The next day the wind increased to 5, but not for long.
Until Saturday November 16th the average wind was below force 4. Even so we estimated that we were putting about 100 miles a day behind us. By now we had settled into a daily routine. I would awaken and tune the radio to the British Overseas Services to check my watch by the time signal, and then listen to the news. Then Penny would get breakfast, usually Quaker oats then bread or Vitawheats with jam or marmite. I would wash up and Penny wipe, after which it would be time to take a morning sight. We would then do maintenance work and odd jobs until it was time for the noon sight.
3 hours after leaving Gomera and tacking into a very light wind, we had made little progress and wishing to get well away from land before dark, we took down the sails to stop them slatting and started the engine. Darkness found us off the bottom end of the island, with no wind, but storm clouds and lightning on the horizon to the Northwest. Our course should have taken us to the west to round the top of the island of Hiero 25 miles away, but as the storm gradually drew down on us and the wind and seas increased, the best course we could make was SSW, so it seemed more prudent to run before the storm rather than risk hitting Hiero in the dark. The wind was now force 7 or more, the north western sky was veined with continuous forks of lightning, which though impressive to watch, also conveyed to us a feeling of our own puniness.
As told by Sim)
For several days before we left Las Palmas we had a southerly wind, which made our anchorage a lee shore
, and oil was being blown into the corner of the harbour used by the yacht club. Our new paint was covered in it to about 6 inches above the water line, and every time we went ashore we got ourselves plastered in it, so we were glad to leave.
On the Saturday night in the club, we said goodbye to all the friends we had made, and on Sunday morning about 8 am, Adolfo (Penny’s Spanish boyfriend who we were taking to Tenerife) came aboard, and as there was little wind we dropped our mooring and motored out to the entrance, putting up our sails as we went. As we did so all the other yachts started blowing their fog horns and waving us goodbye.
British Yacht “Stella Mira”
I had your letter last week, but delayed replying, as the bearings had arrived from Stuart Turner and I had made arrangements to be hauled out. We are now out lying on a cradle alongside the pier at the yacht club. The tide just reaches us at high water. Since we have been out I have given the bottom another two coats of anti fouling and the top another coat of paint. We now look very pretty, so everyone tells us, and I must say I agree. The boat is now pale blue with a red bottom. The top plank I have left white in the class condition. The combing is now a darker blue, as we could never keep the varnish smart on it and we shall now be able to touch it up with paint, easily. (I feel the need to touch up occasionally) we are keeping the coach roof and the cockpit combing varnished but painting the seats to match the hull, as varnish wears off after a few weeks.
As we had existed on snacks during the race, we thought we would now go ashore, have a look round, and get a meal. According to Hugh, boats to and from the beach were suppose to be laid on, but after 10 minutes spent shouting “ mariniero” and “ bote” with no response, we became discouraged and were just about to inflate our Avon (dinghy), when a dark shape loomed up out of the darkness. It turned out to be the dinghy of a powerboat which was usually moored next to Hugh’s Tiburon back in Las Palmas, and whose hired hand had recognized his voice. We all piled in and soon landed through fairly heavy surf, on a steep beach. About a mile further along the beach, so we had been told, was a hotel.
The wind now began to freshen. We put two rolls in our main but kept our genoa flying. Coronado also reefed at this time. Carmelo was now in the best position, instead of reefing, he was able to free his sheets a little, and head downwind. He slowly drew ahead. The position when we passed the lighthouse was: Esperanza a quarter mile in front of us, with Coronado behind Carmelo but well downwind. The only other boats in sight were Ramon about 250 yards in front of Carmelo and Atlantis on the horizon downwind. (She had broken a stay and was later towed to Morro Jable.) Beyond the lighthouse in the lee of land, the sea was almost flat.
Sim's account of the Great International Race to Jandia
Jandia (pronounced Handia) is a lighthouse on the southwestern tip of the island Fuertoventura. It is on a bearing of 107 Degrees Magnetic from Las Palmas and said to be 60 miles. We were asked by the Real Club Nautico de Gran Canaria to enter for the race, as were all the other visiting yachts. We understood that this was the first of what was to be an annual race there. The start was scheduled to be at 7.30 in the morning. On the night before, all the crews were asked to attend a meeting for briefing. There were 14 boats entered, of which 8 were club boats and the visitors.
Las Palmas British Yacht “Stella Mira”
C/O Real Club Nautico De Gran Canario,
Las Palmas, Canary Isles.
I hope that you are all well and that you are all settling down and still like Perth. Though it’s a bit late now if you don’t.
Forgive me if I don’t write any details of our trip to Las Palmas in this letter. We are rushed off our feet trying to prepare the boat for our next step. I have had your letter for several days now but this is the first time I have had a chance to answer it. It is a dull day, otherwise we would be continually interrupted by visitors.
I hope you are as well as this leaves us. This is just a short letter which I will put in with Len’s. We have had a good trip so far with nothing worse than force seven. The next leg of our journey, although one of the longest, should be sunshine with fair winds behind us. The boat, except for the self steering, which still does not work, is proving to be very satisfactory, and we are becoming more and more proficient at handling her. Your fears of a jinx were groundless. Several other boats are here waiting to cross the Atlantic, ours is amongst the largest, and our equipment and stores superior to most. The yacht club, here has offered us all their facilities and we have been adopted by two English members, a retired Lt Colonel and his wife.
We will write in detail, giving you all the tale of our trip, when we have had time to see to our immediate needs, so this will only be a short letter. Write and let us know what kind of voyage you had. We missed you by a week, and I can imagine how disappointed you must have been.
I hope that you and Lesley like Perth and that you and Queen enjoy your holiday together.
I wish you were here, everyone we meet expresses friendship towards us and the other boats ask us aboard for drinks and a good old natter. You’d love it.
I’ll stop now, because I want to write a nasty letter to Tillerman.
All my love
Las Palmas British Yacht “Stella Mira”
C/O REAL CLUB NAUTICO
De GRAN CANARIO,
You will no doubt be surprised to get a letter from me after all this time. My literary short comings are not from lack of intention but from sheer laziness. At the moment we are lying about 200 yards from the yacht club at Las Palmas. Penny has come back from shopping and keeps distracting my attention by talking to me, which gives me a good excuse to stop writing, but I must not be tempted.