Passage Pasito Blanco, Gran Canaria to Valle Gran Rey, La Gomera

31st December to 1st January

105.3Nm in 18.5hrs

A wonderful sail. We left earlier than planned as somehow all of the pre-passage jobs got done(!). After a short motor out of Pasito Blanco to find the wind we unfurled the twin headsails on their own, to test out what difference it made not having the main up. We were soon zipping along at about half of the true windspeed: we had a boat speed of 5 knots at 10 knows of true wind, 7 at 15, 8.5 or so at 20, and we reefed after that unless one of us was at the helm to monitor gusts. With both jibs held ‘out’ by the tracks on the outside of our boat, this works through a wider set of wind angles than we expected, too – all the way out to 130 degrees apparent. Given the simplicity of the setup, how much easier it is to ‘dump’ sail if sudden gusts arrive, and that it seemed to reduce yawing compared to our previous run with main and twin jibs, just using the headsails for offshore downwind sailing is a good option for us.

We made good time while the light lasted and were them treated to a beautiful night sky – so good that Arthur ran inside saying “I’ll just be a minute” and returned with his ‘Young Astronomer’ book and a torch so we could help him find the constellations. He went to bed (the sofa in the saloon he has claimed as his bed while on passage) when he got cold an hour or so later. As the kids sleep wonderfully while we are sailing, we adults managed to ring in the New Year a few miles off the coast of Tenerife, which treated us to the sight of about 50 fireworks displays (but no sound, which was weird). Of course, at 12:20 or so, after I made the mistake of mentioning how nice it was that they were all sleeping well, Hector woke up and was unsettled through the rest of the night with his teeth. But anyway…

The rest of the trip was mostly under sail in varying wind conditions, with an hour’s gentle motoring to find the wind as we had misjudged where Gran Canaria’s wind shadow would extend to; and a couple of hours more at the end in the shadow of La Gomera to get to Valle Gran Rey.

All of us were more than comfortable in the conditions, which is probably down to our extended time at anchor. No seasickness and we were all eating throughout, despite a little swell coming around the islands from various directions. In addition, the rudder seems free-er than on our previous trip (though I’m not sure it is as smooth as it should be), and the autopilot had no problems at all (though it wasn’t exactly strained by conditions). Our new wind transducer worked flawlessly, as far as we can tell – the speeds it gave matched our estimates, in any case. And the engine was fine, too.