Explore. Dream. Discover.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
– Mark Twain

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Welcome aboard Flying Fish. This is a newsletter about a youthful spirit cocooned in an aging body sailing around the world trying to make sense of a changing planet.


There is saltwater coursing through my veins—literally.

There is saltwater in all of us. The salinity of our blood is nearly identical to the salinity of the ocean. This may be a biological explanation for why I feel compelled to set sail across thousands of miles of open ocean. The other reasons are still not so clear.

When I was 25 years old, I left Florida for Europe alone in a 23-foot sloop named Betelgeuse–eight days after I was married. It was a voyage of high risk and adventure and, remarkably, 40 years later we are still married. My life has been a blessing. I sailed in my youth. Then, I worked hard. Now, I am sailing again. Today, I am en route around the world aboard a new boat, Flying Fish, a 46-foot Island Packet cutter designed for transoceanic passages.

Join me as I will raise the halyards on Flying Fish and embark on new journeys across miles of open ocean. Sailing is not just about the wind and the sea; equally important are the places where Flying Fish carries me. Many of the passages will again be sailed single-handed. There will be challenges and discoveries. (At age 65, I am no longer bulletproof, and this time I will chart my course through different oceans.) It will be a voyage of memoir, and a reaffirmation of life on this planet.

Now, onward! Capt. Jack Sparrow said it best: “Bring me that horizon.”


Please click “Follow” at the bottom of this page so that you don’t miss a new update, and please consider sharing this post with others who might enjoy following the voyage of Flying Fish.

The most current posts always follow this welcome message. There is an post index menu on the right side of the page. I welcome your comments, and I will always respond when I have an Internet connection. I will never share your personal information.

You can follow the daily progress of Flying Fish, boat speed (or lack thereof), and current weather as I sail by clicking this satellite uplink: https://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/Flyingfish. A Bonus: Click the “Show Legends and Blogs” box on the right side of the tracking page for passage notes while I am sailing offshore. 

To see where Flying Fish has sailed since leaving Key West in 2017, click here: https://cruisersat.net/track/Flying%20Fish.

Instagram: FlyingFishSail
Facebook: Jeffrey Cardenas

Text and Photography © Jeffrey Cardenas 2021

Let this be a time of grace and peace in our lives   – Fr. John Baker

An Ocean Ahead

A view from the volcanic landscape of the Canary Islands as a sailboat gets underway in the direction of the northeast tradewinds. © Jeffrey Cardenas

Tomorrow, Flying Fish sets sail for the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. The excitement of an imminent departure has my body and mind vibrating with anticipation. One more ocean ahead.

Onboard for this passage is the inimitable Ginny Stones, mother, dog lover, lawyer, sailor, and my life partner. We haven’t seen a lot of each other in the four years that I have been sailing Flying Fish. I have sailed alone for much of this voyage. Along the way, Ginny has caught up with Flying Fish for visits in Panama and Papeete, New Zealand and Sardinia, but this will be our longest period of time together onboard. Change is good.

Our routing for this passage is Gran Canaria to Antigua, approximately 3,000 miles. Rather than follow a great circle route, we will first head south to the latitude of Dakar before turning west to find the northeast tradewinds. The weather will be erratic during our first week with a strong gale and building seas developing to the north and deep pockets of calm air settled in to the south. Once near the Cape Verde Islands, the forecasting changes to show the consistent east-to-west prevailing winds that will carry us to the Caribbean. If all goes well, the passage will take 18-21 days, and that should give Ginny and me plenty of time to become reacquainted.

This will be the last post until we reach the other side, but you can follow the satellite track of Flying Fish across the Atlantic here: https://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/Flyingfish

There is also a space on that tracking page for passage notes, which I will post daily via satellite. Click the box, Legends and Blogs, for our thoughts and observations as we cross the ocean. Unfortunately, the low bandwidth of the satellite will not allow me to respond to your comments until we reconnect to WiFi again in Antigua.

Thank you for sharing this journey with us. Onward!

Ginny Stones, aboard Flying Fish in 2017, in our home waters of Key West. © Jeffrey Cardenas

Sailing is not just about the wind and the sea; equally important are the places where Flying Fish carries me, and the flora, fauna, and people I encounter along the way.

