This is note number 3 from TANIWANI this summer.
It's been a while since the last report, I just realize it's been a whole month! We have been quite busy and much has happened since.
Our last report ended in Ceuta, in the middle of a round trip with Terry, Pam and Ulf. In the mean time Taniwani returned twice to the lagoon of Olhao for crew changes, and eventually set off for Madeira and the Canaries. But now back Ceuta, where the last report ended.
We just spent one night at Ceuta and strolled through town in the evening. Seemed like a nice place, quite clean and in good shape, but maybe one can also feel that it's an enclave. Anyway, people seemed very friendly, diesel was cheap, and we had a decent place flooded with yellow light.
Next day we took off towards Tangier, passing the strait outbound, quite close to the African coast. Wind and current was against us, so we motor-sailed all the way, with an emphasis on motor. But this way we were still covering five miles an hour over ground and could enjoy looking at the coast.
When we approached Tangier, we saw a big ferry inside the harbor casting off, just as we were to round the head of the outer breakwater, and we came around the corner hesitantly, only to find the ferry had stopped gain for us. When we looked up we saw the captain looking down at us seemingly dreaming about being on a sail boat, rather than the big ferry. That was a nice start of our Tangier experience and it continued that way; friendly and helpful people everywhere.
Slowly we entered the inner basin with the fishing fleet to one side and the Tangier Yacht Club and Capitanaria to the other. We couldn't see any other yachts, and no obvious place to 'park' our boat. It didn't take long and there was somebody on the shore waving and pointing at a small space alongside a smaller motor yacht and to the other side a bunch of small boats tied up to something that was supposed to be a floating pontoon. The shore side a sloping heap of stones. We felt it was ok if we went bows to the stone slope and used our stern anchor. "Anchor ok?", we yelled to the guy and he yelled back in quite good German: "Ja, Anker gut, Anker gut!"
Quickly we were tied up and the man introduced himself as Mustafa, official tourist guide, happy to help in any way we like. Just as he started to explain where we would find the officials, the immigration officer showed up and was rowed out to our boat by a man from the yacht club. The officer was extremely polite and efficient, doing most of the paperwork himself, welcomed us to Morocco and told us that Mustafa is very reliable and trustworthy. As it turned out later, they only allow approved people out to this part of the harbor, and Mustafa was one of them.
Mustafa told us that we had just won two hours, as Morocco time is more like it should be and we arrived with Spanish time which is over two hours off the meridian passage. So we asked Mustafa to come back in two hours and then give us a tour of Tangier which he happily accepted.
The proposed tour turned out to be half by taxi, and then later by walking through the kaspa and medina. All was very impressive and certainly very different from all the other places we have been to in the last couple days. Towards the end of the trip Mustafa brought us to a larger building, which had all of Morocco's products, and one or two floors dedicated to a certain types. We kept going up, maybe 5 or 6 levels, finally to the roof, where we had a fantastic view over the kaspa of Tangier.
Mustafa told us, that after we had enjoyed the view, we would be invited to some peppermint tea, and then we would get an introduction to Moroccan craftsmanship. And so we did: We learned all about carpets from different tribes and about the different types they produce. Example after example was rolled out in front of us, the carpets getting more finer and finer. At the top we were presented a large top-end Berber and a interesting looking very thin carpet, made and used by nomads. had absolutely no intentions of buying a carpet, but Terry asked how much they would cost. Well, 3000 Euro the Berber and 3500 the nomad carpet. Interesting we said, thank you and good by. No, no, no, the guy said you should have a carpet. And hour and a half, and three attempts to leave later I had a the nomad carpet that I really didn't need, nicely packed and Mustafa carrying it; for 800 Euros. The show alone was certainly worth half the money.
We sure enjoy the place and longed for more, so we asked Mustafa to come to the boat next morning to discuss where to we could make a nice excursion to. As expected Mustafa showed up right at the agreed time and Ulf went to pick him up with the dinghy. While we asked Mustafa to come on board to discuss our options, he turned that down, telling us that no one except for the immigration officer is allowed on board of foreign yachts. So he remained in the dinghy while we discussed alternative excursions. He was recommending a trip to "Chefchaouen" an old village in the mountains, about 120 kilometers from Tangier. The pronunciation of Chefchaouen sounds exactly like "looking at boats" in German, and prompted Terry to say: "No we don't need to look at boats, we've seen enough of them!"
