Day 3 & 4: Partying and trouble shooting

Days 3 and 4 usually are more relaxed, compared to the first two days of the passage. The biorhythms get used to life at sea, which includes the continuous motion from the waves and the need for a day and night watch. With three adults on board, night watches get considerably shorter than for a couple only, what a luxury!

So we had more time for party: we celebrated the crossing of the 20st meridian which happened to be in the middle of the night. The boy set the alarm clock. At 4 a.m. sharp one pair of proudly looking kids eyes appeared at the cockpit. I welcomed him to the party and suggested to get properly dressed. The search for his clothes however made him so tired that he fell asleep again on the next bunk. So we’d better party during the day. To eat, kids choose popcorn and sour worms. Captain offered drinks and the ladies on board even made colorful paper decorations for it.

Later the same day Jeanette is the one who realizes that we are just about to pass the half way point to Mindelo. That calls for another great party, namely a Half Way Party (this is a thoroughly legendary term for some of my dear readers!). As we discuss to celebrate this one, we whiteness the fishing rod going all the way back. “Fish! Big Fish!” Our fishing line is really strong, the last meter even in steel so that fish can’t bite it off. The line is unfortunately not strong enough and snaps. You know what? Mr BigFish now carries a beautiful lip piercing. It is a bluish-silvery jelly octopus, contributed by Swiss blue water cruisers Carmen & Maurice. RIP, dear Jelly Octopus. You were the best lure we had. Dear Carmen, I believe to know that you really liked this particular octopus. When we will be back in Switzerland, we shall party for luckily pierced Mr BigFish. Apologies for the loss!

Noteworthy is also that we are back in Summer, on a day mid November. Day temperatures are like on a convenient beach day with water finally being up to 25 degrees C. It is hard not jumping into the deep blue. Problem is that the way back onto the boat could be troublesome (if not dangerous) with the boat rocking up and down in the seas. Anyway, no one on board misses typical November weather in our home places Switzerland and Sweden.

After we had a bird messing up to whole starboard deck last night we had his colleague sitting inside the boat on the galley this night. It must have come through the open hatch above the galley. Sure the galley gave a nice toilet for him. Markus was actually out on the watch when he heard some very uncommon noise inside. There was the bird, but the noise was like a cat which would continuously start to hiss. Chhhh. Chhhh. Chhhh. First I brought the bird out. It was weighing just nothing. Incredible how they can survive at sea. As expected the noise didn’t stop when the bird was away. Chhhh, Chhhh, Chhhh, … The engine room was ok, the water maker in the cockpit locker and the fridge as well. Finally we found that pressurized water hose underneath the galley board died after four month of use only, a manufacturing mistake. But why did hissing start and stop all the time? The puncture in the hose was relatively small, so small that the water pump was able to fill the pressure vessel for a few seconds each time. Good that we carry all kinds of spare parts, also water hoses. Issue fixed.

Another defect was that the position tracking for our boat failed shortly after we left. We could start tracking of the error only with a big delay. The cause of the error was that we had to re-configure the interface between our satellite communication system and the weather software. When doing that, the weather software has re-directed our tracking signal to the weather company. This remained undetected by myself since the setup for tracking is not in the same menu as the weather interface. Apologies to the ones who were frightened for some time. Please rest assured that everybody is fine and we have a great time together.

Let’s talk about sailing:
A sail change at three o’clock in the morning is quite a mind challenging task. Actually we took the Code Zero light wind sail down and changed to a poled out genoa. There were not less than eight different lines in the area. You don’t want to mess up with these ones, and one action which is not clearly thought to the end can easily trigger an unwanted event. Markus likes such tasks. The ladies however didn’t like seeing me on the foredeck at night with the waves rolling the boat.

To make it even nicer, we have reached a first sailing culmination for our entire trip so far. There were force 6 winds from astern and waves peaking up closely to 3 meters. For a couple of hours the boat was going really fast. We were often above 8 knots of speed, well competing which much faster boats. Another boat remarked their respect about our sailing performance over the VHF radio. We put it down to our nice Swedish Hallberg-Rassy design and the Swedish sail trimmer. Once Yuana was even doing 11.2 knots when surfing down a wave. The boat felt so stable and kind of unaffected by the waves. It was a big pleasure, and the weather gods may be kind enough to give us more of that!

