Well, we didn’t know either. Until yesterday. We have been on the hunt for a water meter, “Agua contador”, usually available in a “Fontanero” (Plumbing shop). Gardening, as in Scandinavia, is a growing industry here in Spain, so we found what we looked for in a nearby shop. Reason for actually wanting to know what you consume is less of an interest to the average western world consumer (except California), but for example here in Lanzarote 100% of the water is produced by desalination plants, transforming seawater to fresh water, eg water does cost (about 5 € / 1000 liter), and every liter requires oil powered desalination plants to deliver.
Besides saving the world and saving €’s -on Tina Princess we have an old fashioned, 19th century, tank measurement device, attached to a single, 1400 liter tank. As the device is a floating sensor, it easily gets “stuck”, and in addition the tank is not a cubic tank, meaning the reading on our tank meter is a bit of guesswork. In summary, we face a risk of suddenly being without water. Therefore we are now happy Gardena customers of their water meter. Reasonably priced, € 18, it gives us the pleasure of knowing how much a shower, dish wash, cloth wash, etc. actually draws. In addition we know to the deciliter precision what is left in the tank :-) By the way – Eva requires 5.1 liters of fresh water for a shower – in case you wonder :-)
We prolonged our stay in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, to mid-September. Time spent with more boat maintenance and buying spare parts difficult to find elsewhere. Meeting with Scandinavian team (Fridays on Sailor’s Bar) gave us some social contacts and we spent, among other things, an evening celebrating a 60 year anniversary. We installed the Iridium Satellite system for downloading weather forecasts, changed some more blocks and lines and bought a Danbouy (inflatable). We also searched for gas tubes for the Soda Stream with no success. Down here the use of “sparkling water” is less than in Scandinavia it seems.
We have taken Las Palmas to our hearts so leaving 3:rd week in September felt a bit emotional also leaving many new sailing friends. First night we anchored at Moro Jable ( Fuerteventura) with a calm start of the night, ending with winds sweeping down from the mountains. Not specifically comfortable, so we moved on to Gran Tarajal where we enjoyed it last time. Nice anchorage, good tapas and nice swims. We took the opportunity to clean the hull from algae and slime. The copper coating is still OK but needs looking after when staying still for a month.
From Gran Tarajal we sailed/motored north to Marina Rubicon at Lanzarote´s south coast. Very nice marina! We stayed there for 4 nights enjoying the village and the possibility to do some jogging. However, we found the surroundings a bit touristic and had difficulties finding grocery stores to our liking so we moved on to yet another anchorage an hour to the east of the marina (Papagayo Bay). Fabulously clear water! Easy for me (Eva) to check the anchor position. We admired the flounders staying close to where the chain was moving. Steering up small animals to eat?
End September the wind was going to increase so we set sail (Not so often possible going north) to Arrecife, where we now have a stay for a month to await the winds going to Cape Verde. Here we will do some touristing (with a hire car) and some serious bunkering of food to last for a couple of months, going to the Caribic or Brazil. Also included is a trip to IKEA for herring for Christmas!!
- Mosquito nets for the skylights
- Iridium phone
- The number of species is low on the Canarian Islands but we saw yet another sea turtle ( green/brown and rather big) and close to Arreciefe we came across a flock of spotted I (Eva) managed to see three of them close by, two with newly caught fish. It will stay on my mind for quite a while!
Until next time,
BR, Eva &Peter
When we arrived here in Arrecife (Marina Lanzarote) we knew the fleet of Mini Transat 6.50 were expected to the marina about the time we arrived (Oct 1st). Mini Transat is a bi-annual one design race from Atlantic France to either Brazil or Caribbean making a pit stop at Madeira or the Canaries. The boats are 6.50 meters long, sailed solo, with strict rules allowing competition with realistic budgets to enter. Some say this is a mad race and over the years about ten sailors lives have been lost. Others claim this being the perfect recruiting opportunity for larger and more famous race events as VOR, Vendee Globe, etc. Among famous sailors who started their careers in Mini Transat 6.50 are Dame Ellen MacArthur and Bruno Peyron.
