La Graciosa and Lanzarote
Even when you’ve carefully curated a precise schedule and plan… Shit happens.
Leaving La Graciosa was very exciting; I was so looking forward to our time in Las Islas Canarias. I had it all mapped out… two nights on this port, two days on that island… We would have been done seeing the best all the Canary Islands have to offer by the end of November… If you follow me by now, you know that did not happen – AT ALL.
Let’s get to it…
After our time in La Graciosa, we embarked on our “quick” journey towards our next port in Puerto Calero; when it happened. Our motor gave out JUST as we were departing La Graciosa.
Yes, it completely failed, we didn’t know what to do, and after fidgeting with it for a while, we concluded that it would not start again. Luckily we had two motors, while the other was still working at this point. Relying on our one good motor and knowing we had the wind on our side, we decided to still embark towards Lanzarote.
Like any good odyssey, this trip started out with massive waves coming directly at us. Eventually, we were far enough from land, the wind turned, and it was smooth sailing from there.
We motored and sailed all the way down to Puerto Calero, around 30 nautical miles. It took us almost 7 hours to complete the journey. In the end, all that mattered is that we made it, even if it took much longer than expected.
Little did I know then, we were already running in a Canary Island warp timezone, where EVERYTHING takes much longer than you anticipate.
Keep in mind, the motor giving out was already one of the many things that had failed for me in 2020 boat-wise. Mishaps with registration and broken sails, to name a few.
If 2020 taught me anything, it is to make lemonade when shit happens!..?!😅
The harbor at Puerto Calero was really nice, but a really difficult harbor to navigate with one motor. -Not to mention actually quite dangerous to sail this way. If the only working motor fails, you are left quite close to shore and other boats without a way to navigate with accuracy. So, if the wind is anything less than perfect when this happens, you could be in some serious trouble.
We decided not to push our luck and opted for a little detour and go further out. To a place where if the wind pushed, we wouldn’t be shoved to shore or onto other boats. Basically positioning ourselves to get pushed out to open water if the other motor failed.
We sailed until we reached this port where we could moor alongside one of the harbor walls. This was a lot easier than the fancy harbor alternative.
Stranded in Lanzarote
Initially, we were supposed to be in The Canaries for 4 weeks – max. Thanks to the motor failure, our timeline would have to be pushed back quite a bit. On the one hand, I now had more time to explore the islands; on the other, it would have to be a solo escapade, not exploring the islands with the SY like I wanted to…
The early days in Lanzarote were filled with optimism, and a get. shit. done. vibe. I was cheerful and excited about our time on the island.
We found some people who would work on our motor right away. It turns out the local Volvo dealership had the exact model we were looking for (our previous motor, but not broken). I was thrilled. We had what we needed, so… everything should be able to get done in 4 days… A week max! Right?… Right!
Thankfully, entertainment for the first few days on the island was taken care of. In the initial plan, we were supposed to be in Lanzarote for two days. So, I had already planned a few activities, more like two full days of adventure on the schedule. I wanted to make sure I got to see all of Lanzarote in time. 🤷♂️
On the first day, I joined a dune-boogie tour of Lanzarote, kind of like the one I did in Porto de Galinhas in Brazil after Nomad Cruise 7.
I was on this tour with many tourists, and we simply drove down all the dirt roads of Lanzarote. It was quite fun driving the boogies along the barren desert landscape of Lanzarote.
We also drove to Lanzarote Karting and got to use their go-kart track with our boogies; it was much more fun than with go-karts!
After the go-karts, we went to this marvelous winery, Bodega La Geria, up in the volcano. They had some great wine at this spot.
Did you know? Lanzarote is quite famous for its wine. You may have heard of Malvasia wine, for instance. Malvasia is a group of wine grape varieties from the Mediterranean and Canary Islands.
You wouldn’t think that the region actually has a lot of growth since it literally looks like Mars at times. Yet, and even though there is very little water and extremely high winds, there is a lot of growth, much more than you would imagine with these environmental conditions.
They built these “walls” at the vineyard that go all around the little grapevines to protect them from the elements. It was pretty cool to see the green vines inside the barren, rocky, black dessert of Lanzarote.
The next day I rented a car and went with four other people to explore Lanzarote by rental car. We went all around the island. It was quite windy that day, with winds coming in from the west. So, we decided to go to the west coast to face the wind.
There are also some really nice blow holes in the area, especially scenic ones when big waves crash by.
We had a good hike around the rocky coast and eventually wandered to some salinas (salt fields). We also went to the Timanfaya National Park, located in the southwestern part of the island; it is entirely made up of volcanic soil. It is the active volcanic area of Lanzarote, with big volcanos and a moon-like landscape. The volcanoes are still active and don’t emit any lava, so they’ve been safely turned into a tourist attraction.
There is an area where you can grill your food, solely with the heat emanating from the ground. There is a show of sorts where they put some water in some holes, and scalding vapor comes out. They also put straws in holes, and they instantly catch fire from the heat radiating inside.
The whole area was quite touristy but still very entertaining. From there, we continued to explore the island and ventured to a kiter beach in the north. This place had great views of La Graciosa on the other side, which I really enjoyed. From that spot, I could look straight to where I was standing in La Graciosa just a few days before. Pretty cool catching all the angles.
We also had some great views of the kiters on the beautiful beach below us, quite the sight with the iconic cliffs of Lanzarote in the background.
