Our approximate route
The boat is provisioned, the chores are done, and we have explored our 4th Canarian Island.  So we think the time has come to head west.  On the map is an approximate path, but of course it will change depending on the wind and weather.   Right now, we are planning to go directly to Saint Martin, but we may decide to stop in the Cape Verde Islands if the trade winds are not settled enough.  We won't be keeping up this blog at sea—no internet out there for us!—so you can check on our progress by going to YOTREPS.  The address is http://www.pangplin.co.nz/yotreps/reporter_list.php    Our boat will appear on the first page under my ham call sign AB0T with the boat name Cormorant beside it.  Click on it and a google map of our latest location will come up, along with a very brief note about how we are doing.  The total distance is just over 2800 miles, and it should take us around 3 weeks.  Keep writing us your news along the way for sure.  Some we can get at sea and the rest will be a very big welcome back to the Americas for us when we reconnect.  So please do write; send those Christmas letters.

Cloud forest, La Gomera
We have been here in La Gomera since Monday, and we are very glad we decided to stop here.  It is really still a very local place, with tourism an important part of the economy, but no big group tour hotels, no international airport, and no English grocery stores.  People are Canarian and they speak Spanish.  We spent one day riding the bus across the island and also rented a car for a day with other cruisers.  No volcanic activity has occurred here in over 2 million years, but the island is circular and still looks like a large single cone, but with dramatic cliffs and valleys created by erosion.  In the center, at the top of the island, is a large national park with forests of laurel and related species in the cold cloud forest.  It is wet all the time, with lots of lichens, mosses and ferns along with the local pines, laurels, and small spruce looking trees.  One of the major activities here is hiking, but we contented ourselves with the bus and car.  The hikes are steep and slippery, so we opted to preserve our bones and muscles for the crossing.  No "Bataan death marches" this time. 

Harry aloft
Today is full of all the last minute jobs.  I did three buckets of wash this morning, enjoying the luxury of unlimited water out of a hose (no laundromat here )  Harry has been up the mast to check all the shrouds and blocks and lube the mainsail track.  Now he is making a new antenna for the AIS because the one we have is in the way of the wind steering sail when we go downwind—which we will on this passage.  Tomorrow morning we'll make a quick trip to the market for fresh apples, carrots, mangos and avocados.  Then we'll be off.

Don't forget to write, please.  Use the same address you always do, and we will get it.

getting ready
It is Thanksgiving Day here on La Gomera island in the Canaries.  As of yesterday morning, we had no idea how we were going to celebrate this wonderful American holiday.  Now, we have all 3 American boats in the marina getting together, and in the spirit of the holiday, a couple from Scotland are also coming.  As you can see, I made a pecan pie and some cornbread last night.  Today I will try to transform the cornbread into stuffing for a rolled turkey breast.  They do sell turkey here, but it has no skin or bones!  Hopefully the internet ideas I found will keep it moist enough.  If not, there is always gravy.  Pete on Norna is making a stuffed chicken with his father's recipe, Janey on Tsolo is doing yeast rolls, I am also making some balsamic green beans, and the Scots will bring a surprise.  It should be lots of fun in the tradition of Thanksgiving.  And we are truly thankful.

Happy trio
 At the last update, Dale had just left from Tenerife.  On her last day, we set the camera up on a rock and got a good, happy photo of the 3 of us which we wanted to share here.  After a few days, we decided it was time to get on to La Gomera, so on Monday morning we made the 26 mile trip to San Sebastian de La Gomera.  This is the other traditional jumping off point for the Atlantic crossing, besides Las Palmas.  Columbus left from here on his first trip.  The marina is full now, with probably half the boats planning to cross and the other half winter live-aboards.  We have met lots of people and the atmosphere is that of a true cruiser marina--so fun for us. 

Atlantic rowboat, 2 person
One surprise is that in addition to all the boats getting ready to cross, there are 17 rowing boats!  They leave on Sunday, Dec. 4 to ROW to Barbados.  Two are going solo, but the rest are 2, 4, and 6 person crews.  What an amazing challenge they face.  We now have a definite date range for leaving, since we want to go before they do.  Such low boats with little lights will be very hard to see, and it would be horrible to hit one.  So we will certainly--or as certain as one can be on a boat--be underway before the 4th.  More soon...

