Throwback Thursday: The ARC is Gone, Time to Invade Las Palmas

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

It was a shame that as soon as the sun came out to show us exactly what a nice place Marina Rubicon could be, it was time for us to check out and move on.  We would have loved to spend a few more days at our favorite spot in Playa Papagayo, but the weather had not settled down enough from the storm passing through to give us a comfortable spot there.

Moving over to the south side of the island, we found a little known anchorage tucked next to a small resort and a few restaurants.  Here we sat and waited out rain for a few days, while venturing to shore just once, only to find the nearest internet was three miles away.  Not what we wanted to hear while trying to forecast weather for our upcoming 100 mile journey to Gran Canaria.  Through texting with my dad on our satellite phone, we were given the go ahead for good weather to get us to our last destination in the Canary Islands.

You can find the original post here.

 

Friday November 28, 2014

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We made it to Gran Canaria. It’s crazy to think this will be our last stop before our Atlantic crossing. I still have mixed emotions about going back across since it seems like we just got to this side of the ocean. Part of me wants us to get delayed to no end so that I can enjoy land based time for as long as possible. The other part of me wants to get it over with as soon as possible, not only putting our long crossings behind us, but also getting to spend more time in the Caribbean with friends and tropical climates before throwing ourselves into major boat overhaul mode for the rest of 2015.

When we left Playa Quemachia on Tuesday I was still a little apprehensive of the 25 kt winds and 3 meter seas as the last time we had those conditions was going from Sao Miguel to Maderia, a passage I’d still like to block from my mind for so many reasons. But as we raised the main and glided out from the anchorage and into deep waters it was actually a pleasant sail. The wind was coming on our back quarter and the waves were gently lifting us up and pushing us forward. I laughed to myself and though, if this is what our crossing back to the Caribbean is going to be like then sign me up, I can totally handle this!

As usual Matt was down in bed basically as soon as the sails were raised and we were on course, preparing himself to stay up late for the first night shift. I spent the afternoon alone in the cockpit, snacking on Maria cookies and watching the volcanic peaks of Fuerteventura disappear into the horizon. All of the shifts passed incredibly quickly, neither of us had any issue falling asleep right when we were supposed to, and before we knew it we could see the lights of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in the dark. Not even one of those situations where you can see a glow in the dark, but we could actually make out lights even when we were 30 miles offshore. The sail had actually gone so well that we had to slow ourselves down in order not to arrive in the dark.

Based on the insane number of ships showing on our AIS we did not want to get anywhere near shore without full daylight on our side. Matt even had to wake me up early to try and figure out all the lights in the water that were surrounding us in the dark. Trying to figure out what tankers were anchored outside the harbor and what ones were still moving, if the tri color light in the distance belonged to a sailboat, and if so how far it was from us, and if that ferry running up directly behind us knew we were there. The only way to describe this harbor is controlled chaos. I don’t think we’ve ever been to such a busy port. It seemed like all the vessels knew what they were doing for the most part, but the number of them was completely astounding.

When the sky eventually grew light and we could make sense of everything we were seeing, it was a mad rush to the harbor to beat out all the other sailboats that had obviously been waiting on the same weather window we had to make the crossing here. Assuming that the marina would have limited space even now that the ARC had left, we did not want to get turned away and literally have to travel all the way to the other side of the island to find another marina. Punching down the throttle we literally raced in another boat that was trying to pass us and caught the right side to be on of a departing tanker, while the other boat had to slow down and wait for it to pass.

Alligning ourselves with the hundred masts in front of us we pulled up to the marina and saw the numerous boats anchored out front. Confused on why they were all out there, we thought that the only available anchoring here was directly in front of a set of breakers and that these boats must be out here because the marina was overfilled and there was no other place for them to go. We figured that as long as there were numerous boats at anchor versus the marina, we would join them until a staff member came out to let us know we couldn’t be there. May as well steal a few days at anchor if possible.

Somehow even though this was an incredibly short passage, both of us were completely drained of energy for the rest of the day. We slept away most of it and barley woke up in time to make dinner before going right back to bed for the night. Yesterday we did get off the boat long enough to wander a few blocks and find a grocery store to stock us up for the weekend. We also tried to make a stop in the marina office to check ourselves in, but after taking a number and sitting in a set of plastic chairs for 45 minutes while not a single new person was called up to the desk and we were fifth in line, we decided to put it off for another day. Completely forgetting that it was Thanksgiving back home we did nothing special and enjoyed our normal nightly routine of a movie from our hard drive while eating dinner.

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Today we had wanted to get off the ‘Dip and do a bit more exploring except a terrible front was moving through the area and making conditions unbearable. During the afternoon it was just cloudy skies and winds around 30 knots, nothing to cause worry but enough to keep us on the boat. Through the evening and into the night though, things only got worse. Much, much worse. Even though we were inside a very protected harbor, the winds blowing through were so intense that I shudder to think of what conditions offshore were.

