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Lanzarote & Las Palmas
-- 27th September to 2nd October 2011 --
Even drier than Graciosa: yes it can! Lanzarote is a giant field of lava where life has come back from place to place... on the contrary, in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Nature has trouble keeping some space!
More moon-like landscape in our page "Pictures".

Sailed 145 miles
3073 miles since the start
Our stops : Puerto Naos in Lanzarote (buoy), Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (anchorage)
27th September : Graciosa – Puerto Naos (29 miles)

View of Lanzarote
In the end we had to leave Graciosa and head for its bigger sister Lanzarote, just a few miles South. We leave early to avoid the afternoon wind gusts funneling in the narrow straight between the two islands (El Rio). First part against the wind, we hoist our favorite gib (long time no use!) and tack. A little bird comes along for a while, comfortably curled up against the life raft. Exiting the straight we notice another yacht, 40 feet or so, coming after us full speed with the engine on and the main sail not even out of its bag.
Once out of the straight we hoist all the sails up and set the course towards Arrecife. A nice little 4 bft quartering wind helps us keep a fair distance from the big 40 feet. The landscape is impressive: volcanic cones tower above the cliffs, everything black except bright white little cubic houses shining in the sun. Closer to us two forms are passing the boat. Then light grey fins and noses appear out of the water, funny flat noses and a body covered with scars: those are Risso dolphins :o)
Risso dolphins

« Hehe we got him in the end ! »
We have to sail off the wind bit to follow the coastline. As it increases a little we forget about any complicated sail system and just take down the main sail: genoa only, good old Dutch style, full speed directly to Arrecife. To our greatest surprise, this maneuver places us even further ahead of the big 40 feet! Yet we have little time to enjoy this unexpected victory as the wind keeps on increasing and the harbour is getting closer.
According to our Imray guide “Atlantic Islands” (the bible in the area), there are three harbours in Arrecife: a commercial dock (Puerto Marmoles) – not for us – a smaller dock well sheltered but quite dirty with two little pontoons always full (Puerto Naos) and an anchorage spot closer to the old town (Arrecife) on not-so-good holding ground.

We elected Puerto Naos and got ready to drop the anchor along with a “lightning line” (thinner rope with a little buoy that would help us get the anchor back if this gets stuck on the ground in a rock or something). Upon arrival we see abandoned pontoons and suspicious looking old boats, spread without any order in the dock. Looks dodgy now – where on earth will we find space for our anchor in that mess?
A local guy sticks his nose out and wave to us to pick up any free buoys. “but it doesn’t belong to someone?” “No, no te preoccupies, no hay problema!”. Given the state of the ground and the increasing wind gusts (our engine barely keeping us moving forward against them now) we happily follow his advice. Not so sure that the buoy will hold though, the guy says there was a 5m little thing here before – and we don’t feel like taking a dive down to look what’s under this dirty fishing harbour water...
Puerto Naos. For once Saltimbanque is not the smallest around !

Our tender at the rusty abandoned pontoon
Our neighbor starts talking with us. His name is Leo, he comes from Argentina and has sailed for a while around the ocean on his 9m bought in Brazil. In January maybe he will leave again. He lives here on his boat for now and knows everyone and everything. Tells us about the owner of the pontoons getting in trouble with the port authority, who closed the water and power there last year. Last month they chased out all the boats still moored there. The rusty pontoons shall be destroyed very soon. In the meanwhile, he still has keys of the doors: he insists on lending us one – easier to get ashore with our tender he says!
This is a weird place, yet full of nice people! Very helpful: they get our of their way to give us some advice about which buoy to pick up, where to find water etc... most of the boats are actually inhabited, squatted, or abandoned we don’t really know. All anchored there for more than a few days that’s for sure. There is another foreigner at the anchorage: an Italian Maramu. Better safe than sorry, we still takes out of the deck everything that might tempt people – and put locks on the tender (the guidebook warns against frequent thefts here).
As for the 3rd harbour, the Arrecife anchorage, we walked there to have a look. Nicer view indeed, but rocky ground and more exposed to the swell. Small buoys are available as well – not sure what they’re like though. Clearly the favorite spot for most of foreign boats on the road.
Seafront in Arrecife : you see the yachts moored in the background near the breakwater