The 6.50 class is also a testbed for innovation in sailboat design. The boats, especially the “prototype class” is a really complex machinery. swing keel, twin rudders, dagger boards, ballast tanks and more halyards, sheet, trim lines you might imaging. Imagine managing this on your own…
We left Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, a week ago blessed with great conditions, meaning almost no swell and enough wind on the beam to take us the 55 nm to Moro Jable, south Fuerteventura by late afternoon. Last time we anchored here (in June) we got some wind gusts during the night due to very steep mountains near the resort. Same story this time but no problems as we had 60 meters of chain out, but still our sleep was disturbed. We left early next day catching a rare westerly breeze taking us almost all the way to Gran Tarajal, about 25 nm north of Moro Jable. Last time we spent 4 days anchored in this very sheltered bay (for all winds except east-south). This time we used the warm and clear water to clear the hull from algae and barnacles. It seems our “copper coat” epoxy treatment works well but requires a monthly cleaning with scotch brite to avoid too much growth.
After two nights at anchor at Gran Tarajal we used the settled weather to motor / sail the remaining 40 nm to Lanzarote. On the way we checked out the nature reserve Los Lobos but decided it was not ideal conditions to anchor this time so headed to Marina Rubicon. We have now stayed here 4 days, 1st night for free, and plan to leave tomorrow for a couple of days anchoring at Playa Papagayo, a nature reserve east of Playa Blanca / Rubicon.
Based in the marina is Jason deCAIRES Taylor, a famous British sculpture artist, near finishing a very interesting project, Lanzarote Atlantic Museum. The plan is to submerge a large number of full size sculptures of people in the sea close to the marina. Similar art installations have been made in Grenada and Cancun (Caribbean), winning awards from National Geographic’s and other institutions. In the marina office we met a nice young girl who’d been one of the first volunteers for Jason’s sculpturing. Being a keen diver herself, she confessed that it would probably be spooky to see her own, full sized body at 5 meters depth.
We have a couple of days left at our Las Palmas Marina mooring. But last evening we felt it was enough – we needed to enjoy the freedom of anchoring so we wrestled out of our tight slot. Calm evening, water temp 26 C, great freedom. At this time of the year it is still plenty of place to anchor. At peak season, I guess that is around November, this anchorage has more than 50 boats at anchor or on buoys. Not a lot of space and according our neighbours, who regularly need to leave the marina due to ARC, these couple of weeks can be exciting with dragging boats, south swell coming in etc. Our plan is to stay here a couple of days, get our diesel tanks filled up (price is 0.90 € per liter) and wait for a “good” forecast to sail over to S Fuerteventura (60 M reach) or a “miracle” forecast taking us to S Lanzarote (130 M against the NE trade wind).
Last couple of weeks have included a lot of social events including a 60 year´s party. Five additional Swedish boats / crews have arrived here in Las Palmas Marina. Amazingly, our pontoon, with a total of around 30 moorings has 7 Swedish boats, meaning Swedes are in majority, at least on this pontoon. Many of our new Swedish neighbours have been sailing for many years and are very experienced, i.e at least one circumnavigation and in many cases having sailed in exotic waters for at least 15 years or more. Fascinating to hear their stories. One of our new friends has a L32 and left Svalbard (Spitsbergen) 2012 after having circumnavigated this Arctic island. Impressive! Every Friday evening the Bar/Restaurant “Sailors Bar” has a “Scandinavian table” reserved where we can meet our fellow countrymen/women, listen to stories, get advice/help or just relax and enjoy a beer or two.
I (Peter), with the help of our british neighbours, got the height of my saddle adjusted /extended by a local workshop, so last week we have been using our folding bikes a lot.Today we set off with our bikes, following the western coast of Las Palmas, enjoying the lovely warm weather and had a nice lunch at one of the seaside restaurants.
The last of the boat projects are coming to an end. Next week we will install our external sat antenna cable, fix our rudder axle leak, and make a final check of the rig.
We have spent almost all of August in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, and we will stay here until Sept.21, when we will move to Lanzarote to wait for right time to sail to Cape Verde. The time has been spent with boat projects, jogging and nice walks in the city and meeting nice people.
Our Spanish is improving, we use as much words as we know and then it is hands and feet. Could be rather funny, as when I had to buy soil for our herbs and asked if the soil I had was the correct one for the purpose: este (point at the package) por este (point at the flower)? What I got back was a lot of explanation I did not understand so the man in the shop led me back to the packages and talked even more. After a while the word nutrición came out and then I understood. They had soil with or without nutrition (or fertilizer). Happy I went home with what I needed.
We had similar experience with the engine repair: Peter had prepared with google translate and the useful book we bought, “Spanish for sailors”. The engine man was patient and said everything 4 times with different words, looking us in the eyes until he was sure we had understood.