While I tried to settle into the settee with a bowl of popcorn and a chick flick on my Android. Even with earbuds nestled tightly in my ear I had to pause the movie a few times to check the howling winds outside since they were becoming deafening. Turning on the instruments we watched the wind gust up into the 40s….and then stay there. Through the next few hours it kept raising and raising until we were getting sustained winds in the 50s. At that point panic started to set in as we just waited for our anchor to drag or for one of the boats ahead to drag back into us. The winds were so powerful that if our bow even started to fall a few degrees off of direct wind, it would catch our hull and start to push us beam in. Back and forth we twisted from one direction to the other, all the time thinking of the strain on our anchor and chain.

There was one boat next to us that dragged further and further out of the anchorage and into the shipping channel, but unlike the storm we experienced in Play Francesca, it would be suicide to send Matt out in the dinghy to alert or try to help them. Luckily they became aware of this problem very quickly and began to move themselves back into the anchorage. For a period though they were fighting winds so strong that even though I’m sure they were motoring at full power, they weren’t even able to move forward, only keep themselves from getting pushed backward.

Chatting online with my blog friend Kit that’s in Tenerife and experiencing even stronger winds according to Passage Weather, she relayed that what they were receiving was sustained winds and gusts into the upper 60s. Jealous of the fact that they were in a marina instead of at anchor like we were, I quickly was comforted with our location as she told me that on the way to the showers, sheet metal was peeling off buildings and flying into the anchorage. Her and a visiting friend had to literally drop to the ground to keep from being hit by one. Not anything I would like to experience.

Both Matt and I were kept up by this storm until 4 am when we were no longer able to keep our eyes open and the winds were just beginning to subside. So…suddenly that Atlantic crossing isn’t sounding so appealing anymore. I think a plane ticket and hired crew to sail Serendipity to the Caribbean sounds much better. Now if only I could find a trustworthy crew to do this for free…..

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Throwback Thursday: R&R in Playa Papagayo

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

Even though we were really enjoying our time in Playa Francesca as well as it’s seclusion, we knew there were a lot more islands in the Canary Island chain to explore.  Making a quick 35 mile run, we ended up in the SE corner of Lanzarote in a little area called Playa Papagayo.  Due to the minimal amount of anchorages here, we were happy to have stumbled upon another one through some research, and although the day was becoming blustery and stormy as we dropped anchor, it looked like a nice spot to spend a few days.

Once we arrived though, our mornings and days became lazy again as we were in no rush to get anywhere.  Realizing we still had nearly a month before we planned to arrive in Gran Canaria, we realized how quickly we could cover ground when we wanted.  We did experience one morning with strong winds and a sandstorm rolling through our anchorage, but since we were not on a lee shore it still gave us no reason to move.

We liked this spot we chose.  It was fairly private with only 4-5 other boats in the anchorage with us, and had lots of sandy beached for us to relax on during the day.  A decent sized town with a supermarket was only a mile dinghy ride away, and we were always treated with amazing sunsets and even views of the neighboring island of Fuerteventura.

Aside from the dry desert hills that were rolling around us, it was sometimes hard to remember that we weren’t back in the Caribbean.  A perfect little spot to get in some R&R before moving back to big towns and civilization when we eventually did get to Gran Canaria again.

You can find the original post here.

Tuesday November 4, 2014

Papagayo Peninsula, Lanzarote

As if spending three days fully relaxing at Playa Francecsa after we’d just made our way over from Madeira wasn’t enough, we’ve been doing nothing more but the same ever since we arrived here in Playa Papagayo.  Unless you count forcing yourself off the boat to lounge in sandy coves with sparkling seas in front of you hard work.  Oh, and there was that one trip into Playa Blanca for exploring, a lunch out, and internet.

Our first full day in the Peninsula it was a little overcast, but that didn’t stop me from wanting to get out to do a little exploring.  Not that there seemed to be much more than just sand and a few rocks to the untrained eye, but according to the Canaries guidebook that our dear friends on Skebenga bequeathed us, there was a very popular and eye catching cove at the southern end of the point.  It seemed as if everyone visiting this island had the same guidebook I did since even though it was a bit out of the way, the beach was crowded and the one restaurant overlooking had every table full.

The cove itself was beautiful with emerald green waters dotted with rocks and coral, sporting the random head and bum of someone snorkeling through it.  The somewhat hazy sky did dampen my perfect shots a little though, and after making Matt stand on a rock at the top for 25 minutes waiting for the sun to come back out so I could get that perfect guidebook worth shot of the cove, I relented and we walked back to the dinghy and scouted a place to head back the next day with beach supplies in tow.

