Life at Anchor on a Desert Isle

Safe at Anchor in Graciosa

Good morning, everyone! After just eight days, we have arrived in the Canary Islands, under power, on a beautiful though windless day.

When she has 8-10 knots of wind, La Luna is faster under sail than she is powering with no wind. As navigator, I kept an eye on our course, speed, and projected time of arrival. Just 800 miles south of the Azores, the sun sets much earlier here in the Canaries. During my morning watch I pushed the throttle up on the engine and learned firsthand what EW had told me years ago: A boat will only go so fast, and La Luna will go faster under sail. When we are powering, once we have reached a certain speed, more throttle wastes diesel and works on the engine without pushing us any faster.

Of course I remembered that, after I had added thrust for 15 minutes with no corresponding reduction of projected arrival time. I powered down and relaxed for what could have been another night at sea, running back and forth north of the island. Later in the afternoon, EW was on watch and we were still working at getting in before dark. We were just over two hours from our mark north of the island, and would have had to motor another 8 miles from there to the marina, getting us in after dark. Well, that wouldn't work. Finally, I had the bright idea of seeing what would happen if we approached the south point of the island, instead. (It's a pretty small island.) It would take two hours to get there, as well, but the anchorage is just a mile from that point -- so we decided to go for the anchorage.

After three months in the Azores, where most boats don't even try to anchor, at six in the evening we entered a small bay where twenty other boats were already on the hook. (Once we have daylight on Saturday, I intend to compare where we are to the charts. This bay looks nothing like what EW and I expected.) The bay shoals up to three feet pretty quickly, and we were both a bit confused and concerned coming in so I swung way to the east, before turning north into the anchorage when we would be moving among other keeled boats. I figured if they had enough depth, we would as well.

We decided to try for a spot in 20 to 25 feet of water. We anchored, felt we were too close to the bow of another boat, lifted the anchor, moved ahead and to port about 30 feet, and re-anchored. Perfectly. With calm voices, working as an excellent team, in total agreement. We were safe at anchor just after sunset; I set the anchor alarm; EW hung our anchor light; I made granola for tomorrow's breakfast, and a light tapas dinner; EW made gin and tonic cocktails for two.

Sitting in our cockpit, we gleefully high-fived, and both of us confessed that we had been thinking about how much better we were at anchoring than we had been nearly four years ago in the Bahamas. We anchored in a lot of crowded bays in the Bahamas, and I wasn't used to it. We'd had a very rough anchoring experience in a crowded bay in Maine -- when we had my niece Hazel on board -- and let's just say I lost a bit of confidence in EW's anchoring expertise at that point.

He readily admits he made an error in anchor scope that night. The result was that I began to second (and third and fourth) guess him whenever there were a lot of boats. In the Bahamas, he wanted to throw me overboard; we did not work as a team; and we did not use our best voices. We (I) would drive the boat through an anchorage. EW, on the bow, would point out spot after spot, each of which I would reject as being too close to other boats. It was not a shining moment in our marriage. The contrast between those days and last night was remarkable. I pointed out a spot -- one that EW had already identified. I drove the boat slowly to that spot calling out the depth. When we reached 25 feet, EW dropped the hook. Even though we had to raise and repeat -- in fact perhaps because we had to raise and repeat and did so in perfect agreement --- this was a stress-free and perfect anchoring moment.

We congratulated ourselves over cocktails and reminisced about anchoring in the Bahamas, when EW said, "You've come a long way." I was nonplussed. "Really?" I thought about it and began to laugh. "What's so funny?" EW asked.

"You know, Honey, I've always thought that we had met in the middle when it came to anchoring," and I held my hands up in front of me, moving them to meet together just south of my breast bone. "Right," he said, not meaning "right" at all. "Oh no, you're right," I said. "I got better at this anchoring thing and joined your point of view." I held my left hand out on my left side, and "drove" my right hand over to meet it in a swooping motion. "Yeah," said EW. "My hand didn't need to move."

He admitted to his mistake in Maine, and I grinned and acknowledged that except for that one time, he'd been right all along. Sometimes marriage is about compromise and coming together in the middle. Sometimes it's about getting over yourself and learning what your spouse can teach you. I can accept that.

Afterward, we moved our bed back to our cabin and cuddled together, falling asleep in each others' arms for the first time in eight days. So far life is good in the Canaries, too.

We believe that no one works at the marina over the weekend we can't check into the country until Monday, so we will stay here on the hook until then and will probably not try to get ashore for real WiFi. Time to relax, get to know our neighbors, swim, and enjoy being in a cruisers' anchorage for the first time since Sint Martin.

Our position: North 29 13.10 West 13 31.74


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Phoenix of Hamble

Congrats on another safe passage... enjoy the Canaries... they are very commercial in many respects, but a little effort will find the real islands, and when you do find them, they are truly beautiful.. some of the older villages are gems... just a bit better hidden than the Azores!


So while you are blissfully swinging on the hook I am putting the framing up for the winter cover in Yarmouth. I'd rather be where you are, but since I will be spending an unplanned winter in Maine, I'll make the best of it. The leaves are changing, firewood is stacked and it won't be long ......
Have fun! Your adventures are helping to keep me sane.

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