Getting ready, with new crew

So this is Jeanette, writing my first blog post for Yuana, as I will join as crew form the Canaries via Cap Verde to the Caribbean. As I got here ‪Tuesday night‬ there was a really some thunder and lightning, not really what I expected! But it turned out I arrived the perfect night as I walked right into the potluck dinner. So before even leaving my bags on the boat I got to meet everybody, having dinner and some wine, feeling very welcomed from the first minute. Some people you feel comfortable with just from the start, that is exactly how it felt for my meeting the Yuana’s, everybody was super-friendy! Altough understanding the Schwiitzerdütsch was a little more complicated than I thought before…

It seemed getting here four days in advanced was a lot of time, but we have really been busy since. Lots of small things to fix and get in order and evening getting by with dinners together with the crew of other boats. Also yesterday there was a guided day tour to the Teide volcano that we all took. After we were just in time for the seminar with Jimmy Cornell talking about tactics for the crossing. Today me and Manuela went for the big food shopping, imagine almost two hour in a grocery store! But fortunately they bring all your food all the way to the dock for you, very nice service. So we could rush on to the farewell party at the yacht club, which was really nice arranged. Now we just finished stuffing everything in its place and hopefully tomorrow we will have a bit of rest until we set off, which should be around lunchtime. I think by now we all look forward to set off for Cap Verde!

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 http://www.cantinateguise.com for an overwhelming burger with truffel sauce, and for the hot pants as well.

Auf dem Wüstenschiff über den Vulkan

Für die kurze Zeit eines kurzen Ausfluges durch Sand und Felsen satteln wir von unserem Wasserschiff auf zwei Wüstenschiffe um. Man könnte sagen, dass sie mit ihren treuen Augen und weichen Mäulern geradezu niedlich aussehen (siehe Bild!), auch wenn dieses Attribut mit ihrem Lebensraum genauso wenig zu tun hat, wie ein Segelschiff mit der Vulkanwüste auf Lanzarote.

Zunächst aber besuchen wir eines der bedeutendsten Lavafelder weltweit, den Nationalpark Timanfaya. 1730 und 1824 ist es hier letztmalig zu riesigen Eruptionen gekommen, welche teils über sechs Jahre angehalten haben. Nachdem man im Drive-Thru Stil eingecheckt und sein Auto auf einem der Vulkankegel abgestellt hat, wird man im modernen Reisebus auf abenteuerlich geführten Strassen durch das Vulkangebiet gefahren. Ein bequemeres Museum haben wir noch nie gesehen! Die Landschaften sehen nicht so aus, als würden sie zu dieser Welt gehören. Aus der Nähe betrachtet geben die einzelnen Lavabrocken und Höhlen zuweilen sogar einen grotesken Eindruck ab. Die nun erstarrte, einst flüssige Gesteinsmasse kann einem durchaus an die selbstverständlich in-existenten Giessunfälle in einem Stahlwerk erinnern.

Das Besucherzentrum auf dem Parkplatz-Kegel gibt eine gute Vulkanshow ab. Über einem ziehbrunnen-artigem Loch – in einigen Metern Tiefe ist es 800 Grad warm – brät das Restaurant seine Pouletbeinchen. Die haben hernach sicherlich einen rekordhohen Anteil an Schwefel, und was sonst noch alles in pyroklastischen Dämpfen enthalten ist. Nichts für uns. Gleich nebenan haben sie eine Art Schweizer Milchkannen im heissen Boden eingegraben. Schüttet man oben 5 Liter Wasser rein, so verdampfen diese auf den vulkanisch aufgeheizten Milchkannenböden in der Theorie schlagartig zu 8000 Liter Wasserdampf. Diese Menge hingegen hat in unserer Milchkanne niemals platz. In der Praxis gibt das die schönsten Geysire ab, und alle wundern sich, wie das geht, haha. Du weisst es nun ;-).

Von Scania und Neoplan wechseln wir auf Mariaa und Vulcán. So nämlich heissen die beiden Wüstenschiffe, welche uns bei starkem Wind über den heissen Sand schaukeln. Um die Namen der Tiere festzustellen nestelt der Kamelführer – wir nennen ihn mal Abdullah – im krausen Fell am Hals dieser schönen Tiere herum. Wie er dort tastend die Namen fühlt, eröffnet sich uns nicht. Jedenfalls gewinnen wir den Eindruck, dass Abdullah eine ähnlich innige Beziehung zu seinen Tieren haben muss, wie ein Schweizer Bauer zu seinem Bruno und seiner Fiona.

Mariaa und Vulcán mögen es, wenn man sie (im Liegen) hinter den Ohren krault und über den Augen streichelt. Um mehr davon zu haben drücken sie sich etwas gegen die Hand, so wie Katzen dies auch tun. Wie der Katzenkopf geht dabei der Kamelkopf nach oben, allerdings gleich 1 Meter, weil der Hals eben viel länger ist.

