Sailing in the Canaries, Charming Weather Year Around

Anfi del Mar Resort, Gran Canaria Island, The Canaries, Spain

Some say the Canary Islands offer an Eternal Spring Climate year around. We have been enjoying the weather in the Canaries very much. It is about 21 Celsius (About 70 Fahrenheit) with sunny days and a beautiful blue sky. If living here, one would hardly need an A/C or a heater.

It doesn’t seem to rain much in the Canaries. The islands we have visited so far (Eastern Side Islands: La Graciosa, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, and Tenerife Island), they look rocky or sandy. Many hotels and restaurants are all over on the islands. Development keeps going making more hotels and vacation properties. Thinking about the water supply for millions tourists, I believe water maker technology has helped the Canaries a lot: making water from ocean for daily use for about 14 million tourists per year.

Crowded Beach near Anfi del Mar Resort, Gran Canaria Island, The Canaries, Spain

We went to the airport in Tenerife to meet one of John’s friends visiting us from Switzerland. While waiting at the arrival gate, we were shocked by a continuous stream of tourists arriving. It looks the Canaries exist for tourism these days. Lots of tourists are from Northern Europe, they are pale and don’t look like they have seen much sun. Some advertising materials are only in Finnish, Dutch, Swedish, and Danish. (No English!) For Northern Europeans, the Canaries offer what they want: Sun and Beach!

More Development in Tenerife Island, The Canaries, Spain

For sailing in the Canaries, be aware of the “Acceleration Zone” between the islands. It is real. There are some areas between islands where the wind gets very strong without warning, about 10-15 knots stronger. Sometimes, it changes from no wind to almost like a squall. One day, we started motoring due to no wind. Then, felt the wind, got happy, and raised full sail. The wind got too strong too soon. While boat was going at what seemed like jet speed with full sails, we had to change the sails to a small size (Second Reef). Changing the sail in strong winds is tough but necessary. John made sure he was wearing a “harness” attached to the boat, just in case, as it was night and we don’t think one would be able to rescue a man overboard during this type of situation.

PS: One day, while motoring, I practiced “Rescue at Sea Mission”. We threw a life jacket at sea as if a person is overboard. Proudly, by driving the boat in circle, I was able to rescue the life jacket. However, I question myself if I can rescue it, when wind blows crazy, the sea is rough, and all sails are up.

Schmitte Beer from Switzerland. Toni (John’s Friend) owns the company. We celebrated our hiking and friendship at the Teide Mountain, Tenerife Island, The Canaries, Spain

John Drinking Schmitte Beer from Switzerland Brewed by Toni (John’s Friend for 40 Years), Tenerife Island, The Canaries, Spain


Toni with His Schmitte Beer from Switzerland, Teide Mountain, Tenerife Island, The Canaries, Spain

John and Toni on the Teide National Park Hiking Trail, Tenerife Island, The Canaries, Spain

John and Toni on Hiking Trail, Close to the Peak of Teide Mountain (3,718 Meters = 12,198 Feet), Tenerife Island, The Canaries, Spain

A Para Athlete on Wheelchair (Second from Bottom) Hiking on the Trail, Teide National Park, Tenerife Island, The Canaries, Spain

Teide Mountain (3,718 Meters = 12,198 Feet), Tenerife Island, The Canaries, Spain

Teide National Park, Tenerife Island, The Canaries, Spain

Volcanic Rocks in Teide National Park, Tenerife Island, The Canaries, Spain

Road to Masca Town, Tenerife Island, The Canaries, Spain

Resort Town in Los Gigantes in Tenerife Island, The Canaries, Spain

Sand Dunes, Gran Canaria Island, The Canaries, Spain

Sandy Mountain, Fuerteventura Island, The Canaries, Spain

Kiteboarding Beach, Fuerteventura Island, The Canaries, Spain

Cured Ham Ready for Holiday Shopping, Fuerteventura Island, The Canaries, Spain

Fishbone Sculpture, Gran Tarajal, Fuerteventura Island, the Canaries, Spain

Posted in Atlantic Islands, Kiteboarding, Sailings

Canary Islands Immigration Clearance (Schengen Agreement), Adventure at Papagayo Beach, and Medical Fee

Papagayo Beach, Lanzarote Island, The Canaries, Spain

Most of the cruisers in the Canary Islands are citizens of European Union. We (US Citizens) are among the few non-EU cruisers here. We can stay in any combined EU countries during a six month period for a total of 90 days (i.e. Schengen Agreement). The days are calculated by the check-in and check-out stamp days on the passport. It is important to get a passport stamped both arriving (check-in) and departing (check-out) in each country.

