The Canary Islands - A Seafarers (or Bunkering) Paradise
Posted Jan. 30, 2015, 11 a.m.
THE CANARY ISLANDS –
A Seafarers (or Bunkering) Paradise
By: Domingo Fuentes
The Canary Islands, also known as the Canaries, are a Spanish ruled archipelago and as such they are a part of the E.U. This beautiful Group of islands, perfectly situated for the trans Atlantic sailor, are to be found just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, a mere 62 miles to the west of the southern border of Morocco.
At the beginning of the 11th century the first adventurous European explorers and sailors began to arrive, at what was believed to be the edge of the world, and by 1496 the conquest of the islands by the Spanish was complete and the Canary Islands were integrated into the Crown of Castile, a medieval Spanish state. It is also believed that, many centuries prior to the take-over by the Spanish, the Islands were often visited by Phoenicians, Greeks and Carthaginians.
During the period of the Spanish Empire the Canaries were the main stopover for Spanish galleons on their way to the Americas, an easy stopover due to prevailing winds from the northeast. Christopher Columbus also made landfall in the Canaries on his journeys to America, bringing with him important products and ideas. The islands were, over the years, colonized by Spanish, Portuguese, Genoese, Flemish, English and Irish settlers, who produced and traded in various export items, the important ones being sugar cane, wine, cochineal, bananas, tomatoes and potatoes.
Over the years prosperous economic activity developed around the Island ports, which had literally become an obligatory stopping off point for European ships on route to Africa, Asia and America. As this development gathered pace the number of workers employed around the docks increased. Due to this the islands witnessed an intense process of urbanization and a parallel depopulation of rural areas, which became even more acute from 1960 onwards with the development of tourism. The islands themselves have a great diversity of flora and fauna and incredible landscapes to admire and over recent years many of the islands have been recognized as unique sites that need protecting and have as such been recognized by UNESCO as Biosphere Reserves.
The seven main Islands are; Gran Canaria , Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, Tenerife , La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro
Arrive at El Hierro and you will be visiting one of the Biosphere Reserves of Europe and one of several in the archipelago. You will take away with you an unforgettable memory of volcanoes and lava fields, fertile valleys, and dramatic cliffs up to 1000m high; dense forests of species of vegetation that have survived on the island since prehistoric times; trees that are a thousand years old, twisted by the wind; reptiles that were thought to be extinct... You will ask yourself how so much diversity is possible in such a small territory, a place that was considered the limit of the known world in classical times.
El Hierro is also a paradise for underwater diving as the island is bathed in transparent waters, where lovers of diving come every year from all over the world to photograph marine life in one of the best dive sites on the planet. The island, a small dot in the Atlantic, offers a perfect place to relax as one enjoys the overflow of abundant nature.
This island, also known as “La Islabonita”, or the pretty island is home to many intact natural resources and incredible landscapes of remarkable beauty. La Palma is a lush island that reveals a multitude of colours beneath one of the best skies in the world, one famed for its use in astronomic observation. You won’t be surprised to find that the most important astrophysics observatories in the northern hemisphere are situated here. Neither will you be able to imagine the number of secret places where you can get in touch with nature on the island. You will get some idea when you enter the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, and make your way along one of the many paths which will take you through dense forests dotted with permanent springs and innumerable and diverse plants.
You can also explore inside one of the biggest craters in the world, the Caldera de Taburiente National Park, on the steep sides (2426m) of which you will find splendid examples of the Canary pine, a species of tree that only grows in the Canaries and examples of the endangered Canary Islands Juniper. During the Spanish conquest of the Canary Islands in the 15th century the Caldera was the site of the last stand of the indigenous people of the Islands, the Guanches. It proved impregnable to the invading Spaniards, and they only defeated the Guanches by luring their leaders out on the pretext of holding talks.
The National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site of La Garajonay, a dense forest of notable richness in terms of its flora, presents you with an almost magical appearance. Here you will find many species that are extinct elsewhere, as well as peaceful springs; this is definitely the ideal place for people who enjoy hiking.
You will be also be impressed by the dramatic mountains with their deep ravines and slopes that drop into the ocean. This is a landscape that has been sculpted throughout history by erosion, as over two million years have passed since the last volcanic eruption. Another aspect that will surprise you is the sight of the green valleys covered with palm trees, the charming rural villages, the impressive cliffs, and the welcoming bays of black sand bathed by crystalline waters.
Tenerife is the main island of the Canaries where you will find each day offering you a new experience. Going shopping in the capital, visiting a museum or going to one of the many cultural events that take place in the area are some of the options you won’t be able to resist. Equally exciting are the various theme parks, designed for the entertainment of both young and old. In fact, you’ll get the impression that the whole Island is one big park, with a range of different settings and an infinite number of attractions and things to do. What’s more, all this takes place against a background dominated by a majestic volcano, EL TEIDE, the highest peak in Spain, which acts as the guardian of this island of contrasts. On Tenerife you can explore landscapes of extraordinary natural wealth scored through with ravines, spectacular cliffs, forests of prehistoric plants and extensive wooded areas of Canary pine.
A “miniature continent”, that is how Gran Canaria is often described and with justification due to the incredible variety of landscapes and a micro climate that makes it unique. You will be able to enjoy the excitement of its vibrant city, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, which is a cosmopolitan and dynamic centre where you will find everything imaginable. Shopping centers and leisure zones; streets to wander along that are perfect for shopping and sightseeing; museums, theatres, concert halls and open air squares where big concerts are held, all complimented by a pulsating nightlife with numerous nightclubs, bars and restaurants. This is a city that also boasts one of the best climates in the world. Gran Canaria also offers the visitor other types of activities. The western half of the island is a Biosphere Reserve, perfect for visitors who prefer a quieter stay and wish to be more in contact with the natural settings to be found in its 33 protected areas. One day could be spent enjoying one of its marvellous golden sandy beaches, and another could be perfectly spent in the peace and silence of the countryside, surrounded by impressive palm trees and the spectacular landscapes that are laid out before you.
