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Las Palmas Atlantic Sailing Guide

Las Palmas, a city on the northern side of Gran Canaria, is the capital of the Canary Islands. This is where Columbus left Europe to discover what is now the Americas! ‘Muelle Deportivo de Las Palmas’ is the most popular harbour and a central hub to stop, shop, and prepare for sailing out to the Atlantic. Over the years I spent about a total of five months in Las Palmas, hopping on (&off) boats, provisioning and exploring. I discovered some useful info for those setting sail for the Atlantic whether you’re already on a boat or not.

A sense of place

Las Palmas is the capital of the Canary Islands (Spain). It’s a city that really has it all. Las Palmas has an ideal mix of island and natural living with all the luxuries and cultural ambiance of a city. Las Palmas is lively, active, and outdoorsy. The locals are superfriendly, proud and happy to live here and they all call it paradise. There is quite a cultural mixture here of European winter escapers, as well as ethnicities from all over the world.  The cultural agenda does not seem to have a day off. Every day there is something fun organized somewhere. From live music on the street, to food events, and sports activities, competitions, rallies and races.
Though the Spanish food is amazing, Las Palmas has plenty of diversity in food and restaurants available, with many vegan options too. With endless summer climate, it’s nice to spend the winter months here. With the culinary greatness, it’s no wonder everyone is so active all the time. You got to gain and then lose those pounds. If you just go for a stroll around you’d see people playing beach volleyball, Stand Up Paddle surfing, surfing, playing paddle tennis on the beach, doing yoga on the beach, running the beach or boulevard, mountainbiking, sailing, climbing, diving, walking, inline skating, and long boarding. The opportunities are endless

The city is kind of divided into two parts: The old town in the east, called Vaqueta, and Las Canteras area in the west. The bit in between is residency, the marina and harbour, some shops in Triana. There’s quite a lot of noisy traffic around the marina but with the different beaches around the corner, you’re back in the fresh air zone in no time.

Inland Gran Canaria is a must. Almost 50% of the island is a Biosphere Reserve. Nature is just stunning. Las Palmas is a nice basecamp to explore the rest of Gran Canaria Adventure paradise. With stunning nature, the steepest elevation in the world, lots of greenery, hiking, biking and climbing trails, water and outdoor sports all around the island. 236 kilometers of coastlines, sea current that bring life close to shore for under water fun. Add the perfect climate to that and it’s an all year round playground!

The Sailor Community

It’s the perfect place to meet water-loving people with a shared love for the ocean, with the same dreams, mindset and nomadic lifestyle. You can meet all kinds of adventurers determined not to wait for retirement to make their sailing dreams happen. Some are sailing around the Canary Islands; some are just chilling in this harbour enjoying la vida Española or making a difference for a healthy ocean. Some are preparing for the Atlantic Ocean passage.

The cost of living

Las Palmas is fairly cheap. You can manage on a budget. Hostels in the Canary Islands go from €15/night. For food, plan for another €10-€20/day. If you eat where the locals eat, you can have a beer or tapa for just €1!

Searching for a boat to sail across

Lots of people show up every year looking to catch a sailboat ride across the Atlantic. Captains can decide last minute they want crew, for extra fun, safety, funds, or sleep. Or crew that’s already on board leaves for whatever reason. If you want all your questions answered on this topic, spend the $ of one hostel night on book Ocean Nomad and it’ll save you weeks of searching and figuring out stuff.

The first episode of Ocean Nomad TV is about the sailboat hitchhikers in Las Palmas. You can watch it here:

 

Is Las Palmas the best place to find a boat to sail across the Atlantic?

There is no best spot. Las Palmas may be the epic center of where most boats sail out for the Atlantic. Many boats come here to prepare, find the boat parts and provisioning they need, and the marina is big and fairly cheap. That said, Las Palmas is also the place that attracts many people looking for a ride. Elsewhere there may be fewer boats that possibly need crew, but also less aspiring crew.

When to be in Las Palmas?

Between November and May boats sail across. Many boats leave in November so they can have the full Caribbean season on the other side. From mid-December until after New Years it’s quiet. As from January many boats set sail again. Winds are generally good in January – March. Until around April boats set sail for the Atlantic.

The ARC and ARC+ sailing rallies depart from Las Palmas in November every year. The harbour can be pretty hectic during the weeks prior to these events. This year there are about 50-80 people looking for a boat during the ARC.