Playa Papagayo, Lanzarote

Playa Papagayo, Lanzarote

Playa Papagayo, Lanzarote, Canary Islands

Playa Papagayo, Lanzarote, Canary Islands

Playa Papagayo, Lanzarote, Canary Islands

Getting fully back into beach mode we spent the next few days tucked into one of three coves along the coast.  Although they seem inacessable, we’d still find small crowds of Brits and Spaniards that would either take the death defying (ok, not really) hike down from the top of the cliffs, or wait for low tide and stroll over the exposed and flattened rocks.  It was still more secluded and much cooler looking than the main beach though, so every day we’d load up the dinghy with our sport-a-seats and a cooler full of beer and snacks, and land ourselves there for a few hours of lounging.

Even though I should be promoting good skin care and staying out of the sun as much as possible, I completely spent a few days drinking in as much as possible.  There are few things I love more than the feel of a warm sun on bare skin, and seeing as how we hadn’t had a beach in front of us in months and being covered in clouds for the latter part of our time in Portugal, I figured I could sacrifice a few days.  Slathered in SPF 30 from head to toe.

After the third day of doing nothing but soaking up sun and Portuguese beers, we decided to do a little wandering to the main beach to see what we could find.  Turns out, it was all people fully eligible for retirement that could not be coaxed into wearing a stitch of clothing.  Masses of them engulfed the sands as they could not be persuaded to sit still; strolling, swimming, and bending over all over the place.  It was kind of cute, really.  The way they ran into the water with all the enthusiasm of a four year old child who was just told they were allowed to have cupcakes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.   These silverhairs were camped on the beach with cups full of beer, a sun high in the sky, and good friends surrounding.  It was kind of like watching MTV Beach House: The Golden Years.

At the far end of the beach, after we’d passed the gauntlet of saggy skinemax, we were rewarded with a relatively easy climb to the tops of one of the cliffs which afforded rapturous views of the anchorage and beach below.  The wind up there was something else though, and Matt was literally worried that I’d blow away.  Trust me, it’s one place you do not want to take a spill.

I wish I could have included more photos of this area as it was so stunning, but it was also really hard to get any shots without  any T&W (ta-ta’s and wang).  So just take my word when I tell you it’s a place not to miss on your trip through the Canaries.  Unless you can’t handle ta-ta’s and wang.

Papagaya Peninsula, Lanzarote

Sagres beer & beach

Papagayo Peninsula, Lanzarote, Canary Islands

Matt & Jessica on Lanzarote

 When we finally dragged ourselves back to the ‘Dip in the late afternoon we wallowed in lazy time including naps, matinees, and many snacks.  When the sun started to go down we’d take our seats in the cockpit to watch the show, all the while helping to empty the 5L box of white wine we purchased in Portugal.

I know, cry for us all you want, we lead such a ‘tough’ life, but I think our time here is exactly what we needed.  A return to our type of cruising filled with swaying on the hook, days full of sun & sand, and nights full of starry skies.

sunset over Fuerteventura, Canary Islands

georgie

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Last Days in Lanzarote

Tuesday November 25, 2014

Lanzarote, Canary Islands

Leaving the marina on Friday we had a bit of an issue of where to go next. We didn’t want to continue to pay to stay there although conditions hadn’t settled enough yet for us to go back to our old spot. With few spots that give protection from the SW winds we were encountering we thought that we might just have to sail up Lanzarote to a cheaper marina although that didn’t sound very fun either. Luckily Matt had gotten on Active Captain and found an anchorage on the east side of Lanzarote that I had been completely unaware of. I guess it’s not used very often, and only three miles or so from one of the main towns that does hold a marina (with cheap rates), so most everyone passes it by.

There was a very small town accompanying the anchorage, something I can’t even remember the name of but somewhere along the lines of Playa Quimacha. As we sailed around the peninsula and up the coast, past an enclosed fish farm and into the anchorage, we noticed a few small homes and restaurants by the shore as well as what looked like a resort jutting out of one of the hillsides.

We expected to quickly get our anchor down and enjoy the rest of the afternoon with a Wuld beer and a sunset. Things didn’t go quite as planned. As we’ve been finding with just about every anchorage in the Atlantic Islands, the only shallow water (as in 35 ft) is butted right up against shore and then takes a dramatic drop off. As we puttered closer to shore we saw that what would have been a perfect anchoring spot in front of the resort was blocked off with buoys, probably a partitioned swimming area. Changing direction we had to head off to the far corner of the anchorage by a grouping of rocks and another boat. We didn’t want to be ‘that boat’ that anchors directly next to the only other boat in an anchorage (the sheep issue), but it was the only spot left that would be shallow enough to get the anchor dug in.

