Barcelona to La Gomera, Canary Islands
Day 1 (20:00)
Tim my friend from Berlin arrived 2 days ago. We prepared the La negra and went shopping. Not that easy to go shopping for 3 weeks for 3 guys, considering that any fresh products don't last long. We did well and had 2 overfilled shopping carts in no time. With a worried face we kept filling up the seemingly endless conveyer belt at the cashier, we expected something around 350-400€ but it could have well been 600€ which would have been a shock, but a the and of the unpacking - scanning and repacking marathon the cashier looked at us with satisfaction "280€!", big smiles and the ok to get one special item, a hamon- which is a full pigsleg - a spanish delecassy. Now how to get all that on a little vespa back to the boat??!! First guy we asked was kind enough to help for a bargain price of one bottle of wine. Stowing everything was another hurdle. I have to admit, I don't like shopping and I am also bad at it, never buy enough but this time I think tim and I did well.
Brain, my New York landlord and friend arrived today, doing the catwalk run along the waterfront in all black as if the subway just spate him out in Manhattan. Sweaty and überhappy he stepped on board: "when do we cast lines?" "Now?!" "Ok!".
Tim was at the beach gigoloing 4 girls and his tan. (One of them was his girlfriend, Kristin who we will meet again at a later stage of this trip. After Tim's girls and his arrival to the boat a quick good bye was said and of we went at 20:00. For the first 8 hours we had to motor through the minefield of ships going-to and leaving-from the busy Barcelona harbors. At about 4:00 wind picked up, everybody asleep, no boats around and a smooth 4.5 kn sail targeting Ibiza - its paradise.
We decided to leave tonight so we can build up some miles for slipping thou Gibraltar with good wind and stop in Ibiza.
As the morning came a string hit on the fishing line made me get ready into battle mode, but the big fish got off. Still around breakfast time we did land a nice app 5kg tuna. The day was relaxed and sunny, swimming in over 1000m water depth, playing poker and mensch ärger dich nicht, reading, sleeping, chilling and as expected lots of motoring. We saw a big fish jump out of the water doing a double kickflip.
13 h engine
Everything calm and relaxed, Mallorca to our portside and Ibiza straight ahead, should get there by this afternoon - slow sailing.
We made a quick ice cram stop in Ibiza. Saw the prinz abdulaziz yacht which is was one of the biggest yachts, it is old and ugly.
Wind has been waaayyy to little and its either slow or no sailing, bit bummed about that.
After traversing through ibiza and fomenterra where 100s of super yachts were anchored worth the debts of small country.
I decided to turn off the engine and take it with just this little wind. I want to check the oil level as a little bit dripped out and also see where it came from, for that the engine must be cold. So we started sailing/drifting/taking it easy. I also checked the fuel level and that was to my surprise unexpectedly low, I guess we got another 100-150liters left, not a lot considering the wind conditions and distance to Gibraltar where I can buy cheap fuel, 50cent the liter diesel (supposably). The low level reconfirmed me to take it easy with the engine. After sunset we realized a dream that I had for a few years now. We watch at sea projected into the main as a screen "pirates of the caribbean" :), check!
The night was slow and calm and we hardly made distance. Taking it easy!
Engine checked, all good just a tiny bit of oil leaking, have to keep watching that!
Ha, fantastic, La negra has two 300 liter diesel tanks, I thought one was already empty when we started and the second was getting low on fuel, but the 2nd is totally full. So no fuel issues.
Today the kept getting better and better and the new sailors were enjoying life on a 15 degree angle.
Were also had a strange passenger for an hour or so, a falcon hitching a ride on La negra's anchor winch.
For the first part of the night the wind held up well thou we were head not perfectly into the right direction. These are the times when I wish I had a different boat the could head higher into the wind.
