Leg 12: WWW

WWW in our case is not the world wide web, but rather weather window waiting. We want to reach the Azores as soon as possible, but the normal time of year to do so only starts in May. As we are a tad early, waiting for a suitable weather window is all the more important to prevent nasty surprises and keep the crossing comfortable for everybody.

Also, as our friends from Luigi Presto need new hinges for their front hatch, to be sent by DHL from Holland, we all decided to go easy and prepare for some waiting. The general plan is to sail to Tenerife to pick up the hinges, and then continue to Lanzarote. That way we win about 25 degrees of height, meaning our chances to get to Madeira earlier are greatly increased as we can sail with NE winds.

The first leg from Gomera to Tenerife was quite comparable to our previous trip. We started with 18 to 25 knots of NW, making for a nice, quick downwind run. Once we reached the wind shadow of Tenerife, the wind dropped to a mere 5 knots, and we again came across short finned pilot whales. At Punta Rasca the wind border was again extremely clear cut, and we went from the 5 knots stern wind to 25 knots head wind in less then 30 meters. We unfurled the Genoa 3 and ended with a nice upwind beat to San Miguel. It took a while to get things going,, but once we had tacked the Aspro-upwind-train really kicked in and we were able to take height and speed on Luigi Presto. The trip from San Miguel to Santa Cruz was completed under engine, as the wind was a tad to light to sail with Main and Genoa III.

During our first day grocery shopping we ran into a mobile unit of the Red Cross, holding a blood collection. As it was very long since my last donation, I went in. Many differences could be noted between the Spanish and Belgian standard procedure for this activity. With the kids playing outside with Luuk, I did not really give myself much time to recover afterwards, something I felt while shopping. Back outside, preparing the bike to go to Aspro, I was nearly arrested by the Spanish Red Cross. It is their policy to strongly advice against heavy lifting or labour for the first 24 hours after a donation. When they saw me loading our bike with Kwint, Lotte and about 15 kg of groceries, they were close to being vexed. Only after assuring I was feeling tip-top, and indicating the road to the Marina was all downhill, they reluctantly let me take off…

After three days in port, with still no hinges, we wanted to get out a bit, and so Luuk and Wouter went chasing for rental cars. Being “Semana Santa”, which means complete stand-still of the Spanish economy, full of family visits, finding one was not a piece of cake. We decided to give CICAR another try, though they told us yesterday they had nothing available. After some Latin reasoning, mainly based on the argument “1 car for 7 days or two cars for three days, what’s the difference?”, we succeeded in getting two cars. The remainder of car-day 1 was spent on provisions, loading Aspro with three caddy’s full, an estimated quarter ton of food and beverage, and another 120 kg of fuel…

Day two was filled with a trip to Loro Parque.  In spite of the high entrance fee, we decided to go again. We celebrated Anneloes’birthday before taking off to Puerto La Cruz. Once at Loro Parque we headed straight for the orca show, and afterwards came the dolphin show. This one we did not see the first time, as we thought it wouldn’t be worth considering all the private shows nature gives us at sea with Aspro. We were quite mistaken. The caretakers swim and jump with the dolphins, and at the end of the show a kid is pulled by the dolphins in a little boat. Leen tried to arrange for Kwint to go in the boat on the next show, and though nothing was promised, we were waiting at the entrance for good seats 30 minutes before the show. After some more lobbying of Leen, Kwinten was chosen to take the trip. He thoroughly enjoyed himself, beaming of pride and joy, though at the end of the trip he only wanted to cuddle the dolphins, not give them a kiss.

Once the hinges had arrived, we started taking closer looks to the Grib files again. No really acceptable weather came up for a direct jump to Madeira, so we decided to stick to the original plan and continue to Lanzarote. The trip was again upwind, in mild 18 knots conditions. A tad lazy and spoilt, we covered the distance under power and with the main up, running the engine at about 2500 RPM, giving a 7 knots average. At about 09:00 the next morning, during Wouter’s customary toilet visit, the engine consumed the last drops of the fuel left in the tank, and died out…  35 minutes of de-airing and tank filling later, we were on the go again, to cover the last 3 miles to Marina Rubicon. We arrived after 22 hours of sailing, covering 138 nM. Leen spent most of the trip between seasickness, vomiting and attending the kids. Wouter had the easier job, emptying the buckets of recycled food while on watch outside.