Please click “Follow” at the bottom of this page so that you don’t miss a new update,- and please consider sharing this post with others who might enjoy following the voyage of Flying Fish. I welcome your comments, and I will always respond when I have an Internet connection. I will never share your personal information.

You can follow the daily progress of Flying Fish, boat speed (or lack thereof), and current weather as I sail into the Atlantic by clicking this satellite uplink: https://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/Flyingfish. A Bonus: Click the “Legends and Blogs” box on the right side of the tracking page for passage notes while I am sailing offshore. 

To see where Flying Fish has sailed since leaving Key West in 2017, click here: https://cruisersat.net/track/Flying%20Fish.

Instagram: FlyingFishSail
Facebook: Jeffrey Cardenas

Text and Photography © Jeffrey Cardenas 2021

Let this be a time of grace and peace in our lives   – Fr. John Baker

We’re Jammin’

Photograph: © Jeffrey Cardenas

Full Disclosure: That’s not me up the mast. There was a time when it could’ve been me, but that ship has sailed. Photographic proof of me climbing a mast does grace (or deface) the cover of an Outside magazine article that chronicles my 1981 transatlantic crossing in Betelgeuse. That picture in Outside, shot from an angle directly beneath me–and up the leg of my shorts–exposes my, um, man parts. And it is published on the cover of a high-circulation national magazine! (And no, I’m not going to post a copy of it here.)

But I digress…

These days, I leave the mast-climbing gymnastics to the pros, and with good reason. My personal history includes a 16-foot fall to the deck of a boat, a severe crack on the head, and a metal knee, all of which now limit my boat work to the deck.

This recent mast work aboard Flying Fish was necessary to resolve a mainsail jam in the mast’s furling mechanism that occurred on passage from Fuerteventura to Gran Canaria. Jamming the mainsail is a serious problem, especially when the sail needs to be reduced in a hurry. I am fortunate that this didn’t happen in mid-ocean, in a gale, or I would have been the guy in the hardhat going up the mast—metal knee or no.

The mainsail furling system has frustrated me since the day I took delivery of Flying Fish, but this is the first time I have had to call in professional help to get it sorted out. A furling mainsail is one of the “conveniences” of a modern sailboat that has turned out to be not so convenient. It used to be that you would pull on a rope and the sail would go up, and when you released that rope the sail would come down. Simple, right? Now, the sail gets wound up inside the mast and it comes out like a sideways window shade. What could possibly go wrong with that? Of course, the sail will jam, and it’s always going happen at the worst time. The mast manufacturer blames the sailmaker, and the sailmaker blames the mast manufacturer. But neither of them is onboard when the sail is stuck.

I spent hours trying unsuccessfully to resolve this jam. I trimmed and winched and yanked, all to no avail. I Googled forums and troubleshooting websites. I pulled out my climbing rig twice, and then common sense prevailed and I put the gear away. If a sailor falls off the mast and no one is around to hear it, does he make a thud?

I finally said fuggit, sailed to Gran Canaria under jib alone. Once I made landfall, I called in the pros. Juan Manuel Santana and Airam “Lolo” Bautista, arrived with a pit bull named Vela (Sail) and agreed to climb the mast for 400 euros. Expensive, but it was Sunday, and the job wasn’t easy. After a couple of hours and several trips up and down the mast, Juan and Lolo cleared the jam. Vela and I just watched. Clearly, there was no way I could have done it alone. But maybe when I was 25 years old…

I never saw the Outside cover before it was published, the one of me climbing the mast of Betelgeuse and exposing my privates for a national audience. But when the magazine hit the newsstands, my wife’s secretary Deborah saw it, and she said, (I’m paraphrasing here) “Your husband is a famous sailor! He’s on the cover of a magazine, hey… wait… is that his…?

###

Juan Manuel Santana is geared up for safety to clear a jam of the mainsail inside the mast of Flying Fish. © Jeffrey Cardenas

Sailing is not just about the wind and the sea; equally important are the places where Flying Fish carries me, and the flora, fauna, and people I encounter along the way.

Please click “Follow” at the bottom of this page so that you don’t miss a new update,- and please consider sharing this post with others who might enjoy following the voyage of Flying Fish. I welcome your comments, and I will always respond when I have an Internet connection. I will never share your personal information.

You can follow the daily progress of Flying Fish, boat speed (or lack thereof), and current weather as I sail into the Atlantic by clicking this satellite uplink: https://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/Flyingfish. A Bonus: Click the “Legends and Blogs” box on the right side of the tracking page for passage notes while I am sailing offshore. 

