We are in the final preparations for crossing the Atlantic. Mathew, who sailed from Borneo up to Lamut, Malaysia with Slick, returns on Wednesday morning and there is only a little work left aside from the big provisioning. We moved into a very nice marina in downtown Santa Cruz to take care of all the remaining issues and then it is time to make a very big hop across a very big pond.

Recently on Slick, we continued to stay in Lanzarote as the neighbors were friendly and the island was at least interesting. We made a tour of the island with the Turkish lady and the German guys. It was pretty amazing. There was a lot of lava flows from recent eruptions and the whole island is a desert landscape pock marked with the remainders of scoria cones. Even the wine growing regions were carved out of the landscape in a strange way emulating the surrounding volcanism. Combine this with the enormous swell pounding the north and west coasts of the island and the result is a rugged primeval landscape that is most likely not meant for human habitation.

Finally after numerous dinner parties and several good reviews for Restaurant Slick on tripadvisor it was time to leave. We made and over-nighter and landed at the south end of Tenerife. We stayed the night in a marina but it turned out to be expensive and we got lied to about how good the local fish dishes are. We saw a pod of pilot whales on the transit over though and even caught our first dorado. It was only a little female so we put her back in the ocean. We are hoping that she will go tell all her big sisters how nice the guys on Slick are and we can catch them later.

The next day we headed over to La Gomera. Its a pretty nice island and the marina is quiet, laid back and lacking all the pretension of the ARC or the Atlantic Odyssey which is found elsewhere in the archipelago. This, of course, was a welcome relief as I am allergic to ARC sailors, mostly. We came here to do some hiking and the hiking we did was awesome. The first hike was on the dry side of the island, even though right now everywhere is very green. It was steep, and long and it really beat us down. But it was great, stunning views, high cliffs and cool landscape made for a great day. At the end of the trail we were exhausted, as the rise was around 3500 feet of elevation gain over six miles and then 1 mile to get down. The down hurt more than the up actually. On the road back we put our thumbs out and a nice Finish couple picked us up and took us back to town.

Once our muscles recovered we decided to go on a second hike. This time we took a bus to the top of the volcanic island and walked down. The catch here though is that it was like 55 degrees or less and raining hard. We went fast down and down and down. Once we left the rainy forest we came into a beautiful canyon and followed a stream awhile. At the end of this was some trail so unbelievably steep that it was like climbing down a rock ladder. There was maybe 1000 feet of drop as you approached the town. The amazing thing though was that if you turned to look back you saw the stream fell down a non-neglectable waterfall. When we got to town we just missed the bus and waited for two more hours for the next one. The ride home was over some very rugged volcanic terrain.

We left to return to Tenerife the next day, there was new snow covering the massive volcano in the distance. The weather forecast was calling for 20 knots of wind and 6-8 foot waves. No problem. Except there is a massive acceleration zone between the two islands when the wind blows just a certain way, and it was. We left between squalls and got out of the harbor just in time to let another blow by. It was the last of the day and the wind was around 30 knots. The wind dropped back to a nice 15-20 and we jib sailed on a beam reach with broadside waves. It was quite nice, but then we hit the acceleration zone. The wind jumped up to 25-30 and then held steady around 30-32. We reefed the big 142% genoa down to where you couldn’t even read the sail numbers and Slick moved along with ease, making 6-8 knots. Then the swell started getting bigger and bigger as we made distance from land. At the height of it the swell and wind waves combined for probably 20 feet and I even had one break hard over Slick’s cockpit, soaking me in white froth. This kept on and there were some boats coming the other way. Jefe the Autopilot was not happy with the point of sail and I took over driving. It was a good thing as the wind continued to build. It was fun to helm but I am not very good at it and my helming muscles went the way of all my other muscles. So I was getting tired, at least my right arm was getting tired. It was a rodeo for 3-4 hours, much longer than the usual 8 seconds. Then, all of the sudden, the wind just stopped. It went from gale force to nothing in about 15 minutes and the waves died down soon after. We motored into a marina for the night and slept with the aid of suitable exhaustion. I hope I don’t see conditions like that again, but to be honest, it was kind of fun. Had it lasted another 3-4 hours though I think I would have not enjoyed the thrill.

The next day we moved to Marina Tenerife. It sucked. But we couldn’t leave as a wind storm came up and it rained hard, so we decided it best to stay there. Then after getting diesel we moved down here to Marina Santa Cruz. Its a lot nicer. I don’t know if that is true actually, but it is in town. I was able to do some shopping for some parts that broke, like a new foot pump and some other things. There is also a shop here that has all the flags of the Caribbean countries, so I need to take an inventory and head over.

Its pretty amazing to think that in less than a week we will hopefully be leaving to head to St. Lucia in the Caribbean. I am hoping for a maximum of 18 days transit. If we could do the speeds we managed in the Pacific then it would only be about 16 days but Slick is an old lady now and so she doesn’t like being pushed so hard. What’s really amazing is that in about a month I will have completed over half of the remaining 5500 nautical miles remaining in my trip. The end is near!