If Knot Y Knot
Patricia Day
Wed 25 Oct 2006 19:02



Sunday 8 October 2006

I had been from Lanzarote to Gran Canaria three times, plus once on the ferry, but each time I had missed out Fuerteventura. 

I was waiting for the surveyor to finish the report and agree the insurance claim.  The boatyard said there was no chance of repair in October and I may have to wait until after the ARC boats had gone at the end of November.  The next day he came round to the boat to say they could start the work this week as there was a holiday they could work through – I didn’t want it started, I wanted it finished – I would be totally stuck if he loosened my rigging and took off the forestay and then didn’t have time to do it all up again.  The marina wanted to intervene with the boatyard repairer, but what can they expect when he has a monopoly; he will obviously do what, when and for how much he wants.  I didn’t want him touching my rigging if he had been told off, he was not an easy guy to get on with, so I decided to set off – I could always go back after a day or two – at times I wonder why I believe myself.

Lanzarote was generally good, but things didn’t turn out for me like I hoped and I was just sitting there with just the sunshine, a swimming pool and wifi internet on the boat, why not give Fuerteventura a try.

Saturday I got ready and set off Sunday morning.

I got out of the berth well enough, this is important because there are five Sunsail boats full of students and instructors opposite me, but although it was a good exit it was not a quiet one as the engine grinds in reverse.  It has done this before, I put it down to barnacles on the prop, because it seems to wear off with use.  The boat had sat there for an incredible two months.

I was going to anchor off Lanzarote in calm weather to test I could still use the anchor, if I was careful.  It was left to Papagayo beach or right to Fuerteventura, so right it was.

I didn’t go into Correlejo because the ferry goes in there and it is just the town opposite Playa Blanca and I am told it is dirty and not nice.

Then there is Rosario, the capital, but that is commercial and they don’t welcome yachts.

Next was Castillo, 35 miles, which I had been told was nice – someone, who will not be named, should get out more. 

I had a lovely sail all the way and did not have a chance to sit down.  I have to get the windvane steering and the autopilot settings sorted, the sails and I forgot how many ropes there are.  I did see one strange looking dolphin, seemed to have a square head, with light colouring; not the prettiest.  There might have been more of them, but I didn’t have time to look.  Just when everything is running smoothly it is time to get the fenders and the ropes out and the sails in again.  It was getting dark early now and the pilot book is a bit doom and gloom.  ‘Entry distinctly hazardous unless an exact course is followed’; ‘not to be entered for the first time at night’.

So a few miles out I put the engine on to make sure I got there before dark and theoretically it helps me out while I do everything else. 

There was a lot of swell and the autopilot was not doing a very good job, not helped by the fact that I had not locked the auxilliary rudder, it seems to make an enormous difference to performance.  I will learn, eventually.

The office should have been open until 8pm, luckily I don’t rely on finding a marinero any more, I just consider it a bonus when it happens.  No bonus today.

I decided to take the berth next to a very nice Island Packet 44 with a British flag, surely he would come out and safeguard his boat as he was certainly taking up his half of the berth.  No, so I went in anyway, and just as I was tying up he came out.  He doubted if the office was open and lent me his card to get back in, he was right.

His name was Mike and his wife was Anna, but she was ill and I never saw her.  There was a German boat that had given him a fish for tea and did I want half because Anna was not going to eat.  I said no as it was obviously a whole fish and I didn’t know quite what I would get.  I said that if it was minus head, tail, bones and insides then yes, that would be lovely.  The fish fillet was duly delivered about 10 minutes later.  I don’t know what it was, it had shiny blue skin, not really scales, and looked tuna-like,so I fried it and ate it. 

The next day they were going, they had paid for a week because you get 7 days for the price of 5.  However, Mike said if he had known what it was going to be like he would not have paid and he would not have stayed.


Monday 9 October 2006

There was nothing much there, except a holiday complex with quite expensive shops, which meant a bus into Rosario.  This was OK I was prepared to spend the week and go over Fuerteventura by bus from there.  The marina was run by the same people who ran the water sports – dolphin watching catamarran, glass bottomed submarine, motorised paddle vehicles, dive boat, jet ski and an aquarium with a trained seal. 

