Fuerteventura, Gran Tarajal

Around the Atlantic: ✔ Next stop: Circumnavigation
Ron Noordhoek
Thu 3 Nov 2011 20:44

We left Puerto Calero heading for Corralejo, Fuerteventura. The wind was westerly and about 20 – 25 kts. So on a beam reach we made over 85 kts of speed over ground. The sailing was great! However with that speed we would be in Corralejo in less than 2 hrs. We had been too long in the marina for so short a trip. We decided to keep on sailing and go to the next place on our list: Puerto del Castillo. At around 4 pm we went into the narrow channel leading to the marina. I knew from the pilot book that the marina wasn’t too big so I called them by vhf, no response. We went up the channel anyway. No response isn’t that uncommon.

The marina was indeed kind of small and looked kind of crowded too. I was already having second thoughts on entering, because the 25 kts of wind was on the beam and would leave me little room to maneuver. I called them again  and again; no response. Then I realized it wasn’t 4 pm yet and thus still siesta time. We went up and down the channel until they were awake again. This time I got a response, the marina was closed. Well, whatever, we set sail again and headed for an anchorage, Pozo Negro, just 9 nm further South. The anchorage was nice but desolated.  About 6 to 10 houses on the shore. We stayed for the night and I cooked dinner for the first time this trip … pasta with tuna sauce.

When I checked my watch to make a log entry I saw that is was Friday. We had to get to a super mercado to stock up. So next morning we left Pozo Negro sailed to Gran Tarajal, a short trip of about 15 Nm, a real sort of town were we could do some shopping.

The marina at Gran Tarajal is also not too big and most yachts anchor just North of the marina in a beautiful bay. There were already several yachts at anchor. We found a nice spot, but the anchor dragged and since the windlass for some reason had given up on us, Rutger had to pull the anchor in by muscle power. We found a new place, but again the anchor didn’t hold. This time it was my turn to haul the anchor in. Third time lucky, it held. We launched the dinghy to get ashore. It turned out the windlass had a companion in failing; we couldn’t get the outboard started. The pulling cord was jammed. I managed to fix it, nonetheless it wouldn’t start. So we rowed ashore. By that time we were in for lunch. I didn´t want to leave the boat by itself and the dinghy by its own on the beach, so I went to do the shopping while Rutger would keep an eye on things. When I came back the dinghy was gone, so was Rutger. I saw the boat a bit further offshore steaming up to the beach? I saw Rutger dropping the anchor and then another yacht came along side.

Later, when he picked me up from the beach, he told me that when he went back to the dinghy he noticed that the boat was further away. We had the boat all the time in sight when we had lunch. I even took some pictures and all seemed okay then. But it turned out the anchor had dragged again and the boat was already about half a mile adrift. Since Rutger could not see me coming back yet, he took the dinghy and started rowing. A yacht that was just leaving the bay gave him a tow. They had noticed that there must be something wrong, no one would anchor that far from shore and when they called there was no response from us. They notified the people at the marina but by that time Rutger was already on his way to the boat. The people of the yacht helped Rutger out in steering the boat while he hauled in the anchor. Anyway, all went well and we invited the couple from the yacht that helped us out over for a drink. It turned out that we had met Mike and Alexandra before in Oeiras and we had a nice chat. They’re sailing the ARC by the two of them. When Rutger rowed them back later, I let out some 10 meters more of anchor chain. You would expect that 30 meters of chain in 5 meters of water should be enough, but the ‘sand’ over here is more like gravel – very loose and not very holding. Well, every day is a school day I guess.

We left Gran Tarajal and sailed to Moro Jable just another 20 nm south. We had a sort of race with Mike and Alexandra. The wind was kind of light and they were overtaking us. So we set the gennaker and were catching up fast. We then entered an acceleration zone where the wind funnels and we sort of took off. We had to drop the gennaker, the wind was to strong. With one reef and the genoa we still made over 10 kts. Mike and Alexandra had too much sail up and had to bare away, so we won