Wie Wasserschiffe sind Wüstenschiffe gleichmässig zu beladen. Sitzt auf einer Seite ein Kind und auf der anderen ein Erwachsener, so wird die Kinderseite zusätzlich mit einigen Sandsäcken beladen. Wie ein solches Tier aus dem sitzen und mit 40% seines Eigengewichtes beladen aufsteht, ist ein Schauspiel für sich. Jedenfalls weist Abdullah uns an, sich mit beiden Händen am Sitzgestell gut festzuhalten. Wohl geraten! Abwechslungsweise und ruppig geht es hinten und vorne hoch und höher, bis die Tiere stehen.

Während dem Ritt über die vulkanischen Sandhügel stellt man sich gerne auf einer Kamelreise vor, durch die Sahara, von Oase zu Oase und von Dattelpalme zu Dattelpalme (für das leibliche Wohl will ja auch gesorgt sein)! Dann staunen wir wieder hinunter zu den Füssen der Tiere. Passend zum Fussabdruck nennt unser Sohn diese Quadratlatschen. Der Fuss ist eine grosse, plastische Masse (die Kamele gehören zu den Schwielenfüsslern). Sobald der Fuss abgesetzt ist, drücken die Fussknochen sanft diese behaarte Schwiele breit, und man fragt sich, warum diese Wüstenschiffe trotz der weichen Füsse eigentlich so stark schaukeln? Es kommt wohl daher, dass die Mariaa’s und Vulcán’s dieser Erde ihre Vorderfüsse im Gehen sehr ruckartig entlasten.

Zu bald schon ist die Tour zu Ende. Abdullah muss seine Tiere regelrecht beschwören, sich wieder hinzulegen: “Couche…!” “Couche…!”, eins nach dem anderen. So spektakulär wie es hinauf ging, geht es nun wieder herunter. Sobald ich festen Boden unter den Füssen spüre springe ich auf, um den ‘Hinlegevorgang’ des Kamel mit unserem beiden Kiddies zu filmen. Abdullah bedauert das sehr, denn nun ist Vulcán lediglich noch einseitig mit meiner Frau beladen. Ich muss mich wieder hinsetzen, damit wir erneut gemeinsam aufstehen können. Nun gut, der Höcker steht noch gerade, und das Dromedar sieht nicht besonders verärgert aus.

Ahoi, Kamel!

Madeira and Porto Santo

Oh, how have we enjoyed these two islands! As we found Porto Santo to be a generally dry and earthy brown place from the beaches up to the mountain tops, the southern coast of Madeira provides all kinds of tropic flavors, including fruits, flowers and mosquitoes.

The entire Madeira archipelago is of volcanic nature. Today, it is only a fraction of what it used to be, approximately 1 million years ago. When the archipelago found its maximum extension it was as long as 1400km! Most of it has eroded and washed away by the sea. In fact and when sailing down from Lisbon, we passed several under water mountains, one peaking just 20 meters below sea surface.

Porto Santo was commercially used already half a millennium ago. By then the so called dragon trees were milked. Their red ‘blood’ was shipped to Milan in Northern Italy, where the clothing industry was eagerly seeking the red color for the fashion business.

Our days in Porto Santo peacefully started at the harbor cafe with a great espresso against 60 cents. After our school lessons we would play at the nearby beach with its healing sands, and enjoy swimming in the sea every day. We explored the island with two Quads, which are the motor bikes with four wheels. Wooaaou, it was fun for the boys crawling up and down some rocky mountains and drifting along sandy trails.

The next best place after the beaches and some hexagonal volcanic columns was restaurant Torres in the tiny village of Camacha. Go there if you can, roasted chicken stands out. We were seated in the garden, sun protected by a huge passion fruit tree. I ordered a drink which was not on the menu list, particularly a tall glass of fresh passion fruit juice. Imagine how many fruits this would take. The price for it was 5 Euro and so I decided that it would be impolite to order a second one.

It was just a short 40 miles ride to the main island of Madeira. Different world, colorful all over, with up to three huge cruise ships tied up to the Funchal quays. The market hall offered a huge variety of local fruits and veggies, best presented and well marketed at a ridiculous price.

We visited tropical gardens, volcanic caves, natural swimming pools at the sea and a museum about whales and whaling. That made it quite easy for us to cover some aspects about school requirements.

The best thing for us on Porto Santo and Madeira however was that we really touched down with the blue water sailing community. Everyone in the harbor is traveling with his or her boat for a good time of the year. Many of them would pass the Atlantic Ocean this season. What however made this community so outstandingly great was that most different people with all kinds of social and business backgrounds meet. All of them are down to sailing and have a common theme which starts when helping each other with the mooring lines upon arrival. We were neighbored not only to kids from various countries, but also to a business lady from the Caspian Sea, doctors of medicine from France, financial investors from Norway, an oil exploration engineer from the other side of the world or a Swedish manager from an internationally acting Swedish furniture company. There are also cruisers who live their way around the globe on a very tight budget. That opens up such an entirely wide field of exchange. When saying “Good bye for now!” and wishing “Fair winds!”, we also say “See you in the West Indies!” or exchange invitations to visit each other at their homes around the globe.

Before leaving Portugal for some time, we shall not forget to mention how easy it was for us to communicate with the locals. Even the bus drivers were fluent in English as far as their job required it. The lady from the bread counter in the supermarket was not shy to interrupt a colleague, just to explain to us that the reddish color of the bread comes from the beet root juice they would add. Lots of charming people, nature and culture. Great place indeed.