Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Canary Islands

We made landfall in Graciosa, a little spec of an island on the northern end of the chain of 7 islands that are the Canaries.

The Canaries are technically part of Spain, but certainly feel like their own world, and the people are quick to explain that they are Canarians first, Spaniards second. The islands on the east side, are all volcanic and look like the surface of the moon, very stark and very little vegetation, but beautiful in a unique way. A lot of vistas and mountains look a bit like Arizona, where we are from, but with the added bonus of being surrounded by a gorgeous blue sea.

Graciosa is a sleepy village with sand streets and low, white washed houses with large porches for staring at the sea. It has a collection of a few hippie folks who came to visit from around the world and apparently never left. There are 3 little markets, and it takes visiting all 3 to collect what you need, but a fun undertaking, nonetheless.

The wind was quite strong for several days, and the anchorage we were at was not the most comfortable, but we toughed it out and then headed south to the next island, Lanzarote. We wrapped around the bottom of the island, another 35 miles south, and anchored in a bay right outside a marina, and next to a large resort town called Playa Blanca. We met up with some friends, on Begonia, and Imagine. Begonia was heading west to meet friends on another island so we hung out for almost a week, working on boat projects and getting things ready for the crossing. We rented a car one day and drove to the other side of the island where there is a large, inexpensive grocery store, and we did another provision for the next few months. It takes a staggering amount of food and planning to feed 8 people and try to predict what well need the most of.

We then sailed to the next island, Fuertaventura (big adventure) and found a great village called Gran Tarajal. It is neatly manicured and every planter is cleaned and raked everyday, a very clean place. As an added bonus, the town marina is the cheapest in the Canaries, something every cruiser is ALL about, so we relaxed for a few days. We had a sail repaired in the marina from a guy living and working on his boat, and as the crossing is starting to loom, feel like we’re getting things in order. We’ve also spent a lot of time researching the right medication for Senegal and Gambia, both malaria prone areas, and getting things like mosquito nets for all the beds.

We’re excited to see Gambia and Senegal, but part of us is wanting to get on to the crossing, as the anticipation seems to just keep building and building. I’m sure we’ll be really glad we went to west Africa, and there really is no better way to see it than from your own boat, I mean, when else might we be in this part of the world with this amazing opportunity?

We’re moving on toward Dakar, Senegal in the next few days. Again, our longest passage yet, 800 miles and about a week at sea, and almost ½ as long as the passage across the Atlantic. The Atlantic crossing will be approximately 2000 miles. Baby steps, right?!

If we don’t post again before we leave, we’ll see you from Senegal!  


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