10 Oct 2006
Currently we are in Lanzarote. Nomad Life has been lifted, a new seacock has been fitted and now she is afloat again. There are a few more bits to fix such as the windlass and repair the linear drive for the auto helm.
11 Oct 2006
We are planning to stay another week in Marina Rubicon, next to Playa Blanca in Lanzarote, in order to repair the auto helm and windlass. Tomorrow is a local fiesta and nothing is open until Monday. Next week we are planning to go to Arrecife, the capital, to find some chandlery shops.
While we wait for the big bank holiday to be over, we have completed a lot of repairs on board. But today is rest day!!
The Autohelm has been repaired, the problem being a rolling pin. However we had to wait 4 days for parts in order repair the windlass. This is Spanish time, everything is “manana”
Finally all the repairs have been completed. The parts costs £10, labour £290. Cheaper than buying new. Soon we will be ready to anchor outside the marina at Playa Dourada.
Weather has been deteriorating so we decided to head back to the marina. This bad weather is forecasted to last 2 days with swells and winds force 6. It does look nasty out there. What was a busy anchorage at Playa Dourada is now virtually empty.
It is time to go again. The marina was almost empty by 12 noon; majority of the yachts took advantage of the fair weather and departed. Including all the yachts that we have made friends with: the American Reliant, Barbarossa, and the charming Swiss couple who were moored next to us, Doris and Regis. We said goodbyes to the Marina staff at Rubicon however they were half expecting that we would come back again. After almost one month in the marina, the plan was to discover new bays in Fuerteventura and lots of sailing.
30th Oct 2006
Great news, Graham has completed successfully the Ocean Yachtmaster theory. This deserved a celebration with some beers. We are in Fuerteventura waiting for wind to be able to sail to Gran Canaria. This island is not a good cruising ground, with few good protected anchorages. We are anchored near to a little cove in a sandy beach. Since Fuerteventura is volcanic, the sand is black and the landscape barren. The town, Tarajal is located on our right, and it is very small with only a few basic shops. Tomorrow we are going to explore the cove whilst snorkelling.
Unfortunately the weather has deteriorated in the last few days, bringing a lot of rain. Snorkelling and beach barbecue has been cancelled. The temperature is still warm, although rain is forecasted for the next couple of days si we are leaving to Gran Canaria. The passage will take 100 miles arriving in Pasito Blanco early morning.
Fuerteventura’s coastline is very scenic, full of volcanic mountains. On route we found some nice bays where in calm conditions it is possible to anchor, however not protected from the prevailing Southerly winds. Ten miles away from the coast, a couple of fins emerged from the water. We must have found a huge pod of dolphins, since in a few minutes we were surrounded by over fifty dolphins and we could see many more ahead of us. Five or more were at the bow surfing with Nomad Life. The dolphins were very curious, turning sideways to have a good look at us and the boat, and strangely curious about us as well. A while later three strange animals surfaced for a rest in front of the boat. Later on we have learned that these were pilot whales. The sea conditions was very calm and hardly any wind, so the whole journey was under engine.
Gran Canaria and Tenerife
The marina at Pasito Blanco is at a residential area, so very quiet, with a beach nearby and nothing else.
Maspalomas, the nearest tourist resort, can only be reached by car because of a golf club and a huge volcanic mountain surrounding around. Today was another working day getting Nomad Life ready for the Atlantic crossing. Hilary, Graham's sister arrived the following day for one week. Dan also joined the boat a week early.
With new crew we left for Puerto Mogan. The trip started with gusts of 30 knots and swells. That quickly changed and soon the engine was turned on for the remaining of the trip. We found a nice anchorage outside the marina. The view was amazing with impressive cliffs near shore. However it was a sleepless night due to the movement of the boat. In terms of uncomfortable anchorage, worst was to come.
The next destination was Abona, in Tenerife. The Canary islands are famous for the acceleration zone, the winds are accelerated through jets and thermal effects. The result is that from no wind at all, in a blink of an eye, it can increase to 30 knots. Luckily, we saw the warning sign and we were able to reduce sails before the strong winds caught upon us. However everybody onboard had their share of wash from the waves. Apart from Hilary, who excused herself from her duties and went under the bimini.
Finally we managed to find the worst anchorage of all, even though it was not intentional. The landlubbers on board experienced the worst night sleep in Abona. It was again a rocky night. Unfortunately the Canaries are not blessed with the best of anchorages, finding a good sheltered bay from all winds is difficult. We rounded Ponta Rasca, South corner of the island and headed to Los Gigantes, a little tourist resort with spectacular volcanic cliffs just off the beach, sweeping 7 miles to the southeast. Finally we all had a good night sleep safely in the marina. The marina was somewhat in decay, the pontoons where old and with holes in places and the showers had seen better days. The staff was apologetic, explaining that the marina will be completely renewed for next year. So we spent a few days here, resting and using the nearby swimming pool. Hilary finally had a few days of well awaited sunbathing by the pool.
Soon it was time to go back to Puerto Mogan. Hilary’s holidays were coming to an end. Dan left us that day; due to his hip injury he decided against crossing the Atlantic. With flat seas and no wind the journey was completed under engine. But the 12 hours crossing was fun, encountering many pilot whales and dolphins on the way. We arrived in the evening in Puerto Mogan and again anchored outside the marina since due to the ARC all marinas are full . There was a lot of drinking for Hilary’s last night onboard.
As soon as we came back from dropping Hilary at the airport it was time to sail back to Tenerife to meet our next crew, Nik. He arrived from Sweden, eager for the Atlantic crossing. The following two days were spent doing work on the boat. After that it was time to drive around the island up to the top of Mount Teide, with 3700 metres high it is the biggest in Spain. Heading up the fuel gauge was reading wrong. Once on top we realized that there might not be enough fuel for the journey back. Graham free wheeled the car for 10 km to the nearest petrol station.
Then it was Nik's first time sailing on Nomad Life. We anchored in Montana Roja, Nik named it the "tanker's bay" due to the four yellow buoys for the tankers to refuel the airport . But that night no tanker came in the bay We anchored off a beach with huge breaking waves . The following day we left for La Gomera, the most beautiful of all the Canaries islands.
The island is lush with green valleys encrusted in mountains. Luckily for the boys we anchored outside a nudist beach, playa Chinguarime . As usual it was another uncomfortable night. Now we were longing for a marina to get the boat ready for the journey and relax.
The king of Spain and his wife, Juan Carlos and Sofia just arrived in La Gomera for an official visit. And of course to wish us a good trip and fair weather…
The atmosphere in the marina is something special. Many boats are here getting ready for the crossing. There is excitement in the air, discussion about the best weather window and best time to leave. For the last shopping we rented a car and also took a drive around the island. The Valle Gran Rei is something to see, apparently a Mecca for an alternative society. The National Park of Garajonay is spectacular with dense forest. Certainly is an island not to be missed.
We just said our farewell to Bertus, "the crazy Dutch man" who did participate in the OSTAR (Observer Single Handed Transatlantic Race) four times and even met Ellen McArther. He is sailing single handed to Barbados, the island of his dreams. Bon Voyage, Bert.