Our bathroom for the day ! (and also our office, the big tower in the back)
At Puerto Naos we don’t pay anything – there’s no facility either. Among the basic needs to human survival, internet turns out to be the easiest to fulfill. The famous Gran Hotel wifi emits strong and clear to the public park on the side. Then, shower: provided by the city, a beach-shower just nearby. Tanking water proves more difficult in this dry island. We hear of different tricks: a hose on the wall of the shipyard, a tap in the public garden over the bridge... in the end we take advantage of our rental car and fill up at a gas station.
All in all we won’t regret our choice of Puerto Naos. The hippy-like atmosphere there is a funny change to the standardized marinas, and the anchorages full of boats always from England or Brittany. On the last evening Stephano invites us onboard for a Italian pasta diner, along with Leo and his girlfriend. Stephano speaks Italian, Leo in Spanish, we speak what we can... a few English words in the gaps and lots of funny faces, we understand each other very well and have a whale of a time telling sailors’ stories!
28-29 September : Lanzarote
Our first mission in Lanzarote was to clear the entry formalities to the Canarias. According to our guide the archipelago having a specific status like the Channel Islands is only partly in the EU and we have to show our passports coming in.
The maritime police have their office in the commercial harbour, a good 4 km from Puerto Naos. We get closer in tender, to save us a tedious walk on the docks. Quicker. Or would have been quicker – if the tender engine had not run out of gas... paddling the rest of the way, then walking in the middle of the industrial grounds there, we finally find the police. They look surprised: “A stamp? What for? You’re in Schengen space ladies!” “and the boat?” “no need! Do you get your car checked when you drive from one country to the other?”. Well well, a dry gas tank and a few kms paddling for nothing then – stranger even, the Italian had to get his papers checked... have EU’s frontiers changed since we left?
Second on our to-do-list for the day: groceries shopping! This is our first supermarket in the Canarias and we enjoy the exotic fruits (especially some “chirimoyas”, called annona in English, that we discovered in Chile and are crazy about). Yet food seems expensive here, compared with Madeira... back onboard we perform our “cockroach-free” routine: those lovely little bugs lay eggs everywhere and this is no wanted additional bonus to the groceries. So we wash and dry the fruits before put them away, take the plastic and paper wrappings off, clean the bottles and cans. We spray some bug-killer on the mooring lines as well when we are at the pontoons – case they should like to play tightrope walkers and smuggle onboard...
Still life called « Drying fruits in a cockpit »

Our fridge : the meat is below in contact with the hull, better kept products on the top.
Another sort of uninvited guest are the flies! They come with the fruits as soon as they mature and can also colonize the “fridge”. At least that’s how we call it, but it’s more for the psychological effect. It’s a case close to the hull, keeping therefore the temperature of the hull – i.e. of the water. Worked well until Portugal, but now that it’s a bit warmer than 15°... well we can’t have everything. Butter (in a plastic can), yogurts and eggs keep well without much effort. Jam also. As for cheese, it can get a bit smelly sometimes – on the other side, no everyone can proudly mature his own blue cheese in his livingroom hè. Milk keeps only 12 to 24h. Meat is more of an issue, to be closely looked at. Generally speaking you have to wrap everything in plastic film or put in a Tupperware to avoid contact with air – and flies. In Portugal we had found some great chicken legs and pieces of ham packed in vacuum – they would keep more than a week! Despite our precautions we lose some meat every now and then – but we have (almost) no fly!
Police, check; groceries, check... time for the last mission of the day: complete our sea charts collection. There is a copy shop just in front of the tourist office that offers to copy any charts of guide – completely illegal. They have a huge stock of them too. It takes us an hour and a half to go through them all and pick what we want. 2,70 euros / copy, we have 11 new charts for the price of one!

