After 4 weeks in Las Palmas marina we arrived yesterday at Puerto de Mogán after a 30 nm sail in good winds. Due to the “acceleration zone” which adds up to 15 knots to existing wind speed, we had some strong winds and reached 10 knots of speed over ground at times which we are not very used to. We are anchored 200 meters from the marina entrance with very little swell but a lot of waves due to passing ferries, jet skis, glass bottom boats, submarines (!), banana boats, paraglide speed boats and so on. The water is crystal clear and there a number of large caves were paddle boats can go in so we hope to do some good snorkeling later today.
Out of coincidence, a couple of days ago we saw a note on a supermarket that they were closed 24th June due to ”San Juan”. Checking the net and local papers we found out that San Juan is the equivalent to “Midsommar” (swe) or Midsummer celebration. Yesterday evening we went to the major event area at Playa de Las Canteras. We enjoyed a cover band playing a lot of 70-80’s pop/rock tunes and the beach was completely packed with people – as always a blend of kids, youths, parents and elderly people. Families of three generations had a feast of food and drinks with tables and chairs brought to the sandy beach. At around 23.45, at least 400-500 people, young and old, suddenly appeared in swim suits and went in to the water. At 24.00 a fantastic firework started lasting 20 minutes. Later, bonfires were lit. All in all a fantastic night with a lot of happy, smiling people and no signs of violence or misuse of alcohol or drugs.
Finally, after 3 weeks, we have now got the hydraulic furling gear working, without leaks, mounted to the mast, boom in place and with no damage to body or boat. We are always extremely careful when working on the boat. The boom weight is approx. 150 kg, the hydraulic unit 35 kg producing 150 Nm torque. Reason for the time to get the hydraulic to work was that the technicians recommended did not deliver. Finally this week we got hold of a new professional technician who did the job in 2 days. Unfortunately he, by mistake, configured the motor/gearbox to the wrong type of pump (it all has to do with liters per minute), which gave us a headache, but today Saturday, he were here and made the changes. Anyway, now everything except sail is back in place, with no leaks, and we have learnt a lot of new things about hydraulics.
Thanks to our sailing friends of S/Y Hurah we were advised to get “Spanish for Cruisers”, an extremely useful book to aid communication with a focus on sailing terminology. It surely helped conversation about technical matters. After a full week of work on the mast, tomorrow we will take some “time off” and do some snorkeling on the west facing “Playa Las Canteras” beach. Weather is very nice with about 25 C air temp and 24 C in the water. We have extended our stay at Las Palmas Marina for a week, so our plan is to sail over to Tenerife by next weekend.
Because of the extensive maintenance projects the winter of 2013/14, until now we have not had any serious issues with critical systems on the boat. Since we left mainland Spain though, we have had a leak of oil from the mast furling motor/gearbox. Not much leak but obviously annoying and clearly a serious problem if the furling broke down completely. So, Las Palmas Marina will be a longer stay than planned. Even though we are in a place well served by authorized dealers and chandlers, hydraulic spare parts of equipment, designed 30 years ago is not very easy to get. Our rig manufacturer is Reckman and the advice given by their service team was to send the complete, 20 kg, furling kit, to Hamburg. Knowing the hassle with cross boarder transports in Spain, last time we had to wait 4 weeks for customs release, we opted to try a local company used to service hydraulics systems used by trawlers etc. The hydraulic components are all based on standard Danfoss components so, fingers crossed, we have the gear fixed by tomorrow. Meanwhile we are enjoying the surroundings using our Fiat Panda rental car, great deal by the way of 4 Euros/day.
North Atlantic Islands
We stayed in Porto Santo 3 nights. Only the day we arrived was giving us real sunshine, thereafter it was a mixture of clouds and sun spells. No bath… At our walks in the village we found a number of lizards, rather small, green or bluish green. We also found a very nice restaurant down by the waterfront where we enjoyed a nice lunch/dinner.
May 5 we motored to Quinta do Lorde, a new marina northeast of Funchal on Grand Madeira. The marina is included in a newly built tourist complex, where most of the apartments were empty this time of year. The Marina is known for its welcoming atmosphere and decent prices. We stayed 7 nights, spending 3 days driving around a rental car looking at the Island. Grand Madeira is very green and very special with all its mountains and valleys. Hardly any beaches, you swim in the salt water pools instead.
All roads are uphill or downhill with a 10+ % gradient, which sometimes was a bit much for our little car. Of course we visited Funchal and enjoyed the Jacaranda trees in full bloom, and the nice narrow roads in the old part of town. We also checked the Market, but as Funchal is a touristic city, we felt the prices were not for us. In Madeira you are supposed to do “walks”. We did a 2,5 hour walk along the cliffs north east of the harbor and I must say that it was an experience! The geology is very special will different layers of material in all sorts of bands and formations. As always you wish you knew more about it, to fully understand what you see.