Where to meet the sailors?

Meet sailors around the marina at the reception, the Sailors Bay bar, the laundry machine, or just walking or rowing, SUPping, chatting around the harbour and bay. Make friends! Don’t just as ‘for a ride.’ Captains duck dive away when they see another ‘one of those hitchhikers’ coming. They’re busy preparing. Time it right.

Las Palmas also has a vibrant digital nomad community which is nice to mingle into if you’re an (aspiring) online entrepreneur.

Where to print your crew advertisement?

InkCrea (+/- 6 minute walk from the marina). Open from 9.00 to 17.00 (it does not close for siesta). It’s 0.08 cents for a black and white print.

Ways to find a boat

Make friends and stay determined. Perhaps the person you talk to doesn’t have a crewing opportunity. But maybe his new neighbour sailing in does. Throw out many lines and eventually, you’ll catch one. Also, keep checking online on the different platforms (find some suggestions here)

A few words of encouragement

Know that opportunity for a crew spot can arrive anytime! Don’t give up, Stay determined. Believe, Make friends, throw out many lines, online and offline. Wear a smile. And enjoy the journey! It’s all part of the fun!  I’ve waved many boats goodbye that took on Crew, either found online or here in the harbour. Some aspiring crew looks for a boat for two months. Some find one in a day. Captains find the right crew in a day but sometimes that also take weeks or months. Also realize it’s not just about finding a boat, it’s about finding the right boat. It’s a long ride and you must feel great about the captain, crew and boat. And vice versa of course! But trust me, the adventure is worthwhile. Good luck! Make it happen!

After four Atlantic Crossings I have wayyy more tips to share! I’ve put them all in book Ocean Nomad (available as E-book and in Print). 400 pages to help you on a happy, safe and meaningful ocean crossing. 

What to do in Las Palmas?

Clichee but it’s about the journey, not the destination. Make it fun!

In Las Palmas

  • Go for a surf, hike, SUP, sail, volleyball session.
  • Head for the old town every Thursday evening for la Ruta de Pinchos. For €2 you can get a beer, a tapa and great Spanish ambiance in la calle (the street). A great place to meet the locals but also sailors in social mode, a great time to make friends! Bring your own plate or re-use the one they give you. It’s horrendous the amount of trash that’s generated on these evenings.
  • Every Friday, and sometimes on Saturday, there’s live music on the streets in Las Canteras.
  • Visit the church in the old town where Columbus made a prayer before he sailed out. For a small fee, you can climb the stairs to the top for a beautiful view.

Elsewhere on the island

It’s fun to take the bus and explore the mountains for a day, or weekend. Gran Canaria is an island with one of the highest elevations in the world. Almost 50% of the island is a Biosphere reserve. With lots of greenery, hiking, biking and climbing trails outdoor fun is guaranteed. Put your sport shoes on and go on an adventure. This can also be an excellent crew bonding activity before sailing out.

Where to stay in Las Palmas?

If you’re not staying on a boat (yet), where to stay? Las Palmas marina is a 30-minute walk from the old city centre, and a 20-minute walk from the popular boulevard, Las Canteras beach (Great surf spot too!). For your own convenience, don’t stay too far from the harbour. I prefer staying in Las Canteras. It’s super nice to jump straight into the sea after waking up, to go for a beach run or surf session. An extra euro is worth the seaview accommodation! Or stay closer to the marina. It’ll save you lots of time walking.

Free Accommodation

  • The beach next to the marina 😉
  • Couchsurfing
  • Atlas in La Isleta
  • Try to find a place to stay in the marina. Perhaps you can sleep on someone’s boat in exchange for lending a hand. It’ll give you lots of interaction opportunities with other sailors.

Budget Accommodation

+ 5 minute walk to the harbour: La Fabrica (love the vibe here) and Alcaravaneras hostel (has private rooms).

Another nice hostel is Utopia and Big Fish in Las Canteras but it’s a +/- 20-minute walk to the marina from there.

Book your hostels in advance. On the spot they charge more and they are often booked out in high season (November- January).

Entrepreneur Accommodation

If you’re an online entrepreneur or freelancer you can also stay at the digital nomad co-living accommodations around town and take advantage of the internet facilities. The Roof is very close to the marina (My book Ocean Nomad – the Atlantic Sailing Crew Guide – is in the library here :). Restation is another option where you can use the wifi and printing facilities.

