Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Odyssey I rally festivities and they are off!

The Canary Islands have been wonderful thus far!  Apologies for being remiss in not posting sooner...but we have been busy!

We are finally back in the world of actual cruisers which is very different than being anywhere in the Med.  Everyone has been friendly and helpful and it has been absolutely delightful to once again enjoy the camaraderie of fellow sailors.  Maybe this change of attitude is attributable to the fact that most boats here are continuing on across the Atlantic, real cruisers.  Not everyone, of course; but most.  In fact, our friends Hajo and Julia on sister-ship Amel Super Maramu named Seraphine have decided they will return to the Med after leaving their boat in the Canary Islands over the winter.  Crossing to the Caribbean no longer interests them, so they will continue to enjoy the Med.  Easy to do when one is a European citizen and not have to deal with that Schengen 90-day nonsense.  I hope they enjoy many more years exploring the Med.

We enjoyed sundowners and delicious snacks with Jeff and Gayle aboard their very nice boat, Lazy Bones.  Lazy Bones and BeBe have been aware of each other for years, yet missed each other time and time again as we both hopped around the South Pacific and SE Asia, and later in the Med.  
F-i-n-a-l-l-y we met up here in Marina Lanzarote.  Very nice people and we have many friends in common.  Their boat, an Irwin, is an extremely nice and very comfortable boat.

Another evening Dennis and Virginia invited us to share sundowners aboard Libertad. Always an enjoyable evening with them.  And another evening with Hajo and Julia aboard Seraphine enjoying sundowners accompanied by German and Spanish tapas.  Delicious!

An evening of meze aboard S/V Kandiba

One evening Hasan and Zehrya invited us, Seraphine and Libertad to enjoy traditional Turkish meze aboard their beautiful Amel 55 named Kandiba.  Kandiba has a big cockpit, large enough to seat in comfort all 6 guests plus her own 3 crew.  Zehrya and her niece, Fatma, must have cooked for 2 days!  They kept bringing out serving dishes until we wondered how the 9 of us possibly could eat it all!  And we could not!  They had leftovers enough for at least another meal or 2.  

Zehrya, Dennis, Julia, Hajo, Virginia, Judy, Bill and
Hasan in cockpit of S/V Kandiba enjoying meze

Libertad and we brought a couple of bottles of sparkling wine to celebrate everyone's arrival in Lanzarote. (Cannot find Prosecco here; darn it!  Should have stocked up when in Italy.)  And then Hasan broke out the red wine and it was enjoyed by all. This was an exceptionally enjoyable evening.  Thanks again to Hasan, Zehrya and Fatma for their hospitality and all that delicious Turkish food.

Our host and hostesses.
Zehrya, Fatma and Hasan.
Hasan knows how much Bill and I enjoy Turkish food and several times he brought over dishes to share of whatever Zehrya had cooked for dinner that night.  We were docked next to one another.  Once he shared with us that wonderful white version of chicken soup for which Turkey is famous.  Another time he shared a dish of fresh green beans cooked in the traditional Turkish manner.  We love those!  I have a feeling that Hasan and Zehrya are going to miss some of those special ingredients for their favorite foods which cannot be found outside Turkey. 

The second week of November was filled with evening gatherings and seminars presented by Cornell Sailing for participants of the Odyssey rallies crossing the Atlantic.  There were 40 boats participating in the Odyssey I departing Lanzarote on 18 November.  And there are 18 boats scheduled to participate in the Odyssey II which will depart Santa Cruz, Tenerife, on 9 January 2016. We will be in the Odyssey II. 

The participants of Odyssey II were invited to attend the seminars held here in Lanzarote for the Odyssey I rally.  There were 4 boats registered for the January rally which were present and we all enjoyed the seminars.  I know that there are more boats which will be participating in the Odyssey II rally in early January who are now in the Canary Islands.  I do not understand why more of those boats did not attend these seminars, as the seminars will not be repeated for the second rally.  They missed a lot of informative seminars and meetings, and a couple of interesting video presentations.

