After wintering in the Algarve, we were ready to move to our next destination: the Canary Islands. Several things happened during the short and cold days of the winter period.
First of all, a few additions to Gladan;
- our electric scooters – essential to move around the town and go food shopping;
- a new steamer so that our shower could turn into a Turkish bath (we haven’t tried it once since GC installed it, but apparently we needed one badly!);
- a second jib, a carbon copy of the one we already had on board;
- new trampolines (I almost fell through once in Salina, with 40+ knots of wind, while trying to close the code 0 and lift the anchor, so it was about time ;);
- we changed the rigging, which, of course, was a major job and, it goes without saying, an expensive one. Gladan was deprived of her mast for 5 days and looked as naked and frail as never before. Someone (clearly not Gc) even said that she looked quite ugly (agreed!).
Secondly, and most importantly, we decided to cross the Atlantic and build our new nest in the Caribbeans!
Yes!! Gladan will take part in the ARC and set sails from Las Palmas on 24th November en route towards St. Lucia!
Mast back up!
Once the main works were completed, we were ready to go to the Canary Islands. Our departure, though, kept being postponed. As it always happens on a boat, things break at the worst time possible. The “victim”, in this case, was the pump of our watermaker (quite an important piece of equipment!) which had ceased to function, and so we had to wait for a new one to arrive from Turkey. When it did arrive, the weather forecast looked terrible and we had to wait for the right window to be able to set off… So, instead of leaving sometime in August as planned, it was 5 am on the 23rd of September when we finally lifted the anchor and sleepily waved goodbye to Portimao in the dark.
Goodbye Portimao! First lights of dawn.
20 miles down the line, the sun shining and the sea breeze caressing our cheeks, Gc was staring at the forestays perplexed, sighing and rolling his eyes. It didn’t take long to understand that something wasn’t right…
When questioned on the nature of his troubles, he mentioned that the forestays were too loose and he didn’t like that at all. He sent a video to the riggers and 15 minutes later Gladan was changing her course. Instead of pointing towards Rabat, with its medina and casbah and the delicious tagines and veggie couscous that were already making my mouth water, we were now heading back to Portugal!
Once we got to the marina of Vilamoura, the riggers jumped on our boat and we went for a test sail just outside the port. They tightened the forestays, checked the mast and sails and jumped off Gladan 1 hour and 30 minutes later.
As a result, six and a half hours after our alarm had gone off, we were still quite close to Portimao. The only consolation to this long delay was a gigantic school of dolphins surrounding us and playing with us to lift our mood.
What looked like a reasonably sized incident at the time though had triggered the classic snowball effect. Because of this quite significant delay caused by the loose forestays, we missed our chance to enter the marina of Rabat 27 hours and 190 miles later. The marina of Rabat can only be accessed at high tide as the entrance is very shallow. Besides, you can only enter it if you’re escorted by the pilot boat as the waves break at the entrance and it can be quite dangerous to get in without an expert guide. Because of this quite significant delay, instead of spending 4 days in the beautiful marina of Rabat, we ended up in the industrial port of the refinery of Mohammedia!
Refinery – Harbour of Mohammedia
The small (and apparently also quite expensive) marina of Maohammedia (12 berths) was fully booked and they didn’t even bother to answer us on the VHF when we got there around 8.30 pm.
The only thing left to do at that point was anchor off the breakwater outside the refinery, as advised on Navionics. Once there, we called the Port authorities on channel 11 to inform them that we had arrived and asked for permission to spend the night there. Permission granted! I was so happy that we could finally stop and sleep that I didn’t care about the surroundings: the smell of gas and rotten fish and the massive cisterns around us. It all looked great after 40 hours of navigation!
On our way to the harbor, we didn’t see any fishing nets. Before embarking on our crossing to Morocco, I read on many blogs that approaching harbors at night could be a nightmare because of the myriads of fishing nets spread all along the coast – as far as 30 miles off the coast. Someone even said 100 miles off the coast!
We definitely didn’t see any when approaching Mohammedia at night. It was all clear …and the following day I would discover why ;)!