Mid-range Accommodation

Apartamentos Vacaciales Las Palmas Urban Center.Self-contained apartments close to the marina

Hotel the Fataga – Next to Mercado Central. This is where the ARC crew usually stays in the month of November.

You can check out my page on recommended travel resources for budget friendly /free accommodation platforms

How to get around in Las Palmas?

Rent a Bike

My preferred way: by bicycle! Las Palmas has cycle lanes throughout the city. Spanish style. Sometimes they just end. Also, it’s cool to cycle uphill or take a mountain bike with the car or bus inland. Take bikes in at night. They get stolen. It happened to me.

There’s a free public bike service where you can grab a bike for 30 minutes: ByBike. You must register and pick up a card. Or rent a bicycle (+/- 30 euro/ week or  €75 / month)! Cheapest bike rental in Las Palmas: Bike Station.

Walk

It’s all walkable. Note that from Las Canteras to the marina is about a 20-30 minute walk and from the Old town (Vegueta) to the marina 30-40 minutes walk. There’s a bus stop close to the marina, or my preferred option: by bike.

The beach and boulevard in Las Canteras is a nice half an hour stroll. There’s a walking (& bicycle lane) all the way to the south of the island which has some nice seaviews. It’s also nice to walk up the hills to get a nice view of Las Palmas.

The bus

One ride costs 1,40 euro and brings you to the other side of town. You can hold the bus at the different busstops along the street. From ‘Estacion de Guagguas Bus station’ Buses leave to elsewhere on the island. There is one big busstation at Parque Santa Catalina (between the port and Las Canteras) and one in Triana, just before the old town.

The bus from the Airport to Las Palmas is a few euro’s and leaves every 20 minutes.

Taxi’s

Taxi’s are and you’ll see them everywhere (white cars). They have a starting rate of 1euro-something and then add cents per distance. A ride from Las Canteras to the old town is around 8-10 euro. A taxi ride from the Airport to town is 30 euro.

Provisioning tips Las Palmas

With provisioning you can make a HUGE difference for a healthier ocean. Read more on conscious provisioning for an offshore passage. The Spanish supermarkets are the worse when it comes to plastic packaging! Try to avoid them as much as you can.

The central market (Mercado Central) is a great place to source your food. You can have your fruits and veggies delivered to the boat from here with reduced packaging. The places around the Mercado Central also provide budget friendly provisions. The old town has another market (Mercado Vequeta). On Sundays, there is a farmer’s market at San Lorenza.

The Indian Supermarket at the end of Las Canteras is a great place to find all sorts of spices, seeds, nuts, and teas at reasonable prices.

The Pharmacia on Plaza Santa Catalina in Las Palmas gives over-the-counter antibiotics to ships.

Carrefour sells unbleached toilet paper you can throw overboard (Learn what else you can and can’t throw over board)

Local foods
One of the few places in Europe where you can buy tropical fruit grown locally! Mango’s, papayas, banana, kaki fruit, walnuts Yum yum! Also try local wines, aloe vera products, mojo rojo and verde (local sauce) made in the Canary islands.

Organic food shops: La Zanahoria and Spar natural Also sells ocean-friendly detergents, shampoo and toiletries and all sorts of sprouting seeds so you can have fresh veggies anywhere at sea.

 

Read more about finding a boat to sail across the Atlantic Ocean and Ocean passage provisioning tips on planning, food choices and storage in Ocean Nomad.

Ahoy!

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The Ocean Nomad Book Launch Celebration – Out Now!

Ocean Nomad is OUT NOW!

Fiesta time in Lanzarote last week! The launch of book Ocean Nomad: The Complete Atlantic Sailing Crew Guide – Catch a Ride & Contribute to a Healthier Ocean ! A celebration of a milestone I have been working towards for two and a half years. Back then I thought to ‘just’ write down a few tips into a 20-page PDF. Along the way, I figured to really make an impact for the good, and deliver something of true value, I better do it well or not at all. Now, book Ocean Nomad, is a fact, as an e-book but also print! Ocean Nomad is a 400-page guidebook for sailing across the Atlantic as crew, from dream state to execution state in a safe, happy and meaningful matter. With the book, I aim to connect people to the ocean. When people experience the ocean, they’ll be more triggered to care for it too. The very first print edition of Ocean Nomad has been brought into the world last week in Lanzarote.

