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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Off to the Coast!

Fort Lauderdale Beach

It’s vacation time again!  Just five weeks after returning from a week long escape in Stuart with Matt’s family, my parents have just flown in to take us away for a week to Fort Lauderdale. The rents are back for the second time this year and we couldn’t be happier to see them! And I’m sorry, but I do have to take a quick second and poke a little fun at them, as when I called them by this slang term in a post during their previous visit, they had no idea what it meant.  Funny.  I thought I was dating myself by using it.

Anyway….they arrived at the marina on Thanksgiving, but unfortunately a few hours later than all the festivities being held here that day.  We did manage to save them a few plates of turkey, green beans, mashed potatoes with gravy, and even the keg hadn’t been tapped yet so there was still free cold beer to enjoy with our late lunch/early dinner. Having them stay at the only hotel Indiantown has to offer, we all met back up the next morning for breakfast and drove out to see my grandparents in Sebring.

Hopping back in the rental car after a nice afternoon and lunch spent with them (no way we were going to chance the van breaking down driving across the state), we set off for Fort Lauderdale and only had to make one stop at a questionable gas station in Clewston before pulling into our hotel just after the sun set. A little bit different than when we had all taken off to Fort Lauderdale in April, this time we were only a block from the beach, staying in a high rise with the Atlantic on one side and the ICW on the other. It was a balmy yet very windy night, although it was not stop us from taking a stroll down Beach Blvd.  Even in the dark and across the street we could see giant waves crashing against the shore, and before we even left I knew it would be necessary to change from my dress into jeans.  Not because of dropping temperatures, but because if I hadn’t I would have ended up with it over in my head. Trust me, it was doing a good job of trying in the parking lot upon our arrival.

Since I had underestimated the size of the city blocks here (or had only read street names with bridges), I had vastly misjudged our distance from Sunrise down to Las Olas Blvd, where all the happening bars and restaurants were, so instead of making it down there to possibly grab a drink we turned around and took the back roads back to the hotel where we were slightly blocked from the strong east winds. Not to let that hold us back from enjoying that beer together, we got in the car once more to do a little necessary grocery shopping at the Publix up the road and stocked ourselves up on some Dos XX and limes to get us through the next few days.  Ending the night in front of the tv, we were all exhausted after our recent traveling over the past few days, barley keeping our eyes open through an interesting reenactment of the Donner party.  You may joke, but I honestly would have been in bed an hour earlier if we hadn’t been watching it.

In the morning we took our sweet time getting ready, with really no place to be.  Sitting over coffee and each person person playing on their computer or tablet for bit (I may be a little ashamed to admit that I’ve been spending a bit too much time with our Instagram account lately, getting it going) we did force ourselves out for a daylight walk before lunch, walking across the draw bridge to watch the sailboats going south, and then out to the beach to stick our toes in the water.

Jessica and parents

Jessica & parents

Matt at draw bridge

sail boats under draw bridge

Fort Lauderdale

day at beach

We’ve been spending a few days just relaxing around the condo, getting the use of a full kitchen again, and even running some errands around town.  It’s never a bad day when your parents want to take you shopping at Bed Bath & Beyond to help you stock up your galley with gadgets and provide you with new bath towels since the ones you have are six years old.  Ick.  We also took an afternoon to go to the movie theater and see the newest Hunger Games.  We even ended up at one of those fancy movie theaters where they serve food and drinks during the show.  A literal dinner & a movie date.  We skipped on the food, but most of us did partake in an adult beverage.  Watching a movie on the big screen with an ice cold Sam Adams in my hand?  A pretty cool way to spend an afternoon.

Speaking of going out for a beer, we also somewhat ran into some cruising friends here!  For the past two years we’ve been talking to and trying to meet up with Rebecca and Brian of Summertime Rolls.  There’s even been more than one occasion where we’ve missed each other by only a day or to.  Us getting to the Bahamas a day or two after they left; or them arriving to the Virgin Islands only a few days after we left. When they had seen on our Facebook page that we were in Ft. Lauderdale they let us know they happened to be just up the road!

Finding an Irish Pub one block up from us that had a very good happy hour, the four of us finally met and spent a good few hours talking about our past few years sailing.  Not only have we cruised so many of the same grounds, but our social circles consist of basically all the same people, so the conversations were endless. Definitely a bit of fun and unexpected serendipity thrown into our schedule.  I can’t wait to see what the rest of our time here holds for us.

drinks w. Summertime Rolls

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La-Ho!

Tuesday April 8, 2014

Radio Beach, Bimini, Bahamas

As if it wasn’t enough for our engine to die on us yesterday just as we were entering the channel to Bimini, air in the fuel line we think, we were trouble shooting the engine after dropping anchor and found out that the alternator bracket we’d just had made in Guatemala in December had a crack in it. Which meant Serendipity was not moving an inch until we had that fixed. We assumed that with Bimini being the third largest settlement in the Bahamas that there would be a welder around, and the number one goal was to find them and see what they could do for us. Heading to the beautiful Radio Beach that I scouted yesterday after getting us checked in was a close second.

Just like when I had gone to check us in yesterday, the dinghy ride to town was about 20 minutes. Still, I will say, the free wifi we’re picking up from Resort World Bimini which we’re anchored in front of, well worth the extra time. It took just a little bit of asking around once we were in town, but one name kept popping up for welders, and that was Rudy. The only problem was, finding him. Everyone knew someone to ask about where he might be, but no one actually knew where he resided. After asking every other person on the road, we were about to just give up and hit the beach but decided to ask one last group of people that were enjoying a cold drink outside of CJ’s Deli. It turns out that one of the guys not only knew where to find Rudy, but was a cab driver that would take us there! Finally it seemed that a little bit of luck was on our side. Until we realized that we’d left all our cash back on the boat. Apologizing to the man, we told him that we’d be back in about an hour if he was still around, after running to the boat to get money and coming back.

