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Cruising the Canaries, what did we think?

It was a bit of an adventure, Ellison’s first time proper Ocean sailing and longer distances than we’d normally do. You could tell sailing in the Canaries is more serious firstly because of the average size of boats, our 40’ yacht, which we don’t think is small seemed like a tiddler in most marina’s.

We were, so we were told, unlucky with the weather which was uncharacteristic for the area. I got this from Google:

The Canary Islands enjoy a remarkably mild climate, being located on the Atlantic Ocean, just north of the Tropic, a short distance from the coast of Morocco and Western Sahara, in a stretch of sea where a cool current flows; they are also subject to the trade winds, which blow constantly from the north east.

‘Constantly from the North East’, I think not, we never had any wind remotely from the North. We were also storm bound for 4 days and seemed to be unlucky with un forecasted wind on the nose on long journeys. We did however have some cracking sails nonetheless.

For sailing chums it’s worth bearing a couple of things in mind. It is the Atlantic, you’re likely to get some proper Ocean swell (we got 1-3 metres most days) and the Islands aren’t that close so you will have 50 NM + days. The canaries are blessed with a lot of marina’s however we were surprised with how many were full or unavailable (Eg. Private, no vistors berths). We were unable to get into Las Palmas (Gran Canaria) or Los Gigantes and only got into Puerto De Mogan at the second attempt. Also don’t expect there to be many alternatives, anchorages and protected bays are rare and often restricted (you either can’t anchor or only at certain times of the year).

For these reasons the Canaries aren’t a common cruising ground with, compared to the Med, few charter yachts. Because of the lack if places to park we saw a few people who seemed to be staying in one place and just going out for a day sail.

So why go to the Canaries to sail? Simple, it’s hot in the Canaries in the winter and the Med’s too cold. It’s also much less expensive than the Caribbean.

Having never been to the Canaries before we did make mistakes with the clothes we took. It was warm and we wore shorts and flip flops every day. However it was cool sailing and in the evening and we needed more options to cater for that. We also only had one waterproof option, our sailing foulies which are no use to us on shore.

What did we think of the Canaries? It wasn’t what we expected. If you want small pretty coastal towns and fishing villages then you’ll be disappointed. If you want lots of history, museums interesting old buildings, the Canaries aren’t for you. There are certainly places we probably wouldn’t go to again, such as most of Tenerife.

However, for us, there were some gems. Puerto De Mogan was lovely and the beach at Las Palomas was stunning. We could easily spend a month in the winter on Gran Canaria. We really enjoyed La Gomera and would love to return to see more of the island. It’s also true we only saw three islands, we wanted to go to Las Palmas and El Heirro but time and the weather prevented it.

Would we go to the Canaries again, absolutely, it’s only 4 hours away on a plain and we get to wear shorts and flip flops in the winter!

Would we sail the Canaries again. Probably not unless the situation with marinas changes. With sailing you really have to be flexible and go where the wind takes you which is really difficult if the marina the other end is full and there’s no alternative.

That being said we had the best time and Ellison’s completed her first Ocean crossing with an out of sight of land bit. We had a proper adventure we’ll remember forever.

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