23rd to 29th Oct – Rabat to Isla Graciosa, Canary Islands

After a walk into Sale in the morning to stock up on fresh veg and bread, clearance from Moroccan customs and Police was straightforward. A pleasant customs official gave me an orange to eat. The Police did  bring along a  sniffer dog, a big alsatian, who they persuaded with some difficulty to board the boat. But I must say all the officials we dealt with in Morocco were very polite, helpful and cheerful, not at all officious.

Around 3pm the pilot boat lead us out  down the river over the bar and through the outer harbour. We had enjoyed our stay in Morocco. I would heartily recommend a visit, its a crazy lovely place.

There was little wind although the weather site had suggested we would get Northerly winds so it was motoring at first. Later a gentle SW breeze filled in and we could sail, but hard on the wind as the coast trends SW here. Evening found us zigzagging to get past fishing nets. They were buouyed and lit at night and once which end was the landward end and which the seaward end was figured out didn’t pose to much of a problem. There was generally a small open Moroccan fishing boat close at hand and they would shout and wave their arms or flash a light at you if they thought you were going the wrong way.

In our 1st 24 hour period we logged 71 n miles, probably nearer 78 to allow for under reading log, which was not too bad considering the conditions. Alas it was not to last and for the next few days we were plagued with either light headwinds or calms. The forecast northerlies just never arrived. The log was a succession of engine on, engine off sailing again, engine on calm, again over and over again. It was a little frustrating at times. It doesn’t help when you are plotting your position on a passage chart where the passage distance of 470 miles measure about 330 mms so a plot of a 6 hour run consists of 2 points 12 mm apart – it looks so little progress.

You settle in some kind of rhythme as night follows day and without the written log it would be easy  to lose track of the days. Having Merel along to share  the watches was great help, even though sleep was maximum of 3 hours at a stretch  you didn’t get so dog tired and someone else besides myself to talk to.

Even  on our last full day at sea when we did have a NW wind, it came in fits and starts but we were getting closer.The last night fell and we had about 50 miles still to go and now the wind did blow and Sea Bear romped along. At around 11pm some lights high on Lanzaroote were visible. The only trouble was it now looked liked we would arrive off the North end of Lanzarotte in the early hours whilst it was still dark. There are few navigational lights, 1 small lighthouse on Pta Delagade, on of the outlying (uninhabited) islands and the unlit rocky island of Roque del Este. Its not a coast to flirt with in the dark. Some way off then I hove to for an hour or so and when the sky in the east showed signs of lightening let draw again and made for the channel between Lanzarotte and Isla Graciosa.

It certainly is a dramatic landfall. We soon reached the little harbour of Caleto de Sebo on Isla Graciosa. However we were told by a security official who after consulting his clipboard and found the name Sea Bear not on his list that the marina was full. Puzzling really as I could see at a glance at least 8 or more vacant berths. Turned away from the harbour we went and anchored in the next bay at 10 in the morning. The setting  and scenery were breathtaking but somehow I wasn’t expecting these desert islands, sand and volcanic cones set here in the ocean.

Merel , crew on this leg
Merel , crew on this leg
landfall Lanzarotte
landfall Lanzarotte
anchorage at Isla Graciosa
anchorage at Isla Graciosa
Anchored at Isla Graciosa
Anchored at Isla Graciosa