Anyway, we decided for this tour, which Mustafa offered us for 100 Euros, for all four of us, including the taxi there and an additional local guide at Chefchaouen. For that we got a 10-seater bus in excellent condition, all for us and a great tour to Chefchaouen. The later turned out a picturesque place, up in the mountains, right beneath a spring that comes right out of the mountain, the volume of a small river. One can easily imagine the value of that, and why this town was built there long time ago.
We enjoyed Moroccan food in a small hotel-restaurant, barely noticeable from outside, but fantastic inside. An atrium building, with the restaurant at the ground floor, where you look up two floors to a sky-light that lets the warm air vent out, brings light, but never direct sun. After lunch, the owner proudly presented to us his guest rooms. Every room different, but every room, very nice and comfortable, in warm soft colors. Also great was the view from the roof terrace.
The whole establishment is very recommendable:
22, Rue Targui
We had a long shopping list for the market and Mustafa just went with us, showing us where to get the best quality, everything we bought was of finest quality. Next morning, before we left, Mustafa came again to help us getting fresh fish right from the fisherman across. Then he looked that we can cleared out quickly. And so we can just strongly recommend Mustafa to anybody who wants to explore Tangier and the area in a short time and get a fair and friendly treatment.
Mustafa's card reads:
Chediak Chaoui Mustapha
Tour Quide n.680
Rue Al Mouahedes n.32
Phone: (212-39) 93 70 24
After buying some fish, clearing out and getting our passports back, we left Tanger to cross the busy strait again bound for Barbate.
A big tuna net, some three miles long, reaches all the way to the harbor entrance of Barbate. We had thought of anchoring just east of the entrance in front of the beach. But that part didn't look too inviting so we went inside around the big tuna net and to the west of the harbor. Beautiful anchorage, but not too comfortable. Next day Terry, Pam and Ulf went by dinghy to the harbor for some shopping and found the most dirty place they had seen so far, and where ever they went with the dinghy, somebody would tell them to not leave it alone or it would be gone in five minutes. There is also a marina, well fenced in the inner part of the harbor and it may be well guarded. Still the whole place looked like better to avoid.
After that shopping exercise, we left Barbate north bound, thinking we might make it to Chippiona, which we knew from last year. Progress isn't that fast and we didn't feel like starting to cook dinner after 10 in the evening, we made a quick decision to go back into our favorite town of Cadiz. Quarter past eight we were there again.
Next day we took off for El Rompido. With wind from ahead we had to take a long tack out into the ocean, before turning north. Still. the 70 miles were quickly done and we anchored almost at the same place as a year ago. Only slightly more upriver, as the old place was occupied by a small boat, out for a day of fishing. As always we anchored between bow and stern anchor, in order to not swing too close to shore when the tide changes.
Long after dinner, past midnight and a few drinks later, we were still sitting in the cockpit and saw the shore coming closer. Ebb was substantial and at it's low we saw ground less than a boat length to port. The echo sounder still read 3 meters and the hand held sounder showed 2.6 at the transom. But it looked worrisome and Ulf went to take in a bit ore of the bow anchor chain. In the dark this caught the bridle and pulled it into the windlass, blocking it totally. Also Ulf thought he had seen the ten meter mark and we were worried that we could break out the bow anchor. So we decided that Ulf goes and prepares a third anchor (Fortress) , while Terry and I try to get the blocked chain out of the bow windlass. Using our powerful Andersen Genoa winches, some big snap shackles and some levers, we were able to break it free and re-anchor. An unnecessary maneuver, but it kept us busy till three in the morning.
Next day we had to get back to the Lagoon at Olhao in time for Ulf to catch a late bus to Lisbon. So Ulf left us late Friday and Terry and Pam in the afternoon of the next day, not before helping to clean the boat and cooking a fantastic last meal. A last visit to Culhatra Island with Pam, to take some photos of the boats that seem to be stranded forever, rounded off this round trip. These two weeks with the three of them were really nice, memorable and with a lot of variety; As Ulf put it: Taniwani is always sailing under a special star, harmony on board and welcome everywhere...