After arriving at Lanzarote Island in the Canaries, it took a while for us to get the check-in stamp. On Lanzarote Island, the only place we can get a stamp is from the National Police Authority (like Immigration/Border Patrol) in the main commercial harbor in Arrecife. It opens Monday to Friday.

Papagayo Anchorage, Lanzarote Island, The Canaries, Spain

We were anchored at Papagayo Beach which is distant from Arrecife. (*We later found out Papagayo Beach is a nudist beach.) It was a whole day journey visiting the authority from Papagayo Beach to Arrecife.

We started early by with a dinghy ride to the shore despite of the big waves. We dragged the heavy dinghy high up on the beach, and left the dinghy anchor attached on the shore, just in case the dinghy gets washed down to the sea. We hiked on rocky and sandy trails to the town and took two different buses and a taxi. It took almost four hours to get to the immigration office. Getting the stamp was simple and easy, done in less than five minutes. The officer advised us that we need to get a check-out stamp when we leave the Canaries from one of the bigger islands. In some small Canary Islands, there is no National Police authority/Border Patrol.

Central Bus Station in Arrecife, Lanzarote Island, The Canaries, Spain

A Random Act of Kindness!

Arriving back at the beach, we found some good Samarian(s) had saved our dinghy. The dinghy and Yamaha outboard motor (2-stroke) were fully covered with sand and salt. The dinghy anchor was moved to higher on shore on the beach. Obviously, the wave got into the dinghy and poured salt water and sand all over. The beach was almost empty, so we did not know who saved our dinghy but we deeply appreciated it.

Big Waves!

Going back to the boat will be challenging! “We could get killed”, John shouted! Fighting with waves and bringing the dinghy down on water, we managed to hop on the dinghy. As guessed, the engine didn’t start. Waves poured lots of salt water into the dinghy again. We decided to tow the dinghy by both of us swimming to the boat. Immediately arriving by the boat, John washed the outboard motor with lots fresh water, hoping for the best. For the next three days, we worked on the motor. Voila! It is working again.

Marina Rubicon, Lanzarote Island, The Canaries, Spain

Thumb Infection and Rescue

Somehow, somewhere, and sometime, John got infection on his right thumb.His thumb was swollen up to golf ball size. Time to see a doctor. In a public clinic, the waiting line was long. He went to a private doctor (Consultation: 88 Euros, A Various Blood Test: About 180 Euros, Antibiotic Medicine: About 7 Euros).

A few days later, when he got better, he wanted to do kite-surfing at the beach again. All worked well until the wind died. His kite dropped into the water and he was going away from the shore with his kite. I had only one option: Attempt to rescue him and his kite. I tried but I couldn’t move the heavy dinghy down to the water. There were many naturalists watching my action. A couple of German guys came and helped me bringing the heavy dinghy down. Necessity gave me superpowers this time. As I previously was not able to start the outboard motor, it was a miracle that I was able to start the outboard this time and rescue him at sea.

PS: I am not a beach person and don’t care much for nudist beaches but I really like Papagayo beach because of chill (for ex-Floridian) and clear water surrounded by sand dunes and rocks. Papagayo beach looks free naturally with no strangeness.

Small Boats Tied to Shore, Isla de Lobos, the Canaries, Spain

Small Bay for Our Dinghy (Right on the Picture) Tied to Fish Cutting Table, Isla de Lobos, the Canaries, Spain

A Small Boat on Sand Bottom During Low Tide, Isla de Lobos, the Canaries, Spain

Shelter on the Beach, Isla de Lobos, the Canaries, Spain

Hiking Trail, Isla de Lobos, the Canaries, Spain

Love Locks Near Playa Blanca, Lanzarote Island, The Canaries, Spain

Camping Cars by Papagayo Beach, Lanzarote Island, The Canaries, Spain

Trail Marker, Lanzarote Island, The Canaries, Spain

Sahara Desert Dust on a Car, Lanzarote Island, The Canaries, Spain

Fort Near Marina Rubicon, Lanzarote Island, The Canaries, Spain

Outdoor Gym Near Playa Blanca, Lanzarote Island, The Canaries, Spain

Street Cat Food and Water Station, Lanzarote Island, The Canaries, Spain

Resort Buildings, Lanzarote Island, The Canaries, Spain

IKEA Store in Arrecife, Lanzarote Island, The Canaries, Spain

Posted in Atlantic Islands, Medical Service Experiences, Sailings

Internet Access and Prepaid SIM Card in Flores Island in the Azores and Madeira Islands – UZO SIM Card

(July to October 2017) The first island we arrived at in the Azores, is Flores Island. It took us 14 days of sailing from Bermuda. The only SIM Card available in Flores Island was an “UZO” SIM Card. It was sold at the local post office. (CTT)

In bigger Azorean islands, there are other kinds of SIM Cards such as MEO and Vodafone. Most cruisers seem to use the “MEO SIM Card”.