Most of the days in Calero were quiet, lazy days on board Aspro. It’s funny to see how the kids prefer to stay on board in harbours. Aspro for them is a huge playground: the aft cabin is either a rocket ship or a submarine; the bathroom is an elevator; the double bench in the living room a bus; the two single seats are a truck with trailer; the bookshelve a fire truck; the floor connecting it all is the sea, so they need to dive from one spot to the other. Outside the cockpit benches are their boats and the floor is the water, so if something drops down from the table they must to recover it, much like daddy does with bikes and umbrellas… All lines are either mooring lines or anchor cables, to fasten their boat, mainly during lunch or dinner, when they ought to be dedicating time to eating. Due to these plays it is imperative for us to spent time unfastening and checking all extra “mooring lines”.

To make for a change, we visited the local Hisperia hotel, to enjoy their fantastic facilities. Though we arrived with 3 bags and own towels, nobody made any inconvenient questions, and all supposed we were guests. Lotte and Lien even enjoyed the children animator for around an hour without being asked any room information. Upon our return we discovered that the Calero submarine actually dives completely under. Despite the high tourist price we decided to hop on this is an once-in-a-lifetime experience.  Leen went with Kwint and Lotte, they thoroughly enjoyed it. The only sad note they found was the diver pulling an enormous ray around the submarine.  Apparently the fish wasn´t hungry any more, into his 4th performance of the day, but off course they needed to give the tourists their attraction. Leen was happy to see the disapproval of Kwinten and Lotte at this unnatural behaviour.

After about 14 days of waiting, the 6th world wonder finally happened. The local Volvo Penta dealer dropped by to install our new distribution belt. All in all, this was done in under 1,5 hours, and the bill was even delivered faster. Giving the dealer a cookie of his own making, we waited a few days to settle the bill.

After more then two weeks of exiting www, an acceptable weather window finally presented. It was early rise and shine to get underway, with conditions not being ideal. Wouter did not sleep the two days prior to departure, which proved to be the perfect recipe for disaster. Seasickness did not long to set in with him, and after 3 hours of feeding the fish he was so exhausted we decided to turn back and give it another shot on a later date. Although Leen did not feel much better, she was not that exhausted was able to spot a big(ger) whale for a moment while returning to Lanzarote. Being a bit fed up with Calero, we decided to give Rubicon a try, as this also spares us 8 miles of sailing.

When we taught Calero was kind of a prison, Rubicon proved at least 2 times worse. Tourist and marina strollers come first, so the list of don’ts for boat people is almost as thick as the bible. Wireless internet is another disaster, not only extremely expensive but also of a quality inversely proportional to the price. Luckily for us, the provider was the same as in Calero, and the username and password we obtained there for 30 hours free access also worked in Rubicon. We were unable to find a playground, but Aspro did just fine as ersatz… During a trip to the local swimming pool Hannelien showed to be as distracted as her father, bumping into a lighting pole while looking sideways in stead of where she was going. Luckily she is hard headed (both literally and figure of speech wise), though she did show a red/blue bruise line for some days….

We also went for a medical round while in Rubicon. We wanted to get our first echo of number 4, and put our youngest up to date with her vaccination scheme. To get this done with the Spanish public health care would have needed major paperwork, so we opted to go with a German private doctor. All went quite well, apart from the fact Herr Doctor had zip experience with echo’s of babies, so could not really tell much we didn’t know yet. The only interesting thing was to know we were not expecting twins (oef). The invoice on the other end was a surprise. Though we called beforehand to have an idea, the actual invoice turned out about 300% of the prior “indication”. After some discussion, the doctor reduced his invoice to about 150% of the “indication”, and it seems Leen really specialises in getting foreign doctor fees to within reason. When Wouter decided to make a 360 degree flip with one of the bikes that same day, it luckily was without serious consequences, as possibly the German doctor would have invoiced triple.

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