During the stay in Quinta do Lorde we also enjoyed a couple of evenings with fellow swedes discussing experiences and collecting important information regarding the Canarian Islands.
May 11 we celebrated 1 year of sailing and the next day we set sails for a 2 day trip to The Canaries, aiming at Graciosa. It was a quick (but bumpy sail). A bit too quick which lead to a 5 hour waiting time before we could enter the anchorage in early morning light. During our sail we managed to see 2 turtles (!) some Petrels but no dolphins or whales.
First two days at anchor were very windy with gusts up to 30 knots, so we stayed close to the boat, just taking a quick stroll to the small village. The village looks like something from Morocco, which gives you a hint of how close we are to that continent and that we now are “far away from home”. Third day we did some fantastic snorkeling, enjoying all the fishes and rock formations, but we then felt the anchorage a bit unsafe (sand over stone/cliffs) and took off for the next island, Lanzarote.
Coming down the coastline on the eastern side, you could clearly see that this island has a barren, almost desert like landscape. Volcanic tops with some valleys between, where we understood that they had some small vineyards etc. Otherwise just brown colours everywhere.
We chose Arrecife as our harbor in Lanzarote. It is a new government owned harbor, not even included in our new plotter charts. The harbor is huge, with 400 places for guesting yachts, very friendly and sheltered and rather inexpensive compare to the other harbors available. Arrecife is also the “capital” of Lanzarote. A very pleasant town, with everything you need, close to the harbor, many chandlers (ferreterias) and nice small restaurants around a small surrounded lake/bay in the village center. We really enjoyed our stay, and took the time to stock up on spare parts (blocks etc.) and food. We also took some long walks to surrounding tourist villages to the north and south, and by seeing them we enjoyed Arrecife even more.
After some days in a marina, we wanted an anchorage where it was possible to take a dip in the ocean directly from the boat. We found a perfect spot on the south east coast, a small village called Gran Tarrajal. The anchorage was sheltered, not so far from the shore and right outside the small main street with some bars and restaurants. The holding was fairly OK We dived every day to check the anchor and saw that it move a meter per day. Some swell from time to time, but the water was crystal clear and made up for that inconvenience. A warning is in place for old mooring stones with lines, still at the bottom of the bay. Some are marked with plastic bottles at (or close to) the surface.
Here we met some new friends, an English couple who have sailed 60.000 nM in their HR43 Hurah. Lots of experiences and tips to dig into.
We visited a second anchorage at Fuerteventura, Morro Jable, where we anchored at 10 meter (sand and rocks). Holding good. On our way down to this place we saw yet another turtle and when Peter was diving to check the anchor, he got a close encounter with a 1 meter wide (Sting?) ray, who was resting under our boat. Unfortunately the anchorage felt a bit unsheltered and the weather was not good either so the next day we set sail for a quick but bumpy ride to Gran Canaria and Las Palmas. Here we have now settled in for a week or two, in a big and inexpensive marina, planning to fix a number of things on our to-do list and rent a car to look around the island.
It feels like we have done a lot during this month. Seen many new places. Visited two different countries (Portugal and Spain) and met new friends.
Some interesting language details: In Spain most shops are called something with –eria at the end: Ferreteria (=hardware store), pizzeria, heladeria (=icecream shop), peluqueria (=hairdreser), hamburgueseria (=burgers), pesceria (=fish), panderia (=bread), fruteria (=fruit and vegetables). But could you guess what this is: gintoneria;-)
- Geology: mostly volcanic and very varied.
- Lizards (sv. Ödlor)
- Sting Ray (sv. Stingrocka)
- Cory’s shearwater (sv. gulnäbbad lira)
- A small black bird that runs on the water called Havslöpare in Swedish
- “Flying fish” ( sv. Flygfisk)
- Sea turtles
- Some very nice gazpacho’s (vegetable soup)
- Patata Arrugada con Mojo (eng. wrinkled potatoes)
- Espada with bananas ( a type of swordfish)
- Limpas: a small conch. We did not like the taste
Until next time,
BR, Eva &Peter
Yesterday afternoon we arrived at the reception pontoon at Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. The sail from the anchorage at Morro Jable was good from a performance point of view, 60 nm in 8 hours but we underestimated the impact of swell from the full reach of the north atlantic so were very tired on arrival. The 30th May was Canaries Day, i.e. a regional holiday so we had to wait until the next day (today) to get checked in. Las Palmas Marina is a pleasant change compared to most marinas since we left Sweden. The mooring fee is about 11 Euros, add to that Electricity and Water and we pay 13 Euros a day. Signing up for a longer term contract reduces the fees further. We haven’t seen to much yet of the city, plan to unfold our bikes tomorrow and check the surroundings. But already now, we enjoy the “yachty” atmosphere. The Marina is mostly “alive” with liveaboards, the yachts (and owners) are of all kinds of shapes, types and conditions. Unless we can anchor (the anchorage is closed until ARC period Sept – Nov) we enjoy a living harbour more than a tidy, ship shape, all shiny marina. Also, still a theory to be verified, we guess that amount of real, blue water experience, is on average much bigger here than in most other marinas in western Europe. Besides fixing our constant to-do list we hope to tap into some grey beard sailors knowledge while we are here for a week or so.
