¡Vamos! Islas Canarias

Flying Fish charging into open water. The challenge, risk, and pure joy of being underway on another ocean passage. Photograph: © Jeffrey Cardenas

Into the blue again, into the silent water
Once in a Lifetime / David Byrne, Brian Eno

Thousands of sea miles have passed under the keel of Flying Fish since I set sail from Key West nearly four years ago. Still, the expectation of a new ocean passage remains as exhilarating as it was on the first day. The next leg of my journey begins soon, from Gibraltar to the Canary Islands, some 700 nautical miles southwest and five days en route.

There will be challenges; I will be 66 years old in a few months. I don’t move as quickly onboard, and I have lost some mobility and balance. These are ordinary issues associated with aging, but they are extraordinary when put into the context of a solo offshore passage.

There will also be risk; the passage along the West African coast is unforgiving and mostly without shelter. I will be traveling on a dark moon. Small Moroccan fishing boats setting nets must be avoided — as well as other boats emerging from the African coastline that may have more sinister intentions. And, in a bizarre twist of nature, there is an issue with aggressive killer whales intentionally colliding with sailing vessels just outside of the Straits of Gibraltar. Since March of this year, there have been more than 50 verified reports of orcas ramming sailboats. Biologists don’t understand why, but half of these encounters have been serious enough to disable boats and require towing to repair facilities ashore.[1]

Regardless of the risk, the pure and absolute joy of setting out on an open ocean passage cannot be overstated. In a world of rapidly diminishing nature, ocean voyaging allows access to one of the few unaltered places remaining on this planet. It is a world of silence and isolation. There can be long periods with no organic sound, generated light, or evidence of other human beings. The ocean provides a sense of timelessness. This is why I go.

I have been landbound for the past month in Gibraltar, but the time ashore has provided a much-needed health and wellness stop for both boat and captain. The sails went to a sailmaker in Tarifa for re-stitching. The captain went into a gym to address added kilos of body weight accumulated from epicurean excesses while cruising Sardinia, the Balearics, and the Costa del Sol. A Hungarian physical trainer in Gibraltar named Rita worked me back into shape.

The passage to the Canary Islands will be one of the final legs of this COVID-interrupted trip around the world aboard Flying Fish. The pandemic took hold of my itinerary two years ago. Now, I am slowly moving again as I anticipate the end of the Atlantic hurricane season. It is an above-average year for tropical cyclone activity. Rapidly warming sea temperatures are spawning stronger and more frequent storms.[2] Most late-season tropical cyclones form over Western Africa, south of the Canary Islands. I will monitor the weather (and the recent volcanic activity) carefully. My favorite sailing partner, Ginny, will join me on the passage from the Canaries to the Caribbean when the hurricane season ends in December. I hope to return home to Florida with Flying Fish in 2022.

Ironically, it is the return home that causes me the most uncertainty. As I sail toward the end of this journey, I wonder how difficult it will be to reckon with life after Flying Fish. In these four years, I floated in a bubble of unreality, immersed in the rarefied air of freedom and privilege while many others around the world could barely hold their heads above the water. I think of the anthem of entitlement, Once in a Lifetime, by songwriters David Byrne and Brian Eno:

“And you may ask yourself, ‘Well, how did I get here?‘”

While I may not fully understand “how I got here,” I am grateful for this time at sea. At the end of this journey, the transition from water to land will be my choice. There will be new challenges ashore during this time of uncertainty; re-socialization, commitment to faith, family, home, and community, and prioritizing my personal health. For me, a greater risk than any danger at sea would be spending the rest of my days in a chair in front of a TV with a cocktail in one hand and a bag of chips in the other. I will not succumb to that life of mediocrity.

I’m getting ahead of myself… For now, it is time to focus on the immediate passage forward. The boat is ready, and I am ready. The weather to Lanzarote looks good. I have route planning to avoid Moroccan nets, and contingencies in place for potential collision with whales. I will keep a sharp mind and maintain situational awareness. And I must stay onboard.

These are days that will sustain me.


