Archive for the the Canary Islands Category

Reflections

Posted in Cooking, Cornwall, French canals and rivers, Music, Photographs, Sailing, Surfing, the Atlantic Ocean, the Azores, the Canary Islands, the Madeira archipelago, Walking, Wildlife with tags , , on August 19, 2016 by maidofmettle

5 years ago yesterday night (yesternight?) I sailed between the Wolf Rock and Gwennap Head / Tol Pedn to the accompaniment of fireworks exploding somewhere over Land’s End (yep, I’m claiming they were for me 😉 ).

And 5 years ago today I dropped anchor in Mullion Cove after leaving the Azores on the 3rd of August.

2011-08-19 #09 Mullion Cove (Custom).JPG

That was the beginning of the end of two years of living on Maid of Mettle, just over a year and over two thousand miles with Chris and Caroline and another 10 months or so and a couple of thousand miles on my own. It seems a while ago now..

So, what don’t I miss?

  • handling wet and very cold ropes on the canals, not to mention stamping my feet to keep the circulation going while motoring in a wet and chilly France. This may have had a permanent effect – warmth is definitely one of the things I do miss!

2009-11-10 #01 Vitry-le-Francois to St Dizier (Custom).JPG

  • rough seas, when you know things may well get worse before they get better and there is no escape till they calm down – while they were only a small part of the trip, and on the whole a price well worth paying, they do leave some lasting impressions. I seem to have blanked nearly the entire trip from Madeira to Tenerife from my memory after a few days when I didn’t feel well, despite the fact that looking over some photos and videos there were clearly some nice parts to the journey as well. Some passages you just want to end.

2010-10-25 #06 Madeira to Tenerife (Custom).JPG

And what were the best things?

  • the freedom – the time to properly enjoy cooking, to go walking and get to know places, to meet people, to take up new hobbies such as surfing and playing harmonica, or simply spend at least an hour in the surf to end up with one half-decent picture of a breaking wave – this is special, more so than exotic places.

2010-10-18 #07 Boaventura (Custom)

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Thanks Jon for that photo

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and thanks Quiksilver for that one

2010-08-02 #04 Praia da Culatra (Custom)

Though that said:

  • discovering beautiful places, and experiencing things I never knew existed. I could name something in any region we went, but the following stand out particularly:
    • the peaceful waters of the Guadiana,

2010-05-20 #6 Vila Real to Alcoutim (Custom).JPG

  • the levada canals winding among the peaks, valleys and terraces of Madeira,

2011-06-15 #40 Boca da Corrida to Barreiras (Custom)

  • the hill country of northern Gran Canaria

2011-02-13 #11 Cruz de Tejeda to Artenara (Custom)

  • and the hot springs of the Azores

2011-07-12 #37 Sao Miguel - Poco da Dona Beija (Custom)

  •  the people – while getting to spend time with my family and friends in this country again is fantastic, for meeting and getting to know new people it’s much easier while sailing (though the same effect can be true coastal sailing in this country, especially in the west country).

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  • Also in the first part of the trip having so much (okay – yes, sometimes too much at times!) time with two of my best friends

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  • the sailing on passage – there is a real satisfaction in taking plenty of time and patience to the boat set up to travel as safely, quickly and comfortably as you can, and a peaceful night sail miles from anything is a delight. There are similar pleasures in coastal cruising but it’s a different mindset as you usually have to change things much quicker!

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  • the accomplishment of offshore passage-making – it’s a rare opportunity,  definitely a special feeling, and one that lasts whereas so often in other fields there is always the next deadline lurking.

2010-09-07 #06 (Custom)

  • the stars at sea – an incredible spectacle. You could reach out and touch them, but you could never count them (they’re not easy to photograph from a small boat either)
  • dolphins – very hard to predict when they’ll turn up, and there is something utterly magical about their presence, bringing an instant and lasting smile (that got crossed off after seeing dolphins several days in a row sailing west down the Cornish coast, culminating in them playing round the boat for ages sailing into Portscatho in the evening sun)

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  • the food – the Madeira market is the greatest for spectacle, but my favourites are those in Alcoutim (tiny but welcoming, frequently including a massive bunch of coriander as a gift) and Las Palmas (enormous and well worth browsing all round), the challenge of provisioning and cooking on a boat in general and especially on passage, and the many regional delicacies. Except the barbecued dried squid, which I’m not convinced was actually edible

