We really enjoyed the week spent in the Palmeira anchorage. We understand those who sense the poverty and lack of ordinary services is hard to accept. Very soon after we got here we felt something else. The people, very few with a proper “job”, were all very happy, not requiring handouts and really helpful towards yachties. Besides busloads of tourists from the “charter town” St Maria spending 20 minutes watching the fish market, the 30 or so yachts anchored were the only tourists in this small vilage. Naturally we spent time with fellow yachties, but also a half a day with Lars and Kerstin, owners of the Swedish yacht Naranja3 who we met several times in Galicia summer of 2014. Lars and Kerstin took us on an island tour from north to south, partially dirt roads. Fascinating landscape of Volcanic peaks with flat sand in between. They stayed at the tourist resort center Santa Maria were we had a late lunch.
After a week we checked out at the Marine Police station and had a fast night sail of 90 nm to Tarrafal, the only realistic anchorage at the island of Sant Nicolaus. The anchorage was ok with firm black sand at 12 meters with crystal clear waters. The only problem was that the near mountain ridge, several hundred meters high, gave us wind gusts of up to 35 knots and in between no wind. This means that you need a lot of margins to your boat neighbors, allowing 360 degree swinging. After a night with a lot of swell we gave up and headed for Sao Vicente, Grand Port of Mindelo. Perfect 50 nm day sail, no waves, 1-1.5 knot favorable current, so most of the time we made more than 8 knots.
We have now spent two night at anchor here in Midelo, in theory this anchorage is very protected, though a swell sneaks in making some rolling inevitable, but manageable.
Around us are a number of derelict ships. Interestingly, we left for some shopping around 10 this morning and came back around 3. During this time our closest neighbor, a 300 feet long tanker managed to turn 90 degrees and is now at rest at 6 meters deep water. Fortunately no one seems to have been injured and so far no leaks of oil or fuel are visible.
Dogs everywhere. One of the first impression that strikes you getting ashore at Palmeira is the large number of dogs. Literally every street corner has a couple of dogs. What’s different from other “development areas” we’ve been to is that these dogs are not aggressive, they don’t bark, most of them sleep during the day and they are in relatively good shape. Clearly the dog community is balanced and lives in harmony with the people living here.
From a tourist perspective, this small village doesn’t have much to offer. One basic restaurant, a couple of basic bars, and one or two mercados offering the very core supplies, dependent of when the last shipment of goods arrived. Fresh water is supplied at one or two Fontaneros, where people carry their water cans back and forth to their houses. Still, this village with about 500 people has its charm. Almost no begging, a few souvenir sales guys that can take a “no thank you” response, and in general very friendly, smiling faces. A major barrier though is language, all locals speak Creul – Portuguese with an African twist, most speak Portuguese and some French. As we manage English, German and some Spanish, we are in “deep water” when it comes to communication. But it adds to the adventure and in some cases a big laugh! This particular anchorage is deemed relatively safe, meaning normal security measures apply and we didn’t hear of any theft during our week here when we left our dinghy every day on the beach. Averages age is about 30 years and annual income on average is about 1800 USD.
Sunday evening we enjoyed the weekly “Palmeria Party”. At 7 pm it was time for the “elderly” meaning about our age to listen to live music (Morno the famous Cap Verde style of soul). At 11 pm the younger audience appeared with more disco music. For ½ Euro we had BBQ meat and for 1 Euro a beer. If you are brave you can have a “grog” for ½ Euro – sugar cane distilled rum with home made flavours like honey, lemon, orange etc. Very strong indeed!
We got home alright in the dark night!
Yesterday, 18th November just before sunset we arrived at Sal after a bit more than 5 days. During the sail we experienced very steady NE wind, trade winds as expected, but different wind speeds and sea state. Two days of too little wind, two days with perfect conditions and one day with to much and ugly waves. All 5 days we experienced a haze with sand dust and we think phosphorus particles from Africa. The Spanish West Sahara has the largest open mining fields of phosphor in the world. You notice by all stainless steel getting oxide stains and also (at least me, Peter) I get a bit of asthmatic response. During the 5 days we did get a lot of “sea life entertainment”. We have seen single flying fish before but now we encountered hundreds of fish flying 100 meters or more. Plenty of different Dolphins. Eva woke me in the middle of a windy night so I could join in to see the dolphins showing their underwater acrobatics with a fantastic bioluminescence (sw “Mareld”).
