Canary Crossing

Written by Pieter Jan on Dec 31, 2019 — 4 min read

From: Essaouira, Morocco
To: Caleta de Sebo, La Graciosa, Canary Islands

The best crossings are those where nothing happens. Nice and quiet but not too quiet, that’s how we like our crossings. We never had a ‘nice and quiet but not too quiet’ crossing before. This was the first.

When we left Essaouira, the wind didn’t look very promising. 0 to 2 knots, with ‘gusts’ up to 4 knots. Not enough to fill the code D by itself. When we turned the engine on, we could generate just enough wind to keep the sails filled. So we did that for a while.

The big ships on the Spain-Agadir route were rolling mightily in the huge Atlantic swell. Vite & Rêves is so small compared to the swell wave length that we didn’t notice.

X-press Sousse rolling in the swell
X-press Sousse rolling in the swell

We passed a few more fishing boats in the coastal waters. The water gradually became a deeper and deeper shade of blue, until the closest land was 2 km below the boat.

Last of the fishing boats
Last of the fishing boats

In the afternoon the wind picked up. We turned off the engine and Vite & Rêves proceeded at an easy 5 knots. A pod of curious dolphins came over and accompanied us for half an hour. Then we heard them talk to each other and they took off in the opposite direction.

Barbara cleaned the conger eel that we got from the fishermen the day before and prepared it like they recommended. Olives, lemon, parsley. It was delicious!

We sailed into the sunset. I took the night watch as usual. The wind increased a bit at night to 12 knots. I left up the code D and checked every half hour. Vite & Rêves maintained 6 to 7 knots throughout. Heavenly sailing under a sky full of stars.

Sailor's heaven
Sailor's heaven
Sunset of the first day of the crossing
Sunset of the first day of the crossing

In the morning the wind was coming almost from behind us. We switched the code D for the spinnaker and took down the mainsail. We encountered a few big ships on the Spain-Senegal route. We also saw an American military ship doing air exercises in the distance. They asked everybody to give them some space because they couldn’t manoeuvre well while the helicopter was trying to land.

Crossing the Spain-Senegal seaway
Crossing the Spain-Senegal seaway

But other than that, nothing much happened. The wind shifted to southeast, so we gibed the spi to the other side. That was the sailing action of the day. Vite & Rêves continued happily.

Reading the last of the 15 Karin Slaughter books
Reading the last of the 15 Karin Slaughter books
Sunset of the second day
Sunset of the second day

On the third day around 10:00 we saw the Canary Islands in the distance. A small pod of dolphins briefly came to say hello.

Arrival in the Canary Islands
Arrival in the Canary Islands

We took down the spinnaker as the wind turned more to the south. A good call, because the wind also increased, as expected, in the funnel between Lanzarote and La Graciosa.

Punta Fariones, the northernmost point of Lanzarote
Punta Fariones, the northernmost point of Lanzarote

We arrived safely in Caleta del Sebo on La Graciosa.

La Graciosa is said to have been the inspiration for the novel “Treasure Island”. In the 18th century, a British galleon, laden with spoils from a recent battle at sea, passed through the strait between Lanzarote and La Graciosa. Realizing that they were being tailed by pirates, the captain decided to drop anchor and hide their gold on the island before the buccaneers could catch up with them.

The pirates soon reached them, captured the British sailors and tried to force them to reveal where they had buried the treasure. The sailors bravely refused, and the secret of the hidden gold followed them to their graves.

The volcanoes of La Graciosa
The volcanoes of La Graciosa

We took a walk around town, looked for treasure or an open restaurant, but no luck. Only one restaurant was open and it only served € 60, 7 courses New Year’s Eve menus. As we hadn’t found the treasure either, we went back to the boat and feasted on olives, potato chips, anchovies, sausage and instant chicken soup. And a lot of cava.

At midnight somebody lighted a truck full of fireworks at the end of the pier, about 20 meters from Vite & Rêves. We enjoyed the first row seats. The kids slept through it all.