We posted our last Blog (Page 4) once we had finished exploring Fuerteventura and had started to make our way back north from Morro Jable at the south of the island to Arrecife, the capital of Lanzarote.
|Progress up to the end of the last Blog (page 4)|
It took us some 24 hours to sail from the south of Fuerteventura back to Papagayo Bay on the south side of Lanzarote. As we were against a fresh northeasterly headwind and corresponding sea we were at first forced to sail “halfway to Morocco” before being able to tack north to our intended destination.
After two pleasant (free) days at anchor in Papagayo we found that our anchor chain was trapped under a couple of rock ledges. While we could, with our tripping line, recover the anchor itself and indeed much of the chain, we couldn’t recover it all. We therefore got a local diver to do so. (Every reason for us to more seriously consider carrying diving gear on board!).
Anchor chain being recovered by divers
Thereafter we tacked slowly in light winds and seas the remaining 25 miles to Arrecife where we dressed Island Drifter overall (i.e. put up all the signal flags) and decorated inside to kick-start our Christmas festivities.
On arrival we found ourselves dwarfed by an enormous 33m dark blue catamaran called G-Force. When we investigated we discovered that she was originally called Orange II and had been skippered by Bruno Peyron. In 2003 he set the 24-hour sailing record of 706 miles! In 2005 he then smashed the round-the-world record for a crewed yacht when he finished in 50 days and 16 hours. This record stood for five years. As Kingfisher II she was sailed by Ellen MacArthur on a Round-the-World record attempt which ended when the yacht’s enormous mast broke in the Southern Ocean. In 2010 she was converted into a fast cruising yacht with three staterooms for guests by Jack Setton, a famous French yacht owner and collector. Recently she has cruised around the world for pleasure in ten months, prior to being sold by Setton for 2.95 million Euros to a new Turkish owner. The French crew member (one of six permanently employed) to whom we spoke said she was “very fast but easy to sail”.
G-Force, previously Orange II, past-holder of the 24-hour sailing record of 706 miles and of the crewed Round the World Record of 50 days & 16 hrs
Alan and Lynn joined us on the evening of 24 December. At one stage we thought that they might not make it as flights were badly delayed by the storm that hit the UK before Christmas. Friends in the Solent, where we have our beach chalet, phoned to advise that OUR property was all right but that half a tree had come down and severely damaged an adjacent chalet.
Storm damage to adjacent beach chalet at Calshot
We had a great meal in the sun.
|Mike and Helen enjoying the occasion|
After an appropriate pause for a siesta we promenaded around the city’s inner lagoon, stopping at one of the “exercise areas” to build up an appetite for the evening.
The following day we caught a bus to the surfing village of Caleta de Famara on the northwest corner of the island and walked 16 kilometres along the coastal path to La Santa via Caleta Caballo and Club La Santa – each one a surfing mecca.
On finally reaching La Santa we treated ourselves to a well-earned lunch in one of the small town restaurants.
Next day we had a great downwind sail from Arrecife to Marina Rubicón – running in advance of a following gale. The marina is located at the eastern end of the enormous ribbon development of Playa Blanca on the south of the island. Marinas, and their costs, are not our “cup of tea” – but Rubicón is a well-protected location (it needed to be). We also have to accept that the marina complex is excellent, by any standards.
Marina Rubicón viewed from above with Playa Blanca in the background
While there we discovered that the Canary Island of El Hierro (200 miles to the west) had had over 500 earth tremors both around and under the island during the previous few weeks, the strongest measuring 5.2 on the Richter Scale. Previously, areas at the south of El Hierro had been evacuated and the rest of the island put on standby, although this does not appear to be happening at present.
Interestingly, it is now being suggested that the recent heavy swell in the Canary Islands is at least partly due to seismic activity around El Hierro.