There were seminars or talks about all sorts of useful topics -- route and weather planning; how to obtain weather information while at sea; an overview of satellite communications on cruising yachts; medical presentations; how to provision (presented by Jimmy Cornell himself; and he ought to know this topic well after all his years of long-distance sailing); a lesson about photography at sea (interesting tips); downwind sailing information and rigs (not sure I learned much in this one since we have already sailed about 25,000 NM downwind on a boat that is built for downwind sailing); radio communications on board; and an open panel discussion of what to do next after arrival in the Caribbean.  There also were children's workshops about how to use the SSB to talk with their friends while at sea and some art workshops for the kiddos.  If I recall correctly, there were something like 37 children on the boats sailing in the first rally. I like that. 

There also was a welcome party at the marina which we attended and enjoyed, even though we would not be sailing with this first group. We did skip the welcome party at the Castilo San Jose which I believe was hosted by the office of tourism for Lanzarote as we felt that was really just for the group departing from Lanzarote.  Likely there will be another welcome party for our second group in Tenerife.

One evening we enjoyed a screening of a documentary filmed during the Atlantic Odyssey last year by a group of female scientists aboard a 73-ft sailing yacht named S/V Sea Dragon.  The goal of this project called Exxpedition is to raise awareness of global pollution, and is an on-going research project.

A special treat was that one of the women who participated in last year's Exxpedition project was present that evening and answered questions from the audience.  As an aside, Bill later was in the rally office and read some statistics compiled by an outside source about all kinds of things pertaining to last year's Atlantic Odyssey.  Things such as battery capacity and usage, fuel capacity and usage, autopilots; just all kinds of things that would be of interest only to other sailors or boat owners.  Fuel carried varied from 50 liters to 2,000 liters.  Fuel consumed during the crossing varied from 30 liters to 1,750 liters.  The yacht on this global pollution research project consumed 1,750 liters of diesel crossing the Atlantic.  I find that high quantity disturbing.  Especially for a group focusing on global pollution.

Jimmy Cornel and his lovely wife, Gwenda
with Bill and Judy

The most special treat during this week of seminars was a video presentation by Jimmy Cornell about his voyage this year through the Northwest Passage.  And about his first attempt last year.  Last year he attempted to go the usual route of east-to-west, but became ice-bound and was unable to continue.  He related a harrowing tale of breaking out of the forming ice and returning to Greenland.  

During that return voyage the propeller on his boat picked up a broken line floating beneath the surface.  Jimmy used a GoPro to video the prop and could see the line wrapped around the shaft.  It would have been unwise to attempt to continue without checking this.  He had to kit up and dive.  In that icy cold arctic water!  He had a dry suit for this emergency purpose, but the hood began to leak.  The icy water around his head affected him very quickly and he recognized the symptoms of hypothermia.  He realized that he had only seconds before he would lose all bodily control because of the icy temperature.  He remembers looking up from the water into the faces of his daughter and granddaughter and thinking, "I have only one minute to get back on the boat or I am going to die; and I cannot die like this with my daughter and granddaughter watching."  He managed to get one foot up to the stern of the boat and his daughter removed the fin; then the second foot; and then they could lift him up back onto the boat.  How scary that must have been!

This turned out to be just the start of the long way around!!  He made it back to Greenland; then, rather than return to England, he sailed down to the Annapolis Boat Show.  Then down through the Panama Canal and up to Costa Rica, where his boat was loaded onto a northbound transport ship.  It would have been impossible time-wise to sail the boat on its own keel and arrive in the Bering Strait in time to begin another attempt through the Northwest Passage before it iced up again; this time he would sail from west-to-east.  I have forgotten where the ship off-loaded his boat, but it was somewhere near Seattle (I think).  From there Jimmy and crew sailed up through the Bering Strait and did manage to get through the entire Northwest Passage.  

What an accomplishment!  The photos were breathtaking.  And he noted that there was no plastic pollution through the waters up there, which is kind of surprising as I would have thought some would have found its way from the North Pacific following currents.  I feel privileged to have been fortunate enough to see his video presentation about this voyage.

The start boat.  This was fun!  Enjoyed watching
all the boats excitedly beginning their long voyage.