Late the same day the next crew arrived. This time, for just one week, five friends from business days at Tandem and Tantau: Fufu, Christiane, Stephan and Wolfgang with new friend Andrea. All arrived on time and I picked them up from Olhao by dingy, the usual 3 mile drive to the anchorage. For the first evening we went to eat on shore on the Island of Culhatra. Good sea food and a specialty we never really understood what it was. Tasted great and the waiter said it was octopus eggs!?
Again, for the next day I wasn't not quite sure how far to take our guests on their first day, but again decided that it would be best to go the 85 miles to Cadiz first and then go back in small steps. Again, once we stuck our nose out, even later than before, around noon, we found hardly any wind and the sea was calm. Again with some 7 knots of wind from west we could motor sail towards Cadiz. Again we switched from engine to spinnaker after a few hours, but after some fifty miles had to revert to engine help again.
Again, when we were approaching Cadiz, it was dark and the same long daisy-chain of fishing boats was coming out from the harbor. Same friendly reception by the guard, and happy first day at sea for the new crew again. Another day at Cadiz followed with the new crew exploring the town and me doing some maintenance in the boat. But in the evening we were all out into our favorite town, for some strolling around and a late dinner.
With a few days left to return to Olhao, we took it easy and didn't go straight for El Rompido, but anchored off the shore, north of the Rio Guadalquivir, where a long stretch of shore is just a nature preserve. Right at the north end of that we found a huge tourist development, with hotels and apartments along the coast for many miles. But south of that, where we anchored, the world was quite unspoiled.
From there we went to now well known El Rompido, this time further into the river, to anchor across from the village. The river there is wide enough to do that with just one anchor, and the boat can be seen from the restaurants at shore. The little village has plenty of restaurants, so choosing wasn't easy. The one we picked was quite good and all of us were happy with both food and vine.
For the next day we went into the river Guadiana which also is the border between Spain and Portugal. A few miles up the river a highway bridge bars the way for boats with more than 17m air-draft. We didn't quite go all the way to the bridge, but anchored off the Spanish Ayamonte, about in the middle of the river. Part of the crew made it to shore for some shopping, and then we had a nice evening with barbeque and burned sausages.
Sailing back to Olhao the next day, anchoring at the same spot as before and having octopus eggs on Culhatra, rounded off this short round trip. Then on Saturday again we had big crew change day, running a few washing machines and cleaning the boat. Then the Tandem/Tantau gang left. Beate arrived a few hours later and late in the evening Olof and his son Karl-Henrik made it on board.
Olof and son would be with us for two weeks, and in that time we planned to make it to Tenerife. We decided for an easy start and remain at anchor in the lagoon for all of Sunday, and leave Monday afternoon, after some shopping at the market of Olhao. Weather routing had calculated about 2 days and 8 hours, for about 490 miles, to go to Porto Santo, a neighbor Island of Madeira. We needed to be in Funchal by Friday, to fetch Felix from the airport, so we felt we had plenty of time.
By the time we were ready to go, a remainder of a cold front from a low way up north disturbed the usual NNE, and by 3 p.m. on Monday when we left the lagoon, we were facing a force 6 from WSW. For us it meant beating into the wind again, when we had expected a fast downhill ride. An hour into this Olof noticed that the hatch for the forepeak had opened and that quite some water sloshing into it. We were a bit worried as to how long it stood open, and how much water might have entered, possibly causing trouble again to the freshly repaired bow-thruster electrics.
By 3 in the night, the wind had veered to NW and we could lay course to Porto Santo again. But the wind was also weakening and down to F4 or less. So next morning we tried the spinnaker. We had it up for some 5 hours, but with the wind backing again for a little bit, we couldn't lay Porto Santo and reverted back to Genoa in the late afternoon. For the 1st 24 hours we had done 167 miles, a touch below our standard 170 and a lot below our expectation of breaking 200 with a fast down wind ride.
We also lost some time on two occasions: In the morning we reduced to just mainsail so that Harald could go up the mast to fix the masthead antenna which had loosened in it's bracket. Still not easy with a 3m dead sea running. The second delay came when we tried to take down the spi and found that the control lines for the snuffer had gotten entangled at the top. This also took some time to get properly sorted out.
