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Canary Islands, S/V PEACE AND ALOHA Update, December 1, 2005

Holla, Friends and Family,

On November 5, 2005 we arrived at San Francesca Bay (29 13N 13 32W), Isla Graciosa, Canary Islands after a 3 day 17 hour passage of 595 miles from Gibraltar. This passage was our second worst with 40 knots of winds and dangerous breaking cross seas of 20 feet. We had four warps or four long ropes off the stern to slow us down while surfing and near broaching. We had been warned to leave for the Canaries by the end of October to avoid strong SW winds on the nose, not these dangerous sea conditions. Two boats took shelter in Casablanca and Agadir on the west coast of Morocco while another almost had a knock down and took water into the cockpit with two inches of water on the cabin sole.(This was S/V First Light which was abandoned on January 13, 2006 after the loss of their rudder on their Atlantic Crossing, the final passage of their circumnavigation - see below) Maybe our mistake was leaving on November 2, which was Eric's 30th Birthday and the fourth of seven birthdays celebrated on passage! Needless to say, we were extremely grateful to be at anchor, in spite of the continuing high winds while in Graciosa.

We spent the two following days cleaning the boat from our passage: anti-skid off all the counters, un-made our passage beds in the main salon, cleaned all, warp ropes and spinnaker pole stowed. Boats arrived daily from Gibraltar with broken sails and fore-stays. Everyone was glad to be safely at anchor.

The next afternoon we dinghied to shore, where many, mostly British, vacationers were enjoying the sun, the sand, and clear water with 74 Degree water temperature - mostly in the "all together"! We were expecting warmer weather and it WAS warmer than Gibraltar, but definitely not warm by our definition. We walked along the water, locating the surf break and another beautiful secluded cove beach below the gigantic volcano towering above, somewhat reminiscent of our special beach on Maui! We talked with a group of "surfer dudes" as they tried to start their beat-up jeep but to no avail, so they walked back to town. We met a British couple, Chris and Petra, who had crossed with the ARC last year and had returned for a four week vacation here since they had enjoyed this island the best of the Canary Islands.

We continued to have high winds with many boats dragging in the anchorage so it was not restful sleeping. We walked into the quaint little town of La Sociedad with white square little houses with either green or royal blue painted shutters and doors. It was a very clean and tidy little town with sand streets surrounding the small marina with fishing boats and a few cruising yachts. It took 45 minutes to walk to town, but only 30 minutes return because of the tail wind!! The internet was closed but we did make phone calls on the public phone. By the time we arrived at the bakery/supermarket, the other cruisers had purchased all the remaining dark bread. The people were very friendly and helpful with Graciosa being the Las Palmas of many years ago!

The weather continued to deteriorate with 26-32 knots of wind with overcast skies becoming darker and colder. We therefore stayed on the boat doing wash and cleaning, making Ghiradelli brownies to celebrate Eric's birthday, and watching movies: "Sinbad" and "Shark Tale." We enjoyed them immensely and we can't wait to share them with Paul, our grandson. We also dug deep underneath our bunk to pull out all our Caribbean guide books which unfortunately are definitely out of date after 6-7 years. We were sad not to be able to hike to the top of the volcano or around more of the island because of the windy weather.

Since all our friends had left the anchorage, we decided to sail to Arrecife on November 13 in spite of the 20-25 knot winds and squally conditions. We caught two mahimahis enroute which were absolutely delicious and gave ten dinners for the four of us! We were anchored at Puerto Naos, Baco de Castillo de San Jose, town of Arrecife (28 58.2N 13 31.9W) on the island of Lanzarote by about 1500 hours with many other boats with the winds still blowing 20-25 knots. QuarterDeck (Paul and Sandra), Magnum (Leslie and Danny), and Rikili (Blake, Keri, Jade, Elsa and Bianca) had left that morning for Las Palmas. This anchorage was rather crowded and with poor holding, we were concerned about others dragging. It was disappointing that we did not have time to rent a car to visit the sights of the island.

