Leaving Gibraltar, we followed the Portuguese trade winds south to the Canaries. Our progress was not fast but steady. There was quite a lot of shipping in the area which required keeping a sharp watch on the AIS (automatic identification system) and also a visual. A small yacht in glass reinforced plastic does not make a large target on radar for other ships to see, although we do have a radar reflector up the mast.
Sometimes we sailed wing and wing with a poled out head sail. We were treated to views of whales, sea turtles, and hundreds of dolphins. Eventually after an almost 6 day sail on the morning of 3 May she shouted out “Land Ahoy” and sure enough it was Lanzarote rising out of the sea.
Apart from the fact that Lanzarote is the first island that one encounters when sailing in from the north, we had another reason to visit Marina Rubicon and Playa Blanca. We wanted to see Museo Atlantico where an English sculptor had spent 3 years setting up an underwater museum. GR1 (Radar), Violeta (the Little Pirate) and myself decided to dive on as it is 14 metres underwater. Rubicon Diving are the main operator and were very professional. GR2(Squelch) is also a certified diver but on account of recent health issues decided not to join us but rather to explore the town.
There were some very interesting exhibits as in a symbolic Berlin Wall which we swam through. Then there was an RIB totally overloaded with people representing the current refugee crisis on the tiny little island of Lampadeusa, which we visited in 2008. It is an Italian island between Malta and Tunisia. There was a children’s playground with swings and seesaws but instead of children, the occupants were business people in suits! A great experience and thought provoking.
All staff were very friendly and the Dive Master Nico used Violeta’s GoPro to capture the event. Chris, the owner, is Lebanese and had spent 3 years in Auckland around 2000. All round, a great experience.
The following morning Radar, Squelch, and the Little Pirate hired a taxi to look around the southern half of the island. Lanzarote is volcanic and some areas of the south look like a moonscape with the usual geothermal activity.
The Monument to Fertility is central to the island and has been there for many years – it is the heart of the island. I had been on the island of Lanzarote while living in Las Palmas during the oil drilling phase.
We visited One Bar, which was voted best sailor bar in the world twice, and met the owner Jose. He said “do you know where you are?” – as in, are you aware that this is a famous sailors’ bar?! He asked us, “how many people in the world do you think are looking at my website right now?” I said maybe one thousand. He showed me the dashboard – 55,000!! He said he had crossed the Atlantic 14 times and reckoned it would take us 30 days. Well, we hedged our bets and bought food for 30 days. We made the voyage in 25 days – we were both right.
Manuel, the local sailmaker, made repairs to our mainsail which had a rip on the leech that had been taped up but not sewn. He did it on the spot and did not want to be paid for it. I gave him a bottle of wine from the Douro area of Portugal – year 2010 and hope it wasn’t corked. You never know what is in the bowels of our little ship! We left with 82 bottles of grog on board – one always has to be ready to lay a hull.
Lanzarote was an excellent port of call and the locals were very helpful. On 4 May we slipped the lines at 1700hrs and set a course for Las Palmas, Gran Canaria.