Gran Canaria, Canary islands

The sail to Gran Canaria:

On Tuesday 10th of November we left Lagos, Portugal in the afternoon. The weather forecast promised calm weather for several days!

We calculated it would take around 5 days to cross parts of the Atlantic and get to Gran Canaria. Started out with good winds making 7 knots for about 40 Nautical miles. After that we lost most wind and had to go by motor for about two days. We put up the Gennaker in the noon of the 12th and kept it that way until the sunset. We then switched to Genoa, no main. We sailed until around 01AM in the night where we lost the wind again, had to start the engine once more. 

Next evening we were surprised by a noise outside, looked up and the sea was filled with luminous Dolphins glittering from a new kind of Mareel we hadn’t seen before. All this while we had a lit candle and music in the cockpit! :) 

In the morning of the 13th we put up the genoa again using the spinnaker pole as well. We kept this setup all day, night and the day after. On the 14th we added half the main sail, the wind having changed from east to south east. We put up a preventer line on the boom so that it doesn’t move around too much. Via Satellite we hear the sad news of the happenings in Paris..

On the morning of the 15th we could spot Gran Canaria in the distance! We had a wonderful sail during the day and close to nightfall the wind disappeared, we continued by motor and witnessed a perfect sunset without any pollution in the air - making the sun stay white/yellow all the way down past the horizon! 

In the dark in the distance we can see our friend John Karlsson from my hometown with his two daughters. They were shouting and welcoming us! On the pier another friend we know were shining a light for us showing which berth to choose. Once again we were in the same marina having been in proximity back in Stockholm archipelago all winter! :)

After a few days on Gran Canaria Janne flew home to visit his family and attend a funeral. Before he left we managed to squeeze in a few days of scootering in the mountain and a visit to Las Palmas where we met some people preparing for the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers!

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Snippets from my Journal - 25th of November to 2nd of December:

“Time to get organised with this Journal Writing again. 

I have a genuinely hard time remembering what went on just a few days before the present because it is nonstop action, the days look alike so it is hard to keep them apart. Keeping a journal will probably help me collect my thoughts and give me a sense of peace too so it’s a win any way you look at it.

25th of November:

During the day of Reids arrival i had to exchange my scooter for a car because i was taking the camping gear with me, so that was the first thing i did in the morning. I went straight to Las Palmas to pick up a permit for me and Reid so that we could tent up in the great pine forest of Tamadaba on the west coast of GC. I was back on the boat around 1PM and had to do the last packing and checking of gear. 

Time went by really quickly so not long after i was on my way over to the airport to pick up Reid. Reid is a young sailor usually in a group sailing activity on the west coast of Sweden on a school ship called Atene. I thought prior he would arrive on the 26th along with Hans, but i was wrong so i asked Reid if he wanted to tent straight away when he arrived - which he was up for! 

Camping together up in a cold, windy and super moist place set the stage for a great way of getting to know each other. Solving problems in the dark of night, half and half in a cloud with the full moon of the 25th shining through and illuminating the forest. While driving up to the mountains i thought we would find a super market along the way to pick up some fuel for the camper kitchen but we didn’t. So when we arrived we decided to make a fire with wood instead. Luckily there was some pieces left there from someone being there earlier in the day. Problem was, everything was damp. To paint a picture of how damp it was; we couldn’t start a fire with toilet paper we found up there, it was so moist we had to put the lighter to it for quite a while and even then it went out over and over. 

Reid found some really thin and dry branches which we managed to dry out with a small fire and after about 1.5hr of work we finally had a working fire so that we could cook up some water and get our evening meal. This was an awesome way to get to know a new person, both the problem solving, the uncomfortable feeling of standing in strong winds trying to light a fire while getting colder and colder. Once we had the fire up we could relax and enjoy the evening before we went to sleep. 

