Sea Safari

Posted October 4th, 2011 by Nick and filed in Uncategorized

PA010038, originally uploaded by melandnick.

Leaving the south coast of Portugal brought about mixed feelings for me. As we were sailing away from land, I was excited for us to be embarking on our longest passage yet and getting to the Canary Islands, due to take 5-6 days. At the same time I was very anxious for the weather to be kind to us, as I’m now only too aware how quickly weather can change to make a previously comfortable and pleasant journey into a very rough and sometimes quite scary experience. The forecast for our trip looked favourable, light winds from the north-north east, so we were set to go to our last destination in Europe before crossing the Atlantic later this year.

In addition to weather anxiety, on previous multi-day trips I’ve always suffered from severe lack of sleep. The watch pattern of four hours on, four hours off had resulted in me actually not getting much sleep at all; probably due to the movement, and odd sleeping patterns. I’d heard that you’re supposed to get into a routine and sleep comes more regularly, but so far this hadn’t happened to me.

It took a couple of days for the sleep patterns to bed in, but they did, and by the end of the trip I was happily sleeping solidly when off-watch, even with the engine churning loudly in the background. The only complaint about the weather was that for the last day or so there wasn’t any wind at all, which for me is preferable to strong winds!

One of the highlights of the trip was that we caught a small skipjack tuna (1.5kg) on the second day which we seared in a hot pan and had with a nice salad for dinner – delicious!

On the fourth day we were hailed on our VHF radio by a large catamaran gaining on us. It turned out that they were heading for the same marina as us, and we agreed to meet there for a drink with them when we arrived which of course we have held them to – hello Massimo and Angela! Their boat, Bernard, was much faster than little Borne, so we watched them go on ahead of us and eventually out of sight.

The lack of wind on the last day of our trip, as we closed Lanzarote, though irritating in terms of making progress, turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Both Nick and I agree that it was the most magical day either of us has ever had at sea.

The magic began when I came on watch around 2am. Nick had just finished taking down the sails on the front and all of a sudden I heard dolphins breathing next to the boat. For the next 15mins the dolphins were swimming all around the boat, and underneath it, leaving sparkling phosphorescent comet tails in their wake.

As the sun rose, Nick was on watch over a patch of relatively shallow water and for about an hour he was surrounded by Dorados literally leaping out of the water all around the boat. These are one of the most stunning fish in the sea and are also pretty big. He caught, but returned, two smallish (1.5kg) females, in pursuit of a large male which eluded him.

I awoke at around 8am to a blue sky and warm sun surrounded by a flat calm sea which in my opinion is one of the most beautiful sights. We were in truly blue water, around 3-4000m deep and crystal clear. This clarity and deep blue colour gives the water a special quality which makes it reflect the sky, clouds and sunlight in a way I’ve never seen before. I’ve tried to capture it on camera, so hopefully you’ll see what I mean if you check out the pics on flickr.

At one point in the morning we stopped the boat and dropped a coin in the water which we could see for a full minute reflecting the sun as it sunk down into the deep.

We spent most of the first half of the day enjoying the calm weather, and listening to music in the cockpit. The choice of the day was the Doves (their ‘best of’ album) which I’d downloaded a few days before, and we both love it and it seemed to capture the atmosphere of the day.

In the early afternoon, we started to spot turtles swimming in the sea, after an hour or so we were totally surrounded by them and continued to be until the sun went down. They are very amusing to watch, as the boat gets close to them, they seem to wake up from their leisurely bobbling and spark into life rapidly flapping their flippers around and eventually gain some traction to dive down and away to safety fighting their inherent buoyancy all the way. They can be quite big, some of them seemed to be nearly 1m long.

Then off in the distance to the east, we spotted a pod of pilot whales, they were quite far away and although the seas were flat, we only saw them for a few minutes. Another couple of hours past and we saw two more pods of whales, the second of which we got very close to and could count around 8 of them altogether, including 2 calves. They actually turned to point towards us as we got closer which was when we realised they had babies, so we quickly turned away from them hopefully signalling that we weren’t a threat, as it seemed to be a defensive stance on their behalf. It really was amazing to get so close to them.

To complete our sea safari, we saw a flying fish skimming across the top of the sea with only the tip of his tail in the water using his fins to glide along.

As the day drew to a close, we sighted land and our destination, Lanzarote. We were treated to one of the most beautiful sunsets we’ve seen so far on the trip, probably enhanced by the calm seas. As the sun went down, there was a second burst of jumping Dorado around the boat and then the stars, including several shooting stars, came out to play.

Around 3am in the morning we docked in Puerto Calero marina (which is very nice) and finally settled down to sleep after a truly exhilarating day.

We’ve been here now a couple of days exploring the good (landscape of volcanos & lava fields) and bad (the hideously tacky anglicised resort Puerto del Carmen) of Lanzarote and we will be moving on to explore another Island in another couple of days with our German friend Marco who we’ve bumped into yet again and offered to give a lift to the next destination (either Gran Canaria or Gomera).

Mel x

5 Responses to “Sea Safari”

  1. Michelle Sterckx says:

    Oh Mel I am so jealous I would have loved to have been there with you to take photos with my new camera, it must be an absolutely amazing experience, can’t wait to see ur pics on flickr. It is these moments that you will both cherish forever.

    Love Michelle x

  2. Bryan and Dotothy says:

    Good to chat to you guys, keep looking for the next boat. B+Dx

  3. angela galli says:

    Hallo dears I am Angela from catamarran Bernard, how are you? It tooks a while to write to you becouse of a lot of things to do bet. 2 countries: Italy and French. Right now I am in Vallauris south French. Bernard sailed on 22 nomember to Guadalupe, they are now there:http://www.youposition.it/mappaviaggio.aspx?id=2501

    The boat will stay there for a while with Massimo. I am writing too, about the experience of our journey,
    keep in touch, take care and God bless you

    love Angela Galli

  4. storrelerty says:

    Who and where to edit this summer on fair, slice your information.

    • Flora says:

      Best way to purpose a girl.Take her to sea,Say her to sit in a boat.Then take the boat in the midlde of sea.Then say Marry MeorLeave My Boat.

Leave a Reply