Category Archives: UK to Canaries

Return of the Las Palmas 7

We arrived nice and safe into Las Palmas during a beautiful sunrise on Friday morning…to the back drop of Madness of course!

After a celebratory Arehucas (Canarian rum) and coke or two, refuelling and a bit of boat cleaning it was all ashore to the Sailor Bar – – for tapas and cervesas 😉 in attendance was Matt skipper of Snow Wolf who lives in Pangbourne and who we have been exchanging emails with for the last view weeks re crewing to the Canaries – we are reminded how small the yachting world is!!

The plan was to for the crews of all three boats to all meet up in the evening for a final get together pizza – but apart from Em it seems none of Great Escape could be bothered!!! Ah well, their loss as we had a great meal followed by mucho gin y tonic %-) … which may or may not have been the reason for Bernice losing one of her sandals into the Marina on returning to Skyelark. What is certain is that neither of us were worse than the wreckage that was Trev & John who surfaced the following afternoon with the worlds worst hangovers or all of the crew from Snow Wolf ~ Connor wearing shorts and staggering so much that we couldn’t get onto the club (although my ripped t shirt wasn’t all that popular! – it wasn’t the Turtle lets face it!), Sue who we escorted back to the boat and Matt who apparently spent couple of hours sleeping on a bed in the club but to be fair it serves them right for putting beds in there in the first place!!

For those who made it up the next morning, Bernice kindly went for a walk and brought back rolls which she combined with eggs and bacon ‘borrowed’ from Great Escape for brekkie.

After doing some laundry we decided that we then deserved a break from the boat and found a Late Rooms deal for a couple of nights in a hotel at a price not much more than the hostel … great spread for breakfast but probably not really in the backpacking tradition – breaking ourselves in gently :-$

Becalmed in the Atlantic

Last couple of days at sea before Las Palmas an the wind deserted us completely – so it was a case of donkey (engine) on and George doing all the driving.

On the up side:
We had a mid ocean exchange of supplies with Great Escape which consisted of driving up alongside and throwing said supplies at each other … our Jaffa Cakes for their bacon and yeast (to bake bread)

There was a chance of a swim in 3500 metres of water with some v.elegant swan diving from the toe rails (bit around the outside of the boat). Oddly enough no one could see the bottom 😀

We had some absolutely fab sunsets and sunrises 🙂


I forgot to mention George. He’s a fully fledged but understated member of our crew and really coming into his own now. He’s the autopilot and we let him take charge when the engine is running and the sea state is good. He does a really good job and during today a real bonus as we could all relax an enjoy the sun. But it’s 0217 now and we would have found this night time watch quite tedious with nothing to do now George is at the helm, except we’ve started doing some Michel Thomas Spanish! And that seems to be keeping us awake.

Rationing begins on Skyelark

Day five on the trip down to the Canaries and things are getting a little tight on the drinks front – teas and coffees that is. The important stuff. Peppermint tea and Real Coffee are now being rationed – Coffee to one cup each per day, when everyone is up. It’s not all bad news though, what with the second batch of onboard flapjacks hot out of the oven and our lunch consisting of more freshly caught fish, life isn’t so bad.
It’s a tad hot today so hiding downstairs seems sensible as another 3 hour watch is imminent.
Characters are certainly developing as team camaraderie comes to the fore. Here’s some insight on our travelling companions:

Skipper Dan is clearly enjoying a leisurely trip in prep for his onward ARC charter, and who we anticipate would win hands down in any John Belushi looki-likey competition. So Friday night in Las Palmas on the scour for a Rhythm and Blues review should be entertaining.

Watch A
Geordie Trevor was only supposed to be with us till Baiona but managed to stow-away on this leg and is thoroughly jealous of the rest of us hoping to continue across the Atlantic.
Adam, the cheekie chappie from Bath, that’s Baaattthhhh, not Baff! He’s quick witted to the point he’s likely to be our 1st casualty if MoB were to be exclaimed! Needless to say banter between him and the skipper is pretty hilarious. He’s hoping to hitch further too, an Atlantic passage on similar terms as we’re looking for.