Data log
Day 4: 150nm
Day 3: 148nm
Day 2: 126nm
Day 1: 134nm

Harboring the Canaries

The last 12 hours on our way from Madeira into the Canaries were quite exhausting. We made a decent progress, in rolling waves and against the wind. Some salty drizzles went over the cockpit every now and then. The outer deck however saw a lot of sea water. Somehow, approximately 50 liters of the salty liquid ended up in the bilge, which is the deepest point INSIDE the boat.

The 50 liters itself wasn’t too much of an issue, but the fact that salt water gets into the boat is definitely unwanted. Skip this section if you are not interested in technical terms. Our cockpit and part of the deck are drained via reinforced hoses through the interior of the boat and out underneath the water line. Shorty after buying the boat I checked and fastened all of the hose clamps which secure these hoses, each one going from a hose sleeve below deck down to a valve, before going into the sea. Somehow, I must have missed one of these hose clamps, certainly the one which came loose, draining some deck water into the bilge. Item solved.

Arriving in the Canaries, we anchored in famous Francesa Bay. As many places, it has unveiled their beauty to us only after a day or two: its underwater world. The first day in the anchorage was tough again: 35 degrees Celsius at 35 knots of wind and 1 meter swell in the anchorage. Not a good anchorage on that day indeed. Anyway, we wanted to be there because it is a nature reserve and we got a special permit to be there. The good news is that our anchor held rock solid, but two anchor retention lines (the lines taking the load off the anchor winch) broke due to the heavy rocking of the boat.

Two days later and in the port of totally dry island of Graciosa, we found ourselves in a very little village, all houses painted white, with sandy lanes in between. There were only two hands full of cars for the entire village. A horse wagon on a restaurant roof reminded of the old days. During the weekend, the place was looking like a neat hippy village, with dreadlocks men and women trying to make some bucks with selling nice hand craft. Customers however seemed to be not too many.

On Graciosa and a week later on Lanzarote, we got more of the volcano stuff all over the place. In the cactus gardens we learned that the saying ‘hard shell soft core’ really can also be the other way round: some of the huge cactus were cut back. There we spotted that those cactus have a core hard as wood, packed into a relatively soft shell. Then there was the camel ride. We not only rode these fantastic animals, we also took a deep look into their eyes: most of them seamed to be good-natured. But there was one really mean looking chap, perfectly prepared for the Horror Rocky Camel Show.

More animals? Yes. When kissing our friends from yacht Tomskii Kastan goodbye, Markus learned that his beard apparently felt like a hedgehog. Too much hair in the face… At least she didn’t call me a porcupine, haha. We enjoyed great times with the Tomskii’s, certainly enough wine, great beach barbecues, and our kids learned how to carve dragons out of cucumbers. Thank you, dear friends, and see you again!

From Lanzarote we did an overnight sail to Tenerife. A teenage Mahi-Mahi of 80cm was on our hook. The colors were beautifully green and gold, until it died. Then the color suddenly changed to grayish silver, as most fish would look like. Tenerife will be the place where we conclude our preparations for the crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. A separate post about the preps will follow.

Something nice to close this season review? Yes of course: If Markus shall recommend a place in the Canaries, it will be the restaurant for an overwhelming burger with truffel sauce, and for the hot pants as well.


Auf der Passage in die Kanaren haben wir drei Thunfische von etwa 35cm Länge gefangen und wieder freigelassen, weil sie noch so klein waren. Etwas später unterhalten sich die Kindern darüber, wie alt ein Fisch sein soll, dass man ihn nehmen und essen darf:

“Baby-Fische müssen geschützt werden. Diese nehmen wir nicht. Alte Grosseltern müssen unterstützt werden. Die nehmen wir auch nicht. Sie wären sowieso zäh. Wir nehmen lieber die Teenager Fische, die haben eh nur Probleme.”

“Fische mit Problemen schmecken doch nicht!”

“Die Probleme sind im Kopf. Den schneiden wir sowieso ab. Der Körper ist gut”.

“OK, wir nehmen die Teenager.”

Haha, zum Glück haben wir zwei so herzige Noch-Nicht-Teenies und dazu fitte Grosseltern 😉 !

