Tenerife to La Gomera, on to La Palma, then back to La Gomera
1st to 12th November 2015
(Henrietta is getting M to write this blog post. He’s been with Anna and seems to have no time for me. I’m a bit miffed, but do accept most men seem to love their human friends even more than their boats. They really do!)
Ok then! I found my way to the bus station in Santa Cruz, Tenerife, and met up with Anna who’d caught a bus there from the airport in the south. (Spanish coming on leaps and bounds these days and we can now get to a Canarian bus station!) Weary after our journeys and as the next day was windless, we stayed in Santa Cruz, sharing the city’s delights with the thousands of visitors disgorged from vast white cruise ships that docked nearby. The ships seem huge and ungainly, with hulls and backsides resembling unimaginative white housing blocks – P&O – Posterior xx Oversized. The city has a marvellous and colourful market, and unexpected charms on every street corner (see pics)
Next day we sailed off south, down the Tenerife coastline, till lack of wind and impulsiveness led us to head for shore and anchor (a pleasant bay, Bahia de Abona). In late afternoon we rowed ashore,deftly avoiding capsize and a swim as we landed in the surf; then had one of those hot hot humid dusty roadside walks into the nearby village of Poris (I presume it rhymes with Boris and might want a name change).
On south again next day to San Miguel where there’s a busy but welcoming marina. It was an afternoon where everything seemed to go right – so right that you get nervous that it can’t go on being so good! But the gods were on our side today: A new and bigger anchor had arrived thanks to Lewmar (It fits perfectly too). Diesel was available and we filled up. A secluded berth was vacant and we took it. The marina bar had useable internet service. A volcanic beach was nearby and fine for a refreshing swim. Just a slightly off-key note with local resort concrete blocks and food shops; I find it depressing to see UK produce available when there’s a good, cheaper and better local alternative. Some totally unadaptable Britons must presumably buy Tesco tinned sardines (2x local price), Buxton bottled water, and Heinz baked beans. (Don’t forget the Coco Pops either).
After a night there, we sailed over to the relatively little island of La Gomera. This included our first flirtation with an ‘Acceleration Zone’, where wind picks up quite quickly by 10-15 knots and you can enjoy some exhilarating sailing as you approach a new coastline. (I think this happens in bits of the Mediterranean too, but I’ve not been there.) Rather than go straight to the marina we opted to anchor off the coast. Alas! Coasts in the Canary Islands often have persistent irregular swell making them rolly. This one was no exception. But it was beautiful…rolling beneath the high and barren cliffs…stars twinkling as darkness moved in…..
Next day, we overdid it, we overdid it…..Early into San Sebastion de La Gomera marina, berth ‘Henrietta’, pack up rucksacks and picnic lunch and find a walking map, catch a bus up a zigzag road to a high village (1,200 metres), jump out of bus, walk rocky path downhill miles and miles (this is two folk past 60 with dodgy knees, remember!), but we are entranced by the Valle Gran Rey: natural and manmade terraces, cactus, banana, vine, avocado and more, and, as we drop lower, tidy white pink and terracotta mountainside huts and houses….after many sweat-filled hours we arrive at the seaside, find a beer, then find a bus back and, as night and darkness arrive, enjoy the cool switchback bus journey home with village lights twinkling beneath the high mountain road. (Knees are hurting a bit, but never mind!)
After a day relatively resting in La Gomera, we sailed all next day to the next island, La Palma. It’s about 55 miles and I’d left a bit late (wanting to recover deposit for marina passes) – so we arrived after dark (always something that makes for anxiety when a port is new and unknown, and lights of the town obscure navigation lights). All went well though. Marina staff were typically fantastic and shone a torch to show where to go and a half hour later we were tied up. The marina is less than half full. It suffers surge and this deters many visitors. But the marina facilities are good, the town of Santa Cruz de la Palma is a gem, the countryside striking and a delight for walking and admiring volcanic nature (the last eruption in 1971)……
You’ll have had enough of this rambling travelogue ….suffice to say we loved La Palma; we met lovely people (including Challenger 3 skipper Paul, and sailors Phil and Laura, quite newlyweds, also on a Najad, and sailing on the Islands Odyssey [15 boats going to Caribbean via littler islands than the ARC proper]); we stayed three days on La Palma, then sailed back to La Gomera.
Yesterday, we took a ferry, an hour over to Los Cristianos on Tenerife. It’s close to the airport but isn’t a place that holds much for us. We ate a simple meal, trudged past shoploads of sun-hats, buckets and spades, and Tenerife labelled T-shirts, then waited for an airport bus. It came on time and Anna climbed aboard. We had a hug, and felt listless and sad. A few hours later her flight landed in Bristol and my ferry docked in La Gomera. I’m back with ‘Henrietta’ now. A week of repairs, tidying, cleaning, researching, walking and resting (and a haircut) is needed.