|Enki on the Spanish side of The Rock, ready to roll|
|Morning breaks late; high tide is already 2.5 hours gone|
|The road map of the straits|
|These guys are not moving - yet|
|Gibraltar lies behind us|
We've finished, it seems, with the Mediterranean. Goodbye Greece, goodbye Turkey. Sob. People do come north from the Canary Islands, they do enter the Med through the straits of Gibraltar, but realistically we won't be. We've made the call. We want to cross the Atlantic this season.
|Atlantic contenders at Marina Lanzarote|
We haven't seen a lot of catamarans in the Med - it's too expensive to moor them, I guess. But the Caribbean is famous for its anchorages, and at anchor nobody's multiplying length by breadth to arrive at a number of euros which must be handed over for the privilege of getting out of the swell and the weather. Then the spaciousness of a cat's living quarters will come into its own. We'll be glad to stop chanting Enki's vital statistics too - "length 15 m by beam 4.5 m". Not just because Enki's a big girl, and costs accordingly to park in a marina but also because there are many harbours along the coast of Spain and Morocco which can't and don't cater for boats over 12 m long.
|Domestic prep before we leave for the Canaries|
We kept it simple. You can't do everything. You do what you can, and move on, gratefully (sometimes the cliches help). We scratched Morocco, as we'd scratched Tunisia. There will be better times to visit North Africa, we told ourselves.
|The sun on its way down under|
|Running before the wind - try it this way|
|There's never a good time for a gas regulator to spring a leak|
|Odd cloud formations, and the barometer continues to fall|
|This was as flat as it got...slept well that night|
The biggest menace down this coast however is fishing nets, so we kept about 50 miles offshore. Alex dodged the only tuna net he spotted (how long is it, he asked himself - 2 miles, 3 miles? what do those flashing lights tell me?). Others have not been so lucky with nets. But it's not just nets. Patricia and Didier, a charming French couple we met in Benalmadena, got unlucky with 10 m sheet of plastic (the polythene film that covers hothouses down the coast of Spain). It wrapped around their prop. Their sprightly crew, Serge and Marcel (both over 70), dived on the mess with a bread knife, but still, Maskali came into port under sail. This is something we hope to never do again, by the way.
|Happier times - Maskali's new boom arrives at Benalmadena|
When we're on watch we're constantly monitoring marine traffic - tankers, passenger liners, cargo ships, ferries, fishing boats, other yachts and power boats. All except the very smallest craft are identified clearly on the AIS (praise be to its inventor). But there are things you can't see which can tangle a boat up in knots - a random piece of plastic submerged just below the surface will do it, even a plastic bag, and then there are fishing buoys, and loose strands of net, all potentially treacherous to a boat's sensitive underwater parts. Better to be lucky than rich, is one of Alex's favourite sayings.
|Why does a butterfly alight on a boat 40 miles offshore?|
|To be dinner for a bird....which then dies on the boat 40 miles offshore|
So here we are, in the Canaries. How long has Alex been talking about "getting down to the Canaries"? This is the start of what he's been wanting to do for a quarter of a century (yes, he's that old!). What we've been doing until now is, frankly, much more to my taste. But I'm okay at sea. I'm better at sleeping than I used to be, and I'm better at doing a few other things too. Not enough yet, but I learn quickly when I need to learn. Alex generally is on top of everything. He'll say otherwise, but I'm continually surprised at how much he sees that I don't. He's always looking around the boat, thinking ahead. Helps not to be reading, of course.
We know there are people who worry about us - "the thin woman and the man who is prone to be flat on his back", as our friends Dale and Joanne put it in a recent email. We understand why it's hard to have confidence, to trust us on our boat. But honestly, it's ok, people.
There are many eager youngsters floating around looking for a free ride to the Caribbean. If we meet people we take a liking to, and whose experience we think will enhance our trip, we will consider taking on crew. We know it will ease anxieties. But there are other considerations too. Like our sense of adventure, and our own competence.
|Hove-to off the port of Arracife, waiting for opening time of 0800|
|Dawn visitor - he flew into Alex's chest before dropping to the deck|