28:55.00N 13:42.17W 26.10.15 Arrecife to Puerto Calero sailing all the way

Mon 2 Nov 2015 14:51
We returned to Zoonie after dropping off Charly and Tom at the airport just in time to re-stow the gear on the foredeck back into the focsle before it started to rain and the long promised storm arrived. Their flight was delayed by three hours and they took off around midnight. We learned later, when Rob was reading the reports on our Navtex, that three people were missing after their helicopter had ditched in the sea south of the island of La Palma, to the west of us, in the same storm, and that is possibly why military helicopter activity out of Arrecife airport was constant for the next few days.
In the morning before the NZ v South Africa Rugby match we enjoyed a spell in old Arrecife town, around the fishermen’s lagoon full of little boats dating from those presently in use to some discarded years ago. Each with their story of human activity to tell. In the artisan area we stumbled, almost literally, into a fabric emporium, shelves loaded to the ceiling with every kind of dress and household material you can possibly imagine. “Wouldn’t like to try stock-taking this lot,” said Rob. In the modern but small fish market we were shocked to learn that the sole (!) stall there was the only one left, regrettably most fish now being available frozen in bags in the supermarket. We pondered this while having a relaxing beer in an uncrowded bar beside the lagoon and I had a wonderful chat to brother Rob, on his farm in Devon.
We watched the match with Chris from Deep Blue, who is sailing the same route as us with his wife as far as the Caribbean.
26th October, to Puerto Calero in a fresh wind with double reef in main and foresail, well it was only 11 miles away so we weren’t in a hurry and we might as well be comfortable. As we prepared to enter a white motor boat was behaving slightly oddly just off the mole.
“Not quite sure what he’s up to Rob, there appears to be something yell (ow in the water),” I was about to say when a funky yellow submarine emerged from its underwater trip to take an alongside tow from the motor boat back into harbour. Along with the glass bottomed boats it must be a great way to look underwater. In fact a visitor could fly to the nearby airport, bus to this little port and see all over the island and around it without any need to hire a car.
This resort was designed by a colleague of Cesar Manrique to be an exclusive place to relax, snuggly concealed within the beauty of the landscape. 20 years on the trees and plants are thriving as indeed is the tourism side with a wide range of restaurants and bars doing well and the artisan market buzzing with activity. Rob bought himself a locally made wooden amulet to replace his gold chain he will stow away with mine when we get to more out of the way places. (Very Zen).
Sadly the same success cannot be said for the marina. The overly jovial young marina manager seemed proud to tell us there are no reductions for paying up front or for sailing association membership until after 15 days occupancy, unlike Marina Lanzarote, surprisingly part of the same company. So there were quiet pontoons with a surfeit of lifeless boats. Some genuinely left for a short while but others clearly abandoned.
The glossy marina brochure boasted a chandlery and boatyard capable of refitting super-yachts but the reality was an industry in decline and the man in the office, having spoken to his boss over the phone, was unable to order us some solar panels that we found in a commonly used industry brochure. Back on board Rob got in touch with Theresa at Marlec, from whom we bought our Rutland wind-charger and existing solar panels. He ordered five panels giving us a total of 138 watts potential when the sun shines directly on them. We left her to come up with a quote and gave her the address of the marina in Tenerife for delivery, where we were booked in for Paul and Richard’s visit.
Then we went for a walk over the ash-field left by the last eruption of the nearby volcano. Four-wheeled buggies are offered for safaris over the terrain and rough tracks leading well up the slopes were a reminder of the past when some agricultural activities were pursued, but no evidence here of vineyards. The recent rain had brought a late season greening up of the landscape and we realised a visit to the islands in the springtime would reveal a host of different colours compared to the earthy greys and red that abound now.
Mark from Wet Dream found us supping beer while sitting on a comfy white settee, and regailed his life in the restaurant business, interesting it was too.
One good bit of news the marina manager gave us was “No need for anchoring permit on the island!” So off we sailed the next morning, again well-reefed, passing the high range of extinct volcanoes, to one of the anchorages hanging off the south of Lanzarote either side of Marina Rubicon. We weren’t sure which until we turned the corner, well offshore to avoid the lava flow just beneath the surface and revealed by a line of breaking water. The first anchorage had a few vessels resting and protection from the fresh and gusting wind but a little further along was another landward curve of the cliffs to reveal a single American yacht swinging gently on her tackle. We secured Zoonie a healthy distance away and stayed there in a good holding of sand, for three nights. Our view south was over our next destination, Fuerteventura, where we could see sand storms whirling off the African sand and blowing west towards Gran Canaria.
This area, in Playas Colorades, seemed to be a place for young gannets to practise dive bombing for fish. One in particular needed to continue practising  as his technique was more suicidal than practical. A swimmer, on holiday from the UK, swam around us anchored yachts and trod water to have a chat with us. He would like to do what we are doing but his wife will take a few years of convincing.
Overlooking us were three hotels including the temple to tourism Sandos Papagayo Hotel, (with its really good WIFI)! While at anchor we were able to email Theresa to confirm the order and Refael at Tenerife Marina San Miguel, with whom we had booked in, to confirm he would receive and store the order until we got there.
29th October. We gave up on our first trip ashore as the low state of the tide revealed a ledge of rock. If we waited an hour or so for the tide to rise we would be delivered over the rock onto a beach by the surf. The second time around we were picked up by a wave and shot forward with Rob keeping us at right angles until the oars ran out of water and the wave ensured we were a little damp on our walk along the cliffs to the marina chandlery at Rubicon. The manager had only taken on the business the week before and was up to his eyes trying to set things up, we managed to buy a few fittings for the new panels but we still had a some things left on the list to get. We walked back through the abundance of restaurants and had tapas overlooking the yachts with a few remaining ARC boats amongst them. Most are now getting ready for their crossing in Santa Cruz Gran Canaria.
Back on Zoonie we had a swim but unlike in the morning when we could see the bottom, it was too cloudy for snorkelling.
30th October, the penultimate day of October and farewell lovely Lanzarote under your moody mantle of cloud. Lack of wind meant we were motoring again, keeping a keen lookout ahead. Past the Isla Lobos (these wolves being sea wolves, or fur seals that used to frequent this northern part of Fuerteventura until man intruded.)