Less than 100 Miles to Tenerife, in the Canary Islands
Until the Butter Melts
By Lois Joy
I've been watch the container of butter, sitting on the shelf to the
right of the cupboard, wedged between our night watch snacks--Nescafe,
hot chocolate, and ovalmatine-and our morning jams and tea. It
has been getting a little softer every day, but today was a landmark
day. No, it had not melted yet, but we decided to put it into
It seems incredible to be traveling in the wake of the early navigators
in their search for an eastward sailing route to the spice islands.
The captains of Prince Henry the Navigator had founded the Canary Islands,
but were unable to conquer them, so Portugal left their conquest to
Spain. It was Columbus, who-after Prince Henry's death--had convinced
King John, the Prince's brother, that one could reach the East by sailing
west. Then that entire scheme fell apart after Bartolemeo Diaz
sailed around the tip of South Africa, proving the eastern route feasible.
King John then decided to pursue the sure thing, the eastern route,
leaving Columbus to find alternate sources of funding. Columbus'
theory and his subsequent discovery of the New World thus went to the
On his first voyage, Columbus left the Canaries and sailed due west.
The charts displayed in the Nautical Museum in Barcelona depicted how
his thinking progressed. On each of the three subsequent voyages,
he headed farther south before turning west. He may have been
looking for new lands, but most likely, he was searching for better
trade winds each time. Now, thousands of vessels follow his path
south to the Tropic of Cancer, almost to the Cape Verde islands, and
then turn west. Or, as the sailors put it, "South until
the butter melts, and then west into the sunset."
A common refrain during our voyage 1 has been, "south until the
butter melts." We have a summer clothing duffel that we dubbed
our "Til the butter melts" bag. It has been stashed
underneath our bunk, with the cold weather gear taking up every inch
of our cubby and hanging locker space. Every time we complained
about the cold weather of the Med, we toasted, "Here's to the tropics,
where Pacific Bliss was meant to sail," inevitably followed with
another toast, "Here's 'til the butter melts."
Today, we began to shed some of that cold weather gear. The first
sign of this metamorphosis was during my pre-dawn watch, when I took
off my polar fleece gloves and red West Marine cap-the kind that comes
down over the ears, and attaches underneath one's chin. I unzipped
my trustworthy Pacific Bliss jacket (fleece inside and waterproof outside)
given to me by David, our broker. I had already decided
not to wear my navy polar fleece socks. Still remaining was my
fleece top, long underwear, and foul weather pants, which I shed after
my watch. When the sun came out, we changed from pants to shorts
for the first time. Wow! Does that feel good!
For lunch, today, our last day before arriving at port, we went all
out. Christian and I prepared pasta with a special French sauce
containing meatballs from Gallerie Lafayette's grocery (and frozen)
garlic, green peppers, tomatoes, and French spices. For
the first time since Spain, we had wine with our meal. "Live
like Gods in France," we toasted as we savored some of the last
of our France provisioning.