The Canaries

We were now in the Canaries, Lanzarote to be exact and we began doing what we’ve been doing every time we made harbor – we started fixing things. We were determined to get our electrical systems functioning properly, regardless of cost or effort – we simply can’t electrical problems hanging over our heads every time we go out.

One of the major reasons we headed for Lanzarote and not one of the bigger islands was that our sailing directions book, noted that there was an excellent boat electrical repair company in Puerto Calero, owned and operated by an English couple. That made the decision simple.  It is difficult to explain electrical problems to someone in a foreign language and my Spanish doesn’t really go much further than ordering food and wine – certainly I am unable to explain electrical dysfunctions.

Of course, our sailing pilot was several years old, no new editions have been published, so there was some uncertainty as to whether the company still existed or not – but we decided to take the chance.

I asked the harbourmaster where the company Mast was and he said – gone! out of business 3-4 years ago.

Bah! Humbug! And lots of words not suitable for mixed company. He then asked what the problem was and when I said electrical he told me to ask at a company called Submarine Safari – they could recommend someone. Submarine Safaris said that the person I wanted was Jan, an Englishman who was a great boat electrician, but unfortunately he had broken his hip and wasn’t really working, but they would   contact him and see who he recommended.

Next morning, Jan hobbled over to our boat, introduced himself, climbed aboard and began interviewing us to see if he wanted to work for us. Turns out he used to be the electrical guru for Mast, but since he broke his hip, he only works for people he likes.  Apparently he liked us and agreed to work for us as long as I would help him, since he had difficulty crawling into tight spaces with his hip.

Jan was a pilot, trained by British Airways way back when (he is 65 years old now) a pilot had to know how to repair everything on an airplane – so he was a crackerjack technician.  He never worked as a pilot – he had gotten bitten by sailing and had spent his entire life as a “boat bum”, a title he found to be very flattering. He had sailed most everywhere on most anything that could float, been married 3 times, had a passle of kids, and spent as much time on the sea as he could get away with.

Naturally he quickly diagnosed our engine charging problem as a blown out battery splitter.  When we installed this in Copenhagen along with our new, enlarged battery bank, we installed a 120 amp splitter, both the Danish electrician and I thinking that even though our new generator on the engine could produce 160 amps it would probably only do that for a couple of minutes and then settle back.  The 120 amp splitter was rated as being able to stand up to 240 amps.  I suppose it could stand 240 amps, but only for a few minutes.  Our batteries had been quite low at one point and the generator had been pumping out 160 amps and simply fried it.


Capri as Vinni likes to see it – everything torn apart!

Not a big problem except no one in the island had a replacement – one had to come from the mainland – expected delivery time – a week to ten days. Everything take a week to ten days. The canaries are a separate customs zone from Spain and Customs on the Islands work very, very slowly.

The next issue we discovered (the very next day) was that our 10 year old battery charger had decided to commit suicide and died during the night. The was a replacement available on Gran Canary Island and we could get that 48 hours later. In the meantime, Jan suggested rewiring out battery bank to make it more effective, which we did.

Finally we got Jan to take a sail with us and help us get our wind vane functioning properly – he  enjoyed the day on the water and we got everything adjusted so it worked.


So much for repairs – I thought you might like to hear the full story so you can understand how frustrated we felt and how happy we were that Jan was around.

Lanzarote is one giant volcano. Everything is lava rock or lava silt.


Lava rock formations everywhere


And a vulcano or two….

There is no natural green growth anywhere on the island.  And there is no natural free flowing water anywhere. Any natural water is condensation. The rainfall on the island measures something like 4-5 cm per year. Today all water on the island is desalinated.


Vinni takes in the view over La Graciosa an island off Lanzarote

They do grow grapes and make wine here – the vines are built into semicircular depressions with a backing wall – this captures any condensation moisture in the morning.  The white wines are excellent – the reds are not.


Grape vines Lanzarote style

One of the notable things about Lanzarote is that all and I do mean all the buildings are white. I joking asked Jan if there was a law and he said yes indeed there is a law – all buildings must be painted white.

This  laws comes from a local architect, Caesar Manrique, who is considered to a demi-god on the island. He died in the late 90’s but his shadow is still long on the island. All the buildings he designed are national monuments and both his home and his workshop are national monuments. He had so much power that when he told the local politicians that he felt white houses would look nicer against the lava rock than multicolored ones, the politicians passed a law requiring all buildings to white.  They still enforce it today……………..

We rented a car and did a lot of sight-seeing. Suddenly a text message appeared on my phone from our old neighbors Janni and Flemming Kluge on Galionsvej – are you on Lanzarote??? They were at La Santa Sport on the other side of the island. Next day they showed up in Puerto Calero for lunch and a drink. Great to see them again, and hear all the news about the neighbors.


Janni and Flemming showed up all of a sudden

It seems that our little neighborhood has been in the papers because we made life difficult for the cyclists out on the pier – with headlines like “The rich hate cyclists” and “The rich make obstacles for cyclists” and so forth.  And someone burned our neighbors boat – Dawn- that beautiful black racing boat. Apparently someone torched it during the night.

Vinni and I have become more and more happy that we sold the place and left – we had the best years there.

Finally we could set sail – this time for Tenerife. This time with the wind vane and this time with all our electrical systems functioning. We had a dream sail – no real swells to speak of and the wind was blowing 10-15 knots from the rear. For the first time since we left Denmark – we sailed in sunshine and it was warm enough for us to sit in the cockpit in our Adam and Eve costumes (sorry guys and gals – no pics!). It was straight sail with the wind vane steering us the entire time except for an hour or two during the night where the wind had died down to less that 5-6 knots- not enough to sail on and we used the motor.