Goodbye Gibraltar. The Rock is dissolving into the fog. Photography: © Jeffrey Cardenas

References:

[1] Iberian Orca, Atlantic Orca Working Group, www.orcaiberica.org

[2] NOAA National Hurricane Center

[3] Once in a Lifetime, David Byrne and Brian Eno, https://youtu.be/5IsSpAOD6K8


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 once I am en route to the Canaries. 

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

40 thoughts on “¡Vamos! Islas Canarias

    • Thank you for your thoughts, Mary. Everybody’s situation is personal and different. I think it is encouraging that you still have L’evasion in your driveway. If nothing else is possible, take off the tarp, fire up the galley, make a cup of coffee, and sit onboard and read a good book. As you know, there is great comfort in just being within the confines of your boat–regardless of where it is.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. You may be in a chair with a cocktail, but it will be while you’re writing your best seller—soon to be made into a major motion picture! Your story is too good not to be told! Safe travels, and hello to my buddy Ginny!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hayden, you and Radeen have not only figured out re-entry, but you have solved the complex equation of how to balance life and boat (and love and health). Thank you for all of your advice along the many miles of this journey.

      Like

    • “Once in a Lifetime” is a great (if somewhat bizarre) song to help us appreciate our many blessings, and Ginny is one of mine.
      Regarding hurricanes… remember when we were both young and growing up in Florida, and hurricanes seemed like isolated events? Now, for half of every year, it feels like we are under threat from the weather. Has the weather changed, or have we changed? Probably both.

      Like

    • Debra, Like you, I’m desperately seeking optimism. I think one solution is parsing the good from the bad in everything we see, hear, and do. People say politics and the media control the information we receive. I don’t think that is necessarily true. Individuals have the ability to interpret and choose which message to receive, and more importantly, which message to share.
      Thank you for your encouragement, beginning with the first day I walked into your office and said, “I want to buy a boat that can take me safely around the world.”

      Like

  2. Jeff This latest blog in my mind has been one of your best.THE REAL HUMAN JEFF C.Best to Jenny.You have kept us land people truly entertained.As always SAFE PASSAGE AND THE POWERS ABOVE KEEP YOU SAFE.
    PHIL ROCHE

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Aloha Jeff!
    I’m remembering the story of your first solo Atlantic crossing four decades ago… and now your return to home after such an epic voyage. Your current round-the-world journey, along with the gorgeous photography and insightful stories about the people and places you have visited has been a great inspiration and delight for me. Many thanks for this gift as you find your way to the next adventure in your life! For my part, I’ve been living on the Big Island of Hawaii, near Hilo, for the past three years. The Pacific is a constant companion out our lanai windows. The sea always beckons.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for connecting, Rick, and for nudging the memory of the voyage of Betelgeuse.
      It must be a great joy to wake up to the Pacific outside your windows every day. I loved every mile of the Pacific (except for the one where a rogue wave nearly turned Flying Fish upsidedown). This voyage has given me the luxury of reading time. Mentioning the Big Island of Hawaii made me think of the fine novel “Sharks in the Time of Saviors” by Kawai Strong Washburn. Indeed, regardless of where in the world we are, the sea always beckons.

      Like

    • Thank you, Austin, and happy birthday.
      I would love to see the orcas and somehow communicate I am friend, not foe. The history of human relationships with cetaceans is grim. I can understand why they would want to bite our rudders off.
      Thank you for continuing to follow Flying Fish, and rekindling memories of Huahine.

      Like

  4. It is exhilarating just reading of your rejuvenation time and the excitement of the upcoming leg of your journey. We feel your joy and passion. You are enjoying all the gifts of intentionality. Safe travels.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love the word “intentionality” associated with this journey. It describes EXACTLY what I feel, and what I have been babbling about for the past four years. We all have a need in our lives to serve some purpose. That path may not be completely clear (yet) but moving with intentionality is the only way we can understand the purpose of our actions. Thank you.

      Like

  5. Jeff, What an accomplishment! Even though I joined the party a little late (early 2019) I have relished all the photos and narratives. You are a talented and gifted man. I truly admire you! May the good Lord keep you in the palm of His hand on your voyage home. You have been the captain of your soul. Courage, commitment, sacrifice, determination, toughness, talent and guts, that is Jeff!
    Leanne 💖

    Liked by 1 person

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