The Canaries and beyond
After days of frenzied stowing we left Morocco and ploughed into a gurgling, pitching sea. As we looked back to El Jadida, one man sat in a rubber ring fishing. An apt farewell to a marvellous country full of bizarre odours and sights.
In familiar Lista style, a good, green, percentage of us attempted to live the following days in a completely lateral state.
The winds blew and we surged away from Africa to the Canaries, with a good measure of infuriating, sail flapping nothing. Then, finally, the volcanoes of Graciosa in the early morning.
Graciosa was a world apart from the familiar Canary experience, I'm afriad. The white stilletos and see-through chiffon slip had to be packed away for another day.
It did have volcanoes, birds, tiny sheltered coves where a metropolitan group of spotty, stripey fish hanged out,grazing sea weed like a herd of Wielderbeast.
So a bit of bird watching began. Hoopoes, great grey black shrikes, huge flocks of linnets and loads of pippits. My book had exhausted it's Eruopean range, so many a warbler evaded an official naming ceremony.
The sanderlings had been a familiar site during our travels.
As had maintaining the old gal. More nips and tucks were in order...
A few more sunsets.
A run on top of the world.
December arrived and a wee snatchet of festivities was required. Starting with an Advent calendar. This developed into the windows of delights, with each of us promising all kinds of treats and small eats behind them.
Next came the stock take. Calclutaling the mammoth ammounts of supplies needed for sustaining five firsty ferrets. (Sorry couldn't resist bringing the wee , hairy nippers, Humperdink and Pimpernickle, into the preceedings. When it comes to consuming, rather killing, they reigned supreme).
We met a fine pair of Italians, Pucci and Anna. Together they had voyaged from the Meditteranean in what looked like two shoes. Yup, each slept and lived in their respective 'kayak' bound together in the shape of a catamaran. The point of the reference, was that they sought us out for bird identification. Last year they had seen this mighty bird on rounding the bend to Graciosa. A white-tailed tropic bird., which is just the bird we shall be surveying in the Caribbean.
We set sail for Grand Canaria, our final staging and stocking post before the Atlanic crosing. Furious repairs, painting and buying proceeded. As well as some rather dodgy gas manoeuvres and a Chinese laundry.
Dave had a new lover. His wind turbine box, lovingly fashioned by his own gnarled hands.
Anne and Dirk our Canadian- Dutch compadres who we had met in Morocco ended up on the next pontoon from us in Las Palmas, made for the Atlantic after a flurry of 'canning'. Canning is a respected and long established art whereby just about anything can be preserved........
oh, forgot to mention the chickens!! As seen in precious log we departed Morocco with a bit of livestock - the intention had been to mange' on the way, old school preservation, but sadly the combination of rough sea and land-legs meant they made it to see Graciosa before they, well, departed this life. Some lessons from the experience:
We bought chickens for the crossing from Morocco to canaries - Chickens were a great success only in the sense that we maintain some semblance of life in them for 4 straight days at sea in some heavy sea. And they ate well (i mean they tasted nice, see point two below). It the following areas they were not a success at all:
1. poop. Incredible quantities of slurry. I had forewarning of poo in our former landloving days when our bantems took our caravan to be their own. But it was piled up in concise and petit stacks, crusty and easily flicked over the threshold. Not so with our new friends. Nor would they keep it to themselves, jets of watery mute were sliced across the deck on their occasional promenades....
2. consumption. They would not. They rejected most meals out right, and others were flicked at with disdain before sitting upon the food bowl then eachother. They took slightly to some cous cous but not in our gaze, they were only found to have eaten in retrospect.
3. Smell. In accordance with the points above it should be easily deduced that there was a certain funky air to our livestock. I fear this may have been partially exaggerated by our own tender stomachs on a nauseously productive crossing, but the last thing a delicate nose needs is to be horizontal in the "sick bay" nigh on 9 inches from the anus of a decidedly diarrhoeal fowl.
4. sexy chicks. These were not. Should we get a fox or a moose. I was conflicted between religion and Darwinism - should one love all creatures all the same, even if some are downright leparitic, or should we discourage the production of ugly chickens by selecting only the most handsome? Or would that in itself extend the life and therefore the ability to procreate and spread genes of the ugly chicken left behind . . . hmm. anyway, it was that I selected one reasonably handsome fellow, and failed miserably with the next who, it turned out, had a pulsating and bulging bottom - it appeared to have had an anal prolapse. We got rid of him rapidly. We needed another, poultry are flock animals after all. The next chick was carefully selected amongst trillions in the Maroc market only to have his head whipped off and to be trussed up before we could find the French for "alive. Please". So he was replaced with another ill looking chicken not of our choosing in order that a rapid exit could be beaten.
5. Q-Flag, Quarantine/Regulations. Although it doesn’t say anywhere on the paperwork for entering the Canaries Islands that our two chickens from Africa are not permitted I would believe nor is it encourage. As it happens ours made no bid for freedom, to rape and plunder their infections into the local population of rare birds, but i suppose they could have. Dinner before docking seems to be the most appropriate course of action.
Lessons have been learned but we are not sufficiently dissuaded from trying to maintain a fresh Christmas lunch!
Bought two planters to start the onboard garden - and the spouting beans are positively rearing to go. The potatoes have even started!
....FINALLY, leading on nicely from poultry - it's 20 December 2008 and we are squeezed into the boat madly stashing onions, oranges and the new herb green house... Today we leave Las Palmas and head for the open seas in Christoper Columbus' wake. So HAPPY CHRISTMAS!!
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