Escape from Lanzarote

Southern Lanzarote from the sea

It took a bit of perseverance but finally all the repairs were done, Henning and Berndt of Waterline Yacht Services departed with their tools, Michael and Gilla on SY Wolf left in the morning (a day later than planned) and by 16:00 Temptress had refuelled; time to escape Puerto Calero. And our first task once on open water was to reconfigure the autopilot. On Tuesday, a sunny late afternoon with the wind off the land the sea was ideal being flat;we motored round in slow circles and then a straight line until “George” the autopilot was pronounced fit to take over by the skipper. The sails were set and Temptress on a broad reach headed out to sea until we could gybe and point down the channel between Lanzarote and Fuertaventura.


As the sun set, the wind increased so we furled up some genie, avoided the interisland ferry steaming towards Playa Blanca and thought about warming up a vegetable curry prepared earlier. A small blue hulled yacht sailing down from northern Lanzarote never quite caught up with us as the wind acceleration between the islands increased our speed to seven or eight knots. We ate supper early but in the dark at around 19:30 – one reason why on longer passages our main meal will be at midday in these latitudes. We tucked in the first reef to make it easier for the watch keeper, Kevin took the first watch whilst Susie retired to a bunk for three hours dozing with vivid dreams. Kevin had a similar experience on his off watch.  Was it being at sea after so long tied to a pontoon or the result of the stress of getting away before the weather broke or simply the vegetable curry?

The forecast was for F3-4 from the North or North East in other words typical trade wind sailing but we knew that the Azores High was moving east squashing up against Africa and would cause the wind strength to increase to perhaps gale 8 or above in the next couple of days, the increase occurring earlier at our destination. If we didn’t leave when we did we’d be stuck until the following week. The night sail was chilly with occasional spits of rain and later a couple of heavier downpours which were followed by brief almost dead calms making sail trim interesting for the watch keeper! The coast of Fuertaventura gradually disappeared but already some 60or 70 miles off the loom of the lights or our destination showed like a mini sunset on the clouds ahead. Our course was just west of south west. Little shipping was spotted even approaching the lanes between Gran Canaria and Fuertaventura. One light though was a bit odd – Kevin noted it on his first watch and we gradually overhauled it during the night – an all-round white light incredibly bright. Dawn proved it to be at the top of a yacht mast, a yacht considerably bigger than six metres (the maximum for which an all-round white is legal), very confusing as we had no idea what course it was making without red or green navigation lights. We gave it a wide berth.

Not the most scenic of anchorages

Kevin found us a convenient spot in the anchorage, tucked right in south of the yacht club basin wall so only wash from the tugs and ferries reached us. After a big breakfast we slept until noon then taking advantage of the still hot water showered before heading to the marina office by dinghy to check in to Gran Canaria. The port authorities know how to fleece yachties – boats over 12m have to pay a monthly tax for ten months of the year (the last two are free), so even though we expect to be here at anchor or in the marina for less than two weeks we had to cough up over 50 euros for a month’s tax plus a small charge for each day in the anchorage which covers use of the shower block and dinghy moorings! The marina charges seem quite cheap in comparison with recent marinas at around ten euros per night for Temptress based on her square metres (LOA x beam) but again are front loaded with a nine euro charge for water and electricity but as the man in the office said if we come into the marina we don’t have to pay the tax again!

Slap up cockpit breakfast

We then went to explore the town a bit, no provisions required but a few little errands like topping up the mobile phone (failed due to big post-siesta queues) and replacing the battery in Susie’s alarm clock (almost a fail as it is a posh travel clock with a complicated battery housing so was left for collection the following day). And we finally bought a new boat hook that will stow in a locker. It had only taken six years for the malfunctioning old one to actually fail completely.

On Thursday it became apparent just how cosy our spot is, the wind got up as forecast gusting gale F8 and between the showers we needed to buy some meat and veg. We’d been told that the local market opens between 08:00 and 14:00 so that is where we headed with the rucksacks after a home-made yoghurt with a banana for breakfast. What a pleasant change after Lanzarote – really fresh veg and plenty of variety. The fish and meat stalls were well stocked too whilst upstairs we found a little place selling herbs and spices where we could replenish our dwindling curry spices. A small carrier bag of turmeric, cinnamon sticks, green pepper corns, mustard seeds, ground coriander and more wafted its fragrances every time we added more to our shopping bags. The lady running the stall and her friend from the fresh pasta stall next door explained in halting English that this upper floor of the market hall was closing at the end of the month for good but that they were both moving to premises “in the street” and provided us with a phone number printed on a cotton napkin in case we need to find them later! A quick dash into Superdino for Mr Jones baked beans (they aren’t Heinz but are edible) and cereal rounded off the provisions. We also remembered to collect the clock and recharge our Spanish mobiles as we walked back.

The dinghy hadn’t been used for a while so
it needed some air

With heavy bags we stopped for coffee at one of the several café’s tucked under the esplanade along the marina’s landward side. The marina looks full – over a thousand berths with lots of sailing boats many flying German ensigns and most looking like it has been a while since they moved anywhere. A wet dinghy ride to windward north up the marina channel, out through the entrance on the right then left into the chop of the harbour then turn slightly more left towards Temptress. She is tucked above the northern mole of the marina with the (imported) sandy beach to the west, the main harbour wall way out to the east and the yacht club basin wall to the north. We were quite damp by the time we reached home. With the wind and rain increasing we lounged around all afternoon reading and snoozing or catching upon the internet.

Thursday night proved a windy bumpy one with the chop kicked up by a F5-6 reaching even into our corner and the gale force gusts continuing though no rain.  It felt like being at sea with all the rocking and rolling but with the anchor dug firmly in and 40 m of chain out Temptress wasn’t going anywhere. Both of us got up at intervals to check but the anchor alarm didn’t go off and apart from the occasional banging of halyards or the dinghy straps flapping on the deck there was nothing untoward. We must have slept a bit because both of us were aware of dreams but at 8am it didn’t feel like it!  The wind is decreasing as I write and there are some patches of blue sky but it is still too rough to consider going ashore without donning full oilies meanwhile the forecast for later says fog!