The man I needed to see was sweeping up, so he would come at 10.  Then at 11 he went past me driving the submarine, he would come later.   When he did arrive he told me that it would be €24 a night for the swell-ridden pontoon.  Oh, Marina Rubicon, where are you now – you don’t appreciate what you have until you lose it.

It was not the amount as such, I remember the Balaerics weren’t cheap, but for the Canaries and for where it was I felt like I was being ripped off, just because they could.  He left me to fill in the form and would come back later, another submarine trip and then he did the seal show.  I watched a bit when I took my rubbish up, you can see through the fence from the pontoon, but it was just a seal doing what all seals are trained to do.  When he returned I asked when check out was, ie could I pay one night and go. 

4.30 I set off for an anchorage.  There were three reasonably close that I could make before dark.  The first one was too close, he could probably have seen me on his submarine trip.  The third one you had to be careful with, so I picked the second one which I managed in about 2 hours motoring.  I did see a turtle on the way.  So I had saved €24 and my pride, was that going to be outweighed by shredded nerves.

I like anchoring, when I get used to it.  I had only anchored once this year in Los Cristianos, when one of the terminals on the anchor windlass motor had sheared.  I stayed the one night and I had planned anchoring up the coast of Tenerife, but could not get the anchor up manually quickly enough and so decided to abandon it until after I had the motor mended.  This had meant staying up all night to get to Santa Cruz.  This was all back in mid July and long forgotten, I had the motor mended now.  7.30pm I went to bed, I was tired.  No night is complete on your own, so I take the torch, the GPS and a post it note with the position on it.  9.30pm I got up – ****.  Position was not all I should have been thinking about, just to check the anchor had not dragged, but what I had not paid enough attention to was tides.  There isn’t anything much in the Med, here we have big tides and it was a full moon.  I remembered walking level off the pontoon in Playa Blanca instead of up the ramp – about 2.5m rise and fall.

Fuerteventura is such a non place it doesn’t even have a tidal reference port, well not one that I found.  Low tide in Gran Canaria was at 22.33 and Lanzarote was 22.51 so I was somewhere in between, with a drop of 2.5 metres

When I anchored I was in about 3.6m, I was in very close to the beach, but would have had to go out a long way to get into much deeper water, but how much was it going to drop – it was a couple of hours after high water when I arrived.  I did not want to re-anchor if I could avoid it because the anchor seemed to be snug as a bug and it was dark.  I need 1.5m, but I was going to move if it went down below 2m.  So I watched and I waited – it went down to 2.0m and then it gradually started to go back up, right on time too.  I still got up every few hours to  check the GPS and the depth, just to make sure.


Tuesday 10 October 2006

I decided to get up and leave before the next low tide.  There was very little wind, 6-8 knots, but I sailed all the way with just the genoa to the spreaders, poled out with my DIY pole, that looks very much like a boathook to the uninitiated.

It was only about 10 miles up the coast and I was greatly relieved to find other yachts there.  I worry when I am the only one – why doesn’t anyone else like this anchorage?  One yacht was leaving as I entered and over the next few hours the second one left and then the catamarran and finally the British ketch.  I heard the engine and started to panic – did they know something I didn’t?  A lot of the Canary anchorages are daylight hours only.  I had only managed to get the weather in Spanish and I only really understood that there were no gale warnings

and Fuerteventura was F3-4 NE.  Why do they do the navigational warnings in English and then Spanish, but only do the weather in Spanish – I can’t get the English one from Tenerife here, big mountains between us.  I could use the mobile from here if I was really worried, but it is days like this when I am pleased I have a sat phone, I am even going to have the sim card activated, then I can get the weather whenever I like from the internet.

Fuerteventura really is not going to earn a place in my heart, but at least now I know for myself.

I had plenty of water, but just when I thought everything was going to be easy the boat turned and the chain kept getting caught up, they will leave these rocks just lying about at the bottom.  I had to keep getting up to let out more chain, I put out  nearly 50 metres of chain in about 5 metres of water, but it came up ok in the morning.

Two days and nights without much sleep.


Wednesday 11 October 2006

It was off to Morre Jable before leaving Fuerteventura, I was going to stop there, but the pilot book was once again not encouraging, there was a small bay at the very end of the island; I could stop there and go on in the morning – I got to the end and kept going.