Back to Sal. We have now cleared in, got our visas, and stamps in the passport. Local Sim card so our Internet abstinence is cured and we already found our favourite bar. Life is back to normal and we enjoy this friendly place.
We are now after 3 days more than half way towards our destination Sal, Cape Verde. The sailing has been rather slow and the second day forced us to use the engine for 18 hours. Highlight from yesterday was our first catch this year, a Bonito (member of the Tuna family). Enough for an evening meal today! Lots of dolfins, flying fish and the occasional Pilot Whale. As it looks right know we aim at arriving around Wednesday noon, meaning five days in total for the 700 nm total distance.
After 6 days in the charming marina at La Restinga, El Hierro we left the harbor yesterday at noon, after checking out and filling up with water and fuel. After 24h we are now approx 560nm from Sal, the CV Island we are aiming for. So far all is well and yesterday and this morning we have been entertained by Dolfines and Pilot whales.
Last week has been spent enjoying lovely anchorages. We left Arrecife with light but sailable winds for a night at anchor south of Lanzarote. Unfortunately the swell changed direction so we had to leave earlier than planned for a night sail of 130 nm to south Gran Canaria.
After a night at anchor at Placito Blanca we sailed 15 nm to Anfi del Mar. This anchorage was ideal in terms of firm sand bottom, no swell (at least not when were there) and easy access to dinghy landing. We stayed there 3 nights. We managed to get our long waited for solar panel replacements rerouted to the small, private marina. Lessons learnt – use a transport company with local (delivery) presence and allow time (in our case 3 weeks). At the anchorage we also met Harmen and Marieke, dutch owners of a Hallberg Rassy 49 on route to the Caribbean. Always nice to compare similar boats and different “solutions”.
As the distance to El Hierro was 120 nm we opted to raise the anchor around 5 pm for a night sail. The first 5-10 nm was dead into 6 knots wind due to sea breeze. After 1.5 h motoring we got a steady 15 knots downwind sail, with the usual addition of 10 knots west of Gran Canaria and west of Tenerife. A couple of hours before entering the Puerto Restinga we were greeted by a large, 20+ shool of spotted dolphins that stayed with us for almost an hour. Always a nice feeling!
El Hierro is living up to its reputation to be a place to “watch the world drift by”. The harbour is really small with friendly marineros and almost every activity related to scuba diving. Apparently the nearby water reservation areas are the best diving places of Europe. We did a short snorkelling tour this afternoon and checked out “the local turtle” (0.7 m long), and several large species of exotic fishes. This place is known for many hammerhead sharks. Tomorrow we will check them out. Wish us luck!
One month’s stay in Arrecife, Lanzarote, is now over and we have set sail towards southwest. We enjoyed the stay enormously. The harbor was filled with ships from many different countries and the Mini Transat fleet gave color to it all.
We found ourselves in a waiting position since hurricanes can still form close to Cape Verde this time of year. However, we used the time well, with some boat projects, long walks and stocking up on food for the next coming month (-s). To get a sense of vacation, we rented a car for a week and crisscrossed the island. The most impressing sight was a smoking volcano in the south west. Included in the ticket was a bus ride in the volcanic landscape. Very strange and interesting! We also enjoyed a couple of festivities in the Arrecife city. Spanish people are famous for fiestas. This time it was a music festivity three weekends in a row and we managed to participate in two of them. Well organized, with everything from toddlers to elderly people enjoying the party. There was also an October fest, but unfortunately it coincided with an enormous rain that almost drowned the streets. It was not as bad on Lanzarote as it was on Gran Canaria but bad enough. We had heavy rain an hour or two per day for almost a week. Strange considering this is supposed to be a desert island.
