Hiking trails and tiny islands

Graciosa is a small but beautiful island. We did a little walk with Jelle to the anchorage, “Playa Francesca”, which is considered one of the best in the Canaries. Although the bay looked nice and the surroundings beautiful, the boats in anchor were rolling so we decided that the harbor was good enough for us and we should stay put.

We spent a lot of time with Karakter, hiking across the island, having beers at the beach and BBQs on board. On 29th March we took a route towards the north west of the island and hiked to “La Baja del Ganado” and “Playa de las Conchas”. The landscape was impressive, with big waves crushing against the black, volcanic rocks, and “Montana Bemeja” casting its shadow on the long sandy beach. Jelle and Michiel decided to climb the mountain whereas Marije, myself and the kids took the easier until the other side of the mountain, where we all met and walked back to Caleta de Sebo. 16 km in total, not bad for lazy sailors!

Next day was (yet another!) Carnival day, which was celebrated by kids and adults alike, and a small but funny parade starting from the beach and ending in the main (and only) road of the village! There were costumes, bands and dancing in the street, old and young people with smiles in their faces and a festive atmosphere which was further enhanced by the music coming out of the loudspeakers in the main square.

As the weather looked anything but promising, we extended our stay for another week. Besides relaxing, playing in the water with the kids and the SUP (even me!) , we also spent time doing chores around the boat. Jelle was busy making loops in our new mooring lines and placing rubbers, which proved beneficial in minimizing the screeching sound! We also explored our culinary knowledge, which included baking our own bread! Our little group grew a bit bigger with the addition of “Karl”, a boat belonging to a friendly German couple. On the 3rd April, the captain of Karl, Hans, has birthday (what are the odds??) which we celebrated traditionally, onboard, with coffee, cake and even prosecco! The same afternoon, Jelle and I played Monopoly with the Karakter, supposedly to entertain the kids, who were bored after an hour and left us to do something more interesting, whereas we continued playing for few hours until Jelle made us all bankrupt. Needless to say, it was the first and probably the last time we played Monopoly in this trip.

On the 6th April we did another hiking expedition, albeit shorter this time. We walked to the south of the island, a seaside route, until “ Montana Amarilla”. Once again, Michiel and Jelle climbed up the mountain whereas Marija, the children and I walked towards the beach. Eventually Jelle and Michiel joined us too and we had lots of fun splashing around and finding a tiny islet amongst the water. Such a fun day! The same night we made pizzas for everyone and called it an early night because it was our last night at Graciosa. Tomorrow we would sail away.

And so we did. On 7th of April, we hoisted our main sail, with one reef and rolled out our jib and started our sail. The plan was to head towards Morocco, around 20-25 degrees course and the next day tack towards Porto Santo, Madeira group islands. The first day we had a beautiful upwind sail, with smooth sea but a bit less wind. We did our night shifts without any trouble. There were millions of little diamond lights in the sky and there were dolphins sometimes, which glowed in the dark water, looking like neon waves. Beautiful night sailing! The next day we took the reef out because the wind was less but still sailed upwind, nice and smooth and faster! We saw more dolphins and even 2 turtles, and we had crossed 127 miles within 24 hours! Luckily, the weather gods were with us, and soon enough we managed to tack and steer towards Porto Santo. We had also put again the reef in, as the wind increased but the sea was smooth and our sails were trimmed correctly, so the autopilot could handle Libra greatly. So far the trip was going great, up to the moment when we decided to eat the Bolognese I had prepared the day before. Bad idea!! I don’t know if it was because I did not cook the minced meat enough or because the meat was frozen when we bought, but the result was the same; I had a terrible reaction to the dish which caused me to be sick for the rest of the trip. It was awful, being unable doing anything but lay down, because any kind of movement; steering, trimming, keeping watch, ended me in the side of the railing and Jelle keeping my hair up. The rest of the trip was tough for Jelle, as I was inside trying to recover, but it went smoothly, and on 10th April at 7am we threw our anchor inside the Porto Santo harbor. 376 miles in 63 hours, almost 6 knots average speed! So proud of our old lady! 😊

Porto Santo is a tiny island but it is so peaceful and cute, which makes you want to stay here forever. There is a certain serenity in the atmosphere, may be the turquoise sea, may be the greenish hills posing over the harbors, or simply the relaxed attitude of the island inhabitants. Karakter joined in a day later, and we met other boats here, Vela and Off Course, two Danish boats with friendly adults and playful kids.

Don’t miss our next post where we explore Porto Santo and Madeira by bike, on foot and even by ferry!!