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-- 21st to 26th September 2011 --
From lush green mountains to dry volcanic deserts in just over two days at sea. Welcome to the Canary Islands!
More sand and volcanoes in our page "Pictures".

282 miles sailed in 53 hours, 5,3 knots in average :o)
2928 miles since the start
Stop in Graciosa : anchored at Playa Francesca, in good holding sand, 6m deep
21 – 23 September : a “quiet trip with perfect wind”...
Our new gas-cooker is nicely folded and put away in the cabin : we are free to sail away at last. The weather forecast let us hope for a perfect wind, 10 to 15 knots from the side to the stern, stable for more than three days. In high spirits we take off early in the morning. The rising sun shines on the green hills of Madeira, we are happy to be at sea again.
Once out of the sheltered area in the leaside of the island, the wind blows in gusts for a while before settling from the side at 15 knots: the day may begin! Our craving for fish had been frustrated by a long stay onshore, so that we get out the full equipment today: three lines, one with a plastic fish and two with octopuses. Very soon we get a first bite on the stick, but it gets off. The second bite stays long enough to be identified as a small bonito but jumps off as we try to get it in. Damn! The third time we are extra cautious in bringing the line in, very slowly – only to get it to crash into the two other lines, losing the fish again of course and resulting into a chaos of synthetic noodles that ends up pathetically lying down in the middle of the cockpit. Two hours to sort that mess (highly recommended exercise to anyone suffering from seasickness: stare at a hundred meters worth of lines knotted together on the ground in a growing swell). Our stomach is still empty (and now turned upside down) but it has learnt not to ask for too much: from now on two lines will do, one long on the stick and a shorter one on a cleat. In the end a bonito bites and makes our day. With a Madeira wine sauce, that’s a great diner!
Our first bonito
Other encounters do not end up in our dishes: we see flying fishes (as North as off the shores of Madeira) and a lute turtle. The first night goes by in quiet watch rounds, listening to audiobooks and giving or taking a little bit of genoa as the wind changes. After 24 hours, the log is showing 130 miles! Not bad!

Fashion on the deck, South from the 35° parallel: light rainjacket
The next day at noon our radio will not receive RFI ontime for the maritime weather forecast. Well, well, the charts we saw before leaving were reassuring: stable and good wind. So why worry? Yet the wind is actually a bit stronger and constantly jumping from 5 to 18 knots, making us maneuver all the time. And where is the famous tropical sun? An annoying light rain forces our rainjackets out of the cupboard.
The end of the afternoon turns out even more demanding: the wind dies out then suddenly picks up from the bow. Take the first reef, take in some sail from the genoa, take the second reef, get the bonito fish of the day onboard (it chose the right moment that one!), take the main sail down... grey stormy clouds gather above us. The front hatch is leaking a little again; the antenna of the radio breaks in a wind gust (we duct tape it until the next harbour). As the night is falling we see two flashes of lightning one after the other just in front of us!
Operation “thunderstorm” is launched: we turn off all electronic equipment, we entrust the steering to our faithful windpilote and we hide away inside. If we don’t touch any metal piece we should be safe inside, as the boat acts as a “Faraday cage”. One hour later we venture a cautious eye out again. We keep on staring at the clouds, trying to avoid the darkest (if such a distinction makes sense in the darkest of the night...). Thanks to the few stars to be seen every now and then we get a glimpse of how the clouds are moving. The lower level, made of cumulus, is moving with the wind (from the north east). But the upper level, the nasty thunderstorm clouds, they’re coming from the opposite direction! Some cargo ships will keep us company towards the end of the night as we approach the Canary. This is almost reassuring: if the lightning strikes, chances are it will hit the tallest of the ships around...
It’s 4am, there are 50 miles left in front of us and we are wondering what will happen next... Laure is trying to get some sleep inside (still dressed in her full gear) when the boat suddenly gives a jerk, jibes and stays stuck facing the wind. “The wind pilote is broken!” Camille screams. Yeah, right, that could happen as well indeed... a nice quiet trip we thought... at first sight it seems like we did not lose any piece luckily, Bob just dislocated his joint – he’s not that young any more...
The yellow string there, it’s not the original joint is it?
We take turns at steering until the sun rises and starts shining on the solar panel, giving enough power for the automatic pilote to work. In the second 24 hours we sailed 125 miles – and we see the land ahoy! We stay clear of the Alegranza island, getting closer to Graciosa, then passing it in its East. It’s the last run, in the Rio between Lanzarote and Graciosa, the wind is said to funnel in and blow in gusts. We take the main sail down… and turn the engine on! In the so-called “gusts” we don’t go faster than 2 knots.

