Home Canary Islands The Other Side of Sailing

The Other Side of Sailing

written by Terysa October 6, 2015

Lest you all think that our lives are a little too easy these days, allow me to provide some perspective.

We spent a few days in Agadir, and a quick walk around this recently-built town revealed that the marina- which was quite lovely- was by far the most attractive part. As a result, we didn’t spent too much time exploring, and instead Nick went surfing at nearby Anza beach.

We had planned to spend perhaps a week in Agadir, but to be honest, the town itself has little to offer apart from a long, wide beach and a promenade of ever so slightly tacky bars and restaurants- and if we’re after beach-front dining, we might as well be in the Canaries!

So we checked the weather on Saturday, and found that if we left the following day we would avoid some heavy swell setting in Tuesday night. The wind was forecast to be 15 knots from behind, so we decided to take advantage of the weather window. That didn’t give us much time to get supplies (the nearest supermarket was a taxi drive away) but we figured we had enough on board to deal with a 220 mile passage.

The usual beaurocratic run-around ensued, as the police were unable to surrender our passports to us without customs giving them a thumbs up. Nick was told to go to the customs office the night before departure, which he duly did, but there was some issue with our boat apparently (an issue that was never explained to us and I’m fairly sure was fabricated) and a full-blown argument between the police officer and the customs official ensued, leaving Nick standing around feeling exceedingly awkward. Eventually customs agreed to hand over the relevant documentation the following morning, which- to our surprise- they did. Passports stamped, we then fuelled up and by 9am, were motoring out of Agadir marina.

Leaving Morocco behind was an odd feeling. Nick always says that you can never be sure of how you feel about a place until you’ve left it, and the experience has become a memory. We loved sailing down the Moroccan coast, and there were aspects of this country we found absolutely amazing. But it was also a little tiring having to go through a song and dance with the police and customs every time we not only arrived at a new port, but wanted to leave it, and I personally was sick of walking around in 30 degree heat in long pants and t-shirts! Plus, the lack of booze was becoming a serious, serious problem.

So, off we went. The sun was out, it was hot and the sea was the most beautiful cobalt blue I’ve seen yet- is this the colour it’s going to be from now on?! It was so clear, the rays of sun penetrated the water creating a mesmerising matrix of golden lines floating through the still, deep sea. Just stunning.

A friendly- and probably very tired- little bird came to visit us about 40 miles out from the coast!

A friendly- and probably very tired- little bird came to visit us about 40 miles out from the coast!

However, it was going to be ‘one of those days’ that perhaps- correct me if I’m wrong- only sailors understand. First the wind was very light and coming from the south (i.e., from our port side since we were heading south-west). We duly launched the code zero, which served us well for some time, and then the wind shifted and were coming from about 150 degrees to port. Nick and I looked at each other and said, “Shall we give the Parasailor a go?” So, we dragged the Parasailor out of its locker in the fore cabin, furled and took down the code zero, then launched the Parasailor. Those of you who are sailors realise that this is far more complicated and involved that a brief sentence makes it sound. For those of you who keep their feet firmly on dry land at all possible times, suffice to say this was a process that took about 45 minutes, and was pretty physically demanding.

Of course, it was at this time that a pod of dolphins came to visit, coming alongside for a gentle swim as we bobbed around doing a whopping 3 knots. They looked stunning in the clear water, and their underwater antics were clearly visible from the deck. Unfortunately, Nick’s a tough skipper and doesn’t give his crew time to appreciate- let alone photograph- these things when there’s work to be done, so I wasn’t able to give them the full attention they deserved. Needless to say, as soon as we were done and free to admire them, they buggered off.

Anyway, the Parasailor was up for a full 10 minutes before the wind shifted again to about 90 degrees, so, with a long suffering sigh, we took it back down and just put the jib out for a bit.

The wind then came around so it was on our nose, then shifted north so we were now on a port tack. Fine, whatever. Then, as I was casually sunning myself on the coachroof, minding my own business, the wind picked up from practically nothing to 17 knots! We went from a gentle motor sail to batting along nicely.

That didn’t last, and after a while the wind shifted around to about 100 degrees off starboard and died off to around 7 knots, so, with another sigh, we got the code zero out and put it up.

I only have pictures of this lovely tiny bird this week- sorry!

I only have pictures of this lovely tiny bird this week- sorry!

Dinnertime came and went, and I went for a lay down before my watch at 8pm. This is where the fun began. The wind built and built until Nick was forced to put two reefs in the main, and reef the jib as well, and when I came up at 8pm, we were absolutely racing along, which was a good thing. The bad thing was, of course (and you sailors already know what I’m about to say), it was bloody, bloody uncomfortable. We had a steady 20 knots, gusting up to 27 knots. The swell also built to what was probably around 3 metres, with a short wave period, making things pretty bloody uncomfortable if not downright hairy.

What would have been an exhilarating day sail, was an exhausting night sail. Neither of us got a wink of sleep. It’s not just the rocking and rolling of the boat, it’s also the fact that a boat under sail in those conditions is very, very noisy. Everything creaks and moans, and there’s always something- actually, many somethings- that bang up against something else with every roll. The bottles in the booze cabinet (Nick stuffed a pillow in there, which he forgot about until today), the chopping board against the cupboard, the tins of beans in the locker next to my head, the glasses and mugs, everything practically. That’s not counting the various items that go flying across the floor every time we hit- or, more accurately, are hit by- a particularly big wave. The herbs, which we put down below to keep them from becoming missiles down the companionway like last time, ended up on the floor. We just looked at the mess of soil, water and herbs and ignored it. The forecabin, when I eventually went in there, looked like a bomb had hit it. In short, it was mayhem.

The winds finally died down around 6am, although the swell continued to make our lives uncomfortable, but at least we both managed to snatch an hour’s sleep or so.

That day passed in an exhausted haze. Dinner time came, and we were both so tired that cooking something was almost beyond our capabilities- but Nick rallied, as he so often does when I give him that look (you know, That Look- the one that says, “Feed me, or you’ll be sorry”) and made a shepherd’s pie entirely out of tinned and packaged food. And, it could have been the sleep deprivation talking, but I swear it was bloody delicious.

We approached Lanzarote in high winds again- but at the very least our arrival time was 10:30pm, rather than the 3am time we’d anticipated upon departure from Agadir- so we headed for the marina and, after a slightly confusing and winding entry channel, tied up to the reception pontoon and went to bed. The wind was throwing water up against our hull, creating a rather irritating slapping sound (again, those who sail know what I’m talking about here), and I lay there with earplugs doing little to muffle the noise, thinking, “How am I ever going to be able to sleep with this noise?” The next thing I knew, it was morning.

I shall leave my musings of Arricife until my next blog, partly because we’ve only had a quick walk around town, and partly because I’ve already reached over 1300 words and you’re all probably like, “Is she DONE?” But we’re very glad to be back in Spain and we can’t wait to explore another part of the world.

Until next time! Sorry about the lack of photos by the way!

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