Portugal to Canary Islands: Day 1

Day 1 (Thursday 1 September):

By the time we left anchorage, the wind had died down and was a perfect speed and direction for the day’s travels. We motored out of the harbour and past many fishing boats and buoys before soon turning the motor off for the day. The sails were soon set and we were broad reaching in 15-20 knots of wind and moving along swiftly towards our destination.

As we were approaching the edge of the continental shelf just after lunch, we spotted “loads” of dolphins, by the kids’ estimation. They were larger than the dolphins we had seen in the Bay of Biscay, but equally playful. Several played around in our bow wake for quite some time, keeping the kids well entertained and allowing them to easily forget about the schoolwork which was waiting for them below decks! The dolphins seemed to be taking advantage of the good fishing grounds to be found in the upwelling zone near the shelf break. On the shelf, the water temperature was at 19.4 degrees Celsius. After crossing the continental shelf, the water temperature increased to 21 degrees. (We would see it steadily increase – hitting above 28 on day 3!)

Later, the wind began filling in to about 20-25 knots from behind. The swell was quite large and it kept the boat steadily rolling. It remained so throughout the night. Early in the afternoon, a little bird was seen landing on our child netting. Roughly 30 miles offshore, this tiny bird, about the size of a sparrow, was quite out of place. He would certainly be best suited eating insects in someone’s back garden. (At the time, we didn’t realize it, but he was likely catching a ride to his holiday destination. He didn’t resurface until day 3… but he remained on board. I hope he brought his passport!)

Portugal to Canary Islands: Day 0

Day 0 (Wednesday, 31 August):

The night before we left Portugal, bound for the Canary Islands, we moved to an anchorage just outside of Cascais marina. While in Cascais, a north wind had picked up every afternoon from around 4pm until late evening. We were told by residents that this phenomenon was called “nortado” and that it happens most days. Our afternoon in the anchorage was no exception. In fact, it was an enhanced reality! The winds did kick in, and this time they kicked with force. Gusts reached at least 39 knots and we saw steady winds in the low 30s. It was a rolly, windy evening, but our anchor held fast.

More exciting, was the experience of those around us. Over our time in Cascais, we have been surrounded by SB20s (20 foot, high performance, racing sailboats) from around the world that are in port for the SB20 World Championships. These boats were just coming in from racing as the winds were picking up speed. As they arrived at the anchorage to dock or pick up a mooring for the night, the gusts were showing their strength. Boats were screaming past, capsizing, losing hold of their halyards, and generally putting on a show – all within 50 meters of us. One in particular, barely cleared our bow as he came past. While we were not concerned for ourselves in any way, his beautiful jib would not have faired well against our spare anchor that was at the ready to shish-kebob his sail!

The anchorage was windy enough that we discussed heading out and making headway towards the Canary Islands. However, as we knew from heading into the port, there were many fishing pots and buoys awaiting us, so we felt it best to depart in daytime. A morning departure assured us better visibility of all fishing boats and gear, as well as shipping traffic for the first 50 miles (10 hours of travel) away from the Portuguese coast.

Setting off for Spain

We are ready to leave Falmouth after fun week enjoying our last days in the UK (for now). We are prepped and ready for our voyage to Spain.

The 500-mile trip should take us four days and we expect to arrive Tuesday evening. You can follow us on our website tracker maps.

We are looking forward to tapas and sunshine!

Oban to Gigha Island

After completing the three-day passage through the Caledonia Canal, our first port of call was Dunstaffnage Bay, Oban.  While the rain and light winds continued, our spirits were lifted by sharing the ritual of Cocktail Hour with the kids.  We introduced them to cold ginger beer with generous wedges of lime upon arrival in Oban.

Our arrival in Oban was perfectly timed to allow our trusty crew, Rona, to meet up with us.  Rona is joining us onboard Laridae for the first portion of the trip.  She is an experienced sailor (one of the kids sailing instructors at ASYC), amazing with children, and a true pleasure to have join as a member of the family.  She is teaching us something new every day, and hopefully she is receiving a fun experience in return!

With the arrival of Rona, the rain subsided and the sun returned with a perfect beam reach in 10-20 knot winds during the 60 mile passage from Oban to Gigha Island.  We picked up a mooring ball at about 5 PM and immediately launched the dinghy to explore the clear waters and sandy beaches.  Basking in the warm sun, the kids explored the shallows and tide pools until we begrudgingly forced them back into the dinghy to return for dinner and bed.  We had an early morning in front of us for another 70 mile day to Bangor (Northern Ireland) the next morning.

Caledonian Canal: Locks and lochs…

We were all excited to start our journey home by getting to experience the Caledonian Canal one more time.  The canal system is so amazingly run and lovely. Views along the canal are lovely and there are wonderful places to experience and enjoy along the way. The canal system is worth exploring by land or by boat. It is definitely a feat of engineering!

Our first day’s travel brought us to Dochgarroch Lock and day two just though that one lock to the north end of Loch Ness. The kids got to explore a bit by scooter (SO thankful we made room for these!) while we spent a day letting the winds calm a bit on Loch Ness.

The next day wasn’t much calmer, but it had calmed enough to make it worth moving onward. Other than the headwinds and waves, our journey across Loch Ness was slowed down a bit by the fact that we wanted to take some CTD samples in a transect across the lake!  Science was a well-covered topic that day for the kids homeschooling!

After crossing Loch Ness and possibly seeing Nessie on our depth sounder (Dorian is STILL convinced!), we made it up the set of 4 locks in Fort Augustus and then moved to stay near the one playpark we know of on the canal for the night.

We then made our way out of the canal system, making sure to get in one more set of CTD casts as we went through the lochs.

As we made our way into the final sea lock at Corpach, we were reminded that the Caledonia Canal is ‘sisters’ with the Rideau Canal in Ottawa, Canada.  The flags above Angela (photo below) clearly show our voyage route from Scotland to Canada.

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The Caledonia Canals is “sisters” with the Rideau Canada in Canada.

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Descending into the final sea lock to rejoin the salt water at Corpach, Scotland.

Crinan Canal passage

In September 2015 we delivered Laridae (formerly named Happy Hippie) from James Watt Dock in Greenock (near Glasgow) to the Inverness Marina in Inverness.  We enjoyed a week of perfect weather (it’s rare to have seven consecutive days of settled weather!) and passaged through the Crinan and Caledonian Canals.

The Crinan Canal is 14 km long and was built between 1794 and 1801.  There are 15 locks and they are manually operated by the most friendly canal staff.  It was a beautiful passage.  Anneka and Dorian have done their best to create a short timelapse movie of our passage from Ardrishaig (on the south side) to Crinan (on the north side) and finally to Oban.