Elstretcho, Isla Graciosa, Canaries

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, CanariesLanzarote, Canary Islandsview of Fuerteventura, Canary Islands

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