To see where Flying Fish has sailed since leaving Key West in 2017, click here: https://cruisersat.net/track/Flying%20Fish.

Instagram: FlyingFishSail
Facebook: Jeffrey Cardenas

Text and Photography © Jeffrey Cardenas 2021

Let this be a time of grace and peace in our lives   – Fr. John Baker

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Siempre te recordaré, Lanzarote

Memory is the product of physical sensation, and what we taste, smell, hear, touch, and see forms the record of our life. The island of Lanzarote, so unique in every aspect, triggers each of the five sensations and maps them onto our brain’s cortex. As I set sail from Lanzarote this morning, I need only close my eyes to relive the past month on this idiosyncratic island in the Atlantic Ocean.

Gustatory, the sense of taste–At Arrieta, the succulent flavor of a grilled fish, still simmering, is served on the sand next to the sea. Along the Ruta de Los Volcanes, a chicken roasts over the raw-earth heat of an open volcanic fissure.

Olfactory–Before the first drops of a young Malvasía Volcánica reach my tongue, the aromatic mineral notes of this brilliant La Geria wine fill my head. Even Shakespeare’s characters longed for a “cup of canary.”

Auditory–Sunday morning church bells ring in the Haría Artesanal announcing the opening of the artisans market.

Somatosensory–In a Guatiza garden, the sensuous touch of a single finger moving along the velvet-textured leaves of aloe and agave terminates in a skin-piercing spine. It’s the age-old seduction of pleasure and pain.

Visual–In the historic quarter of the Villa de Teguise, a pretty girl in a colorful dress seeks shade against a whitewashed wall.

This is the Lanzarote that I will remember.

All images © Jeffrey Cardenas


Sailing is not just about the wind and the sea; equally important are the places where Flying Fish carries me, and the flora, fauna, and people I encounter along the way.

Please click “Follow” at the bottom of this page so that you don’t miss a new update,- and please consider sharing this post with others who might enjoy following the voyage of Flying Fish. I welcome your comments, and I will always respond when I have an Internet connection. I will never share your personal information.

You can follow the daily progress of Flying Fish, boat speed (or lack thereof), and current weather as I sail into the Atlantic by clicking this satellite uplink: https://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/Flyingfish. A Bonus: Click the “Legends and Blogs” box on the right side of the tracking page for passage notes while I am sailing offshore. 

To see where Flying Fish has sailed since leaving Key West in 2017, click here: https://cruisersat.net/track/Flying%20Fish.

Instagram: FlyingFishSail
Facebook: Jeffrey Cardenas

Text and Photography © Jeffrey Cardenas 2021

Let this be a time of grace and peace in our lives   – Fr. John Baker

Canary Island Cacti

The Mother-in-Law’s Cushion cactus, Echinocactus grusonii, grows to an immense size and would certainly make for an uncomfortable seat. © Jeffrey Cardenas

An irony of Canary Island cacti is that, despite being a ubiquitous part of this island’s landscape, not a single variety of cactus originated here. Nearly all of them came from the Americas. They are travelers, like me. They want to be here. When the Spaniards brought the plants to the Canaries from the New World, it was as if the cacti said to this scorched earth, “Where have you been all of my life?” The climate is perfect for Cactaceae. It is arid and windy with hot sun and cool night air, and the black volcanic soil is an ideal medium for a cactus. In addition to grapevines and date palms, cacti are nearly the only other natural thing on the island of Lanzarote colored green. And the cacti are not just green; they also show hues of red, purple, pink, and yellow. Volcanoes turned much of this island into shades of burned toast. The cacti arrived in a rainbow of color.

Cacti are sustainable visitors. They don’t consume resources (irrigation). They literally squeeze water from stone and then hold it during long periods of drought with brilliant biology that includes a wax-like skin layer and water-retaining cell membrane. And what use is a cactus, you ask? Aside from being a beautiful plant (see below), their fruit–the prickly pear–is a delicious and important food source in the Canary Islands. (You haven’t lived until you have eaten a freshly grilled red snapper on the beach served with prickly pear salsa.) More importantly, the Opuntia variety of cacti produces a commodity to Lanzarote that was once equal to the value of gold and silver. Inconceivably, it originated in the form of a wingless female parasite called cochineal.[1]

“…one of the most precious products to come out of the West Indies is the cochineal, a commodity equal to gold and silver.”

