Destination: Gran Canaria

Apogee sails to Gran Canaria, the next stop in the Canaries, and finally gets a video of the dolphins.

August 28, 2013

We weren’t loving the scene in Corralejo so we were eager to get underway Wednesday morning. The breeze was light and we motor-sailed into mid-afternoon, following the coast of Fuerteventura south. The mountains were even more beautiful from the water than from land.

We attempted sailing in the afternoon but were going so slow even the dolphins that came by didn’t hang out for long.


The breeze started to fill in from behind us as we passed one of the mountains so we started rolling out the jib. Suddenly we got a gust of over 20 knots right on the bow. We had heard about crazy winds in the canaries but were not expecting a 108˚ shift of such force. We rolled the jib back in and bore off to give the island a wider berth.


The pressure didn’t last long and soon we were motoring again to get out of the lee of Fuerteventura. We were on edge the whole time, waiting for the next outrageous shift.

Once we got out from behind the island we encountered ocean swell (on the beam) and big wind. We sailed under the now very familiar stays’l and double-reefed main and were screaming toward Gran Canaria at over nine knots. Around 0400 Ben helped me drop the main and we calmed down to a slightly more civilized six knots.

Thursday morning we got into the lee of Gran Canaria and turned the motor back on. We will be leaving the boat here for several months so as we neared Puerto de Mogán we dropped and flaked both headsails.


Puerto de Mogán is a tiny tourist town on the south coast of Gran Canaria. It has a very protected marina which is ideal for boats but outrageously hot for their crews. I was prepared for heat in Africa but 1:00 p.m. in Puerto de Mogán was significantly worse. Not even a breath of air. Everything in the port was closed and we attempted a siesta but it was too hot even to sleep.

By 4:00 p.m. the heat had subsided enough for us to function so we got to work putting the boat to bed. There was plenty of cleaning and organizing to be done, perishable food to dispose of, and maintenance to take care of before leaving the boat. We topped up fuel and water, emptied and cleaned the icebox, and hosed the salt off everything on deck. We rinsed all our clothes and fouls in buckets of fresh water and hung them to dry on the lifelines.

Friday morning we started packing our belongings and did a lot more cleaning. We brought all the cushions on deck and hosed them with fresh water. Puerto de Mogán has no laundromat but Mary from the fuel dock agreed to wash our sheets and blankets for 30 Euros. We switched our Med mooring to chain for a more durable connection to the seawall.


As the mid-day heat set in, we piled into a cab and rode to Pozo Izquierdo, about 40 minutes to the north. Pozo Izquierdo is a windsurfing hotspot and home of the annual Windsurfing World Cup. It is windy every day. Nate was in heaven. He rented gear and Ben and I posted up in the stadium seating at the water’s edge to watch the show. Windmills cover the coast and make for a beautiful watersports backdrop!

Back at the boat we were full-on again until dinner, which we didn’t even get to until close to 10:00 p.m.

The marina a Puerto de Mogán includes WiFi among its amenities and we were able to confirm flights and check in with family. It also has nice shower and bathroom facilities. I’m feeling quite civilized!


Saturday was our last day aboard, and we spent it tying up loose ends. Ben and Nate had a fight with the stuffing box that was resolved with the tightening of bolts. I gave the head a thorough scrub-down. We stacked the main and headsails down below. We picked up the laundry. We couldn’t find enough padlocks for all the lazarettes so I went on a mission to the hardware store. The hardware store was closed (How could I have forgotten the siesta?) but the shopkeeper at the souvenir place a few doors down made some phone calls and eventually I was able to purchase the necessary items.

After final showers Ben walked Nate and me to the taxi stand and we headed off to the airport. It’s sad to think that this amazing adventure, which we’ve been planning for months, is at an end. It’s been an incredible couple of weeks, and I can’t thank Ben Morris enough for inviting us along. He is a very competent captain and I won’t hesitate to sail with him again!

A few notes on the trip:
We were overambitious when planning. Our original itinerary included Lisbon and Lagos in Portugal, Rabat, Casablanca, Marrakesh, Essaouira, and Agadir in Morocco, and Lanzarote, Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria in the Canaries. In the end, we only had time for two stops in each country. If I did the trip again, I would study French instead of Arabic.

There were also a couple of books we found helpful:
Lonley Planet Morocco by James Bainbridge, Alison Bing, Helen Ranger, and Paul Clammer. Lonely Planet, 2011. (This one had particularly helpful maps of individual cities!) Courtesy of Lonely Planet.

Moroccan Arabic: Lonely Planet Phrasebook by Dan Bacon, Lonely Planet Publications, Bichr Andjar, and Abdennabi Benchehda. Courtesy of Julia and Sam Thompson.

Fodor’s Morocco, 5th Edition by Fodor’s Travel Publications. Fodor’s, 2012. Courtesy of Julia and Sam Thompson.

North Africa: Morocco, Algeria, Libya and Tunisia Including Gibraltar, Pantelleria and the Pelagie Islands and Malta, 4th Edition by Graham Hutt and the RCC Pilotage Foundation. Imray, 2011. Courtesy of the Cruising Club of America.

Atlantic Islands by Anne Hammick and the RCC Pilotage Foundation. Imray, 2011. Courtesy of the Cruising Club of America.

Canary Islands Cruising Guide by by Jimmy Cornell, Andrew Bishop, and Juan-Francisco Martin. World Cruising Publications, 2006. Courtesy of Cruising World Magazine.

Click here to read more of our adventure!


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