November 26, 2005 Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands.

                                                            

 

  

  Greetings from Africa!


Here we are just 50 miles off the coast of Africa and preparing for what will be Entr’acte’s fourth crossing of the Atlantic Ocean.

The summer saw our return to sea. We have traveled a few thousand miles this summer and are preparing for more.

On June 10th we finally forced ourselves away from Sevilla and headed down the Rio Guadalquivir to the open sea to begin a 900 mile passage to the Azores. The wind was against us so called into Chipiona and treated ourselves to one last taste of Spanish hospitality. We knew we had been too long in Spain when we ran into two families we knew from Sevilla on the streets of Chipiona. It was really time to go to sea!

The passage to the Azores was longer than we expected. The first two days were rugged and sloppy going due to the convergence of currents and sea mounds around notorious Cabo Sao Vincente but we held on and by day three the wind went light but in front of us; not our fastest point of sail. We arrived in Ponta Del Gada after 11 days at sea.

    

     400 miles to go.

It was a pleasure to arrive once more in the Azores. Customs and Immigration were unusually friendly when we cleared in. “Congratulations, last winter your country entered into a new agreement with ours and you can now stay in Portugal for 18 months.” What a surprise! Now we didn’t have to watch the calendar and leave the country within 90 days as was the case before. Since we did not have to watch the clock, we invited friend Deborah Ray to visit us on Faial in July. The island of Faial was just as beautiful and friendly as always.

                                                                   

   Such a small world.                                                                                  Entr’acte  once again

 Uli, Wolfgang and Till.                                                                               in the shadow of Pico

  Friends from our first            

 cruise  twenty years ago.

      

Sailors were arriving from all over the Atlantic and the whole island just hummed. Our plan for Deborah’s visit was to sail out to the island of Flores 130 miles away but unfortunately the wind would not co-operate. Flores is a great landfall when approaching from the West but sailing from the East, the conditions that make it easy to get there make it impossible to anchor there safely. Our friend Uli from the Austrian boat Golden Tilla had the brilliant idea to book passage on the inter-island ferry. We hit it just right as the trip we booked coincided with both the Espirito Santo Festival and the ferry’s maintenance lay over. We had private first class cabins and the entire ship all to ourselves. It was a fabulous four days on Flores, an island we did not ever expect to visit again in the foreseeable future.

                                                                      

        Our new power yacht?                                                              We had the entire ship                                   Deborah’s view of Flores

        Uli, Deborah and Ellen                                                                      to ourselves.                                               from the super market.

         ready for shore leave.                                                                     That’s First Class!                                               Quite a hike

     

Back in Horta we renewed old friendships and made many new ones.

                                                                     

                Sergio wants to learn to                                                                           Sergio the “Mad Italian”

             play Jazz Saxophone. And                                                                          cooks another round of

                 you thought Ed had                                                                                        Pasta. Quite an

                          retired?                                                                                                        experience!

 

We became acquainted with Eugene, a musician form an Irish boat. Eugene played the bagpipes and we passed several enjoyable evenings playing traditional Celtic music at Peter Café Sport. On the docks there was always a boat to visit or another restaurant to try out and always with a large crowd made up of all nationalities and languages. Some of the meals became pretty adventurou

 To be in Horta is to be at a party that never seems to stop. Deborah’s visit culminated with the Sea Week Festival.

Sea Week Hospitality. A poster, a flower, a bottle of wine and a CD. Delivered personally to each cruising yacht by the mayor of Horta.

    

 

There were food stalls everywhere, folk dancing in the streets, a band concert every evening in the town square and a large stage show on the concert stage at the marina which featured international Latin stars every night. Once again Entr’acte was docked at “Party Central!” Deborah’s visit ended with a bang.

 Entr’acte had not been out of the water in three years and our bottom was becoming pretty foul. She desperately needed a new coat of bottom paint before we made the passage back to the Caribbean. The island of Terceria proved the perfect place for a quick haul out and a coat of bottom paint amidst the beauty of these wonderful islands .

     

       Running with the bulls on

     Terceira. No, Ed did not run

         this year. He got smart.


Unfortunately there seems to be a prejudice here against Red bottom paint. Try as we might, the only paint we could buy was blue or black. Entr’acte is now sporting a clean blue that looks absolutely hideous against the rest of the boat’s colors. We vowed to put things right once we reach Trinidad.

We remained in the Azores much longer than we had originally planned and by mid-August we departed Terceira for the island of Madeira which is 700 miles to the South. The wind was so light that we motored for over 20 hrs and at sunrise on day 2 of our passage the island of Sao Miguel was just abeam. We decided to make a quick stop for fuel and then continue on to Madeira. What a mistake that turned out to be!

As I began to fuel a policeman approached and said "Have you checked in?"

