Monday, 12 November 2012


The sun is setting over the western horizon and the lighthouse on the rocks sternly points its finger of light which intensifies as the minutes pass and the darkness gathers. Fatty is in the galley and I am sitting in the warm glow of the saloon lights, San Miguel in one hand, keyboard in the other. The Canary Islands are a barren group of volcanic rocks, dropped into the deep Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Africa. The Canary islanders by contrast are delightful and friendly almost as if to make amends for the aggressive geography that they inhabit.

We are on the south western tip of Fuerteventura tucked in behind Punta Jadia, a jagged point of black volcanic rock which wraps around the point and protects us from the Atlantic swell rolling by on its way south, driven by the trade winds. We are anchored in 6 metres of clean clear water over white sand with forty metres of chain to hold us against the snatching wind gusting across the island.

We started this leg of or journey in Puerto Calero in Lanzarote where Mel and her team in the marina were efficient and hospitable; filling gas bottles, organising our laundry and booking berths for us on this wild coastline. We sailed down the east coast of Fuertventura to Gran Tarajal, a little fishing port where the lifeboat crew took our lines and helped us dock on a tiny finger pontoon designed for a rowing boat. When I asked for 'Luz y Agua' - water and shore power - one of the crew pointed to the two water taps 'con gas, sin gas' he said and bellowed with laughter. They couldn't have been more charming and welcoming. From Gran Tarajal another 25 miles down the southern coast of Fuerteventura brought us to Punta Jadia, the closest point to Gran Canaria and where we planned to spend the night before crossing to Las Palmas in the morning.

After a windy night at anchor we leave the protection of our remote anchorage and round the point, knowing that we will have a big sea on our beam as we reach due west across the Atlantic swell towards Gran Canaria. As soon as we are clear of the point the seas state changes dramatically with big Atlantic rollers that have been building all night, bearing down on us, their white crests dancing in the morning sun. Despite two reefs in the mainsail and a reefed jib we are heeled hard over in 25 knots of trade wind which is barrelling down the coast of Africa towards the equator. It is both exhilarating and exhausting, with Juno ploughing through the rough seas, burying her bow in each wave with an explosion of spray which sweeps across the decks, before shaking herself dry and then leaning into the next encounter, shrugging tons of water aside as she determinedly leads us to Las Palmas and the start line of the ARC.

In six hours we cover the fifty miles separating Gran Canaria from Fuerteventura until the huge commercial harbour of Las Palmas emerges from under a dark squall which is passing through, obscuring the coastline and rinsing the sea water off our decks. Suddenly we are in the calm of the marina, and I feel a sense of relief and accomplishment that 18 months after leaving Ipswich we have finally arrived at the beginning of our transatlantic voyage. After a friendly welcome from the marina staff, we are guided to our berth on the Wall, alongside all the big boats waiting to join the ARC.


  1. cant believe its so sunny when it is so cold the whole time here!

  2. Not long until you will be in the Caribbean Jam!