21st – 23rd November Passage to The Canary islands ~ La Graciosa
Finally we could see our way clear to having three or four days of good weather (winds) to make the passage to the Canary Islands, a distance of 260 nautical miles!
We left at 08.20 hours and an hour later we were sailing and then we saw our first whale off Deserta Grande which ‘sauntered’ past, heading north!
We had mixed winds for the trip ranging from fairly light to fairly lively! This pattern repeated itself for the duration of the passage but I would say that in the main we had reasonable conditions until our last morning when it looked as if we were going to go into some bad stuff….! The winds picked up but in the end we managed to skirt it as it went round behind us, phew!
On this passage we were sailing in company with “Petit Goustan”, not that we could physically see them, only on the AIS (Automatic Identification System) which shows up on the chartplotter! We arranged a ‘radio net’ with them every three hours, our first experience of doing this and it was good to keep in touch!
La Graciosa coming into view and the skies by this time were blue again! We had a very pleasant last part to our trip as we approached the Canaries! Musetta was in the groove and so we could concentrate on the view! As we rounded the south western end of the island we stowed the sails and motored into the only place visiting yachts are allowed to anchor, Playa Francesa, we were the only yacht there!
Some time later, after dark “Petit Goustan” arrived and then we were two!
“Petit Goustan” arrived safely!
La Graciosa ~ The Eighth Canary Island!
The island is volcanic and lies 2 kilometres north of Lanzarote across the strait named El Río and is part of the Archipelago of Chinijo a Natural Park!
Spain’s General Commission have agreed that La Graciosa was now officially the eighth Canary Island, a little sister to Lanzarote, Tenerife and Fuerteventura. At only 11 square miles it is tiny, with no paved roads just dirt tracks and only 721 residents. La Graciosa now had it’s own legal status!
The pretty and uspoilt village of Caleta del Sebo
The island’s economy is based around tourism and fishing. Although Caleta del Sebo is tiny it does boast all the facilities you might expect from a town on the mainland except they are on a small scale! However, it does not have it’s own desalination plant and therefore the islands fresh water comes via pipes laid under the sea bed from Lanzarote! There is no airport, the only access is by sea. Visitors come usually for a day visit from Lanzarote by ferry from the port of Orzola, a journey of only 35 minutes!
Once ashore there is plenty of nature to experience! You can walk, cycle or take one of the decrepit range rover taxis or jeeps and explore the land. We walked and it was wonderful!
Incredible walking on the island!
The Osprey ~ On La Graciosa
Although the Osprey is an endangered species, the numbers having dropped dramatically in recent years, it is still possible to see these amazing birds! I saw one as I scanned the evening sky from the cockpit on Musetta, it was quite a thrill! It was flying high around Mount Amarilla, not far from Playa Francesa. Osprey feed mainly on fish so the island is an ideal habitat.
Fact or Fiction…….
Was it the Treasure Island referred to in the famous children’s book by Robert Louis Stevenson? If it was, is the treasure still buried there?
It is said the book was inspired by an actual event which took place in the Strait of El Río in 1760 when a British ship laden with spoils from a battle at sea, took shelter from a storm at Graciosa but had not realised that they were being followed by a pirate galleon. The sailors managed to get ashore and buried the treasure before being over run by the pirates! Although the sailors were tortured by the pirates, their secret remained safe!
So where is the treasure?!!
A Treasure Island?
24th – 27th November ~ A beautiful Anchorage!
We had an amazingly relaxing time here with Élise and Fabien! We swam from the boats, diving into the crystal clear water from the back of Musetta. With Petit Goustan a little way away, we swam between the two boats which was great fun!
We also donned our new snorkelling masks so that we could check Musetta’s anchor. The masks were a revelation, they were so good and easy to use!
Later we took the dinghy ashore to explore! We found several little individual camp sites made out of the lava rock on the island and odd bits of cloth and wood, anything that could be useful I guess? These shelters were uninhabited, well at least we thought they were, we didn’t venture inside to check, they were a bit spooky!
As we climbed up out of the sandy beach we had a great view of the anchorage. The terrain became very desert like with a mixture of soft sand, stones and scattered plants. Deep ditches formed from the flowing eruption of the volcanos so long ago. We continued to the foot of Mount Amarilla and came to this little inlet which we hadn’t been able to see as we sailed into the anchorage!
We had gone as far as it was possible and so we returned to the dinghy to head back to our boats having had a lovely afternoon!
Petit Goustan left the following morning as Fabien had received some very sad family news and he had to hastily arrange a flight home from Lanzarote the following day.
Alan and I decided to stay for another day as it was so nice to be away from the bustle of life in a busy city marina! What could be nicer than to wake up to this glorious view from Musetta’s cockpit….!
We had another reason to stay as friends from near Stratford upon Avon who were holidaying on Lanzarote made contact with us (via a facebook post!). By chance they were making a day trip to La Graciosa on the ferry the next day! We arranged to meet them from the ferry and we spent a very pleasant few hours with them over lunch and a walk before their ferry returned to the mainland.
27th November ~ Time to leave this idyll!
We really had had a great time at la Graciosa but we needed to move on! The island made a superb landfall after our passage from Madeira, we were very pleased that we had decided to make a stopover there!
I took this shot from the Mirador del Río, overlooking the harbour at Caleta del Sebo, La Graciosa! The mirador at the northern tip of Lanzarote, is an outstanding design by Lanzarote’s famous son, the late César Manrique!
….. but more about him next time!!