Last Wednesday the Odyssey I rally departed Lanzarote en route to Martinique.  Several of us in the marina were invited to go out on the start boat and see the rally boats on their way. This was fun.  Almost like the start of a big race, although this really is not a race in any manner.  A safe crossing; and a comfortable crossing; that is what is important.  The order of arrival is insignificant.  
Fatma aboard the start boat.

Bill aboard the start boat.

The only ketch in the first Atlantic rally.  It was the last
boat to cross the starting line.  Real cruisers; they
know this is not a race.  BTW, there are at least
4 ketches in the second rally that I know about. That
rally consists of more experienced cruisers rather than

boats crossing an ocean for the first time, although
there are some first-timers too.

This French boat sailed back and forth
behind the start boat while his wife took
photos from the stern of the start boat.  

She will fly over.

This woman and her 2 small children chose not to
sail across.  Her husband and 3 crew are taking
their large catamaran to the Caribbean.

Invictus, the large catamaran the woman & children
were watching.  Saying goodbye to daddy.

The boats circled behind the start boat for half hour.
When the horn sounded, each had to pass the
starboard side of the start boat.

Already one boat has reported back that a fixed window broke when a large wave hit the boat, and they lost many electronics; but have repaired the window and are continuing onward safely. Another boat has diverted to the Cape Verdes because of battery issues.  One boat also had autopilot problems and returned to Lanzarote for repairs; now back out on their way to Martinique.  

And off they went!  About half headed off down the
eastern side of the island of Fuerteventura and the
others headed off to go over the top and down the
western side of the island or the western side of Gran

Canaria. I do not think it mattered which side at all. They
have a long way to go and the start does not mean much.

And our friends, Jeff and Gayle, aboard S/V Lazy Bones also have diverted to the Cape Verdes because their primary autopilot has failed.  Wishing them fast repairs and hope the winds hold favorably for them onward to Martinique soon.
Goodbye!  Safe Passage!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Finishing up in Rabat; over to the Canary Islands

 As soon as we returned to the boat from our trip to Marrekesh, we started looking for the first weather window to scoot over from Rabat to the Canary Islands.  As mentioned previously, the constant swell along that stretch of African coast often causes the entrance to Rabat to be closed.  If swell is running higher than 1.8 meters then the entrance (and exit) is closed to traffic.  For the next week the swell was running 3.2 to 3.8 meter so we were stuck in Rabat.

There could be worse places to be stuck for an extra week.  We did not mind the delay because there was still plenty of time for us to get to Lanzarote in the Canary Islands before the rally seminars started on 9 Nov.  

One day we joined Virginia and Dennis of S/V Libertad for a day in the actual city of Rabat. We were all getting a little stir-crazy staying in the marina and needed an outing.  Virginia suggested the contemporary arts museum and lunch in the city and that sounded like an excellent idea.  

Literally walked the soles
off my shoes -- again.
I wore a pair of sneakers that had been stored for maybe 2 years; and, once again, my shoes disintegrated while walking in the city.  This is the fifth time this has happened in the past 9 1/2 years!  The sole on the left shoe completely separated off, leaving a moccasin type enclosure around my foot for the rest of the day.  Then a few hours later the sole on the right shoe also began to come off.  I don't know if it is the salt air environment or the heat on the boats that cause this, but it is annoying and little embarrassing when what appears to be a perfectly good shoe suddenly loses the sole.

Moroccan Andy Warhol?
Every item in this photo is made from a
bullet or shell casing.  Art from ammunition

The Mohammed VI Modern and Contemporary Art Museum was better than I had anticipated.  This is the first contemporary art museum in Morocco and fitting that it should be built in the nation's capital.  A pet project of the king.  This is a nice modern building, very different from the typical local architecture.

This museum has some very unusual works of art.  Here is a
bathtub made from the inner layer of lamb hides.

