Cruise 26 November - 3 December 2016
Bob Williams (skipper), Paul Taylor (mate), Steven Avery, Lynn Riley, Charles Wellingham, Mike Maddox.
Our week-long cruise gave us an opportunity to enjoy many aspects of Lanzarote: its rich cultural heritage, magnificent landscapes and comfortable, varied sailing, with the crew taking turns and sharing the helming fun.
We set sail on Sunday, making good use of a steady south easterly to cross the 7-mile channel between Lanzarote and Fuerteventura in around an hour and a half. The smaller 1-mile wide channel between Fuerteventura and Isla de Lobos to its north produces some strongly accelerated winds; a fact not lost on the many kite surfers whose multi-coloured canopies filled the sky above the channel as we sailed through.
Our destination was Puerto del Rosario, Fuerteventura's main city and commercial port, where we spent a comfortable evening at anchor, enjoying a robust and tasty dinner prepared by Steven, not to mention a few excellent bottles of white wine from Rioja.
On the Monday we returned to Rubicón, as a convenient stepping off point for the next leg of the journey to Isla Graciosa to the north of Lanzarote. Given the weather forecast, Bob proposed we go against the standing advice and sail round the island in a clockwise direction. This turned out to be a good decision. The wind was light that day, but in the morning at least, it gave us the chance to reach west under all the white sail we could muster (including our mizzen and fore staysails) before beginning our journey up the island's west coast.
We arrived in the late afternoon at Graciosa, settled in to our anchorage and decided to use the final couple of hours of daylight to make an expedition ashore, for a bit of sightseeing and to stretch our legs after a couple of days aboard. In Caleta del Sebo, Graciosa's port, we grabbed a few items of grocery and some fabulous cheesecake from the local patisserie and then set off back to the boat, just after sunset. It was dark when we got back to the beach where we had left the tender and after a struggle and a good deal of comedy trying to get the tender and four passengers off a wave-washed shore, we reached Brighton Belle in good time for Lynn and Paul to whip up a tasty Moroccan Chicken as the evening meal aboard.
On the next day, we passed through Estrechos del Río, the straights between Graciosa and Lanzarote, in the lee of the island's northern cliffs. When we rounded Punta Fariones in the north, we cleared the island's wind-shadow and sailed south in a delicious 20 knot south-easterly, destination Arrecife.
We got a hammerhead berth at Marina Lanzarote, the island's newest and most up-market marina, a good place from which to explore the city and the island's interior. We wined and dined ourselves in style in a restaurant on the quay of the city lagoon, which offers a simple harbour to fishing boats and small-craft.
The next day little wind was forecast, so we took the opportunity to hire a car and explore the island by land.
The pleasure and interest of the day was provided overwhelmingly by a co-production between nature and César Manrique, the Lanzarotean artist and architect who has arguably made the most important contribution to the island's cultural heritage.
Manrique's work is profoundly influenced by his love of Lanzarote's natural environment. His standing as an international artist gave him influence within the island's political sphere and he was able to establish an urban planning regime that restricts high-rise development and to which the much of the charm and attractiveness of the island's settlements is owed.
We visited the Manrique Foundation's exhibition on his work and two spectacular architectural works. The first was the Mirador del Río, a viewpoint perched high on Lanzarote's northern cliffs, overlooking the Estrechos del Río and Caleta del Sebo on Isla Graciosa. The viewpoint is built from local lava and consists of an indoor gallery with giant picture windows, an extensive balcony in front of it and another viewing terrace on its roof.
The second work was Jameos del Agua. Manrique transformed a section of a natural lava tube into a series of enchanting public spaces: a restaurant; a vast cavern containing a sea-water lake; a swimming pool; and finally a concert hall. Lava tubes are formed when hot lava continues running within a cooled and solidified crust, until it is exhausted and a natural void is left. In several parts of the Jameos del Agua lava tube, the roof of the tube has collapsed, leaving natural light to bathe the spaces that the architect created.
We returned to Rubicón on the last day and enjoyed a final dinner at one of our favourite restaurants there, washed down with a couple of bottles of splendid Lanzarotean red wine.
Brighton Belle behaved impeccably throughout the cruise, despite the service batteries nearing the end of their useful life. We took advantage of the several stops we made at Marina Rubicón to make contact with the local boatyard with a view to potentially getting the batteries replaced there.
Highlights of the cruise: Manrique's Jameos del Agua and Mirador del Río. Anchoring at La Graciosa. The sail south to Arrecife from La Graciosa.
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