On-board Diary: Crossing from the Canary Islands to Chipiona. October 10-15, 2009
Author: Carlos Pérez
Date: October 15, 2009
We woke up in Puerto Calero (Lanzarote) on October 9th. We fill up the fuel tanks early in the morning and spend the day preparing the boat for the crossing, returning to the peninsula. The weather forecast is not good, with northeast winds force 5/6, but we have to adhere to our schedule.
We have to try to submerge the ROV on the Dacia and Concepción seamounts but the weather forecast is not looking good so we are going to sail over and see if conditions improve.
At 9:00 in the evening, after a quiet dinner, we set sail from Puerto Calero and head northeast. The Oceana Ranger is behaving well.
The next day, we sail with our mainsail reefed, as required by the mountains located northeast of our position. We plan on taking the sea head-on as we save fuel to reach the peninsula.
Wind and engine, litres per hour and knots, straight line or tacking, reaching the straits ahead of time or just in time... racking your brain 24 hours a days, tick tock the clock doesn't stop and we have a schedule to keep.
By the afternoon, the sea hasn't changed and the conditions are heavier. We can't operate the ROV in these conditions because it's dangerous for our sailors, who have to put the machine into the water and take it out without damaging it and themselves. The seamounts are out of our reach because we can’t wait any longer so we decide to head for the peninsula before wearing ourselves out waiting for the weather to change.
On October 11, with winds head-on, we set sail for Cádiz. Those with sailing experience calmly breeze through the crossing, getting quickly used to the watch routine and the bouncing bunk beds. Those with less experience on the high seas start to feel the effects of not seeing land for three days, repeating the usual behaviour: constantly looking at the charts, asking questions about our position, pacing up and down!!! ... We’ve seen it all before and soon they will have learned the lesson: “Being at sea requires little talk, lots of food and little walking" (according to an old sea wolf from Torrevieja). Everything’s under control. Good travel companions.
Three days later we enter the Atlantic side of the Straits. Winds are forecasted at force 7/8. We head straight in and cross with 3-meter waves, taking the sea from the starboard side of the bow. The Oceana Ranger behaves well, as always, and we reach Trafalgar in four hours, heading straight for Chipiona as the waves get smaller and smaller. At last, we reach Chipiona at 18:30, clean up, wash down, showers… end of crossing.