Our sail from Graciosa to
Lanzarote was a rough passage, a beat to get around the top of the island,
heavy seas and lots of wind. We chose Arrecife as our
destination anchorage as it is the most protected spot on
We settled into a harbor adjacent to
the working dock, where the cruise liners make their berthing so
the area was noisy day and night. It was a tight fit to get as
many boats into the narrow bay as there eventually was,
especially with the bordering reefs and 8 foot tide range!
At the end of the bay was a tiny
beach where it was possible to land the dingy (but no where to
lock it up) and walk into the town of Arrecife, about a mile
away. There had been reports of dinghies stolen in the area so
security was a major concern.
We arranged to share a rental
car with Djarrka to tour the island. The hardest
part was finding a place to go ashore and leave the dinghy near
the main part of town. Arrecife is not very cruiser friendly in
that respect. Several others this year have already had their
dinghies and/or outboards stolen, even when locked up. It seemed
the only place to tie up was at the bottom of a very tall
rickety ladder which went to the top of the commercial dock,
with the dinghy squished in behind the coastguard boat with a
long cable to lock the dinghy. Not conducive for transporting
groceries, that's for sure.
We finally managed to take the
dinghy through the fishing harbor and into a sleazy, shaky
marina but the access to shore was always locked. We talked a
live aboard into letting us through the gate and just hoped we
could raise someone when we returned later to let us back in.
We walked along the pleasant palm
lined town waterfront promenade of Arrecife in search of a
rental agency. Arrecife is the capital of Lanzarote, a
city that goes back to the 15th century, the period of frequent
pirate attacks. Today it is a large built up commercial center
with high rise development behind a breakwall with beautiful
We drove north to check out
Puerto Blanca, the alternate anchorage on Lanzarote. We
found the small town touristy but charming, although the
anchorage was not very protected. We walked along the high rocky
ridge with nice stretches of beach tucked away in coves along
the shore. Stark white cubic buildings, 3 stories high, were the
norm in architecture here.
North to the Montanas del Fuego
(Fire Mountains), the zone of recent volcanic activity and area
of the major National Park on Lanzarote. We drove through acres
of stark barren lava fields until we reached the Park Gate that
wanted us to pay 8 Euros each to go any further. Naturally we
turned around! We laughed at the sight of tourists ridiculously
perched on camels tied together in long trains picking their way
down from the top of the crater.
A stop at the Information Center
showed us everything we needed to see about the dormant volcanic
area and the history, and it was free.
Throughout the island were works by
artist Cesar Manrique, local hero who made huge mobile
sculptures that moved with the wind. We drove to the museum to
see his work but the entrance fee was 8 Euros so we passed.
We passed miles of lava rock walls, many bounding huge square areas
of fertile black volcanic soil, void of any vegetation at all.
Looking like dirt farms, I imagine something is grown in these
areas at other times of the year.
the rock walls were placed in rows just feet apart, used to
cultivate vines for wine. Other rock formations were in the
shape of crescents that sheltered little trees.
A lot of man hours
building rock walls, especially when some of them were painted
white along the tops.
headed across the interior of the island passing through some
very special little villages, their austere white boxy houses
striking against the barren ashland background. Fields and
fields of prickly pear cactus plantations, bounded again by the
lava rock fences, covered the landscape. I am told that this
cactus is cultivated for the crimson dye that is extracted from
the insects which feed on the plants.
When we arrived at
the "Cactus Garden" we didn't bother to park, just sent
someone to check that it was indeed another 8 Euros to enter.
Onward we drove.
There are some interesting cactus
and succulents on the island, many are cultivated or used for
Pictured right is the Dragon Tree,
that only grows on Lanzarote. The plant does not have rings so
it is impossible to determine the age.
In San Bartolome we stopped
for lunch at a Chinese restaurant. Talking to a Spanish Chinaman
in English was a bit satirical but the lunch was excellent.
An eruption formed some supposedly
interesting lava caves, subterranean complexes with restaurant,
nightclub, swimming pool and seawater lagoon. We pulled into the
parking lot, amidst hoards of tourists and tour busses only to
discover the "8 Euro" fee, so we moved on. Further down the
road, a tube of solidified lava stretching for 6 km underground
invited tourists to pay another 8 Euros. We decide we had seen
enough caves in our travels and gave it a miss!