Think of long, untouched beaches of white sand, set in a coastline bathed by the ocean with calm transparent water that invites you to relax in evocative intimacy. There is no better place to glide out on a surf board, or windsurf across a turquoise sea as you take advantage of the wind. On this island Biosphere Reserve, you can also appreciate other surprising landscapes, such as the extensive plains, produced by years of erosion, which contrast with volcanoes and lava flows, or the impressive sand dunes through which you can glimpse, a few kilometres away, an uninhabited islet, classed as a Special Bird Protection Zone.
In the charming villages of the interior you will also be able to breathe the history of the island, thanks to its well preserved traditional architecture, while the tiny hidden fishing villages along the coast will reveal the secrets of their special inhabitants and their traditional way of life as you wend your way through their narrow streets.
Lanzarote offers a special experience for the senses, especially those of sight and sound, which capture almost impossible formations in the landscape and a silence that fills you with peace. Again a Biosphere Reserve, the island also boasts a Marine Reserve, a National Park and 12 natural protected areas. The Island is a treasure for those who like to spend their leisure time in natural settings, enjoying sunshine along with fresh sea air. On this island of volcanoes you will see, as nowhere else, the extent to which the volcanic origin of a land influences the lives of its inhabitants. In agricultural settings of great beauty, you will discover how the peasants of Lanzarote worked with nature in order to survive and develop a unique system of cultivation that made it possible for them to grow excellent products in an apparently sterile land. Crops here are cultivated below a covering of black volcanic sand. If you are someone concerned about the environment, you have arrived at the perfect place as this island has been declared as one of the universal models of sustainable development by the World Tourism Organization.
In general the Canary Islands are well spaced out making it only a day's sail between most of them. The logical route for most yachts arriving from the north is to visit Lanzarote and Fuerteventura first before sailing to Gran Canaria, then Tenerife, La Gomera, El Hierro and La Palma. The Canaries are traditionally the jumping-off point for yachts crossing from Europe to the Caribbean, and from November to January the islands are full of yachts preparing for their Atlantic crossing. Las Palmas (Gran Canaria) is the main port of departure for most yachts on a westbound transatlantic passage.
Facilities for yachts have improved considerably in recent years and more cruising yachts are now spending longer in the islands and some are permanently based here. Also on the increase are yachts that sail down from Europe to spend the winter months in the Canaries as they enjoy the pleasant climate.
The Canaries are not too hot in summer, 21-29°C, pleasantly warm in winter, 15-20°C, and can be regarded as an all-year round cruising ground. The frequency of gales is low and the islands are not affected by hurricanes. The prevailing wind is north-easterly throughout the year, being strongest in July and August and lightest in October and November.
In the trade wind belt, the high volcanic islands cause some local variations in both wind direction and strength. As a rule, there are different winds in the lee of the islands compared to the coasts that are exposed to the trade winds. When the NE trades are blowing strongly, an opposing wind usually blows on the other side of the island, varying in strength to that of the trade wind.
There are restrictions on anchoring in the Canaries and in many places authorisation is required. If you anchor without permission you may well be moved on by the Guardia Civil. Wherever possible seek permission to anchor from the port authorities first.
The widest range of facilities are concentrated in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, which has a yacht harbour administered by the port authority. The marina boatyard with haulout facilities re-opened at the end of 2012.
Islands, Marinas And Facilities, From E To W With Berthing And Facilities For Superyachts.
(Great sandy anchorage in La Graciosa (N of Lanzarote) and in Papagayo in the south.)
Marina Lanzarote. (Opening in Sept 2014) 5m draught in entry channel and at the berth, finger and alongside pontoon berthing. Bunkering, provisioning, entry formalities, etc. Yard with 820 tonne hoist
Puerto Calero. 7m draught in entry channel. 5.5m at berth, finger and alongside pontoon berthing. Bunkering, provisioning, entry formalities, etc. Yard with 90 tonne hoist
Marina Rubicon. 5m draught in entry channel and at the berth, finger and alongside pontoon berthing. Bunkering, provisioning, entry formalities, etc. Yard with 90 tonne hoist.
Berthing in all of these is complicated. Puerto Rosario (commercial port of entry) Morro Jable and Corralejo (ferry ports) have virtually no facility for visitors. (Nice short-term anchorages though in the south around Jandía and in the north around Lobos.)
Puerto Deportivo Las Palmas. Marina berths for boats up to 50m. 5m draught. Also commercial port for larger yachts.
Pasito Blanco. 5m entry channel. Pontoon berths for boats up to 40m (Two at this size). Yard with 64 tonne hoist.
Arguineguin and Anfi del Mar. Both can offer berthing for boats up to 20m
Puerto Rico. Limited berthing for yachts up to 25m.
Mogan. Limited berthing for larger yachts but can take yachts of up to 45m. 6m entry channel. Yard with a 65 tonne hoist
Marina Santa Cruz. This is fine for yachts of all sizes with plenty of draught. Not great services.
Marina San Miguel and Marina Del Sur. Both can take boats up to 20m. Good services.
Marina Radazul. Capacity up to 22m is said to suffer from a lot of surge.
LA PALMA, LA GOMERA AND EL HIERRO
Marina La Palma, Tazacorte and Marina La Gomera have berths for boats up to 20 – 22m but berthing can be arranged on the wall of the commercial ports outside.
Depths are included as a guide only.
Contact: Domingo Fuentes
Office : + 34 928 46 91 40 / 62
Mobile : + 34 617454397
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