A One-Directional Cruise Through Spain's Canary Isles Most Americans don't know much about the Canary Islands unless they're into Christopher Columbus or they like to follow the upcoming ARC rally. So when my three buddies and I learned that bareboat chartering is offered in these seven Spanish islands, which lie 100 miles west of Morocco, Africa, we became curious. We decided to book an early September, two-week, one-way, downwind sail from the northernmost island, Lanzarote, to the largest southern island, Tenerife. Both islands have international airports. We chose Lava Charter, which has a newer fleet of boats and charter bases on both islands. We really liked our 2016 46-ft Bavaria, and Lava gave us excellent service. Although these islands are essentially arid volcanic rocks with very little vegetation, and really aren't very pretty, they attract 12 million (mostly northern European) visitors a year, The Atlantic waters are crystal clear, although a bit chilly (low 70s), and the beaches are mostly black and pebbly. During our sail we saw many dolphins, small whales and turtles. We took bus tours and rented cars to explore the islands. I golfed on Gran Canaria, and on Tenerife we took a gondola up to a 12,000-ft peak that overlooks lava fields in Teide National Park.
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Does this look like a happy crew or what? Left to right are: George Sparr, Rich Boehm, Rod Witel and John Roedel.
Surprisingly, just about everything — groceries, restaurants, taxis, car rentals — was cheap! Dinners ashore, which typically included wine, bottled water, appetizers, an entree and dessert cost 15 to 25 euros per person ($17-$28 USD). There are two important words to remember when sailing the Canaries: "acceleration zone." Each island has well-charted areas where the wind can range from an enjoyable 10-12 knots to gusts of 40-50 knots before you can say, "Do you think we should reef?" Marinas in these islands have limited spaces for transient boats, so we learned quickly to call the day before for availability. Marinas (with lots of liveaboards) averaged 34 euros ($39 USD) per night including water and AC. Lava paid our marina fees! We do a lot of chartering and we've never heard of such a thing. Wow! We had some great adventures, met some very nice people and had pleasant short sails as well as exhilarating long sails, yet in 14 days we only saw three other sailboats sailing. If you're an experienced sailor/charterer, you too might want to look into the Canary Islands. — rod witel Readers — Rod, who is a sailing instructor and holds a US Coast Guard Master's License, is one of the most widely traveled bareboat-charter addicts we know. So, after receiving the following report from Jim McMullen about a certification dilemma concerning charters in the Med and elsewhere, we asked Rod for his insights. Quest for an ICC Turkey, Croatia, the Med — all these exotic destinations were calling us. After watching countless online videos, my eyes were so blurry I couldn’t read all the travel guides I had bought. We finally decided on Croatia, as it appeared to offer the perfect combination of interisland sailing and wonderful shoreside excursions — although I knew we'd need to practice our
ALL PHOTOS COURTESY ROD WITEL
his month we travel to an Atlantic Archipelago Made Famous by Cap'n Chris Columbus, and explore the thorny issue of Overseas Chartering Certifications, plus Charter Notes.
Med-mooring techniques ahead of time. I called up my go-to bareboat charter company, and yes, my dates were available, and the price was affordable. But then the sales rep asked if I had an ICC. "What's that?" I thought. "And do I really need it to bareboat charter in Croatia?" I have chartered in Thailand, Belize and all over the Caribbean, and no one has ever asked me for this ICC certificate. OK, I know I'm not an America's Cup skipper, but I have owned a 60-ft ketch for more than 30 years, and sailed her from the Caribbean through the Panama Canal and around the South Pacific. I have earned a USCG 100-ton Master's License, and have worked as a delivery skipper. As I learned, an ICC is an International Certificate of Competence issued by the Royal Yacht Association (RYA), which is headquartered in England. I live in California, and the nearest location where I could do what is called a "test out" is on the East Coast of the US or Canada. But before I traveled that far I wondered if there were any other options closer to me. Yes, it is possible to get an international proficiency certificate from the American Sailing Association (ASA) here in San Diego, but they wanted me
The November 2018 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.