Cirrus au port

Cirrus at sea and Cirrus in the harbour are two different things.

At sea everything must have its place, safely secured so that it won’t fly off and land in a crash on the opposite side. Cockpit lockers must be ordered so that we can easily take out the different sails as we adjust the sailplan to the intensity of the wind. If we first need to dig the sails below the kite board, the snorkeling masks and the bimini, it does  not work.

But when we are in a harbour, Cirrus changes. The BBQ is attached to a stanchion, the clothes are drying on lines strung everywhere we can, towels are drying after the last swim, the solar shower is hung from the spinnaker pole, the cockpit table is pulled out and the bimini set to provide us some shade.

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In Las Palmas, sin noticias de Thomas

We arrived on the 14th in the beginning of the afternoon at the mooring of Las Palmas. To get there we took 28 hours of sailing on board “Rêves de Jour” with the “Triple A”. The weather was kind to us as we sailed downwind with a moderate swell on the beam and 15 knots of wind. RDJ propelled us at its favorite 4 to 5 knots pace. Genoa and main up, we rolled our way observing Lanzarote and la Graciosa disappearing slowly, very slowly.

The “Triple A” (Antoine, Antoine and Arthur) shared their boat, food, night watches, fishing gear, books and many more things with great pleasure. It is amazing to see how they are living their adventure; little money, big project and apparently, not one argue in between them since the start! When you are three friends of 22 years old I find that quite impressive. The boat is clearly home-made, has nothing to do with Intrepid Bear, but still has its charm; wooden interior, poster of Corto Maltese (as well as all the books), huge library, music instruments, wooden barrel, dodgy toilet and prehistoric VHF live there in harmony next to the macbook and the second computer that they use for navigation. No autopilot on board, the self-steering wind vane needs to be fixed, so we helmed all the way. After Intrepid Bear and almost five full days under auto-pilot, that makes you feel a bit more like the adventurer of the beginning of the century.

Gaspar in the aft bunk after a good Corto Maltese session

Antoine does the inventory of “Paté Hénaff”, things you can’t find in Senegal where they are heading!

The moment we feared the most was disembarking with the dinghy and our bags, Carmen and Roberto… Luckily, the dinghy did not have a hole in the chambers, the pump was inflating, even the outboard engine started! (we start to think that we have infinite luck after that…). In Las Palmas, we discovered the huge marina, packed with yachts way over 40 ft, yachtmen, a highway between the marina and the town, ferries, containers, naval ships… it was hard for us to withstand this contrast with our little paradise, la Graciosa…

The harbour of Las Palmas

Tired and with our bag packs, we looked for Thomas who is skipper on board a 64 footer yacht and promised us to host on board while the owner is away… With no news of him, we were not sure whether or not he arrived yet (the last news were 7 or 8 days ago saying he was still in Palma de Mallorca). After shouting the name “Thomas” to every big yacht over 60 ft (we still don’t know the name of his boat), we did not find him and the “Triple A” hosted us one more night.

But our luck was not all gone! Walking around the marina, we bumped into “Pato”, another of Gonzalo’s friend! His wife rents apartments and found us one in less than an hour.Taking hot shower was delicious after two weeks of hose cleaning… (cold water and wind… you don’t stay too long in the shower with that…)

The rest of our time here so far was spent in preparation of Intrepid Bear, trying to get Harry to speak to us again, drinking all the free drinks we could and meeting plenty of sailors. Finally we’d like to advice to anyone who thinks about boat-stopping to find one before coming here. Indeed the pontoons are packed with guys looking for a boat, most of the owners get fed up with it. Nowadays we think that internet is the best solution for that.

All the best to you, BIG KISSES

PS: Gaspar really wants to show you a picture of Rocio guapa

Rocio in what she called “my beach” in La Graciosa

Our friends we’ll miss the most from la Graciosa; Pato Negro y Pato Blanco

13 martes…

…ni te cases ni te embarques (don’t get married and don’t go sailing)

Not taking care of this “bad luck” day that Spanish have decided to set on Tuesday the 13th we are departing to Las Palmas tomorrow, 13th of November. We are leaving La Graciosa in the home made yellow boat that we showed on our last post, since team “Triple A” have invited us to do the trip with them.

