What a wonderful paradise we have been in for the past week and a bit! Isla Graciosa is a beautiful place. We had a great time there and it was hard to leave on Saturday when we did.
We had a fine run from Madeira. It was a flat sea and good wind, she just buzzed along very comfortably. We saw great stars, lots of shooting stars, a very low orange star out to the west, maybe a planet? And flashing Phosporesents and in the daylight dolphins who swam at the bow, twisting onto their sides to get a good look at us, as we were getting a good look at them!
We were anchored in Playa Franceaa in Graciosa, the only permissible anchorage now on the island, below Monatana Amarilla (‘yellow mountain’) so called due to its very yellow orange volcanic rock on one side of it.
We arrived in the dark. Apart from one light on the north east of the island, (the opposite end) the island and adjacent coast of Lanzarote is completely unlit with navigation lights. As the twilight dwindled we could just make out the headland we were aiming for and with waypoints marked on the handheld Garmin GPS we gingerly sailed in to the bay. As we rounded the point we saw a constellation of mast headlights from boats on anchor, all rolling gently in unison. We crept in and anchored quite far out, as we could count 16 or so boats in there already.
That night was pretty noisy because we were anchored on rocks and the chain ground on them all night, and rolly , so the next morning we upped anchor and crept into the front of the pack where we anchored on sand right off the beach.
We are so excited to be down here. It really feels like we are in ‘foreign’ lands! These are very exciting landfalls. Isla Graciosa reminded us a lot of Morocco, which we are only 70 or so miles from at the moment, and we are further south than Agadir !
The island is dry and arid, and very beautiful. From the south side (where we were) the island has the impressive backdrop accross the channel of the high cliffs of the north of Lanzarote. Graciosa is very colourful with volcanic rocks and layers : reds, browns, blacks, yellows, orange… and has a lot of fine pale sand which over the years has blown from Africa with the sirocco winds, and sagey green thorny plants. The only buildings are in the main village or other, Pedro Babra, further along the coast, which we walked to one day. We did a lot of walking, much of it barefoot.
We have been swimming lots and lots and snorkelling. The water is so clear. Its great seeing the anchor so clearly and fun to swim down to. We have been practicing our diving down, holding our breath. Its good having the depth sounder for reference of how deep we are getting.
The boats came and went over the week or so we were there. At the least, there were 12 and at most 36! Different friends arrived who we had gotten to know previously in Spain and in Madeira, and we met new ones over the week. Joost and Maria and baby Ewan our Dutch friends arrived on the Friday (11th) before we left, so lovely to see them. We had a very jolly dinner with them.
The anchorage is about 2 miles walk along beach and sandy dirt roads from the village. Its a wonderful laid back little place with low white buildings and a beach of turquoise water stretching along the front. There are no tarmac roads, all the streets are sand, and only vehicles are 4 x4 s, mainly Landrovers. We found some delightful little bars and enjoyed walking in daily or so.
We left on Saturday morning (12th Oct) for Lanzarote, after 10 days there! We had a great sail once we had got out of the ‘Canal del Rio’, the channel between the island and Lanzarote. We arrived in Arrecfie in the afternoon and anchored in the anchorage by the shipping docks, a very secure and protected place, after having sailed on to check out the town anchorage a mile south, which we decided had bad holding and was gusty with limited room. We saw various other boats in our anchorage who we had seen in Graciosa. We were invited to dinner to the trimaran beside us, Equinox , which we had seen in Graciosa, owned by a lovely Dutch couple Renzo and Edith.
It was quite a contrast to where we had been with a big container port and ferry dock with huge cranes one one side and a little old windmill and castle built out of volcanic rock on the other, a tiny beach up ahead and the dry and dusty looking peaks of Lanzarote inland. But all very attractive in its way. We discovered that the castle had been restored in the 1970 and was actually… The Contemporary Art Gallery of Lanzarote! Built low down to the front of the castle in 1975 Was an absolutely of – its – time, beautiful restaurant with big glass panel windows sweeping over the harbour and looking over Hestur. We had a drink and watched it get dark from there. It felt like the most salubrious yacht club ever! We were back for breakfast the next morning and visit to the gallery.
Arrecife was a nice place, very quiet. Nice old parts of town, quite shabby, an interesting mix of things. We got to a shop we had been keen to get to which we had heard about, and got some copies of charts we were needing. And Low and Behold, Just 5 mins walk from the boat… there was an IKEA ! Well I never – it was a contrast from Graciosa! But needles to say we thought of some things which would be ‘useful’ from there, Dan thought of a hotdog for one thing. So had a fun trip into that world.
We discovered that port police are now unenthusiastic to have yachts anchored where we were ( and in the main town) despite them being marked as an anchorage in all the pilot books. This is due I think to the marina they have been building nearby which I think they want to stock up. They caught us on our swift way into town to tell us so, after we had seen them try feebly from the pier to accost other yachts that morning. However they let us carry on our way as long as we went to the marina or upped anchor and left on our return, fine by us, we left. So this well protected and safe, clean, convenient anchorage (with the fantastic castle gallery and restaurant above) which has been in use for years (our pilot book is nearly 20 years old for here!) is now no longer meant to be used. Its crazy, the place is in financial crisis and they are turning people who are likely to come and spend money in their town away !?
So we sailed down to the south of the Lanzarote and anchored off the beach to the east of Rubicon. Had a stonking good sail down wind. We jumped straight in for a swim as soon as we anchored. The water is so clear that in a depth of 8 and a half meters I could easily see the bottom, I almost had the feeling of vertigo when looking down .
we stayed the night in the anchorage and left yesterday lunchtime ( 15th Oct) for the 90 NM crossing to Gran Canaria. We had a speedy crossing, infact we reefed right down to try and loose some speed as we wanted to delay our arrival till it was daylight the next morning and our eta otherwise looked about 6am. We arrived in to Las Palmas at 9.30 and have anchored in the main harbour. We saw a beautiful French boat in the harbour , 40 years old, the chap came over to speak to us and have a visit of Hestur, and we went over o see his boat ‘Lazy Lady’ . He even had a spare part for a taylors stove (our cooking stove) which we needed so we bought that from him. And that was great. We have also met up with ‘Free Spirit’ a boat we met way back in northern spain. So have had a very nice siesta beer with Toby from there! now trawling the many chandleries here in Las Palmas to look for the various things we have thought of that we need/ want for the boat.