16 March 2018 – Volcanoes and Paint

Agadir (MAR) – Santa Cruz de Tenerife (ESP)

Boink! Cloonk! What’s that disturbing sound coming from the stern of the boat? Luci responds by changing course towards the wind. Ivar quickly attaches himself to the safety line on deck and makes his way towards Herbie, our windvane autopilot. “Sh*t, Herbie’s entire auxiliary rudder is gone!” It must have come loose or broken off.

Ivar looks back at our track, but the missing part is nowhere to be seen. It’s most likely on its way to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, around 1,500 meters below us. With Herbie out of order, Ivar returns to the steering wheel. He steers the boat back on course and switches on the electric autopilot. “At least we have this as a backup,” he sighs.

When Floris wakes up a few hours later, we have different worries. Since we left Agadir one day ago, the wind has increased, contrary to the weather forecast. Time to reef the sail even more. With only a small remainder of the genua and a double-reefed mainsail, Luci still sails around 6 knots towards Lanzarote, our destination. Yet with less sail, Luci does not heel over as much and life on board becomes somewhat more comfortable. Ziggy, our hitchhiker and trainee who has joined us for this trip, also notices the difference. He is slowly getting over his seasickness.

The remaining 100 nautical miles to Lanzarote fly by. A few hours later, volcanic peaks signal that we’re getting close. We head for the southern end of the island, anchor near Playa Blanca, and then launch the kayak to inspect Herbie, now crippled. The rudder shaft has broken off completely and needs to be replaced. We contact the supplier to order replacement parts, but we will also need to haul Luci out of the water to fix it. Tenerife seems to be a good place for it and we decide to combine the repairs with maintenance.

Volcanic Heat on Lanzarote
But first, we explore Lanzarote. In the capital Arecife we reunite with our friends Rafael, Court and Gabe from TheWindExpedition. With them and Ziggy we tour the island in a rental car, like many other tourists. The abundant sunshine on the Canary Islands all-year round makes them a popular holiday destination. Only rarely we see a car with local licence plates among the enormous rental fleet that populates Lanzarote’s roads.

Like all of the Canary Islands, Lanzarote is of volcanic origin. It makes for spectacular landscapes. We visit deep caves and lava tunnels, remnants of ancient eruptions. At the visitor centre, we learn that the entire southern part of the island was formed during an eruption that started in 1730 and lasted for six full years. A tour through the area – aptly named Montañas del Fuego – reveals its out-of-this-world landscape. Very few plants grow on the steep black, brown and red slopes. It almost feels like the eruptions were last year.

At the Timanfaya National Park, the restaurant grills chicken and potatoes with heat from the earth. There is an enormous natural heat reservoir close to the surface, which is further demonstrated to us when a bucket of cold water is turned into a violent steam fountain only seconds after it’s poured into a hole in the ground. With such an abundant availability of geothermal heat and sunshine, we wonder why the energy supply on the island is still based on fossil fuels. There is so much potential for a positive change towards renewable energy here!

Living in Las Palmas
We say good-bye to Ziggy on Lanzarote, and sail to Fuerteventura with TheWindExpedition. After a stopover at the anchorage in the harbour of Puerto del Rosario, we continue to Gran Canaria. We head for the marina of Las Palmas, which turns out to be enormous. More than 1,100 boats are here. It’s the cheapest marina so far on our journey, so understandably it’s a popular place. The marina office even has post boxes. Some boats have long-bearded hulls – a sign that they haven’t moved in quite a while. Foldable bikes on the pontoons are further proof that we’ve entered a floating village. As newbies, we marvel at the diversity of boats and people: liveaboards, eternal-boat-builders, floating shops, sailors taking a break, and, of course, various nationalities of long-distance sailors in transit.

The town itself is not so interesting, but we do enjoy the green and mountainous interior. We also manage to refill our gas bottles at a large gas plant. And we’re in time to join the local carnival. Dressed for the occasion, we join the festivities and have a great time with our friends and many locals, who have more stamina than us and can’t seem to get enough of the more than 130-vehicle parade.

