tender moments 28:51.50N 13:49.20W

Hamble Warrior
Jamie Hickman
Fri 8 Oct 2021 17:40

Today we are back underway again after a lovely couple of days anchored off La Graciosa.

Yesterday we launched our new dinghy for the first time from its spot stowed on the coachroof and paddled ashore. We were delighted with how she handled and pleased that the blocks and lines we had set up to launch and retrieve her all worked well. It felt like a big commitment when we found "Fleur" - a 9ft clinker plywood dinghy based on the "Auk" design by Iain Oughtred - in the UK and had her shipped out to Torrevieja. We desperately wanted a solid dinghy that would both row and sail for trips ashore where our trusty old inflatable kayak might be a little lightweight for choppy anchorages.

Most cruising sailors carry an inflatable RIB with an outboard engine as a tender and we too had this arrangement for years with previous boats. We found several drawbacks to this set up not least the temperamental nature of outboard engines; the need to carry petrol to run them, the racket they make underway, and their habit of getting stolen. Furthermore inflatables row about as well as pigs rollerskate so without the engine propulsion is slow; wet and awkward. For these reasons we have just used our little inflatable kayak as a tender for the last 3 years. Which has worked perfectly! We even have a couple of mates who will testify to having been ferried by kayak; along with all their luggage, in the small hours ready to make their flights home!

That's a lot of talk about dinghies you're thinking.... these guys are bloody obsessed... you might be right! We were halfway across the sand dunes heading to Graciosa's little port town of Caleta del Sebo when it occurred to us both that we were taking our first steps on Canarian soil (sand) since making landfall and our first steps on land for nearly a week! 600 miles at sea completely eclipsed by a 300m paddle in a rowing boat!!

It took about 40 mins to walk to Caleta and what we found was a quaint little town entirely built to serve the visiting tourists that arrive hourly from Lanzarote by ferry. Several restaraunts and bars; a couple of small supermarkets, a bakery and fishmongers set around a cosy little harbour with a small sandy beach and looking out at the steep red rock of the dramatic Lanzarote coastline over the water. We passed the town on our arrival from Gibraltar but in the pitch black we saw nothing of this sweet little place or the impressive surroundings.

We bought some bread and spicy bean salad for lunch and sat looking out at the harbour then rehydrated with a few large cold beers before setting off for the sandy walk home. All the way back we noted how far the tide had gone out since we pulled our dingy up on the beach several hours previously and how much black rock was now exposed along the shoreline. Needless to say we were pretty relieved to find our beach still sandy all the way down to the waters edge where we dragged Fleur and managed to launch her into the surf without getting drenched!

Hamble Warrior was sitting where we left her (always a relief) and as we rowed back to her we enjoyed a number of compliments from neighbouring boats on what a fine tender we had.

This morning we lifted the anchor at about half past 10 and set off along the North West coast of Lanzarote heading towards Playa Blanca. Despite an overcast start to the day the sun soon burnt through and we have been bowling along with a full mainsail and poled out headsail downwind in mostly force 4 conditions. They call this stretch of coastline the "Scenic coast" and rightly so. We have stayed about 2 miles offshore and enjoyed watching the towering red cliffs; volcanic peaks and lunar-esque landscape slide by behind the frothing white wall of foam thrown up where sea meets land. The breaking waves make such a contrast to the autumnal colours of the background topography that even two miles out they catch your eye like a distant firework display.

We passed the little seaside town of El Golfo where we had sat and enjoyed a fantastic fish platter some years ago and a couple of hours later we approached the southern tip of Lanzarote where the first of the infamous Canarian "wind acceleration zones" pushes the forecasted wind conditions up by anything up to 25kts where the volcanic peaks create a "venturi" effect funnelling the wind around the bottom of the island and in the channels between islands. We have not experienced an acceleration zone before although there are similar effects to be found the world over... we had become very familiar with catabatic gusts in the lee of islands in the Aegean and are familiar with the idea that you reduce sail early in anticipation! We rounded the bottom of the island in a respectable 26kts and enjoyed a fabulous view of Playa Blanca with her holiday homes and grand hotels stretching out for several miles from the lighthouse to Marina Rubicon.

We have now dropped our anchor just off the marina amongst a dozen or so other boats and it's time for our traditional "Friday Night Work's Drinks"