Pastillo for lunch
After a few hours of wandering through the 3 levels of the museum, we found a place for lunch -- down a wide alleyway off the most prominent street in this section of the city.  Virginia and I chose the pastilla so we could sample another type of Moroccan food.  It was made from chicken and almonds cooked inside a pastry; then the pastry is topped with sifted confectioners sugar and cinnamon.  I normally do not care for sweets and meats combined, but this was surprisingly good.  It actually tasted better with the sugar and cinnamon than the bites I tried without the sweet seasoning.

While eating lunch a protest started in the nearby main street.  Being in a country where we do not speak the language and having several thousand people marching in the street and yelling is a bit disconcerting.  I asked the cafe owner what they were protesting.  She explained that the university for medical study is located only a couple of blocks down the street and that these were students protesting the mandatory medical service they will be required to serve once they graduate.  The protest seemed to go on and on and on for a long time. Finally it broke up and we headed back to the light-rail tram to return to the marina.  Many of the young people on the tram carried rolled-up medical coats and lab coats, obviously having participated in the protest march.

One of the entrances of old walled city of Sale
One day we walked around Sale, the town on the northern side of the Bou Regreg River across from Rabat.  The marina is situated in Sale even though all the sailors call it the Rabat marina.  Sale is the home to nearly 1 million people, mostly factory workers; whereas, Rabat is the nation's capital and has many residents who work for the government, plus several universities.  Rabat is much more cosmopolitan than Sale.  We were surprised at how large the old walled city of Sale is; it appeared to be much larger than the old walled city of Rabat.  There are many woodworking factories in Sale and the workers are true craftsmen.

A small section of a corner of
walled city of Sale
The wall of old Sale went on for miles.
the tents are merchant stalls outside the old city.

Sale has always been known for stirring things up.  
This was where the first protests were held in the early 1950s that led to the national movement insisting upon independence from the French.  In the 1600s the town was infamous for its pirates known as the Salee Rovers.  This town was so famous for pirate activities that Daniel Defoe wrote the city into his novel 'Robinson Crusoe,' placing Robinson in the captivity of the Salee Rovers.

The very short finger piers at the marina have no cleats.
Lines are run around and through this large metal
protrusion at end of each finger pier. Works fine.

On Friday afternoon, 30 October 2015, at 15:45 we finally exited the Rio Bouregreg into the Atlantic.  There were 6 boats leaving the marina at the same time; we looked like a convoy.  Two boats were going down to Agadir, Morocco; and 4 of us were headed to Lanzarote, Canary Islands.  Our exit was at precisely slack high tide on a 3.6 meter tide, so depth going out was not problem whatsoever.  And the incoming swell was almost imperceptible because of that 3.6 meter tide.  Perfect timing as we all followed the marina guide boat out into the Atlantic.

Looking forward as we passed the Customs dock
headed outbound.  Old walled city of Rabat ahead.

The swell was there but was no problem because of the slack high tide.  If we looked closely at the boat in front of us we could see the effects of the swell.  But we did not feel it at all.

At same time, looking backwards at the other 4
boats in convoy behind us.

Passing the old walled city of Rabat was a bit sad as we said a final goodbye to not just Rabat but also to Morocco; and also to the continent of Africa.  Have no plans of ever returning to any place in Africa.  Glad Morocco was our introduction and farewell to the continent.

Old walled city of Rabat on our
left as we closely followed
S/V Pimentau, as they closely
followed the guide boat.

Swell was barely perceptible as we exited.
But look more closely. S/V Pimentau was up.

And then S/V Pimentau was down.

While looking behind us, these 2 boats first were up.

And then the left one was very much down,
while S/V Libertad on the right was still up.
So...yeah...there was some swell.

Goodbye Rabat!  Goodbye Africa!
Our routing toward Lanzarote would take us between 2 weather fronts.  The first one was coming up from the SW and the other was coming down from the NW.  The first one passed through and moved off to the east as we motor-sailed over the top of it.  Friday night conditions were okay and everything was comfortable until around 04:00 Saturday morning when we began to feel the effects of the second front from the NW.  For the next 36 hours the sea conditions were miserable; no fun at all!  The waves (swell) were 3.5 - 4 meters with winds 25 to 35 kts, mostly mid-twenties.  Everyone we talked to on the radio was seasick Saturday and Sunday, with the worst conditions being around Saturday midnight.  Bill was on bucket duty and we both were taking seasick meds.  I never upchucked but probably would have felt better if I had.  It was too rough to want to eat or drink anything and we let ourselves become a bit dehydrated.  We normally are very careful about forcing water even if not eating during rough weather like this.  And now we know to be even more pro-active about water consumption the next time.