A friendly Bahamian gave us a ride to the dinghy dock on the back of his golf cart, and when we mentioned that we had been looking for Rudy, told us that he was just up the street a little bit further from where he was dropping us off. Hmmmm, if we knew where to find him, we wouldn’t need to spend the money on a taxi anymore. Then while grabbing money back at the ‘Dip we had another ah-ha moment. Instead of driving the dinghy all the way back toward town and wasting fuel, why not just tie up at the docks at Resort World Bimini and walk the rest of the way in? Getting permission to land there, as well as a description of Rudy’s place from the Harbor Master, we were off on foot. Only to find out, 20 minutes later, that what we should have realized that if the dingy ride was long, walking that distance was going to feel much longer.

It was just as we came up to Rudy’s that we vowed never to do that one again. We were able to get right in to see our new welding friend since the cab driver back at CJ’s had phoned him to let him know we were all to be on our way shortly. Taking the bracket out of our hands, he scruntinized it for a few moments before saying that he could help us out and hopefully make it stronger than it was in the first place. The whole thing only took about 15 minutes while we waited, off to the side of course so that we weren’t blinded by the welding. It’s kind of funny because Matt made sure to drill into my head not to look anywhere in that vicinity while the welding was happening unless I would like to blind myself. So I settled on a group of kids playing in a nearby field while the work was being done just off to my side. But I could still catch just a little bit of it out of my periferals. Suddenly my eye began burning and I silently cursed to myself thinking I’d just done permanent damage, and how am I going to explain this to Matt after he’d just explicitly told me not to look anywhere near there? Turns out it was only a beat of sweat that had rolled down my brow and into my eye, but for a minute there I thought I was going to have to explain the biggest let down ever.

Back on the streets we had a (hopefully) stronger than new bracket and were ready to spend a few hours relaxing at one of the most gorgeous beaches I’ve ever seen. Sprawling out a blanket in the shade of one of the few trees there, I could barley keep myself still for 90 seconds before I was up and running around, sprinting into the waves like a little kid. There were some big breakers rolling in and I wouldn’t let myself get fully submerged in them, lest I be swept away, so I just played in the tide and let the waves crash over my legs.

Having one more goal in mind for the day, I set off down the beach alone. It turns out that we happened to arrive to Bimini the same time as another young cruising couple, and the two of us have been trying to meet up for months now. Kim and Jereme of s/v Laho and Lahowind are brand spanking new to cruising, but Kim and I have been conversing through Facebook ever since last summer. Back when we were in Mexico and waiting for a weather window, I kept hoping that we’d make it to Key West right when they were heading that way from Naples, and even though I thought we were going to be the ones held up by bad weather, it turns out they were held up by a never ending list of boat projects and didn’t make it to the keys until after we got to Ft. Lauderdale. I thought we’d missed our chance to ever meet up and possibly do some buddy boating, but the fates smiled on us and led both of us to the Bahamas right at the same time.

I had mentioned to Kim this morning that after some errand running around town, Matt and I would be hitting the beach and we hoped to meet up with them there. Every time I saw a new face arrive I’d quickly sprint down the beach hoping it was our new friends, but each time I’d find out that whomever had just wandered onto the beach, did not even come close to fitting the description of a young cruiser. We hung around for a little bit longer and enjoyed the turf, but since we’d had such a late start due to fixing our engine issues, it was already late afternoon. Taking the long way out (while making sure to avoid the cab driver that never did end up getting our fare), I showed Matt this cool shipwreck on the beach that, from the front, reminded me of a beached whale. This path took us right out to the entrance of the channel, and we watched the current rip through there, shuddering at what might have happened yesterday had we not been able to start the engine again.

beach at Bimini

beach blanket

walking through surf

strolling on beach

rocks on Bimini beach

shipwreck on Bimini

shipwreck on Bimini

 Wandering back through town and towards the dingy dock we came across Brown’s marina where I knew Laho was staying. Luckily they were the closest boat to the road, and as I peeked my head through the chain link fence, I saw movement in the cockpit. “La-ho!!!” I yelled out, hoping to get their attention since this marina has a locked gate and we couldn’t just stroll right in. It was Jereme that heard my call and just a moment later Kim poked her head out too, while the two of us frantically waved at each other as if to say “We finally caught up with each other!!”. Moments later they were at the gate to let us in and walk us over to Laho.

Once on their boat we had the chance to meet their cute little poodle, Oliver, and instantly went into boat talk, poking around at the different electronics, and Matt instantly falling into a spiel about his latest research on all the gadgets they owned.  Even though all four of us were sitting in the cockpit, the boys kept talking shop while Kim and I would try to interject little bits about actually traveling over their comments on radios and antennas.  Unfortunately we didn’t get in as much fun girly talk as we hoped while the boys were prattling on since a storm looked like it was coming our way and Matt and I still had a long walk back to Serendipity.  It sounds like we’ll all be here a few more days, so we’ll have to make sure we get together again, this time where Kim and I can run off and talk travel and photography.  Hopefully over a glass of wine.

s/v Laho

Kim & Jerme

Matt & Oliver

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