November 14 was cold at 64 degrees but there was no wind! We spent all morning checking in and then walked to town after lunch but unfortunately forgot to take our cart. The Canaries are Spanish, so, with the exception of the supermarket and the internet cafes, everything else was closed from noon until 1700. We managed to obtain euros ($1.20US = 1 Euro), the local currency, from an ATM. (Watch out for the Telebanco machines throughout Spain which give one a poor exchange rate! You are asked if you will accept it and at one machine in Las Palmas, David said NO! It gave him the money anyway!) Dave, Donna, David and Morgan on Exit Only guided us to the best internet cafe for our "grandparent fix" seeing Paul on www.paulkekoa.com! We used the local phones to call home and then picked up a few items at the Hiper Dino supermarket. We had pulled our dinghy up on a beach and had to drag it a long way to water after the tide had gone out. Exit Only had to leap 10 feet into theirs which was locked along the wharf! With huge tides and with dinghy theft a problem, we found many anchorages not to be cruiser-friendly!

We went ashore to provision at Hiper Dino the following morning while many of our friends sailed overnight to Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. We toured the fort and cathedral before shopping. We enjoyed a quiet anchorage that night while watching "Prince of Egypt," another enjoyable "kids" movie, the night before for our morning departure. We sailed only 19 miles to anchor at Playa de Pozo, near Papagoyo (bird in Spanish)Point on the south coast of Lanzarote (28 50.8N 13 47.5W). Unfortunately, this was a rolly anchorage. We noticed a twister near the marina, further south of us, which was scary to watch as it touched down. We did not hear of any damage but there were no radio or tv stations in English, so we did not hear local news.

We were concerned about a weather system approaching with southerly winds, so we did not want to be in Las Palmas with all the ARC boats and non-ARC boats dragging. We decided to stay in Lanzarote at the Rubicon Marina (Slip H13B, 28 51.4N 13 48.8W), which we entered on November 18 after filling our tanks with diesel (313 liters@.678 euros/liter). We were rather upset when they charged us as a 22 meter boat @47.25 euros/day, which is more than we paid in Rome! We were all set with water, electricity, nice shower facilities (but cold water every time), and one washer and one dryer in their laundry facility. On shore power, we used our Kiwi electric heater which keeps PEACE AND ALOHA nice and toasty especially at night. We did five loads of wash and three loads of dry (need tokens which they sell at the marina office for 3 euros each). We took walks along the beautiful walkway on the edge the cliffs above the shore to the beach where we had anchored. Beautiful scenery! We hope that we have pictures of Lanzarote with Fuerteventura in the distance. We enjoyed the small complex around the marina, one of the nicest we've experienced, but we were still smarting from the expense. We watched "Anger Management" and "Tomb Raider, The Cradle of Life." All were different but worth watching. The strong winds (31 knots SW in the marina) with rain arrived on November 20, the day the ARC left Las Palmas. We will never understand why they would leave with the existing weather forecast! We continued our boat preparations and on November 22, after walking into town in the morning, we left the marina about 1600 to anchor at Puerto Blanco, just outside the Marina (28 51.4N 13 49.5W) after clearing out, returning their electric plug, and putting away our heater:( We checked out the duty free stores for perfume, sunglasses and IPODS but decided that the prices would be better in Las Palmas. Wrong! Guess we saved ourselves some money since we didn't buy any of the above!

The anchorage was fine except one ferry driver was intent on watching the yachts roll gunwale to gunwale as he entered/exited the harbor at warp-speed. It was worse than being on passage! We were up at 0245 on November 24 to sail 96 miles to Puerto de la Luz, Las Palmas "The Big Smoke", Isla Gran Canaria. We arrived about 1600 hours and were greeted by our friends on Exit Only, Quarter Deck, and Zephyrus (Harold and Diana), bearing goodies and maps with all pertinent services located for us! What a wonderful Thanksgiving even without the turkey and all the trimmings! The anchorage was not crowded but it was rolly with all the boat traffic and the holding was poor.