2011-06-17 #03 (Custom)

You’ll notice many of those overlap – a symptom, I think, of a fundamentally different lifestyle. Though that said, there are many things I have taken (or try to) from the time away:

  • the willingness and confidence to try new things – without some of the experiences while away I’m not sure I’d ever have ended up playing for my football team, or sung at my local folk club (to be fair that’s pretty rare even now)

2014-07-29 (Custom)

  • friendships with people I/we met while away. While I hear from others further afield, it was a special pleasure to be present when Si and Cat launched Kensa, the fishing boat they’d built since returning from their extensive travels in the Mediterranean

2012-08-19 #19 (Custom).JPG

  • and more than that, I think I’ve managed to stay in better contact with at least some friends since being away and having that bit more time and impetus to keep in touch via email etc when not meeting face to face (if you’ve read this with some surprise, disappointment and/or offence, please drop me a line and we can start putting things right! 🙂 )
  • enjoying a continuing connection to offshore sailing through various friends; the members of the Ocean Cruising Club – I am still amazed and humbled that they awarded me their Rose Medal for 2011, just being part of a club containing so many people who have achieved extraordinary things is an honour; and the general collective of sailors coming and going from and enjoying the south-west

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2011-08-30 #11 St Mawes - Wylo II (Custom).JPG

  • speaking of which, discovering south Cornwall as a cruising ground – it is a very special area

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It seems a good time to repeat this sentiment from 2010, for adventures near or far 🙂

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“A toast to onward voyages on land and sea”

(that last picture and inspiration for the style of post come from Caroline’s last entry 400 days to get there 400 minutes to get back)

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Panoramarama part 2

Posted in Photographs, the Canary Islands, the Madeira archipelago, Walking with tags , , , , , , on June 7, 2011 by maidofmettle

I’m not at sea this time, but working through the photos and particularly the videos of the other trip is taking a while, so have another interlude : )

(of course, the quickest of you will have noticed that I just plain forgot it was due to publish!)

 

Panoramarama resumes on Porto Santo, part of the Madeira archipelago lying about 450 nautical miles south-west of Portugal. Terra Cha literally means the end of the earth, and it feels a bit like it!

Just round the corner from where I took this photo, it’s an unexpected green grotto on a jagged ridge plunging down into the ocean. The barren landscape you can see from it is typical of much of the island, though a lot of reforestation work has been carried out in the centre.

Again, just left-click on the thumbnails to open bigger versions.

Madeira is a different story – mostly densely wooded except for one high plateau and some of the biggest central hills. Even the view from the harbour in Funchal was beautiful, especially around sunset.

(and now I’m back. Woo-hoo!)

We all did a fair amount of walking there, but for me it’s a place I went on my own that sticks in the memory as the most beautiful – the village of Boaventura on the north coast.

The landscape around Mt Teide on Tenerife was much more barren but just as spectacular. This is the view across the giant crater to the north of the peak, taken at some point during our climb up Teide.

Gran Canaria doesn’t have a massive peak comparable to Mount Teide, but it’s probably had several that would have rivalled it at times, though only craters and ridges remain today. This is taken from the edge of the Caldera (crater) de Bandama, looking down to the coast, with Las Palmas in the background on the far left and the crater itself on the right.

The centrepiece of this picture is Roque Nublo, one of the most famous landmarks on Gran Canaria (especially since the Dedo del Dios – God’s finger – unfortunately collapsed into the sea). Mount Teide is just visible on the horizon, more than 50 miles away.

Roque Nublo (on the left) and Teide are both still visible in this one, but play second fiddle to the valleys and ridges surrounding Roque Bentayga in the centre.

That’s all for now!

Dressing to kill and boat work to thrill (?)

Posted in Fitting out and maintenance, Fun, Music, the Canary Islands with tags on May 19, 2011 by maidofmettle

I failed to put up some photos of a dinghy sailing session with Paul and Hilary’s newly refurbished tender a couple of weeks ago.

We started off with Paul steering, Eddie on the sheets, and me dealing with the spinnaker…

..and then switched round for a second outing with Hilary and I taking shifts on the helm and with the spinnaker, and Beth and Bryn on the sheets.