After captain and crew were fully awake, powered by an amazing breakfast, as it turns out that brian is an excellent chef and he started to whip up gourmet meals for us, we began to built a rope ladder together. A rope ladder has been on my to do list since I got the boat, as we were sanding, sawing and drilling I saw something that looked like a creature mutated from old ropes and a turtle, we needed to get closer to this modern age being. And it was a turtle totally tangled up in rope. Captain to the rescue, tim prepare ladder, brian steer to the turtle; the turtle tried to dive down but with all the junk attached she only got down to 4m till the buoyancy stopped any further decent. I grabbed her junk, and pulled her to the surface, she had a massive beak and did not like me pulling her in the wrong direction. I cut loose her back flipper, then the front flipper while fending off her beak attacks - and off she went into the blue. Crew and captain über happy and proud. The teamwork was perfect, without them, i could have not jumped in the water for the rescue.
Turtles feed of jelly fish, in and under the water plastic bags and ropes look identical to jelly fish, so 1 and 1 makes -1 in this case.
After finishing the ropeladder we took a rewarding swim and ladder test.
"Sailing"-wise this day was another disaster, no wind, motoring all day, I am so sick of it. Very disappointing to do a journey like this motoring, unfortunately we all have time limits on this trip.
The other thing we noticed which keeps us constantly wondering. There are hardly any boats around, sailors I can understand, who is so stupid as we are, but where are the commercial boats? The fishermen, tankers, ferries, human and drug traffickers? I expected ships in line and order like an ant street, but far from it, maybe world economy collapsed?!
It is 3:00 at night, cruising along the calm almost fullmoon night on engine, engine stops, fuck, I just switched less then a day ago to the full tank, and also its impossible to use up this amount of fuel in such a short time. Rrrrrrr 2-3 heart attacks later. "Ok,maybe the filter in the tank is clogged?!" Open the tank, which was a few hours before filled the top, dry. Hmmmm impossible. Check the other tank: crazy, this one also a few hours before was completely empty, now it is filled to the edge. Think!
The overflow from the engine had transported the 300liters from one tank to another in about 20hours. I am surprised and learned something. End good all good. Back usual night business + 20 grey hair.
From morning till noon we had 100s of dolphine around the boat, some close by some far away. We even spotted a pot of orca whales on the horizon, very exciting as I haven't seen too many whales in the Mediterranean.
It was a smooth day of motoring and it seemed like we all got in the groove of sea, boat and isolation, well rested and relaxed we snoozed off till I woke up, looked around, "guys! We are in fog, why did no one tell me?!" Quickly I prepared every thing for fog and and gave the boys the fog drill: radar, non stop 360degree look out, VHF on 16, horn ever so often, clean up every thing, keep warm and dry... It was only minutes later till we were put to our first test. It was like a scene from
From this point my crew understood the seriousness of the situation and was carefully listening to the plan of action.
All through the night we were traversing and tiptoeing through around and avoiding ships. Every now and then dolphins stopped by to check up if we were ok. Tim and brian were doing the nonstop shifts I was on constant on standby and was alerted by anything unusual or suspicious, they did a great job, thank you boys!
By the morning we had well left the traffic zone and the air was clearing up. We did it! This is certainly entering the top 5 list on scary moments on the boat. Without wolf this would have been a pur nightmare. This way it was "just" keep all senses alert constantly.
The day of plenty: plenty of dolphins, whales, fog, ships, engine.
The rest of the day was pretty uneventful, motoring towards the coast towards Gibraltar. One thing really surprised me even 100nm away from Gibraltar the current was very strong. We got close to Gibraltar by the night the wind was nice and strong, and I could give brian his first sailing lessons on the helm, keeping course, changing it and even a few tacks, he was very happy, I thinFrom morning till noon we had 100s of dolphine around the boat, some close by some far away. We even spotted a pot of orca whales on the horizon, very exciting as I haven't seen too many whales in the Mediterranean.
Rrrrrrrrrr i just accidentally deleted what I wrote for day 6 and 7!!!!!
The rest of the fog night we tiptoed around ship but more used to it and worked like a clockwork.
In the morning the fog started to clear up, we made it, great! Wouldn't want to be stuck in the situation without wolf.
App 18 engine
Motoring towards coast towards Gibraltar, not much happened except for giving brian sailing lessons in from for Gibraltar, he was happy and really loves sailing.
