In the Canaries

Well, I survived my first open ocean passage! We are now in the Canaries on an island named Graciosa. It is very rural, with no paved roads. All the cars here are Land Rovers and models of Toyotas meant for use in Africa! It’s pretty neat to be in a place so different in architecture from Europe. The culture here is still very European, which I guess is good, because it makes the culture shock less. As we head south toward Cape Verde, things will get increasingly less European.

The girls (Susha and Hannah) have decided that we should go to West Africa, specifically to the coast of Senegal. After all, we’re in the neighborhood, right? Evi and I think this is a fine idea, but it is a bit of a pain in the neck trying to get the right shots for Senegal when you are traveling. We tried in Spain, but struck out: a very nice doctor lady was at the clinic in the next town over, and had the vaccines, but her nurse was on vacation, and the doctor was not allowed to administer the shots without the nurse. Because of my trip to Romania a while ago, I’ve got most of what I need already. Poor Evi has to get FOUR shots: yellow fever, typhoid, tetnous, and something else I’ve forgotten already. It was funny watching the doctor pantomime where Evi had to get all the shots. It was like watching the maccarena!

So, we’ll try again here in the Canaries to get shots. Other more fun things coming up in the Canaries might include a camel ride up a volcano, and a visit to a banana plantation owned by a guy Susha met someplace in Spain. Susha is a girl with a guy in every port. When we got within range of the island, the phone started buzzing with SMS pages from all her buddies!

It is my night to cook dinner, and I need to shop still, so I’ve got to cut this short before I get into the story of the ocean passage. To whet your appetite, I’ll just tell you that it took two days longer than we expected (7 days at sea instead of a best case scenario of 5) because we had to weather a storm with sustained winds of 25-30 knots for 36 hours. I also was at the helm for our only squall, which packed winds of 30 knots, with a peak of 41 knots. For the non-sailors out there, 12 to 18 knots is a nice breeze to take a boat out in. In the US, 25 knots triggers “small craft advisories”. 30 knots is the official minimum for a storm to be “gale”. 60 to 80 are well into the hurricane range.

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