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Tuesday 27 February 2024

Meandering to La Gomera

By the end of January, we were ready to move on and visit La Gomera. We wanted to be back in Tenerife in good time for the Carnival, so planned to only be there for a couple of weeks. 

The journey would take about eleven hours so we planned to break it in to two parts. We would sail to Punta de Abona, about 4 hours away and anchor overnight and then head to La Gomera the next day, arriving whilst we still had good daylight and hopefully, the weather would be kind and we could anchor out for a few days before heading into the marina at San Sebastian.

We left Santa Cruz around midday on a clear sunny day, but with very little wind and so under engine. Before we headed out of the harbour though, Mark wanted to calibrate the autopilot. To the amusement of Sunday walkers on the paseo, we went round in circles until the calibration was complete.

We left the harbour entrance with mixed emotions.  On the one hand, we wanted to get out and explore further afield, but on the other hand, we had grown attached to Santa Cruz. But not to worry, the marina was booked for two weeks time so we knew we would be returning.

Once out at sea, with a slight breeze in our hair, it felt good to be out of the confines of the marina.  North of Santa Cruz was very misty and we didn't get to have final glimpses of the beautiful Anaga Mountains, but by this time lunch was calling!

The journey to Bahia Abona was uneventful and we dropped anchor late afternoon. The bay itself was nice, with a small beach and dwellings on top of a small hill, but there wasn't really much to see so we just relaxed and listened to the waves lapping against the shore.

Next day we were up bright and early (well, early for us). It had been a bit of a rolly night and we were keen to get over to La Gomera.

Again there was no wind to speak off so we were under motor. But, we did have one knot of current with us which pushed us along and gave us an average speed of 6.5 knots. 

We were practically flying!


Whilst it's frustrating not to have wind to sail with, the plus side is that the sea state is usually quite calm. On this particular day, we were in waters of 500+ metres and it was glassy still, which meant that if there were dolphins or whales, we would be able to see them clearly. I was on full alert.

We caught our first glimpse of a whale in the south of the island around midday. We think it was a Minke whale but couldn't be certain as it was about a quarter of a mile away. We tracked the whale for a few minutes, not going too close as we don't like to disturb them, especially if they're feeding. Whilst tracking the whale though, a pod of 5 or so pilot whales appeared between us and the  Minke whale. We put the engine into neutral and bobbed around for a bit just so we could enjoy the beautiful sight of them leisurely passing in front of our bows.




Crossing the channel between Tenerife and La Gomera we were on full alert. The straits here are notorious for confused seas as there is swell coming from both sides of the islands, meeting in the middle. Add in how the sea bed shelves, and pushes water through, it can have the effect of being in a washing machine. On top of that, you also have to contend with fast ferries whizzing backwards and forwards between southern Tenerife and San Sebastian in La Gomera at speeds up to 35 knots. We had to keep our wits about us as they could be on us in minutes.

By mid afternoon there was a bit of wind, so Mark raised the mainsail and gib. Unfortunately the wind wasn't quite strong enough to sail without the engine on, but it did steady the boat from the effects of the swell.

We arrived in Playa de Chinguarme late afternoon. A pretty little cala, with nothing there, other than people living off grid in the caves. There must have been at least 20 different dwellings, some with just a couple of people in them, right through to a family with 4 young children. It was fascinating watching them go about their business and at night, the caves were lit by candles and fires. 

I can certainly see why you would be tempted to live like that, away from the madding crowds, no overheads, no mobile signal, just you and nature. 

That was until the next morning when, sitting in the cockpit having coffee, a young woman walks down to the shoreline, naked as the day she was born, points her bum into the water and does her business in the sea. 

Hmm, shan't be going for a swim after all! 

Whilst we were having breakfast, we had a couple of visitors swim out to the boat.  Couple of German guys asking if they could hitch a lift to San Sebastian but, could we pick them up from the beach in our dinghy otherwise their stuff would get wet. As our dinghy still needed repairs we couldn't help them.  

Never mind they said, as they swam back to shore, naked bums in the air.

By mid morning we were ready to leave - still under motor.  We headed south as we wanted to check out other possible anchorages. Cala Cantera was particularly pretty and one that we will return to another time.  