–King Felipe III, 1620

Like an aphid or mealybug, the cochineal insect buries its proboscis into the fleshy leaves of the prickly pear cactus and satiates itself on the plant’s moisture and nutrients. As the parasite grows, it absorbs a red pigment that, when processed, becomes carmine. Carmine dye was used by Aztecs and Mayans as early as the second century BC. Cities conquered by Montezuma in the 15th century paid their yearly tributes in bags of cochineal dye.[2] After the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire, cochineal was exported to Spain, and by the 17th century, it was a commodity traded around the world. Cochineal dye became Mexico’s second-most valued export after silver.[3] Dye pigments produced from the cochineal insect gave the Catholic cardinals their vibrant robes and the English “Redcoats” their distinctive uniforms. The dried bugs parts were so highly prized that cochineal was regularly quoted on the London and Amsterdam Commodity Exchanges. Large-scale production of cochineal emerged, especially in Latin America and the Canary Islands.[4]

Mexican Indian Collecting Cochineal with a Deer Tail by José Antonio de Alzate y Ramírez, 1777 © Public Domain

Today, dry cochineal powder is currently selling online for as much as $500 per kilo. It takes about 80,000 to 100,000 insects to make one kilogram of cochineal dye, and the Canary Islands produces some 20 tons per year.[5] The carmine dye from Lanzarote’s plants and elsewhere is primarily used as a colorant in cosmetics and food. The water-soluble form of cochineal is included in the ingredients of a wide variety of products, including processed meats, ketchup, alcoholic drinks, juice beverages, candies, and dairy products. There was a brouhaha 10 years ago when customers discovered that Starbucks was using cochineal insect dye to make their Strawberry and Creme Frappuccino. After the inevitable headlines, Starbucks reconsidered its recipe and announced it no longer colors its coffee drinks with bugs.

I had my first taste of cactus at Lanzarote’s stunningly beautiful Jardín de Cactus in the northeastern village of Guatiza. The café there specializes in green prickly pear burgers (from locally-grown cactus) served in a carmine-red sesame seed bun with a glass of freshly-squeezed cactus juice. Yum! The Lanzarote Cactus Garden is a botanical wonderland in an abandoned picon (volcanic soil) mine at the heart of the island’s prickly pear plantations. The garden has over 4,500 specimens of cactus and other succulents, including 450 different species originating from five continents. The creation of Jardín de Cactus was the final inspiration of Lanzarote’s favorite son, environmental artist César Manrique, who died shortly after the garden was inaugurated. The garden and its integration of artistic creativity into the environment was an essential part of Lanzarote being named a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1993.


The images below were made from the Jardín de Cactus and other locations on Lanzarote. For you botanists in the crowd, several photos show Euphorbaicea instead of Cactaceae (can you pick them out?) because, like many things in nature, these plants are too beautiful to be ignored.

Click on any thumbnail photo below to be directed to a carousel of high-resolution, full-frame images that include data and camera settings.

All images: © Jeffrey Cardenas

A layer of black volcanic sand provides protection from the sun for these cacti in the garden of the El Grifo winery on Lanzarote. © Jeffrey Cardenas

REFERENCES

[1] Lanzarote Catus Garden, A Gardener’s Notes, Guillermo Benigno Perdomo Perdomo, 2018

[2] Timeline of Fabrics, Threads In Tyme, LTD, 2005

[3] The Bug that Changed History, J. Behan, 2006.

[4] A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire, Amy Butler Greenfield, 2005

[5] Canary Islands Cochineal Producers, https://web.archive.org/web/20050624075803/http://www.arrakis.es/~rpdeblas/cochinea.htm 1998 and Tropical Commodities and their Markets, Foodnet, 2012

Special thanks: Antonio Manuel Martín Santos, Lanzarote Jardín de Cactus, for help with plant identification


Sailing is not just about the wind and the sea; equally important are the places where Flying Fish carries me, and the flora, fauna, and people I encounter along the way.

Please click “Follow” at the bottom of this page so that you don’t miss a new update, and please consider sharing this post with others who might enjoy following the voyage of Flying Fish. I welcome your comments, and I will always respond when I have an Internet connection. I will never share your personal information.