Trying to stay a fair distance from them we let the anchor down and went through our usual process of letting it set and backing down on it, when all of a sudden Matt was making frantic motions for me to switch to neutral. It turns out that our chain had gotten itself wrapped around a gigantic boulder sitting at the bottom and we were more or less screwed until it came free. The first and most obvious answer that went through my mind was to have Matt simply dive down on it and let it free. He doesn’t have much of an issue getting down to 30 feet, and if we were in tropical waters that’s probably what he would have done. A quick check of our gauges though showed the water temperature had now dipped from 72°, which is bad enough, down to 67°. Not impossible to swim around in for a few minutes, but definitely not pleasant either. That was now a last ditch resort.

If we did have a saving grace during this debacle it’s that the water is still crystal clear, even at 35 ft, so we could see exactly what was happening below as we looked down from the deck. Scratching our chins and just staring for a few minutes, we decided the best course of action would be to find out what part of the boulder the chain was coming up from, and then gently motor further in that direction and hopefully loosening it. With me behind the wheel once more and Matt at the bow giving directions we would make small movements in different directions to get the chain to unwrap. Forward, neutral, run up on deck to take a look, back to wheel. Reverse, neutral, take another look.

Not that I minded the act of having to do this to free ourselves, we had plenty of time before the sun was to go down and I knew we’d become loose eventually, but I hated to imagine what the other boat probably thought of us. Look at those silly Americans who have to anchor directly next to us in this wide open harbor, and can’t even properly get their anchor down. I almost wanted to shout over to them, “This isn’t normal, we’re usually very good at this process!”. But instead I kept my head forward and awaited further instructions.

In the grand scheme of things, the time to free ourselves from the boulder was actually much quicker than I thought it would be, or could have been. 10 minutes after we had originally got ourselves stuck we were free and off to find a sandy spot. Which did happen to be only a few hundred feet from the other boat since there happened to be a shoal that jutted out from shore and didn’t leave many other options. Once it was deemed that we would not swing into this other boat or into the shoal we let our guard down and went to enjoy the last 90 minutes of daylight with a Wuld and a new radio station we just found that pumped out electronic music all day.

The anchorage itself was very beautiful, with tall rock formations, dark sand beaches, and a cool dark teal color to the water which reminded me glacial areas that one would find near Alaska. There were a few terrible swells that rolled through during the rest of the evening, the kind that could send plates sliding off counters and shattering on the floor (we actually have had that happen to our Corelle dishware before), but somehow my seasickness seems to have departed for the moment, so instead I glued my eyes to the deadlight to watch how they were affecting the other boat and laughing in surprise when a few of them threw the boat far enough on it’s side that I could see the beginnings of their keel.

Yacht WinWin by Fuerteventura

Lanzarote, Canary Islands

sailboats at Lanzarote

We ended up spending the whole weekend in this spot as we waited for a weather window to open up that would carry us the 100 or so miles to Gran Canaria. We figured that during one of our afternoons sitting around we could run to shore and visit one of the little restaurants and use their internet while enjoying a beer or coffee to find out when we could make our escape. There were two issues with this plan though. One of them was that after our first night there we could not find a period of more than an hour where it wasn’t raining on us. Every time we’d start prepping ourselves to get in the dinghy and motor in we’d see a huge rain cloud coming over the horizon and then tell ourselves that we’d wait for it to pass and then try again. This happened for three days until we couldn’t take it anymore and were ready to go in, rain or shine. Never escaping the rain storms, we landed the dinghy on shore just as a new shower was starting and became soaked as we walked up the road to where the few restaurants were situated.

Sitting down at a table and ordering two steaming cups of coffee, we talked to the server and found out that not only did that particular place not have wifi, but it wasn’t available anywhere in that town. To get a signal you had to go to the next town over, three miles away. Bummed out and a little confused about what we’d do for the weather, we enjoyed the rest of our shore excursion while watching the dishes come out to the other patrons of the restaurant. It seemed that one very popular item was a large fish that was coated in salt and then lit on fire at you table before the server put it out after a few moments, scraped off the salt, and placed it’s toasting insides on your plate. It looked and smelled delicious, but no amount of persuading would get Matt to order it. He really is only into fish when it’s fried. And preferably freshly caught by us and therefore free.

In the end we were able to send out messages to my dad through our satellite phone and let him know the path we needed to take and what kind of winds we were looking for. Although we wouldn’t have been able to move all weekend anyway because of some very strong winds between the islands, a window finally came up for us to leave today. Our first overnight passage in a month. Instead of whining and complaining about having to spend a night at sea like I probably would have a year ago, all I could think of this time was ‘We’ll be there tomorrow morning. I can actually sleep about half this passage away. This is going to be so easy!’. Oh how things have changed.

storms over Lanzarote

Lanzarote, Canary Islands

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Stuck in Marina Rubicon

Friday November 21, 2014

Besteaver 18 in Marina Rubicon

Although we could have stayed in the Papagayo Peninsula forever, or at least until the madness that is the ARC leaves Las Palmas and we can move ourselves there, mother nature seemed to have other plans in mind. On Wednesday morning we were commenting how the wind was coming out of the south and kicking up a bit of swell, making things on Serendipity just a bit more uncomfortable than they had been even the few previous days. It became a bit of a game through the morning, to see how much we could tolerate. The only other option other than to put up with it would be to move ourselves to a marina and we were on a kick to see if we could go our whole time in the Canaries without having to enter one.