The 2nd day was smoother except that we found water in the bilge of the forward port cabin and thought it had to do with the open hatch. Drying it out we were surprised to see that it kept coming in at about 2 liters and hour. We were quite puzzled by that and took us many days to figure out the source which was at the opposite end of the boat; the rudder shaft seal was leaking and with the boat heeled it made it's way forward along one of the major stringers.
The 3rd day had no special surprises, but the wind was very weak, between F2 and F3. Still we made Porto Santo in exactly 3 days and anchored at our favorite place, south of the town jetty at 3 p.m. on Thursday. Due to the slight detour we covered 510 miles, so again an average of 170.
There we could do some swimming in crystal clear water and dry the stuff from the forepeak. Not too much water seemed to have entered. Beate, Olof and Karl-Henrik, went to inspect the town.
Next day, there was hardly any wind, and we had to motor the 40 miles to Funchal, especially so, since we wanted to be there in time, to still find our favorite harbor master, and see that we get a berth in the usually overfilled marina. Certainly a new option would have been the marina Quinta do Lordes, about half the way to Funchal, between Baja Abra and Canical. It is now open for a year and has lots of space, (242 berths), but it really is out in nowhere land and quite a bit more expensive than Funchal (€37.50 vs €28.00).
Soon another option might be a new smaller marina at the north end of Santa Cruz, but when we checked in May it wasn't finished, no floating pontoons inside, just a few boats on moorings, and no pollards on the main breakwater.
As we were leaving Porto Santo, Beate was paying out more fishing line, and right at that moment the reel started going crazy. After stopping the boat we reeled in a 6kg yellow fin tuna, about the finest fish we could think of. Killed with Austrian Schnaps, cleaned and cut many filets while we are going, ready to invite my father and Tatjana for a nice sashimi lunch once we arrived.
Getting closer we tried to raise Funchal marina on the radio to check for space, but no success. When we came close to the entrance, our friend showed up seemingly to tell us that there was no space, but then he recognized us and said: "Ah it's you again, you can have the same place as last year!" I think we will never understand why we get this special treatment.
Shortly after we were tied up, my father and Tatjana showed up, and the six of us had a fantastic meal. Best sashimi ever! Later I went with Tatjana and my father, to pick up my fathers car which we were allowed to use for the few days in Madeira. The first use was to drive to the airport at midnight to pick up Felix.
We spent three full days in Madeira, using some time to show Olof and Karl-Henrik around the island, and some to help out my parents with little things that need to be done or fixed. My mother just had to prepare a grand meal for us all. So everybody enjoyed the stay, and as always we found Madeira just a beautiful island.
From Madeira we planned to visit the Islas Selvagen, a group of a few very small islands between Madeira and the Canary Islands. They belong to Portugal and are nature preserve. A permit is required to visit, and we got ours in Madeira, already back in February. The Selvagens are separated into two groups, about 10 miles apart, with the best anchorage at the eastern group on the South-West side of the largest island: Selvagem Grande. On both groups there are always two rangers each, guarding the preserve.
Given that the wind was supposed to pick up again, we planned to go to Selvagem Grande with the best protected anchorage. We figured we'll do the 160 miles in less than 24 hours, so that we could leave Funchal after breakfast, and get there around sunrise. By the time we had the dingy properly stored, it was 10 in the morning that we left the harbor basin of Funchal. Being in the lee of Madeira, we expected no wind for up to 20 miles, but after 4 miles a nice ENE force 4 set in and we sail along nicely. We were making fast progress and by 10 in the night the wind was up a notch and we put a reef into the main, to make it easier for the night watch. Just after midnight wind speed went up further to force 6 and we also reefed the Genoa a bit. Still we were moving at over 8 knots, and started to get worried that we could get to the Selvagen too early, still in the dark. Sunrise was expected for 7:15 and we'd probably have some light an hour before. And so it worked out perfect: The main light on Selvagem Grande didn't work, but we picked up the further away light from Selvagem Pequiena around 6:15. We also could make out the big island in the dusk.