When we arrived in Tamadaba the wind wasn’t as strong as it was later on when we tried to sleep, so quite lazily i hadn’t put up the storm lines for the tent. The ground was very solid and i had to use a big piece of wood to drive the pins into the ground. Anyhow once we were inside the wind were so strong it sounded like a continuous waterfall outside. Not long after - since i worried about the safety of the tent - we decided to go out and check everything and properly use the storm lines. Ended up securing the tent better than i ever done before. Even after securing the tent i had trouble going to sleep having flashbacks from a time back in the Swedish mountains where the wind was so strong we thought the tent would lift and carry us away. :)

I have quite an analysing mind so when it’s a rough situation at sea i have trouble sleeping too. My worry this time was that the direction of the wind would change so that we would no longer be protected by the stone wall we found shelter at. :)  

Reid slept more soundly than me but i think i managed to get 4-5 hours sleep after all which is ok. When we woke up a lady in a big pickup truck bounced in leaving a small cloud of smoke - old car with no modern exhaustion system. She told us we were camping in the wrong place, we thought the recreation area was for tenting but apparently there is a day camp area for people having a picnic and one for the camping community. Anyhow i were happy we stayed at the recreation area where this stone wall protected us from most of the wind all through the night.

26th of November:

We decided to not stick around too long in the morning and started out driving over to the tenting grounds to see what it looked like, took a short walk to the edge of the cliffs to get a view of the west coast of Gran Canaria, then we drove off inland to Tejeda to have some brunch. 

Then we drove up past Roque Nublo - one of the high peak rock formations - which was covered in clouds so we decided to move further north and down the other side to Valleseco a small town in the mountains where we did another pit stop to have a smoothie. We didn’t stick around too long but had a walk around the neighbourhood. One thing i’ve noticed in Spain and Portugal is that they sometimes place kid playgrounds in scenic places.  

After Valleseco we drove downhill to Teror on lush serpentine roads. Soon we spotted the town in the distance with all it’s white buildings on various altitudes. When we arrived in Teror the GPS tricked me into very narrow alleys which was fun because we got to see a different part of Teror - other than the main road. We made no stop in Teror and continued to Firgas further North and there we got in to a small bar and had some tapas dishes and a coffee. 

We spent an hour or so in the bar eating and talking with people. One of the tapas dishes was a local cheese made of goat milk which tasted superb so we had to ask him where we could find this cheese, apparently the supermarket have them in stock so we will try to find some for the atlantic crossing. From my experience Chevré and other goat cheese are soft, but this one tasted a bit like Parmesan and had the same texture. We also picked up some local wine in there which we planned to share with Hans the second crew member that we were gonna pick up at the Airport later that evening.

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27th of November:

Had to bring the car back to the renting place and swapped back to the scooter. The other guys wanted in on the action but unfortunately Reid hadn’t had his drivers license long enough to be driving a motorcycle. No biggie, i just had to take him around on mine. It was quite a different story having another 70KG on the bike but after a while i got used to taking turns differently and breaking earlier etc. 

Hans was mesmerised by the surroundings, and it’s no wonder because this island is such a beautiful and scenic place. We set off straight up in the mountains once more to the highest peak which again was covered in clouds and it was super cold up there. For the second time i found myself wearing to few clothes, should’ve learned the first time around but i didn’t. Both me and Hans was severely cold when we finally got down the other side of the mountain, i blocked all wind and rain so Reid behind me was pretty comfortable - he said. :) 

We will go back up there on a clear and sunny day because we got a taste for what the views would look like when there is no clouds obstructing the view. We continued north east up to Las Palmas via Telde to visit the Vega-guys who had arrived earlier that day. They are planning to sell their boat in Las Palmas and two of them will be flying home in the weeks to come. Marcus is determined to do the crossing so he will join us on Sunday!

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28th of November:

Hans went on a 10 hour scooter drive while me and Reid started cleaning the interior of the boat thoroughly.

I calculated what we needed to buy for the Atlantic Crossing and later in the day we spent 2-3hrs in a chaotic super market in Vecandario. I did the Laundry and started downloading the Navionics maps for Cape Verde and the Caribbean. A Productive day! In the evening Janne landed at the Airport and Reid went there to pick him up. Had a nice chat with Hans while they were gone. When they arrived we had some wine and i was very tired so i went out earlier than normal. My new ear plugs did wonders!