[auf dem Foto sieht man den 65cm Thun von letzter Woche]


Madeira to Isla Graciosa – 2nd night

The day started wish some fishing. I wasn’t even through with securing the fishing gear as I heard an odd croaaak coming from the area where the hook was. Oh no, the only seagull in the area tried to eat our fishing lure which we pulled behind us. Now, the seagull is trapped somehow. Immediately we would slow down, turn back and spool in the fishing line, with no tension on the line for the bird. This gives it the time to free itself and we are bloody glad that it was like that.

Later on we catch a tuna kid, just about 35 centimeters long. We release it since we don’t want to kill it for the little flesh we would get. Another two tunas of same length follow, and all of them can go back into the blue. We discussed whether the fish would remember that at the end of the day, and learn something out of being caught. Does anybody know ;-)?

As all of the three tunas were of same length we conclude that our lure was to small. For this reason we change back to the bigger lure which was responsible for the big tuna we caught a week ago. However we wouldn’t catch anything for the rest of the day.

In the afternoon we were chattering over the radio with a solo sailor on his way from La Rochelle (F) to Gran Canaria. He would prepare there for a solo race across Atlantic Ocean to Martinique. He says that 81 single-handed boats are participating and expects to make the crossing within two weeks, on a boat of 6.5 meters length only. His biggest issue was the freeze-dried food which he apparently didn’t like so much. We wished good luck to him for the race.

Before dinner time we decide spontaneously to stop the boat and go swimming. Sea is flat and wind is down. One adult always stays aboard whilst the other three persons try not to get caught by a shark (they eat later, usually). We survive. The strangest thing about swimming out here are the 3000+ meters of water underneath. This is so incredibly deep, with an awful lot of strange animals down there.

Another day dusks and we get ready for the night. All the way from Madeira we have propelled as the winds were mostly not there, which matches with the predictions. As the evening develops, the forecasted light winds appear from starbord and slowly change to port side (from right to left). We set sails and can stop the engine as wind picks up further around 10p.m.. It will become quite a fast but bumpy ride. I reef a bit at 2a.m. to make everyone happier on board.

We do not have a particular watch scheme for the nights. We just agree on each other’s condition. The one who thinks can catch some sleep goes down to his bunk until woken up for a change. We try to let each other sleep for three to four hours in one go, at least. This night’s sleeping will be less because falling asleep is very difficult with so much motion in the boat. The kids luckily went to bed before the rocking started so they can sleep.

The magic of last night is not here today. Why would the water make this glittery shining one night, bit not the next one?

To kill time I download the latest pictures from Ophelia. Ophelia is a violent storm west of us, slowly moving north-east. Within a few days, it should pass in between Azores and Madeira, later entering bay of biscay. We are glad not to be there, because gusts of 85 knots (almost 160 km/h) is definitely not what a brave sea man want to experience out there. We start to feel uncomfy already at 25 to 30 knots of wind. We will however not get around the swell of Ophelia down in the Canaries. The waves carry on for a very far stretch, also if the storm has passes far off.

Anything else for that night? Again, no mermaid appeared ;-).

Weiter Richtung Süden

Während in der NZZ diskutiert wird, welche Weine am besten zu Wildgerichten passen, geniessen wird die sommerlichen Temperaturen auf Madeira – Tag für Tag, Tag und Nacht.

Dass Madeira ‘die Blumeninsel’ genannt wird, ist uns nicht neu. Was hingegen im Oktober noch alles blüht, hat uns überrascht. Schon bei unserem ersten Spaziergang vom Hafen weg gehen wir durch schöne Parkanlagen und finden blühende Hibisken, Sterlizien und Frangipani. Letztere haben für uns eine besondere Bedeutung: Während unserer Flitterwochen auf den Seychellen wurde unser Häuschen dort täglich mit frischen Frangipani-Blüten verschönert. Wir haben die Frangipanis lieb gewonnen, und wir haben nun seit vielen Jahren das erste mal wieder Frangipanis zu Gesicht bekommen.

Besonders schön ist auch, dass wir mittlerweile den regen Kontakt mit anderen Booten pflegen. Fast alle Schiffe, die in dieser Jahreszeit hier unterwegs sind, sind Fahrtensegler, wie wir. Fast alle wollen über den Atlantik. Die TRITON’s, KISU’s und andere Schiffe haben wir schon am Festland kennengelernt. Man sieht sich immer wieder, und einige Crews sind uns schon richtig ans Herz gewachsen.

