Arrecife and Marina Rubicon
We stayed on Isla Graciosa for a week altogether, moving from the anchorage into the little harbour for some forecast swell that never appeared, then back to anchor again. Having arrived to join 2 dozen boats at anchor we had the place to ourselves on the last day: we worked out that the SW winds had stopped most boats from making the passage down to the Canaries (confirmed when we heard from friends we made in Rabat who are still stuck waiting for the weather). Graciosa is a magical place, very peaceful and simple with a very small influx of mostly Spanish tourists staying in little white houses arranged to look like a set from a spaghetti western to our eyes. Great scenery too:
Looking towards the anchorage and the nearest volcano:
Unfortunately the weather was a bit disappointing; we went for a walk up the volcano overlooking the anchorage and had to turn round as soon as we reached the top because heavy rain was making the footing dangerous!
The cliffs of Lanzarote seen through the port:
We would have liked to stay longer but the forecast and need to get an internet connection prompted us to move on. Arrecife, the island’s capital, promised good shelter and shopping so we headed there on Sunday, planning to stay a couple of days. The wind direction forced us to anchor inside the main harbour, Puerto de las Naos, which was made a bit tricky by the fact that they are now building a big marina there.
We woke up to the sound of construction work and looked out at 5 or 6 diggers enlarging the harbour and a floating pile driver manoeuvring around the 2 visiting yachts at anchor. The port police then appeared, frantically whistling at us and gesticulating that we had to move, pronto! So much for going shore to buy an internet dongle. We moved on via the town’s nicer anchorage, but as we expected, it was far too exposed to these constant SW winds. Incidentally, we had been chatting to a local sailor who said the so called constant NE trade winds the Canaries are famous for seem to be a thing of the past. The last few years has seen a stationary high nearby which keeps the winds south-westerly all “winter” and means that the first 400 nm or the Atlantic crossing is most often to windward, irrespective of how late you leave it to cross.
So with another period of strong SW and rain forecast we headed for Playa Blanca and Marina Rubicon on the S coast of Lanzarote, reportedly expensive but with great facilities including wi-fi. The expensive bit was right but we haven’t been able to get the wi-fi to work & have had to buy a data SIM for our 3G dongle. We had our first engine trouble getting into the marina as well. By the time we’d checked in and had to remove the dinghy from the davits (the only time the boat length has been measured since leaving Berthon marina in Lymington) the winds were quite strong and having cast off I couldn’t get the boat under control. We were blown into the pontoon and damaged our bows before we got the lines back on. Weirdly the engine would not respond to the throttle unless it was out of gear; I checked prop, fuel filters etc before getting an engineer out. He spent a couple of hours being as puzzled as I was, but eventually “regulated the injection pump” (whatever than means) which seemed to make it work OK. However it was still not quite right coming into our berth so I scraped another part of the hull against the pontoon. I’ve got play with it again before we try to leave as there is nothing less confidence inspiring when entering and leaving harbours than having an engine that doesn’t respond to the throttle!
We’ve decided to stay here for 5 days, catch up on washing, boat jobs, internet etc and hire a car to see a bit of the island. Today we’ve got more 30kt winds expected and another day of rain, heavy clouds and high humidity. Not at all what we expected in the Canaries!