Monday, December 05, 2016

Exploring Tenerife

We sailed over to the island of Tenerife a few days ago. It was only a 40nm sail. We started out motoring and then sailing very slowly, the wind gradually strengthened and shifted until it was on our nose blowing over 20 knots . We had two reefs in the main and only about half the Genoa and we were going like a bat out of hell. It was great after the slow sails we have been having lately.  We stopped at a great anchorage for the south winds, Bahia Abona there was a sand bottom and the holding was super. 
We met another Canadian boat in the anchored, they are from Quebec and they had quite a story.  The parents with their seven children left Canada 5 months ago. The youngest child was only 1 month old when they left. We had them over for coffee and they invited back on board for lunch.  The father Marcus had refinished the interior of the boat so that it would fit the need of his large family.  There were three cabins, one for the parents , one for the girls and one for the guys. He had built an amazing amount of cupboards and drawers for all their belongings, we spent a very pleasant afternoon visiting and I enjoyed making Christmas figures out of playdough with the kids. 
The anchorage became uncomfortable with a wind change so we motored down to a marina. The next day we set off to ascend the highest mountain in Spain, Pico Tiede. It was a great ride up the mountain, forty kilometres the bus zigged and zagged on the switchback to the bottom of the gondola lift in the National Park
We went from sea level to 3550m or 11,660 ft. in one day, I don't think I have ever been higher while having my feet on the ground. 
The peak was very impressive if you look closely at the photo you can see where the gondola ends about five hundred meters from the top. If you wish to climb to the top you have to book well in advance because they have had to limit the number of people going up because of the damage to the environment. We were able to hike around the side so that we could see the three islands to the west of Tenerife, Gomera, La Palma and Hierro.  
There were some absolutely stunning views, this one is of the north of the island with a large city at the upper left of the photo. 
We are hoping to leave today and do another short sail over to Gomera the next island along and possible wait there for a good weather window to go to the Cape Verde Islands. 



Thursday, December 01, 2016

Puerto Mogan

We are on the south side of the island of Gran Canaria and it is tourist central. All along the coast are vacations towns with rows of condos built into the side of the hills.  The cliffs rise up from the sea making for stunning scenery. To the east of us there is an area of sand dunes, the sand having blown over from Africa resulting in a totally different ecosystem.
Yesterday we took a ferry along the coast and then a bus back.  Barry took some great pictures that shows you what a playground in the sun looks like in the Canaries. 
This is Puerto Mogan where we are staying.  When we arrived we anchored at the mouth of the marina. The first two nights were okay but on the third night the wind changed and as there is not protection from the south the waves and the swell rolled in.  Unfortunately they were from different directions so the boat rolled and rocked, neither Barry or I got any sleep. Luckily there was a spot in the marina so we are staying here for two nights, we will leave for Tenerife tomorrow on a good southerly wind. There are not rows and rows of condos here so it feels a little more quaint than the other towns. 
We walked up to a viewpoint above town this morning, it wasn't too far and Barry's back seems to have recovered very well so it was great to stretch our legs. Puerto Mogan has had a settlement in this valley for 1300 years. There are  archeological digs on the other side of the valley the area apparently had good fertile soil, good access to the sea and all it's bounty and of course it's excellent climate . I asked one fellow and he is renting a house for 500 Euros a month, maybe we should live here!!


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Christmas preparations

I am making my shortbread cookies today. It is a little hard to get into the Christmas spirit when it is warm, and there is no snow, and there are palm trees instead of evergreens. I did my best though I put on some Christmas carols and I could not help but be inspired by the voices of Pavarotti and Mihalia Jackson. 
I am pretty sure one of our daughters used to pick off the cherries every year but I still put them on.    There will be no home made Christmas cake this year, I can't find all the ingredients, the cherries and the peel and Barry says that 2 1/2 hours of cooking uses up too much propane. I was thinking of substituting figs and dates for the cherries, etc. but that might have been like the year I tried to make a no candy decorated gingerbread house, it was creative and unusual just a bit lame though!!  Hope everyone is getting into the spirit of Christmas and enjoying your Christmas baking. 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Gran Canaria

We spent a week exploring around the city of Las Palmas on the Island of Gran Canaria. Las Palmas is a big city with a population of over 400,000. This cathedral is called Santa Ana, we got to go up to the top and take in the view but the rest was not open to the public. 
We also visited a museum of Christopher Columbus. He stopped here on his voyages to the new world. It is about 500nm from Spain and was a logical place to reprovision. We learned that the inhabitants of the Canary Islands were made to emigrate and made up much of the population of Cuba. They also settled in Texas and Florida. 
We went to a science museum and enjoyed trying out the exhibits. They had puzzles of shapes that you had to manipulate and textures that you had to try and match to it's mate by feel, Barry enjoyed getting in the F-5 cockpit. 
The next day we took a bus to the town of Galdar, where there are painted caves.  These painting were made 3,000 years ago and they are protected in a sealed space which is climate controlled.  There is a huge excavation around the cave and these ancient homes were excavated. They have done a great job of protecting the area and there were very informative films about the original inhabitants. We went to another museum which was the hope me of a former artist. There was a great display of dried gourds called calabashes. 
The drive on the bus was very scenic as we travelled along the coastline. 
Galdar was located at the bottom of this treeless hill. We are currently underway heading to the south of the island.  There are supposed to be some good dive sites there and we haven't been diving since we were in Cuba, it's time. 