“ No- we are not staying here. We are en route to Madeira and just stopped to take on fuel.”

 "You MUST check in!"

 “OK as you wish. “ So I continued to fuel and Ellen made the rounds of Customs, Immigration etc. No problem, we were already cleared in and had 18 months. Yeah-right!

 Ellen returned with the news that the Immigration officer claimed we were in violation of the Schengen Treaty because we had overstayed our 90 days in the country. He did not know anything about any new agreement. So we could not clear in.

“That’s no problem. We have the fuel and will just go to sea.”

The officer approached and officially informed us "You may not put to sea. You may not enter Portugal. You may not leave your boat and no one may come aboard your boat.” And then he walked away. And neither of us looks anything like Tom Hanks in Terminal!  I had a brief vision of friends back home sending us loaves of bread and fishes forever and ever!

    

     Steve Booth from Maine

     single hands Gandalf. He

    snuck food to us during

        our quarantine.

After some friendly diplomatic discussion and prodding (not my strong point), the officer agreed that it was indeed possible to get an extension. So, off we went into the labyrinth of Portuguese officialdom. Tuesday –“We are closing, come back tomorrow.” Wednesday, after photos, finger prints and bank statements--- “You must come back Monday. We only do this on Mondays.” Monday ---- “You must come back on Friday.”(No explanation). That’s when my diplomacy ran out. I found my friendly officer and Spanishized him! I sat him down, looked him directly in the eye and refused to blink.

“My friend it’s like this. We took the pictures, gave you the fingerprints and supplied all the documents. The weather is good for a sea voyage. The safety of my vessel and crew comes first.  We are leaving!  Tomorrow!  Period!  Do you understand me?  You can do whatever you like about it but tomorrow morning we are going. Adeus!

    

        Entr’acte departs the

      Azores for Madeira 700

          miles to the South.

 

 

Six days later we arrived at the island of Porto Santo in the Madeira Group and were stamped in with no more problems. We had left “Terminal” behind.

Porto Santo is a small island and part of the Madeira Group and includes the large island as well as several off-lying uninhabited smaller islands. We were finally at anchor again after two years in the marina at Sevilla. After a week on Porto Santo we moved on to the big island Madeira.

Madeira is a truly amazing island. We thought that the Azorian islands were tall but Madeira is perhaps the tallest island we have ever seen.

                                                              

    The beauty of Madeira is                                                                                    Madeira’s roads are

        truly breathtaking.                                                                                         perfect for a sports car.

                                                                                                                                   Great fun to drive!

       

The topography is amazing! Everything is up or down. We bypassed the capital city of Funchal mostly to avoid all the hustle of the city but also to avoid any further immigration issues. We settled into the ultra-modern marina at Calheta 15 miles away.

Fifteen miles is not a very long way in the US but here, it is quite a trip. Thanks to the growth of the EEU, Madeira is now connected by a high speed motorway which goes through countless tunnels. If you rent a car and drive you can be in Funchal in 20 minutes but all you see is the inside of one tunnel after another; literally! If you want to see anything of the island, you take the bus and travel the “main roads.” We opted for the bus and it was quite an experience.

The bus left at 6:00 AM and it was very dark. The road is a diabolical serpentine route of switchback roads that climb to the mountain peaks and drop into deep valleys and is just wide enough for two vehicles to pass—just! It was amazing how the bus driver could see the people waiting at the side of the road, in the dark! They would appear out of nowhere. By day we could see that there are steps everywhere that lead from their houses to the roads. There are no bus stops per se. The people just show up and the driver stops! The bus departed Calheta at 06:00 and arrived in Funchal 2 ½ hrs later just as the sun rose in the East. It was like being at Disney World and being allowed to ride “Space Mountain” non-stop for 2 ½ hrs.

The return trip was in daylight and we could see what me missed. It was absolutely spectacular and not a little bit frightening. The driver had no reservations about accelerating downhill toward a switch back. There are NO REAL guardrails and it was a LONG way down to the sea.

Unfortunately because of our 2 week “confinement” in Ponta Del Gada we could not stay in Madeira for more than a week. The season for crossing was at hand. It was time to push on to the Canary Islands and begin to prepare for the long passage that lay ahead.

                                                          

       How many people fit into                                                                     Force 8 in the Atlantic. A 

         Entr’acte’s cockpit?                                                                               wave tumbles merrily 

      Galadriel, Suerte(UK) and                                                                                  aboard.

       Mary Madelene(Quebec)

         plan the next passage.

