Stynoe towards Camarinas Spain.
After such a long preparation time for our circumnavigation which accelerated to a frenzied tempo for about the last 6 months, our departure on the 20th of June 2010 was a welcome relief.
We enjoyed a great bar b que the day previous which gave us a chance to thank and say farewell to all that have helped us in various ways to get the good ship ready for her
big voyage, music was in the air and the beer flowed with gusto.
It’s only now as I sit here in the north of Spain and begin to write a bit for our website the reality of it begins to sink in. Long cherished ambitions have a way of creeping up on one so it’s a case of taking a break now and then, sit back and actually enjoy what’s happening.
Crossing the North sea towards the Moray Firth and in turn the entrance of the Caledonian Canal can often prove to be a baptism of fire for Danish circumnavigators, revealing itself to be a bit of a millpond with calms and light winds resulting in a hefty fuel bill.
We picked up our first fair wind two days out of Inverness which gave us a chance to set our new square sail.
Yukon having a fore and aft gaff rig was in need of a yard and a square sail to catch the predominant trade winds so this new addition to our sail wardrobe sewn in our hay loft at home by our first mate Sune was set with great anticipation and shows itself to be as good as hoped giving good stability when running down wind.
With an area of about 50 square meters the sail can be both set and handed from the deck which means there is no need for a hand to lay aloft, a valuable thing in hard weather.
The Caledonian canal and in turn the picturesque Scottish highlands was a wonderful trip and gave us a chance to relax in the evenings at either a quiet anchorage or alongside at various small canal towns, the 50 mile transit took us a week.
One of the highlights was our search for Nessie, but to no avail, she kept herself well hidden at the bottom of her tranquil Loch.
After 29 locks and 3 different lochs, we had traversed the great glen of Scotland. We lay 3 days in the town of Oban which was a treat, time for a bit of shopping and lots of fish and chips.
The islands of western Scotland are girdled by strong tidal streams running in places up to 6 knots so it made for some challenging sailing for the next few days as we visited Jura and port Ellen on Islay, all on board were touched by the closeness of these small communities reminding us a bit of our own Strynoe.
Islay is famous for her whiskey and rightly so, we relieved them of a few bottles and made our way south toward the emerald isle.
Our transit down to northern Ireland was made in a good 40 knot breeze on the back of a low pressure system – one of which seems to sweep through that part of the world every second day. The 4 to 5 meter swells washed the sawdust out of a few places and gave us a good chance to see how splendidly ship and crew braved the north Atlantic rollers.
We said goodbye to bonny Scotland with a cheer as we cleared the Mull of Kintyre and shaped up a fine course towards a rolly anchorage in Red Bay Northern Ireland.
Ireland is full of Irishmen, and they are to say the least hospitable. No sooner had we dropped the hook, began invitations for beer and showers at the local yacht club, and to be shouted by passing yachts curious to see what Danish Vikings look like these days.
Coasting down towards Dublin gave us a good impression of this tidal coast with its strong currents and squally weather. Our wood stove onboard was showing its worth. We enjoyed some lovely anchorages – some of the nights rainy and blowy others calm and light.
We arrived in Dublin a couple of days ahead of schedule to give folks with early flights home a chance to check the scene. One of the comments I overheard on board was how totally peaceful an early morning anchor watch was, it great to see people discover the subtle joys of cruising.
Dublin showed itself to be everything a big city should, we got loads of work done on board yet still had time to do some touristy things including some good football matches with the kids.
Yukon lay alongside the Poolbeg yacht club which is close to the centre of town on the river Liffey. A very friendly and helpful group of people doing all sorts of stuff including loaning us a car so we could provision at a large supermarket outside of the city centre.
Dublin’s night life left nothing to be desired with her pub culture and live music we had great time so much so that after 12 days it was definitely time to get rolling, we sailed midday the 25th of July.
We could see a good weather window developing out in the Atlantic so it was a good opportunity to go for it and we shaped up a course direct for cape Vilano on the northwesterly coast of Spain. With 3 new voyage crew onboard we enjoyed a good passage making 650 miles in 6 days, and seeing loads of dolphins and a pod of sperm whales, and most noticeably warm weather – the sea has taken on her beautiful blue shade.