We depart from this little paradise with a mix of feelings, the sadness of leaving a wonderful place and a bunch of interesting people on one side and the excitation of the upcoming trip on the other! After all, if none of these people we met in the pontoon of La Graciosa would move from here from time to time, they would not have this many stories to tell. so we feel like it is time to move on.

The forecast is North-Northeast, 15 knots, dropping slightly on Wednesday so we hope to do the 120 miles in between La Graciosa and Las Palmas in about 24 hours, though who knows on such a racing boat! We will go on a mooring and will have to get to the city in the dinghy with all our bags, it is going to be interesting!

We leave you with the sunset in La Graciosa:

Sunset in La Graciosa

Briefing before sailing on board RDJ

See you soon Las Palmas!

Gros bisous!

 

 

The pontoon of la Graciosa, a treasure of friendly sailors

These last days have been marked by social activities and meeting new people. After spending the first part of our voyage in Lanzarote mainly in us two, we are very eager of speaking with new persons. This seems to be the case of many travellers, and around the pontoon, it’s full of them. Felice, an Italian skipper we met here, told us during an apero on the pontoon something roughly like this; “The sea is indifferent, blind to what sails on its back. There are boats of all shapes, colors, price, but all live the same thing. Some arrive several days before, some are wetter, but the sea is not kinder or rougher to any of them.”. And indeed here on the pontoons, there are all sorts of sailors and boats. It ranges from the retired couple who bought 44 ft production yachts fully equipped or a fast french “piece of pizza shaped” Pogo, to the experienced skipper who bought an old but robust steel vessel, passing by the young couples with little money and plenty ambitions, to the students full of dream, to the solo skipper woman who realises her dream of owning a boat and gets angry at the shopkeeper of the chandlery, who responds to her question to her friend standing next to her because he is a guy… Some have money, some don’t, but all want to do the same. Some have already sailed across and now rest in the Canary Islands since a couple years, some are ready to leave with a rusty boat holding only by the 20 years worth of layers of Sikaflex…

All have wonderful stories to tell, of places, adventures, misadventures that happened to them. The discussions are in French, Spanish and rarely in English. All these people accumulate the languages and it helped making us believe that languages are worth ten times any university degree. We got invited for aperos, coffees or just a chat on the pontoon. We saw that there is not one ultimate boat to sail, but rather plenty different ones to meet the desire of their owner. For many of them, the boat is their house, and at this title, they do not care of buying an expensive block which is 50 g lighter than the others and will make your boat go faster of 0,000001 knot. Instead, they developed tricks for washing their clothes, store the food, have a sewing machine on board. This is completely different from the approach of sailing we knew from racing in the Solent. Just to illustrate what we wrote, we’ll show to boats that we saw here. They stand out from the classic “tupperware”, and despite their look, have a powerful charm that no polished gel coat would beat.

Rêveur de Jour and its crew of “rêveur”, the “triples A”  aka “Alcaline”

RDJ was bought by Antoine, Antoine and Arthur, three Bretons student in math and physics. They decided to take a break of a year in their Parisian studies to go sail around the Atlantic. Gathering money by sponsors from family relatives and others, and by borrowing some more money, they bought their “RDV”, an amateur steel built boat. The boat sailed a lot already, holds by the layers of paint and Sikaflex more than by steel, it is “home built” and you can notice it. But never the less, with their small budget and ambitions they go. The jamon is drying from the stern, the boat full of books, screws, couple bottles of beer, it is full of charm from the inside, probably sails backwards when it goes to windward. But that doesn’t matter, they do it! The photo is taken from the hard in la Graciosa, where despite the rust from the crane they decided to lift the boat out to repair their rudder and clean the toilet seacocks… apparently they got their family running when their tracker went down during a good blow sailing from Portugal to las Canarias! But they all arrived safe, seem to know what they do, and have the most important; ambition, imagination and insouciance from the youth!