Launching on a boat

This milestone was something to celebrate. Of course, on a boat! Easy to choose which boat. I teamed up with Marjo & Edwin of Grace for Ocean Conservation. There’s simply no better venue than the almost 100-year-old wooden sailboat, a perfect example that naturally made crafts last, sustainable in style. I invited my parents, friends and other adventurous souls to join the festivities! Super fantastic to finally be able to share the result of the work. We made it one weekend full of FUN!

Book Launch festivities

On Thursday the VIPs (&first print books!) arrived and we started off with a homemade dinner made by Marjo and a big cheers! I handed out the first copy to Mum & Dad, and to Marjo & Edwin, my ocean parents.
Friday morning was show time! Lanzarote Mix radio set up a studio on the boat and for two hours we were live on air. In the afternoon some press stopped by and we decorated Grace and the pontoon to get the party started! Mum had made party flags. Dad helped to create re-usable bamboo straws. Local artisanal beer crafter NOA provided the beers (If you’re in Lanzarote, you must try this healthy yummy local produce at their brewery). VIPs and supersupporters Karlijn, Roline & Lonneke created the tune list and happy vibes. A great mix of family, friends, (aspiring) sailors, boat hitchhikers, local curious and change-makers made the party! The setting allowed for many beautiful ocean connections have been made. Mission accomplished!
Saturday was sailing ‘o clock! It was a long-awaited dream to finally take my parents and friends out sailing and to share a taste of the lifestyle I’ve been living the last years. We sailed down to Puerto Calero. Here we held a movie screening of Vanishing Sail, a movie about the wooden boat craft that still takes place on the beach in the Caribbean. But for how much longer? After living between the boat builders for two months earlier this year, and sailing one of these beautiful Carriacou Sloops across the Caribbean, I’m determined to do what I can to revive this art. The screening triggered some more souls determined to not let this art of wooden boat building die. I’m looking to organize more screenings. Let me know if you have a group, yacht club or community interested!
Together with the big book, I also launched the ‘Ocean Love & Conservation’ part of the book as a seperate Bonus edition on Kindle for a bargain. This bonus part is about Making the Ocean famous again and what we can do as crew to make a difference for a healthier ocean. We have no time to loose when it comes to saving our ocean. The more people learn about what’s happening to the ocean and what actions can be taken, the better.

An ocean of gratitude

Thanks everyone for making this weekend a mega memorable celebration of life, for life!  Super thanks to Mum, Dad, Roline, Karlijn Lonneke, Edwin & Marjo for being present and sharing the unconditional Ocean Nomad love! A special thanks to my early Indiegogo supporters. And thank YOU for buying the book which will help support the next creation.

A special thanks to partners and sponsors

Thank you Marjo, Edwin & Grace for Ocean Conservation for facilitating and being present! Thank you Puerto Calero for the support. Thanks Justin & Alexis of Vanishing Sail to help to make the screening happen. Thank you Lanzarote Mix for having me on your radio show! Gazette Life for the interview (out mid November). Lava Charter for your enthusiastic presence, support and putting up Ocean Nomad in your nautical shop. Thanks Wayne of Greening the Caribbean for helping create awareness about the book and The Bamboo Brush Society for supporting sustainable tooth brushing.

The Ocean Nomad book tour continues

I did another book presentation in Rubicon Marina. Together with Grace for Ocean Conservation we set up a stand at the Rubicon marina mercadillo.  Now I’m in Las Palmas helping the (aspiring) sailors on a safe, happy, and meaningful ride across. Every Thursday this November at 18.00 I’ll be presente in the Sailors Bay to talk about the book and answer questions. More book presentations and events I’ll mention on www.oceannomad.co

It’s just the beginning

I’m superhappy with the success so far! The first colour edition is almost sold out. Book Ocean Nomad 2, the Caribbean edition, is in far stages. I’m creating an Ocean Nomad book series, and an Ocean Nomad community of like-minded Ocean Adventurers and change-makers. The first Ocean Nomad Reviews give me happy tears.
Publishing a book has been as adventurous as sailing across the Atlantic. I’ll write more about the book publishing process soon on this blog (Ps. I’m recruiting. I need more hands on deck)
Thank you to everyone who helped to make this happen: the book launch and the book! An ocean of gratitude to all!

