Sunday 9 November 2014

Lanzarote at last

At 0100 local time we round the breakwater in the pouring rain, into the calm and sheltered setting of Puerto Calero marina.  My prediction that we might outrun the weather front was premature and we have spent the last 8 hours dodging squalls in a wild ride down to Lanzarote.

As the day has worn on, the cloud cover has increased and by mid afternoon a huge line squall has developed with heavy black clouds covering the western horizon, moving rapidly towards us.  The tell-tale black column from cloud to sea that blots out the horizon is the sure sign that heavy rain is falling from the cloud. This releases energy in the form of cold air that hits the sea and spreads out in all directions, bringing an increase in wind velocity, especially at the leading edge of the squall.  Our radar is invaluable in these circumstances, particularly at night when the clouds are less visible, overlaying the radar images on our chart plotter where they appear as ghostly purple patches, moving and changing shape as they bear down on us.

We have been sailing very fast over the past 12 hours, reaching at ten knots with the wind just forward of the beam and occasional bursts over 11 knots. We are sailing with reefed mainsail and jib, the boat seems very well balanced and when I put another reef in the jib we just seem to go faster.  The squalls are lining up and looking quite nasty.  As they race up on us from the west we reduce sail further and wait for a gap to dodge between them.  We mange to duck behind the biggest squall as we watch it approach us on the radar but we just catch the trailing edge and the wind increases as the rain hits us.

At last we see the lights of Lanzarote and as we sail into the lee of the island the sea state calms and we seem to accelerate through the dark towards the brightly lit coastline. Eventually in a huge downpour we arrive at the marina entrance and two marineros catch our lines. They are charming and friendly and deeply apologetic that all the restaurants are closed – after all it is 1am. Mel Symes, who runs this family-owned marina, is softly spoken and authoritative, with a delightful manner.  We like it here.

After a long lie-in we have a day of cleaning in the marina and then we drop Andrew and Kez off at the airport in Arecife to fly back to the UK.  For Kerry, this has been her first offshore sail and she has been amazing, with a great attitude and an impressive understanding of the boat. Andrew has been, well, Andrew has been just Andrew, who is the perfect companion and we are really looking forward to them both joining us for longer stints on our journey.  Our friends Mervyn and Amanda arrive on the same flight. Their Oyster 56, El Mundo, which is docked near us in the marina, looks immaculate.

I must say that I now feel more positive. Much as I love the UK, it is great to leave all the complexity behind. I think that it has affected us both leaving our family and friends, but now that we are finally here I have to pinch myself that I don’t have to attend more board meetings or endless conference calls. We can now relax into the journey and I relish that feeling. This is the cruising existence that I have always dreamed of: we go where the wind blows, we work on the boat, enjoy the company of new people that we meet and relish each day and the new experiences that it brings.

Today I received my first Christmas present. Fatty has given me a new fishing rod to go with the amazing reel that my crew from ARC 2012 gave me.  The only problem now is that if I don’t catch a fish I cant blame the tackle.  We plan to leave Lanzarote very early on Monday, sailing in convoy with El Mundo, hopefully arriving in Las Palmas in time for the first ARC drinks party. Already the marina in Las Palmas is starting to buzz with boats arriving, many of them crossing the Atlantic for the first time. I hear from my friend Caspar, who has already arrived in Gran Canaria, that there are 56 children on the ARC this year. What a great experience.  This will be my third Atlantic crossing – I can’t wait.


  1. Excellent and informative post Paul. Following your journey with great interest. Pleased to hear that you guys nearly managed to outrun the weather heading in from the West.
    Regards to all on- board - say hi to "Thermo" for me.

    Best wishes Malcy (aka "The Salesman")

  2. Great to get an update from you, we do hope things on board are running smoothly and know you are often in our thoughts! The Ossies xx