Friday, 30 March 2012

A desert island

Caleta del Sebo - Graciosa's sheltered harbour

The strong winds having duly blown themselves out and Fettler arduously purified of the dust that befouled her, we weighed anchor and made an early start for Graciosa. In a straight line, the distance amounted to only 25 miles and with the forecast of a pleasant 14 kt breeze from the north west, we expected to have a pleasant day's sail of it. Ha. Ha.

It started out well enough as we cracked on to the northeast before rounding the headland where Lanzarote curves to the north and where we hoped to do the same. The wind, naturally enough, blew from the north, alternately much stronger and much weaker than forecast. It was a hard beat up the coast, becoming progressively harder as we reached the northern tip of Lanzarote, where the wind increased to near gale force and still right on the nose. It was an all sails out and all sails wet sort of a day and a weary pair who finally pulled into Graciosa having taken 10 hours to squeeze out those 25 straight-line miles. We found out later that the northern tip of Lanzarote is locally known as the 'Cape Horn of the Canaries'.

Happily there were good friends waiting for us - the Roede Orms - with a BBQ blazing on the beach and cold beer in plenty. The rigours of the passage were soon recovered from.

Playa Las Conchas, also known as the Bacardi Beach
Bacardi Beach from volcano top

Climbing one of the little volcanoes
Many people had raved to us of the charms of Graciosa and we find that they were wholly justified. It's just a slip of an island really and dry as a bone but there are very few people about, no paved roads and the landscape and coastline are superb.

Beachcombing (photo: S. Conrad)
Basalt bridges (photo: S. Conrad)
Mad man on basalt bridge (photo: S. Conrad)
Lava coastline
A note of caution for those planning to come here by boat though: be sure to have a reservation! If your name isn't on the list, they won't let you in. It's surprisingly strict for such a laid-back place, but there you go. We've seen numerous boats simply turned away on arrival.

Natural salt pans 
Cool rock pool
Bird on the beach - Berthelot's Pipit
After about 5 months of steady northeast winds we now have an odd spell of northwesterlies. Madeira, our next destination, lies to the northwest. No matter - we're not in a hurry. It's a great spot to wait for a fair wind and, as always, there are things to be done, including the slightly unsavoury job of dismantling the toilet pump (which, after a cleaning session with vinegar, now works as good as new).

How to dry fish
Another crazy lava rock pool
East coast Graciosa
Shell sand under the microscope

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