The beginning of a rainbow welcoming us to Lanzarote.
The island is visible on left side.  A very welcome
sight after the seasick conditions for 2 days.

By 04:00 Monday morning the seas has subsided by half, down to barely over 2 meter waves and wind about 15 kts.  Our course allowed us to turn more southerly at this time and the remaining 10 hours into Lanzarote was much, much more comfortable.  Thank you, Lord, for small favors!  We each found something to eat and began sipping fluids.
This was what Bill found on deck when he went to
put away the preventer for the mizzen.  It was in
pieces.  Luckily, all pieces were still on deck.  This
shows why it is critical to check all rigging daily
when at sea!  We were lucky that it fell apart
after Bill had disconnected it when we were
finished using the mizzen sail downwind.

When we docked at Marina Lanzarote, several men came to help with our dock lines.  We were so tired that neither of us recognized these men.  After the lines were secure we looked around and saw 2 Amel boats docked nearby and then realized who the men were! More about that in a future posting.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Marrakesh--Days #3 and #4

One of many spice shops
By our third day in Marrakesh we felt fairly familiar with the plaza, souks and medina area.  Felt like we could find our way around with no problems.  Aziz, the manager of our riad, had warned us that if we hesitated or appeared lost or confused that someone would take charge and lead us supposedly to where we wanted to go.  Except that he more likely would lead us to a shopping area instead.  And then he might also demand a few dirham for his trouble.  If we bought anything, then he would be paid a commission by the vendors.  Ah...I think we know this trick.  Same thing happens in other places we have visited.  So Bill and I always thanked the men for their kind offers of assistance but kept on walking.

This shop wins.  He had the highest and most
pointed displays of all the spice shops.

This day we even shopped a tiny bit.  I wanted a set of dishes like the ones in our riad and we looked at several shops but never found exactly the design I wanted.  I don't know how I could have carried heavy dishes back on the train anyway, so maybe just as well that the pattern I wanted was not available in any of the shops we found.

The spice area of the souks was all it had been touted to be -- bins of vibrantly colored spices; arranged into impossibly pointed tops.  How do the vendors scoop off any of the spices when they make a sale?  Seems like those points would 'dissolve' down like falling loose sand when a scoop is inserted.  These displays were pretty.  And the smells were nice.  We did not buy any; I never buy spices in any open-air spice market.  

A more practical spice display, in my opinion
There is nothing protecting those spices from contamination from loose hairs or sneezes from passers-by.  And nothing to keep out insects.  Nope; not for me; does not matter how inexpensive the spices are or how good they smell.  I buy only spices and dried herbs which have been commercially prepared in nice sealed little containers.  I might be the only cruiser who prefers to pay a higher price.  The spice markets are an interesting experience but not for purchases for us.

Never figured out what kind of spices these are, but
there were many shops selling this type.

Waste now; want not.
Clothing, jewelry and flower vases
made from Pirelli tires.

Liked this little mirror in
our room.  

We also shopped a few stores looking for a small wall mirror similar to the one in our room in the riad, but did not find exactly what I wanted. purchases.

Saw a number of decorative items which would have been nice to have in our home someday but did not buy anything.  

Neither Bill nor I really enjoy shopping for anything.  I enjoy browsing but these Moroccan shop keepers do not understand that.  If they would have left me alone and let me look around at my own pace, there would have been a greater likelihood that I might actually purchase something.  But they kept after me: do you like this?; how much do you want to pay?; do you like this one better?; etc.  Takes only about 2 minutes of that and I am ready to flee the shop. purchases once again.