Arriving to Graciosa
The Caleta del Sebo marina is full. A reservation is required there. We sail further to the anchorage in Playa Francesca, known to be the best of the archipelago. Easy to spot: it’s where all the boats are! This beach is part of a natural reserve and in theory an authorization is required to anchor. Permission to be asked by email 10 days in advance! (see update of the Imray guide to the Atlantic Islands, p 36). But our emails had not gone through... it’s Friday, we give it a try, hoping for the guards to be enjoying their weekend already.
Squeezing between two boats, we drop the anchor... we made it! Our Dutch friend Richard (onboard Sya) welcomes us and reassures us as well: he has not seen one control in 6 days.
Time for lunch: late but delicious (teriyaki bonito) – and siesta!

On the left the little village Caleta del Sebo, in front of us the bigger Lanzarote island, and the anchorage at Playa Francesca – where is Saltimbanque ?
24 – 26 September : Graciosa
Paradise (an earthly ~, noun): quiet bay of warm crystal clear waters, in the middle of a superb landscape, where a small group of high-sea sailing yachts are anchored. Example: “Saltimbanque is anchored in the earthly paradise called Graciosa island”.

Graciosa island seen from the South-East
Between the end of our nap and the beginning of our night, we have a look out of the window and discover a purely mineral landscape. Nothing comparable to the green Madeira: this island is dry, no tree, no shadow, four volcanoes (hopefully asleep) in the middle of a desert. Tomorrow we’ll walk around!
The view out of our bedroom window
Before going back to sleep we can’t resist the urge to jump into the water! It’s clear, warm (though not as warm as in Madeira). We swim to the anchor: ok, it’s well buried in the sand – we will not move!
Time for a shower as well. Here you can see the operating instructions for a sea-water shower – in pictures:

First you have to get wet, then put special sea-water soap everywhere, comfortably sitting in the « bathtub with an engine »

When you're full of soap...

... splash ! you rinse ! Finally a little spraying with fresh water – and you’re clean!
First night in the Canary, the wind blows a good 25 knots. The anchorage is quite busy those days, not easy to find the space and give out some more rope without bumping into another boat. But we’re holding well. The air is not so hot as in Funchal: the fleece and blanket are back, first time since Lisbon more than a month ago!
Here they have a saying: “Landing on Graciosa you can take your shoes off and forget about the rest of the world!”. There is sand everywhere indeed, even on the “streets” of the village. Cautiously we take a pair of slippers with us, and that’s a wise choice: in the North the ground is covered with volcanic “scoria”, small rough rocks. Walking shoes are advisable to walk all around. But as for forgetting about the rest of world – no problem :o)
Laure wears « hiking slippers » in the Graciosa desert
The village, Caleta del Sebo. Beautiful! Very exotic: the houses are flat and low, all white with a flat roof, just standing there on the sand, in vague rows called “streets”. It looks more like North Africa than Spain! We find the famous free wifi spot where the crews from the anchorage all get together.

Caleta del Sebo, main avenue

The cyber-palmtree
Then we go on walking around the island: the North is classified as a natural reserve and one has to stay on the paths. But in the middle and in the South, you can walk anywhere, through dunes and stones, straight ahead to where you want to go! No path, low bushes and sand ground… such a free land, you don’t find it everywhere nowadays.

Volcanic landscape, low dry bushes, euphorbs...

... and funny little egg-like fossils (insects nests ?)
Behind a lower hill we are brutally reminded of civilization. That’s the island’s landfill: all the rubbish burning in the open air, all kind of paper, metal, organic, glass together. Yet we did see separate containers intown. How hypocritical, when all the rubbish gets mixed together very quickly again…
Every paradise has its black spots...
Back to the boat, we snorkel around the bay. So many sorts of fish! Most of them unknown to us, except for a goup of barracuda – and there we did not stay too long! If knowledgeable fish-lovers read this, we would be happy to learn the names of our new friends! We see also some coral – alive!

That could have been the perfect day... Except for little adventure that night. It had been a while since we last could buy some bread and we were running out. So we decided to try and bake one, and looked in the storage compartments for extra flour. Ugh! Rice and oatmeal packs converted into maggot colony... the priority changed from “cooking” to “cleaning”: we feel lighter without those unwanted passengers! Conclusion: cardboard wrapping must be sealed and protected in plastic bags. The first home baked bread is cooked, but a bit flat :o(
Why you say Bretons can only bake crepes ?

