Things started slow for us. On day one the seas were oily flat and there was almost no wind. We expected to have fairly non existent winds for the first couple of days and then we expected to start to get into the trades later in the passage. The Canaries are caught between the trades and the North Atlantic high pressure system and the winds are not very consistent and generally light. We hope the further south we go, the better the winds will be. While we waited for those winds to fill in, it was very enjoyable aboard. The kids got to play on the foredeck; they got to swing from the stays, they climbed into the main sail bag to find a new reading place and Ana picnicked and danced on the bow. With flat calm conditions any wildlife was easy to spot. We had dolphin shows, watched pilot whales cruise by and snuck up on sleeping turtles. We ate well, we did some light schooling and in general it was an easy start.
Day two showed us some light headwind's, but we were able to sail with them, although it wasn't the most comfortable point of sail and we looked forward to the predicted wind shift. By the end of the second day the wind filled in nicely and we found the Canary Current and started really putting some miles behind us. It was fast, but we were still getting used to the motion of the boat and it was pretty exhausting. I swear during the fist couple of days of a passage it feels like gravity increases 10 fold and at the same time the oxygen content decreases. It is so tiring.
As I write this on the morning of day three we have consistent winds and we are reaching at about 5-7 knots. It is comfortable on board and we seem to all have gotten our sea legs. Life is good!
We have just passed directly west of Dahkla, Western Sahara and a possible stop on our leg south that we have made the hard decision to miss. Dahkla, depending on who you are talking to is either part of Morocco or Western Sahara. When the Spanish left in 1975 the Moroccan's promptly moved hundreds of thousand of people south and occupied the area displacing thousands of locals to refugee camps in Algeria. Some of these camps are still in place as the Saharawi are still a people without a home objecting to Moroccan rule. Generally speaking, and call me chicken, but I think it is a good rule of thumb to pass African nations by that have contested territory disputes. That said, we spoke to many Moroccan's officials that claimed it was perfectly safe due to the fact that it has a very strong military and police presence. Still not my first criteria for a good family friendly place to stop. The enticing part was Dahkla is located on a huge, beautiful lagoon that very few cruisers ever go to. Aerial photos of the area are amazing, and although there isn't much on the internet, the pictures that are on the web show Saharan dunes meeting the turquoise blue of the ocean, and white sand beaches in a pristine lagoon ringed by estuaries filled with flamingos and other birds. It sounded magical. Tourism isn't big there, but it has become a big kite surfing hot spot and the adventure tourism is starting to take root. I had even contacted the only sailboat that I could find that is in the area and traded emails about the safety of the region. It all sounded interesting and very safe until we found out that the lagoon itself is off limits and a militarized zone. We could hire a car and driver to tour the dunes and estuaries, but we would have had to tie up along a huge fleet of fishing boats a mile out of town along a dusty road. All of a sudden it didn't sound as picturesque and unless we had some trouble we decided we would save our family back home the grey hairs and skip it. It is tough to pass places by that you know would be an experience one way or another, knowing full well you will never be back in the area. The world is getting smaller and those off the beaten path places are getting fewer and further between.
We are plodding on and tomorrow we will be half way there.
Amy on Pelagic
N 24 40
W 17 38
The following pages chronicle the journey of the sailing vessel Pelagic and her crew. We are a family of 5; Michael, Amy, Zander, Porter and Anakena, taking our 42' Hallberg Rassy as far as we can comfortably go in three years. We left Oregon in September 2014, participated in the 2014 Baja Haha, continued on through the Panama Canal, into the Caribbean, up the coast of the US to Maritime Canada and from there crossed the Atlantic. After an arrival in Ireland we toured Scotland, then sailed down to France, Portugal and on to Morocco. In January of 2016 we slowed down considerably and enrolled the kids in a local Spanish school in Sanlucar de Guadiana for a few months. In the spring of 2016 we crossed the Atlantic towards the Caribbean. We are now in the Pacific, officially on our way home, albeit via a very circuitous path. We are currently in French Polynesia and looking at weather windows to Hawaii before finally making landfall back in the Pacific Northwest.
Currently our exact location is not available. Our spot coverage will pick us back up in Hawaii towards the end of May, 2017.
Our favorite sailing quote:
"If anythings gonna happen, it's gonna happen out there boss!" Captain Ron