As you can see the wind was very light but the dinghy sailed beautifully, especially with the spinnaker, making for a lovely afternoon.

At that time they hadn’t named her – it wasn’t till last Saturday that she was officially christened.

A while after that we all had to get into our costumes. They’d also decided to host  a final musical extravaganza before boats start dispersing, and not content with that, to make it fancy dress. The theme of ‘dressing to kill’ inspired quite a range of outfits..

I was quite impressed with how little papier mache was required to set a cereal packet bent into a mask shape:

though I really needed a clock to complete the Grim Reaper  (someone’s got to clean up afterwards, right?) effect. Big Dave’s costume, on the other hand, definitely didn’t need any further embellishments..

The ensuing music session was quite entertaining, with issues like people’s wigs trailing in your face, and the flame of Paul’s cigarette flying away (we’ve gone from fundraising to health awareness)..

Back home,I’ve been looking at weather forecasts regularly, as well as a fair bit of other stuff..

There’s a recently arrived boat on our pontoon which everyone agrees is very aptly named (for boats in general, that one in particular does look very nice).

Nonetheless, I have checked all the fastenings securing the floor in place, and fixed quite a lot of them..

..finished a painting as a gift to Paul and Hilary to thank them for all their hospitality, encouragement and advice at our music sessions over the last few months. Early stages (acrylic on hardboard):

and the finished article, with another circle of hardboard stuck on to help give the porthole framing effect…

..checked the navigation lights are working (okay, this isn’t the most exciting photo. Nor does it make them look like they’re working – colours not showing up!) ..

..used some perspex someone had discarded to make fronts to ensure everything in the galley shelves is secure. I wasn’t sure how I was going to secure them for quite a while, but ended up being very pleased with my elastic solution – they’ll quite happily stay in position either open or shut .

Of course, once I’d used the hinges that seemed overkill but we hadn’t found any other use for in 18 months so might as well put them to work somehow, I promptly did decide to do something else- hinging the panels under the bunks in the main cabin that give access to the tins underneath.

Previously this was a single panel you had to pull out a little bit but not too much and then tilt up, at which point something would get stuck and the whole panel would slip and fall on the tins….

I think I did it that way before to make sure that the weight of people lying/sitting on the bunk went onto the supporting beam directly rather than onto hinges, but now I figured out a way to achieve that with hinges. It’s definitely much easier to use.

And I made a thingit. Previously we’ve had a reflective foil sheet keeping the petrol cans from getting too hot, an old plastic box lid to keep that from getting damaged (which seems like it might trap a fair bit of the reflected heat..), and nowhere handy to put a mug down in the cockpit. So the thingit covers the back end of the cockpit, tying down to existing fittings, and includes a mug and bowl holder on each side.

It doesn’t look too bad considering the terrible quality of the plywood I found to make it from, and hopefully it’ll be useful. Note also the cockpit cushions Dave and Taryna very kindly gave me after commissioning Hilary to make them some lovely new ones.

Continuing down the cushion-related aside, I finally succeeded in my persistent if occasional quest to find cushion covers / pillowcases at less than 7 Euros each for some inside ones I acquired a few weeks ago.

..and, back on-topic again, cleaned and rinsed through both water tanks before putting the new filter in and putting everything back in the big galley cupboard, with all it’s handy new securing arrangements.

..borrowed Dave’s cunning mast-ascending device to inspect the rigging and fittings…

This has foot straps as well as a seat, so you stand up, slide the rope-gripping thing for the seat up while the weight’s off it, and then sit down and do the same for the foot-strap one.

And then you keep doing that, with awkward pauses to get around some of the rigging, and regularly tightening the safety line, till you get to the top. You’re not really pulling yourself up, basically pushing up with your legs.

Although I’m not really that keen on heights it felt surprisingly fine, even looking down

or across to the beach.

Very tempting… Still, I did check over all the fittings for the wire stays supporting the mast and all seemed fine, so I started coming back down again, which is quite fiddly. Dave kindly lowered me down most of the way.

Safely back down! Though I do seem to be holding on to things..

…and cleaned the dinghy and put it away.

And then I wrote a to-do list in about 5 minutes which covered an A4 sheet. Which doesn’t even include refilling the empty flour pot in that photo. Oops.