The photos in this blog don’t really show what we have been doing the past 3 weeks. Jobs, jobs and more jobs on Sea Cloud. The problem with boat lists is that they never seem to get shorter! Parts have been sourced, maintenance done etc etc.

Fortunately, Marina Lanzarote has been a very pleasant spot to work. It is a short walk to Arrecife town with its good tapas restaurants and Saturday fruit and veg market.



img_4336We’ve met some lovely people here. People are either, like us, on a mission preparing their boats for the big voyage. Others, who are much more laid back, are pottering around the Canaries. Familiar faces have turned up from Gibraltar, and once again, there are so many Aussie boats, 4 on our pontoon alone. The Big Bandicoot, a 60 foot catamaran sailed solo up from Darwin through Red Sea to the Med, left yesterday for Brazil.

Two days off in 2 weeks, first to the very popular Teguise sunday market, a good place to people watch, shop and of course, have lunch


img_4318img_4320We had been told that Lanzarote is a fascinating place to explore. Cesar Manrique, the artist and “architectural philosopher” has been credited with contributing to the unspoilt landscape of Lanzarote. The lack of high rise and advertising billboards and the consistent architecture of white houses contrast wonderfully with the volcanic landscape and splashes of green.

His first house, now the Foundacion Cesar Manrique, with its wonderful art works, gardens and house built within the lava fields was an absolute must see.img_0209


img_0181img_0182img_0199img_0192img_0184img_0189It is hard to believe that anything apart from cacti, will grow in this harsh landscape. White wine is produced in the  middle  of the island. Semi circular walls of stones apparently capture the dew resulting in enough water for the vines.

img_0214img_0215El Golfo, on the south western shore of the island has a spectacular green lake, and a very touristy town which is a very popular lunch spot. img_0221img_0218img_0222Olivier, a lovely frenchman who has been making some canvas covers for us recommended a wonderful, much less touristy place for lunch, La Bodega.

We timed our visit to Timafaya National Park perfectly. The late afternoon meant we avoided the crowds, and saw this dramatic landscape in a lovely soft light. We had heard that crowds can be horrific, especially when there are many cruise ships in port.


The food in the Manrique designed restaurant on the top of the volcano is cooked using the heat from the ground.img_0259

The national park guides demonstrate the heat of the ground below img_0226img_0231img_0233

The last volcanic eruptions in the 1700’s have resulted in an incredible landscape.img_0244img_0257img_0260


We dropped anchor off the beach off the Marina in Porto Santo (the northern and second largest island of the Madeira Archipelago) to wait for daylight before we entered the marina. Looking at the boats and the painted harbour walls, we realised that we were in a different part of the world.

Yachts are generally smaller, have self-steering devices, and look like they are prepared for distance ocean cruising. There are lots of families – an enterprising French woman from one of the yachts was selling crepes to supplement the cruising kitty – they made a delicious breakfast.


img_9959Porto Santo Marina was a delightful place to spend a few days. It is friendly, has a great, reasonable café with very fast wifi, and is next to a beach.


It is only a short walk from the very pleasant capital, Vila Baleira.


Having spent 4 days at sea, we needed to walk. The headland at the end of Porto Santo’s long sandy beach looked an appealing destination. I was sure I had read it was 3.5km, but after a very long walk we found it was actually 7 km each way. Luckily there was a great lunch spot half way and plenty of beautiful water for swimming. The planners here have very sensibly kept development away from the beachfront, with most resorts tucked behind the sand dunes. It is a great time of year, not too many tourists.



img_9993Madeira, the main island of the Madeira Archipelago was a half day’s sail south of Porto Santo, our first day sail rather than overnighter since we arrived back on Sea Cloud. Marina Quinta do Lorde which has a reputation for being friendly and very pleasant did not disappoint.



The only drawback is its distance from Funchal the capital, but as a car was really necessary to explore Madeira, it was not a problem. Madeira is well known for its walks, and it sure has been ‘discovered’. The last time we saw so many walkers was in the Cinque Terre in Italy. The walk from the Marina to the eastern end of the island was spectacular. Very volcanic and harsh in appearance, quite different from the rest of the island.



Urchin – another Aussie boat

After putting up our new mainsail, we headed for Funchal, where we had a great lunch of limpets (a Madeiran specialty) and the biggest sardines we have seen.

