November 2018 – Gibraltar, Morocco, Canary Islands

Not our funniest month since we left France…

 

We had been dreading and postponing this moment for 2 years, but now it is really time to lift Aukena for a bit of cleaning, painting and streamlining.

After a LOT of research, we find a place that 1. can lift our 14 tons, 2. isn’t so expensive and 3. lets us live aboard while on shore : Isla Verde, in Algeciras.

The city is nothing more than we expected, and we didn’t expect much. It is basically a huge ferry port to Africa: no historic center, no cute streets with tapas bars, no nothing. On the bright side, at least we’ll stay focused on the work!

Paint, wood, welding, our to-do list is as long as a rainy week. Antoine starts building a windvane from scratch, and I spend 2 days going up and down the mast to change some halyards. We remove the rudder completely to change some loose Teflon pieces, which caused the autopilot to crash.

Mousse doesn’t really seem to want to explore the world, she’d rather participate in every activity we do. Great help.

To sum up, we should have picked another place. Yes, it is safe and clean (except the showers but you cannot ask too much), but it is located very far from the city, and just in front of a sewage treatment plant – the smell is terrible. Plus, the bill at the end is way more than anticipated: taxes here and there, stuff we bought directly from them… In a word, it’s not somewhere we would return!

 

November 10th – Canary Islands

It is then with a heavy heart and light wallet that we leave for Canary Islands. We’re hoping to reach Las Palmas directly, but once again, the weather is against us… After trying to understand the Gibraltar currents and failing as usual, we spend 7 hours with a 2-knot current ahead. Great.

Of course, we are also upwind, and we record our worst speeds ever since we bought the boat (we don’t go over 3-knot for more than 18 hours). Waves are short and annoying, the boat’s movement are really uncomfortable, it’s a nightmare. And it is not over…

The autopilot decides to shut down. Explanation: the loose Teflon pieces that we changed are now real tight, maybe a bit too much… We could have seen it coming when we had to put it back in place using a hammer, but we thought it would loosen with time and grease. The rudder is now too hard for the autopilot, which just stops piloting entirely.

Gran Canaria is still 300Nm away, and there is bad weather coming.

 

November 15th – Agadir

We give up after 5 days and head for Agadir, Morocco. We heard the shelter is not so bad there. However, we are a bit freaked out by the customs rules we found online…

  • Rabies test mandatory for all pets (nope)
  • Exhaustive listing of all food on board (no way)
  • No more than 1L of alcohol of any kind per person (lol)
  • Drones absolutely forbidden (ahah)

Luckily, when we arrive, the custom guys just stay aboard for 5 minutes, open 2 or 3 cupboards, stop for a millisecond before our 35 bottles of wine, rum and other liquors, and give Mousse a nice rub. I guess they are used to French travel yachts!

Just because we are stuck in Agadir for a few days, doesn’t mean we’ll just sit around and cry. 6-meters swell outside? Time to surf! No wind? Perfect for paragliding!

Even though the city itself completely lacks interest, we find plenty of stuff to do around. Plus, we develop a nice little community life in the marina, with a lot of boats stuck just like us.

 

November 22nd – Canary Islands (this time for real)

All boats leave mostly at the same time, some heading for Lanzarote, some for La Graciosa, some directly for Gran Canaria. We decide to let the wind take us wherever it’s better.

Aukena gained 2 crew members for this trip!
Alex et Max

Maxime and Alexandre are biking their way around the world (their facebook here), we are thrilled to help them cross this tiny part of the ocean. Despite a bit of seasickness at first, they kept watch, handled Mousse, cooked, in a word the perfect crew! We even manage to fish a small tuna to show them how it’s done.

 

November 25th – La Graciosa

After 3 days, we decide to stop on the quasi-inhabited island of La Graciosa. We did well: it is beautiful, quiet, nothing to do but everyone is happy and chill. The whole place feels out of time, the perfect stop for sailors.

 

November 26th – Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

Departure point of so many Atlantic crossings, official home of the ARC race, commercial and ferry port… Las Palmas is many things, but for us it will only be a night at the marina bar, and meeting 10 or 15 boat hitchhikers from all around the world.

  • It is a very weird feeling for me: we go along immediately with all those hitchhikers, being part of the same “young people on boats” community. But after a while, I can feel a gap spreading, because we are also members of the “boat owners” club. The walls in the bar are covered with flyers of people looking for a seat on a boat to cross the ocean, they call on us, almost accusing. What if we like our quiet and want to cross just the two of us..?

 

November 27th – Arguineguin

The next day, after saying goodbye to Alex and Max who will try to find a boat to South America, we head for our true destination, Arguineguin. We are about to start our 2-month internship to officially become PADI Divemaster! The anchorage is tiny, cute, well sheltered, we are back to working life!

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