Anchoring in the Canary Islands is an ideal solution to reduce your budget and appreciate the volcanic landscape of the islands. There are many places to anchor in sand. However you will use your anchor very often in the Canaries.
The reason is very simple. The anchorages in the Canay Islands are not protected against swells and they are very rolly.
We spent 10 months in the Canaries on our sailboat and love these islands. Like many sailors we thought we would save our budget by living at anchor. But the reality was quite different.
In the Canarie be prepared for a life in ports and marinas instead!
In this blog post you will find out what to watch out for when anchoring, the anchoring conditions on the different islands and where we were anchoring.
Map of anchorages in the Canary Islands
Anchorages are very well listed on the navily.com website and app. Read carefully the comments of the sailors and by which wind the anchorages are protected. You will also find that the word “rolly” and “gusts” come up very often.
Anchoring spots are also available in the Navionics app. They are marked either by the sign of an anchor or by a boat. They generally coincide with those indicated on Navily.
Dangers of anchoring in the Canaries
The Canary Islands are of volcanic origin and are completely open to the Atlantic Ocean. You will not find any small bays on the coast that would offer better protection.
Take into account following dangers whire anchoring in the Canaries:
- depth: it can pass quickly to several dozen meters near the coast. Sometimes you will anchor in 12 meters, it is important to have enough anchor chain.
- Gusts and acceleration zones: Wind gusts are common at anchor and are often underestimated by weather forecasts. You can even get stuck in an anchorage with very strong gusts without having access to a nearby port.
- changing wind: an anchorage may seem comfortable during the day but when the wind dies down at night, the anchorage becomes very rolly. It is also necessary to watch the direction of the wind because the anchorages are seldom protected against wind coming from east and south.
- tides: check the depth at anchor, taking into account the tides). With a full moon and a new moon, tides are stronger and can be up to 2 meters.
- rocks: the Canary Islands coast is very rocky because the islands are of volcanic origin. It is best to check the bottom of your anchorage and the location of isolated rocks which are marked on your navigation chart. Also take into account the tides and changing wind in order not to end up on a rock.
- black sand: Since the sand is black, it is not always easy to distinguish the rocks from the black sand. Double check where you have anchored. The white sand beaches are rarely suitable for anchoring because they are often located in areas of wind acceleration.
- landing with the dinghy: it is often impossible to go ashore on a beach with your dinghy because it’s often rocky and the waves are strong.
Are anchorages free in the Canary Islands?
Anchorages in the Canaries are free for pleasure boats. There is however one exception.
A fee is charged at anchorage in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria next to the port. The price for anchoring is between 2 and 5 Euros / night depending on the size of the boat. In return, the port allows you to take water, charge your batteries at the dock and use the toilets and showers (price of 5 Euros for the access card). However, this anchorage is prohibited from March 15th to September 15th because of the nautical activities in the anchorage bay.
Which anchorage to choose after sailing from Gibraltar to Canary Islands?
The first best anchorage when arriving in the Canary Islands by sailboat from Gibraltar, Morocco or Madeira is the one on La Graciosa Island. The anchorage is called Playa Francesa and you can get there even at night.
Anchorage in La Graciosa Island
La Graciosa Island is the first stopover for many sailors when they arrive in the Canaries. The only authorized anchorage on La Graciosa is Playa Francesa (sometimes spelled Playa Francesca) and you must request an anchoring permit (see below).
Playa Francesa is a white sand beach of very good holding and very well protected against winds from N and NE and swells. Arrival at night at anchor is easily doable at night.
By easterly winds, Playa Fracesa is still protected but you have to flee with wind from S and SE which is often very strong. Strong gusts come down from the Lanzarote mountain.
Going ashore on the beach with your dinghy is possible, watch out for the rocks. The anchorage is very nice, it is 2,5 km away from the city. Day charters with tourists and music come this anchorage several times a week, the buoys are for them.
We anchored there for 5 nights after our crossing from Portugal to the Canaries.
Anchoring permit for La Graciosa
La Graciosa is part of the Chinijo Archipelago Marine Reserve and an anchoring permit must be requested for La Graciosa. The request and the anchorage are free.
The Marina Lanzarote website and the Cruising Guide to the Canary Islands (Imray edition) explain how to do it.
You must complete and send an application form to Cabildo de Lanzarote to the following email: email@example.com (Solicitud de Autorización Para Realizar Actividad de Fondeo en el Parque Natural del Archipiélado Chinijo).
Few sailors ask for the anchoring permit because they are often unaware thy need it. However, controls are almost non-existent.