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Date: 14 Oct 2012 16:45:00
Title: Arrecife

28:58.25N 13:31.90W

We finally dragged ourselves away from Graciosa, having a lovely sail round to Lanzarote yesterday afternoon. The wind was quite strong so we just used the staysail, half furled jib and mizzen, letting out more of the jib as the wind lessoned and as we headed round south with the wind behind us. It was very rolly, as there was quite a big swell coming in: fun to stand on deck with bent knees feeling the boat move all ways underneath you, a bit like those ride the bull things you see, only like when they start them slow to lure one into a sense of security and without the wild toss you off stage! The coast drops off very quickly so we were in deep water most of the way, back in that deep blue sea again. Yesterday it was inky blue and where the shadows of the clouds fell it turned inky blue-black, like the ink cartridges you used to get to be different from your mates in school.

We had been enjoying letting the days slip by, having fun with our sailing dinghy and socialising with other cruisers, which including a party on a Swedish boat with a Dutchman playing the accordion and a sardine feast on board the boat of a Englishman and his German wife who have been cruising the Canaries for over 10 years! However we do have a few jobs to do on the boat that need a chandler and we could do with re-filling gas bottles so here we are.

It came as a bit of a culture shock: cars - there were just a few land rovers on Graciosa and push bikes and no paved roads; big stores - there's even an Ikea round the corner from us; big container ships to one side of our anchorage; shopping centers, open on a Sunday, with British voices all around.

On the little beach by our anchorage one climbs up to the path to be greeted with a view of desolation: bulldozed land, perhaps ready for building, perhaps just cleared of unused property, with people living rough in dusty dome tents, pallets and bin bags stored behind. On the little beach besides the anchorage in Graciosa one could call it desolate: sand dunes, cinders, rock and shrub, and there were people living rough just to one side of the beach. A man had built a house out of the volcanic rocks and boulders around him, simply building a dry stone wall in a circle and fashioning a flat roof, some wood for a door completed the house. Another had made a dug out, the roof, level with the ground, stood out so you wouldn't walk on it because it was completely covered in shells, thousands of them, must have taken days to collect. Steps led down to a little area in front of the house, like those little areas in front of a basement flats you get in London, and a curtain shielded the interior from wind and view. The scrub approaching these homes had stones laid in circles around them, to create flower beds in the sand, and cactuses had been added. Two forms of desolation, two forms of living rough.

Once into town it's quite lovely with palm and acacia trees, bulging pods hanging like fingers below the flowers, and flowering shrubs all around. There's a bridge under which dinghies and small fishing boats can pass, into a lake surrounded by benches and cafes where people stroll, some racing model sailing boats, others fishing or just enjoying the views - always the cones of the volcanoes in the background.

We're enjoying being at anchor for so long, since 14th of September so a month now. We've found if we're careful with what we've got turned on we can just about keep our batteries charged using the electricity generated by the Toad (towed generator) in it's wind turbine mode - we bolt on his fins and blades and hoist him on the foredeck using the staysail halyard, and the solar panels on the coach roof - we pull the boom right over, holding it in place with the gybe preventer, to keep it's shadow off the panels. We don't often have to run the generator, just to make water or do some washing a couple of times a week rather than to charge the batteries. Good practice for the Pacific where there are no marinas to plug into the shore power or fill up the water tanks!

So tomorrow we need to rev up a gear and get some jobs done, as well as book in and get our passports stamped. No more lounging on the beach for us for a few days. Still, there's always the cockpit to lounge in and swimming off the boat... it might take us a while to do our chores

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