The gardens in Madeira are beautiful -everything seems to grow here. Funchal is a very attractive town, with parks, pretty old buildings, traditional dancers and a great market.



This young woman treated us to tastings of all sorts of dried and fresh fruits, but then doubled the quantity we asked for, then when we came to pay added another 20 Euros or so for good measure!


Our pleasant day was topped off by finally finding Aki, a shop which sold bean bags. We had been looking for fill for our bean bag since leaving Corfu, can’t believe we found them in Madeira! The more mundane side of cruising life…

The north coast of Madeira was spectacular with (a) surf beach, beautiful coastline, lush tropical terraced land and quirky small traditional houses in Santana.


img_0085img_0082Madeira has kilometres of levadas – water canals with adjacent pathways built across the steep mountainsides a source of water supply and irrigation, and incredible feats of engineering.

img_0145The levadas have become very popular walking paths, with a variety of trails throughout the island We took the short walk out to Balcones in the north east of the island, which as fabulous views down to the coastline. The tops of the mountains, as usual, were shrouded in cloud.

Madeira airport built over the sea fascinated us, especially when we heard that boats were stored underneath the 100m high runway over winter. Very safe from winter storms, the only problem seemed to be avgas dripping onto the boats.




The infrastructure in Madeira is incredible for a small island. There is an extensive network of road, tunnel and bridges making travel around the island very easy. I can’t imagine how traveling around this mountainous island must have been in previous times.

We were very lucky to hear about the festivities in Machico a small town not far from the marina. Thousands of locals were out with candles (and wax models of various body parts) parading through the streets, giving thanks for miracles.


The festivities ended in dinner – butchers set up their stalls, you buy your meat, load it onto skewers and BBQ!




Our final day was spent walking the spectacular walk along the levadas to the waterfall and 25 lakes in the hills north of Ribera Brava, towards the western end of the island. The day was almost cloudless, enabling fantastic views from the road leading to the trail head.



Our relatively late start was good as the number of walkers had decreased, a very good thing as the levada pathways are very narrow with incredible drop-offs in some places.




img_0156The weather has been very stable and sunny here on this side of the Atlantic, very unlike the mischief created by Hurricane Matthew and Nicole on the other side. As the weather systems move from the towards the Azores and then affect these islands, we have had to keep a close eye on the weather forecasts which have literally changed from day. We made the decision to leave on Monday as the Sunday evening forecasts looked ideal. By the morning, the new forecast showed no wind, so instead of sailing directly to Lanzarote, we diverted to Carga de Lapa (bay of limpets) the only anchorage on Ilhas Desertas, a group of islands 20Nm from Madeira. There was one tripper boat there when we arrived, when they left and we had the bay to ourselves. As very calm weather was predicted overnight, we picked up one of the moorings in the bay, had a swim and had lamb chops on the barbie, something we haven’t done since leaving Sardinia in early July.

img_0161Apart from a ranger station ashore (access without a permit is prohibited) these islands are barren, volcanic outcrops. An early morning swim and the sighting of two very rare monk seals (out of 24 reported to live near by) topped off a beautiful night in this very special place.img_0163img_0166

Gibraltar to Madeira

After a very pleasant 3 day sail/motor (458Nm) we could see the Rock of Gibraltar looming in the distance. Shipping had gradually increased, as had the current as we neared Gibraltar. Sea Cloud approached Marina Bay through the maze of anchored ships and refuelled – such cheap fuel here, about 1/3 what we had paid last time.



Our first impressions of Gibraltar – what a weird place! Marina Bay is literally between the airport runway and the Sunbourn floating hotel/casino.


Our impressions gradually changed as we got to know the town and the friendly people, deciding quirky, rather than weird was a better description.

Knowing the Hydrovane installation would not start until the following day, we ‘did’ Gibraltar, ie a tour of the main sights on the rock.



St Michael’s cave



img_9932img_9938The town, naturally, has a very English feel. The locals speak with a broad British accent, then you hear them break into the local dialect, a strange sounding version of Spanish.


Sea Cloud’s massive delivery – Hydrovane, Watt and Sea hydrogenerator, a new mainsail, volvo parts and miscellaneous other bits & tools were delivered by “Freight–It” –  great local company who dealt with the customs for us. Shipping to Gibraltar where we could get the goods VAT free made great financial sense and was very painless with the help of Kabir and Jai.


