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The Offshore Race Crew's Manual by Stuart Quarrie
The Offshore Race Crew's Manual by Stuart Quarrie

Global Solo Challenge - Round the world and the Canaries: the lucky islands?

by Global Solo Challenge 13 Apr 17:38 BST
Round the world and the Canaries: the lucky islands? © Global Solo Challenge

Even when a sailor's eye gets used to the vast horizon, the colours and tones of the sea and sky change every day... the open seas are never the same from one day to the next... suddenly, after days and days, a new outline on the immense Ocean painting will emerge on the horizon, blurred at first, then clearer little by little... you see land!!!

For sailors' morale this is always great, even if, in the case of GSC participants, they will sail past without stopping: spirits will be boosted in the knowledge they are indeed on the right course...

This is what skippers will feel when approaching the Canary Islands after their navigation from A Coruña. The simple vision of these islands in the middle of the Ocean will comfort them and reaffirm their decision to move forward, after days reflecting and absorbing the immensity of the adventure they are about to undertake, with the world ahead of them....

Leaving aside the poetic and romantic side of things, skippers will have to be alert near land and keep thinking about the practicalities, different options are open to them when crossing the archipelago with the meteorological peculiarities and winds influenced by the islands.

The Canary Islands consist of seven major islands, three in the eastern region, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria, and four in the western region, Tenerife, La Gomera, La Palma and Hierro, and some smaller islands and islets.

Their coordinates range from 29º25'N to 27º40'N and from 13º25'W to 18º10'W.

The predominant winds are the trade winds from the NE associated with the anticyclone of the Azores. The height and the orography of the islands causes the airflow to channel between them and form acceleration cones where the wind can pass from force 2/3 Beaufort to 6/7 over the space of half a mile. However, ripples over the surface of the see make it easy to spot the change in conditions.

What the sailors of the GSC should take into account is that occasionally, and especially in the winter months, a low Atlantic pressures can displace the anticyclone of the Azores influence the winds over the archipelago, generating strong or very strong storms from the S to SW and NW.

When this type of storms the drop in pressure readings on the barometer is very pronounced, going from the normal 1025mb typical over this area to the value of the storm that is coming, this can be of great help in predicting this type of meteorological phenomena.

Maritime traffic is regulated in two controlled navigation areas, one between Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria, and the other between Tenerife and Gran Canaria.

Continue reading the full article here...

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