Free WiFi is widely available in the center of each town and most of the marinas in the Azores and also in the Madeira Islands, run by the government. The Free WiFI speed is good and very reliable in the central area in town. However, I prefer to use the internet at my own desk without being disturbed. Besides, being at sea for 14 days, I had matters to take care of at my desk online.

Post Office, Sao Jorge Island, Azores, Portugal

Arriving at the next bigger island, I thought about buying a new SIM Card from MEO but I didn’t. I continuously used the UZO SIM Card by adding more money and calling the customer service to renew the data plan.

***My Experiences with Prepaid UZO SIM Card***

  • Initial Purchase Price: 15 Euros – Cash Only. It gave me a SIM Card (Portugal Phone Number) and 15 Euro balance amount on the phone number.
  • Price of Internet Data Plan Options: 1GB Data Plan (7.99 Euros), 200MB for Month Data Plan (2.99 Euros), 60MB Data for 24 Hours Plan (1.99 Euros) – I started with the 1GB data plan and kept renewing it.
  • Call Price: About 10 Cents/Minute
  • Text Message Price: About 10 Cents/Message
  • APN (Access Point Name) Setup for Data Plan: Name–>TMN Internet (*Make sure entering the upper and lower case correctly and a space in between.) APN–>internet (all lower case)
  • Balance Check Code: *#123# (This is to check the current monetary balance left on the phone number.) *#123*99# (This is to check the data balance. it sometimes worked and other times not.)
  • Data speed was good on most of the islands.
  • It is important to keep the PIN number (provided with the SIM Card) because it requires you to enter it each time after turning the phone on again after it was completely turned off.
  • All instructions (Brochure, Phone Menu, or Simplistic UZO Website) are only in Portuguese. It was a little difficult to setup or renew the data plan. Since I did not understand the Portuguese instructions, I had to call a client service number directly at 707-960-000 or 808-960-000 and ask for an English speaking person. It worked out good but it also cost about 10 cents/minute for setup and renewal. Sometimes I was on hold for a while which cost by minute. Despite the cost, I figured it is a sure way to renew.
  • For recharging the amount, I went to the Post Office on the Azorean islands and recharged more money (Accept Cash Only). On a bigger island, the waiting line is long in the post office. Make sure to get a waiting ticket to get served, from a Kiosk inside of the Post office.
  • After my data was all consumed, one time, it automatically renewed to a more costly data as you go plan until it used all of the money balance left on the phone number. The other time, I had to call to renew. Again, not understanding Portuguese, it is difficult to figure out the reasons but the best way was to call the customer service (requesting an English speaking person) or just accept the minor issues.
  • I was surprised this SIM Card continuously worked even in the Canary Islands until the balance ran out. Later, I found out, starting July 2017, all data plans work in the European Countries without costing any extra.
  • In the Canary Islands, I could have renewed this UZO SIM Card but I decided to buy a new Spanish SIM Card because (1) UZO SIM Card is not English language friendly and (2) I can understand Spanish more than Portuguese Language.
Posted in Atlantic Islands, Internet Abroad, Sailings

Sailing from Madeira to the Canaries: Listening to Audio Books

Very Well Organized Cemetery on La Graciosa Island, the Canaries, Spain

(October 5 – 7, 2017) It took us two days (one day sailing and one day motoring) from Madeira Island to La Graciosa Island in the Canary Islands. Motoring is noisy and the diesel fumes are smelly. A Bright moon appeared sometimes which helped the nightly watches. A small bird traveled with us on the boat. John found two dragon flies and also got bitten by a black/yellow striped fly. Where were they from at sea? He also found a flying fish on the deck. (After arriving at a new place, I grilled the flying fish and gave it to Swat, one of the cats. She ate the de-boned fish very fast.)