We anchored close to Gibraltar.
We left the anchorage early in the mooring to go around the big rock of Gibraltar to refuel in Gibraltar.
Quiet strong wind blowing east, full power around the corner, refuel, cheap but not as cheap as I have heard, 73cents the liter.
Full diesel full water. Crossing the bay to go to Spain, brian wanted to buy a few things, all quiet tiered and exhausted. I need a rest. I the evening we moved a few miles out to the straight to be able to see when a good time starts to use the out going tide against the incoming current and wind. The anchorage was nice and windy.
Leaving gibraltar to tarifa and then to the atlantic.
Man the current is strong!!! Full power engine close to shore. Don't go that way with more than 10kn of wind on the nose! But also this situation we managed.
After a quick stop in tarifa we moved on, quite good actually so I abandoned the plan to first go north west and then when 20-30 miles out go south west, that was a mistake. We sailed nicely up and down for hours on the same spot! Getting close to marokko and then back out. The second time going back on the same course the saddest thing happened. Tim spotted a little rubber boat coming towards us and asked me what it is. The binoculars reveal the sad image. There were about 10 man sitting in a tiny rubber boat from the supermarket out into one of the busiest traffic straights in the world, big ships, current, wind... It was obvious that these man were refugees, risking their lifes to find a better life in the golden Europe. We were just a few hundred meters away from them. What to do? Stop? Call coast guard? Ignore? We discussed and decided for calling the coast guard on 16. But no reply!!! 30 mins later an official warning from the tarifa traffic control warned everybody about the desperate and brave men.
We didn't want to sail on the spot any more so we started the engine to go around the beautiful marrokan cap. Easier said them done, the current keep us attched to Europe like an invisible elastic band which was expanded to the max. Finally getting around the cap with a beautiful moon rise, we get a call from the marrokan military, nicely but firmly they told us to stay 3nm off the coast, which we intended to do anyway, just not right then.
Finally we had made it to the atlantic!
The night was calm and slow sailing but on the atlantic!!!!
The atlantic was calm, long waves, slow sailing that was ment to change soon. The elasticband had snapped around 16:00. Wind was picking up. Happy happy captain, finally sailing, 4kn, 5kn, 6kn, 7kn, 7,5kn, ok time reef down. It was brilliant, I was where I wanted to be! All of a sudden one after the other of our three fishing lines went off, big strong fish, but I managed to loose them all, one I had 5m behind the boat, big mahimahi, yammy yammy, next time.
The weather kept picking up and was starting to get a bit unconftable, waves banging and splashing over the boat, tossed and pushed around by the forces, beautiful but also exhausting for a already worn crew.
Before sunset we had a huge hit on the rod, but the fist just kept going and pulled the hook, I was happy as bringing in a big fish is hard work and I wanted to rest.
The night was quite rough, water, wet, cold, and the boat pushed and knocked around. The motion and uncountable amount of annoying sounds and noises make sleeping very difficult.
Tim and brian need a bit of time to climatize to the new movement. But they are doing great and it's so nice to have them around.
The atlantic is living up to his reputation, consistent strong wind, big majestic mountains of water. Getting watered down every now and then, does not make my crew happy. Sailing at top speeds. Over night took the besan sail down, main sail in second reff and genua to one thirds and still going fast.
I am loving it BUT my crew is skeptical, moody this wears a bit on the overall atmosphere. Bit sad for me, but I can understand, its not for everybody and certainly a very unfamiliar environment. But those waves are soooo beautiful.
As we are going nonstop topspeed and surfing down the waves we made a sensational average speed by 6.6kn and sailed 158nm in 24 hours, record for me! And all this with slowing us down over night.
Excited to see the next days result.
Continues as the previous ended, flying across the ocean sofar average speed 7kn. We had a small team meeting, everybody is ok but also looking forward to get to land so we will try the first opportunity in daylight. App 200 nm to go to the first island, isla graciosa.
The ocean has been mind blowing, big, strong yet gentle, bouncing around and being pushed by the waves south.