Towards the end of the afternoon, we went to the mountains at the very north of the island, all the way to the cliffs we saw a few days back from La Graciosa. This time, we could see across the way the gorgeous bay we anchored at during our time in La Graciosa.
From that viewing point, we found a path down to the kite beach. It looked like a very strenuous hike, so we opted out. It was enough for us to simply stay at the viewpoint enjoying the views, this time from Lanzarote back to La Graciosa.
After having our fill of landscape magic, we went back to the car and drove down the other side of the mountain to continue exploring.
The pride of Lanzarote
In Lanzarote, Cesar Manrique, a very famous guy, was a Spanish artist, sculptor, architect, and activist from Arrecife.
He designed many famous sites all over the Canary Islands, but most of his work is located on his home island. Throughout his life, he designed many interesting and rare buildings. The most noteworthy on Lanzarote, in my opinion, his last intervention in Jameos del Agua, it’s truly wonderful.
It’s a HUGE series of lava caves, which consist of a subterranean salt lake, restaurant, gardens, emerald-green pool, museum, and auditorium.
Obviously, because of Corona, there were no scheduled events in the near future. But you could still go have a walk through it. The place has some really nice pools and some nice restaurants. Wonderful site all around, a bit more fashionable inside than the outside facade would suggest.
From Jameos del Agua, we drove past some beaches, past the capital – Arrecife. We saw some of it from the car and then went back down south with some scenic stops, nothing too long because we had to give the rental car back in Puerto Calero.
So the second day was a nice day with friends and the next day after that was quite rainy and stormy, so we couldn’t explore more of Lanzarote. I later learned that there is actually not much else to see in Lanzarote. It’s just a big volcanic island, kind of like a big black rock in the middle of the ocean. I pretty much saw most of what’s to be seen in the first two days.
The coming days in Puerto Calero were admittedly not boring at all, simply due to the number of people vacationing in town from the Staatenloss community. People would just come over to the boat to say hi and hang out for a bit. In the evenings, we would choose a nice restaurant for dinner and have a nice meal together. I really enjoyed my time with them.
Eventually, we had to change the mooring in the marina. We were moving to a new spot to get all the work that needed to be done completed.
Puerto Calero is privately run and relatively nice. Most of the other marinas on the island are government-run, which sadly means there is much left to be desired from their services.
Puerto Calero had good facilities and nice restaurants ashore. This was the home of the SY for two weeks from then on. We chose this place specifically because we could get all the work done for the boat. We wanted to install the two new sails, a brand new mainsail, and the genoa sail. Our Genoa sail was still working well, but it was 15 years old, so we diced to replace it as well.
I was happy to finally be sorting out the sails. At first, we wanted to get them done with the guy that worked on the previous sail, a studio in Malaga. Sadly, they couldn’t get it done within our initial time frame. The earliest they could deliver was in December, which would have worked out just fine in retrospect, but I wanted to be on my way to South America by then.
By luck, a contact from Croatia recommended us a guy who could manufacture sails in a few weeks, this time supposedly also included delivery.
Once we found this guy, we totally thought we’d be able to leave the canaries by mid-December since the sails would arrive quickly, and it wouldn’t take too long after that… Delaying the whole schedule was ok for me; after all, We still had more work to do on the boat.
We needed to attach our bowsprit, something we wanted to do since Montenegro. The never-ending story with Montenegro; we couldn’t get it done there because they order the wrong one. 🤦♂️ We learned all too late that they were not the most competent lot.
In Mallorca, we didn’t have the time for it; they were too slow… In Malaga, they could have done it, but we were in the wrong marina for getting that kind of work done. You see, to get it done, we needed a pontoon, which of course they didn’t have… so there we were, hopeful in Lanzarote.
Spoiler alert: it wasn’t until Las Palmas that we resolved our sail situation… But more on that later.
In summary, in the two weeks the boat spent in Puerto Calero, none of the things we thought would get done. Well, we did get our brand new motor in, so I guess that’s something.
Actually, when the guys were ready with the motor and ready to go meet me in Tenerife, the other motor failed. Yup…
In all fairness, when we got the first motor done, the mechanics inspected the other motor; at that point, they said it was still working ok, it could continue to work for another year, also a month, or maybe just another day. So they did warn us.
In the end, we ended up getting two new motors during our time in Lanzarote.
We were lucky because it can easily take 3-4 months to get a new motor to where we were. If that were the case, we would have been stuck in The Canaries for at least that long. Oddly enough, we could get another brand-new motor that was delivered quickly, and it only took a couple of days to get it installed.
We spent the majority of our time in Lanzarote dealing with boat issues. Ordering two new sails and setting up two brand new motors.
…and the time came to start conquering again.
I didn’t stay in Lanzarote to see all the work get done all the way through. After a few days of witnessing Spanish work-ethic at its finest enhanced by a proper dose of island time, I got angsty and made plans for my next move. Soon after, I had made my mind up. I would hop around the islands solo. I would rent a car (or a few) and visit Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, and Tenerife by ferry. This would surely help ease the boredom. I would wait for Josh to arrive with the boat in Tenerife at the end of it all. It turns out the last part of this plan would crumble, but you’ll have to wait for that story.
At least at first, I got my will and left Josh with the boat and the crew and set out to discover the Canaries on my own.
The first destination in my solo escapade was Fuerteventura.
I’ll tell you all about the wonderful time I had in Fuerteventura in my next post.