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Exploring

We took a bus to the north end of the island.  It was very volcanic along no the shore and there were some lovely cliffs along the shore. 
We found some crab shells along the shore.  They do not seem to offered on any menus on the island so perhaps they need to grow a bit larger. 
There were a couple of dwellings along the shore.  They had stacked up lava as their walls , I imagine that the insides were quite dark and dingy. 
On the weekends there is a huge market in a town about thirty kilometres from where we were staying.  We went on the bus with a couple from Austria, there were lots of booths, but not as many food stalls as I thought there would be.  We happened on a demonstration of traditional Canarian dancing. I really enjoyed it. 

At one end of the market there was a demon of some king blowing a conch shell,  I loved his outfit. 
We waited almost a week extra to meet up with our buddies, Kathy and Jeremy from Sal Darago. We last saw them in Antigua, in the Caribbean and we first met them in Cookstown, Australia. We sailed up the east coast of Aus. with them, through Indonesia, across the Indian Ocean, hiking in all sorts of wonderful locations. We hung out with them in South Africa, Namibia, and St. Helena, they travelled the same path as us and them after Antigua they went h me to England and completed their circumnavigation. It was wonderful to see them again, we had sundowners three days Ina row and played bridge one night, the women cleaned up, just so you know. It was a slice. 
That is what it is all about, the people you meet and the memories you make. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Exploring Lanzarote

I We were waiting here in Arrecife on the island of Lanzarote for some mail from Canada. Thanks to Barry's sister Kim for sending on the package, it arrived safely. Friends of ours from the sailing vessel Sal Darago are currently in Morocco just a few hundred miles away. We sailed on and off with them from Cookstown, Australia to Antigua in the Caribbean. We are in no particular hurry so we have decided to wait for them here. Meanwhile we have been exploring the island of Lanzarote. It is small but filled with beautiful landscape and interesting towns. 

The first place we visited was the former home of Cesar Marique, an artist who was vey influential in way Lanzarote was developed for the tourist trade. He built his home in a lava tunnel and most of it was below the ground, there were skylight in some of the room and the whitewash on parts of the walls made it so that it did not seem dark and dingy. It was quite fascinating what could be down with the landscape to make a very unusual home. 
We headed down to the south coast to Playa Blanca and found a very touristy little town and did what most of you think we do all the time, we had a lovely meal in the sunshine looking out of the ocean and sipping on a jug of Sangrai. It was lovely and relaxing to just sit and take in the atmosphere. We are traveling around on local buses which are inexpensive, clean and run pretty much on time, what more can you ask for. 
A few days later the west coast was our destination. We discovered an all inclusive Club Med type of establishment. It had a very sheltered lagoon where you could kayak, SUP and wind surf. We headed to the coast line and scrambled around on the lava. I figured it was time to build an Inukshuk as well. 


I am sorry to report the tide pools we very unexciting, there were no fish in them just a few small snails in boring white shells. I was wishing my grandchildren had been there with me to help me explore, I remember sitting beside some great tidepools in Australia with them. 
We walked into to town to find some lunch as it was unlikely that the exclusive resort would consider serving us. On the way we saw this very colourful fishing boat sitting on this trailer ready to go back in the water at high tide. 
We walked to the local fine arts museum. It is housed in a former fortress which protected the harbour in earlier centuries.  It certainly is an inspired use of the building which was renovated to house the fine arts collection. Cesar Manrique's influence can be seen in the set up of the restaurant which was on the ground floor, his touch can be seen in many of the islands tourist attractions. 

Monday, October 31, 2016

Lanzarote

We are in a marina on the island of Lanzarote. We went with another couple on a trip around the island in their rental car. The island is volcanic and we took a trip in a bus around an area that looked like a lunar landscape. Someone mentioned that astronauts are here training for a mission to Mars. It was absolutely beautiful the landscaped looked like this as far as the eye could see. 
We headed down to the north end of the island and went to a look out where we could see all of the island of Graciosa, Lanzarote is only about 50 kilometres long, so getting around the island does not take very long. 
There is an anchorage in the southern bay and it is very popular, it has a lovely beach and there are good hiking trails along the island. There is a well known artist that had a great influence over the island who has designed the symbols for the attractions on the island and even directed the way progress ha proceeded on the island.  None of the buildings are allowed to be over three stories high and everything is painted white. 
We headed off to lava tunnels that the artist has redesigned into an underground grotto with restaurants, bars and a swimming pool. 

There is another lava tunnel that we want to visit tomorrow which is not developed. We also intend to visit the house of the artist Cesar Manrique. Next we went to the Cactus Garden. It was packed with different kinds of cacti which were beautifully arranged in a sunken garden. 

It was a super day spent with our pontoon mates from Australia. Thanks for the invite guys.