28:02.97N 14:21.9W Morro Jable. Beaten tracks and slipping gears. Overnight to Gran Canaria.
Tue 17 Nov 2015 17:13
7th November. Just in case our fishing exploits ended in failure we bought a (very expensive) Dentex Sea Bass which we deemed would last two days and set off for Morro Jable on a broad reach in a roly sea with 6 – 12 knots of juice. For thousands of years the African Sirroco wind has obligingly blown golden, naturally sieved sand across to the east coast of these islands, providing fine beaches and good anchoring. All along the coast the mini volcanic peaks were transformed into enormous sand dunes covered in stabilising dune grass. In amongst them elaborate hotel complexes, some built to look like mosques and castles with turrets and domes, lay like eggs in soft foliaged tree nests.
As it was Saturday there appeared to be no staff around so it was up to us to find a space on the only two pontoons that were used by visitors. We tied up in between two yachts one of which told us a lot about its owner. Probably a he was a liveaboard who had holed up here many years ago and decided to stay. All around the handrails odd lengths of string (inc bale string) and rope were stored some of them well on into decomposition. The sails had long since gone and the parcel tape that secured the protective covers on the self steering rudder and wind vane flew in fine ribbons on the wind. The decks were covered with what would normally be stowed below as if the little vessel had sicked them up. We were dead curious to meet this man who was not on board at the time.
The steep cobbled zig zag path across the rocky promontory to the town area reminded us of our ascent out of the marina on Santa Maria in the Azores last year. Our terrace bar looked out over the fine tall lighthouse we had passed and the busy sand beach backed by palms and hotels. We indulged in some tasty tapas which included green lipped mussels that we had heard of while on the Rias. They taste the same as ordinary mussels to this heathen. I wrote our first post card to son in law Gary as his birthday card. The lady in the shop said the bus station was behind the football stadium, so we wandered up the hill to check out the rugged tour that operated around the south west of the island. That would make our tour of Fuerteventura complete, Corralejo at the top, Betencuria in the middle and over the highest volcanoes and through Gran Valle to Playa de Cofete in the south.
The bus was a sturdy looking, four wheel drive Mercedes so we knew we were in for something a bit different. Looking forward to the adventure we met our neighbour on the way back. A wiry Frenchman who suggested that if we leave before Monday we would not have to pay. This is not a marina, just a random arrangement of pontoons for visitors and locals. Our neighbour had been ashore before exercising his big brown coated dog who now greeted us with smiling yellow eyes and wagging tail.
After supper we sat in the cockpit and watched four resident geese swim with great fuss and a lot of noise around the harbour, the thought police. Three herons swooped and landed within sight of each-other making raucous barking noises. I have never before heard a heron make any sound at all. Walking up to the bus station the next morning we passed a budgy, egret, and some native birds whose name eludes me but they were the colour of jays with a black crest on their heads and looked like the American Roadrunner. This little place teemed with colourful birds.
We soon drove beyond the metalled road onto a well ground track with numerous smaller tracks and paths leading off for rugged terrain exploits by quad bike, trucks and on foot. The eroded slopes of the Gran Valle led up to the volcanoes that started erupting 17 million years ago and finished 12 to 14 million years ago. Goats and herders and hunters with their hounds could be seen in the distance and a few shoe-box homes were still in use.
When our bus turned the last high bend to bring us to Cofete beach the wow factor hit us. Playa Barlovento stretched away to the north in glorious golden colours with the turquoise sea delivering long white rollers to its shore and the volcano peaks making descending clouds from the other side. Not a sail in sight. The little hamlet of Cofete had a bar/restaurant but we had brought lunch so we wandered down to the beach to the sound of two donkeys having a loud chat. For nearly two hours we sat in the shade of our rain brolly watching the mighty rollers building and dying just in front of us. No one dared swim but there were a few brave surfers. On our return the bus kept slipping out of gear, often on the rise towards a bend. We remembered our bus trip from Dartmouth and wondered if we might have to get out and push.
Gran Canaria bound.
Sailors in the Canaries often travel westwards to the next island at night. It is obviously cooler and the winds can be more steady, the acceleration zones losing their strength when the heat of the sun is gone. So we set off at 8.30 that night. We optimistically set the main and genoa but soon they were slatting and banging uselessly in the fickle air. So we furled them away and started Rupert the engine. Zoonie rolled a fair bit as we were traversing a lava reef 43 metres beneath us for the first 15 miles, but once past it she settled down and by 5.30 the next morning the fingernail moon hung above the space station in the east and mist covered slopes of Gran Canaria could just be made out. The night had been warm and pleasant enough but oh dear, our carbon footprint!