We rounded Cape Vilano about midnight Saturday and were secure alongside in the small fishing town of Camarinas early Sunday morning. MMMM, Spain with its sidewalk cafes and great food we all agreed this is what it’s all about.
Camariñas, Spain – Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands
After 4 days in Camariñas the cafes had been frequented and the small jobs done, freshly provisioned we set sail with view to 3-4 days cruising on the Galicien Coast. The North Westerly part of the Iberian Peninsula is ideally suited to day cruising. With several deep fjords running in from the otherwise exposed Atlantic coast, these provides good anchorages and small and larger towns have developed in them over the years.
The first evening after a great days sailing, we rounded Cabo Finistere, the most westerly of the Iberian Capes, we anchored up in a little bay 2 cables east of the Danish vessel Opal, also southbound toward the Caribbean. Some of our crew were over visiting with a gift of rye bread and wine.
The next morning after a swim, it was time to shove on Yukon’s anchor winch. A manually operated beast has the dual function of both giving excellent morning exercise to the two unfortunates winding it and acting as an unmistakable alarm clock for those otherwise sleeping below. With the 45 meters of chain finally onboard and sails set a good chunk of the morning is gone. We pity the modern yachtie with his hydraulics and electric winches the only bead of sweat to form on his brow, is that of the fear of maintenance costs. But all jokes aside, by the time we have reached open water and settled on course, it’s time for coffee and a bite to eat, with the satisfaction of having earned it.
The next evening anchorage just on the northerly coast of Ria do Vigo, a large port which we decided was way too noisy for our taste at this time. We found a little bay just inside Cabo de Subrido. Strong winds causing us to drag a bit, so we heaved up and re anchored a little closer in to the well populated beach. The binoculars were quickly out to spot the wildlife which frequents these stretches of coast in the summertime and it was casually remarked that many of the bathing suits were of a flesh colored nature. I paid this remark no mind until early the next morning with wife and sons on a sand-castle building expedition were mildly surprised to gradually see the … beach fill up with naked sun worshippers – suddenly ones clothing feels incongruous and excessive – but we maintained.
We came alongside the following evening at the fine town of Viana do Castillo. The ambient temperature at sea has been averaging around 22’ 23’ c alongside it was 32’ phew! Rig the awning find a cold beer! After dinner we took a walk in town and enjoyed the cool of the evening. A lovely town welcomed us to Portugal.
Johannes who joined us in Dublin cruised this coast on the Danish galease Havgassen about 7 years ago. He said if we sail over the bar at Rio Douro and continue 2-3 miles upstream it would be possible to come alongside smack-bang in downtown Porto. This ancient, one time capital, of Portugal is an architectural wonder and in fact world heritage listed. So it was worth a try, and sure enough, we secured alongside just before night fall on Saturday the 7th august.
Porto is charming to say the least not just because of its old buildings and winding alleyways, but because it’s full of life. It’s said that the old city is one of the most densely populated areas in Europe and I don’t think they sleep – it didn’t matter at what time of night you were up the road, there was life abundant with whole families sitting eating till the small hours.
To gaze across the river at night was like looking into an uncle’s bar cupboard, most of the world’s port wine is produced in Porto and the town of Vila Nova de Gaia´s sky line is dotted with illuminated signs proclaiming their different brand names.
After 3 nights in Porto all were in accord that it was time to get some miles under the keel – next stop the island of Porto Santo 670 miles to the south west and the most northerly island in the Madeira Group.
A good passage to say the least we put the propeller brake on after setting sail outside the aforementioned bar and took it off again just off Porto Santo 670 miles later Friday the 13th of august, giving us winds up to 35-40 knots and some large seas surfing down 4 meter Atlantic swells in a 60 foot fishing boat is good sport to say least if not a little tiring. We arrived in Porto Santo early Sunday morning. Tired but happy, we relaxed over the next 3 days, enjoyed the islands, main attraction; the lovely beach.
