Meanwhile the Cherokee is back in its home port of Rotterdam after being away for a year and a half. We have sailed an extra winter season in the Canary Islands, mainly to make up for the Corona losses, but actually that idea had been in the pipeline since we started Offshore Yacht Charter and it has been fantastic!

Cherokee tucked in at home port Rotterdam
We sailed from Lisbon to Madeira in early February with fabulous weather (although the nights on the boatyard in Lisbon were quite chilly) and fantastic winds, giving us a superb and fast crossing with a very pleasant mixed company.
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Stunning walk at the east side of Madeira
Madeira is a fantastic island with gorgeous rugged nature and atmospheric harbours, where the favourable winds gave us extra time for a very nice walk. We even had the luxury of a pretty private harbour with a natural swimming pool by the sea (something to do with a development project and investors). The local traditional drink ‘Poncha’ created a good deal of conviviality.

Hike in the stunning mountains of Madeira
After several days of sailing and hiking along the Madeira coast, waiting for the wind to abate, we left near the evening with wind force 8 and strong gusts. The harbour master didn’t even want to believe we were going to sail out, but we had to go further to Tenerife and after midnight the wind indeed dropped as predicted. The Cherokee thundered like the fire brigade across the waves into the night, one passenger described it as, “Like sitting on a bullet.”
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Cherokee sailing like a bullet in stormy weather
On both crossings we were accompanied by a new watch leader, first Chantal and then Dorette. Chantal has several sailing yachts of her own and has been teaching at the Higher College of Navigation. Dorette has sailed extensively around the Atlantic islands and has a two-masted clipper sailing from Harlingen with her boyfriend. Both women are very capable sailors and also very nice company, so hopefully they will join us more often in the future!
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Approaching La Gomera, Canary islands
The Canary Islands were fantastic! Meaning, we only visited the western islands and la Gomera and El Hierro (my favourite) in particular are stunning islands. Each island is different and the coast and inland are also completely different. For instance, the south coast is quite dry, in general sheltered from the wind and therefore pleasantly warm, but the inland is high and often in (or above) the clouds, resulting in green forests, mysterious fog and significantly lower temperatures. We have regularly hired a van to explore the islands.

Beautiful forrest at El Hierro
The northern side of the islands are often windswept, high and jagged. Between the islands there are wind acceleration zones in which winds increase spectacularly; there was no shortage of wind, in fact quite the opposite.

Negotiating the acceleration zones at the Canary Islands
Mid-April, we sailed via Madeira to the Azores, another super-fast beam reach crossing. We continuously sailed 8 to 9 knots, covering the 550 nautical miles in no time. Occasionally rolling wildly, making life inside a challenge at times (the coffee was all up to the ceiling…)
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Ocean passage sailing
Jos joined us as watch leader and the passengers consisted of a group of friends with whom we had another couple of entertaining and memorable evenings in the Azores.
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En route from Madeira to the Azores
We spent most of the summer sailing around the Azores. Unfortunately, my phone has fallen in the water and I have no more photos, but it was certainly beautiful and again very different from the Canary Islands or Madeira.
Here as well, we explored the islands thoroughly; usually after a day of sailing, we stayed a day for sightseeing. The volcanic caves are very impressive and the natural hot pools amazing!

Gorgeous waterfall at Sao Miguel, Azores
The harbours were usually full of sailing yachts which remained in the same berth for weeks (it is one of the few places where harbour fees are not expensive). Also, these islands are truly Portuguese, meaning the planning ( or the lack of it) can sometimes be described as rather curious.

Angra do Heroisimo, Azores, Unesco heritage
For example, in our changover port, Praia da Vitoria on the island of Terceira, a party was planned at the end of the summer, which made it necessary for the yachts on shore to make way for the party tent. As a result, the harbour was pretty much full and, due to silting, another pontoon had been removed.
Fortunately, Terceira also has another port, Angra do Heroisimo, but that port was being rebuilt and their old pontoons were supposed to go to a newly built port on the island of Graciosa. However, the port project on Graciosa had unfortunately been stopped due to lack of money, but the pontoons had already been removed, thus there was no new marina in Graciosa, and no pontoons in Angra. In Flores, it even turned out that the entire port had been washed away by a hurricane. Fortunately, at some point we got to know the harbour masters, so we eventually were able to organise things, even on Horta, the busiest port of all.

Cherokee sailing in the Azores High
The crossing from the Azores to Spain was our longest ever, in terms of miles, we sailed over 1,000 miles, but also in terms of days, because being caught first in a high-pressure area (the Azores high), followed by 2 tough days to windward, it took us 9 days. A great experience and great adventure. Of course, we didn’t want, and couldn’t motor the whole way, but apart from diesel, drinking water had to be rationed as well at some point. The arrival in Galica (north-west Spain) was in a dense fog, we could only see the harbour when we were pretty much tied up.

Haringvliet, Erfgoedhavens Rotterdam
This entire winter the Cherokee will stay in the Netherlands for some major maintenance and next summer we will go to the Faroe Islands and Scotland again, more on that later. We will definitely go back to the Atlantic islands in the future. The Canary Islands (beautiful as they are) will have to wait a bit longer (until my daughter is a bit older), but we will probably go back to Madeira and the Azores in 3 seasons or so. Then I hope the harbour problem will be sorted out and in the meantime I’ll start saving for a watermaker and light-wind gennaker.
  See our complete sailing schedule on our website