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29th of November:

Today i started my day by taking a shower and taking a 40min stroll around the neighbourhood of Pasito Blanco. Our plan is to split the group in two. Hans and Janne will fix the engine (oil change, oil filter, fuel filter, water filter in the sink, clean the water line and change impeller.

Me and Reid will clean the interior. Plan storage of food and make a topographic overview and a list so that we know what we have left. 

Later this afternoon the Vega-guys will show up for a final visit. Marcus will move on board so we need to have space when they all arrive.

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30th of November:

First day on Scooters for Marcus, went straight to the renting place and then up through San Bartolome to Bentayga, climbed the mountain showing him around and then drove down to Tejeda for a super delicious tapas with more of that Canary cheese! Afterwards we drove a new road down to Mogán which was the most fun part to drive so far! Could drive fast and the road was going up and down and around.. :) In the evening we went down to Maspalomas to have a beer in an Irish pub.

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1st of December - Birthday! 

Today me and Marcus went for yet another ride in the mountains. I’m aiming to cover most of the island so we went on the motorway to Vecandario and up to Saint Lucia. We made a short pit stop in Vecandario because Marcus bike sounded like it was falling apart… It was just a loose shield on the exhaustion system.

The trip up to Saint Lucia blew our minds, this seems to be a daily thing here on Gran Canaria, every new road leading up to the mountains are breathtaking. 

Once we got to Saint Lucia the clouds started accumulating while we were having lunch in a restaurant. It was still sunny when we left so we decided do take a small detour north instead of straight west to San Bartolome. Proved to be a great idea since it was the most beautiful part yet, the roads were old and the houses along the road was tiny and genuine. We decided to go back tomorrow and strap on the GoPro and get it on cam for the blog. :)

In San Bartolome we refuelled and set off down the road to Maspalomas via Fataga. The rain started to drizzle lightly at first and Marcus who had no jacket needed a break in Fataga so we had some tea there. While we sat there the rain started to increase in intensity. We decided to get going since the sun was setting and it would just get colder the longer we waited. We swapped my jacket back and forth during the ride back and got home safely around 6:30PM. 

Great birthday driving around the island, had tons of people writing me messages, never had so many wishing me well before! :-)

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2nd of December

As planned we drove back up to Saint Lucia while Janne and Reid went to IKEA to pick up some traditional Swedish food for Christmas. This will be the second time me and Janne celebrate Christmas on the Atlantic Ocean! :)

We filmed the clip and drove all the way up to the top because the weather was clear and sunny. Got a wonderful view up there with no clouds obstructing the view. We even saw Tenerife in the distance! 

Please note that it looks faster than it is due to the Fish eye lense of GoPro.

Panorama from the highest point of Gran Canaria. You can see Tenerife in the background in the upper right corner.

At the top we found a man selling food from a van so we picked up some lunch and decided to drive down to the brim of a volcano to have lunch. We sat there for a few hours enjoying the sun. It was quite hilarious because in the volcano walked some 40-50 sheep with bells around their necks making a never-ending melody. They also were quite noisy which echoed around the volcano! :D

After a while the sun was setting so we drove back home. Again the temperature dramatically dropped so we stopped by in San Bartolome having a vegetable soup and some bread. Trying to gain some inner heat. 

Right before we got to Maspalomas Marcus had a great idea of letting the scooters roll downhill without the motor - very comfortable to swoop through the darkness silently!

As of now December 4th we are preparing to leave in a few hours, i’m working diligently to get this blog post out. Otherwise our readers would have to wait a month for an update. 

 Finally got the fruit net up. :)

Finally got the fruit net up. :)

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Two more GoPro clips on youtube:
Sunset: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cY5wKHK7ac
Pine forest: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9ZP8RDuZrI

Wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gran_Canaria