Thursday, December 8, 2011

Preparing to Leave Gran Canaria

Sorry still no pictures, but I am able to post text for now. We plan to leave here day after tomorrow, Saturday 10th. We did most of our provision shopping yesterday which included a small very frozen turkey which doesn't actually fit in our freezer. Uh Oh - but it does fit in a very cold section of the fridge right next to the freezer, so we've packed it in with bags of ice all around it - and when it thaws that will be our Christmas Day. It could be any day really - once we're out there because we'll be the only people who'll know. We haven't hung our Christmas tree up yet, we'll do that closer to the day.
Our transmission is back in - the Volvo people said that they tested it by running it on a lathe and it ran well and didn't leak - so that is our very expensive Christmas present to ourselves. Hope they're right.
Most of our time here has been spent working on Moondancer - our genoa got ripped on the way here from Gibraltar so it now has another patch, I've changed all of 'glass' in the 'windows' in the bimini. Tony has been all around the boat with a caulking gun filling whatever looks like it might be where water has been coming in. He's inspected and adjusted all of our standing rigging. We've got a couple of small jobs to do today and tomorrow we are going to drive around the island with another couple who've rented a car for the day. Then we'll know what the rest of this island looks like.
We will be sad not to be with our families and friends over the Christmas season but you will all be in our hearts. And when we get to the Caribbean we will be much closer to you which will make communication much easier.
Our love to you all.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Gran Canaria

We came into the Marina Gran Canaria on Tuesday 29th – unbelievable that we’ve been here
5 days. We checked in for 4 days in beautiful bright sunny ‘summer’ weather. The marina is
full of boats with foreign flags, most of whom are enjoying their stay before heading across the
Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean. It’s a really first class marina with free water and electricity – close access to a beautiful manicured sandy beach and not bad access to shopping – BUT lousy internet, and no alterative aboard. i.e. we can’t buy a service or buy time on a dongle.
This means using internet cafes or bars which is what everyone else is trying to do – so all of that preamble is by way of apology for the long time it has taken to write this post. Also – don’t think I’ll be able to post any photos or videos as this sliver of a connection that I am lucky to have right now won’t let me. I’ll do that from a cafĂ© later.
Our trip here was pretty ‘hairy’ – big winds, people who have wind measuring devices reported winds up to 50 knots – we don’t have one but we knew we were in some pretty big winds and the seas were huge but fortunately mostly behind us. That’s usually ok except we were being blown further into the coast of Africa that we were comfortable with. And turning into that wind with those seas was virtually impossible – so we just toughed it out until we got to the ‘corner’ of Africa which gave us a much better – less lee shore sailing position. (One of the things that’s really cool about coming into a harbour with other yachts who’ve all come the same way at roughly the same time is discussing these things and how we each coped with the situation.)
We made the decision to take out our transmission yet again – the ‘fix’ we had done in Malta was not satisfactory and though we could have ‘nursed’ our engine across the ocean by topping up the transmission fluid whenever we needed to use the engine we decided not to. There is a big marine Volvo distributor and service centre here, so Tony and their mechanic took out the transmission and they took it away and took it apart. The mechanic was very pleased to come back to us shortly after to show us the damaged ‘end seal’ which was badly damaged. They’ve ordered a new one and we hope to have her all put back together again early next week.
I’m very impressed with Tony’s ability to strip down the engine to the point of taking out the transmission himself – which he would do too if it did not weigh as much as Pavarotti and is not much smaller. So – hope springs eternal . This was the right place to do the work – it was vital that we get out of the Med when we did and the winter weather was just getting so much worse and getting down the African coast was no picnic either – until we got to a day or so before Lanzarote, then it was quite obvious that going south was the right thing to do.
We stopped for 2 nights of good sleep in a gorgeous little anchorage on an Island called Isla Graciosa – pictures to follow, we didn’t go ashore but we did don our wetsuits and snorkled among abundant shoals of healthy ‘tropical’ type fish, many of which were the same species we would see in the Med but much bigger. Tony saw a large moray eel swim under our boat as he was coming back to the boat.
We’ve met 2 couples here that we have met in the past in Malta, a couple from New Zealand who were moored next to us on the Breakwater our first winter in Malta and an Australian couple who were in the Manoel Island boat yard at the same time as us about 18 months ago. That’s what is so neat about these ‘way stations’ – everyone has been going off in different directions doing different things and then we all get lumped together in placed like this waiting for the ‘right time’ for us to go further.
I’ll post this as is and if I can get any pictures on will do so or they’ll have to wait until I get to a place with a decent internet signal.