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Brighton Belle’s winter in the Canaries Lanzarote, 12th to 19th November 2016

Brighton Belle’s winter in the Canaries 
Lanzarote, 12th to 19th November 2016

I write this as a bit of a novice sea sailor, half way through my Day Skipper theory course and a complete newcomer to Brighton Belle. What a wonderful boat you have! Here's a brief report of her late November outing around Lanzarote.

We, the fresh new crew of three complete strangers to each other, joined skipper Fiona, first mate Joan and back up skipper Jane D at Playa Blanca on Saturday 12th November. They'd had a week out there already. Reports of the previous weeks adventures were recounted to us with big reassuring smiles over that first dinner…a great week with just a bit of high winds, rain, sickness, and much fun. We were assured that the forecast for our week was better. And it was. The North Easterlies kept fairly steady, gusting 25 ish and then veering easterly, the rain kept away, clouds were a rarity and temperatures were into the 20s (with a bit of cooling from the constant wind). We had some dramatic sunsets and the delight of the 'largest' moon for seventy years.

We left the glitz of Rubicon Marina, quickly learned the ropes and had a great days sail up to Arrecife gazing over to the low-rise build and dramatic volcanoes. Fiona manoeuvred us expertly into Arrecife marina, past semi submerged statues of horsemen. A fairly tortuous time doing paperwork was rewarded with discovering the fabulous 'La Tabernita del Charco' restaurant. One of the delights of Lanzarote was the local fish. It was the end of the tuna fishing season, the local tuna was sublime, all other food too. We ate outside overlooking the inner harbour and up at the stars at this highly recommended restaurant.

Day two took us up the rest of the less developed east coast, around the dramatic north east headland into the channel between the sheer drop of the north end of Lanzarote and the lower lying island of Graciosa. It was an impressive approach. The anchorage at Playa Francesca was busy despite it being the low season, definitely the time to be there we gathered. We were one of about twelve vessels. Successful anchoring followed by a bit of fettling, and then that well-earned sundowner. Aptly named, we supped as we bobbed around and watched the sun go down in the west and the huge moon rise above the volcanic cliffs in the east.

That was the first of our two nights of anchor watch, we held firm, as did everyone else. The next day was our island day. Off in the dinghy to explore Graciosa island, its sandy beaches and Wild West style town. It was hot! It was great to swim from the beach. Swimming from Brighton Belle was not for me but the slightly wild sea didn't defeat Fiona or Jane, no stopping those two. We all loved Graciosa, a protected landscape, no tarmac, quiet and dramatic, with many rules for anchoring. Another evening of sunset and moonrise, anchor watch and good food. A bonus was the encounter with young Calypso and her partner on their 'sail repair' boat. The young French pair were en route to Brazil in their newly acquired, brightly painted old boat and were well equipped to help us out with a repair to a main sail traveller and the bimini cover. It was great timing.

Farewell to Graciosa and a good day's sail down the west coast back to Playa Blanca and Rubicon Marina with constant chat about the sails, winds, tides, bearings and all things nautical. We kept anticipating hitting the famous 'accelerator winds' that sweep down between the islands, Fiona and crew had experienced them the previous week. Safely back to Rubican in her berth by 'Lady Russ' Tapas bar and to the Blue Note Jazz Bar for after dinner drinks. Lulled to sleep by the 'Tom Jones' style performer at Lady Russ. You win some …

We took Brighton Belle out south to Lobos Island off Fuertaventura on our final sailing day. Great Day Skipper practice for me down in the chart room (normally Joan's territory) but have to confess that others came to the rescue as we approached the anchorage. Final lovely lunch on deck as it was too windy and far to take the dinghy ashore and then back across the channel to Rubicon.Our last day – a day of pottering, Fiona and Joan doing lots of boat stuff, all hands on deck for scrubbing tying and tidying and final meal out (more delicious local tuna) at 'La Petite Marmite'.

Highlights? Brighton Belle itself, such great sailing on a lovely boat; learning so much from Fiona, Joan and Jane, Petra's nimble rope work, John's pictures; arriving at Graciosa and such splendid sights there; a week away on the sea, in November, in the sun, in great company, what more can you ask for? Thank you all. Now back to my day Skipper homework…

Jane Brantom



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