Wed 9 Nov 2022 08:15

Wednesday 9 November

Marina Rubicon, Lanzarote

28o 51.5 N  13o 49.5 W

Brian and I anchored off Playa Blanca, Lanzarote on Monday evening having sailed almost 700 miles from Cascais at an average speed of 3 knots according to the log trip meter.   It took us six and a half days and was an uneventful passage, the air was warm, the sky clear and the sea a brilliant blue. We had good moonlight at night and were sailing predominantly down wind in light winds, although we did have good breeze when we set off.  We also motored for a day when there was no wind and the forecast suggested there would be slightly more wind towards the coast of Morocco.  With very little wind, the sea was calm with an enormously long swell that we almost didn’t notice.

We had originally intended to sail via Madeira but there was no wind at all there.   We looked seriously at a stop in Morocco to break the journey and set off for Rabat but, eventually, with slow progress, we just had to continue towards the Canaries.

The only glitch on the passage was that the generator started to falter at one stage and we suspected fuel starvation and since there was plenty in the tank, that generally means a blocked fuel filter stemming from water or sludge in the fuel tank.  When we tested the propulsion engine that struggled too - both engines draw from the same primary filter unit.  A sailing boat is not disabled without an engine but, on the other hand, we couldn’t make toast or top up the batteries without the generator.

We changed the fuel filter at sea which is always a bit messy and after bleeding the air the main engine ran fine but we were unable to get the generator to run properly at that time.  However, there is still the nagging suspicion that there is sludge in the tank.    ‘Diesel bug’ – bacteria that grow in warm diesel contaminated with water, especially nowadays with a biofuel component, is usually the first suspect.   This was annoying because I had pumped out the diesel and cleaned the tank last winter in Southdown marina.  Another possibility was that the last fill up in Cascais was contaminated with water.    The filter I removed didn’t look particularly dirty but it did seem soggy, difficult to describe, but possibly contaminated with water.

We sighted Graciosa, the smallest island to the north west of the Canaries, at dawn on Monday and continued sailing through the barren, volcanic, off islands and along the northern, moonscape, shore of Lanzarote, still in light winds but with the swell breaking noisily on the shore a couple miles to our left.  I wanted to head for Playa Blanca just around the southern tip of Lanzarote because we were confident we could sail to anchor there if the main engine failed again.  It was great to be able to anchor and have a full nights sleep with no watches.  

We swam on Tuesday morning, the water must have been close to 20 C and was gin clear, we could see the anchor plainly in 8 metres of water.  After that we moved into the Marina Rubicon which has good boatyard facilities, an impressive chandlery shop and is surrounded by restaurants and boutique shopping outlets.  The town/resort of Playa Blanca consists of white low-rise buildings  which we have not visited yet and just inland, the landscape of conical mountains contrasts barren and brown.

Within the marina, we were able to arrange for the diesel to be pumped out and desludged next Monday and have reserved a marina berth for that to take place.  We also, finally, got fuel to the generator and got it running smoothly.    We’ll go back out to anchor tomorrow but today’s objective is to get to Arecife to have our passports stamped back into Schengen Europe, oh joy.

 All best, Tony and Brian


PS Some photographs taken by our friends on 'Fishcake' of Graciosa just to give a flavour of the landscape here.