Ted Devey, our Hydrovane installer extraordinaire worked with Ian to install the new goodies. Ted, a retired engineer was the ideal person to work with Ian – very particular and methodical and keen to get everything just right. Sea Cloud was the 3rd Hydrovane he had installed in the past week, bringing his total of installations to over 30. Ted, having his own yacht (of course with  a Hydrovane) was also very knowledgeable and fortunately, as he was staying with us, a lot of fun and great company.


I made a few treks across the airport runway to the shops in La Linea, Spain. Now that was weird!


Karen and Dave Bowes arrived on SY Destiny, another HR48. It  was great to catch up with them again – always sociable and plenty of corporate knowledge to exchange about boat parts and systems.

The boxes gradually disappeared, a quick provision was done and  we quickly stowed everything – the forecast was ideal for leaving Gib, but with gale force winds predicted within 12 hours, we needed to move quickly. A last dinner with Ted, Dave and his crew Trenchard, Sea Cloud and Destiny left Gib, we on our 4 day 580 Nm sail to Madeira whereas Destiny headed for Lanzarote.


This was to be our first taste of the Atlantic, and our longest passage yet. A great chance to check how the new gear and of course the crew would handle the conditions. Our first 3 days we had winds were 25 – mid 30knots, and 2-3m seas, with the occasional 5m biggies rolling through. Not the best for sleeping, but something we need to get used to before our Atlantic crossing – so glad Gordon and Tine will be joining us! Three hours shifts during the night are a bit of a killer.

Our new equipment worked superbly – the Hydrovane (aka “Ted”) steered Sea Cloud reliably in the big winds. We need to refine our technique for the lighter breezes aft of the beam that we experienced later in the passage. Our Watt and Sea almost kept up with our power needs, a great bonus not to have to rely on the generator. We had done a lot of homework on communication options for the crossing. The “Iridium Go!” with Predictwind seemed to be the best option for us. Ian and Ted installed the Go and its external antenna in Gibraltar but having heard that it could be a bit tricky we were skeptical about how well it would work once offshore. Amazingly, we had no problems – 300Nm off Gibraltar we were receiving weather forecasts, emailing friends and chatting with Andrew and Emily, ensuring that the emergency sat phone option worked (linked to iPhone or iPad)img_4166. All so easy to set up and use.


We were very fortunate to have enough wind to sail all the way to Madeira. It was exciting to see the lights of Porto Santo (the second largest island in the Madeira group) in the distance. We dropped anchor in the bay outside the harbour to sleep a little more and wait for daylight, which is very late here as it is dark until after 8am. Now we are settled on the pontoon in the Marina Porto Santo – we have to get used to the idea of tides again!


Palma de Mallorca

As we were running out of time to have works done, Joost Graafmans, a friend of Holly and Robert’s delivered Sea Cloud from Valencia to Palma so works could be started before we arrived. After hearing of Joost’s experience as a captain of some seriously big boats, we realised just how lucky we were so lucky to have him looking after Sea Cloud.We returned to Mundimar to find Sea Cloud looking great and ready to have her mast with its new standing rigging put back in.



We headed back to Real Club Nautico Palma where we would spend the next week working on the boat and seeing what we could of Palma and Mallorca. Our spot at RCNP was on the new “Oyster” dock (full of very large Oyster yachts) right in front of the clubhouse, where we had access to the pool (never used) café (used very often) and very pleasant restaurant.


It was also a short walk into Palma’s wonderful old town. Joost, Gaby and their delightful son, Oscar introduced us to Saint Christina, an area close to the marina, with some good local restaurants and a daily market. We had one day to explore the north of the island by car, the hill town of Soller


and Port Soller nearby.



The coastal road through the delightful towns of Deia


and then though the hills to Valledermosa was spectacular.


Back in Palma it was a week of full on work, with John Dodd, the local Lewmar whiz installing our new more powerful windlass and Rodrigo and the team from Pro-Rigging tweaking our new rigging.


We made sure we had a few afternoons off to explore lovely Palma




Palma Cathedral

img_4038Ian was fascinated by the displays of the ham -Emily would not have so impressed.

After a test sail and more tweaking of the rig, we sailed off into the sunset towards Gibraltar, unfortunately once again bypassing many of the places we had intended to visit.

img_4082img_4084We achieved a lot in a week, but with more works to be done, we felt the pressure to move directly to Gibraltar.