Thursday 16th September
I am woken by my alarm at 1am, every fibre of my body and mind wants to stay asleep but it’s my turn to be on watch and I force myself to get out of bed. Rick looks weary as I climb into the cockpit this is our third night at sea and we are feeling a bit tired. He briefs me, the wind has died so the engine is on and we just have the main sail out to keep the boat stablished. There are two targets on the AIS, both are over twenty miles away and running parallel to us, there are no other boat lights anywhere. Nothing immediate to worry about.
It always takes me a while to orientate when I come on deck, tonight it is very dark, the stars are incredible again but the sea is just black, no lights at all. However when I sit down I realize I am wrong, there is light, in fact it is as if we are sailing through stardust, I am mesmerised, our bow wave is sparkling. Dinoflagellates a form of plankton emit flashes of light when disturbed and we must be sailing through a dense patch of them because this is by far the best phosphorescence we have seen. They are also the cause of “red tides” where the sea is tinted red by their sheer numbers and we have indeed noticed a red tinge to the ocean at times.
We seem to be settling into a three hour watch pattern at night, just about long enough to get some sleep without it being too long on watch. We catch up with some rest during the day, letting each other nap as required. We keep an hourly log which is not only good sailing practice it helps break the nights and days into short chunks. I’m not thinking so much – help I’ve got two and a half hours of my watch still to go – it’s more – half an hour until the log needs writing. To help keep ourselves awake Rick drinks coffee, I walk on the spot in ten minute bursts or study the chart plotter – where are all the cargo ships going, what is the nearest city, what is the depth here, how far are we from land etc… Tonight I watch the phosphorescence.
This wasn’t the only natural phenomena we have seen, at sunset yesterday we witnessed the elusive green flash. A trick of the light as the suns rays are refracted just as it drops beneath the horizon. We had heard about it, but rumor was, it was just an old sailors tale. We have watched the sunset on many clear days and seen nothing but today we both saw the last rays turn green for just a fraction of a second as the sun disappeared. The green flash does exist.
Friday 17th September
We have arrived in Lanzarote and we are feeling very pleased with ourselves. Over six hundred miles and four days at sea, just the two of us. It all still seems slightly unreal – crikey we are in the Canary Islands we are actually doing this sailing around the world stuff!
Thursday morning we hit something in the water, a thump and the boat shuddered, it shook us both. We are not sure what it was, Rick just saw a glimpse of a large red object disappear in our wake. He checked the bilges and all was fine, hopefully it sounded much worse than it actually was. Something to check next time we can dive under the boat.
That afternoon and evening produced the best and the worse of this passage. For a while we had perfect conditions, 10-14kt winds on the beam, boat speed around 7kts, nice temperature, blue, blue empty sea and Hugh Laurie playing the Blues loudly over the stereo, all was well with the world. This is what it’s all about, we cried, but as is the way with sailing no conditions last for long and before the day was out we were being punished for our smugness.
The wind veered to the north until it was directly behind us, blowing between 20 and 30kts, no problem, the issue was with the swell that had increased substantially and was now hitting us on the side. We had two main problems, firstly every time we rolled sideways the sails emptied, they flogged and we lost all our speed, we tried just the Genoa for a while but that made the rolling worse. We tried bearing up into the wind but that took us way off our course. We ended up with a reefed main and the engine on yet again. The second problem was trying to sleep, we tried lots of different positions, eventually, I found it best on the bed at ninety degrees, spread eagled on my back, Rick did better on the sofa but needless to say neither of us got much rest.
With the dawn things calmed down and we arrived in Marina Rubicon at 2pm exactly fours days after we had left Gibraltar. We radioed ahead to the marina office and were told to pull in at the reception dock at the entrance, it was not until we were almost along side that we noticed the dock was right in front of a bar and our arrival was the main lunchtime entertainment for the cliental just a few meters away. Luckily team Raya parked perfectly and our blushes were spared. And it was a great spot for the “got here beer”.
Marina Rubicon is very nice, good facilities, plenty of restaurants, even a swimming pool. And phew, good Wifi! So we will stay a while to catch our breath and see a bit of Lanzarote.