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.

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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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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.

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

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Madeira to Canaries

Saturday October 25, 2014

*And now back to our previously scheduled posts.  When we last left you we were just getting ready for our 300 mile sail from Madeira to the Canary Islands.

sailing into Canary Islands It 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

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Atlantic Re-crossing – Day 29

Anchored safe & sound in Simpson Bay, champagne in hand, watching the sun set. Life is good my friends. 3116 nm. 18.01 N 63.06 W
		
		Day 29
			
			
		
	

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Atlantic Re-crossing – Day 26

1/13 Only 209 nm left until Sint Maarten, getting so.very.excited. The champagne is chilling... All is ok. 2884 nm. 18.39 n 59.46 w. PS caught a yell fin tuna.
		
		Day 26
			
			
		
	

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Atlantic Re-crossing – Day 24

1/11 Looks like the next few days are going to be a bit rough. 25+ kt winds & 12-15 ft seas. 
Wish us luck! All is ok. 2623 nm. 17.47 n 55.16 w.
		
		Day 24
			
			
		
	

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Atlantic Re-crossing – Day 21

1/8 I think I probably win an award for strangest dreams while out at sea. Anyone else? All is OK. 2290 nm. 18.23n 49.46w  Day 21

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Atlantic Re-crossing – Day 19

1/6 Thats it, I'm throwing my hands up. I cant keep cooking meals in these constant 7-10 ft    waves. 
Canned soup from now on. All is ok. 2045 nm. 18.15 n 45.36 w.
		
		Day 18
			
			
		
	

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