Touring the coastline finished, it was time to head towards San Sebastian but not until we'd been out to sea again to spot dolphins or whales.

Two sets of pilot whales made the detour worthwhile and by mid afternoon we were ready to head north to San Sebastian. 

What adventures awaited us here?










 


Wednesday 21 February 2024

Sightseeing in Tenerife (Part One)

After the excitement of Christmas and New Year,  we decided to focus on exploring the island. With so much history and great transport networks, we were spoilt for choice.

First up was Puerto de la Cruz on the western side of the island.

Taking the direct bus from Santa Cruz, we wound our way through the pass between the Montana de Guerra and Montana Terremoto to reach the Western side. We were amazed at how green and lush the landscape was and we're treated to a spectacular view of Mount Teide peaking through the clouds.

The journey was only 45 minutes, but it was a great way to see the western coastline and a tantalising glimpse of the island of  of La Palma in the distance.

Puerto de la Cruz dates back to the 16th century when it existed as a coastal port. Originally a fishing village, by the 19th century tourism had become an important factor for the local economy.  It was during this time that grand structures, churches and plazas appeared, many of which are still in use today.

Known in the late 18th century as the Port of Orotava, Puerto de la Cruz  was one of the first places in the world to attract the growing international tourist trade. 


It was evident from the buildings  and monuments located around the old port that it played a key strategic role in the history of the town.  

The white building in the top left picture is the original Customs House, a very grand structure whose guardians could clearly observe the comings and goings in the port and manage compliance with legal regulations.  Restored in 1999, it is now a Museum of Contemporary Art, housing art from 20th century artists from the Canary Islands.

Also in the picture above,  is the Bateria de Santa Barbara, built in the 18th century to protect the old port from possible attacks by pirates and corsairs, still has the original iron and bronze canons from the 18th and 19th centuries.

During our wandering around the town, we happened to come across the Museo del Pescador.

Managed by the Brotherhood of Fishermen, it is a treasure trove of history relating to the port.

With model boats of every shape and size, from small fishing boats to sailboats to cruise liners, Mark was in his element!

We were lucky enough to start talking with one of the guys who works at the museum.  He gave us a personal tour,  explaining the history of the port and showing us photos from the 19th and 20th century. He told us how it used to be the main fishing port for the island, with numerous boats leaving the harbour each day to get their catch,  but now, with the main fishing port being moved to Santa Cruz, there are only eight fishing boats left. 

He also told us how tourism in the town had grown. With the advent of cruising, Tenerife became the first stop for those making an Atlantic crossing to and from the Americas.

 Ships would moor off the port, and tourist would be brought ashore to rest and enjoy the island before departing either east or west.

Mark and I were fascinated by the history, particularly as the entrance to the port is quite narrow and surrounded by reefs. Coming in and out in small tenders would be rather precarious in anything other than relative calm. We wouldn't be taking Offbeat there for that adventure! 

Next on our places to visit was a day in the Anaga Mountains. 

The Anaga mountain range, located behind the marina of Santa Cruz had been tantalising us since
we had sailed past them when we arrived. 

They looked amazing!

Steep, rugged and mysterious, we had promised ourselves a day out to walk in these mountains and savour the spectacular views that they would provide.

To get there, we had to take the tram to La Laguna and from there take the bus.  There's only three buses a day, so we set out early to make sure we had plenty of time to get the the bus station. We needn't have worried, the transport system is so good in Tenerife we got there with plenty of time to spare. Great, coffee was in order before we left. Mistake!

We had planned to do a circular route, taking the bus the length of the mountains, stopping for a walk and lunch and then coming back down the mountains to the east of Santa Cruz and along the coast.

However,  the best laid plans of mice and men often change. When we had left Santa Cruz, it had been quite mild with the sun shining. By the time we reached the mountains, it was cold and fog had descended. It's not a great combination with a couple of cups of coffee and yes, you've guessed it, we needed the toilet and had to get off. Luckily, at the top of the mountain range is a visitors center and cafe and as there was still another hour's journey to our planned destination, we got off there for our relief. 


As there wasn't going to be a bus for another hour, we had to reassess our plans. Not easy with limited phone signal, but with well signed walking trails and Mark's Wikiwalks, we decided to head into the woods which would take us to the western side of the island.  