We were enjoying our second cup of coffee out in the cockpit, watching the waves coming our way starting to form cresting white tops, and both of us knew the game would be coming to an end as this was not only becoming unbearable, but possibly dangerous to stay. Calling Marina Rubicon on the VHF we asked if there were open slips and told them we were on our way and to expect us shortly. As Matt made his way up to the bow to raise the anchor it was diving in and out of the waves and splashing water all over him as I had to rev up the rpms just to get us moving far enough forward to bring it up. When I finally got the hand signal that I could start making my way to the marina I looked at the instruments in time to see the wind gusting over 40. Fully exposed to this as we were, we were grateful that we didn’t wait any longer than we had to try and get out of there.

Navigating the narrow entrance to the marina with waves now rolling on every side of us, we tucked into a slip just in time to watch the sky grow completely black and the winds really take off. Rains bucketed down and I had the satisfaction of enjoying this tremendous storm from somewhere safe now. When conditions settled down a little later we found our way up to the grocery store, something we were going to have to come to this side of town for in the next few days anyway, and stocked Serendipity back up with breads, meats, and even some cheap wine and sangria. For the rest of the night we let the rain rocket outside while the pressure dropped significantly, as we sat calmly at the dock enjoying a nice dinner and the use of internet. Hot showers followed which was almost, almost, worth the trip into the marina itself.

Conditions were not expected to improve the following day, in fact there were signs posted everywhere about the low pressure system moving through the area and mariners should take caution and put extra lines and fenders out to protect from possible damage. One night at the marina turned into two, and although we tried to enjoy our easy access to land again, nothing but dark skies and rain followed for another day, forcing us to sit on the boat, computers on lap, glasses full of sangria. Well, for me anyway.

Marina Rubicon, Lanzarote

storm over Marina Rubicon

Today the clouds finally broke lose and let the sun out again. Being the guests who stay just until the moment of check-out, we used our morning for a nice leisurely walk back to the grocery store to stuff our bags with everything we couldn’t the day before, and take one last hot shower. It is a little sad that bad weather had to force us in here as the grounds actually look very nice for when you can get out and enjoy them. There’s a nice pool surrounded by lounge chairs, an outside market set up two days a week, and a lovely path that runs from the marina almost all the way to where we had been previously anchored. The marina is in fact set in a community, full of white washed condos and apartments, which is probably why the cost to stay here is twice as high as any marina we found in Portugal (or that you can find in the rest of the Canaries, so we hear).

We tried to get as much out of our sunny morning as we could, wandering all the paths and looking at the much more expensive and better kept yachts on the far side of the marina. Matt even found a Besteaver sitting in one of the slips. A certain type of aluminum boat that he’s been drooling over for a few years now. And not only that, but it happened to be the same exact one that he has multiple photos of downloaded to his computer, of this particular boat floating through icebergs in the Arctic. I think these photos are meant to show me what our aluminum boat might be capable of, although I still have little to no desire to see ice floating by me from the deck of my own boat. Stick me on ’18’ as crew or charter for a few weeks on a trip to the Arctic  though and that’s something I might be able to get into.

Marina Rubicon, Lanzarote

Besteaver 18

paths around Marina Rubicon

paths around Marina Rubicon

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Just Can’t Get Enough

Monday November 17, 2014

sunset over Playa Papagayo

That’s right, we’re back in Playa Papagayo. We just can’t seem to get enough of this place. When the swells at Los Lobos started to become a little too unbearable, coupled with the fact that we knew we’d need to go grocery shopping in the next few days, we couldn’t think of any place we’d rather be. Well, we would like to be on our way to Gran Canaria, but not until the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers departs, because I am not ready to deal with that kind of crazyness right now.

Unfortunately the swells we were trying to escape just five miles away aren’t a whole bunch better in this spot as the winds have been lightly blowing from the south and the west where we’re completely exposed to them. There hasn’t been any seasickness on board though, and I’m taking it as a challenge as to what’s coming in the next few weeks. I know I won’t be lucky enough to experience two completely calm crossings in a row. But if I can just get used to some light rocking back and forth then I might be ok. The funny thing is I seem to be handling them better than Matt half the time. My succubus powers must be increasing.

