Tenerife to Brazil – Day 1

Reading: Swallowdale (Arthur Ransome)
Weather: Sunny – wind NE2-3 in the morning, building to F4-5 in the afternoon
Thought for the day: My soft hands are definitely made for dishes not ropes ……
Evening meal: Spaghetti bolognese

Departure day …. A tangle of conflicting emotions as we finally are leaving. A few morning jobs included stowing the gangplank (which definitely brought home that we were leaving), filling up with water and stowing everything for sea. Leaving is less straightforward though on a bigger boat. Because we were moored in the main port area, we were not allowed to let go of our own lines! The tricky job of taking four bowlines off bollards has to be done by someone suitably qualified. Clearly though four lines is considered a lot to let go, so two people turned up to do it and they turned up just as we were about to do a group photo, so that was put on hold for a while. Once they had donned their lifejackets, we were unceremoniously cast off, though with a little springing off on the stern line to get the bow out.

Once out through the entrance we motored for 20 minutes or so to give us space to head up and hoist the sails. I quickly realised why we needed plenty of sea room for this – it is not a quick process. First the main …. That alone required a whole new set of linguistic skills. Two topping lifts, running backstays, throat halyard, peak halyard, jiggers for the throat and peak halyards and then all the topsail sheets and other assorted ropes to try and keep out of the way of the process. We went for the throat first. That took five of us …. Three pulling downwards and two pulling horizontally and even then it was knackering. Luckily we got breaks while the parrell balls for the sail were reconnected round the mast to hold the luff. A few pulls on the throat, then to the peak (which was a little easier), then the throat and then …. the pattern repeated for around 15 minutes, but eventually a recognisable sail was in the air and pulling. A few tweaks and that was ready to go.

Then repeat the process for the mizzen ….. Then the staysail ….. At this point I thought we were done – I certainly was – but no. If there is a gap, then it needs something in it and the bowsprit had nothing flying off it, so then it was time for a jib. This was a little more interesting as there is no way to get out onto the bowsprit. So, the three corners were attached and then two of us pulled the jib out along the boom on a hoop while another three hoisted the halyard and one managed the sheet. This all has to be done downwind to give a lee to hoist the sail in, but finally it was up.

Santa Cruz de Tenerife

The whole process probably took an hour and a half or so by which time I was definitely ready to sit down. It is an odd process – five minutes of waiting for something to be attached or tweaked, followed by bursts of frenetic activity. By the time we had finished and turned off downwind though there was a nice F4-5 from astern and we set off at around 7.5 knots down the coast of Tenerife.
From there to bed …. My watches are 6-12, so that means that sleeping time is the afternoon followed by midnight to 6am and then back on again. It’s not easy sleeping on demand, so I did doze for a couple of hours and then headed back up on deck for a bit and wrote this ….

The weather gradually changed during the evening watch and much of it was spent assessing whether the sheet lightning and cloud we could see astern was coming any closer. It didn’t seem to be …. phew. At the watch change at midnight we got birthday cake. It was Sanne’s birthday and so during the watch Marit made her a cake. Despite not much breeze they only managed to get one candle lit very quickly!