Here is an update of this trip so far.
We flew to Lagos on Thursday 1 November & set sail for Porto Santo after watching the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday 4 November. We had quite strong winds and fairly rough seas but did 454 miles in under 65 hours, averaging 7 knots, mostly under Genoa alone. We had a potential problem when the engine room fire alarm sounded soon after starting the engine to enter the harbour. There was some smoke in the engine room but not obvious cause. Once in, we checked the engine & did find some oil that must have been spilled when the engine was serviced in Lagos. We assume that it moved around in the rough seas to a position where it was heated enough to give off smoke.
As we got in early in the day, we managed to fix up a taxi tour of the island for the afternoon. We were surprised at the amount of erosion & mini landslides that we encountered, where mud & stones had run down onto the roads. We were told that it had not rained for 16 months & then a huge amount had fallen in a very short period of time. There was also a yacht on land which had recently been blown over, snapping the mast & punching an adjacent trailer through the hull in several places.
The next day we checked the engine room for smoke & then set sail for Funchal on Madeira. This was a very pleasant sail, on a nice sunny day, with just a couple of passing squalls to cause us to reef a little bit. The wind died a few miles out from the town so we had to motor in, with no alarms. On the way in we passed the Queen Victoria on her way out & found the Queen Mary 2 in the Harbour. We hired a car the next day to tour round some parts of the island and discovered more landslides here as well.
The following morning we did a quick bus tour of the town before lunch. After lunch we extricated ourselves from the inside berth of a raft & set off for Marina Rubicon on Lanzarote. We had to motor for a few hours before the wind picked up enough to sail. It continued to build until we were just running under a well reefed genoa & the seas got quite rough. We encountered Queen Mary 2 again, going the other way.
We had a good run, doing 283 miles in 43 hours, averaging 6.5knots. We had a repeat of the fire alarm sounding shortly after starting the engine to enter the marina & again there was smoke in the engine room but no obvious cause. We rechecked everything & found additional small quantities of oil that we assumed had been dislodged by even rougher seas.
We went back out to try to recreate the situation, which we did, just, but with barely discernable smoke this time. We also discovered the return pipe from the rocker covers had come out of its hole in the air filter & there was a small additional quantity of oil in a hollow below the pipe end. We replaced this & have had no further such problems since.
On the way back in we encountered the superyacht Lionheart. She is a 44m J Class replica built in Aluminium. She grounded on the way into the marina & got stuck, closing the marina entrance. She got off a few hours later & finally got to her berth in darkness.
The following morning we walked along the cotstal path to Playa Blanco before leaving the marina in the afternoon & anchoring in the bay for a swim followed by an early evening meal. This is the first time that I have had a swim in the sea on my birthday. As it got dark we set off to sail to Las Palmas on Gran Canaria. This was a very pleasant sail with just a light breeze, calm seas & good visibility. We did 92 miles in just over 16 hours, averaging about 5.5 knots. We started the engine an hour out in order to check for smoke but everything was fine this time. We hope that we have solved that particular problem. On arrival we were directed straight to our pontoon.
Alan & I took a number of Sun sights on the way down & we are happy that the 2 sextants are fairly consistent, after allowing for index error. I enjoy using Sandy's one as it has a much brighter & clearer telescope than Alan's & the mirrors are in good condition compared to his, which is slightly difficult to use. The index error seems to vary a bit, between 0 & 3 degrees, & there is no appreciable side error. Thanks again to Sandy for lending me his one, which I am looking forward to using in earnest on the crossing.
We have had a fairly busy time since we arrived, attending a range of seminars (including an excellent one by "Jerry the Rigger") & some of the official welcome events in addition to doing further jobs to ready the boat for the crossing. We hope to be ready by early next week so that we can do the tourist bit whilst everyone else is still rushing around at the last minute, but we will see ...