November 25, we dinghied into the marina to see about entering the marina and to walk around town, where we shopped at Hiper Dino since we were low on fruits and veggies. We found an ATM machine for more euros and walked back to find oil all over our dinghy. I stowed our purchases while the guys did several diesel runs with the jerry cans. At dinner we received Buoyweather and weather faxes indicating 30 knots from the SE in a few days. The anchorage was completely exposed to the SE. We called Rikili, who found a spot for us in the marina two boats away from them. With Blake's help on our dinghy, others on the dock, and the well-lit marina, we entered Slip #23 on the wall in Las Palmas Marina (28 08N 15 25W) that night. We were tied up, settled in with electricity (can use our heater again, yeah!) and water at about 2000 hours, right beside High Drama. We traveled across the Pacific from Ecuador to Australia with Jeff and Ann from Phoenix and had hoped to cross the Atlantic with them this year; however, Jeff hurt his back, so they left the boat to be sold in Italy. They hired a fellow cruiser (Bill on Apollo) to deliver her back to Florida to be sold. Bill and the boat, High Drama, arrived in Ft. Lauderdale on Christmas Day! We were so disappointed not to see Jeff and Anne again. Hopefully, our paths will cross somewhere in the Arizona or they will venture to Maui via airplane!

On Saturday we tried to check into the marina and the Canaries, but were told to return at 1600 hours. We walked to the La Contes Engles department store where we purchased a few items in the supermarket, but found everything else to be overpriced. Many places were not open since it was siesta and Saturday afternoon. We checked in at 1700 hours and were charged 18.19euros/day.

Since all stores except the internet are closed on Sunday we stayed at home completing boat projects and visiting with fellow cruisers (Max Grody II - Eileen, Peter and Ryan, Exit Only, and Silver Girl - Terry, Yvonne and James). We were continually monitoring the weather with "Delta " approaching and put out a stern anchor on Monday morning, November 28. The marina was almost full with many large (100 ft) boats, but Exit Only and Zephyrus remained in the anchorage with many stories of three foot waves and dragging boats. The weather deteriorated with wind and rain. We were up all night listening to Maydays on the VHF, checking all our lines and fenders with boats on both sides, and clocking winds of 46 knots. We were still having 30 knots in the marina the following morning from the NE which was more dangerous for us but better for those in the anchorage. We heard on the net that many boats were damaged when the docks fell apart in the Atlantico Santa Cruz Marina on Tenerife, where many had spent Thanksgiving. We were very thankful that we were in the marina where there was only minor damage to several boats.

On November 30, we checked out of the marina and provisioned as much as possible at Hiper Dino, which I stowed all afternoon, while the guys put away the dinghy, brought in and stowed the stern anchor, and washed the boat, in preparation to leave for the Cape Verde Islands and on across the Atlantic to Martinique.

We left Las Palmas at 0900 December 1, 2005 along with many of our friends. While on passage we checked in with the Atlantic Ocean Crossing Net (8173/4030 at 0800GMT) and listened to Herb, Southbound II (at 1930 GMT on 12359) for weather. We also called in to Trudi's Transatlantic Net (21400 at 1300GMT)for HAMs. We had a slow passage because "Epsilon" was heading towards the Canaries, blocking the trade winds. Many stars and beautiful phosphorescence were observed at night. No fish! We were anchored in Mindelo, Sao Vicente, Cape Verde Islands (16 53.1N 24 59.6W) after six days and five hours sailing 870 miles.

We enjoyed the Canary Islands, but unfortunately the weather was much too cold and windy and with the lack of safe and protected anchorages, it was difficult to sightsee and meet the local people. Cruisers who arrived months ago traveled to all the islands and enjoyed them immensely.

We are sending out as many email updates as possible while resting here in St. Anne, Martinique after our Crossing and waiting for strong winds and big seas to subside before heading north. Keep in touch with your news. We thank you for your continued patience while waiting for our email updates and replies to your much appreciated emails. Remember, please do not send this email back with your reply. Attachments, pictures and too-long emails will all be deleted. If you change your email address, please notify us from your old address, which will be accepted by our "white list," and the new address will not be blocked. If you do not want to continue receiving our updates, please write and we will remove your name from our mailing list.

Be safe! God Bless! Fair winds and smooth seas for all our cruising friends.

Love, Peace and Aloha,
Ellen, David, Jason and Eric
St. Anne, Martinique
January 21, 2006

The crew of First Light, Jill, Andy and Bruce, arrived safely at Bridgetown, Barbados on January 20, 2006 aboard Ross Ailither, who had tried unsuccessfully to tow them. We are thankful that they are safe, but sad about the loss of their yacht.