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Date: 02 Nov 2010 10:05:00
Title: Gran Tarajal and the erm. ..lesser white whale?

31:10.10,  28.12.40N 14:01.60W
 
Up and out early from Isla Lobos in the morning - Adam saw a turtle swimming a few yards away from the boat - first one of the trip so far.
We had a journey down to Gran Tarajal on Fuertaventura in which there is allegedly a Marina with lots of space for visiting yachts. 
 
 It was supposed to be getting strong winds on Sunday but they didn't materialise till the next day so we had perfect weather for a sail down the coast.  At last - some more life seen in the sea! - we were beginning to wonder what had happened to it all.  At about 10 in  the morning we spotted a group of whales/large dolphins a couple of hundred metres off the side of the boat.  They seemed a bit too large and too slow to be the usual dolphins that you see and the wrong sort of fins, but they were a distance away so hard to make out.  After 10 minutes or so we couldn't see them any more so assumed they had gone.  About half an hour later I saw one of said beasties just next to the boat a couple of metres away and making for the bow.  We both dashed to the bow - fantastic sight - I still have no idea what they are, will have to do some internet research or get a book, at the bow of the boat were 5 of them, all too big for any normal kind of Dolphin - probably about  3 to 3.5 metres in length , black tails but a body that was mottled black/white - more white than black though so under the water they just appeared to be white.  They stayed only a minute or so swimming about a metre under the water in front of the boat, then they dissappeared off, clearly we were less interesting to them but worth a short visit.
 
We're now safely tied up in Gran Tarajal and today (Monday) the wind has picked up and the seas are rough so glad that we're behind some huge harbour walls for the next couple of days.  In Lanzarote there are a couple of huge Marina's like Puerto Calero,  where we stayed, with hotels around them - but it's all a bit different a few miles away in Fuertaventura.  The harbour we're in is half devoted to fishing boats, and at the other end they have put a load of pontoons in for pleasure boats - I was worried it would be full and there is nowhere else to go other than anchor which we weren't keen on given the weather forecast. . .  but this was pretty unfounded - there are probably about 30 cruising yachts like us. . . some local sport fishing boats and things. . .  and loads of new and empty pontoons - when we got here it was like where do you park in a half empty car park? - too much space and choice.  The town isn't a tourist resort, you have to play 'spot the tourist' and I get to try and speak Spanish again which is good for practice - and I need practice.  There are a couple of armed guards in the marina/port - apparently this was a favourite place for people from Africa to try and get into the EU and every year lots of little wooden boats crowded with people come over to try and get in so the guards keep an eye out for shady goings-on.  The guard who met us didn't speak much english but he did say I had to take our papers to his 'mini office' - and it was. . . . an office approx 4 foot square with a very small plastic table and photocopier in it. .  so 'mini-office' was fitting.  At least he didn't spot the 20 mauritanians we had hidden in our cupboards. . . . .
 
Fuertaventura is an odd place to get used to - it feels very desolate as it is hardly populated at all, the landscape appears to be arid hills and rock - although when you look closer there are lots of plants that are mostly grey in colour - think they are hiding from the main animal that resides on Fuertaventura . . .  goats (they seem quite proud here that they have a population of 60,000 goats on the island, you can buy all sorts of goat souvenirs).  There is even a french foreign legion training outpost here somewhere (it must be desert-like enough for them) so - if all else fails perhaps we can go and join them?
 
The landscape is quite striking though when you get used to it - just a bit different to Madeira! 
 
 
Lighthouse at the end of the Cape just north of Gran Tarajal
 
I wasn't going to put this non-picture in - but it goes some way to proving the 'lesser white whale-fish' spotting. . .  my excuse is that the small, cheap camera we bought for keeping on deck is slow and generally takes not very good pictures.  So the beasties would come to the surface. . . I would take a picture. . . and about 10 seconds later the camera would respond. .  when they had already disappeared again below the waves.  BUT you can see white things under the water. . . if you squint. . . and add some imagination .. .honestly - just think black tails and white bodies. . . .
 

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