Fuertaventura - a quiet surprise

Espen Aalstad
Wed 7 Nov 2007 21:14
28:23N 13.51W El Castillo
From Lanzarote's south tip, Ihla de Lobos (named for seals) was only a short hour away. The heavy swell unfortunately made this only a lunch stop and we could only admire the beautiful volcanic lagoon inside the reef. We did not admire the day trippers out on the big catamarans who with jet skis and banana boats missed this island's virtue.....
Fuertaventura means strong winds and strangely most sailors skip this island - supposedly as it has less to offer than the other islands.
We are glad we did not even if the wind evaded us.
Indeed, the coastline was quiet and desert like with its vast sand dunes, bare hills and palm trees. A strong reminder that the island is only 55nm from Africa's west coast.  Our Navtex (weather forecaster) asked us to be on the lock out for locust swarm from Africa and Mauritania. Down the cost we went looking for hammerhead sharks and whales which frequent the coast. Who said this island was boring!
The small harbour of El Castillo even had a little oceanarium where friendly Carlos was both master of the marina, the submairine and the show. The kids had a private showing of the sea lions and sting rays on board a small pirate ship.
As true cruisers we have learned budget ways....we also found we could walk right into the resort close to the marina. A lovely afternoon where we thought we were back in Sweden. Even more so walking the little shopping area at night.
After 80 nm south we still do not understand where the island's 150 beaches are! Here the eastern tip of the island and clearly a watch to Africa.
Yet at the southern tip we felt like we were back in the Red Sea - both in-land and in the water. The unusal swell from the east though meant we could only enjoy a quick swim in the the 27 degree water, and a guppy exercise raising the dinghy. We abanonded our natural anchorage plan and instead headed out to sea again for Gran Canaria.