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Sail All Year Round: The Best Winter Sailing Routes in the Canary Islands

The Canary archipelago is the perfect place to sail all year round. Below we will explain why.

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“All sails high/ The boat does not cut the sea, it flies,” says José de Espronceda in Pirate Song. “My boat is my treasure/ Liberty is all… Oh homeland oh sea.” There are few places in the world like the Canary Islands. In this Atlantic paradise you can sail throughout the year in a pleasant climate with suitable winds for all abilities. Conditions range from tranquil to high speed. The constancy of the trade winds means that sailors around the Canarian archipelago only need to use their engines to manoeuvre about the harbour.  

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The trade winds pass right through the Canary Islands, and this brings great benefits for sailing. The phrase “trade wind” dates back to the fourteenth century when the word “trade” meant “path” or “track”. Trade winds have been used for centuries by sailors crossing the ocean. They are permanent east-to-west prevailing winds that blow along the world’s equatorial region. These movements of air are smooth, friendly, and regular which makes them ideal for travel.  

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The Canary Islands has a long tradition of nurturing sailors. Besides the ideal weather conditions, there are first rate facilities which provide all the equipment sailors need. There are almost 40 marinas and dozens of nautical companies that hire out the latest equipment. Boats available (with or without a skipper) include Finns, 470s, Flying Dutchmans, Solings, Tornados, Stars, Lasers and Vela Latinas. Also, the islands have a number of first rate sailing schools, and competitions are regularly based in the region. Considering the quality of this sailing environment, it is unsurprising that a great many top class sailors have emerged from the archipelago including Olympic medallists.  

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The Canary Islands climate is considered one of the most pleasant in the world. There are more hours of sunlight in the archipelago than anywhere else in Europe. Winter is a good time to sail with mild temperatures of around 22º C. Summer is also agreeable with averages of about 26º C. The trade winds and the Azores anticyclone favours sunny days, and year round the skies are clear of rainclouds. 

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The Canarian archipelago is made up of eight spectacular islands – Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro and La Graciosa. The islands are all distinct and within close distance of each other. This makes the Canary Islands a paradise for sailors who want to see lots of seascapes and landscapes but don’t want to spend days travelling from one place to another

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Many choose to set sail from Mogán, a colourful old fishing port in Gran Canaria that has become a popular marina. From there, the first stop is Morro Jable, a town in the municipality of Pájara in the south of Fuerteventura. Next it is straightforward to travel to Lanzarote, the birthplace of the famous architect César Manrique. In this island Papagayo, a quiet picture postcard beach spot, is a recommended location. Afterwards a journey can be extended with a trip to the island of La Graciosa, the undiscovered Canary Island to the north of Lanzarote which contains few roads and, fewer still, cars.  

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Lots of people set sail from the Marina San Miguel in Tenerife (which has key amenities such as electricity, toilet facilities, and internet). From Marina San Miguel there is a nice route along the Tenerife coastline which can take in beautiful beaches such as La Tejita, Las Vistas, Fañabé, San Juan and El Duque. Sailors have to keep their eyes peeled on the horizon in case there are opportunities for cetacean spotting as they move to the bay of Antequera (which is only accessible from the ocean). The Los Gigantes cliffs can be visited next before mooring at either Las Galletas or Los Cristianos. 

La Gomera, only a short journey across the water from Tenerife, has great docking options at the Marina La Gomera, the port of Playa Santiago and the port of Las Vueltas. Or, if preferred, boats can just anchor at the Cabrito beach. 

From La Gomera many choose to hop across to El Hierro, La Palma or one of the other islands. With weather that is pleasant all year round, sailing in the Canary Islands offers endless possibilities.