Goodbye Fuerteventura, Hello Gran Canaria
Sat 29 Dec 2012 08:42
Life aboard is full of new hellos: meeting new people, experiencing new cultures, finding new places, but equally it's full of goodbyes: we get to know a new place, the cafe and good shops, the best beach, the good cycle ride and then it's time to move on, wondering if we'll ever be there again. It's the same with the lovely people we meet, we may never see them again although we hope to meet up with some of them in the Cape Verdes or in the Caribbean. Here are some of the folk we'll miss -
I shouldn't move on from Gran Tarajal without mentioning another marina dweller, a heron who hung out on the next pontoon. We were used to them wading on the rocks, camouflaged and ready to grab a passing fish, but this chap seemed completely at home on the pontoon and we saw him there daily. He didn't seem bothered that he had no hope of grabbing a fish from this vantage point, he just liked to be in the thick of things.
The day sail to the southern tip of the island was such a pleasure. Seeing the places we'd explored by land slide by us from the sea, feeling the boat alive under us again, the sails filled and Lochmarin running well in the breeze. We got a real sense of the acceleration zones as the northerlies hopped over the narrow peninsula and slid down the mountains towards us. As I told you, we went into Morro Jable for the night and moored alongside the wall, scrambling up the rope ladder to get out and about. Our fender planks did a sterling job of keeping us off the rough concrete and although the tide got quite low the water was so clear we were able to see how much water there was under us so there was no worry.
We went ashore for supper at the fisherman's cooperative restaurant, so were guaranteed local fresh fish, and we were delighted by not only superb food but some great music too. Three chaps with a regular guitar, 12 string Spanish guitar and a beautiful ukulele, with a very highly domed back, played and sang local music (I knew it was local music as I could pick out the words 'Canaria' and 'Fuerteventura' periodically!). There were a couple and their son on holiday from Spain eating there too, really enjoying the music. They got talking with the band and it turned out the Dad could play guitar so was invited to come up and play for us all, he did, on the condition that his wife would come also to sing. What followed was some intense and beautiful spanish music, he played really well and she had an excellent voice. A real treat. You were right Natalie - we do seem to find ourselves in the right place to catch good music quite often! I took a couple of mobile phone snaps to show you.
With Becks and Richard ably crewing we got away early next day, dinghy on board, fenders and boards re-stowed, lines coiled in no time. There was a good breeze and we found we had plenty of sail with just the jibs and mizzen so we left the main down, and even partly furled the jib for a while, bowling along at around 9 knots in a good 3 1/2 meter swell. Standing on the bridge deck, leaning on the shrouds, it was wonderful fun feeling her ride so well and fast through the waves, rolling of course, but she has such a surefooted feel to her as we go, never falling - slap! off the waves and taking it all in her stride. Coming around the toe of Fuereventura there was a lot of confused water and cross swell, testing how well we'd stowed everything below, but although a few things were skidding across the floors nothing was broken.
We spent a good chunk of the day watching the flying fish. You have to sit and watch because there's no telling when, where or how many will appear. Sometimes a single one, one time as many as 8 or 9 were up at once. They try to skim over the waves, going up to 100m before dropping back in, occasionally dipping their tail in a fraction, like using a rudder to steer themselves, although they can bank and turn in the air perfectly well. But sometimes they misjudged the large swell and would pop out only to unceremoniously crash back in, having hit a wall of water a few feet from their exit point. It was very comical and the cockpit was full of exclaimed 'There's one!'s, 'Whee!'s, 'Ahhhh!'s and giggles as we spotted them.
Much to our delight we were joined for a while by a pod of Atlantic spotted dolphins. It was the first time we'd seen these small pretty dolphins, and the first time Becky had been in a boat surrounded by gliding, dodging, leaping dolphins, shouldering their way to best place on the bow wave. There were about 30 of them. We were entranced.
Las Palmas is a large port, loads of ferries, cruise ships, cargo ships, pilot boats and big offshore fishing boats to negotiate as we entered, but in that swell we didn't expect to find over 100 Oppies out too! There's obviously a regatta going on and these daring little boats with the brave kids sailing them were bobbing up and down in the swell using anchored tankers as race marks! Here are some of them returning after the race.
We anchored over night off the beach just North of the main marina, singing 'rock-a-bye baby...' as the swell rolled in, and next morning faced the daunting task of 'Mediterranean mooring' in the marina. This means there's no fingers on the pontoons, you have to go in stern to (we worry over our lovely self steerer!), pick up a line either side from the pontoon, following them forwards down each side of the boat (without getting them caught in the prop), as they're attached to a concrete block ahead so you can tie the bow to them. With Richard and Becky on board, and the helpful marineros to pass us the lines it was a cinch and we were settled in plenty of time to find a taxi and go pick up Max and Matthew from the airport.