Since, in the gale, we were clearly going nowhere that day by sea, we hired a car in Rubicón to give us greater flexibility to look around with Alan and Lynn and to visit some of the places not accessible by bus. These included:
· Timanfaya National Park Fire Mountains (which we had already been to – but it was well worth revisiting) and their Restaurant El Diablo where we again enjoyed a half chicken grilled on the volcanic BBQ.
· The island’s central massif, which we’d not been to, and which contains a staggeringly large area of vineyards – each plant surrounded by a horseshoe wall (zocco) designed to trap condensation at night and to protect against the prevailing wind.
|Vines growing in protective zoccos|
· The Estrecho del Rió between Lanzarote and Graciosa, where the anchorage was empty – not surprising, given the gale in progress.
· Orzola, the north-facing ferry port that services Graciosa, was being battered by the northeast gale. It was clearly giving the ferry skippers a challenge – judging by the “throat cutting” action given by the incoming captain!
Our passage south allowed us to view the impressive sandy coastline of the Jandía peninsula including the Isthmo de Pared. The isthmus is comprised of sand blown from the Sahara over several millennia and joins the “mainland” of Fuerteventura to what used to be the island of Jandía.
Lunch at old port El Cotillo, Fuerteventura
In El Cotillo we bought photographs of the small fishing harbour. The wave shown below completely obscures the breakwater, yet the fishing boats inside look as if they are perfectly safe.
5lb tuna caught off Fuerteventura
On the way we took a closer look at some of the minor anchorages in the four coves along the rocky coast west of Rosario that we had only superficially looked at on our previous sail south. We were particularly impressed by those at Las Playitas, Ginijinamar and Taralelejo, which appeared to be perfectly adequate for an overnight stop in prevailing northerly winds.
We arrived at Morro Jable at low tide and had to hoist Helen up onto the reception and fuel dock wall in order for her to take the lines and organise a berth. We ended up “parked” on a pontoon in the inner harbour opposite Fisher & Paykel, an impressive 84ft ketch which came second to Peter Blake in a sister boat in the 1989 Whitbread Round the World Race. It is now used as a sail training boat for racing enthusiasts.
Chart plotter showing Island Drifter “halfway to Morocco” before tacking north
We came back to Arrecife in order to see the celebrations of “The Night of the Kings” on 5 January (which was followed by a public holiday on 6 January to allow everyone to recover). In brief, the Three Kings on their camels (the equivalent of Santa on his sleigh) bring symbolic Christmas presents on the evening of 5 January. People subsequently hand out their presents on the morning of 6 January. (Christmas Day is more simply celebrated with family get-togethers.)
|A nautically themed float |
Afterwards we worked our way round (and thereby had supper!) the stands set up on the promenade by local restaurants and bars at which tapas and drinks were sold at 1 Euro each.
|Arrecife population and ourselves enjoying Tapas evening|
|The sandy streets of Caleta del
We stopped for lunch at an excellent fish restaurant, Restaurant Girasol, where we shared a very large Pargo (a Pink Dentix) and four raciones (half portions again, when a full portion would have floored lesser men).
|Alan and Lynn relaxing on the
sail back to Arrecife |
Back in Marina Lanzarote, Arrecife, we enjoyed a bowl of homemade guacamole and glasses of Bucks Fizz, which seem to have become part of our staple diet over Christmas! The outstandingly good, large Canarian avocados at 40 cents each and very drinkable Cava at 1.90 Euros hardly broke the bank. Our second course of Peppers Padron has also become a boat favourite. Lynn’s excellent salad wraps and dessert of caramelised Canary oranges completed our final meal together on board.
|Peppers Padron |
We needed an early night as Alan and Lynn had to catch a taxi to the airport at 5.45 a.m. and none of us had slept well at Graciosa thanks to the noise and vibrations from the trapped anchor chain.
We are now having a bit of a sort-out in Arrecife before heading back south to Fuerteventura where we are being joined for a week by Ian and Ginny Ross who, like Alan and Lynn, sailed with us in Norway last year.
WE’D LIKE TO TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY
TO WISH YOU ALL
A VERY HAPPY AND PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR!