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

Matt

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 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)

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

 

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

Playa Francesca, Isla Graciosa, Canaries

Playa Francesca, Isla Gracisosa

Monday October 27, 2014

Playa Francesca, Isla Graciosa, Canaries

I am in love with being at anchor again, what a wonderful feeling. This has sorely been missing from our lives for the past few months. Although we were happy to have our dose of civilization and conveniences, there’s still nothing that beats a few days of seclusion with beautiful surroundings.

There wasn’t much that we did after arriving on Saturday, even though we came in first thing in the morning. Any time after an overnight passage it usually takes us a little time to recover from the loss of sleep, and honestly, we weren’t ready to get out of the lazy habit of doing nothing all day just like we had while sailing. Even dinner was just a pizza heated up in the oven as I couldn’t motivate myself to do much more than that.

Yesterday was a bit more of a productive day and it started in the middle of the night when the winds picked up and shifted to the south where we were fully exposed. We had heard that southerlies were a big thing to watch out for in the Canaries as a lot of anchorages are exposed in that light, as well as the southerlies being quite powerful. Since our Weather Fax hasn’t been picking up a great signal this side of the pond we had even hailed a cruise ship a day outside of Lanzarote to get a forecast and specifically asked if any winds from the south were coming up in the next few days, in which we were told no. Come 2 am though and our whole anchorage was full of boats bouncing all over the place. Matt even took it upon himself at 3 am to jump in the dinghy and shuttle out to a neighboring boat that had dragged out toward the channel to make them aware of the situation and see if they needed help. I think they had just woken when he got there and thanked him for coming over, but since their anchor seemed to have caught again they didn’t want to go through the hassle of re-anchoring in the middle of the night.

The winds did not die down through the night and when the sun rose at 7am you could see cockpits full of people monitoring the conditions and making sure they were not moving anywhere themselves. I brewed a few cups of coffee for the two of us, and poor Matt who’d barley gotten any sleep through the night was sent down to get some rest, although it didn’t take and he was quickly back in the cockpit with me. In the late morning and early afternoon the winds began to shift a bit more to the east and calmed down just a little bit which allowed everyone to relax and resume normal cruising life. For us this meant getting our suits on and heading over to the beach for a day of sun and relaxing.

We’d heard through the grapevine that Spain has some nude and topless beaches, but we assumed they were in designated areas, and nothing prepared us for when we landed our dinghy on the picturesque beach here in Playa Francesa to find a couple laying out on the sand completely nude. They probably couldn’t have been more than 20 feet from us and it was one of those situations where you do everything to advert your eyes from that direction because you don’t know the protocol, and even glancing down the beach to take in the surrounding sights seems like peeping. We made sure to set up our sport-a-seats well down the beach as not to run into this issue all afternoon. If you want to learn Spanish curso de subjuntivo from home or anywhere else, visit espilar.com.

The next few hours on the beach were great and it felt so nice to get back into these elements after being forced into marinas for the past three months where there were no suitable sandy beaches nearby. Sandwiches were enjoyed, cold beers were sipped, and we slowly went back from pasty white to something resembling a little color (after slathering ourselves in SPF 30, of course). We did just a little bit of wandering around the beach, climbed the hill for some magnificent views, and waded in the water to find out it was much cooler than one would expect for such a lower lattitude. Matt had wanted to come back out later with our snorkel gear to check out some of the small reefs in here, but I’m not even sure I could spend 10 minutes in that water. Wow, I must be becoming very babied with the tropical waters I’ve become accustomed to over the past few years if I can’t spend much time in waters comparable to those I grew up with in Lake Michigan.

We did have a nice surprise waiting for us in the afternoon too. I should say, the surprise came earlier in the day, we just weren’t able to enjoy it until later. Just after we had showered in the morning and were getting ready to head out to the beach we saw a dinghy that was going from boat to boat and eventually made it’s way toward us. It ended up being a father and son from the boat Matt had visited in the middle of the night, and they were going around the anchorage trying to find out who had come out to them to let them know they had dragged out into the channel. When the man first pulled up he asked Matt, “We’re you the one that was on my boat last night?”. Matt, thinking this man was assuming someone had unlawfully boarded their boat in the middle of the night and this might lead to a big argument replied, “No, no, I wasn’t on your boat, but I did come up to it to see if you were ok”. Well it turns out this guy wasn’t looking to pick a fight at all, he just wanted to find and thank the person that had come out to check on them.

Even better, once he found this person he wanted to thank them with a bottle of champagne. Ummm, what? Champagne? Matt kept trying to turn him down saying that he was happy to have helped in any way he could, but the champagne was absolutely unnecessary. Which it was. But then again….free champagne. Luckily this guy would not take no for an answer. After thanking us a few more times in broken English (having a native tongue of French), him and his son were off again and we had a nice drink to chill and enjoy that evening. And boy did we.

Where we’re anchored in Playa Francesca there are stunning views of the cliffs of Lanzarote across the El Stretcho. With a bit more of luck on our side we had the sun setting behind us and lighting up these cliffs with orange and red hues as if they were on fire. Opening the champagne to enjoy with these fine views we soon realized we had no way to close the bottle back up and it would all have to be drank in one sitting. And since Matt isn’t very into champagne unless it’s incredibly sweet, a good portion of that job fell onto me. Not that you’d find me complaining, but it did make it a little harder to become productive once the bottle ran dry. My intended dinner of a KFC chicken bowl quickly turned into a pre-cooked pizza in the oven. Oh well. C’est la vie. When life gives you champagne, you drink that sh*t.

Matt at bow

Matt at beach

Playa Francesca, Isla Graciosa, Canary Islands

10.27.14 (4)

champagne dinner

sunset over Lanzarote

sailing into Canary Islands

Madeira to Canaries

Saturday October 25, 2014

sailing into Canary IslandsIt feels like we’ve been trying to get out of Maderia forever. Not that we actually want to leave this place, although peaceful anchorages are calling our names and we will be happy to leave the marina life behind once and for all. At least, until we get to Florida next spring and spend quite a bit of time in a marina fixing up our new boat. But as it stands we haven’t felt the gentle sway of being at anchor since our quick stop in Bermuda, and feeling like we’ve been on display to all the tourists and cruise ship passengers that wander past the ‘Dip is starting to get a little old. We haven’t even been sitting in the cockpit because it literally feels like we’re behind the wall in a zoo. Some people have even tried to feed Georgie, as we’ve come out and found bread crumbs on the deck more than once. Yes, it is time to leave, and the weather gods have finally smiled on us and given us a three day window of favorable winds to the Canaries.

Although the swells were confused and coming from every direction as we left the harbor, once we were a few miles out from shore they chose one angle and our ride became much smoother. Having filled the aft cabin with as much Pepsi it could hold and got our hands on the closest thing we could find to Nacho Cheese Doritos (I have to say, ‘queso’ has a broad definition of what kind of cheese is acceptable to pair up with tortilla chips), it was an enjoyable afternoon as we glided out into the great beyond with the sun beating down on us and music floating through the air as we enjoyed our spoils of what we think might be our last modern supermarket for awhile.

While Matt took a late afternoon nap below to prepare himself for the first night watch I was watching the sun get lower in the sky and throw beautiful red hues on the Islas Desertas off to our port side. The sailing was beautiful and it was such a treat after our last passage where nothing was going our way. A huge weight lifted from my shoulders as I had been dreading this trip ever since we docked in Maderia and was ready to tell Matt to find crew to get Serendipity back to Florida while I took a smoother ride back at 35,000 ft. Not actually an option, but this sail was beginning to prove that I could take on the ocean again.

Through the next few days we experienced light winds to none, which meant a bit more motoring than we normally like. Personally I was ok with it though as it meant calm seas and a smooth ride. Exactly what I needed at this point in my life. Even when the winds were lightly floating through at 10-15 knots we had a nice although somewhat slow ride across the water. After having transited the Atlantic at an average speed of 3 knots though, the 4 we were now holding felt like good progress and neither of us minded that the trip would take 3 days instead of 2.5. One more night at sea, but that was fine with us.

The only thing that did get on our nerves was the amount of chatter on the radio. All on channel 16 too, it was ridiculous. None of it was in English, a mix of French, Portuguese, and a bit of Spanish instead, so we never knew exactly what was being said, but it was pretty apparent they were all using it in the way one would chat to friends on a cell phone. Lots of laughing and even the occasional drunk just making random noises. All hours of the day. It became so bad that we eventually had to change the channel just to rid ourselves of it.

Overall the trip passed very quickly with sunny skies and calm nights filled with brilliant stars. On our last night out I was also treated with something I’ve been wanting to see for a few years before we even left for this trip. I have to say that the stretch between Madeira and the Canaries have given us the best phosphorus we’ve seen so far on our travels, which in itself could be mesmerizing for hours as you’d stare at the wake thrown out by the boat. I was doing just this in the middle of my night shift when I heard the familiar sounds of dolphins surfacing and blowing air behind me. Quickly jumping up on the combing I scanned the water to see if I could make them out. For a few minutes they stayed behind the boat, but then I could make out bright blue marks in the water next to me as they caught up and shot forward to the bow, outlining their shapes as they glided by. It was only for a moment, and I’m sad they didn’t stay longer to light up the water next to me for longer, but now I can check one more thing off my bucket list.

The sighting put me into a happy slumber when my shift ended just a little bit later, and before I knew it I was being woken up by Matt as we approached Isla Graciosa and Lanzarote. The sun was just raising in the sky and highlighting all the sharp cones and small volcanoes that the islands are made of. Once more, a stunning welcome back to land. Just a little bit later we pulled into the anchorage of Playa Francesa and nestled ourselves between the fifteen or so other boats already there. Immediately all the hatches and ports were opened up as we let fresh air roll into the boat and and we took up spots in the cockpit enjoying our surroundings. There’s not much civilization around here, but I think a few days of seclusion is just what the doctor ordered. Prescription: filled.

Funchal from the water

Islas Desertas, Madeira

Lanzarote, Canary Islands

Isla Graciosa, Canary Islands

Playa Francesca, Isla Graciosa, Canaires

Besteaver in Canary Islands