Interestingly the charts are more detailed than the best we have of Madeira, but we weren't too sure about the correctness of the datum. So we did some position verification by radar when we were getting closer and found the charts to be spot on. We were now surfing in quite some waves and started to wonder what the anchorage would be like. Sun came up, and shortly after that we sailed along the west side of the island passing outside of some reefs, then turned for the anchorage and by 8 a.m. we were anchored in astoundingly calm water.
A French yacht was already anchored as far in as possible, so we had to stay a bit further out. Holding is poor on an almost flat rock bottom, but we found an edge on which out anchor locked up solidly.
Around noon we went ashore, but found nobody at the ranger station, so we tried again later and were received by a researcher who usually works for the park services in Madeira. He was here for some data gathering together with a student from Lisbon, in addition to the usual two man shift. He offered a guided tour either in the evening or next morning. They had some work to do now and it was also a bit too hot to climb around on the island.
We went back to the boat for some swimming and snorkeling, and around 6 p.m. they called us on the radio and asked whether we would like to come for a tour. Five minutes later we were at the shore again, and the researcher from Madeira, who we talked to before, took us on a fine tour around part of the island. He explained that they are now trying to bring the island back to it's original plants and animals, and that they had to extinct some wild goats and still were working on some sort of a rat. He said the hits on the traps are now approaching nil, and they might almost be done. They have a lot of work setting up all the traps for the day, and closing them in the evening, so that the lizards that sleep during the day don't get caught.
The biggest population are sea-birds, size of a smaller sea-gull, but in fact part of the Albatross family. They are breeding all over the place and you can just walk close by their nests. In the air it feels like in Hitchcock's, the birds, they are almost landing on people and are not afraid at all. Real fun to watch them, and quite hard to believe that they all go away in the winter months, migrating to South America.
Since half a year the island also has a post box and post cards or letters are stamped with the Selvagem stamp, must be quite rare. So we took the opportunity to send a few. The mail-boat is supposed to come every three weeks, when they swap shifts.
The next morning it got almost crowded in the bay, when a bigger fishing boat came by for some rest and a chat with the guards. We spent another nice day in that place and left for Tenerife late in the afternoon. As expected we were met by a stiff trade wind, in the 20 - 25 kn range. So we put a small reef into the main and set the cutter staysail, our smaller foresail. Slightly underpowered we slipped into the night still at over 7 knots. During the night, when Felix and Karl-Henrik were on watch, they reported 11.3 knots on the speedo. Later it was smoother again, until we got into the pressure zone north of Tenerife, when it got really crazy around 9 in the morning. Now we had definitely too much sail, but were hoping to be out of the crazy stretch shortly. Eventually the wind was up above 50 knots, and I had to hand steer carefully for a while; now we broke the night record and made 11.8 knots. That went on for a bit less than an hour and then suddenly there was no wind and we motored the last 15 miles to a bay north of Los Christianos, near the place where son Markus and friend Astrid had spent the last week.
We spent the night at anchor in that place and went for Los Christianos the next day, for crew change: Olof and son left us and Markus and Astrid came on board. Olof, who had looked after our project, when Taniwani was built, was great company and so was his nice son, who worked with Felix learning Swedish and German phrases. Off course Olof took lots of notes and ideas home to Najad. After a last evening and dinner on shore, we left next day for Gomera.
As expected we passed through the pressure zone again, but this time prepared and wind also didn't get to much more than 30 knots. After a quite short passage, we got a fine place in the very well run marina of San Sebastian. Really nice place, maybe except for the wind hauling through like crazy, causing trouble to yachts maneuvering in the small marina.
We stood for three nights and rented a car, so that Markus and Astrid could tour the island on one day, the rest of the crew on the next.
The second half of the week with Astrid, was spent cruising up and down on the south coast of the island. Yesterday we dropped off Astrid at Santiago, which is close to the new, but barely used airport. She got a flight straight to Tenerife North, where she's connecting from.
We spent another day at Gomera, in the bay of Grand Rey, and then headed north-west to the island of La Palma where we are now tied up in the harbor of Santa Cruz. In another week we should be at Santa Cruz de Tenerife, for another crew change.
Report 4: La Palma to Porto Santo, including Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, and Graciosa