Most of our afternoons and evenings have been spent in the cockpit just enjoying the fresh air around us. It still doesn’t cease to amaze me how much I can not get enough of this simple act after spending three months in marinas where A.) There was nothing much to view from that spot; B.) It was too cold and/or rainy; and C.) There were so many cruise ship tourist wandering past our boat that I felt like an animal on display at a zoo if I were to venture outside the cabin where they could see me. But this….sigh…this has been heaven. And the views here are unimaginable. Especially the sunsets reflecting on the mountains and rocks.

During our al fresco wine-fest each evening, Matt would partake in his favorite act of taking out the binocs and watching ‘the show’ on shore. The show that we’ve noticed from our first time here happens every single night without fail. Some girl and her boyfriend will come to one of the coves in the mid to late afternoon and do the usual lounging and swimming activities that we did ourselves. But as the crowd begins to thin as others make their way back to their hotels to clean themselves up before going out to dinner, the girl will slowly become more confident and have her boyfriend begin photographing her in this picturesque landscape. It usually starts with her just standing on the beach or maybe wading into the water with the basic hands on the hip pose.

But, as the crowds disperse even further, the girl always gets more brazen. The poses become maybe a little silly. Cartwheels and handstands. Then once they are the only ones left in the cove they become sexy, laying and rolling in the sand as they both assume there is no one left to see them. I swear this goes on every single night and we’ve actually begun taking bets in the late afternoon of which couple will be the one performing the photo shoot in a few hours. Somehow I always seem to loose this bet. I guess Matt has a talent for seeking out hidden brazenness in girls.

We’ve been extremely enjoying our time here and have no reason to leave anytime soon. It is sad that we might have to miss out on a few of the far west Canary Islands since they seem to share landscapes that are closest to the Azores, but we’ve heard anchorages are almost impossible to find over there and we have a good thing going at the moment. Besides, as Matt likes to keep telling me, as soon as the new boat is up and ready to go we’ll be right back to the Azores on our way up to the Baltic Sea. I’ll let him keep dreaming just a little longer.

drinking wine with Georgie

Matt with his binocs

 

Georgie in the sunset

sunset over Playa Papagayo, Lanzarote, Canary Islands

sunset over Serendipity

dusk at Playa Blanca, Lanzarote

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R&R in Playa Papagayo

Tuesday November 4, 2014

Papagayo Peninsula, Lanzarote

As if spending three days fully relaxing at Playa Francecsa after we’d just made our way over from Madeira wasn’t enough, we’ve been doing nothing more but the same ever since we arrived here in Playa Papagayo.  Unless you count forcing yourself off the boat to lounge in sandy coves with sparkling seas in front of you hard work.  Oh, and there was that one trip into Playa Blanca for exploring, a lunch out, and internet.

Our first full day in the Peninsula it was a little overcast, but that didn’t stop me from wanting to get out to do a little exploring.  Not that there seemed to be much more than just sand and a few rocks to the untrained eye, but according to the Canaries guidebook that our dear friends on Skebenga bequeathed us, there was a very popular and eye catching cove at the southern end of the point.  It seemed as if everyone visiting this island had the same guidebook I did since even though it was a bit out of the way, the beach was crowded and the one restaurant overlooking had every table full.

The cove itself was beautiful with emerald green waters dotted with rocks and coral, sporting the random head and bum of someone snorkeling through it.  The somewhat hazy sky did dampen my perfect shots a little though, and after making Matt stand on a rock at the top for 25 minutes waiting for the sun to come back out so I could get that perfect guidebook worth shot of the cove, I relented and we walked back to the dinghy and scouted a place to head back the next day with beach supplies in tow.

Playa Papagayo, Lanzarote

Playa Papagayo, Lanzarote

Playa Papagayo, Lanzarote, Canary Islands

Playa Papagayo, Lanzarote, Canary Islands

Playa Papagayo, Lanzarote, Canary Islands

Getting fully back into beach mode we spent the next few days tucked into one of three coves along the coast.  Although they seem inacessable, we’d still find small crowds of Brits and Spaniards that would either take the death defying (ok, not really) hike down from the top of the cliffs, or wait for low tide and stroll over the exposed and flattened rocks.  It was still more secluded and much cooler looking than the main beach though, so every day we’d load up the dinghy with our sport-a-seats and a cooler full of beer and snacks, and land ourselves there for a few hours of lounging.

Even though I should be promoting good skin care and staying out of the sun as much as possible, I completely spent a few days drinking in as much as possible.  There are few things I love more than the feel of a warm sun on bare skin, and seeing as how we hadn’t had a beach in front of us in months and being covered in clouds for the latter part of our time in Portugal, I figured I could sacrifice a few days.  Slathered in SPF 30 from head to toe.