A twisty narrow rock wall lined
road led to a nosebleed high viewpoint on exposed cliffs 2000
feet high, where we looked down on the anchorage at La
Graciosa. We saw some of our friends anchored in the bay,
another island away!
On the way back to Arrecife, we
passed through the oasis town of Haria, palm trees
and white cube houses in a picturesque village.
We returned the rental car and
managed to get back through the gates to our dinghy, arriving
back at Ascension around 8 pm. A great day all in
The weather was becoming rather
unsettled, the wind increasing in intensity every day. We
discovered our anchor chain was wrapped up in the rocks so we
re-anchored in prep for the expected blow predicted later. With
8 boats in the small anchorage, it was a full house. No room for
The wind continued to howl. Donned
with raingear, the girls got dropped off on the beach to get
groceries while the boys stayed on watch with the boats. It was
gusting 39 knots so it was a wet ride in. We found a large
supermarket and spent several hours just so we wouldn't have to
return to the boats and the howling wind any sooner than we had
to. Laden with a month's supply of food, we took a taxi back to
The wind bowls covering the boat
with dirt and filling our eyes with grit. We renamed the island
LANZAGROTE! The waves splash against the boat and tempers
are volatile but that's part of this lifestyle. The wind is
supposed to continue for 3 more days. I am looking forward to
getting to a greener island with less dirt in the air.
We braved a wet dinghy ride to shore
to celebrate our Anniversary, almost forgotten the day
before!!!! 15 of our friends made up a card for us. Someone had
an accordion and played a few polkas and Brian, visiting son of
Traveller, played bongo drums. An impromptu event...very fun!
Finally the rain stopped but a
forecasted change in wind direction prompted us to lift the
anchor and move to the other side of the bay. We were still
waiting to find a means to repair the alternator and we were
also sourcing parts for the wind generator, which hopefully
could finally be taken down now that the wind was supposed to
That evening, we had a wonderful
fish dinner on Traveller, cooked by chef Michael.
We are still waiting for parts for our wind
generator, which we dropped off in Arricife for testing, Repairs
are being done for our alternator. Gord visited the dentist
today and got 1 out of the 2 teeth repaired so we will return
tomorrow. He chipped a tooth resulting from a runaway winch
handle and then lost a filling so we need to deal with that
before the Atlantic crossing. And we purchased new halyards and
some other necessities.
Rubicon & Marina
Finally we left Arricife and headed
50 miles down the coast to Rubicon Marina, where we would wait
out the southerlies before sailing to Las Palmas.
The Marina was quite economical
and complete luxury for me. I absolutely loved being in a
marina and sleeping on flat water after all the unsettled wind
conditions we had been battling. What a treat! A washer and
dryer, showers, water to wash the boat, free wifi internet, free
electricity!!! This marina is brand new and really first class
with boutiques and restaurants and villas all around. The
grounds are immaculate with gardens and rock pools. Our marina
fee included use of the swimming pool but I doubt I will take
advantage of that. The expected wind has started to blow and it
is so nice to be tucked in safe and secure.
We did not plan to
stay here for long but it was a lot easier to get our boat
repairs done at a dock and we were busy with all of that. And
provisioning. It took multiple trips with the shopping cart to
the big supermarket a mile's walk away along the beach as we
needed to stock up for 30 days worth of food. There were closer
smaller stores, all very expensive.
Finally we were ready to make the trip to Gran Canary but there
was a hiccup in our plans. We had got word that there had been a
huge oil spill in the anchorage at Las Palmas and 250 boats in
the Marina and 200 boats anchored outside the marina were
covered in oil! The rolly anchorage caused the oil to slosh its
way up the sides of the boats! We had just spent the last 4 days
scrubbing the hull, underneath and topside so didn't need that.
Also making water in such conditions would destroy our
So we decided to wait in the
marina at Lanzarote for a few more days hoping for a handle on
the disaster there. By then all the ARC boats will have left
too. It means more expense staying in the marina but there are
no good anchorages around here. Holding is poor and the swell
makes anchoring uncomfortable. Besides, I was enjoying Rubicon.
I kept myself busy exploring the wonderful walkways along the
waterfront. Pictured right is an old stone church perched on the
Off to the Gran Canaries, an
overnighter, 100 miles. Travelling with Djarrka. The weather
looks pleasant and the oil spill has been contained in the
anchorage at Las Palmas.