Port Santo - Madeira - La Graciosa - Lanzarote
It was difficult for us to leave Porto Santo.
We had become used going for a jog every morning along the beautiful beach, then going for a swim to check out where the big cuttlefish was each morning, and taking a shower before heading back to the boat for a leisurely breakfast. But afer 2 weeks, we sailed for Madeira.
The plan was to spend the first night in Madeira at anchor in Abra Bay, in the east, and then spend a few days in Funchal. As we rounded the headland into Abra Bay, the anchoraga looked spectacular....but quite foreboding; steep cliffs and deep water with a stiff breeze whistling through the gullys. With only one other boat in the anchorage, it felt very remote. Apart from the temperature, we could have been in the West coast of Scotland.
The next morning, we changed our mind about going to Funchal. The weather forecast was for a strong southwesterly blow, accompanied by a big swell to arrive within 3 days. As Madeira is not a good place to be in a southwesterly, we made a quick decision. We set sail for the Canary Islands that afternoon.
By sunset, we were passing the appropriately named Desertas Islands.
With a constant 15-20 knot wind on the beam we sped south and 2 days later we sighted La Graciosa Island in the north east of the Canaries.
As we rounded the south of La Graciosa we could see that the anchorage in Francesa Bay was crowded but we were glad to drop the anchor and square the boat away before dark. We had expected to be at sea for 3 nights so it was a real bonus to have made such good speed but we were too tired celebrate that night; we slept well.
In the right conditions, Francesa Bay is a real gem of an anchorage.
Ashore there are no tarmac roads: 4x4s and mountain bikes are the norm. The only town, Solado, is a pleasant 40 minute walk from Francesa Bay. With effectively no traffic, the town felt very 'laid back' and could perhaps be a location for a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western.
We liked Solado. Although small, the town has everything you need and even the mass of visitors coming off the ferries from Lanzarote seemed to have little effect on the tranquility of the place. Definitely one of our favourite places.
Back at the anchorage, with boat crews from many nations, the evening gathering on the the beach was lively. Beach cricket was a favourite.
We also walked up the volcano hill overlooking the anchorage. The views were stunning.
Whilst in the anchorage, the Rugby World Cup final was played. We were having breakfast in the cockpit when the final whistle went. With 5 NZ flagged boats anchored around us, we didn't need to be listening to the radio to know the result... and the kiwis didn't miss the opportunity to press the moment home with the French flagged boats - the light blue boat is French!
After about a week, we spotted surfers turning up with their short boards in the bay. This is not a good sign if you are on a boat in an anchorge! Sure enough by evening, a significant swell started to curl round the headland into the anchorage. Some of the yachts anchored nearer the beach looked uncomfortably close to the breaking waves on the reef; they moved by the following morning. After 3 days the swell eased off but with another southwesterly wind forecasted we decided it was time to move on.
We weighed anchor early in the morning and had a pleasant sail down the west coast of Lanzarote, seeing our first turtles of the trip.
We are now in the south of Lanzarote, enjoying the luxuries of Marina Rubicon.
View across to Lanzarote
Rugby World Cup morning