By this time, the mist and fog was truly coming down. We were so glad we'd brought our thick coats with us. As we walked deeper into the woods and down tracks, we were teased by tiny glimpses of the Atlantic Ocean. 

We must have been walking for at least an hour when we got to a crossroads. One route would take us back up the mountain,  the other would take us to the small village of Las Carboneras. 

We both wanted to go to the village, after all, it had turned into bit of an adventure,  but we were practical too. Two questions then before our final decision a) did it have a bus route and could we get back to La Laguna today b) did it have somewhere to eat? Luckily I had a bit of a signal and yes, there was a bus leaving the village at 4pm, going to La Laguna and yes, there was a restaurant/bar in the village and it was open. Decision made to go to the village, we took the downward path, further into the forest!

We continued walking through the forest for another 30 minutes or so, but by now the ground was damp and slippery. We reached a road that would take us to the village, so decided to take this route rather than slipping and sliding on the forest trail.

We had walked for about half a mile when we came to a bend that had a great view down to the sea. I stopped to take a photo, not really taking notice that there was a small bungalow a few metres away.

As I'm taking photos, a man comes out of the bungalow,  looking rather bedraggled in a grubby vest and jogging bottoms. As he approached us slowly, we both noticed the hammer in his hand. Crikeys!  Normally, we would have said 'hola' or 'buenas dias' but today there were no niceties.  Quickly turning on our heels, we practically ran down the road, listening to see if he was running after us. Once we were at the next bend in the road, we looked back. He was still there, casually watching, with hammer in hand, but at least he wasn't following us!

At a faster pace, we continued walking to the village. By now the mist and fog had cleared and the clouds were rolling away. The views of the rolling landscape and the Atlantic coastline were breathtaking. 
We soon reached the village, which is tucked away in the green forest mountains on the north side of the island. 

Las Carboneras is a small village, which has a central plaza, church, school and restaurant and as it's on the bus route, it's very popular with hikers as it's a starting point for many trails. 

Hooray, the restaurant was open, the walk and the adrenaline rush had made us quite hungry. The food was pretty good, typical Canary Island cuisine and with a couple of glasses of red wine, it was a great way to end our hike.

The bus journey back to La Laguna was quite spectacular.  We got to see the views that we hadn't seen on the way down because of the fog and mist. We had a moment when we went past the bungalow, but there was no sign of hammer man, so we could sigh with relief and continue to enjoy the beautiful scenery around us.

Although our original plans didn't work out, plan B turned into quite an adventure! 

 







Our final day trip was to La Orotava.

Set 400 metres above Puerto de la Cruz in the Orotava Valley, much of the Teide National Park is located within the municipality. 

One of the oldest towns in the Canary Islands, it was founded in the early 16th Century after the Spanish conquest. Rich in heritage it has many grand buildings and gardens.

I particularly wanted to visit La Orotava for it's spectacular gardens and architect. When I was researching places to visit in Tenerife, I came across La Orotava and was drawn to it by it's positioning high above the ocean and it's history.  We were not disappointed! 

The town has a feel of times gone by, quiet and genteel.  With quiet cobbled streets, not throbbing with traffic or tourists, we were able to wander around and soak up the beauty at leisure. Highlights for us were

The main square, Plaza de la Constitución. Home to Iglesia San Augustin, built between 1671 and 1694 on the remains of the former hermitage of San Roque, it's bell tower is made from black lava rock, found in abundance around the island. 

Set with restaurants around the plaza and a decorative bandstand with views to the sea, it would be a nice spot to have lunch later.

But first, a visit to the Marquesado de la Quinta Roja Garde. Consisting of several terraces laid out in a stepped design, they are decorated with promenades, fountains, lush vegetation and crowned with a marble building overlooking the whole garden.

The gardens and Mausoleum were built in the nineteenth century to house the remains of the Marquis Diego Ponte del Castillo who was denied burial in the local cemetery because he was a Freemason.

The gardens were pretty, but we felt they were a bit too regimental and formal. Although they were well trimmed and manicured, they felt perfunctory,  not loved.

However, the views at the top of gardens were amazing. We were so lucky that we had good weather and no haze. Not only could we see along the length of the west coast, we also had a birdseye view of Puerto de la Cruz and further out, the island of La Palma. 