Seahorse, original steel boat, dutch built

Seahorse is the boat of Raymond. We decided to show it because you’ll admit it has nothing to do with a Jeanneau! Raymond lives on board in la Graciosa since 5 years, sailed a lot, speak more languages than I have fingers. He’s got more than one story to tell, will be happy to share its knowledge when you come to him despite is cold look at first, especially when he sees a new boat arriving in the harbour and he checks their docking! He knows everybody and everybody knows him. A great person, one more.

Apart from them we met many others, especially thanks to “la pétanque”. Every evening at 4h30 we meet a couple people of the pontoon to throw some balls, sometimes towards the “cochonet”, sometimes… well… less towards the “cochonet”. Rocio discovered herself a talent for throwing a ball within an inch of the “cochonet” when it is at 20 m minimum, distance at which most of us don’t even reach the “cochonet”… It is not strength but swing!

We met also a couple of hippies from Uruguay, Panama and Spain who sell hand made jewelry in the little market. They were the first to help us setting up our stand to sell aquarellas. Needless to say that we did not sell one and abandoned the idea. This was the occasion for Gaspar to confront himself with the wide variety of accents in Spanish and for Rocio to improvise with her clarinette with an harmonica and a ukulele player.

But of all that is well and nice, but still, we would not want you to miss a couple of the awesome views we saw walking through the island. So with little comments we’ll just feed your eyes;

Western swell hitting la Graciosa, with the Montana Clara behind

Torture by “giligili”

Playa de Las Conchas and Montana Bermeja

BESOS A TODOS!

PS: for those who get addicted at following sailing blogs, here is the  link to the website of the triple A with their “Rêve de Jour”; http://www.all-around-the-atlantic.ens.fr

Life is better in La Graciosa

Today the weather came back to the usual North Westerly wind with cumulus and blue sky. The last couple of days were rather unconventional; the Azores high pressure had collapsed, leaving the low pressure system progress Souther than usual and disturb the kind tourists of the Canary Islands. Indeed we had some rain, systematically when we would open the hatches of the boat to aerate… in reality, nothing to complain about, rather all the contrary; you get refreshed, dry in the next 5 minutes and can see how quickly many little green plants grow everywhere in the dunes and along the slopes of the volcanoes.

Having said that, this affected the way we would spend our evenings. Rather than staying in the cockpit our walking around the village, we found activities in door. In the boat, no electricity, instead the charm of candle lights to brighten our intellectual evenings; reading, painting, Spanish and French lessons. As a result we took the habit of sleeping rather early. And rather than seeing that as a bad news, we took the opportunity to wake up early to go fishing. Indeed the owner of the little pizzeria of the island, a renown fisherman, gave us all the trick and appointed us a good fishing spot. To cut you in your reading, a little picture to illustrate the cozy intellectual evenings;

Concentration on candle light

To fish, we were advised to use gambas, so twice we went to buy in the evening frozen gambas and in the morning fished from the mole with a rod and a float. We could see the birds diving at 20 m from the wall, the water boiling of fish activity, all good signs. And indeed we caught the first day four, the second eight fishes. They are called “boga” here, rather like big sardines, fried with garlic they were excellent! In theory we were only fishing with a hook at the end of a line, but one morning we decided to empty and clean the fishes from the rocks on the pier; two feet in the water, we both started to gut our future meal. After 15 seconds Rocio shouted as a octopus started to wrap around her foot! Although that guy was rather small, we both jumped out the water in a second. Coming back from our fear of seeing a miniature sea monster, we thought that we ought to fish that guy as well! So standing well out the water, one rock in one hand, a line with a hook and gamba in the other, Gaspar gave it a try; result, the octopus managed to unhook the gambas with a couple tentacles while another couple (or more) were grabbing the gamba… he won, we came back without him…

Be scared fishes!

Annoyingly, Internet here is getting us crazy; no photos want to upload, so if you don’t mind, we will go on with this post as soon as possible!

For the moment, besos gracioseros!

UPDATE!!!