Small works : cleaning the hull
We are so happy here. Time is well spent between walking around the island (climbing to the top of the South-West volcano is a must!), snorkeling, working on the website, repairing the things that broke during the last short but intense trip... sure we should not stay forever, so many islands to see. But that’s the best anchorage of the Canary, the water is beautiful, the island is almost desert, so peaceful – exactly what we needed after 12 days in the center of busy Funchal!

View from the top of the volcano

This is what happiness looks like... (by the way this red boat is Saltimbanque’s bigger brother – a Brise de Mer 34)
So we stay a bit longer, three days of a parenthesis away from the world, from the time passing by, before hitting the road again. And as we are in the Canary, the shortest road back to Europe is through the Antilles now... (well, we have to go now, no choice, too bad really! ;o) )
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Your messages:

Thibaut - 06/10/2011 10:26:28
Y yo me quedo encerrado aqui en un hospital del Polo Norte...
Je me referais bien un petit voyage a la voile autour de la Macaronesie moi!
Bisous les filles.

Didier - 05/10/2011 12:23:46
pourtant , les asticots , c'est plein de proteines. C'est gaché de les jeter :-)

Camille & Laure - 01/10/2011 19:35:12
Coucou! Juste pour rassurer les plus acros d'entre vous qui n'auront pas manqué de remarquer que notre position actuelle dans "la route" a disparu: le serveur buggue - et nous sommes a Las Palmas de Gran Canaria :o)
Hey: just to let you know, in case you're worrying not to see our current position on "the track": it's a servor's issue - we are alive, enjoying Las Palmas de Gran Canaria :o)

Kariine - 01/10/2011 07:45:50
Magnifique !!!! (j'étais frustrée depuis cinq jours par le VSAT poussif). Euh ici c'est la mer mais y'a rien à voir de comparable :o)

Vini - 30/09/2011 20:46:16
Pfffff jaloux jaloux jaloux......

Je pense à vous très fort, bises!!

(la fonction RSS a de nouveau buggé au fait... ;) )

Eric&Sandrine TRAOU MAD - 30/09/2011 12:09:31
Coucou les filles,
Vous nous aviez parlé de 3 norvégiens voyageant sur un 7m... et bien, ils viennent d'arriver sur Agadir...

Sylvia - 29/09/2011 21:16:40
Klinkt naar een leuke stop! En van foto tot foto worden jullie bruiner... hier is nazomer weer in NL. 25 graden en elke dag zon. Jammer dat ik moet werken... Bijna weekend! Ben terug uit Borneo's rainforest. Was ook heel erg leuk en avontuurlijk. Stuur nog wel een e-mail. Groetjes!

mum - 28/09/2011 17:37:40
j'espère que vous avez gardé une boite de beaux asticots dodus ,ce sont de très très bons appats!Merci de ce partage (textes et photos)c'est un VRAI BONHEUR

PtitHom3 - 28/09/2011 11:44:22
Bonjour Saltimbanque,
décidément on ne veut manquer aucun de vos articles, tout simplement génial. A force de vous lire, on va finir par quitter la Méditerranée! Mais on voit aussi de jolis coins mais hyper fréquentés. On s'en doutait quand même!
A bientôt,
l'équipage de PtitHom3

AUMADATROI - 28/09/2011 00:25:47
Salut Sltimbanque !
Content d'avoir de vos nouvelles.
Votre escale à Graciosa me donne furieusement envie d'y faire un détour en allant à Dakla.
J'ai trainé les lignes avec vos leurres pendant trois jours et toujours rien. Je suis surement envouté pour la pêche . . . ! ! !

Eric&Sandrine TRAOU MAD - 27/09/2011 22:34:42
A lire absolument, notre récent article sur le pain à bord mais... avec un four. Certains le font cuire en cocotte.

Bonne continuation,

la mamou - 27/09/2011 20:24:00
paradis (être au ): état de pure félicité d'une mamou qui partage le parfait bonheur de ses fifilles :-)))))
pas utilisé le laisser passé 59/11 ???

SuDad - 27/09/2011 20:15:39
Nouvelles péripéties, regardées par-dessus vos épaules, bronzées. Si Bob ne vous jouait pas des tours de temps en temps, si la foudre ne vous intimidait pas, si les asticots ne s'amusaient pas à la navigation clandestine, vous vous sentiriez des touristes, pas vrai ?
Merci pour ce nouvel épisode. Gardez bien vos sandales.

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