I was in Porto Santo a couple of times in the late 80’s and its tourist industry has blossomed a lot of Madeira’s well heeled, have built summer houses and hotels on the bather friendly coast, I’d like to have shares in the local cement company! The locals greet the change with the usual mixed reaction, money on one hand disappearing traditions and culture on the other.
Madeira was our next island. Its easterly tip providing us with an exciting anchorage, towering cliffs and the ridge of the islands outline against a windy starlit night. We shoved of next day and just around the next cape, Funchal the capital of Madeira.
No room for us in the harbor so we anchored up just outside which gave us the front row seats for a city celebrating her 500 anniversary. We wandered around enjoying her charms including a brief interlude at a recital in the main church.
Our next destination Selvagem Grande, a small rocky clump 2 days south inhabited only by two rangers, some visiting biologists and thousands of sea birds.
Cory’s shearwater they fascinated us all with their call as they returned every evening after feeding at sea for the day. A rolly anchorage with some interesting chain gyrations during the nights anchor watch our chain fouling itself around a large rock in the 12 meter water but with effort and some good snorkeling by Sune and Johannes we cleared the problem.
We enjoyed some fantastic snorkeling in the crystal clear waters of this lovely bay Kristopher exclaimed’ it’s just like flying’
After 4 days splendid isolation we said our goodbyes and made sail for Santa Cruz de Tenerife in the Canary Islands where it’s hot – very hot. We found a spot in the most southerly harbor and have now packed
Santa Cruz – Barbados
Light blue – light grey that’s the question while acquainting myself with the discount paint section of the Jotun dealer at Santa Cruz I discovered a 20 liter drum of premixed topcoat for a quarter of the price. Suddenly light grey was a worthy proposal with wild gesticulation and nodding of heads the young warehouse assistant and myself were willing to give it a go. The result a lovely light-grey blue.
Yukon has taken on a tropical look. The difference below decks was instant about 3-6 degrees cooler, her cover boards or skandecks have also been given a coat of marstal green or maybe it’s closer to a west ommel green.
20 days was a long time to lay in Santa Cruz, a big city has it’s virtues and it’s negative side, with out a vehicle it’s tough getting around to provision and assemble all the essentials. We decided to purchase a new weatherfax and to buy an additional solar panel. All hands were busy. But we also took the time to take some small daytrips. One of them to the small mountain village of Taganana, little changes in the twenty odd years since I last visited. We ate goat meat and enjoyed the local vintage toasting our good fortune and enjoying the spectacular vistas from high up the mountains.
Marina life is not really one of our goals with this voyage, for a start we are so many on board that we don’t have the social need and secondly the sheer size of Yukon shoves us up into the rich mans price list which as far as I know we categorically fail to meet.
We have designed systems on board to suit anchorages, our inflatable effectionally named mr. Johnson, is a valuable addition to our little ships inventory and as we now leave the Europe and her marinas it’s exciting to see how the whole concept will hang together.
We sailed from El Heirro the smallest and most southwesterly of the canary islands after using a few days crusing Gomerra and spending time ashore in both of these less touristy islands it was great to experience a bit of real island life. Light winds and starry nights were the norm on the our seven day run to Cap Verde Islands. Yukon anchoring up in Bahia la Palmeria on Ilo do Sal on Tuesday the 28th of September.
Into another world. Cabo Verde culture reminds one a lot of closeness of the African continent while sitting in the local police station a waiting to get our passports stamped , the constable ask me if I have a pen he can use as his had run dry!
This archipelago republic has a style of it’s own, a tour into this nearby town of Espargos to get some cash and some lunch was a good taste of what was to come. With a minibus packed to the gunwhales with locals and thumping reggae music the general road rule is to drive as quickly as possible, so the driver has the time to stop and chat with friends along the way.
People use meticulous care in their personal grooming, cloths and hair washed to the extreme beautiful African bloodlines result in tall athletic as the norm ,not to many fat people here but I can see big changes are taking place, more tourist orientated businesses and lots of foreigners buying up cheap land for second houses or rental properties. This can be seen with a general upturn, lots of new cars on the road and a generally more affluent society.
