Sailing and (Stress)-Test

She: “We should put more sails!”
He:  “We have just left the harbour and are still close to the coast, so we will continue to have heavy gusts with over 20 knots which will most likely increase according to forecast. Hence Genoa (a big foresail) should be ok.”
She: “With 22 knots (6 Bft) from the back, we should fly. But Ithaka runs with only 6,5 knots.”
He: “The boat is well balanced with this sail. Little work on the steering. We accelerate nicely in each gust. It will be a smooth ride today and we are well prepared for more wind to come.”
She: “But I feel it. The boat wants more sails, now. We should put up the main sail.”
He: “The boat would be overpowered with the risks for uncontrolled luffing. With wind from the back at 180 degrees the Main would cover the Genoa which will start flocking.”
She: “But she needs more sails, she wants to fly, we are too slow.”
He: “Well with wind right from the back, we will never fly, except with the spinnaker.

and so on…

I stop here the dialog. Actually, the discussion started when we left Port Gran Tarahal on Fuerteventura. Just some sort of sailor´s dialog. Order and command by the skipper are not the necessarily the appropriate way to handle matters when you sail as a couple unless there is an urgency. How did the story end?  Keep reading further down.

Marina Rubicon/Lanzarote

Not so far to the famous Capes…

Leaving Lanzarote behind us

After we had left the beautiful Marina Rubicon in the South of Lanzarote, we intended to make a final check with the sails. You may call it: Stress Test. See if nothing is chaffing, everything working smoothly, loaded goods at the right place even after being shaken for many hours, assess the sea behaviour being fully loaded prior we arrive in Las Palmas, our base camp for the ARC+, rallye and regatta across the Atlantic.

The World Cruising Club organizes these ocean crossings for sail boats under the brand ARC (Atlantic Rallye for Cruisers). http://www.worldcruising .com.  We will depart with ARC+ from Las Palmas over Cap Verdes to Saint Lucia. The fleet will consist of about 70 boats between 10 and 25 meters and will depart November 11. ARC is meanwhile „the“ event for Atlantic crossings with different passage routes. The organization with all their rigorous security checks and preconditions for the boats is one thing, but getting to know other people who we will probably continue to meet having arrived on the other side of the Ocean and keeping contact with them is meaningful for us.

Warm up trip: Lanzarote – Fuerteventura Porto del Rosario: Easy going, light winds on a broad reach, sunny. Catamaran StarshipFriendship with Kelly and Bill from the US comes with us. Young Kelly, the capitana, steers a 45 feet Lagoon catamaran. Kelly turns out to be a “YouTuber”, producing videos every week for her followers. New generation! Really interesting. Triggers me to make a video myself.

Stop over at anchor after first day in Puerto del Rosario


Fuerteventura East coast

Test One – along the east cost of Fuerteventura: Porto del Rosario  – Gran Tarajal. Full main, wind right from the back which required my full attention to avoid that the boat luffs (for non sailors: turns into the wind) in an uncontrolled way. Winds 22 knots up to 32 knots (7 Beaufort). Overpowered which was somehow provoked by us. We rush with 10.5 knots. (for non sailors: almost 20km/h, what a speed!).

First advantage of our Contest:

Stability. She handles the situation easily, accelerates, you feel very well the speed and increasing pressure on the rudder and control her with ease. Rig is fine and stiff. Our new hydraulic backstay tensioner works very well. Good!

Test Two – we continue on the coastline of Fuerteventura: Gran Tarahal – Moro Jable. Cloudy and grey with some fierce gusts coming from land. Not a nice weather.  Short, hard waves already build up one mile from land. (Here we had our discussions which sails to put up. See top of this story.) It actually ended that we kept sailing with the Genoa. Then, when we were farer away from land and wind was more stable but stronger, we rolled out the main sail with 2 reefs and put 3 reefs in the Genoa. With this combination the boat flew with up to 11 knots from time to time, in an increasing steep and short wave. Angela got what she wanted, just a bit later.

Second advantage of our Contest:

Speed under sails. Even in unpleasant hard, short waves, she is quiet, no disturbing noise in the boat except for the wind, just picks up the gusts and turns them into speed. Heels quite a lot. But nothing more. Very good!

Test Three: Fuerteventura Moro Jable – Gran Canaria Las Palmas. Moderate wind with 15-20 knots, sailing close to the wind (so we go “with around 45 degrees against” wind and waves) but heavy waves from the side with 4-5 meter. Storm jib is rigged, and 2 reefs in the main. We have a speedy start being protected by the island. As soon as we come around the cape, wind slows down and heavy long waves say hello to us. After a certain while seasickness comes on board.

60 miles bumpy, gusty, not so nice despite an excellent start. / sorry: then not than

Third advantage of our Contest:

Security. We put the autopilot. I stretch myself out across on the rudder seat, head upside, feet downside and close the eyes. The boat heels on average with something like 20 degrees, but is stable, nothing more. The autopilot masters everything. I can relax.

Painful is the lift up and down every 10 seconds 4-5 meters with the waves. Makes me seasick, which I hate. I wonder if I am really a seaman? Perhaps a good sailor, but seaman? Fortunately, other sailors from the ARC fleet in Las Palmas report the same. Ok, I am not alone. Big relief!

Good sailing in company with another French sailing yacht in sunny weather makes fun despite my seasickness. It is difficult to recognise the height and power of the waves. But they were between 3 and 5 meters on average. (Note my camera is about 2,5m above sea level and the other boat only 1 or 2 waves periods away but disappears already on this picture to the topline of the hull.)


As we continue rain showers come up which end up in total rain upon our arrival in Las Palmas. The water is pouring down from heaven. Everything grey. Massive and ugly oil drilling ships at the entry of the harbour. Is this our harbour and base camp for the Atlantic crossing?? The water in the marina stinks like an overflown public toilet in a railway station in an emerging country. We assume that the canalisation of Las Palmas has overflown due to the heavy rain. A bad arrival in our base camp. We are deeply disappointed! Having completed the mooring work with stinking mooring line while the marina staff is hiding in their boat from the rain, our gloves, clothes and we are stinking as we were fallen in this above mentioned toilet.  Really bad!!


Last advantage of our Contest for this very day:

Comfort. As soon as we have moored the boat safely in heavy winds and fading daylight, we go under deck, close the curtains and washboards (for non sailor entry door). Angela puts all our stinking clothes in the washing machine right away. We put on lights in the ship and dim them down, turn on some soft music, take a long and hot shower, cook a pot of spaghetti and open a good bottle of red wine. The nasty smell stays outside and we enjoy the evening in our highly comfortable and cosy ship. Excellent!!

Stay tuned for the next episode.

Ithaka Crew


2 replies »

  1. Hi Angela and Christoph
    What a nice reading at the very early Wednesday morning with the sun is rising up and a fantastic view to the snowy mountains in Switzerland after some days (of heavily needed) rain/snow.
    Get prepared well for the advanturous trip across Atlantic ocean. Looking forward for your next update.


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