On the last day we rent a car and drive around the island. As soon as we get out of the main city we are struck by the moon-like landscapes. There have been violent volcanic eruptions in the 1730’s and more than a quarter of the island is covered with black leve. Impressive how this still looks chaotic, violent, and empty, 300 years later. In some places, wine can grow on the volcanic sand (this being actually a good thermo regulator and water-captor in this dry country). In most places though there is still nothing, the ground looks like it’s been ploughed by a giant only yesterday.

Wine in the lava

Here on the contrary nothing will grow but lichen
Growing something here is a hard job and requires building individual walls to protect every plant against the wind. The wine, called “malmsey”, was the favorite of the pirates some centuries ago. Small plants of wine on the volcanic sand make a black landscape scattered with small bright green commas!

On the way we drive across the Timanfya National Park built where the hardest of the eruptions took place. Landscapes are superb, yet you’re not allowaed to walk around on your own and have to be in a tourists bus to make pictures out of the window. Not for us... we flee to Playa Quemada to escape the crowds – and find there a quiet little fishing harbour with clear sea and nice small boats. We can’t say we’re unhappy those days :o)

The Mountains of fire are asleep – we hope...

Playa Quemada, a quiet hiding place
30th September – 1st October : Lanzarote – Las Palmas (116 miles)
September ends, time to move further to the West! The original plan is to sail to Tenerife directly skipping Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria: we want to have time for the western islands – and why not keep some islands unexplored for our next trip around ;o)

We start in the early morning light. The weather forecasts announce a good Northeasterly on the 30th, decreasing at night. We want to make the most of the first day, hopefully 100 miles sailing and the last 50 with the engine.

Our first « mahi-mahi » : will end up in a pan with some butter and lemon jucie
Unfortunately the morning is very very calm, we hardly get above the 3 knots and lose some time. Well, not completely lost actually: a fish bites on our smaller line. What’s that one? Don’t not it yet... surprise when it’s onboard: a “dorade coryphene”! (or “Mahi-mahi”... I must acknowledge some limits to my English dictionary here – anyone knows the English – of Nederlands ;-) ?). That fish is famous to the sailors crossing the ocean! The one we got is not very big, but enough for a yummy lunch. The meat is less dry than a tuna and it makes big jumps when you try to get it onboard.
Slowly but surely we are getting closer to the channel between Lanzarote and Fuerteventure, where winds are said to funnel in and be accelerated to three times stronger. Frequently 30-40 knots. In front of us the sea is becoming whiter with foam, chopping nasty waves are growing: we take two reefs and roll the genoa a bit, hold our breath... for nothing! Nasty sea, no wind! Engine back on to pass the heavy ferry traffic zone... finally the wind changes direction and settle to a 16-17 knots from the North East. Saltimbanque glides happily, faster than 6 knots. But it’s 4 pm already...
Une fois sorties du cône de Venturi, le vent s’établit au nord-est 3 – 4b et montre clairement une volonté de mollir vite... Alors prises de pitié pour Nestor, nous incurvons notre route, cap sur Las Palamas à Gran Canaria qui est 35 miles plus près que Ténérife. Malgré nos efforts pour tenir le spi le plus longtemps possible, il travaillera quand même près de 12h, merci Nestor !
In the early morning on the mirror-flat sea we spot a group of sea-mammals. Our book says: they are “tropical globicephales” (oops lost in translation again :-S). Just a few moments later we see another fin: a weird kind of dolphin with a small backfin and a long nose looking like that of a crocodile: that’s a “steno-rostre” (giving up ... Google-image it if you like! ). We see a lot of turtles as well floating around.

Tropical globicephales : they have a bump on the forehead and a backfin curved back.

« Sténo rostré » : we weren’t quick enough with the camera to take the impressive nose.
Two industrial docks, lots of containers and huge fishing boats later we get closer to the two marinas. We drop the anchor just between the two, off a beach of sand surrounded by skyscrapers and an highway. Saltimbanque is anchored in the middle of the 8th biggest city in Spain.
Where is Saltimbanque ? Hint : look between the containers and the beach umbrellas
1-2 October : Las Palmas
How to put it nicely? Las Palmas is ugly. Huge, sprawling, smelly, busy, noisy, only skyscrapers as far as the eye can see along the seafront highway...

