Oyster 56; Amanzi; Sailing from Malaga to the Canaries, September – November 2022

Malaga;  finally, we’re on our way for the circumnavigation

The flight to Malaga went fine. September 28th I flew from Rotterdam, without the hustle and bustle of Schiphol Airport. That saved a lot of time. My flight was in the afternoon and Marischka was able to take me. That was very pleasant.

During the flight, the woman behind me started nagging that I too, like the person in front of me, put my seat back…. anti-social she thought. I explained to her that if she felt she had too little space, she had better book business class next time. That didn’t really help, but I was done with it.

At Malaga airport, I was to be picked up by Jan Carel and his girlfriend Cloë. That all worked out perfectly. We quickly found each other.

We drove to marina del Este where Marc, Clare and Christopher  had decided to stop.  After 4 days of headwinds, they were fed up and had decided to stay there instead of sailing on to Malaga.

The next day we sailed to Malaga anyway. Nice trip but indeed headwinds.

In Malaga, we stopped for the night. We found a fine mooring, right in the center, extremely expensive and with zero facilities. Jan Carel gave us a great tour. After all, he lives there.

The next morning, we left for Gibraltar. It was a nice trip with more than 20kts of wind partly upwind again

Gibraltar – Rota, Oct. 1st

We spent the night at La Linea marina on the Spanish side of the border. That saves a lot of hassle with customs clearance after Brexit. We did refuel in Gibraltar. You don’t have to clear through customs for that and it saves half the price.

In Gibraltar Christopher disembarked and flew back home. He’d really enjoyed the trip and might want to join us later somewhere in the Pacific.

Saturday we sailed on again. The plan was to sail on to Culatra or even Lagos in one go. But shortly after departure, the wind picked up considerably to eventually 40 kts. The forecast wasn’t not much better. It would stay like this all night.

In Rota, we called it a day.  Meanwhile, several marinas were already closed due to too strong winds and 4-5 m waves.

It was all very fine on a downwind course but we weren’t looking for this kind of weather.

Lagos, Oct. 3rd

Sunday morning we left for Culatra. The capitana did not open until 10am so before we were off and well under sail it was 11am. Around 2 o’clock the winds were supposed to pick up to 40kts around Rota too so we really wanted get going. The stronger winds would not come further north.

Hopefully we would stay just ahead of it all. On departure we started with 25kts, shortly after that was 35kts. Hmmm… Going fine in itself on a broad reach. a bit rollie though.

Around 1 o’clock wind dropped to 10 kts. We shook all the reefs and went on under full sails including the  staysail, doing 5kts SOG.

The plan was to sail to Culatra and anchor for the night. Not much later the wind dropped even more. We started the engine, motor-sailing at frist and later just motoring. By now we’d reach Culatra at 2 am. Not much point in spending the night there then and we decide to sail on to Lagos in one go after all.

We arrived Monday at 07:30. We’ll stay at the visitors pontoon till Tuesday morning. At 10 am we’re scheduled to be hauled out at Sopromar’s. All that’s going according to plan, an hour or so later we are on shore.

On the hard at Sopromar’s

We got a very nice spot on the edge of the yard with views over the sea and the town. What is also very nice is that we get a regular staircase with a handrail instead of a ladder.

Sopromar’s yard has the facilities of a campsite: shore power, water, roomy  sanitary facilities, a nice fridge/freezer for when you can’t use yours on the boat (we can’t), a washing machine and WiFi.

There are a few things that needs to be done to the boat: new antifouling, a number of new seacocks, the heat exchanger needs servicing as well as the watermaker and some other small things. Altogether about five days’ work.

That doesn’t quite all go according to plan. What Sopromar is less good at is planning. It may be 5 days of work but which 5 days….?

The first 5 days nothing happens except for a rig check. It turns out that two of the starboard spreaders show a hairline crack next to an old repair.  That shouldn’t cause much of a problem but on the other hand, we’re about to do a circumnavigation and also, if something does happen, we might have a hard time explaining the insurance company we ignored the cracks.

Anyway, the rationality to have a rig check is to do something with the results, why bother if you ignore it. So Marc decided to have it repaired properly. For that, however, the mast has to come off…. 🙁

In our second week on the hard, things get moving, bit by bit that is. The mast is taken down, the old seacocks are taken out and the heat exchanger is taken of.

In the mean time we make good use of the time, cleaning and polishing the hull (3 times), tidying up, (re-)organising a lot of stuff and fixing all kind of little things, slowly ticking of the number of items on our never ending worklist.

