2009:  Was not such a good year for Taniwani and the crew. It is already hard enough to return from an unforgettable journey with no plans to better it yet. But add to this a season that started by finding a serious hidden defect in the boat that caused us spending half the sailing season on a shipyard, rather than sailing. 

So what happened? In early May we rejoined Taniwani in the marina of Albufeira where our boat had spent the winter in the water. Initially we were pleased that we found a rather clean ship, with all systems working well and our plan was to do something nice for Taniwani who had brought us safely and comfortably all around the world. And so we  first headed for the Sopromar shipyard in Lagos, were we had been served rather well already before our long trip. There Taniwani should be hauled out and some 7 layers of old anti fouling carefully taken off, all the way down to the gelcoat. To make sure we would never suffer from osmosis, several layers of gel-shield should be applied before fresh anti-fouling would go on again.

The last layer was from Richardsbay in South Africa, now a year and a half later it looked still quite good.

And after a pressure wash everything looked totally smooth and clean.

After 4 days of hard work by an average of three people from the yard, everything was cleanly stripped to the gelcoat, and all looked perfectly smooth.

And on went 4 layers of a particularly watertight epoxy coat, called gel-shield. To distinguish the layers while wet rolling layer on layer, differing color dies are mixed in.

Here is an interesting turquoise,

Finally the black anti-fouling went on ,and only then, in the late sunlight on the glossy surface one could see strange blisters. These were soon diagnosed as a beginning osmosis. Both, the yard manager and we were shocked by this discovery, especially after doing all this preventative work without noticing anything! The plan to put the boat back in the water was abandoned and Hugo, the nice yard manager quickly agreed to keep the boat at the yard at no charge and investigate the situation. At this point the belief was a beginning osmosis and fixing the worst bubbles individually was thought to be a practical approach. Especially since the hull was now very watertight.

Unfortunately it turned out much worse. After drilling into a few of the blisters, some 30 Liters of water just flowed out of the hull! It took us some time and discussion with the very helpful builders (Najad) to understand what had happened and what needed to be done:

Taniwani's hull is a sandwich construction with a core of closed cell foam called Divinicell. This foam comes in large plates with groves cut into it, spaced 4 cm apart, to allow the plate to be bent along the shape of the hull. This leaves a network of thin canals towards the outside laminate, and these canals are the only space in the hull that can be filled with water. And the only way the water can actually get in, is at poorly sealed skin fittings. As one couldn't rule out any of the skin fittings, even those above the waterline could leak while underway, we had to remove 25 ! of them to make sure. We found two or three per side where it was obvious that water had leaked in. 

We now think that we had those leaks very early on and actually sailed around the world with both hull sides filled with water. In the short term this doesn't cause any problems, but over time the water penetrates the outer laminate along a pattern of those little canals. Eventually the moisture reacts with uncured resins just under the gelcoat, this way creating the blisters. The fresh watertight coating that we had just invested in, was now a serious obstacle in getting the moisture out of the hull. To overcome this and to check for possible laminate damages we had to bite the bullet and strip the new coating and all gelcoat below the waterline.

Luckily Sopromar in Lagos is a very experienced yard and they have the expertise and machinery to carry out any of these complex hull repairs. In addition Najad felt really responsible and continuously consulted us during the repair process and finally picked up the bigger part of the tab.  After stripping, we knew that we had no laminate damages except along a line left and right of the keel, where the Divinicell ends and the solid laminate starts. 

Soon these areas were professionally repaired and now all we needed was a lot of time for the Hotvac drying machine to dry out the hull. A process that still took three weeks and we left the yard for those boring days to spent some fine time with our friends Henry and Kikki on Madeira. Their yacht "Endelig" was still in Malaysia and the original plan was for them to join us for a few weeks on Taniwani, sailing from Lagos to Madeira. As it became clear that this would not work out in time, we boarded the car-ferry that goes once a week from Portimoa to Funchal as pedestrians.

The fast ferry sails the distance to Madeira in just under 24 hours, while it usually takes us three and a half days on Taniwani. Still Taniwani would have been by far the preferred way to go, as it is so much more comfortable than the ferry. Experienced travelers would probably take a sleeping bag and a few other camping items on to the ship and sleep on deck in some sheltered corner. The regular seats are rather uncomfortable, maybe comparable to economy airline seats. A few cabins are available, but they are usually booked long before one can decide to go.

Anyway, we made it to Funchal with some delay and a few days later were able to receive our friends on our favorite island.

Time was spent with the usual activities like hiking in the mountains or along levadas and a lot of sight seeing.

Days went by fast, and three weeks later we were back at the shipyard  in time to watch a fantastic two men team fair the hull, a tedious process that took eight working days. Eventually the big day came, when wet on wet 6 layers of epoxy, two layers of gel-shield and the anti fouling get rolled on all in one day by a large team of five hard working people.

Then, after a last minute fitting of sea-cocks and skin-fittings, half of them by Harald at night, Taniwani was ready to get launched on August 1st, just two hours before our son Markus arrived to sail with us to Madeira again.

Here part of the large Sopormar Yard from Taniwani's mast top, while setting up the rigging, mounting furlers and setting sails.

Next day, Sunday morning August 2, we left Lagos under a strong NW. Eager to leave the boat hospital behind, Taniwani was speeding towards Madeira at constant 9 knots with a slightly pale crew. Markus had just flown in from Madeira where he was on vacation with his wife Astrid and parents in law, and now was sailing back to the island with us. All were hoping we could make it there in time for Astrid's parents to see the boat and have a trip along the island.

Well, it did work out. We arrived in Funchal during the night, and after a short rest, on Wednesday morning our guests came to join us for the island trip. The next day they had to fly home.