A small neighborhood open-air market

We took a different route through the souks this time and ended up in a small square where produce and odd items were being sold.  This was not like the more organized souks; this was a neighborhood small open-air market.  Cannot say much for the selection of goods or the quality of the produce available.  We did not hang around long.

Hand of Fatima door-knocker.
On a door near our riad.

We walked back through the souk following the route we knew best from the past 2 days. This time we noticed several displays of the metal hands.  Some of these metal hands are called Hamsa or khamsa and are palm-shaped amulets popular throughout the Middle East and North Africa, commonly used in jewelry and wall hangings.  
Hamsa are the flat type hand shapes at top left.
I liked the hand door-knockers.

The shops had many Hamsa but also had many of the little feminine hands which are used as door-knockers.  I wanted to buy one of these but Bill was not interested. 

Another Hand of Fatima
 These door-knocker hands are thought to symbolize the Hand of Fatima which protects the house from evil and also shows that the occupants of that house are followers of the Muslim faith. However, not all represent the Hand of Fatima.  There are different hand-shaped door-knockers, one male and one female, and these produce different sounds.  Visitors would use the knocker according to their gender.  If the male knocker were used, the woman of the home would know not to open the door because that would be inappropriate.  If the female knocker were used then the woman would know it was okay to open the door.  

Mint, mint, wonderful smelling mint
Olives, anyone?  All colors and types.
Instead of continuing straight for the final block or 2 and exiting into the Jemaa El-Fnaa plaza as we usually did, we took a hard left turn and checked out a different area of the souk where there were many displays of mint and olives and some foods which I did not recognize.  The mint smelled wonderful.  They use a great deal of mint here, both in cooking and for tea.  The favorite local drink is a hot mint tea and they drink it all day and night.  We liked this tea but did not need to buy any mint to haul back on a long train ride the following day.

Will miss all the olives from this part of the world.

These decorative plaster pieces are used by the
thousands as trim around ceilings; each hand made.

We wound back through the alleyways and found a small restaurant for lunch which had been recommended by Aziz.  This was the first lunch or dinner in Marrakesh when neither of us ate tajine.  All those tajines are very good but we were ready for simple familiar fare such as a sandwich and fresh-squeezed lemonade.

The mosque with the valuable gold
ball on top.

I was feeling a tad ill this day.  Voice getting lower and lower in tone and bronchial tubes felt irritated.  I think it was the ever-present dust in the air caused by all those motorcycles zipping so fast through the narrow alleyways.  And maybe contributed by those donkey carts too.  At any rate, whatever the cause, I was experiencing difficulty breathing and felt awful; so we did not do much this day.  After walking for about 4 hours and then the light lunch, we returned to the riad and I slept most of the afternoon while Bill read a book.  We did not even bother to go back out to eat dinner, just lazed in the room.  The next morning I felt much better so those hours of respite from the dust helped.

In center there are snakes all over the ground.  The guys in white
were snake charmers.  Pay to have your photo taken with the snakes.

Our train back to Rabat did not depart Marrakesh until mid-afternoon on day 4.  We had walked enough and seen enough of Marrakesh that we did not even leave the riad until time to head to the train station around noon.  Aziz called a cart guy to handle our luggage to the Jemaa el-Fnaa plaza where we easily found a taxi.  The taxi drove right through the plaza past the snake charmers and monkey handlers and other entertainers and vendors.  

This is a full drink.  Obviously, the machines are
calibrated to dispense the same liquid as for same
size drinks in the USA. Except here they use very
little ice.  At home you are getting mostly a cup of ice.

He dropped us off at the train station and we headed to McDonald's to wait.  Might as well enjoy Wi-Fi while waiting.  And that is when Bill discovered that he still had the riad keys in his pocket -- the keys to the riad front door and to the safe in our room.  He called the riad and Aziz came to the train station to collect the keys.  We felt bad about him having to make a trip to the station but he insisted that it was no problem because he needed to come to the station anyway to buy some tickets for other guests.  

Relaxing on comfortable train

The train trip back to Rabat took a different route than our trip down to Marrakesh, so we were treated to different scenic views on this return trip.  It felt great to get back 'home' on the boat.