Watch B
Will, 1st mate, made a mean paella last night. He plays the quiet card! Investment fund manager turned wannabe super yacht skipper!
Jock John, been catching all the fish but won’t eat it – not that keen on tuna!! Shame!!! Like any of the rest of us are complaining :0)

Watch C
Well that’s us. Enough said ;0)


So day three after leaving Baiona and we’ve just polished off a mega fresh tuna nicoise, fresh because we caught the tuna ourselves off the back of the boat – forgot to mention that was another pastime we’ve been partaking in :0)
Another blue sky day. Another fine sail. We’ve headed south now and the sail setting is now such that the goose has left us for the minute. Long may it last.
The great escape is still in front of us but we have tactics to hopefully win out in the end. The hare and the tortoise, know what we mean…
On our current milage per watch shift we calculate about 4.5 days till Las Palmas, but that said if the wind does die off and motoring takes over this will be a bit on the optimistic side.
Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy….

It’s all swell out here

Day two of a likely seven, having left Baiona on our way to The Canaries and we’re having a fantastic time. As the weather forecast is predicting no wind in a few days time so our skipper has decided that rather than continue down the coast with another proposed stop at Cascais we have decided to sail out west towards Maderia, that way maximising the wind we have and staying with it for longer.
The down side of this is we have the wind directly behind us and our point of sail is what’s called “goose-winged”. This means we have our main sail out one side of the boat and our headsail our the other. It causes the boat to waddle like a goose which is much more pronounced with the massive swell we’re sailing in!

The Bay of Biscay

After 24 hours run down the Channel we rounded the headland at L’Oeusant (or Ushant as we call it!) and down into the Bay of Biscay which has a fearsome reputation for rough crossings – especially at this time of year. However, the weather gods were with us even though it was Force 7 – Gale 8 (really windy) it remained off our aft quarter (behind us ish) which meant an we continued the downwind blast under headsail only for another 24 hours.

We put up the mainsail with a reef in it (this means we don’t pull it all up) when we rounded Cape Finisterre and then took this out when the wind dropped further about 6 hours before arriving at our destination.

A whole day of dolphins (dolphin wednesday) topped the trip off. We safely arrived in Baiona at 0455 UK time Thursday morning being beaten by The Great Escape – a mere 40 mins ahead of us.

Some admin, sleep and a nice meal ashore tonight will set us all up for the next week long leg at sea to Las Palmas in the Canaries

English Channel

Following a quiet night out in the thriving metropolis of Yarmouth it was a very early start to catch the tide … and not just for us the UKSA training boat moored alongside also had get up to let us out – sorry lads!

We then left in convoy, us + ‘Great Escape’ which is skippered by Em our skipper’s partner … so no competition to get to Baiona then 😉 Dan and Em own and run Skyelark as a charter business … You can see more pictures of the boat and the trips they offer at

The Channel was it’s usual delightful choppy self – the only up side being that the Force 5-7 (windy for you non sailor types – we will try to give helpful hints un brackets along the way) was from the North East rather than the usual South West which meant we could sail down wind under head sail (the one at the front) only.

The whole experience was finished off by having a large pod of dolphins take a break from their fishing to follow us for a while 🙂 toptastic!! :0)

We took the obligatory seasick pills to help us find our seasickness and apart from a bit of queasiness when it was our turn to do lunch 1st day we were fine.

With 3 pairs of crew we went on 3 hour watches which meant 6 hours sleep before the next one. So pretty good.

Are we nearly there yet..??

…well Yarmouth (the Isle of Wight one obviously) so no not really!!! We’ve stopped the night here as there is a storm forecast overnight and the skipper decided he’d rather not be introducing us to his pride and joy in the dark, in a gale in the middle of a shipping lane – good choice we think. So nice meal, glass of red and a water taxi ashore for beer is the new plan 😉