We visited 3 of the 10 islands, Sal, Boa Vista and Santiago the capital island, this is lush and green in comparison to the other dry islands . We lay for anchor in a small bay Tarafal on the north east coast, where we were able to do some final provisioning which included 120×5 litre of drinking water. It took a while for us to explain to the shopkeeper that we wanted 600 liter of water and not 6 , but finally he gladly agreed to a good price and transport down to the beach where our dingy carried on with the job. Water is heavy and the further we sail away from the more populated regions the more difficult it becomes to find good drinking water.
The beach at Tarafal Bay is crowded with local fishing boats which comprise of a wooden dinghy about 7 meters long and a beam of about 1 meter. They land them beautiful on the beach. Until recently the local boats where worked under sail alone but sadly the outboard is winning favor, we saw only one example of the good old gunter rigged fisher.
Who’s rich and who’s poor? These guys have got a good life. Putting to sea just before sun up and puttering out to the shoals just north of the bay, they are back ashore again around 10 pm to unload and drag their boats up on the beach. Loads of women wait to buy their catch which they carry in large plastic bowls about a meter round, naturally on their heads, up to the village square to sell. It was great to see what appears to be such an idyllic lifestyle in function and reminds we westerners how unecessarily complicated our leisure full existance has become.
With water tanks full and 120 odd bottles stowed away in amazing places, we weighed anchor and bore away under working sail, towards the south south west, we wanted to show the local boys how a Danish fishing cutter use to look like under sail.
Our hope was to catch a glimpse of the semi active volcanic island of Fogo. I you ask a child to draw a volcano you would swear they had seen Fogo…it’s a typical conic form which rises 2880 meter above sea level, a sight to behold…but it was not to be, light winds and dark night were to blame and with dawns first light Fogo was a little mist shrouded pyramid 30 odd miles astern, oh well.. next time.
We are a little early with regards to the hurricane season so its considered prudent to make south about 350 miles before heading west, this will enable us to be on the southerly side and therefore the safe side of any developing tropical depression, we are extremely observant with regard to metrological prognosis and analyses from our new weatherfax has proved it’s worth and our inmarsat C functions well as a back up. Hurricane Lisa dose a back flip and begins to track direct north, this causes a little consternation we take precautionary action give her a wide berth of about 500 seamiles. Saturday the 9.th of October after 4 days running south we wear ship around and shape a course up toward Barbados, a couple of thousand miles to the west it’s with great anticipation we get down to the daily routines onboard, watch keeping, cooking, cleaning, school and of course fishing, we have had some promising catches, a 5 kg tune and 3,5 kg dorados great eating to supplement our diet.
Cleanliness is paramount, 11 people sharing the space of a single bedroom apartment requires a vigorous cleaning ritual, daily.
Also mental space, the art of being together and not driving each other nuts. A trick at the helm or a good book in the shade of our sails, gives welcome respite. It’s often too warm to sleep below decks the average daily temprature is around 30 odd degrees so the sight of the off watches sprawled about in their particular favorite spots including our bowsprit net is the norm.
Daily progress is marked on the chart at noon. How many miles have we sailed today? Under 100 gives a reaction of ‘oh well’, over 120 gives a reaction og ‘woow’. It takes a long time to sail around the world, a 23 days passage on board Yukon can be accomplished in a bowing 767 in about 6 hours, that’s just enough time to eat your meal watch a film, take a nap and fold your tray table up before landing. Then your thrust into another airport with a headache you didn’t earn. When we arrive at a new land all on board get to experience the thrill of landrall followed by the feeling that one has earned the right to be here – right of passage.
Today on the morning watch we picked up local radio from Barbados. Bob Marlely of course filled our little aft deck. The talk has been unmistakably turned to cold beer and vanilla ice cream, yesterday one of the crew washed all his clothes. These signs are surer that any g.p.s. We are almost there, 23 days, Capo Verde to Barbados. We are ready for the west indies and don’t worry our tray tables are folded up!