It now is Saturday 8 October. When we were at the chandlery that morning for some stuff, we heard that a boat was involved

in an Orca incident just a Nm or so out Lagos and had just been hauled out. On our way to Amanzi we walked by the crane and saw the result: the rudder was horizontal and a total loss. Hopefully the fittings are still okay and watertight. Later that day, we heard of second incident also just a few miles offshore.  Well, I guess that’s one advantage of being on the hard, …. no orca’s there :-/

Still on the hard at Sopromar’s

11 October, today is my birthday. I’m now at level 66. Via FB I got a nice card from Marischka and a lot of posts and comments. Of course Marischka also called me.

Marc and Clare sang for me, twice even, in the morning and again later when Clare put a nice cake on the table. In the evening, we went out for sushi with Peter from Falkor that had the birth next to us the year Amanzi was in Lagos.

Some days later Clare went to visit her parents in the UK. Marc and I still working  almost every day working down the list including the new items that come on while working on the old ones. We worked from 8 till 9 pm and were so tired we went to sleep before 10 pm most days.

We had some fun too though. Catching up with fellow sailors, some of them I ‘met’ via FB or instagram like Mike en Petra from Waaibaai, Marc en Caroline from  Axonite, also sailing the ARC, Frank en Celine from sailingHalea. When I was over at Helea we talked about how we’re using the sextant. Frank got really enthusiastic, got himself a sextant too and came over for an introduction how to work out the sights.

We also went out with Chiel en Marleen from Alani to the local music festival. That was really nice.

Bit by bit Sopromar got on with their jobs too. The mast was back on, 5 of the 6 seacocks were mounted. the 6th one they screwed up and had to order a new one, the gasket of the heat exchanger finally arrived and the antifauling was put on.

After 3 1/2 weeks, Saturday October 30st they finally would get us back in the water. For a moment it looked like it wasn’t about to happen. The crane driver’s foot was run over by a forklift earlier in the day and had to go to hospital. Fortunately, it wasn’t too bad. When he got back from the hospital he did put us back into the water.

Sunday we got out to see to check everything. No leaks and all went well. The weather was great and we had a lovely sailing day. Monday Clare returned and since Marc and I had also done all the provisioning we left Lagos next morning at 9 am with the first bridge opening. We we’re on our way to Las Palmas!

Wednesday Nov. 2nd: Position 36:03.33N 09:27.20W

We left Lagos Tuesday at 09:00 am. The first day was a bit of a hassle to get a good sail plan. We started with very light winds motoring. Nevertheless we put the main up. Heading downwind but with the engine still running, we ran faster than the wind so the main had to be trimmed for an upwind course.

Later the wind picked up a bit: we unfurled the genoa and hoisted the second genoa like the sailplan we tested the Sunday before we left. That worked quite nice until the wind veered. We dropped the second genoa and after we packed it we had to reef the main as the winds kept picking up to 25 kts.

This first day was a grey day, 25 kts, raining, cold, and quite rolly. It looked like we we were sailing on the the bloody North Sea….

In the evening the wind dropped to 15kts and backed to N-NO. We polled out the genoa, the temperature got back to normal and the sky cleared..

Genoa boomed out and then calm trip. Wasn’t cold anymore either. Beautiful starry sky in the evening

Out second day was a beautiful day, sunny and warm. We set a different sail plan: just the genoa’s and no main. The big genoa polled out by the boom, the second one on the pole. After some fiddling around with sheets, barberhauls and an extra line to fix the pole, this turned out as a very fine sailplan, comfortable, easy to reef when a squall would hit us. This could be a very nice sail plan for the crossing.

In the meantime the wind had dropped to 11-12 kts. meaning our SOG also is not very impressive. Well anyway, we are in no hurry. It’s a nice sail.

During my first watch from 7-10, the wind drops even further and when our speed gets to less then 3 kts., I decide it is time to start the engine. Clare helps me furl the genoa’s and then takes over the helm.

It’s a beautiful clear night with a bright moon, Jupiter and lots of stars, including a few shooting stars. I manage to take some nice pictures and later, during my watch from 4 to 7 am I also manage to photograph Orion constellation.

Saturday November 6th; Position 29:31.92N 14:33.90W

Thursday we had a beautiful sailing day yesterday. Nice weather, reasonable wind. Both genoa’s poled out and the staysail set too. All in all, we covered a reasonable distance, doing 6kts SOG on average.

