Approach to Lanzarote. Sun, black rocks and the endless expanse of the Atlantic. We can’t quite believe it yet. We actually did it. Travel is allowed, but there are strict test requirements in France, where we live, and on Lanzarote, where the corona warning light is on ‘brown’ when we arrive in February 2021.
On the short way from the airport to the Marina Lanzarote along the streets lined with flowers and palm trees, the previous efforts and concerns fade away. Jan from Lava Charter welcomes us in a deserted marina and immediately creates a holiday mood. We have exchanged more than 50 emails with him over the past few months. Sometimes the trip looked good, sometimes less. But now we’re here and have a coffee together first. Our boat is called Pitufo, a Bavaria Cruiser 37. Pitufo means smurf in Spanish. She doesn’t seem like a Smurf to us, especially since we are a three ‐ person family crew with my wife Indra and my 12 ‐ year ‐ old son Balthasar, who usually charter one or two boat classes smaller. But in this area we were happy to oppose the Atlantic a bit more.
Jan shows us the salon. “That’s overkill for three people,” I come out of. Jan suppresses laughter professionally. The ship looks like new and is much better equipped than the typical Mediterranean charter ship. The squid with Canarian potatoes for dinner is delicious. Restaurants are open on the island. After 6 p.m. only to take away. But why do you have the large salon?
We’ll take it easy on the first morning. Breakfast on deck in the sun, safety briefing, a chat with the boat neighbors from the yacht school, then the first casting off maneuver. The wide streets are immediately noticeable. In the Mediterranean, casting off would not have been so relaxed in the offshore wind.
In the harbor basin we pass TUI’s super steamer “Mein Schiff 2”. A couple of lost figures in masks wave longingly at us. The deep blue Atlantic greets us right behind the pier. “Already different”, Indra comments on the now noticeable Atlantic wave. The wind is perfect at 16 knots but comes straight ahead. Long cruising is still unusual in the swell and not exactly stomach-friendly. Lower deck activities are initially not the order of the day. With the overwhelming view of the wild north coast of Lanzarote, nothing drives us below deck. The waves increase towards the northern tip to 2 1/2 meters. While Indra and I bravely chew on our ginger roots, Balthasar is visibly enthusiastic about the wave spectacle. No sign of seasickness. At least one true blue water sailor in the family! Only at sunset do we circle the northern tip of Lanzarote with the imposing Farion de Afuera. Us
A truly grandiose view of the island of la Graciosa and the cliffs of Lanzarote in the sunset opens up. We couldn’t have believed that 48 hours ago! The approach to the dark harbor of Caleta del Sebo after sunset turns out to be confusing but quite feasible. As everywhere in the area, we are actively helped by the harbor staff and other sailors with mooring.
Days 3 and 4
Only the next morning we see how ingeniously beautiful the port of Caleto del Sebo is, framed by the imposing cliffs of Lanzarote on one side and the picturesque village with its flat, white houses and sandy streets on the other. Add to that 23 degrees, blue skies and sun not bad for February! The two long floating jetties of the marina are only half filled with sailing and fishing boats. Locals and circumnavigators, who sit out the pandemic here, form a nice community in which to live
feels accepted quickly. Caleto del Sebo reminds me of old art films from the 50s. The pandemic does not seem to have changed the place any further, especially since time has stood still here anyway. The difference is then noticeable on the natural beaches. In my opinion, these are among the most beautiful in the Canary Islands and are otherwise a magnet for day tourists from Lanzarote. “May we be here?” Asks Balthasar, who is amazed at the miles of sandy beaches without people. You have to get used to the lonely beauty first. In the late afternoon the weather changes suddenly and within minutes a reddish layer of haze covers the island. The calima is here. A warm desert wind that blows Saharan dust from Africa, but better than its reputation is. At least most.
I’m brooding. Shall we stay another day? After all, there are 40 nautical miles between la Graciosa and Marina Rubicon on the southern tip of Lanzarote with no alternative port. The southwestern Calima can get very gusty and you can’t really see the coast in the haze. But lose another day of sailing? Indra isn’t brooding about that:
“Of course we’ll stay here. What should we let ourselves drift around in the dust of the Atlantic when it’s so beautiful here?” Balthasar is also looking forward to the extra day on La Graciosa because he can finally try the stand-up paddle in the protected harbor.
There is hardly any shipping traffic, but the strong gusts force it against the ships again and again with loud cursing. The next day the haze is almost gone, but the gusty wind still lingers. We enjoy the day on the beach and in the only restaurant on the island that is open.
The ambitious skipper should consider calling at La Graciosa with his family – the risk is too great that the stopover will turn into several island days … it’s just too beautiful up there!