We got into San Miguel marina at around noon – ate some lunch and took a nap (as usual). Life for a cruising sailor is hard – San Miguel harbor is right next to a golf course (gee – imagine that?). This time we had no real repairs to make, so we can spend our time sight-seeing and playing golf (Christ it’s a tough life).

For Those of you that don’t play golf – this little video might be boring (it is also in Danish), but for those that do – this is a great golf hole!


Vinni goes for it over the chasm (she got over nicely), if you look carefully you can see the ball in the air


We aired the “Happy Hour” sign one evening – just so we could have G&T’s

While re-stowing some of our food, Vinni dove down in a big bag and came up smiling from ear to ear – what did the licorice mouse find at the bottom?  Yup a bag of licorice!


Oh Happy Days! A lost bag of licorice found, Can life be any better for a licoricemouse?


One of the major sights on Tenerife is El Tiede, the big volcano at the center of the island – 3700 meters (round about 12,000 feet for all you non-metric types).  We drove up and took the cable car the last 300 meters or so. Pretty amazing lava formations and the last eruption was about 100 years ago. Lots of pics for you all to look  at.


El Tiede – 3700 meters high


The view from up top-lava everywhere

We’ve been here about 10 days and we wanted to sail to La Gomera and go hiking. The weather will be fine for sailing to La Gomera, but it looks like we are going to get quite a blow when we would have to sail back, so we’re going to stay here a few more days (maybe play some more golf), and then we’ll sail to Las Palmas and get ready to cross the Atlantic.


Sail to Las Palmas and the ARC

Couldn’t have asked for better weather than the sail to Las Palmas – Warm lots of sun and we had good wind and the wind vane just set us right on course. It took all day to get there.


Vinni relaxes during her off-watch

Interestingly, when we sailed, Vinni backed out of the slip and I started taking in our fenders when I found out one of them was missing. Apparently someone had long fingers and swiped it when we were out having dinner.  Vinni had checked them just before we left and we were on board the rest of the night.  Swiping a used fender???

Anyway, back to our sail – we ended up surrounded by dolphins – just look at the video.  For all you dolphin junkies here is a great video.

And suddenly Vinni said – “ I must be seeing things – but I’m pretty sure I saw a whale spout over there” She pointed off to starboard and I’ll be damned – sure enough there was another whale spout – all told 5 of them.

Hmmmm, we have mixed feelings about that – we’d love to see some whales, but they have been known to swim into boats.  Not because they are attacking them – they simply don’t realize they are there.

We got in las Palmas and eventually were shown to our docking slip.  I had to remove our wind vane first because this is a “Med” landing and you have to back in.  We can’t back in with the wind vane on.  But we got in, got tied up and started in on making a list for our “wailing wall”.  I know you all are saying “-what’s with this boat – they are always fixing things – seems like it breaks down every day”

I don’t know how to explain to non-sailors – yes we are constantly fixing or adjusting things – a boat is a complicated mechanism and things do break down.  There was really nothing major on our list this time, even though the list was long.  Check the zincs and replace if necessary, replace a couple of light switches that had gone and just a long list of similar stuff. But we’re not the only ones – everyone else here we have talked to are all busy with their own “Wailing wall” list.


Vinni checking out the rigging 16 meters up – Enjoy the view!!

As someone remarked – “You do realize that being caught up on all you maintenance is only a temporary condition?”

Truer words were never spoken.  Even Vinni is finally realizing that there will be repairs everytime we make harbor.

Just so you all can get an idea of what we do on board (besides take naps and look  at dolphins) here are some clips of practical boat maintenance aboard Capri – some of them have some Dansih language, be patient, the english language comes afterward.

And all you lovely ladies looking at this – goads – aren’t those baggies I’m wearing just the sexiest things you ever seen??????  I only wear them when Vinni is the only woman around – otherwise I might get ravished by hoards of out of control women.

The “Wailing Wall” is empty!  A glorious day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Today, the wailing wall list is empty!  God – what are we going to do?  And the licorice mouse is ecstatic!  Our friend Lars from Denmark took pity on her plight and sent 3 pounds of salt licorice.  Vinni spent 3 days looking at the package before opening it because as the philosopher  Kierkegaard noted, “The joy of expectation is greater than the joy of the thing itself”.  How very true and Vinni spent those days thinking about what could be in the package and in her mind tasting the various salt licorices she imagined were inside.

She wasn’t disappointed – when she finally opened it – all her dreams came true.


The “licorice care package” before being ravaged by the mouse!

Thank you again Lars!

One thing that we are hysterical aobut is our war on cockroaches.  We don’t have any board yet and we really, really don’t want any.  Most cruising sailors end up with an infestation and they are damned difficult to get rid of – so we leave our shoes on the pier, bring no cardboard on board at all, and wash all our vegetables and fruit in a weak chlorine solution.  So far – so good. We also have set out raoch traps (even tough we don’t have any)


Vinni washing some fruit in chlorinated water. She noramlly does this on the pier, but this time at the sink since it had been packed in plastic

About 12 days to go before we sail for Cape Verde.  We’re renting a car and going sight seeing.  When we sail for Cape Verde, we will have a gadget called “Spot” with us.  This is supplied by ARC and sends a signal to a satellite showing where we are at all times.  I’ll send a link and if any of you care to, you can see exactly where Capri is on the wide ocean.

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