We got you some more photos that we wanted to post before;

Rocio writing next to our fishing spot

Gaspar checking the best way to go straight to the village

La Graciosa

La Graciosa could be seen as the “daughter” of Lanzarote. Unlike the island of lava, this one is formed by sandy landscapes guarded by four volcanoes: Las Agujas, Montaña del Mojón, Montaña Amarilla and Montaña Bermeja. Beautiful beaches most of which are practically empty at this time of the year and two villages of little white houses: Caleta de Sebo (inhabited) and Pedro Barba (only inhabited in summer time) complete La Graciosa. No wonder that many painters and writers choose this place to get inspired, only the sight of the Mountains of El Risco on the neighbor Lanzarote are worth thousand poems and paintings!

Gasparito seeking fishes with the mountains of Lanzarote as background

The white posts that can be seen along the mountain bring electric current to the island under the water; and, for what some say, this is a relatively new installation, they were using generators before.

We were so lucky to have a friend as Rafa, who lives on board an Oceanis 432 in the little port in Caleta de Sebo. Although he is not here at the moment, he let us his boat to sleep and cook. As we cannot use the electricity neither the water tanks on board, we have got used to live with day light or to use candles, since the time has been changed, candles seem more appropriate and, don’t worry! we haven’t changed that much! we usually don’t wake up too early if it is not for fishing (or rather trying to fish, more on this later). We wash ourselves, our clothes and the kitchen stuff on buckets using the water on the pontoon.

Washing up

On the four days we have spent here so far we have had time for exploring a little bit the south of the island. We walked to the top of Montaña Amarilla. The rain (it actually rains in Lanzarote, we have proved it) accompanied us on the way and we had to find shelter in the middle of the “desert”.

Improvised shelter

Hopefully the sun started shinning again and we got dry as we went up the mountain. The sights from the top were spectacular, and Gasparito took out his drawing kit…

Gasparito reproducing the views from Montaña Amarilla; the island of la Alegranza and others behind…

The navigator decided that we should come down from the mountain by the south part. It didn’t seem such a good idea for Rocita, it was much steeper and rocks were falling from everywhere… but the sight of the landscape, the color of the mountain, different from the north part and giving name to this volcano changed her mood. From top to bottom the volcano sorts of reproduce the Belgian flag; red grainy and sharp rocks at the top with green/whitish lichen, swapping to yellow powdery rocks, looking like compact sand and finally the black stone from the lava polished by the elements.

The Belgian flag at its best

Who took this pic?

The sea was waiting for us at the bottom of the mountain. The tide was low, so we followed a path of rocks on a half-tunnel formed by the water on the soft rock of the volcano. We could see a white sand beach at the end of the rocky passage, our promised land!

Come on, couple more steps and you will be on the beach

On the beach, we went for the awaited swim and it felt sooo good!

The rest of the days till now we have been quite tranquil, the weather has not been very good, only 25 degrees… and it rains everyday little fine drops, although you dry as soon as it stops. Amongst other activities we have been meeting all sorts of people, trying to fish, swimming on the beach and getting internet on the local Hamburgueseria, together with the city council, the only wi-fi point of the island.

More stories concerning these activities to come in the next posts!

Gros bisous depuis La Graciosa!

Caleta de Sebo

Last days in Lanzarote

Hi everybody,

a bit of catching up here. We haven’t been on internet so much in the last days, for the simple reason that being in front of a computer sometimes is a real mission! Walking the town looking for a Burger King or other, carrying this computer which always seems heavier, and finally decide which one of us will write will the other one wanders around the shopping mall…

Before telling our last adventures in Lanzarote, we’ll precise that we are now in la Graciosa, an island North West of Lanzarote where sitting in front of a computer is surprisingly more pleasant! Indeed there is a little “hamburgeseria” with cheap lunch, not many people, not many flies and a relax atmosphere, much better than BK…

We left you with the last news of our first day with Dani. We ended up staying four nights at his house. Dani is a great guy, very friendly, he was always coming up with new things to show us, left us the keys of his apartment and would always laugh at Gaspar’s attempt at making jokes in Spanish! Apart from being an active and friendly guy, knowing almost all the people around the island, climbing, fishing, taking courses of English and boating, Dani told us he seemed to have a certain style for dressing according to his own taste… Here is a picture of him in his typical Canarian beach outfit;

El Canario

Amongst our various activities, we went to his “Huerta” (little plantation) that he keeps just Norh of Playa Honda. He has to go there twice a week to give water to the plants and pick the fruits and vegetables. So one morning he proposed us to come with him.