Seafront « promenade »
The city boasts a long beach on the Northern side. We wandered all the way (looking for a wifi-equipped bar, in vain): it turned out to be the perfect picture of your worst nightmare, full with overweighed lobster-red Germans and Brits laying around amongst the screaming kids on the loose.
What about the historical center then? There must be at least one or two nice old buildings around! Sure... 5km away! To walk the distance you may choose between the deserted commercial avenues with filthy-looking high-rises from the ‘70s - and an overcrowded narrow sidewalk squeezed against the sea by the highway... Once you reach the “center” you realize it’s Sunday, and everything is closed of course. It costs some work to find a couple of old houses to take a decent picture of. One house that cannot be avoided is the “Casa de Colon”, where the Great Man is reported to have stayed on his way to the other side. Across the street a church displays a huge board saying He has prayed there. Seems like the air itself has been sanctified by His presence in this very place. Or at least, that’s what oral tradition reports... and popular tradition is a trustworthy historical reference isn’t?
Anyways, you got it by now: we didn’t like Las Palmas. The only good point about this stop is that we could keep on our bohemian lifestyle: free anchorage, wifi on the street, shower and water-tanking on the beach... becoming real “Saltimbanques” we are :o)
And as real bohemians, we can’t stay put long and shall take off as soon as the wind rises...
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Your messages:

Thierry & Hélène - 18/10/2011 17:57:16
Toujours très sympa à lire. Continuez à nous faire rêver.

la mamou - 12/10/2011 10:35:35
alors , Laure , tes impressions sur le kite surf ???

Lily - 11/10/2011 12:14:43
Excellent ce passage ! J'aime beaucoup l'idee du frigo. En esperant que vous arriviez quand meme a vous preparer de bons ptis plats !
Gros bisous a vous 2

caro osorio - 11/10/2011 04:39:48
sienti el vienti calido y fresco al leer estanpagina!! gracias por compartirlo con nosotros!

Eric&Sandrine TRAOU MAD - 10/10/2011 14:53:22
Merci pour les infos sur Las Palmas, on va éviter ce panier de crabes !
Nous, teck cu cockpit refait et départ vers Graciosa dès que le vent le veut bien...

Eric&Sandrine TRAOU MAD - 10/10/2011 14:51:40
Merci pour les infos sur Las Palmas, on va éviter ce panier de crabes !
Nous, teck cu cockpit refait et départ vers Graciosa dès que le vent le veut bien...

Hans en Remco - 09/10/2011 11:48:54
Dames, jullie weten toch wat the place to be is op Gran Canaria...
misschien ook niet top, maar bet dan Las Palmas....
Geniet ervan

Frérot - 09/10/2011 07:02:57
Bien sympa tout ça :)

mum - 07/10/2011 16:33:27
il y a tout de l'émotion , de l'humour de la poésie ,du suspens,tout est parfait!

SUdad - 07/10/2011 par email
Bon, le message précédent étant resté dans l'oubliette, on va en retricoter un autre. Pas le même, d'ailleurs, tiens. Une nouvelle fois, vous nous en baillez de belles. Sûr que les cafards et les mouches, on s'attarde pas. Mais comme vous devenez de vraies saltimbanques, sous l'influence de votre monture, vous devez vous accommoder de pas mal d'inconfort. Question promotion de Lanzarote et de Las Palmas, sans vouloir vous décevoir, c'est pas gagné. Vous arrive-t-il de vous souvenir que vous aviez une autre vie bien différente avant ? Vous vous en f... ? Bien raison. D'autant que vous n'en êtes qu'au début. Vous avez une grande Atlantique à conquérir, avec des îles paradisiaques de l'autre côté. Bon, vous avez encore tellement de choses à vivre, pour nous les raconter. On attend. Au boulot. Bises.

la mamou - 06/10/2011 11:20:38
génial génial
trop génial !!!!

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