Thus after our experiences in Dakar we have two restful days at sea, time to plan for our next port of calls, Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Here we will stay two days and then we will visit Arrecife on Lanzarote. As was forecast the wind did not diminish but grew even stronger during the day and by noon time we had a good force 7 to 8 blowing, right on the bow with combined swells and waves of 12 to 14 feet. However as we are doing this stretch of our cruise with a scheduled speed of about 16 knots, the ship did not have to plough into the waves to maintain it’s schedule. With the lower average speed needed we could ride the waves nicely and have a steady ship. Still with the current and the wind against us, I had to run an extra engine, which otherwise would not have been needed. That is not good for my average fuel consumption but there is not much that I can do about it. This is the one of the reasons why captains only like following winds and nothing else.
We are starting to see more wildlife in this area. During the day we had very small dolphins playing around the ship. They just looked like regular flippers but a 2 foot long version of it and more brownish in color. Maybe because of their size, or because of the waves, they did not or could not ride with us; but they seemed highly fascinated by the ships bulb and they approached it from various angles to dive under it. We have a book on the bridge, courtesy of one of my blog readers, which shows all mammals in the ocean, but I could not identify this partical one. Apart from animal wildlife we now also encounter more traffic and fishermen. As these fishermen like to sit on the 100 meter line near the coast, I can stay far away from them but we can hear them. At the 100 meter line, cold underwater currents are pushed up against the steep rising continental shelf and thus fish like to feed there. And where fish is, are fishermen. And while the nets are out, the fishermen talk, sing and make uncouth noises. Everything on VHF channel 16. This channel is officially only for hailing and emergency traffic. All other traffic and social conversations should be done on working frequencies, such as channel 69 or 68. However that rule seems not to have reached the shores of Morocco yet. Thus the navigator on duty had to listen to bad music, bad singing, sometimes in combination. As Ch. 16 is an emergency channel, you cannot switch it off or tune it down as the law requires that we listen out on it at all times. Thus the navigator had to put up with it and suffer the cultural onslaught.
Another sign of civilization is the increase in traffic that we can see close around us. We are now sailing in the tanker route, so we see empty tankers going south on the way to Nigeria and laden tankers going North to the refineries in Europe. The fact that we are on same track as those ships is caused by the fact that the Canaries are right in the way of the most optimum route to get to Northern Europe. The route we are following is a sort of main highway and it will eventually lead through the Canary Islands, keeping Tenerife on the portside and Lanzarote on the starboard side. As the sea is wide and deep here, the ships are always a nice distance away from us but a lot closer than during the crossing, when 48 miles was the closest distance we observed.
Under water we are still sailing over the Cape Verdes Plateau, which lies between the Cape Verdes islands and the African coast as a sort elevated platform under water. As mentioned before, “raised” is relative. Compared with the ocean depth of 20,000 feet and the plateau depth of 8,000 feet, it is indeed “raised”. Still 8,000 feet is still more than a mile and thus we cannot exactly talk about shallow water.
Sea-days give the Cruise Director the chance to fill the daily program to the rim with activities and that involves me as a little cog in the whole fun-machinery as well. Party at 7 pm. captains table at 8 pm. opening the officer’s ball at 10 pm. Normally the ball is called the Black and White Officers ball but out of deference to Africa it has been renamed in Ebony and Ivory. After a check with the Cruise Director I found out that Ebony can be considered black as well and thus I can wear the same tie…………at least some things are still simple in life.