The Catamaran Adventures of Noel and Ceu
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A 500 Mile Beat?!

Current Location: Arrecife, Lanzarote, Canary Islands
Current Position: 28 57.7 N 013 32.38 W Click to view map.
Distance sailed since last post: 459 nautical miles. View the map of our voyage track here

A 500 Mile Beat!?

Well, that was definitely not what signed up for. We left Rabat with a forecast that gave us favourable downwind sailing until the final day when it would be a close fetch for the final stretch. We have no means of getting a forecast en route, so we had to rely on that forecast for the full passage. But being only three days, that is usually pretty reliable.

And what did we get?

First, instead of 10kts behind us we had a flat calm for the first day. Or, if it wasn’t flat calm, it was 5 kts on the nose. Right from the start the forecast was completely wrong. We left Rabat at 10am on Monday morning and ended up motoring at a leisurely 4kts for most of the first TWO days – finally killing it just before midnight on Tuesday. But at least the sea was calm and the sun was shining. A few times the wind picked up and we could sail for a few hours, and then it would disappear again, and the motor would be back on.

But there were compensations. On Monday night there were some dolphins swimming alongside. That was really cool, as you could see the phosphorescent trail they left behind as they swam back and forth under the boat.

At lunchtime on Tuesday there was a huge whale right behind us. Too close, in fact, as he snagged our fishing line, and so that was the first of our lures gone. I think we are going to have to keep a tally of the fish to lures lost ratio. I am not sure which is winning at the moment. Still, it was fun to watch him – and then he breached! Jumped right up into the air and landed on his back! Wow. Actually, as whales go, he was quite small – maybe the size of our boat – but that is still pretty big. No photos, sorry!

Shortly after that we caught two Mahi Mahi, which we grilled on the barbecue that evening, thank you very much! See, that shows how calm it was, that we could be grilling.

Then, instead of a nice broad reach, with wind from the NW, we had variable winds of 10-15kts from the south to south west! So instead of reaching, we were now beating, bashing into 2m waves, and not laying our destination. Which meant putting in several tacks, thus increasing the distance sailed by at least 25 miles, and making for uncomfortable bouncy nights trying to sleep. Life Part 2 does NOT do well in those conditions. Closehauled we need a good 15kts, preferably more, to get going. Below that we wallow along at maybe 3kts and with lousy tacking angles which means that we make almost not progress to our destination.

Along the way the wind did some crazy stuff and in the middle of some multiple (unintended) tacks, we lost the second lure.

By Wednesday morning the wind started to pick up, though still from the SW. The (old) forecast still said it was supposed to be from the NW. We put in a few more tacks, but now were sailing better at 5-6kts with two reefs in and winds of up to 25kts.

Then we had squalls. Wind gusting to almost 40kts, spray and rain. In the middle of the night, of course. I was glad we were down to the second reef, but at least now we were doing 7 to 8 kts, though still not quite in the right direction. We were trying to work our way to the west, in the hopes that at some point the forecast wind of a westerly would come in, and we could then get a lift to the destination. That did finally happen on Thursday morning. We were supposed to be arriving that day, but were still almost 200 miles away!

Finally at lunchtime on Thursday the wind freed off. We had managed to work our way west, and so we now did have a beam reach down to the Canaries. The waves were still well over 2 meters, but that is much less of a concern when going downwind. The wind was up to 18-19kts, so we were zooming along at 8kts – double what we had for the first two days. THIS is what he had signed up for!

At 8am on Friday we had sight of land! A day late, but we would soon be arriving in Lanzarote with a nice beam reach on a sunny day.

Then we caught two more fish… but they both got away. bummer.

By 2pm we were tied up in the Marina Lanzarote at Arricefe. In the end we sailed just about 500 miles, instead of the planned 475, and took 100 hours instead of the hoped for 75 hours. Average speed was thus 5 kts in the end.

Now we have to go an explore…

One Response to “A 500 Mile Beat?!”

  • Lindsay:

    Sounds like an incredible trip, seeing dolphins, whales and also BBQ fresh catch!! Glad you made it there, must be crazy not seeing land for that long. Looking forward to hearing what the Canary islands are like and the people etc.

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