After the third day of doing nothing but soaking up sun and Portuguese beers, we decided to do a little wandering to the main beach to see what we could find.  Turns out, it was all people fully eligible for retirement that could not be coaxed into wearing a stitch of clothing.  Masses of them engulfed the sands as they could not be persuaded to sit still; strolling, swimming, and bending over all over the place.  It was kind of cute, really.  The way they ran into the water with all the enthusiasm of a four year old child who was just told they were allowed to have cupcakes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.   These silverhairs were camped on the beach with cups full of beer, a sun high in the sky, and good friends surrounding.  It was kind of like watching MTV Beach House: The Golden Years.

At the far end of the beach, after we’d passed the gauntlet of saggy skinemax, we were rewarded with a relatively easy climb to the tops of one of the cliffs which afforded rapturous views of the anchorage and beach below.  The wind up there was something else though, and Matt was literally worried that I’d blow away.  Trust me, it’s one place you do not want to take a spill.

I wish I could have included more photos of this area as it was so stunning, but it was also really hard to get any shots without  any T&W (ta-ta’s and wang).  So just take my word when I tell you it’s a place not to miss on your trip through the Canaries.  Unless you can’t handle ta-ta’s and wang.

Papagaya Peninsula, Lanzarote

Sagres beer & beach

Papagayo Peninsula, Lanzarote, Canary Islands

Matt & Jessica on Lanzarote

 When we finally dragged ourselves back to the ‘Dip in the late afternoon we wallowed in lazy time including naps, matinees, and many snacks.  When the sun started to go down we’d take our seats in the cockpit to watch the show, all the while helping to empty the 5L box of white wine we purchased in Portugal.

I know, cry for us all you want, we lead such a ‘tough’ life, but I think our time here is exactly what we needed.  A return to our type of cruising filled with swaying on the hook, days full of sun & sand, and nights full of starry skies.

sunset over Fuerteventura, Canary Islands

georgie

11.4.14 (7)

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Sunday Sandstorm

Sunday November 2, 2014

Playa Papagayo, Lanzarote, Canary Islands

There seems to be an odd sensation with the weather here in the Papagayo Peninsula where, even though every afternoon and evening is sunny and picturesque, almost every single morning has brought something resembling the apocalypse on the horizon. This desert landscape can look menacing enough on it’s own at times, barren and jagged and desolate. The setting sun can also make it look as something out of a daydream, perfect burnt oranges and reds creating a smouldering fire of boulders and mountain peaks. These mornings however, make our little 34 ft boat look as if it’s going to be swallowed whole by the enormous clouds that gather in the distance and edge closer.

Our second morning here I was up with the sun, which is quite an odd occurrence in our house boathold. Giving in to Georgie’s whines and mews as she stared at the plexiglass keeping her from observing these new and strange surroundings, I decided to join her for some fresh air and to try and keep myself from making too much noise down below and disturbing Matt while he still slept.

The scene to the east where the sun was making it’s way over the cliffs seemed normal enough, but then turning my head toward Playa Blanca in the opposite direction, massive clouds swallowed the sky. Very beautifully though. Bright oranges and yellows reflected off them as the sun was still shining in it’s full glory just above the horizon.  For a few minutes I sat up on deck trying to watch the direction these monsters were headed and wondering what kind of destruction they could hold for Serendipity if they came our way.

Staring for a good long while I noticed they should be moving away from us and I could fully enjoy watching the destruction they might cause elsewhere since it would no longer involve me.  The clouds that had looked like they were going to stomp down on the land and leave Lanzarote’s mountains and volcanoes flat eventually spread out just as the sun was rising high enough to meet them in the sky.  A large and sprawling rainbow began to form in the spaces between gray and blue in the sky and left me stunned for a good thirty minutes until it disappeared.

storm clouds over Playa Blanca, Lanzarote

Georgie in Playa Papagayo

rainbow over Playa Papagaya, Lanzarote

Georgie & rainbow

rainbow over Playa Blanca, Lanzarote

This morning however, it was the strong and powerful winds that got me out of bed with the sunrise instead of Georgie.  Since Matt still had not stirred yet I went outside to check everything out and see if it was one of those things where I could quickly join him back in bed.  It was not.

The winds on the water looked just as fierce as they sounded and after turning on our instruments I saw they were holding in the low 30’s and gusting up to 40.  On top of the winds, sitting just above the highest peak in the Papagayo Peninsula was a black mass that was definitely headed our way this time.  The colors of it all were so strange, not like the storms we’re used to, and I didn’t know what that meant for us.  Rain?  Tornado?  Voldemort?