Glücklicherweise sind auch Boote mit Kindern unterwegs. Schon manchen Nachmittag oder Abend haben wir mit anderen Familien verbracht. Unsere Kids haben mit denjenigen der französischen Yacht SHAMROCK Sammelkarten aus dem Supermarkt getauscht. Die fünf Kinder von TINTOMARA und YUANA haben zusammen Zahlenspiele auf English gemacht. Als sie sich schliesslich gegenseitig das Zählen auf norwegisch und deutsch beibringen wollten, sind sie fast umgefallen vor Lachen.

Wenn sich eine Crew aus einem Hafen verabschiedet, so freut man sich stets auf das nächste Wiedersehen. Wenn es sich dabei um ein Kinderboot handelt, dann schwebt plötzlich Melancholie über dem Hafen, und wir wollen dann manchmal auch schon wieder weiter.

Auf dem Weg vom benachbarten Porto Santo nach Madeira haben wir endlich unseren ersten Fisch mit Schleppleine gefangen. Unser Köder war diesmal ein blau-silberner Gummi-Tintenfisch. Gefangen haben wir einen roten Thunfisch von etwa 65 cm Länge. Fische zu zerlegen gehört für unseren Sohn zum interessantesten, was das Seglerleben zu bieten hat. Jede noch so kleine Flosse will untersucht und verstanden sein. Unter anderem haben wir während den Untersuchungen auch gemeinsam beschlossen, dass ein Fisch die Blutgruppe F hat. Die grosse Schwanzflosse mussten wir gar bis zum nächsten Tag aufbewahren, um sie erneut untersuchen zu können. Zunächst jedoch wurde der Thun filetiert, in Streifen geschnitten, etwas gesalzen, mit Zitronensaft beträufelt, und schliesslich beidseitig 10-15 Sekunden in der heissen Pfanne angebraten. Zusammen mit Reis hat der Fisch so einen feines Abendessen für uns vier abgegeben.

Ein anderes aktuelles Thema bei uns an Bord sind die Verwüstungen einiger Karibikinseln durch Irma und Maria. Ob wir Dominica, Barbuda oder die British Virgin Islands werden besuchen können wissen wir heute nicht. Diese und weitere beschädigte Inseln standen auf unserer Reiseliste. Als Alternative haben wir Segelrouten nach Puerto Rico, zu den Turks & Caicosinseln sowie in die Bahamas studiert. Dann wurde auch Puerto Rico zerstört. Mittlerweile haben wir wahrscheinlich einen Weg gefunden, wie wir mit dieser Situation umgehen wollen. Wir werden demnächst separat darüber schreiben.

Nun erkunden und geniessen wir erst mal Madeira. Manuela hat den Reiseführer mittlerweile intus, und auch die Touri-Info besucht. Sie weiss nun, welche Sehenswürdigkeiten wir am besten zu Fuss, mit ÖV oder mit einem Mietwagen besuchen können. Einiges können wir als Exkursion mit der Bordschule verbinden, anderes machen wir an Nachmittagen oder am nächsten Wochenende. Wir bleiben noch eine Woche an diesem schönen Ort. Danach geht es weiter, weiter südlich, in die Kanaren.

Lisbon to Madeira – 2nd day

There swims a fish wish bloody lips through Atlantic Ocean. His problem actually started because he was strong enough to bend back two of the three hooks on our new 20cm fishing lure. At least he could free him before ending up in sushi rolls. More important is that we are now closer to Morocco’s coast than to European main land. So it seems that we are in Africa, at least geologically. “Hello Africa, here we come, with joyful minds…!”

The night was very dark. It was not possible to distinguish a line between water and the cloudy sky. We felt a bit alone out there. Nightly winds were low again. As our speed dropped below 4 knots for some time we fired up the engine. Around noon the light half wind (straight from the side) still remains at 6 knots. Perhaps this would be the time to hoist the light wind sail. But to be honest, I think that I should stay at the fishing line, and keep the engine going.