The Spanish people we have met are happy that we try to speak Spanish and they correct sometimes and give us the words we don’t know. I think language is an underestimated “problem” when sailing. We are so used to the thought that English will be understood everywhere, but in Spain, outside tourist areas, not many people speak or understand other languages than their own, which by the way is one of the world’s major languages. Google translate is fantastic, we use it when looking at TV programs to learn more words, but you need internet connection. Normally you cannot afford to use your phone like that in your daily business abroad.
During our stay here in Las Palmas, we started to run low on cooking gas. Last time we got the bottle refilled was in Madeira, 3months ago. Our bottle is a Swedish standard, not used anywhere else so exchange bottles is not an option, but there is a gas station in the nearby village, that refill bottles. Peter got a lift with our friendly neighbor, so off he went with a happy smile. He was not happy coming back. We had been very careful, leaving Sweden, picking the best bottles with a late pressure test date label. That turned out to be of no value since the production date (1987) was the important one. Here in Spain they do not fill that old bottles, tested or not. We will have to manage with camping gas bottles from the grill until we reach Cape Verde. There and further west we will be able to refill our bigger bottles again.
The next (and last) weeks in this marina we will keep on with our projects ensuring that the Iridium system works and that we have all spare parts we need before leaving this excellent place. However, we are looking forward to moving on. First to Lanzarote with some anchoring on the way to clear the hull. Then the first bigger jump for us to Cape Verde. Interesting to learn how it works with a longer trip: how to stock up on food, will we be able to cook in a good way, sleeping possibilities and if the Iridium system give us the possibility to download the weather forecasts that we need.
- All winches have now covers to protect from dust
- Engine overhaul in search for the strange noise: it was a leaking gasket
- All portholes and skylights have been checked and polished
- We have installed a satellite phone (iridium)
- Staying in the marina it is natural that you don’t see much nature. However we have learnt that in these islands there are less variety of birds, few mammals etc, due to the distance to land and the dry climate.
- The city is kept very clean so we don’t even see mice or cockroaches (only one or two) which we specifically appreciate.
- Some stray cats, but not as many as we have seen elsewhere
- The nature onboard is happy. The Rosemary from Almerimar grows, the Thyme from Rendsburg (!) is still alive, the new oregano looks OK and the Greek Basil that had to be skipped a month ago, due to some green inhabitants, is getting a second life via some branches I saved and put in water. (That’s what I needed the soil for)
- We have done our own mojo rosso (red strong sauce) with good result
- We tried Vieja (red parrot fish) a couple of weeks ago. It is very good and a canarian speciality
Until next time,
BR, Eva &Peter
Two years ago I (Peter) got my amateur radio certificate with the intention to install a High Frequency Radio equipment on our yacht to be able to communicate beyond the reach of VHF and also with a analogue/digital modem being able to download weather forecasts. For different reasons this project never started. Last year we saw an ad about Iridium GO, the first satellite network wifi hot spot solution, with affordable costs for data (and voice, sms, and even web connectivity). The installation is very easy (especially compared to HF radio). Communication services are either prepaid (a number of minutes satellite access) or monthly fixed cost contract. As we are testing it out we have a prepaid service, but are likely to switch to an “unlimited” service, meaning unlimited data access, 150 minutes of voice calls, unlimited SMS per month. With a weather forecasting / routing app (such as Sail Grib) it is really easy to get reliable weather data. The weather app, phone and sms works well but we have yet to test the Web browser. As the bandwidth is only 2.4 kbps we expect only text based emails, grib (weather forecast files) and sms / voice to be viable. The mail app does optimise speed very effectively so it seems a 20 kB file only require about 30 sec download time. We will update this blog (Our Boat section) with satellite contact details, but be warned, we have 150 minutes of voice calls per month for free, calling us costs about USD 7 per minute. Once again – text messages are free (excluding any operator charges).
As HF Radio does deliver additional value such as radio nets we will check for potential used equipment to install. We have an isolated backstay and earth plate so should be relatively straightforward install of radio, antenna tuner and modem.
Over and out from Las Palmas /Peter
Hola, Buenas, Que tal
Since a little more than a week we are now tightly moored in Las Palmas. Tightly meaning we still wonder how we got in without fouling the mooring lines and no more than 15 meters between pontoons. Adding to the fun was our bow thrusters breaking down. Thanks to settled winds and helpful neighbors we made it without any scars to boat or mind. Comparing to when we were here in early June, there are much more boats arriving from mainland Europe, some early ARC entries, but mostly “self organized” sailors (as us) heading for Brazil or the Caribbean Nov/Dec.
