To the Canaries With Swells and Staysails

Apogee leaves Morocco for the Canaries and once again finds wind.

August 23, 2013

I would like to amend the saying “Fair winds and following seas” to add “and not too much of either” to the end. This whole trip we’ve had wind and seas abaft the beam and even though we’re making great time it’s really not all that comfortable. We’ve only taken a couple of waves into the cockpit but we’re constantly diving under the dodger to escape spray. Thank goodness for the buoyant stern of the Valiant 40!


Sailing to Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands took two long days. We sailed most of it under stays’l, occasionally putting up the main with a double reef, and the ocean swell was big. My dad would say we’re “burning the candle at both ends” with all of our travel and on this passage, it finally caught up with us. Everyone is exhausted.

We had a huge pod of dolphins play around us for a while on Saturday and we broke out the Nutella for Sunday lunch but the passage has been, as a whole, unremarkable.


Sunday night as we neared Lanzarote, the easternmost island in the Canaries, the seas flattened out and the breeze died off. We motored through the night and got some much-needed sleep.

On watch from twelve to three I still wore full foulies but never had to duck under the dodger to escape spray, which was a very nice change. We could see the lights of Lanzarote to starboard and it reminded me of sailing around the volcanic islands at night in the Caribbean.

When I woke on Monday morning it was light and we were preparing to enter Corralejo on the northern coast of Fuerteventura. The mountain peaks rising out of the water loomed in the morning haze.


We motored into the first open slip we found and Ben ventured up to see what authorities would need visits. The Port Captain seemed totally unconcerned with our arrival but came by the boat later to say we would need to go to Puerto del Rosario the next day to clear customs.

We secured the last rental car in town (a convertible!) for Tuesday’s trip to customs then had some pizzas for lunch and hit the beach. Holy tourists! We’re not in the Muslim world anymore, and the European ladies have the bikinis to prove it!

The edge of the harbor in Corralejo is crammed with little cafes and restaurants, each with a menu translated into five or more languages. I can attest the mojitos are excellent—a sacrifice I was willing to make in exchange for WiFi and the ability to post a blog! A few streets inland the town appears to have a thriving club scene but we were all too tired to take in the night life.


Tuesday we picked up our rental car and headed south to Puerto del Rosario. There we were helped by two very nice officials who couldn’t stamp our passports for arrival but gave us letters saying we had entered through an unofficial port and stamped our Fuerteventura exit for Wednesday.

Since we had paid for the convertible for the day, we decided to explore the island. The guidebooks aren’t kidding when they call it a desert! Huge areas of Fuerteventura are totally barren. We’d drive for miles without seeing any signs of civilization, then stumble across tiny towns in the valleys between the mountains.

Our fearless driver Nate braved the tiny road that goes up through the mountains and the views were amazing but I couldn’t fully relax until we were safely down on the other side of the pass.


We headed north to the beach at El Cotillo which Nate tells us is a famous windsurfing spot. Sadly there were no waves and it was starting to drizzle so we took a few pictures and loaded back into the car with the top up.

Between exhaustion and unsettled stomachs all around, we cooked rice on the boat for dinner and packed it in early.

Click here to read the previous post, Essaouira, Morocco’s Windy City.
Click here to read the next post, Destination: Gran Canaria.

Click here to read more of our adventures!


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