Everybody had a good sleep. It seems that we are slowly adapting to the new conditions on the big blue around the clock. This is good news as everybody felt a bit shaky by yesterday evening. We exchanged our morning coffees against vitamin C for the last couple of days. Some say that this helps to avoid sea sickness, and we went well with this recommendation so far.

Apropos ‘big blue’: Do you know why Ocean sailors call themselves ‘blue water sailors’? Having the sun in the back, one can see it, the deeply shining fancy blue color of the water in the open sea. Even though we heard about this marvelous tone of blue and have seen Oceans many times from air planes, we couldn’t imagine how blue it really looks from a boat. Why don’t they paint cars like that? Everybody would want to have one!

And yes, it feels great to be South of Turkey, South of Sicilly, South of Gibraltar. By tomorrow evening, we should even be South of Casablanca! The water gets bluer, and a tasty smell of African herbed chicken escapes from the galley (ships kitchen). Life is so good these days!

At 1550 board time our past 24 hour traveling distance is again 151 nautical miles.

Fisch, Fisch!

Endlich ist es soweit, wir haben die ersten Fische im Kühlschrank! Den allerersten Fisch hatten wir sogar gestern schon am Haken. Dank Jööö-Effekt haben wir ihn wieder gehen lassen. Ein einzelner Fisch hätte auch keine Mahlzeit gegeben. Höchst vorsichtig wurde der Haken mit einer Rohrzange abmontiert (die Zange hat natürlich den Haken gefasst und nicht etwa den Fisch). Vielleicht möchtest du nun nicht mehr weiterlesen, denn ich schreibe ehrfürchtig und wahrhaft, wie es den Kollegen erging.

Heute Abend schwimmen plötzlich wieder viele Fische um unser Schiff. Da kann man gar nicht die Angel unbenützt lassen. Schon bald ist einer am Haken. Wieder ist die Rohrzange im Spiel, denn es könnte ja sein, dass er sich wehrt und plötzlich beisst! Schwupps ist der Fisch in einem Eimer voller Salzwasser. Das ist sozusagen die Zwischenstation, denn schliesslich soll auch er überleben, falls uns keine weiteren Fische an die Angel gehen sollten. Es braucht jedoch keine drei Minuten bis zum nächsten Biss.

Nun kommt ein besonderes Schauspiel: der Fisch schwimmt wie verrückt hin und her. Dabei zieht er die Angelschnur mit sich, und weil insgesamt sechs Köder und Haken an der Schnur hängen, machen die anderen Köder die gleiche Fahrt. Das wiederum weckt den Räuberinstinkt anderer Fische, und so hängen plötzlich drei an derselben Schnur! Seither wissen wir, dass sich diese Fische offenbar auch gegenseitig fangen.

Jetzt ist das Schicksal des Fisches im Eimer klar. Auch ich kann nicht mehr zurück, denn einmal ist nun einfach das erste mal. Der Fisch muss zweimal die schwere Winschkurbel über sich ergehen lassen, und dann noch den Kiemenschnitt eines scharfen japanischen Damastmessers. Im Gegensatz zu mir hat er jetzt keine Probleme mehr. Für Junior ist alles höchst interessant. Gerne hätte er alle Aktionen durchgeführt. Ich lasse ihn nicht, denn ich will die Transition vom lebendigen Fisch zum Filet erst mal selber beherrschen, damit ich ihn hernach gut anleiten kann.

Während die ersten beiden Fische noch Widerstand geleistet haben, ergeben sich der dritte und vierte sang- und klanglos. Entweder mussten sie einfach zu lange im Wasser am Haken warten, oder sie wurden dadurch entmutigt, dass von ihren Kameraden nur noch die Köpfe ins Wasser zurück sprangen.

Nachdem drei der vier Fische tot sind fragt Manuela aus der Küche, was denn das überhaupt für Fische seien. “Gute Frage!”, ich weiss es nicht. Sie sehen schön und lecker aus, möglicherweise auch etwas unglücklich, aber das ist bei Fischen ja normal. Nach einer Internetrecherche beschliessen wir, dass es sich um Makrelen handelt, und ein Freund bestätigt das per WhatsApp.

Junior singt freundlicherweise ein spontanes Lied für die toten Fische, und die Tochter erklärt, dass sie nie wieder Fisch essen wird. So geht das also.