After two days leaving Madeira Island, approaching to the Canary Islands, Spain

Prior to this trip, I downloaded many audio books from the Broward County Library in Fort Lauderdale, Florida where I have my home. When the sea is not smooth, I don’t read e-books because reading e-books makes me seasick. Listening to audio books via a blue tooth headset, has been working great for me.

During this trip, I enjoyed listening to “What I know for Sure” by Oprah Winfrey and “Seriously… I am kidding” by Ellen DeGeneres. I also started listening to “The Book of Joy” (Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu Interview) and “Aging Well” by Mark E. Williams. At the same time, when the sea is calm, I read “MONEY, Master the Game” by Tony Robbins. All interesting books. I like self-help books and learn to improve myself. I will never stop learning.

Super Clear Water like in the Bahamas, La Graciosa Island, the Canaries, Spain

Northern African Type Houses on the Island, La Graciosa Island, the Canaries, Spain


Main Town in La Graciosa Island, the Canaries, Spain


Hiking Trail, La Graciosa Island, the Canaries, Spain

Peaceful Playa Francesa Anchorage with Beautiful Water and Beach, La Graciosa Island, the Canaries, Spain

La Graciosa Island, the Canaries, Spain


Island Tour Information, La Graciosa Island, the Canaries, Spain

Posted in Atlantic Islands, Sailings

Madeira Island, New York City in European’s Caribbean

Tourist Bus in Funchal, Madeira Island, Portugal

(September 23 – October 5, 2017) Portugal has a massive ocean fishing territory because it also owns the Azores and Madeira Islands. Madeira is a small island in the Atlantic Ocean, closer to Morocco in Africa than to mainland Portugal.

Until I visited Madeira Island which relies heavily on tourism; I didn’t know much about this island. It was a surprise to see yellow or red double decker tour buses, cable cars (from harbor to top), jeep tours, bike tours, walking tours, boat tours, and all the other organized tour operations. When we visited Funchal, the capital city of Madeira; there was a cruise ship ‘Queen Elizabeth’ in the harbor. Most tourists on this island, are from Europe. A tour guide told us Madeira is the Caribbean for Europeans. There is a lot to do and see here. We felt the main city, Funchal is like being in New York City though.

Queen Elizabeth Cruise Ship, Funchal, Madeira Island, Portugal

We took a Madeira Wine Tour. Drinking Madeira wine for me is like having dessert in liquid form. Madeira wine is similar to Port Wine. We were told some grapes are imported from Spain. The different amounts of sugar and alcohol makes different kinds of Madeira wine: Dry, Medium Dry, Medium Sweet, and Sweet. After drinking a glass of either dry or sweet Madeira Wine, I look at everyone sweetly. Definitely, with this new acquired attitude, I would be better at work if I ever dis-retire.

Four Types of Madeira Wine, Blandy’s Madeira Wine Tour, Madeira Island, Portugal

Old Typewriter Displayed in the Blandy’s Winery Museum, Funchal, Madeira Island, Portugal

Gondola Cable Car from the Harbor to the Church, Funchal (Capital City of Madeira Island), Portugal

Sled Ride from the Cable Car Top Location, Madeira Island, Portugal

Tuk Tuk Ride Price Display, Funchal, Madeira Island, Portugal

City Hall Plaza, Funchal, Madeira Island, Portugal

Outdoor Exercise Gym by the Harbor in Funchal, Madeira Island, Portugal

Quinta de Lorde Marina in Madeira Island, Portugal; we stayed here and enjoyed hiking the trail not far from the marina. It takes 90 minutes bus ride (one way) to Funchal, main city in Madeira Island.

Ilhas Desertas (Deserted Island) Near Madeira Island; we had a permission to visit this island but found no secure space to anchor.

Sandy Rock Coast, Porto Santo Island, Madeira Island Group, Portugal

Dragon Looking Like Rock Formation on Porto Santo Island, Madeira Island Group, Portugal

Green Golf Course on Porto Santo Island, Madeira Island Group, Portugal

Columbus Museum in Porto Santo Island, Madeira Island Group, Portugal

Porto Santo Marina and Mooring Field, Porto Santo Island, Madeira Island Group, Portugal; There was no space for our size of the boat in the marina so we took a mooring ball which looks very well maintained.

Rock Formation and Fossil on Porto Santo Island, Madeira Island Group, Portugal

We took a geological tour (highly recommending, 25 Euros/Person) in Porto Santo Island, Madeira Island Group, Portugal.

Posted in Atlantic Islands, Sailings