Today was another day where we ticked a lot of boxes.
We had agreed to get going with the rental car at 8:00 (assuming that with the usual delay we’d be on our way at least by 9:00) and did in fact leave at 8:00. Timanfaya, the National Park where a bus takes you through quite impressive lava fields and around volcanos truly looked like the moon. We were the first group to arrive at the park at 9:00 and hopped on the first bus. Timanfaya is one of the core areas of why Lanzarote was declared a UNESCO world biosphere.
When we came back from the 45min tour, the place had turned into a zoo with lots and lots of tourist buses unloading their cargo. The captain had hoped to hide behind this chaos to fly the drone over the moon landscape, but got caught before he could finish the flight. However, he did get some footage and no equipment got confiscated.
From there we continued ticking boxes like clockwork (and that despite the fact that the car’s gps system seemed to have aged maps, could not differentiate between dirt or paved roads etc):
- Check out the camels outside Timanfaya – tick
- El Golfo (a lagoon filled with green water but not as spectacular as described in the travel guides) – tick
- Salinas (where sea salt is collected in lots of small fields) – tick
- Cueva de los Verdes (a one hour guided tour through caves in the north-east with a surprising end that we will not disclose here) – tick
- Drop off Bjoern at the airport – tick
- Wine tour and tasting at the local wine museum and El Grifo, the oldest winery in Lanzarote with over 225 years of age – tick
- More wine tasting combined with local cheese – tick
- Dinner at El Sol (ask for “pascado del dia” and “gambas a la Santa”) in Caleta de Famara a very nice surf spot on the north-west shore with quite impressive views of La Graciosa and the mountains of the north shore – tick
Of course, we came across many references to César Manrique’s legacy, who changed the profile of Lanzarote for ever. Quite impressive!
In addition, the usual business work and boat work go done.
So not too bad of a day;-)
Initially the phrase of “anchoring on the moon” came to mind when we arrived early in the morning in La Graciosa. But then we felt that La Graciosa looked more like the west in the US, very similar to the Grand Canyon – quite a place and very different from the other Canarian islands.
Studying the cruising guide during the voyage from Madeira to the Canaries, we realized that an anchor permit had to be requested days in advance. Even a slip in the marina required an advance request to Gran Canaria before security would allow one into the harbor. We therefore decided to anchor at Playa Francesca and hope for the best. There were a handful of other sailboats at anchor and we learned that the best way to get a slip was to walk the 2.5km to the harbor and talk to the harbor master.
Of course, harbor masters do not work on weekends on La Graciosa and therefore we were out of luck. After a cool beer and a nice walk we were back on the boat.
In the meantime, two large catamarans had unloaded their cargo and the beach was now full of people…
We caught up on sleep before checking out the island a little more and then headed back to town for a nice meal.
Of course one thing led to another and before we knew it, it was early in the morning when we walked through the desert in the dark – a night to remember…
La Graciosa is truly worth a visit
Our anchor went up around noon, just in time to get out of the way of the large tourist catamarans, and we started our last 25nm sail to Arrecife on Lanzarote.
With the very short night behind us, our energy level was not exactly at peak performance, but enough to enjoy the large cliffs, vulcanos and waves.
After about 5 hours we had reached our final destination for this summer and were impressed by the brand new marina and very nice facilities.
A worklist was compiled to make sure the boat is prepared to be left alone for three months and ready for the sail across the Atlantic in December.
A nice meal in town provided a first glimpse at what Lanzarote has to offer.
A few more photos of our crew that sailed from Cork in Ireland to Cascais in Portugal. We left Ireland a little earlier than initially planned to benefit from the northerly winds and had a great sail to Spain. Temperatures were quickly getting warmer, sealife was abundant and the cultural experiences in Ireland, Spain and Portugal fantastic. We sailed about 950nm, had no technical issues and apart from a little fog here and there, perfect weather.
Alex Vogel (he left us as planned in A Coruna)
UIf Westhoven (who took Alex’s spot in Baiona)
or the island with the most tunnels and least horizontal surface area is what we experienced during our great excursion per rental car. A beautiful island where every almost vertical space is used to grow crops or wine (and only soccer fields are horizontal and significantly larger – must be Ronaldo’s legacy, who was born in Funchal). Even the runway at the airport is built on humongous stilts into the coastline (providing perfect dry storage for boats even with their masts up).
The drive along the North shore was amazing, our rally car drivers, Ulf and Bjoern, safely moved us up and down extremely steep, winding and narrow roads, providing one vista point after the other. We drove past the typical A-frame thatched roofed houses, had a shower under a waterfall in the middle of the road (of course at the same time when trucks from both directions were shooting up and down the one way road into the tunnel…) and even had some of us climb an elaborate ladder system up a quite high and steep wall (without police taking notice). Unfortunately, the caves in Sao Vincente were already closed, but the views crossing the island to the south shore and the following dinner at a local seafood place in Canical easily compensated for that (as well as the extensive souvenir shopping by some of the crew outside the caves).
We were initially concerned about the significant fires that hit the islands a few weeks ago, but were happy to see that first of all the fires were under control, but also that most of the island was not impacted. We saw saw very little impacted forests during our drive, but also only covered a relatively small portion of the island.
Of course, we enjoyed Jan’s company again (from La Vida) as he enriched our conversions with a lot of Finnish insights…
While we did not manage to get the head repaired yet (we only tried it he easy way avoiding a disassembly), we managed to get the repaired gennaker back.
We had a great start into the day; after a shower with fresh water and hopes to get our propane tanks refilled, we met with the local sailmaker and believe that the gennaker can be fixed in time for the sail to Lanzarote.
We took the bus to Funchal, the capital of Madeira, and enjoyed the old buildings, the wine festival (although we had expected a little more) and especially the Blandy’s winery tour.
We found a great spot for dinner with 1811, the Bistro and Wine Bar, associated with Blandy’s. The staff was not only extremely friendly but also very knowledgeable and food & wine outstanding.
After a number of tapas-like shared appetizers and lots of good rose wine, we moved on to check out the wine festival close to the marina, before heading to old town – where we verified the rumors about the high quality Caipirinhas and other cocktails.
With the bar tender showing off his Tom Cruise-like tricks and setting a pyramid of glasses on fire, the Flaming Lamborghini closed the deal – we had found the perfect neighborhood to have a good time out.