We didn't stay long in Madeira this time, but sailed on to the Canary Islands. On the way Taniwani passed 50,000 miles and we thanked Neptune for his continuous support in the proper way.

It is only a short dash from Madeira to the Canaries where we arrived the next day at the channel between Lanzarote and Graziosa Island.

There are three bays in the channel, along the coast of Graciosa: The westernmost of them was our favorite and we had last been anchored there in 2004. So we just went around the corner and anchored in the same spot.

In the morning a patrol boat showed up and told us that this is now a nature preserve and that we were not allowed to anchor here any more. We were given a paper to fill out and told that we should move one bay to the east, to Baia Francesa and so we did.

Here we are already anchored in Baia Francesa. While not as nice as our favorite, it has the advantage that the rough dinghy ride into town is somewhat shorter.

The "town", formerly just a fishing village, with a church clearly expressing this, has become a little tourist hotspot. Still not big, but there are now 3 small supermarkets to chose from.

Being close to Africa, the island is dessert like, much like its big sister Lanzarote, but this certainly has its own charm.

Once a week the fishermen come out to the anchorage ,and with several boats and divers in the water, put out a large net, between and around the anchoring boats. In a slow and tedious process it gets tightened up and after several hours of work, a boatload of sardines is pulled out.

They are sold right off the boat in the small harbor of the village, and restaurant owners wheel them away in wheelbarrows.

At times a stiff wind and chop develops in the channel between Lanzarote and Graciosa and several times we had to "rescue" rented kayaks between our anchorage and the town that were unable to make it back.

We spent 2 weeks at Graciosa, relaxing and recovering from the more stressing time of repairing Taniwani. The boat with park rangers came by again with different crew and wanted all boats to leave Baya Francesa. We tried to explain that we had been sent here by their colleagues, to no avail, but when we showed them the unfilled form that we got at the first visit, they seemed so impressed with it, that they told us we may stay as long as we like. We never understood what was going on. 

We didn't venture on further into the Canaries, but turned back to the continent with a rather short stop at Madeira gain. Beating against the strong NE trade towards Cadiz was a very good test for the boat, and luckily all seemed fine now.

Going for Cadiz, or anywhere in the Golf of Cadiz means crossing the freighter highway in and out of the street of Gibraltar. With AIS one has a good idea of what to expect. Note 'Evelyn Maersk' in the first line, a huge containership drifting downwind at 1.4 knots, apparently trying to fix a problem.

And here she is...

We always enjoy coming back to Cadiz, one of our favorite places. In the summer it is nicest in the night, though the narrow streets of the old town provide quite good shade during a hot day.

A minor down side is the somewhat long walk from the marina to the town. But even that might not be so boring as one can often see interesting things along the way on the breakwater. Here it is drummer training class.

The ever bigger cruise ship, don't have much space to turn and may well stick their nose over the marina wall.





Our next stop is Chipiona, another place well known to us and only a few miles north of Cadiz, at the entrance to the Guadalquivir.

It is a little tourist town, with an excellent marina and a number of shops and restaurants. 

It is the perfect stop-over for boats that want to go upriver to Seville, a trip we always wanted to do, but isn't advisable in the hot August sun.

And so we left the next day, to cross the rest of the Bay of Cadiz northwards to El Rompido.

By now, Taniwani has been up and down this coast numerous times, yet we still enjoy the area and particularly El Rompido is one of our favorite places. 

The only real downside is the potentially difficult entrance, or exit if you wish. The Rio de Las Piedros has formed an almost five mile long lagoon paralleling the shore and the possible entrance is yet another 2 miles further east of the tip of the lagoon's peninsula. There are buoys which are moved every year, as the seabed keeps changing significantly. It is always difficult to guess the best path and there is not much depth to spare as we found out the hard way a few years ago, when we tried to leave the lagoon shortly after low water. It definitely wasn't enough water for us then anywhere in the entrance. As the shallowest spot is way out in the unprotected sea, this is only to be attempted in calm conditions. Luckily those prevail in the summer.

Once in the canal life is great. There is deep water all along the peninsula and a bit around the corner upriver. Over the years we had tried several anchorages and this time around found what we thought to be the perfect spot. Not far in and before the chain of some 1000 permanent moorings start, there is good holding and plenty of room, just off a nice beach on the main shore.

Here you see Taniwani viewed from the beach with the outer peninsula in the background.


A little further in, a huge mooring field starts, we have estimated just over 1000 small boats. Still, most are moored and the activity in the canal isn't really offending. If you continue on for a bit over a mile, the field of moored boats ends at the village of El Rompido, where there is a new, almost empty marina and a small shipyard. We prefer to just take the dinghy there for shopping.

Back in Portuguese waters we made straight for another one of our favorite places, the vast lagoon of Faro and Olhao. Here the entrance canal with lighthouse and rescue station.

A favorite anchorage is off the little fishing village on the island of Culatra which forms part of the protective ring around the lagoon.


Here we met up with "Se". Ligia from Mahi/Mahi had been visiting Portugal in early summer, and she and her brother "Se" were to sail with us from the Sopromar shipyard back to Albufeira. As you know by now, that plan ended with the discovery of water in the hull. Ligia meanwhile had returned home to South Africa, but we were at least able to enjoy the company of her nice brother for a day.


Looking west in the vast lagoon of Faro and Olhao towards a nice sunset. It is easy to see that the size of the lagoon is big enough for a potentially unpleasant chop to build up during a stronger SW.


A last stop in Portimao and then Taniwani was back in Lagos at Sopromar for a winter on the dry, waiting for the next season.



sailing round the world - Najd 490