighthouse of la Isleta, the sea was choppy but I had recovered enough and felt awesome. What a change! I took course to Punta Anaga, the North Point of Tenerife, and preferred to sail at 150 degrees to the wind and gybe a few times. Giulia was going fast and smoothly after the initial discomfort, and I enjoyed it fully again. I reached the point of in the glorious light of the sunset on the volcano El Teide. The wind accelerated compressed by the high mountains, but I had prepared myself to that, and after furling the genua, all went smoothly.

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Gran Canaria behind & Tenerife ahead
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We anchored in strong winds in the bay in front of Punta Hidalgo. The sand seabed was perfect and I had no problem. This was the best way to forget my previous bad experiences. It was quite special to drop the anchor with El Teide in the background.

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Picture : Aideen

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We left early the next morning to still have some wind. Giulia was first gazing in the 36 knots winds. I wasn’t feeling completely self-secured but never doubted of Giulia’s capacity to cope with these conditions. As expected – yet a very strange sensation- the wind went from 36 to 0 knots in 5 minutes; my welcome to the acceleration zones. The entrance of Garachico was easier than described in the nautical pilot what is always good. The welcome was warm and Garachico a little gem. I felt in love with this city and the Parque Natural del Teide. 

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I felt in love with
Garachico
and
the Parque natural del Teide
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Two weeks later we casted off again together for Tazacorte on La Palma island, 80 miles further west. The wind came back after motoring for an hour out of the shadow of the island. At first it was gentle. Then rain shower “lines” brought a good breeze. I was luckier to be just south of them and avoid the rain, than my friends that left 2 hours later. I felt in regatta, best positioned to the cumulo-nimbus clouds. The northerly wind cleared the sky to deliver beautiful and dramatic sights on surrounding islands, Tenerife in my back, La Gomera to the South and La Palma in front. The depth diminished at the Punta de Fuentecaliente, the South Point of La Palma, and the wind accelerated to a 40 knots on short waves. I was ready for it and enjoyed this rodeo sailing much more than the previous one. I knew it would be short-lived. I was right. Once West of the island the wind disappeared and the sea flattened to a mirror. The silence was overwhelming. I waited as long as I could to switch the engine on, so grateful to the night to offer me such an amazing show of stars with Mars and Venus as a bonus. I arrived at midnight, moored on my own and went for a marvelous sleep.

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Just my happy face again!
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And taking you onboard Giulia!
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I was ready to take Giulia out of the water and to prepare her for her next big jump, to the Cape Verdes that were open again.