In his little plantation he cultivates bananas, papayas, mangoes, tomatoes, peppers, letuces, leeks, olives, aubergines, courgettes and many more. Obviously in Lanzarote, all of these plants would not grow without human help. Indeed it rains so little that the water has to be produced from massive water makers. No water can be lost and he collects the water dripping at the bottom of his two compost containers, this water apparently is of the best quality to give to the plants. To avoid any of this water to evaporate within five minutes, the sole is covered of little black volcanic stones which keep the humidity in the ground. But I can’t tell you all of that without feeding you with a couple pictures;

Rocio picking the aubergines

Our picking of the day! cherry tomato, aubergines, oranges, leeks, lettuce, green peppers, basil leaves

We also kept on trying to surf. Dani had two boards that he lend us. We went two days each time coming back hitchhiking, even with a long surfboard we made it! We took the occasion that we were in Famara for checking out the surf championship… amazing!… it looks like these guys have glued their boards onto their feet! We did not reach the same level yet… but each of us managed to stand on its feet, although only in the foam. Every attempt at taking a wave that did not break yet dramatically ended up in a big swim and large ingress of salt water in the mouth (this for Gaspar only… Rocio knew already that it does not help to fall forward with the mouth open!). To learn surfing we can give you one trick; do not pay for surfing course, just go to a beach with a lot of surfing schools, spot the instructor (easy, usually it is the one who looks the coolest of the group) and imitate everything they do! Row in the sand like they do, stretch your muscles like they do, jump up on your board like they do, but don’t run on the beach like they do because it is tiring! And again for the pleasure of your eyes a couple picture of our progress and our surfing objective;

Our best achievement

Classic finish in style

Our objective…

Our regime these last couple of days was essentially composed of fruits and vegetables, the closest shop from Dani’s house being a “fruteria” with excellent fruits. I repeat what we said in the previous post, but what a pleasure to sleep in a real bed! We can’t insist enough on that! Being in a house we could clean our clothes as well and came out of these couple days all fresh for the new adventure; la Graciosa living in Rafa’s boat!

We were supposed to go to la Graciosa on the 24th, but at the last moment the plan changed; a couple of friends of Rafa, the owner of the boat, were living onboard and we thought better to leave them their before last evening to themselves. Rather than seeing that as a sad news we were happy to have one more day with Dani and could stay in Famara one afternoon more. Coming back from the surf championship about two hours after changing our plan, Rocio got a phone call from one of the Canarian skipper of charter boat we talked to a week ago; he needed one person to translate from Spanish to French and vice-versa the morning of the 25th. There was work for only one but they left us both coming on board. So we worked as translator on board a 41 ft charter boat that Orange was renting for the morning along with 5 other boats. On board, one of the employee of Orange was from Martinique and we talked at length about Martinique and the life over there. He gave us a couple of advice as where to go search for job, how to find a cheap place to rent in case we need and so on. The skipper Oliver, who talked only Spanish, proposed to give us a ride to Orzola, at the North of the island, where we took the ferry to la Graciosa with the money we earned in the morning! Amongst the other translators were two Senegalese guys who spoke French, Spanish and English, one of them, Konte, tolds us something like that “Be nice to people around you and life will be nice to you”. We thought he might not be wrong and that was probably what happened to us this all day! With a banana smile we took the ferry, sailing along the huge cliffs at the North of Lanzarote (more than 600m high) and arrive in the evening in la Graciosa where we were welcomed by Ale and Marta (Rafa’s friends) with a beer in the cockpit of Oberon, our new home for the days to come… I’ll finish this post with a picture of the sky at sunset in the little harbour of la Graciosa;

Clouds on fire and the sweet feeling of being on a boat

To finish, have a look in the artistic corner page, there has been some changes. This post brings us up to the evening of the 25th October of our adventure, more stories to come about the events of these lasts days in la Graciosa.

Besos a todos