One major, painful project is now complete. In a few blog posts we have alluded to activities fixing “the Diesel Engine knocking sound”. I am a mechanical engineer by education and to some extent experience (35 years ago) – and what I have learnt about diesel engines was two things; a) don’t “fix a problem” if you don’t have to, b) if you hear a strange, new noise from the engine, start to worry and examine the reason behind. Clearly after our last regular service we heard a high pitched, knocking noise, increasing with the engine revs. After a) valves clearance adjustments (minor adjustments, no effect), injector pressure tests (no problem), we have now identified the noise coming from a defect exhaust manifold gasket. Gasket replaced, Noise gone, money gone (4 hours Yanmar certified technician work). We hope to be able to recover costs through 2 year guarantee since these gaskets have an expected lifetime of at least 10,000 h (rather than 400 hours).
Other work includes getting our weather forecasts (GRIB) downloads to work. We are using an Inmarsat Satellite Phone with some software to be able to get this essential service to work. Still a bit of “magic touch” needed but we are hopeful to sort it. In addition we are adding (and ticking of the check box) to our endless list of “to do´s”. Our near term planning is to some extent dictated by the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers). ALL non ARC sailors except locals and long terms mooring holders are “thrown out” from the LP marina by end of Sept. Reason being about 250 Yachts arriving with unclear ETA’s and as ARC is a really big revenue for Las Palmas Marina and Town clearly these are prioritized. One option is to anchor close north of the Marina. When we are kindly asked to “get lost”, our plan is to leave for Fuerteventure / Lanzarote using different anchorages. For October we have a reserved berth at Marina Lanzarote / Arrecife. This will be our last storing / bunkering harbor before we around early Nov head off to Cape Verde, ca 800 nm to sw from Canaries. From there – at the moment we are checking out some fluid facts re Brazil Visa regulations. Clearly some EU Policies have negatively affected Visa rules which seem to be 3 months only, meaning 3 months in Brazil, 3 months outside Brazil. With Brazil having a very long coast line, 3 months means more or less constant sailing so right now we keep our options open, meaning we might join the ARC fleet rout from Cape Verde to the Caribbean Islands.Anyone having up to date new info re Brazil Visa rules re EU citizens, let us know!
When we were heading for the Canary Islands we thought about nice sailing areas with day sailing distances between the different harbors. Lot of anchorages and nice weather.
We now understand why many people coming to the Canary Islands stay in one harbor until it is time to leave for the Caribbean islands or Cape Verde. Anchorages without swell are scarce, going from west to east, south to north is not without difficulties, due to the wind, acceleration zones and swell. The acceleration zone is where the prevailing northeasterly trade wind compresses between two islands with high mountains. Most islands here have mountains exceeding 1000 meters, Tenerife’s mount Teide is 3700 meters.
We have, during July, visited La Gomera. La Palma and Tenerife. All passages have been made with good wind forecast, but still with the addition of 20 knots of wind between the islands. Starting with the passage between Gran Canaria and La Gomera, our intention was to stop in San Miguel (south coast of Tenerife) on the way, but the wind and sea picked up so we did not want to go close to shore during those premises. Instead we took another 23 nM directly to San Sebastian on La Gomera, which we believed would be a more sheltered approach. As soon as we were free from the south shelter of Tenerife, we picked up high seas and heavy wind. Up to 40 knots before entering the harbour. A week later we took the step to La Palma, approx.. 60 nM rounding Gomera, going across and then up the west coast of La Palma. Nice and easy going south, awful waves and wind (+35 knots) crossing to La Palma and then again almost calm conditions the last 15 nM to Tazacorte, the harbor on the west coast. Next week coming back to La Gomera we experienced the same conditions. Not sure anymore to be able to anchor outside the harbor of Valle Gran Rey, we were surprised by the calm waters 3 nM outside the harbor. The trip to Tenerife (San Miguel) was the same. Seasick and shaken (“not stirred”) we entered the harbor of San Miguel for a couple of days stay. Wiser we waited for a forecast of less wind before going to Santa Cruz (Tenerife). Prognosis said 5-10 knots. We got 40, before we finally entered the harbor of Santa Cruz, not really believing we would reach there since our boat (24 tons) practically stopped in some of the steep and short waves. After a week here we will now go to Gran Canaria (Las Palmas) and stay there until we are thrown out by the ARC rally beginning October. Then we will decide where to go. Another reason for us to go back to Las Palmas is that the harbor is good, the town is nice, the harbor fees a third of everywhere else, and you can easily take care of the boat and stock up with food for the next trip.