When my watch started, the moon had just set and it is cloudy. Except for a single star, it is pitch black. I started reading the book marc got from Rutger for his birthday: ‘Around the world with a smile’ by Cees de Reus. It is a great story of a couple that sort of did the same trip as we’re doing although it took them 7 years. At sunrise we also started fishing. So far unsuccessful

Friday afternoon we gybed. With our sailplan, that’s quite a job. First we furl the genoa’s. That goes very quickly but then the pole has to go too, all lines and sheets have to be re-routed. Then we gybe the boom and secure it again with the preventer and the barberhaul for the sheet of the main genoa. Set the pole again, secure it, only then unfurling the genoa’s. Finally, double-check all the lines and conclude that the barberhaul does not run properly with the sheet. Again furling, adjusting and unfurling. All in all, a half-hour job.

We’ll get better and quicker over time but for now we’re in no hurry and have all the sea room to practice. In the meantime, the wind has veered a bit so sometime today we will have to gybe again. Well, never a dull moment.

Just before we were about to have dinner, the autopilot stopped working. We tried all the obvious but it didn’t came up again. So handsteering it was for the rest of the trip. In itself, Amanzi is totally fine to steer by hand and I don’t mind handsteering at all. We did handsteer the whole trip when we did the around the Atlantic tour on my boat. Still, it is pretty annoying if it doesn’t work when it’s supposed to work.

I had the first and the last watch. The first watch was nice and easy. The moon was up and so I had good visibility. My second watch was in the dark. Then it’s steering on instruments only. After a while this becomes more tiring. You literally don’t see as sharply anymore. Anyway, good thing it happens now on the last night to the canaries and not the first night of the crossing.

At 21:30 we moored up at the visitors pontoon. We’ll check in tomorrow and go to our berth for the next 2 weeks. For now… we’re tired and happy alle went well. It was a real nice trip.

Las Palmas, Grand Canaria

We will stay in Las Palmas for two weeks. The start of the ARC is Nov 20str. Time enough to finish the work list that has reappeared in the meantime. Starting, of course, with the autopilot. In addition, Marc has meanwhile bought a Certus 100 system for satellite communication. Ed from mailasail will deliver it one of these days with all the necessary equipment. Via the sat phone it went soooo slow that it was basically impossible to get a meaningful gribfiles in.

Weird. When I sailed my round Atlantic I had no problem at all. At least not after I switched providers. Indeed, Mailasail was very slow during the first part of my trip too. After I switched providers I had no problem downloading gribfiles.

The Tuesday after we arrived, they came by from Oyster for a complementary check of the boat. Beforehand, we had no idea what to expect. They showed up with a team of 5! A kind of A-team, consisting of a mechanic, an electrician, a rigger and two people who knew everything about the boat to answer any question we might have.

They turned the whole boat inside out, as in really checked all the systems, down to the gas system, water pump, bilge pump fridge, in short really everything! We were very impressed with the thoroughness and professionalism. The rigger immediately noticed that the mast was not properly tuned and that the diagonal rigging in particular was far too loose. He then fixed that too. The electrician immediately saw what was wrong with the autopilot. A broken bolt in one linear drive and the other wasn’t working at all.

We have 2 linear drives, which in themselves are both strong enough to keep the boat on course. So if one fails, you can continue on the other. However, the problem is that you only find out that one of them is no longer working when the other also fails. They are mounted under the floorboards in the lazaret, which is completely full of stuff. So not something you check every week.

Fixing the problem  was relatively simple, a professional service and new carbon brushes, that was basically it. When reassembling them, I did make some adjustments in the wiring. A fellow sailor on our pontoon came up with the suggestion to mount 2 breakers in a place you could easily reach. Then you can actually check them periodically by switching them off in turn and check if the other one is still working. Thank you Bones for this tip!

Sunday Nov 13st, a week before the start was the official opening with a parade of all participants from 35 countries. Marc had volunteered me to carry the Dutch flag…. Not something I would have signed up for myself but anyway. It was a typically English organized event with preassigned numbers and dedicated boxes in which the participants from all different countries then had to gather.

Just before the start of the parade, it looked like Marc and I would be the only 2 Dutchmen. The number of participants was not impressive anyway. But that all turned for the better. First 2 more Dutch people joined, then 4, 2 and another 5 sailing on 6 other Dutch boats.  Also each boat had also brought its own Dutch flag. So in this parade, the Dutch flag could be seen in every part because none of the Dutch would stick to the box they were supposed to stay in. All in all it turned out to be a successful action after all.

Tomorrow Jan Carel will come and then it will be the finishing touches and shopping before we start the crossing.