THANK YOU!

               
        

Available here

Ocean Nomad is available for direct download here, as Kindle here, and as Print on Demand (black & white) on Amazon and Bol. I have a few first edition colour copies left which are available at Lava Charter (Lanzarote), in the Sailors Bar in Las Palmas, and in my duffel bag ;). Grab one of the last very first prints here. Christmas colour pre-order will open soon. Simply curious? Download a free sample.
Press contact: ahoy @ oceannomad.co

Hop on board. Here are the Photos!

Photocredits: Edwin Butter, Jose van der Veeken & party crew.

 Share with your friends!

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Travel packing for the planet: What’s in my eco friendly travel kit?

You want to travel light, compact and purposeful. But that’s not enough!

You want to support innovative social entrepreneurs, and have a positive influence on fellow travellers and locals to help create awareness of solutions out there to make this world a better place. You want to minimize your carbon footprint, your trash trail and the number of chemicals polluting the environment and your body. You want the best for your health AND make a positive difference in the world that you call your playground. You want to collect memories and not things. You do need to pack something at some point.

But you’re busy. You don’t have the time to sort it all out. You left the packing part to last minute and now you realize it would be good to have done some research so you can travel with a positive impact

What impact do you actually make with the travel gear you take with you? How eco-friendly is your kit?

Warning: Long post! Find more plastic-free travel solutions in my lastest #PLASTICFREENOMAD campaign. Disclaimer: No brand is paying me to mention them! Recommendations are based on my own investigation and testing. 
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Is it safe to travel to Turkey? A happy note from the sunny seaside

A happy message from the sunny seaside in Turkey. Because its people deserve it.

And for those curious what I am up to in Turkey.

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Travelling? 70 eco travel tips for a better planet

Are you amongst the fortunate few to be able to travel? Lucky you!
Now let’s make the most out of it! Not just for yourself but for the places and people that you’re visiting. Our travels can bring huge benefits to local communities. It can also destroy a destination. 

What impact do you make?

According to your facebook and Instagram accounts you have been travelling to the most beautiful paradises on the planet. You have eaten exotic delicacies, encountered magnificent wildlife, engaged with fascinating cultures, climbed to the top of the volcano and explored the funderwaterworld. You have memories of a lifetime.

I am one of these lucky bastards.

Lucky bastard exploring paradise

But you also have memories of trash on the beach, begging children, damaged corals, green ski slopes, porters like donkeys, people trying to sell a fruit for almost nothing, no fish today, chained monkeys, and sharks on the market. Just to name a few situations that make us feel bad, though are there daily.

The beach these days in the Gili Islands

You have experienced the preciousness of drinking water, fresh air, power, a roof, freedom, a toilet, feeling safe, internet, a bankcard, a clean beach, and a healthy body. Most normal ‘back home.’ Not for most us in the world.
You are aware of your lucky position in this world. And you really want to do something good. But WHAT can you do?
“I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult.” E.B. White 
 If you are able to travel you have the skills or resources to make a positive impact. We can travel AND do good AND save money AND have fun. When we make conscious decisions, we can minimize our negative footprint and maximize the benefit for the place we visit and for the planet as a whole. Every decision and every action counts. Collectively our impact is major. With millions of extra travellers every year and a 1,5 million EXTRA people on the planet WEEKLY, it’s all becoming a bit crowded. Our planet and the destinations we’re visiting are reaching limits to cope with our demands. Climate change is happening and it’s probably worse than you think it is. It’s more important than ever to do your bit. It’s our responsibility to become part of the solution, not the problem

So what can you do?

Here are some easy eco travel tips and actions to make your travel a good one, for the planet and for you:

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Catching a Sailboat Ride in South East Asia

On to plan B: find a sailing boat in South East Asia with whom I can explore, dream, discover the Asian seas. And learn, more about boats, coastal sailing, and the sea.

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Atlantic Ocean Crossing part 2: Caribbean to Europe!

I’m back on the Atlantic Ocean. Again. Back to blue, breathing sea, stimulus stop, facing the elements, learning ropes! This time in a completely different setting. A boat and crew more than double the size of SeaYa, different route, different weather, different speed!

The sailing adventure begins…

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