Throwback Thursday: Playa Francesca, Isla Graciosa

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

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

While we absolutely loved our time in Maderia, mostly just wandering the streets of Funchal, we knew we eventually needed to make our way south to the Canary Islands where we would prepare to once again cross the Atlantic to the Caribbean. As much as I could have wandered the back alleys of Funchal, gazing upon their elaborately decorated doors, or any other of their quaintly European sights, we were also eager to get back to a spot at anchor and where cruise ship passengers weren’t passing by our cockpit and trying to stare at us through our companionway each evening.

It would take us approximately three days to sail from Madeira to the nearest Canary Island, Isla Graciosa, and after a few days of nasty weather and swells that were threatening the marina we were stationed at, there was finally a break in the strong wind and waves to get moving again. Having a calm and pleasurable passage, we made our way from the outlying Portuguese Islands to a new set of Spanish ones.  Three days later with our hook sunk into the sand for it’s first time in three months, we were in love with being on the hook again.

A small and mostly uninhabited island, it was quite a change from the metropolis we’d just come from, but a few days of peace and quiet with sandy beaches and beautiful waters were just what the doctor ordered.

You can find the original post here.

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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Sunsets on the Rio

Wednesday November 27, 2013

Serendipity, sunset, anchor

There hasn’t been much going on here on the ‘Dip since we’ve been on anchor.  Ever since our trip on Lago Izabal on Sunday, we’ve just been hanging around the boat and enjoying the fact that we’re at anchor again, falling back into a relaxed pace of life.  All projects have basically stopped and we’ve been filling our days with reading and evenings with a cold beer in hand as we watch spectacular sunsets.  Ok, maybe that last part is just me.  I still can never get Matt to enjoy a beer, but he sits there all the same, enjoying the views with a Pepsi in his hand instead.

The only semi-interesting thing that’s been going on here is that ever since our watermaker went through it’s flush cycle after our first night at anchor, I’ve gone into complete water conservation mode.  Matt says we shouldn’t run the watermaker while in the river since the water here is contaminated enough that it would clog the filter and cause too many chances to destroy the membrane.  Since our forecast has now changed and we truly have no idea when we’ll get back out into the great big blue, I’ve been trying to preserve every necessary drop.

Before, we had the luxury to take full showers in the cockpit, using the water for pre, mid, and final rinse.  Now, I’m enforcing a decree that all bathing must be done with river water, and yes you can use fresh water for a final rinse, but by god it better take less than 20 seconds.  Before, all dishes were done in the sink where a hefty amount of water was applied to the pre-rise, getting all those sticky or dried on bits of food removed from the plate. (We no longer have a hot water heater, read back to this post to find out why)  Now, all dishes, utensils, and anything else that needs a cleaning is dragged out on deck where I drag one of our 10 gallon buckets through the water and do a pre-wash  with last week’s sponge.  Then I can bring the dishes back to the sink, suds them up, and give them a few dribbles of fresh water.

Even with all this water hoarding, I was afraid we’d run out before we could get back into the Gulf of Honduras to replenish ourselves.  So whenever it’s possible now, we’ve turned to catching rain water.  We honestly have no kind of fancy set up for this.  We just wait for the rain to start pouring down, open one of our deck based tank filling areas, and set up a dam just behind it with a towel so that water can no longer rush from the bow to the stern, but instead builds up flows into the opening.  I don’t think we’ve been catching enough to sustain ourselves, but it’s enough that I don’t feel bad about sneaking a few cups of water a day for coffee.

It’s funny, back in the Bahamas I used to chuckle at my friend Stephanie for the way she would conserve water, doing all the steps I’ve listed above, and even a few more, since there’s not a water maker onboard their boat and they don’t enjoy constantly lugging water.  Now, I can completely relate.  I feel you Steph, it is not easy trying to manage a boat without a constant water supply coming in!

So that has been our week thus far.  Time for me to sign out though, the sun is just starting to go down, and I think a Bravah and a seat in the cockpit are calling my name.

sunset on Rio Dulce bridge

sunset over Tortugal Marina, Rio Dulce Guatemala

 

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Free Floating

Thursday November 21, 2013

at anchor in Rio Dulce

We are finally at anchor again, and it feels SOOOO good.  We may not have made it far, just a few hundred feet.  If fact, we’re anchored in that pretty little bay that you may have seen from photos of our dock.  Just a small little area between the marina and another house.

We think we have a weather window to leave on Monday to begin our way up to Belize and eventually Mexico.  You might be asking why we’ve kicked ourselves out of the marina four days before our departure, but part of the reason is that we still need to make it 20 miles down the river before we get to Livingston where we’ll be checking out of the country.  Since we want to be there first thing in the morning to allow plenty of time for these check our procedures and hopefully still catch high tide just around noon to get past the (sand) bar leading to the bay, we’re going to take one day getting down to a little spot just 7 miles up from Livingston called Texan Bay.  We’re still debating if we want to leave for there tomorrow and spend the weekend there, or continue to hang out just across from the marina where we have easy access to town (Texan Bay is in the middle of nowhere) and…a wifi signal that we can still pick up from the marina.  I think that might settle the case right there.  I kind of love having internet access.  Plus, I’m not ready to end my internet dates with my good friends Jackie and Ron just yet.

This morning we filled our water tanks one last time, gave the ‘Dip a quick washdown, and scouted the area to make sure we weren’t leaving anything behind.  Like Georgie, although I’m sure she’d love to permanently set up shop in the ranchito.  Just after lunch we had a few of the marina employees help us with the lines that are attached to shared posts with our neighbors, and just like that, we were out after five months of sitting still.

As soon as the anchor was down, there was a whole new feeling on the boat.  With the hatches open, light breezes washed through the cabin.  The afternoon sun danced across the teak in the salon as we gently swayed side to side.  Things just felt….right again.  Like living on a boat is supposed to feel.  After dragging our cushions on deck for some fresh air and sun (because they still haven’t fully dried yet), we just relaxed.  Sat on deck, soaked in the views, and enjoyed the day.  I don’t even know the last time we’ve done that.  I didn’t even know how much I missed it.  Let me just tell you though, it’ is a fantastic feeling.

Well, off to sneak back in and take our last hot showers until who knows when.

Georgie on deck

 I think Georgie’s enjoying the freedom that being at anchor brings as well.

views of Rio Dulce, Guatemala

anchored in front of Tortugal

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