The boat projects involving warranty (the log and the solar panels) was solved to 50%. After a major hustle with a lot of people, Peter managed to get the log/depth/temp transducer changed after paying for transport and customs handling. To get the solar panels to Lanzarote we were advised to use DHL or TNT since they had representation on the island. Unfortunately the company responsible for arranging the transport used UPS, so they ended up in customs in Las Palmas for three weeks and they were still there when we left. Happily enough we managed to pick them up in a small marina at the south end of Gran Canaria, where we have spent the last 2 days. In Lanzarote we could also refill our Swedish gas bottles. In Las Palmas the gas plant refused refilling since the bottle was 28 years old (max 10 years old bottles are allowed), At the gas plant in Arrecife the man doing the refill had dark sunglasses and didn’t bother reading the time stamp so now we are good for 6 months again :-)
We are now planning for a night sail to El Hierro tomorrow, the Canaries island we haven’t visited yet, approx.. 110 nM to the southwest from south Gran Canaria. Knowing that the internet access could be bad, it might take a while before the next post.
Until next time,
BR, Eva &Peter
Since Thursday the Canary Islands have got extreme amounts of rain. The worst hit island, Gran Canaria, measured up to 25 mm rain per hour and claims to be categorized as “Alerta Alto”, meaning catastrophe area. Thankfully no one seems to have been hurt so far. Here in Lanzarote the damage is much less, but still there is flooding where the drain pipes are full. The marina basin is brown with mud and silt, washed off the city streets. As Lanzarote is labelled a desert island with annual rainfall of 110 mm, my guess is that it has been delivered the last three days.
We have rented a car mostly for buying supplies the last week which we today used to check out the Montanas del Fuego Timanfaya (or Fire Mountains). This national park forms part of a broad area affected by the volcanic eruptions that struck Lanzarote 1730-36, with subsequent eruptions 1824. The most exciting part of the package was a bus trip for almost one hour along very narrow roads around the area. Fascinating geology and impressive skills of the driver! A nice feature was also the volcanic barbeque stations at the parking area, two girls were well prepared with sausages and grill sticks!
On our way back we got hit by torrential rains for half an hour. This short time frame forced us to take numerous detours across town to avoid up to half meter of water ponds. The power of flooding is really scary. We managed to get the car back to the marina with well cleaned chassis.
A couple of days ago we checked out the third marina in Lanzarote by car, Puerto Calero. The marina is in an isolated area surrounded by hotels / boutiques / bars and restaurants. The atmosphere felt a bit “show off”. The final proof was when Eva detected what looked like golden bollards. 25 years ago we first saw stain less steel bollards in some German marinas. What next?
Our blog followers who faithfully have read all of our 2015 posts, most likely have observed several referrals to sea temperatures. From May, coinciding with arriving in the Canaries, we happily observed a steady increase of sea temperature as measured by the sensor also reading depth and speed. When we reached 30 C sea temp, we finally started to get skeptical so checked with our old-fashioned thermometer we use in the fridge. To our horror the real (we hope) temperature was more like 24-25 degrees. A couple of weeks ago the instrument read 50 C…..
Great news, we thought, was that we signed up for extended 3 year warranty when we replaced our old B&G instruments 2013, so we thought we could relax and wait for a new sensor. Well, the last two weeks we have struggled with the Swedish agent, the EU distributor, the Spain mainland distributor and the local, Lanzarote Company that only acts as certified installer to sort out disclaimers and restrictions in warranty scope. It seems “it’s not over until the old lady sings” is about to happen, but likely with a cost to us related to freight (Spain mainland to Lanzarote), customs expedition/admin (?), and Canaries VAT. Equals in total to 40% of the initial sensor costs. I now feel much more sympathy for sailors stranded in more remote places than Canary Islands, struggling with vendors obligations, customs, logistics etc. Worth mentioning – the sensor is a standard item I could buy in any marine chandlery store in most marinas in the Canaries. Until we get the goods we will not use this blog for “bad press” directly naming the manufacturer. Anyone who want to know the brand, send us a comment or mail.
On the same warranty claims topic, we seem to have a happy ending with our Sunbeam solar panels. After a season we noticed the solar panels outer layer started to flake. After a quick call to the Viking yachting Chandlery in Gothenburg, the same day we got the green light, two new 100W panels got shipped to us. No bureaucracy, no fuss, no delays, only one party communication, not the “double tennis game” we experienced with the depth/speed/temp sensor companies. Great aftermarket service scores to both Sunbeam and Viking Yachting!
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 :-)