NOTE: our initial plan to keep this site updated during
the voyage soon turned out to be unrealistic: fast and reliable internet
connections were too scarce a resource, and we were simply too busy to devote
long hours to this job. Soon after the departure we did set-up a BLOG that
could be updated (most of the times...) by e-mail, and that's how the story was
told from Gibraltar onwards.
I have decided to use
these e-mails as the backbone of this narrative, as they told the story while it
unfolded. I have added pictures and, only where the original narrative was
missing something, I have made additions which will be in blue to tell
THE ADVENTURE BEGINS!
It was about time, tomorrow we sail off!
The last days have been frantic, with all crews busy buying large quantities of
food and preparing their boats in offshore trim.
The meteo is deemed to be "good" because it blows a near gale from the East, and
therefore favourable, if a bit strong!.....
Always better than having the same wind against us, as it happened to other
The departure will be tomorrow morning between Europa Point and a military
vessel which will mark the departure line; from there, we will sail along the
straits staying close to the Spanish coast in order to avoid the adverse
current. Once well to the west of the straits, we will start heading south-west,
being carefull to avoid the many passing ships and staying well offshore of the
Moroccan coast to avoid the many poorly visible fishing boats.
If all is well, we will arrive in Puerto Calero in 5 or 6 days.
TOWARDS THE CANARIES
A short message from aboard Shaula: we have sailed 230 miles in 48 hours, and we
are now about 50 miles off the Moroccan coast, a little to the south of
Casablanca. (NOTE: the distance offshore was
recommended to reduce the risk of collision at night with the local fishing
boats, seldom showing any lights and hardly visible on radar as well)
The wind is fresh and is pushing us at a good speed, but we are anyway at the
tail end of the rally fleet: the faster boats are more than 60 miles ahead.
It's too early to talk about arrival time, but probably we will be in Lanzarote
by next friday morning.
I did not describe the Rally official start,
and for a good reason! Right at the moment of casting off, with a heavy swell
which was disturbing our mooring since several days, I made a stupid mistake
while doubling-up our mooring lines, and fell in the water, straight between the
quay and the boat's stern, crashing against our passerelle in the process!
Ice-cold water and a heavy blow to my ribcage which was hurting like hell!
When we finally reached the area in front of Europa Point, we found the fleet
scattered over a large area in the heavy swell.
The planned gun did not fire, and we were
given the start in a rather un-climactic way over the radio! Soon
all boats scattered even more, while I was having problems of my own, with the
growing pain to the ribcage which was preventing me from helping Baby to hoist
VOLCANOES AND LOCUSTS
At 3 a.m. on friday, november 2nd, we have arrived at Puerto Calero Marina: 640
miles in 113 hours, at the respectable average of 136 miles per day (and the
bigger boats exceeded 200 miles per day: just 30 years ago, it would have been a
Shaula moored at the visitors' quay of Puerto Calero
We did not particularly appreciate the request of the mariner-on-duty that we
fill immediately two forms for the marina and for immigration (even more so
because we had already filled the same forms in Gibraltar....), but aside this
little incident the marina is very nice, orderly and very well managed.
Pity that there is no decent shipchandler where to find the spare we need to
repair the damage I made to the passerelle support when I fell in the water back
in Gibraltar on departure day.
My back is still aching badly, so we spent our first afternoon in Lanzarote in
an hospital where an X-ray confirmed that at least I have no broken bones.
The short trip gives us the first opportunity to see the "lunar" landscape of
this volcano-riddled island (there are about 300 volcanoes, according to our
A curiosity: while we were approaching the island, we got a navigational warning
on Navtex, alerting about a possible arrival of locust swarms (the text was
saying, quite biblically, "locust plague"): rather unusual, to be sure! We asked
ourselves what we could do if a locust swarm ever reached us!
CAMELS AND VOLCANOES
Volcanoes, right! Lanzarote is literally littered with them, wherever you look
you see some (there are a total of over 300), and what is more surprising is the
variety of different landscapes.
The island's scenery is characterized by the lava fields which covered most of
it during the 6 years ( ! ) of eruptions in the early 1700, but the varying rock
composition has ensured that each eruption looks different.
Especially impressive, the "Mountains of Fire", in the Timanfaya National Park: it
is allowed to visit only by bus, due to the soil's high temperature (one meter
below the surface, the temperature is enough to set fire to bushes that the
Park's wardens throw in for demonstration), or... on camels!
Actually, the camel ride (it's a dromedary, as a matter of fact) is very short and not
particularly spectacular, but we let ourselves to be tempted by this sort of
joyride: our beast was rather reluctant and was walking with a jerking motion
which does not feel very safe for the passengers!
A week after our arrival, we have toured all the island, which is beautiful and
surprisingly clean and orderly: we are definitely not in a third-world place,
the whole island seems especially dedicated to tourism, but you won't see a
misplaced stone even in the most remote places.
And, with the only exception of a tourist-centre in a particularly remote part
of the island, all buildings comply to a general aesthetic criteria which were
set by the local artist Cesar Manrique, whose influence is really visible
Preparation for departure is progressing at a very quiet pace; we have no major
repairs to do, while other boats are much busier doing antifouling or other
serious repairs, while quite a few are just having a good time like us!
In few days, we will depart for the Atlantic crossing, but the atmosphere aboard
Shaula is very relaxed, too much maybe!
VOLCANOES AND MUSIC...
In Lanzarote, volcanoes always play a part!
The Rally dinner on Tuesday night was held inside the "Jameos de agua" (a cave
inside a lava flow from the nearby Mount Corona volcano, complete with an
underground fresh-water lake): at night, the view is stunning!
The dinner is followed by a double musical show: first the Rally's own musical
ensemble, "The accidental gybe", followed by a local music and dance group,
dressed in local traditional costumes.
Concerning preparation for departure, things are progressing smoothly; the main
problem is the weather, due to a depression passing over the Azores and causing
a flat calm over all the area south-west of the Canaries, expected to last for
Each crew has different ideas about what to do: some are deciding to anticipate
their departure, others have already left, some others are planning to spend few
days sailing around the other Canary islands.
We have not yet taken an "official" position, but much likely will confirm
departure by saturday morning.