As I watched the darkness grow closer and closer I kept waiting for the worst part of it to hit us, watching it come over the water and striking the boats in front of us.  Except, when it did get to us, nothing changed.  There was no rain, no increased wind, just a little decrease in visibility.  It took me a few minutes to figure out, but then it finally hit me.  A sandstorm!  Duh, I knew Lanzarote had them, I’d just read about it on Bumfuzzle’s account of their time on the island.  (It’s how I find out important information like they have a KFC)

Even though Matt would be much more upset about these tiny red particles of dust hitting us than a thunderstorm, or possibly even Voldemort since he would at least be kind enough to only leave wizard’s bodies in his wake which are easy enough just to roll overboard, I watched in astonishment as this sand rained down in the distance and illuminated hazy rainbows on the water.  Don’t worry Matt, I’m sure whatever threatening weather tomorrow morning holds will wash away all the dust.

sandstorm over Lanzarote, Canary Islands

sandstorm over Playa Blanca, Lanzarote

rainbow in a sandstorm

 

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The Best Part of Waking Up

Friday October 31, 2014

sunrise at Playa Papagayo, Lanzarote

Sometimes all you need for the perfect morning is a breathtaking sunrise, a hot cup of coffee, and a good book.

relaxing in Playa Papagayo. P.S.  Check out how clear the water is here.  We’re anchored in 35 ft and you can still see the bottom.

clear anchorage

 

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A Quick Sail down Lanzarote

Wednesday October 29, 2014 El Stretcho, Isla Graciosa, Canaries

It’s funny how after nothing but 3-30 day sail recently, one can still not look forward to a 35 mile jaunt because it just seems too tiring. Or that might be that we’ve had a few weeks in each location to properly relax before moving on, and now after only having the anchor down for three days, we’re on the move again. We really enjoyed our time in Play Francesca but we wanted to see some new things and that meant weighing anchor yesterday morning just after sunrise.

As far as exploring Lanzarote goes, we’d browsed enough of our guidebook and read enough posts by other bloggers to realize that it probably didn’t hold a whole lot of promise for us. Lots of sand and low volcanic cones. Which we did properly enjoy viewing from afar for the past few days, but anything more than that didn’t seem necessary. What we want are the lush green hills of the western islands. Until we can get ourselves over there though, if it’s possible in this time frame, we wanted to settle for more nice beaches.

Perusing other blogs about the Canaries and stumbling upon one that had basically fully reviewed the eastern islands, listed the best anchorages, and even posted little photos and reviews on them, (Thanks Island Drifter, you have no idea how helpful you were!), we found a spot on the southern tip of Lanzarote called the Papagayo Peninsula that housed a few spots that we’d be able to anchor as well as some delicious sandy beaches and clear waters to swim in. This was music to our ears as every other cruiser and website we can get our hands on has been spouting about how a lot of the anchorages in the Canary Islands are now being turned into moorings or marinas. Good anchorages are apparently becoming very few and far between in these areas, so to find one that looked protected and beautiful was a big stroke of luck for us.

The ride down to the Peninsula wasn’t as nice as I had originally been hoping, overcast skies and a chill in the air. Since the wind was out of the east and right on our nose as we made our way around the NE tip of Lanzarote we had to motor through the first few hours until we rounded the island and were pointing west before they could be shut off. The main had already been up to give us a bit of balance in the waves, but with Matt sleeping down below I unfurled the headsail and worked the sheets by myself until they looked good. I must actually be getting better at this sailing thing because when Matt came above deck a little later he barley had to touch anything.

We had been doing a nice job flying along down the coast, but it’s possible that all of our good speed was only due to being inside one of the Canaries notorious ‘Wind Zones’ where winds will rush down or around slopes and curves and double or triple in speed in certain areas. As soon as we were five miles down from the NE tip they suddenly cut out and we were left bobbing around while our sails flogged to and fro. Engine back on. Travel another 30 minutes and once again the wind picked up to 25 knots. Engine off. This seemed to be the theme of our trip down the coast, winds not sure if they wanted to be full or nonexistent. Finally we decided to leave the engine on regardless of what the wind was doing, which made for some very fast motor-sailing at times.

In the afternoon just when we were getting ready to round the point to the Papaguya Peninsula it did a sudden shift and came around on our nose which meant we’d be traveling the last mile or two with all the sails put in. By now the day had become fully overcast and winds were blowing strong. It was a little worrysome when we pulled up to the three other boats at anchor since we weren’t getting as much protection in the area as we originally thought we would from the 25 knot winds that were coming over us, but the bottom was nice and sandy and we didn’t have to worry about getting our anchor to stay in an area that could have been rocks or coral.

Waking up this morning though, conditions had calmed tremendously and there was barley a whisper of wind. Watching the sun come up behind the tall hills in front of us it illuminated the bay in a soft glow and making all the harsh lines we saw when coming in the previous evening much more beautiful. Across the stretch we could make out the island of Fuerteventua and further east on Lanzarote, the town of Playa Blanca. From what we can see, this is going to be another great anchorage to get a few days of R&R in.
Elstretcho, Isla Graciosa, Canaries Lanzarote, Canary Islands view of Fuerteventura, Canary Islands

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