 

On October2, our passage to the Canaries began with a bang! Madeira is so tall that the island blocks all of the wind. We departed Calheta under power and cruised along in the company of a finback whale. As our friend broke away and swam toward shore Ellen saw what she thought was a fishing boat on the horizon, a small white hull down close to the water and told me to steer to avoid it. The boat gradually became an entire fleet of fishing boats, impossible to avoid. Something just did not look right! I suddenly got the message and sprang for the mast just as the first blast hit. Wham! 0 to force 8 out of nowhere! We took off like a rocket as we clawed down the main sail; one reef then two. Ten minutes later we were down to storm tri sail and flying along at 6 knots. Entr’acte’s cockpit was completely filled with water for the first time in 25 years.

 Aside from both captain and crew getting soaked, she behaved beautifully! Once we fell off-wind a bit we scooted happily along. It was a wild beginning to our passage. Three days later we arrived in Graciosa Las Canarias with a bag of very wet laundry.

The Canary Islands are an archipelago of 8 islands that is just 50 miles off the coast of Africa and as such, their climate is more like Africa than Europe. They are owned and governed by Spain and it was a treat to be back in Spain once again.

Graciosa is a very small island with a very small port and it perhaps one of the most pleasantly strange places we have ever been. There are no streets and no roads, only SAND, as in DESERT, and very few people. Like one of those small towns in the wild west. Remember folks, this is AFRICA!

    

       Isla Graciosa Canary Is.

         This is Africa folks.

     We never saw a car here!

 

In the fall the islands are overrun with sailboats and things are really jumping.  Everyone calls here before crossing the Atlantic. This is the last “civilized” place to address any last minute items before the long haul West.

The Canary anchorages are very poor and offer little protection from wind and swell. It is impossible to anchor comfortably. You must always be near a marina in case the anchorage becomes untenable, which happens A LOT! Consequently, we spend more time in marinas than we would like. It still amazes us that we can be in a marina like Playa Blanca that is first class in every way, with shops, restaurants and swimming pools for $15.00(US) / night. Why can’t the US Marinas be that affordable?

Being in marinas does bring you into much closer contact with people than a life at anchor and we have made scores of new friends from all over the world. It has become apparent that we are now the “Old Timers” of the group because we remember sailing in the days BEFORE GPS. Once word got around that we knew celestial navigation the afternoons at the swimming pool became sextant and navigation symposiums.

 

   

       Ton receives sextant

        instruction poolside.

As we moved from island to island, the days have turned into weeks and as our time of departure draws close, we too are caught up in the frenzy of activity that is preparing for a month long ocean voyage. There is food, supplies, repairs, inspection and maintenance. Everything must work. We will be alone on a wide ocean with no one to help us if something goes wrong.

We must be prepared! Of course it isn’t all work. We  do find time for sight seeing and visiting old friends.

                                                                                                

   A new twist to the street                                                                             Ingagerd and Lennart,  

              musician,                                                                                                 old friends from

          the sand artist.                                                                                        Entr’acte’s first cruise

 

We have been in Santa Cruz for three weeks waiting for the NE trades to develop and give us a fair wind.

Oh, and we had another little visitor aboard, a small mouse or baby rat. At least this little guy liked food and greed quckly got the better of him. Or was it “Super Cat?” Yes, someone FINALLY came up with a better mouse trap, and it WORKS!  Ah the joys of sea ports!

 

                                                                                  

     Odysseia of Holland departs                                                       Iceni of UK                                          Gerard on 22ft Tangaroa.

            for Cabo Verde.                                                               Ian, Sue, Hannah,                                            Much smaller than

    A first passage for Marijo, Ton,                                                                                                                             Entr'acte

        and boys Thin and Paul.

As we write this Entr’acte is rockin’ and rollin’ at the dock of Marina Atlantico. The wind is howling in the rigging out of the South West and which way do we want to go---as usual, South West. But all is not lost. Santa Cruz is in Spain , a terrific place to wait and we are having a wonderful time.

                                                                                                                      

 The night before departure for                                                                                             A happy reunion with 

        Odysseia and Iceni.                                                                                                           Maestro from Sevilla. 

      Tomorrow they take                                                                                                                   See you in 

           the big leap.                                                                                                   Martinique!                                                                               

                                                                                        

The forecast is for the wind to go into the North East on Friday or Saturday and then we can depart.  

 By the time you read this, Entr’actre will be at sea. The passage to Trinidad a little less than 3000 nautical miles and should take just under a month.

 Trinidad for Christmas might be a stretch but we have a date to play in a steel drum band for Carnival in February. We’ll see you there!

By the time you read this Entr’acte will be back at sea on her way to new adventures. The present plan is the same a last year’s. We will, hopefully head out to the Azores for the summer then on to Madeira, Canaries Cape Verde and across to the Caribbean, Central America and on to Panama and the Pacific. As always, plans of sailing ships are firmly written in Jello and always subject to change.

Stay tuned for news of further roamings. Merry Christmas and a Happy New YearQ

Elena Y Eduardo