November 10th to 15th.
We are just about ready to set sail on the next leg of our voyage. From Lanzarote it should be about a 7 day sail to Dakar in Senegal. I’m feeling a bit nervous not only because this will be the longest time that I’ve spent at sea out of sight of land (we will be passing the Western Sahara and Mauritania, but keeping about 100 miles off the coast; interesting places to visit I’m sure, but perhaps another lifetime), but also because West Africa will be hard work I suspect, although wonderful and fascinating. So I am looking forward to it as it marks the first real voyage into the unknown, whilst also wondering if we have left enough time to really explore and enjoy it. Also of course visiting a Muslim country after the recent horrors in Paris adds to my trepidation.
We had planned to leave yesterday but the metal tube that we’d brought out to replace the broken bit in the vang (don’t ask) wasn’t the right diameter so the very wonderful people at the marina here, who have been doing various jobs on Vega including lifting her out of the water and giving her lovely bottom a good polish whilst we’ve been away, will sort it tomorrow before we finally leave.
In the five days that we’ve spent on Lanzarote we hired a car so that we could spend a day driving around and look at some of the island. Fascinating it is too. Between 1730 to 1736 it was devastated by the eruption of volcanos that destroyed a large part of the island leaving a stunning landscape of extinct volcanos and lava fields which are now a national park. There is also an area of the island where the local wine is made, the vines being grown in pits in the ground to protect them from the trade winds, and surrounded by walls made of lava stone which absorbs moisture from the atmosphere and so keeps the vines moist. We visited a bodega and bought some wine, as well as enjoying the minerally Lanzarote white wine whilst we’ve been here.
The local hero is artist and architect Cesar Manrique who campaigned to ensure that tourism on Lanzarote developed in a low-key way, that buildings are no more than two stories and that the environment was respected. Clearly a visionary and decades ahead of his time. His impact on the island is ubiquitous, in the architecture and a number of spectacular public buildings that he designed. Included in our tour around was a visit to his former home.
Apart from that we have been to the supermarket three times to provision for the next few months ahead as we don’t expect to be in a marina again until the end of December, in Cape Verde, and have spent days stowing everything away. We have also bought a sturdy fishing rod and strong line. Mike, a neighbour at the marina, expert angler and source of all local knowledge, has given us advice and spare fishing gear. We expect to be feasting off fresh tuna and dorado from now on.
We plan to be in Dakar, Senegal next, then The Gambia where we are looking forward to Alex coming out to join us on a trip up the River Gambia, then Charlotte and Charlie who will be sailing with us from The Gambia to Cape Verde. Finally Steve will be coming out to Cape Verde at the end of December for the Atlantic crossing to Antigua in January.
PS We didn’t go on a camel ride 😉