Crew is mainly sleeping and not fully into it, guess ocean is not for everybody. Set myself into solo sailing mode. Night seemed much easier than other nights, tim did one shift.
7:00 in morning we changed course heading directly to the first islands. Also slowed down la negra so we don't arrive in the middle of the night.
The fast sailing continue and slowing down la negra didn't really worked, so we decided to go a bit further for our first stop to arrive in day light.
Around noon we could smell but not see land, even telephone reception we started to get before we could see the island of lanzerote. Everybody was magnetized to their device hoping to get enough bars to down und upload messages to their loved ones. Hour by hour, mile by mile i could see how uplifting the thought of land was for my crew and as we dug into the lee side of the island and wind and waves mellowed out everybody was alive again. We snuck around the south tip of lanzerote and dropped anchor. Prepared us and the boat for landfall. It was a nice feeling and the food and beers were indescribable. Walking felt fantastic. Night: sleep sleep sleep
The next morning we lifted anchor for the next leg first wind, then no wind then good wind then no wind, tim renamed the island to flaute ventura, (flaute=no wind), but then alot of wind as we went along the south side of the island of fuerteventura. Heading to morro jable where we had a redenez vous with tims girlfriend to give me my passport with my visa for New York. We arrived perfectly with sunset in the lovely town of moror jable. I had been here many years ago, this was actually the place where i fell in love with karin, here i noticed in her that we can become partners in crime.
Sadly it was also here where we had to say good bye to tim the next morning. He wanted to stay and spend some time with his lovely girlfriend.
Brian and i did some sail repairs before we went to the very south tip of fuerte ventura, a place that is so magnificent, a real outcast villiage, that i had in good memory also for its good surf. But when we got there we couldn't go ashore as my god damn fucking shit outboard motor decided to not start manymore, so close to this great place but no way to get to land as it was real windy. But then 2 kids came passed on their little fishing boat and gave us a lift. The village consits of a few shacks, caravans and houses, everything penetrated by wind and sand, rugged people giving skeptical looks as we walk around, the bar that I remember had changed a bit with was once a wild gathering of found ocean objects, whale bones, fishnets, model boats, antique fotos of huge fishing victories was now quite polished up - and closed. So we went to the next bar and got drunk, still under the skeptical eyes of the locals.
Off to the next island, grand canaria, las palmas, perfect wind, high speed sailing so my only let passenger disappeared below as we were getting salt water showers. We arrived with sunset and wanted to enter the marina on the transite dock. 1st try failed, 2nd felt not good so abandoned attempt, 3. All good till... No rudder, nice boats all around me and i can't steer, emergency tiller on and carefully out of the marina. Drop anchor outside and investigate the cause. A rod to the rudder had jumped off at its most inconvenient time. Quick fix thou and back into the marina. All good, and ropes were tied up.
Brain stepped off board to catch his flight back home. I am on my own, bit sad. Had to motor against wind to get around the north side of the island then had perfect wind in the channel between grand canaria and tennerife. Arrived with sunset at a majestic big red rock on the southside. I was tiered and exhausted and a bit lonely but slept like a king.
I slept in, fixed the horn which must have also been totally exhausted after the fog mission. Then sailed a bit further to los christianos which is opposite to san sebastian de la gomera, my final destination for this trip, less than 20nm to go tomorrow.
I arrived in la gomera, checked in, moored, chilled. The whole trip from Barcelona to la gomera was a total of 1550nm, as expected in the Mediterranean lot, almost all, with engine, after that, almost everything under sail. To me the sailing on the atlantic was absolutely mind blowing, fast, vast and open. I know its not true but it felt like we were the only ones there, even the only ones ever been there, no more floating rubbish in the water, not the expected destination in 2-3 days, it felt big, strong and very honest. I could have kept going.
Now la negra is tied up, i am on my way back to New York, need to organize a new outboard engine and then maybe back in november for the real atlantic crossing.
The most memorable situation was the fog with the horns and whales closely followed by saving a turtles life. 3 weeks like 3 years.
Thank u brian and tim for coming along it was a pure pleasure with both of you!