You can follow the daily progress of Flying Fish, boat speed (or lack thereof), and current weather as I sail into the Atlantic by clicking this satellite uplink: https://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/Flyingfish. A Bonus: Click the “Legends and Blogs” box on the right side of the tracking page for passage notes while I am sailing offshore. 

To see where Flying Fish has sailed since leaving Key West in 2017, click here: https://cruisersat.net/track/Flying%20Fish.

Instagram: FlyingFishSail
Facebook: Jeffrey Cardenas

Text and Photography © Jeffrey Cardenas 2021

Let this be a time of grace and peace in our lives   – Fr. John Baker

The Green Lagoon

Charco de los Clicos, Lanzarote — If only I had been here 57 years ago… I might have seen Raquel Welch emerging from this green lagoon, her breasts spilling out of a fur bikini, only to be snatched from the beach by a carnivorous Pteranodon and flown to its nearby nest where the distraught “Loana the Fair One” was to be fed to the pterosaur’s offspring.

Ah, well, timing is everything.

Much of the 1966 cinematic fantasy, One Million Years B.C., was filmed in Lanzarote, including the epic green lagoon scene. The location director deserved an Oscar for choosing this island. If I blinked today and saw a 200-pound flying reptile swoop down out of the volcanic rocks to carry away a tourist climbing out of a tour bus, it would all seem perfectly normal. A million years and this place is still prehistoric.

The island of Lanzarote bubbled up from a hot spot in the ocean 15 million years ago as plate tectonics transformed the earth. It has been nearly three centuries since the last major volcanic eruption and much of the island is unchanged. A dry climate and lack of erosion–and the protection of the spectacular Timanfaya National Park–have left the landscape pristine (translation: burnt to a crisp). NASA used this otherworldly topography to train the Apollo 17 crew.

Despite the current and severe volcanic activity on the Canary Island of La Palma 200 miles to the west, Lanzarote is known as the “Island of Volcanoes.” There are over 100 volcanic craters on this island that measures only 37 miles north to south. During the eruptions here in the 1730s, which lasted six years, the island grew by several square miles. Flames were visible 130 miles away and smoke hung in the air while lava and ash covered large areas of the island. Lives were lost, homes destroyed, and residents were plunged into years of darkness.[1]

All images © Jeffrey Cardenas

The Green Lagoon is one of the volcanic craters that formed during these powerful eruptions. The Atlantic Ocean eroded the western side of the cone flooding the crater with seawater. A berm of black volcanic rock and coarse sand now separates the lagoon from the ocean. Ancient lava tubes and underground fissures circulate the water. Charco de los Clicos was once home to a thriving colony of shellfish known locally as clicos (thus the name) until someone put a pair of turtles into the lagoon, and they devoured every last clico. Now the lagoon is inhabited by phytoplankton, microscopic marine algae, which gives the water its distinctive emerald green hue.

The Charco de los Clicos is a Natural Reserve bordering Timanfaya National Park. Regulations forbid swimming… unless, of course, you are Loana the Fair One and you come attired in a fur bikini.

The film production poster of Raquel Welch, in One Million Years B.C., an image that fueled the fantasies of 12-year-old boys everywhere. © 1966 Hammer Film Productions Ltd.

References:

[1] Alwyn Scarth, Volcanoes: An Introduction (Taylor & Francis, 2004)

[2] Hammer Film Productions Ltd. 1966

Official Trailer One Million Years B.C.: https://vimeo.com/125826115


Sailing is not just about the wind and the sea; equally important are the places where Flying Fish carries me.

Please click “Follow” at the bottom of this page so that you don’t miss a new update, and please consider sharing this post with others who might enjoy following the voyage of Flying Fish. I welcome your comments, and I will always respond when I have an Internet connection. I will never share your personal information.

You can follow the daily progress of Flying Fish, boat speed (or lack thereof), and current weather as I sail into the Atlantic by clicking this satellite uplink: https://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/Flyingfish. A Bonus: Click the “Legends and Blogs” box on the right side of the tracking page for passage notes while I am sailing offshore. 

To see where Flying Fish has sailed since leaving Key West in 2017, click here: https://cruisersat.net/track/Flying%20Fish.

Instagram: FlyingFishSail
Facebook: Jeffrey Cardenas

Text and Photography © Jeffrey Cardenas 2021

Let this be a time of grace and peace in our lives   – Fr. John Baker