Spoiled on Tenerife
After a week, the wind is right and we set sail for the next island, Tenerife. Thanks to the strong wind, which is accelerated between the mountain ranges on Gran Canaria and Tenerife, we’re able to transit in daylight. On the way we spot beautiful Risso dolphins, which can be identified easily thanks to their white scratches. As we enter the marina of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, our friends Falk and Suzanne welcome us. We met them in Corfu and spent wonderful days on their solar energy-driven catamaran.

The following four days, their hospitality and generosity overwhelm us as they invite us to their house, cook delicious and healthy meals and take us on day trips, like the Anaga mountain range and the monumental dragon tree in Icod. On the last day of our stay, Herbie’s replacement parts get delivered to their house. We can’t thank them enough, and make it on board just in time for our next appointment. Our friends Prins, Vera and Iris are enjoying a short break on Tenerife and come to visit us in the marina.

On Dry Land
The next day we speak to Javier, the manager of shipyard Anaga. “There will be too much wind to haul out your boat tomorrow. Let’s see again in a few days.” We realize that the shipyard, just like the marina, is in the lee of the island’s mountain range, which means squalls occur frequently. To make the best of our time, we do maintenance work in the marina. We clean rust marks and identify all spots on deck that need a new layer of paint to protect Luci’s steel hull. In the evening, we have to say farewell to our friends from TheWindExpedition. Our routes separate from here, and we’re sad to see them go. We really hope to meet them again. Not knowing when and where has become an inevitable part of our lives.

We don’t get much time to grieve, as Ivar’s parents are arriving. They have rented an apartment close to the shipyard, which will also serve as our home while we do maintenance. Coming from chilly Amsterdam, Ad and Ans bask in the sunny weather while we enjoy a lunch on board. When we check in at the apartment later, we find it built on a steep slope, with a magnificent ocean view.

The wind has calmed down, so we head for the shipyard Anaga, just a few miles north of Santa Cruz marina. Ivar carefully, and a bit nervously, manoeuvres Luci into the narrow boat lift. The crane operators impress us with their skills as they gently lift Luci out of the water. “It was a good call to wait for calm conditions,” Ivar admits when we’re firmly stored on land. We meet Javier, who runs a tidy yard. He points to three stacked boxes in the corner of his office. “That’s the paint that was delivered for you!”. It’s eco-friendly antifouling paint, which paint producer Seajet has sent to keep the bottom of our boat free from barnacles and weeds for the next leg of our trip. Unlike most other antifouling paints, which use finite and toxic copper-derivatives, Seajet’s innovative 038 Taisho paint contains a biodegradable, organic-based biocide called ECONEA. We’re grateful for their generous sponsorship and are eager to get started with our maintenance program!

Putting on Paint
Being at sea for almost two years has left its marks on our lady of steel. The sea water mercilessly has turned every scratch in the paintwork into a rusty spot. And despite our cleaning efforts, weeds and barnacles managed to travel with us on the hull, courtesy of the old antifouling paint slowly having lost its effectiveness.

Before the underwater-ecosystem slows us down too much, Luci’s bottom gets new layers of Seajet primer and bright-red antifouling paint. We also replace some zinc anodes to prevent electrical corrosion and install Herbie’s new auxiliary rudder. Finally, we treat the rusty spots on the hull and deck. The rust below the wooden planks on the edges of the cockpit is more difficult to remove, but we also get that done.

Ivar’s Dad helps us by varnishing the cabin floor. But the support doesn’t stop there. In-between their island explorations Ivar’s parents run a shuttle and lunch service. And in the evenings, they serve us hot meals. Such luxury! As a result, we can focus on the maintenance work and get things done at record speed. In only nine days, we complete all the work.

Saying goodbye to Ivar’s parents at the airport is different this time. It’s a “see you soon”, since we plan to be in the Netherlands only a few weeks later. Before we start the next leg of our sailing trip around the world towards South-America, we have something else in mind. We will visit Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands to promote our project and see family and friends. So two days later, with our bag packs filled with clothes for considerably colder weather, we leave a brightly painted Luci behind on the shipyard. For the next seven weeks, we plan to be “on the road”!

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  1. Pingback: 10 October 2018 - Weather and Bureaucracy – Sailors for Sustainability | Sailors for Sustainability

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