Lanzarote, Canary Islands

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

Marina Rubicon, Lanzarote

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

sunset over Playa Papagayo, Lanzarote, Canary Islands

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 and the boys having fun with apparently the best sex pills as everyone was having a great time afterwards.

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

Isla Los Lobos, Fuerteventura

Isla Los Lobos, Fuerteventura

Saturday November 15, 2014

Isla Los Lobos, Fuerteventura

It was nice to have the conveniences of Puerto Rosario, but we were more than ready to get out of the industrial port and trade it for something a little nicer on the eyes. Our next destination was Isla Los Lobos at the northern tip of Fuerteventura. It was a placed we had originally passed on our way down and tossed back and forth in our minds if we should stay there. Our 20 year old guide book listed it as a nice day anchorage, but with too much swell running between the island and the mainland, not a place you’d like to stay overnight. But with the idyllic posters the guy at the information center showed me, accounts of a friend that had just been there, and the fact that we saw about a dozen masts there when we passed it the first time, we knew we couldn’t give it up.

Waiting for winds that would allow us north again, we figured a clam would be the next best thing and turned on our engine at the early hour of 5:30 to give ourselves plenty of time for the 20 some mile hop. We had currents pushing us all the way down Lanzarote and feared they may work against us on our way back up the island. No need to fear though as we traveled at a swift five and a half knots at 2,000 rpm and made it in just over three hours. I guess my math was wrong as well and the trip was only 15 miles. Oops! sunrise over Fuerteventura

sunrise over Fuerteventura, Canary Islands Coming in we had to be very careful of reefs and shallows on each side of us, breaking waves showing the danger we could be in if we drifted too far off course. All the guide books had listed this area as extremely popular for all kinds of extreme water sports and we were starting to see why. Doing water sports, such as boating on the hudson river, are just great in adding some thrill into one’s life. High winds wrapping around, strong currents, breaking waves. No wonder a world famous kite boarding championship had just been held in this stretch the previous week. Inching our way into the anchorage we dropped near the back in 40 feet of crystal clear water and took the rest of the day to relax, nap, and watch the charter/party catamarans that would bring tourists over from the mainland for a few hours to swim, drink, and play incredibly loud music. At least it was good though, none of that 80’s stuff that we can’t seem to outrun here.

Isla Los Lobos, Fuerteventura

Our second day I was ready to get out and do something. There’s been lots of lying around beaches or touring city streets in our docket lately, but not much exploring. I had been very excited to get on to the island itself to see what it had to offer. After drifting precariously close over reefs and darting in and out of what we thought were coves in the dinghy, we finally found a spot to land and found out that all the island of Los Lobos had to offer were rocks. Lots and lots of rocks. Not even the pretty kind either. As we walked down the dirt paths it felt as if we had been deposited in a landfill of rubble.

bay at Isla Los Lobos, Fuerteventura

trails at Isla Los Lobos

Back at the boat we took in a quick lunch and were right back in the dink for some snorkeling. During our hunt for an entrance to the bay at Los Lobos we had gone over tons of coral as well as seen multiple dive boats anchored outside of the area. A pretty good indication that there must be something of worth in the water. Donning our wet suits and masks we slipped below the surface of the water and into quite a shock at it’s temperature. A chilly 72°! I remember the days when I wouldn’t even get into Lake Michigan until it was pushing 75°. Sucking it up, I skimmed along under the water and just gave myself more motivation to cross the Atlantic once more and get back to those balmy 82° seas of the Caribbean.

Although there was no color to the coral surrounding us, there were definitely fish abound. On one of Matt first dives down to check out a rock he even found an octopus hanging out under there, something that’s been on his bucket list of things to see in the water. By the time I went down to catch a glimpse of it as well it had already hidden itself out of sight. Instead of searching for it even further as Matt was, taking dive after dive under the water and holding on to the rocks to keep him submerged while he looked in every nook and crevice, I was happy to float at the top and watch the parrot fish which swam below me.

For water that was so cool we stayed in a lot longer than I expected for only having ¾ suits, about 45 minutes in total. We also found the local drinking hole, hundreds of glass beer and wine bottles nestled into the sand just below a set of flat rocks that hung out at the surface. I’m pretty sure Matt could have gone a few more rounds through the bay, but he must have noticed that I was beginning to shiver and keeping my arms wrapped around myself the whole time, so he led us back to the dinghy where I took in a fresh water rinse and some sunbathing up on deck to warm myself back up.

anchorage at Los Lobos

beach at Los Lobos, Fuerteventura

In the evening just before sunset I ushered us both out into the cockpit where I had a nice little spread set up for us that I had been waiting for the perfect surroundings to appriciate. Having made up some bruschetta and toasted french bread earlier in the day, I went to pair it with the bottle of Maderian wine we bought in, where else, Maderia. Opening the top with it’s thick resealable cork, I poured us each a full glass and we went to toast in the glow of the setting sun. Then taking big sips of our revered wine, we simultaniously went back and forth between spitting it out and gulping down what was left while our throats burned like fire. No one had told us that Madeiran wine was actually more like a port. Thick and strong with a heavy liquor taste. We had both been prepared to enjoy it as if it were a chilled Rosé.