Dale left Monday night and is now safely back home and snug in her own bed.  On the boat, we are slowly finding all the things we stowed away to clear her bed--which is normally our "garage".  We had the rental car for another 2 days, so several trips to grocery stores were next on the list.  People always want to know how we manage food and supplies for a long trip, but the easy answer is that we just buy as much of the stuff we like as we can find room for, and it all works out.  Important things have to be carefully planned for though.  In the photo are 2 liter cartons of no sugar added fruit juice.  During land time I measure how much we use, and for fruit juice, it is 2 liters a week.  Our Atlantic crossing should only take about 3 weeks, but we don't want to have to go grocery shopping right away, and of course we aren't leaving right away either.  So 10 more 2 liter boxes joined our stores yesterday.  The other essentials are toilet paper, crackers and peanut butter, rice, pasta, and as many fresh fruits and vegetables as we can fit in the cool box.  We could easily go several months without re-provisioning, and CORMORANT is just about as loaded as we want her to get. 

We are enjoying Marina San Miguel here on Tenerife and will stay in the peace and quiet for another few days before moving on to La Gomera.  We are getting eager to go now, so it won't be long.

At El Teide, Tenerife
Internet continues to be difficult to find, so again this will be short.  We sailed to Las Palmas overnight, trying all the time to slow down so we would not arrive before dawn.  We wanted to go because any sailor knows that it is the traditional departure point for crossing the Atlantic to the west.  Even Columbus knew this!  The Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, 250 boats strong, leaves from there on Sunday the 20th, so we were concerned that we would not find room in the anchorage, but we were wrong.  All the rally boats were in the marina, so we independent cruisers had plenty of room.  We loved the place, walking all over in the old town to see the Columbus museum and taking the bus up the mountain to wonderful botanic garden.  Gran Canaria is dry and volcanic too but not as starkly beautiful as Lanzarote.

Volcanos everywhere
But the calendar was moving on, as it does, so very early in the morning on Friday we raised the anchor in Las Palmas and motor sailed to Tenerife.  Dale has a flight to meet and Harry wanted to connect with an old friend from his Foxboro days who is only here until Wednesday.  After a terrible night at a sub-standard marina called the Marina del Sur, we moved to Marina San Miguel only 3 miles down the coast and are happily settled.  We have rented a car and yesterday drove across the high volcanic canada and took a windy and sometimes cold hike around some fantastic volcanic rock formations.  Luckily we chose the right direction so it was fun and not another "Bataan death march".

Dale has to leave tonight and we are really going to miss her.  She has been such fun, as well as a very valuable member of our crew.  The time has flown by, and she has an open invitation to join us anywhere, anytime.  We will spend the next few days reorganizing our boat and finishing jobs we need to do before the passage.

Flag of Morocco
We left Rabat-Sale, Morocco on Saturday, 29 October, together with 22 other boats.  The "window" for crossing the bar was only about 3 hours, so everyone was nervous about getting through the formalities of passports, customs, and surf in time.  Luckily Harry and Mike had talked with the police ahead of time, and they agreed--for probably the first time ever--to clear boats on the dock and let us leave after clearing.  We were the second boat, and we thought we were free to go.  But NO, we had to go back!  They had been unable to get the drug dog aboard, and we thought they said it was OK.  We had to return to the dock, side tie, and have our canine guest and 2 handlers aboard.  We passed, and off we went.  It was a smooth, uneventful passage, with good sailing wind most of the way. 

Our Canary, hitching a ride
On our last afternoon, a tiny bird landed on deck and very quickly made itseft at home.  It came inside, sat on our arms and heads, and as dark fell, it was inside.  We searched the boat the next morning, but it was nowhere to be found.  We were just offshore, so it must have flown home.  It was, we think, a canary!

We rented a car and have explored Lanzarote for the past 2 days.  The first day we ended at the seaside home of friends we first met cruising in the San Blas Islands of Panama in 2000, and whom we last saw in New Zealand in 2004.  Below is a photo of us with John and Steffi.  It was a wonderful reunion.  Somehow, they have not aged a single bit.

We made landfall today just after 1 in the afternoon and are now moored in Porto Calero Marina on the east coast of Lanzarote.  A full post about our check-out in Morocco (quite the musical chairs scenario) and the sail here will follow, but first I will try to finish