5th/6th December ~ Passage to Las Palmas
We set off from Gran Tarajal in the late afternoon for the 80 mile passage to Las Palmas in fairly benign conditions, wind speed was between 12 to 13 knots and set the sails with the genoa poled out as the wind was well aft!
Conditions which were not to last, sadly……
As we turned for Las Palmas we experienced the effect of the renowned wind acceleration zones (WAZs) commonly found around the Atlantic Islands.
The result was that the wind rose within a very short space of time from the 12/13 knots to 35 knots!! Fortunately this situation didn’t last long! Musetta coped with the wind change very well and we didn’t feel threatened at all, just unpleasant for a while!
6th December ~ Arrival at Las Palmas!
We were actually very happy to have arrived, finally! The last few hours of the passage were some of the most unpleasant sailing we have experienced. Unpredictable winds and a horrid sea state?! We also acknowledged that we can’t always have perfect conditions!
However, despite the dire warnings that we would be waiting hours to be allocated a berth or perhaps not at all, we were relieved to be given one fairly promptly and we were soon safely moored up – phew!!
Gran Canaria ~ Some information about the island!…..
“Great Island of Dogs! Perhaps this is why the animal symbol for the island is that of Canary Mastiff, canis lupus familiaris. It is a rare breed – we didn’t see one – It was originally bred to work with livestock and usually has it’s ears clipped so that instead of hanging down in a heart shape, they are pricked and look a bit ‘mean’. This was done to prevent the dogs being injured by the cattle.
The Canary Mastiff with natural ears!
The plant symbol of Gran Canaria is Euphorbia canariensis or Canary Island spurge. It is a succulent shrub which can grow to between 3 and 4 metres high and is made up of fleshy trunks which resemble a cactus! There are no leaves, just spines up to ½ inch long and it’s flower are reddish-green in colour. We did see lots of this!
Gran Canaria is the third largest of the Archipelago of the Canaries, lying some 93 miles off the northwestern coast of Africa, southeast of Fuerteventura and west of Tenerife. It is the second most populated however! It is, like all the Canary islands, volcanic in origin and it’s beaches are largely made up of black volcanic sand. Those that have yellow sand have imported it from Morocco to please the burgeoning tourist industry!
The capital city is Las Palmas where we have been based. The harbour has provided sanctuary for many sailors, notably Christopher Columbus who anchored in the Port of Las Palmas on his first trip to the Americas. The port is now a large commercial port as well as being a port for leisure sailors. Those of you familiar with the ARC – The Atlantic Rally for Cruisers – will know that the rally departs from Las Palmas to St Lucia in the Caribbean in November each year, one of the reasons we timed our arrival for December as we knew that we would have no chance of a berth in the marina before then!
The familiar sight of a cruise liner, this time the Queen Elizabeth!
9th December ~ Out and About!
We had prepared Musetta to leave her while we went home for Christmas and as we had a couple of days spare before our flight we decided to hire a car to see something of the north of the island! We had been to the island a long time ago, visiting my sister and so had seen some of the south of the island during those visits! I did manage to catch up with Liz during our stay, the first time I had seen her in 10 years!!
We drove first to this pretty little port on the north west coast of the island.
The town was small and very typically Spanish with winding streets down to the small port from where the Fred Olsen line ferries run to Tenerife! People seemed very content to lie on the stony, black beach a phenomenon that actually puts my teeth on edge!!
The pretty Puerto de las Nieves ~ and the black beach!
We very much enjoyed our visit here, it made a pleasant change from the constant buzz of the container port of Las Palmas and the incessant sirens of the countless ambulances!
After Agaete we started heading back to Las Palmas via Arucas, another town the tourist office in Las Palmas had recommended! We appreciated the tip as it turned out to be an interesting stopover on our journey home!
The stand out feature of Arucas is the Church of San Juan Baupista which appears to be ancient but it turns out that it dates from 1909 and is carved entirely in Arucas stone. The details in it’s pillars and heads of pillars was incredible and beautiful!
It was hard to imagine that this Church of San Juan Baupista was relatively modern!
Inside the church it was unsurprisingly simplistic and as Christmas was approaching there was a delightful Nativity scene!
The inside of this imposing church was very easy on the eye!
Arucas is famous for it’s production of rum from the sugar cane plantations. Interestingly, rum was produced here long before the Cuban rum plantations were cultivated! One of the main features of modern day Arucas is it’s rum distillery.
Another famous product of Arucas was the production of cochineal! This comes from the Cochinilla beetle which feeds off the prickly pear cactus and when crushed produces the red dye, carmine (cochineal) which is used mainly as a food colourant and in lipstick nowadays!
Time limitations prevented us from seeking out the rum factory but instead we had a lovely walk around the town and came across the Parque Municipal and soon realised why Arucas is know as the Town of Flowers! It was so pretty….
The park was beautifully designed with many exotic plants and trees and flower borders filled with Poinsettias and Bird of Paradise blooms.
The colourful Parque Municipal, Arucas!
The Bird of Paradise flower or Crane flower as it is sometimes called for me is so spectacular in it’s colour and formation that I find it very hard not to keep taking photos of it?! Here it is in the Parque Municipal, Arucas, in abundance!
The Bird of Paradise flower!
From here we made our way back to Las Palmas and Musetta where we had one final day to prepare for our flight home!
11th December ~ Back to Blighty for Christmas!
See previous post!
20th January ~ Return to Musetta to continue our travels!
Well that was the plan!….Eek! A few problems to greet us on our return after Christmas in UK!
Musetta seemed fine when we arrived back until we turned on the fridge and freezer! The freezer sprang to life and was fine but the fridge – not a glimmer?! This was a real blow as we wanted to prepare her for our departure to Tenerife in a few days time where we had arranged to meet up with some Dutch fellow sailors who were there on holiday!
We obviously had to sort this problem before setting off for warmer climes but first we had arranged a ‘lift out’ to pressure wash the hull and check/replace any anodes which had eroded! Musetta’s bottom was really not too bad at all and washed off well but look what the hoist did to her as they were positioning the slings?! We were not happy at all!! A refrigeration technician came to our pontoon in the afternoon and was able to source the problem with the fridge and fix it, thank heavens! However, by the morning we were back to square one with the fridge, not working?
Goodness, this was getting complicated!
Our planned departure to Tenerife wasn’t going to happen due to lack of wind and so we arranged to go by ferry instead and stay for the weekend! Now we had the added problem of a non-functioning fridge as well as no wind?! We gave the boat keys to the yard in the vain hope that the fridge would be fixed while we were away (haha!) and jumped on the ferry to Tenerife!
… more of this trip in the next post!
Monday 28th January ~ More delays?!
We returned to Las Palmas to discover that the technician hadn’t been on board! Thinking that we were going to have to wait for parts for the fridge, we then decided to try to sort out our radar problem which had arisen during our passage from Madeira to La Graciosa! After some diagnostics it was deemed that the radar was irreparable and a new one was ordered for delivery hopefully by the end of the week?
Meanwhile, the refrigeration technician arrived to discover that he had inadvertently forgotten to replace a cable he removed at some stage??? No words – just relief!
Monday 4th February ~
After all the problems we are finally….
ready to go!!!! The radar is fixed, we have filled up with fuel and so we are leaving!!
We say “goodbye” to Las Palmas after almost two months! We are grateful to have had a safe berth in the marina and that the facilities were on hand to resolve our issues!
Next to La Gomera…..!