La Gomera, Tenerife, La Palma
24th December to 16th January 2017
For the past three weeks I’ve had company on board; first, son George, then friend, Stephanie. Since my favourite humans are my children and nice women, this has been a bit of a treat – even if Stephanie, for all her many virtues, is not a liberal vegetarian. (Stephanie won’t, I hope, mind me saying this!) For the next few weeks, if not months and years, I shall be single-handed, so it has seemed important to enjoy the company of others – stickily despondent as my current mood may be.
Of course, as a single-handed sailor – or even not as a single-handed sailor – you do meet many other lovely folk. For, most waterborne people agree, one of the greater delights of sailing – or travelling in general – is meeting, talking, and exchanging ideas, opinions, experiences and knowledge with others. But these encounters will always be fleeting compared with the hourly and daily contact of familiar others. Never mind… all travel is enriched with understanding (or trying to understand) fellow beings. The world seems such an overcrowded bundle of multiple confusion and fascination.
….The above stuff is not really what this blog set out to cover. But, if you read this, you might find it rather tedious to have a repetitive diet of ‘where I go and what I do and who I meet and what I eat’ – hence: the odd rambly thought.
To cover briefly the where/what/who stuff….George and I enjoyed some typically inspiring walks on the island of La Gomera. With so many varied routes, you may spend many months here and rarely cover the same ground twice, and of course it was doubly delightful to share outings with my youngest son.
With George leaving me for the brighter lights of London for New Year, Stephanie and I, plus sailor-neighbours from Hampshire, Norway and Holland, enjoyed local New Year celebrations in San Sebastian de la Gomera (friendly and welcoming with magnificent fireworks and shared champagne). San Sebastian is perhaps my favourite little town on my favourite little island in all the Canary Islands – at least, while aboard a boat.
Thence, Stephanie and I sailed gently up the eastern side of Tenerife, via nights and launderette of Las Galletas, to the Tenerife capital, Santa Cruz. Whilst there in early January, we coincided with the ‘Procession of the Three Kings and Epiphany’. Apparently, children hereabouts don’t get their presents until the said holy kings have visited, some twelve days after Christmas itself. But we didn’t see these three latter-day gentlemen arrive after dark by helicopter in the football stadium and from there set forth through the city’s beautifully-lit streets, on camels; streets thronged with amiable local people though.
From Tenerife, the wind forecast looked just-about-ok for the 120-mile trip round the top of Tenerife and then round the bottom of another island, La Palma, to the welcoming port of Tazacorte. In the event, conditions were not really ok and temperamental winds blew from any of the compass’s 360 degrees with anything between five and nearly 50 knots – so, it was a sleepless 24 hours.
On arrival we were not allowed into a berth (manoeuvres considered too risky) and, with strong south winds, spent the first night lurching, creaking and wallowing at a reception pontoon. Next day, wind eased and we shifted to a berth. And now, a week later, as I write this, I feel pretty much at home. I’ve enjoyed several new walks on La Palma. Henrietta is comfortably sandwiched between two Dutch yachts, between them sporting three charming and disarmingly attractive girls from Holland.
Here are some images from La Palma….
Despite such delights, it’s been a time of half-hearted decision-making – i.e.not quite ‘-making’. I’ll head back to La Gomera in a day or two, or three. Then, try to work out if I really want to leave the beauty, the diversity, the security, the cultures and the delights of Europe (especially warm friendly Canary Islands) for the world’s less-privileged continents.