After a night at anchor in the small town of Gran Tarajal, south coast of Fuerteventura we felt the pain of swell (almost no sleep) was worth it, crystal clear and relatively warm water, at least by our standards, ca 22 C. The wind & wave forecast looks promising so we might stay here for some time.Deep lava sand guarantees perfect grip for the anchor. Last anchorage at Isla Graciosa looked ok but after checking the anchor and bottom it showed no more than 30-40 cm sand over rock which made us nervous for the grip whenever we left the boat. Back to Tarajal. According to our pilot book, Tarajal is a place that “offers a glimpse of how the island must have been before the tourist boom took off”. We agree with the author, and really like this “under developed status” as we are not very keen on having “24/7 Full English Breakfast” places and waiters trying to convince you to use their restaurant. We love places with spanish language only menus or even better no menus. Another positive feature of Gran Tarajal was very artistic mural paintings on almost all walls. Most themes from the sea.
Before coming here we spent 8 days in the new Marina of Arrecife, Lanzarote, about 60 nautical miles north from Tarajal. We liked the place a lot partly because of the “non touristy” feel and the opportunity for long walks and hikes. We really recommend the brand new marina. Relatively low marina prices (around 30 €) and extremely service minded staff. The other two marinas close to ours charged between 60 and 80 Euros a night for our size of yacht even though this is low season and the marinas are almost empty.
As suspected, since leaving the Iberia peninsula, heading south, we have had really perfect sailing conditions. Only disappointment so far has been that we have not had any luck with the fishing. We clearly need to consult a pro to get some tips. At Graciosa we had a drink with a nice German couple who had made a circumnavigation. They told us about a rather scary situation when they got a Blue Marlin, ca 2.5 meter long which had a weight of 175 kilo. As they had really heavy gear they had to reel in the giant fish. Unfortunately the Marlin died before they were able to disentangle the line and the hook. All big game fish companies today release the fish to ensure they have something left to catch.
SInce 24 hours we are now safely anchored in the bay of Playa Francesa, Graciosa Island. A narrow sound separates Isla Graciosa from its much bigger neighbour island of Lanzarote. The sail from Madeira to this anchorage was about 270 miles, and we underestimated the speed that averaged 7.2 knots so we had to slow down to avoid arriving in darkness, cloud cover, new moon. Slowing down meant using almost zero headsail, spending 5 hours doing the last 15 miles in heavy swell, not very nice, but we think it was the right thing to do with these conditions and a unknown anchorage. We are alone except for a german sailing boat here in the bay which can have more than 2 dozen boats in the “high season”, i.e. Sept-Nov. The water temp is between 22-23 C, and the air is ca 24 C. As the wind is still up in the 30+ knots until tomorrow noon, we will stay onboard, reading, checking news on the net, planning a feast dinner made up of minced meat and cabbage (aka “Kålpudding” in Swedish) for this evening. Tomorrow we expect to be able to use our rib to get to the small village of Caleta del Sebo, a small settlement with a marina, a couples of mini mercados, restaurants and bars, 3-4 km from our anchorage. The day before we arrived, Lanzarote measured 41.3 C, which is a record May temp in Spain since weather stats started in the 50’s.
We have now spent a week exploring “Grand Madeira”, the mainland of the Madeira archipelago. Tomorrow, weather dependent, we are off to Graciosa, a Canary Island close to Lanzarote, where we hope to be able to anchor for a couple of weeks. Madeira is very different compared to Porto Santo. The whole Island feels like you are permanently inside a huge greenhouse. Besides abundance of flowers and exotic “green stuff”, the island is also a heaven for geologist (we guess anyway). We rented a Nissan Micra for a couple of days and I felt sorry for the engine and brakes having to cope with a lot of 15 degrees slopes. Another big difference to Porto Santo is the lack of sand beaches. If you want a (safe) swim in the sea you have to settle with natural sea pools where the tide fills the pools with fresh seawater and makes it safe to have a swim. The swell on the windward (north shore) is magnificent and makes these waters great surfing grounds, several times of the year there is 8 meters waves before break on specific places on the north shore.