PHU. This sounds like it is all bad, but that is not the case. Having the luxury to sail in the “right direction” makes a fantastic sail! We have had beautiful times on all islands, seen a lot, walked a lot and met nice people. All islands are different! Starting with:
A beautiful round, green, island with a lot of mountains. The harbor in San Sebastian is friendly, easy to access and the town is small and nice. Playas for snorkeling is close by. Not many tourists. We took the bus to Valle Gran Rey in the south, through forests of Laurel trees, small villages and winding roads that makes you ask for a big beer to settle the nerves when you are at the destination. We did another tour going north to Vallehermoso and the roads were as winding and the cliffs as deep as going south. Coming back from La Palma we anchored for 2 days at Valle Gran Rey, in crystal clear water with good holding and perfect weather. Very sheltered. Seeing the anchor at 11 meters is not what we are used to in Swedish environments.
In San Sebastian we also met the crew of Pusan, a Swedish boat on the move for 5 years now. It is always interesting to share experiences and learn from others. They have been in the marina for close to 8 months now and we think we know why – read the first part of this letter…
La Isla Bonita (the beautiful island). Coming round the west corner, out of the acceleration zone and in to calm water, the island gave a very green impression. It is a major banana growing area. You will see bananas everywhere, also in the small cities/villages. The harbor, Tazacorte, is fairly new, very sheltered with huge piers and lots of restaurants, with a touch of Spanish tourism. No swell reached in when we were there. Pleasant marina and a nice village (Puerto Tazacorte) close by. In La Palma everything is uphill. Cash machine is in the Villa Tazacorte, the “main” village 2 km away from the harbor, but all uphill. We took a hike one day to El Paso (famous for cigars). It was only 9 km away but on an altitude of 700 meters. It was about +30 degrees in the shadows so we were really dehydrated (despite 2l water bottle) when we finally got there. After some rest we ended up going all the way down again J
In La Palma we experienced the celebration of Virgin del Carmen, the fishermen’s saint. (Peter put some nice pictures on the blog, see July 16.) We also took the bus to Santa Cruz La Palma. A nice old town, but the harbor was awful. Swell, wind and waves despite a 1 km long pier. Not a place for us.
The harbor in San Miguel is a bit tricky to see. It is also a bit shallow, which we did not know until we were already in the marina. The water is crystal clear so 10 meters depth gives you the shivers passing all rocks you see from deck. We had the possibility to do nice walks north and south of the harbor. An area mixed with golf courses, tourist areas and a fishing village (Los Abrigos). The fishing village was known for its fish restaurants. We also did some jogging. However, at +30 degrees the jogging has to take place early in the morning.
Last days of July was spent in the harbor of Santa Cruz, Tenerife. Big new harbor with finger pontoons and good shelter for all winds, except southerly. The city is feeling small and cozy even though it has about 400.000 inhabitants. Lots of buildings from late 19- early 20- century. Today (Aug 4th) we took a guided tour to the highest top of Spain, “Pico de Teide”. It was fantastic looking at all old craters and geological remains. We took the cable car to 3500 meters above sea levels.
We will now wait here for the wind to give us a possibility to go to Las Palmas on Gran Canaria.
- Sharks: one with no upright tail fin might be a “Smooth-hound” shark. Rather small (1,5 meters), the other had a very high fin with a brown body. We checked our books and think it could be a “Hammerhead” which we know is to be found close to La Gomera
- Lots of lizards. Some endemic to the Canary islands.
- Spotted dolphin
- Sea turtle
- We finally got a good book for identifying the fish we see during snorkeling and in the clear waters in the harbors. The trumpet fish is a favorite.
- Our Greek Basil got sick and had to be thrown away. Maybe some seeds that we saved and some leaves/branches can give us a new fresh start.
- Almogrotes (new green variant of goats chees, herbs and olive oil). We managed to find a small Spanish cook book with the recipe.
- Almejas in marinade. A fantastic dish we got in the small fishing village close to San Miguel. We also had some very good fish marinated the same way in a warm sauce made of olive oil, spices, tomatoes, onions, chorizo (we guess due to color).
- Tuna carpaccio: also in San Miguel. It seems that San Miguel/Los Abrigos is the Tenerife mecca for fish and shellfish.
Until next time,
BR, Eva &Peter