Matt poured his glass over the side of the boat while I continued on with mine, taking very light sips as if I were drinking straight rum. It wasn’t bad once you knew what you were in for, but I’m beginning to think this one bottle could very well last six months. Not to bad considering we paid about 6€ for it. Other than the initial surprise and fire in our throats, the evening was soon remedied when Matt had a Pepsi in his hand and I was chasing my wine with water. Good thing we never had the chance to bring that bottle to one of the parks in Maderia to drink like we had originally planned. I think we would have put on quite the show for any unsuspecting tourist that might have had their blanket spread next to ours.

sunset over Fuerteventura, Canary Islands

Tapas in Fuerteventura

One Week in Puerto Rosario, Fuerteventura

Wednesday November 12, 2014

Tapas in Fuerteventura

For a town that we only stopped in to check into the country, we spent way too much time in it.  Being an industrial town that drops off loads of cruise ship passengers each week yet we have no idea what they do because we spent  8 days and couldn’t find anything to do other than wander the mall, we really spent to much time here.  But so it goes.

When Matt asked what our next destination was after Playa Papagayo, I looked at my trusty map drawn up by Island Drifter and saw that on the neighboring island of Fuerteventura there were two ports of entry and only one of them was suitable to anchor in.  No more marinas here for quite awhile, thank you.  It was a windless day as we sailed down, until we were only a few miles from the port and the clouds rolled in and winds kicked up.  We were both thankful to find a calm spot to drop anchor and just prayed that winds would not shift to the east during our stay there.

Getting off the boat and going in search of the port official and then the Policia Nacional, I found that it is indeed impossible to check in to the Canary Islands.  Just don’t even bother until you get to Gran Canaria, it’s not worth the trouble because no one will have any idea what you’re talking about.  But the good thing about the whole debacle is that I spent about an hour in the tourist information station talking to an extremely helpful man named Jose who gave me all the ins and outs of Fuerteventura.  And suddenly it became clear of why a cruise ship comes here.  This is the only port that can handle a ship of that size, and everyone is immediately shipped off to other parts of the island where there were more interesting things to do.

I loaded myself up on brochures and bus schedules and planned our week here although Matt was planning to get out, with the boat, asap.  The other good thing about stopping in the information booth is that Jose gave me the low-down on his favorite local restaurant, a place that served tapas for only 1€ on Mon-Fri.

As it turned out, every day we were there we thought we’d be leaving the next day so we never took one of the tours by bus although there were plenty of things we would have liked to see.  Instead we toured the town which had some parts that were actually pretty nice, and wandered the giant mall where it felt to strange to see Christmas decorations already going up.  We did manage to find the tapas restaurant, El Expresso, and twice in the week sampled random items off the menu and enjoyed beers, usually ending with only a 10€ tab including the tip.

In the afternoons, if the sky wasn’t completely overcast, we sat in the cockpit and watched all the local children partake it the town’s yacht club where they’d learn different water activities.  In droves we’d see them launch themselves out into the water in kayaks, sailing dinghies, and windsurfing boards.  Sipping on wine and nibbling on bruschetta we’d look on as they’d skim by our boat, laughing and yelling in Spanish.  It was really great not only seeing an opportunity like this offered to the local children, but to see how many were taking advantage of it.

The week we ended up staying in Puerto Rosario was still lazy and relaxing, but in a completely different way than we had been enjoying in the Papagayo Peninsula.  Here our days consisted of taking advantage of the incredibly cheap groceries at the local Hiper Dino, about 60% of the price of the same chain in Playa Blanca, and sitting at the local cafes to enjoy some tapas or coffee & milk while playing around on our computers.  I am sad that we didn’t get to explore more of the island, maybe check out the northern coast where they filmed the movie Exodus last year, but I know there’s still plenty more sights in store for us in our time in the Canaires.

Fuerteventura, Canary Islands

coast of Fuerteventura

Puerto Rosario port, Fuerteventura

Spanish tapas

water sports in Fuerteventura




Sagres beer & beach

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 by Bellamianta 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


11.4.14 (7)

Playa Papagayo, Lanzarote, Canary Islands

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


Landscapes of Maderia

It’s video time again!  I meant to get some fun shots of us scooting and strolling around in Maderia, but it turns out all I ended up with on my camera were shots of the beautiful landscapes.  Put together in this video though, hopefully it will give you an idea of just how stunning this island really is and why we fell instantly in love with it.  Enjoy!


*I unfortunately realize that the picture is not extremely clear, I had to compress the video pretty far down to be able to upload it.  Hopefully once we’re back in Florida with a great internet connection I can re-upload for a clearer view.

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