As planned, we left Almerimar March 31. Fabulous weather, bikini sailing. We stopped for the first night at Marina del Este, anchoring just outside the marina. First dip in the sea (18C) and a calm night. Next morning, after yet another swim, we sailed / motored to Gibraltar. Approx. 100nm. Managed to see quite a few dolphins and a flock of Flamingoes heading for Almerimar’s Salinas. Flamingoes are really big and with the pink colors it was a nice view. We anchored at midnight in La Linea, Spain, and went to the Gibraltar Queens Way Quay marina the day after, spending the Eastern holiday and a couple of more days there. It’s a good marina, but the easterly wind created a strange surge in the marina (Peter blogged on that before) which gave us a couple of very uncomfortable nights and some damaged lines. Anyway, we wanted to fix some things for the boat and Gibraltar is a good place for that. We bought an outboard motor for the dingy and some man over board (MOB) equipment to put on the person who has the night watch. After checking the museum, a very interesting place with remains dating back to Neolithic time and the Botanical garden we think we now have covered Gibraltar inside and out. From Gibraltar we took a weather window with 14 knots of wind to sail to Cadiz. Passing the Gibraltar sound comfortably, we ended up with a southerly wind of +40 knots almost all the way to Cadiz. Cadiz is as always a very pleasant place. We walked the city, bought good food at the market and enjoyed ourselves. No place for buying spare parts, though. (We are spoilt in Sweden, Göteborg, with many good chandlers and good prices too.) 4 days later we sailed/motored in rain and thunderstorms (not that bad) to Mazagon, for a quick stop before we entered the Faro archipelago, as our main stay at the Portuguese Algarve coast. We had planned to stay for some time at anchor in the bay outside Culatra village inside the Ilha da Culatra. On our way down to the Med last year we did not dare to go all the way in the delta, but this time we came with raising (high) tide and got a good spot for our anchor. Approx. 15 yachts from different countries were laying there. The weather was fair, with sunshine and +20 degrees. We visited Olháo with our new dinghy and outboard motor. At low tide it was approx 6 nm and at high tide we crossed the sandbanks (2nm) back. Since it was a Saturday the markets were open. It is fascinating to see all the things you can buy in these markets. We found a big fish market and a separate vegetable and meat market, both under roof and outside. We also made walks in the Culatra village, finding new places to eat or have a beer almost every day. The island has approx.. 2000 inhabitants added on with the mainland tourists visiting and a small yacht community that is drying out year after year. We tested “almejas” (sand clam) in different forms. Here they cooked them in garlic oil instead of water. Delicious!!! It took a whole week before we let go, to move to Lagos, our last stay before the jump to Madeira. Lagos marina is safe and expensive. However, we came in low season so the price was not that awful. We made some serious bunkering of groceries, meat, wine and beer, fixed a block for the main sheet that was damaged and, of course, made some walks in the city. A Stork community was also checked out. All nice places with sea view were taken and we counted to 5 different Stork families in close proximity to the harbor. On a beach walk we found some very nice shells wit fantastic mother of pearl (sw, pärlemor), colors we have never seen before. April 29, after bunkering diesel we set sail for our 450 nm to Madeira. 71 hours later we entered the marina in Porto Santo, after a peaceful passage with sail and motor in wind speed between 5-12 knots. We saw a Sunfish, some common dolphins and a shark(?) the first day, nothing day 2 (maybe because the depth was 4000m) and more dolphins (both bottlenose and common) whale blows in the distance, Pilot whales, lots of Petrel birds day 3 when we came closer to the islands. The water temperature increased from 18 degrees to almost 22 as we came closer to Madeira. During our passage we were followed by an almost full moon that made the nights enjoyable. With almost no traffic to disturb us, we could just spend the days reading and looking at the beautiful sea. So now we are here, and will stay a week to look at this Island, take swims in the ocean (we tested yesterday and it was nice, clear and warm) and enjoy ourselves. Nature
- Pilot whales ( sw. grindval)
- Sunfish (sw. Klumpfisk)
- Dolphins, both Bottlenose (sw. Flasknosdelfin) and Common
- Petrels ( sw. Lira)
- As this is spring time we have followed the green spreading through the trees and the birds fighting for the best mates. Lots of flowers even though this area is very dry.
- Gazpacho: Have eaten a number of fantastic gazpachos this month. Also tested to do some ourselves with good result
- Almejas: A “sand” clam that, at its best, is boiled in olive oil with lots of garlic and piri-piri
- Tomato juice: We bought 6 l of tomato juice in Spain for 60 cent per liter. With salt, pepper, tabasco……Should have bought more……
Until next time, BR Eva, Peter