We had eventually come to the
end of navigable Portugal and therefore the obvious question was “What
next?” We had had quite major wobbles about setting off across large
expanses of ocean but now, with the encouragement of our sailing friends, we
plucked up courage and bravely headed out for the Canaries. 580
miles of Atlantic, approximately 5 days and nights at
We had a good forecast of NE
winds for the whole time so settled down to a routine of 3 hourly watches at
night (0800 – 2000) and taking turns to catch up on sleep during the day
as and when required. We both expected the long hours of darkness to be a bit
tedious but surprisingly, after a couple of nights settling in to the routine
we both found the nights more interesting. We had no moon so were treated to 5
gloriously starry nights. The astronomy book came out and several planets,
stars and constellations were identified. It was interesting to notice how the
positions of the stars changed overnight.
The only downside was a crick
in the neck from looking up for too long. (Does anyone know of a physio round here?) Thankfully there were few ships and
fishing boats to worry about when we were off shore so other night time
activities included reading, tidying out the food lockers, trying to learn
Spanish and contemplation whilst watching the bright trail of phosphorescence.
Sunset at Sea
The first day was a bit lumpy
so we were unable to do much but after that we were both able to read and
conduct our lives surprisingly normally, even sitting down at the table
together for most meals. We had 2 days of good strength wind, approx F4, but
after that it became very light. We were not able to use our engine constantly
as our fuel capacity is limited, so sometimes progress was rather slow.
Highlights of the days were seeing pilot whales, having dolphins play in the
bow wave and wake, a conversation over VHF with a skipper of a huge motor yacht
and a call from the Moroccan Navy asking us to clear the area!
We had set off on Tues 2nd
Nov at and by sunrise on Sun 7th were in sight of
land, seemingly great lumps of rock on the horizon. These slowly materialised
into small individual islands off the N coast of Lanzarote and the slightly larger island of Graciosa, our intended landfall.
We were amazed at the islands
that we passed, each one simply an erupted volcano, slopes, craters and the
occasional cone. Very black soil and sparse scrubby
vegetation. Actually stunningly beautiful rising out of the blue sea.
Land AhoyNorthern Lanzarote
Bt 1430 we were tied up in the little marina in La Sociedad, the only occupation on the island, 6 x 3 miles in size. We immediately got to know our neighbours,
two French couples with excellent senses of humour, and reacquainted ourselves
with other people, previously encountered on our voyage.
After a bit of a rest, the
following day we set off to explore. Walking through the little village and out
into the hinterland this place felt far more African than European with it’s hot barren landscape, heat and absolute aridness.
We circumnavigated 2 volcanoes then returned for a welcome dip.
street.The main road.
We noticed a 26ft Folk Boat
in the marina and so went to say hello. The result was and invitation to Green
Flash and several beers later, the young German couple had become firm friends.
They are also intending to cross the Atlantic. He is a Naval Architect and she a Physio!
of Lanzarote from Graciosa.
to Lanzarote next. It sounds very interesting.