The next morning it goes back to Lanzarote. Because of the Calima, I have followed the weather and sea conditions closely, especially since there is no alternative port between Caleta del Sebo and Marina Rubicon, 40 nautical miles away on the southern tip of Lanzarote. But it couldn’t have been nicer. With the
At the last foothills of the Calima we rush along the coast at 18 knots of half wind, past the famous Timanfaya National Park and the rocks of Los Hervideros, where the surf shoots up on the lava cliffs. The Pitufo swallows the sometimes strong gusts bravely, but then they get too much and let us take another reef. In the forty nautical miles we don’t see a single ship, not even on the horizon. The trepidation quickly turns into a feeling of infinite freedom. The lighthouse of Punto Pechiguera, which is the southern tip of
Lanzarote is marked, is reached faster than we would like, and we are preparing for the approach to Marina Rubicon. In the marina we can moor in a sophisticated box for large ships, right next to an excursion steamer. Balthasar is disappointed: “The tourists will trample us on the boat tomorrow morning!”. “No pasa nada”, waves the harbor master aside. The ship was last moved four weeks ago. We walk through the flower-filled Marina Rubicon, past clothing and souvenir shops. All luxurious.
All closed. Without people, we feel in the uniformly designed marina like in the computer simulation of an architecture office. We register at the marina office. The joy is great: “Pitufo is back! Welcome! So nice to see you!” As is so often the case this week, we feel like harbingers of a better time. They still exist, the tourists! In the evening we look for a restaurant that might be open. We see a handful of people standing next to a large menu card. You can only hear French under the masks, which is quite appropriate for studying a menu card. We feel as if we are hungry as a bear and order half the menu to take away. Dinner on the ship is much better than you are used to from your own galley. “Super delicious! We’re going there again tomorrow at noon,” enthuses Indra. Not that we have a choice … But what do you need a choice for when it’s good the way it is.
The next morning we have to take care of the PCR tests, a requirement for re-entry to France. The Biolab in Puerto del Carmen was recommended to us, especially as it guarantees that the test will be processed in 48 hours. After a 30-minute taxi ride, at 9 a.m. we meet a long queue with many familiar faces from the outward flight from Paris. We’ll be back in the marina around noon. Half a day is lost like this. But that’s the price we’re happy to pay for the privilege of even being able to take a vacation during a pandemic. Yesterday’s restaurant is now well attended, especially since you can serve lunch on the terrace. A feeling of holiday normality arises.
We order paella. The waiter is overjoyed. We wait a long time, but it’s delicious. Things that cannot be taken for granted are known to be enjoyed all the more. The motto of this sailing trip. Indra and Balthasar’s enthusiasm to still sail to the parrot beaches ‘around the corner’ to anchor there (supposed to be a highlight) is limited. They prefer to explore the area on foot and walk to the parrot beaches. “Didn’t you also say that the Calima blows from the wrong direction to anchor?” – “He’ll probably fall asleep tonight. According to the forecast, at least. Around midnight or something.” I sound unconvincing. From the marina a steep cliff path with a panoramic view towards Fuerteventura leads directly to the nature reserve San Marcial del Rubicon with its beautiful natural beaches. Just three families lose themselves in the afternoon sun on the famous Playa Mujeres beach. The mood couldn’t be nicer. In fact, a sailing ship is anchored in front of the beach. The Calima has already fallen asleep. If only one had … Anyway, also so beautiful.
Now our last stroke from Marina Rubicon comes back to Marina Lanzarote in Arrecife. The Atlantic shows its unusually tame side. The sea is calm and we cruise comfortably against the 10 knots of wind. The only ship we see is the coast guard, which passes us close to us, first suspiciously, then waving in a friendly manner. Five nautical miles from Arrecife the wind then completely falls asleep. The first time that we have to drive this week. The return of the boat turns out to be unusually slowed down. Four Marina employees help us with refueling. In the Mediterranean there are usually four boats per employee. We chat while refueling. There is no rush, especially since we are probably the only customers today. Jan is happy that everything went well. Again we chat tightly. Balthasar is bored with adult talk, whereupon Jan gives him the keys to the other charter boats in order to scout them out. Overjoyed, he leaves and has disappeared for a long time. We celebrate with the neighboring crew of the training ship for the successful yacht master. We arrive on time so that we can even eat at the seat in the marine restaurant. Pure luxury for us. There is also pizza with dates in the Lanzarote style.
It was a total of 110 nautical miles to sail around Lanzarote once. The potential six days of sailing have turned into three. That is tough for the ambitious charter sailor. If you are allowed to go on the water … On the other hand, while family sailing I learned very quickly not to go through a compulsory program, just to take all the highlights and miles with me. You can do that once. The next year, however, you shouldn’t be surprised if it’s a vacation on the farm. This is especially true for the Canary Islands. It remains an offshore area. But if you are ready to get involved, it can turn into an unforgettable sailing experience for the whole family. The pandemic has helped us to get involved in the moment and just enjoy what is possible without chasing after preconceived expectations. For us, this week will forever be remembered as a very special family experience.
We would like to thank this great family very much for this great trip report and look forward to seeing you again soon!
Fair winds and best regards,
Your Lava Charter Team