Rough Morning at Isla Graciosa

click to enlarge
Clouds off the Cliffs of Lanzarote. The cloud cover made it just a bit hard to spot Barbary
Falcons on the cliffs.
Click to enlarge. See the arrow at the left hand side? It's pointed at a sailboat.
September 19, 2008
I was up until midnight last night reading the chart guide and trying to figure out where we might go next. It was depressing reading as it seemed every page told me of the ‘will undoubtedly be full’ marinas, ‘secure in calm weather only’ anchorages and ‘yachts are not welcome’ commercial ports in the Canaries. I went to bed wondering where we’re supposed to hang out for the next three months. Hurricane Season won’t be over in the Caribbean until December, so we have to wait. I was too tired to let the worry keep me up, the day’s birding excursion had worn me out and I was asleep in no time. Unfortunately, my sleep didn’t last long. I think freshening wind woke me the first time. I got up, looked out the hatch, and saw that we were now facing southwest instead of northeast. The next time it was rain and bigger winds from the south and Gene was also up. The whole night was a cycle of dozing and waking caused by rain or violet winds attacking us from every direction. If the gusts of 30 and the pitch caused by them hadn’t wakened us, the sound of the anchor chain dragging across rocks surely would have.
The morning was fairly calm. We discussed our berthing/anchoring dilemma while we had our coffee. I felt like a zombie and was considering putting on the kettle for another pot of coffee when the 15 knots and sporadic rain we were getting began to freshen; and freshen. Then, in a beat of Aeolus’ fickle heart, we were dipping in fetch churned by 30 knots with occasional gusts of over 40. We looked out to see two of the boats in the anchorage dragging their anchors and they were moving quickly to the lava covered shoreline. Engines went on and windlasses brought in anchor chain. We couldn’t hear the sounds, but we could see what was happening. We really felt for the people scrambling to avoid disaster. ‘There but for the Grace of God’ thoughts ran through our minds as we watched and hoped we would stay hooked. Every boat in the anchorage had someone on deck keeping watch for an uprooting or a threat from an unsecured boat. Conditions stayed rough for several hours, but by noon things had become much less worrisome and we figured the worst was over. When the winds slackened the rain was allowed to fall straight down and the individual drops seemed huge. Was it my imagination, or do rain drops come in small, medium and large? Three or four boats pulled up anchor and went off, presumably to find a less exciting spot.
The farthest yacht dragged and had too much adventure for a morning. They successfully re-anchored.
Gene and I both think that the 2,000 foot high cliffs on Lanzarote that lie to the south of us accelerated the wind speed. Nothing like a little excitement to start the day.
Needless to say, Gene didn't row me ashore for birding.

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