That made Mark's day!

Leaving the formal gardens, by chance we came across the Botanical Gardens Hijuela del Botanical. 

Set in the former orchard of the convent of San Jose, this urban plot of land was transformed into a nursery at the end of the eighteenth century.

In the gardens, there is an abundance of exotic plants, originally planted as seeds by botanists returning from scientific expeditions. 

The gardens stand out for their rare exotic specimens, set in flower beds along the walkways and include the Indian chestnut, the sapodilla, Australian conifers and a beautiful specimen of dragon tree.

Still in the original layout and design, we enjoyed wandering around these gardens. There was a feeling of being transported back to a time when these gardens would have provided sanctuary to the residents of La Orotava, away from the beating sun and a place to wonder about the world outside of their island.

Leaving the sanctuary of shade from the gardens, we had a pleasant wander through the streets, admiring the architecture and opulent buildings and churches.

It was clear to see that the previous inhabitants of the town were wealthy, with a penchant for balconies on their homes and extremely large bell towers on their churches.

Our meanderings around the town took us back to the main square, where we enjoyed a light lunch with a chilled glass of wine. We reflected on how much the town reminded us of some back in England, particularly Aldeburgh and Southwold. Both are coastal towns and give the perception that time has stood still and the same could be said for La Orotava. 

But, time doesn't stand still and all too soon it was time to catch the bus back to the 21st century and get ready to head over to La Gomera for our next adventure! 

Friday 16 February 2024

Celebrating King's Night

The most magical night for everyone in Spain, especially children, is January 5th, King's night, when the three Wise Men or King's visit homes and leave presents for everyone.

Part of the tradition is that on the evening of the 5th, children leave a cleaned pair of shoes outside their doors for the Kings to fill with gifts. Just like with Santa, children write letters to the kings and are encouraged to leave snacks for their exhausted camels before going to bed.

In villages, towns and cities across Spain, the celebrations start early in the day with the arrival of the kings, who arrive on a wide variety of means, from donkey to helicopter. Children will be gathered waiting for their arrival so that they can deliver their letters.

Later in the day, usually early evening, King's night is celebrated with very grand parades, featuring an array of floats and people dressed in costumes, distributing sweets and presents during the parade.

The celebrations in Santa Cruz started around midday, with a helicopter flying over the city announcing the arrival of the three kings in one of the city's large parks. The city was eerily quiet as I guess most people were off to see the Kings. 

Just before sunset we headed off to the city centre to find somewhere to watch the parade. The streets were filled with children, parents and grandparents, balconies were full of families and friends, all excitedly waiting for the parade to pass.  The atmosphere was electric and you could sense the anticipation of people waiting to catch sight of the spectacular floats, costumes and Los Reyes.

It didn't disappoint, the parade was spectacular, with something for everyone.  There were floats with Disney princesses and characters, dancing displays and other various characters and surprisingly, the parade started on time!















LOS REYES (THE THREE KINGS)






Once the parade had passed, we headed to our favourite area to have something to eat.  Hmm, no such luck, all the restaurants were booked. We did eventually find somewhere and it was pleasant enough, but it made us realise that we would needto book well ahead for the carnival.

The next day, January 6th is the day when families come together exchange gifts, followed by an abundance of eating and drinking 

Not homemade! 
The most traditional food is the iconic Roscón de Reyes cake, a sweet, brioche like cake, filled with cream and decorated with candied fruits. The cake is part of Spanish tradition as hidden inside are a tiny figurine and a favourite bean.  Tradition says that if you find the figurine, you are king or queen for the day, but if you find the bean, you pay for the cake the following year.


In previous years we have celebrated with friends in Estepona,  but this year it was a quiet affair with just Mark and I. After a morning walk, we enjoyed a traditional Christmas dinner with roast turkey and all the trimmings, followed by the Roscón de Reyes cake. 

Interestingly, even though I had the figurine in my piece of cake, I still did the washing up!

Wednesday 10 January 2024

Happy New Year!

The bit between Christmas and New Year is normally a busy time for us as there is family and friends to visit and birthdays to celebrate. But, this year was different as we were in a marina, on an island where we didn't know anybody. Still, we would make the most of it and enjoy ourselves.

Boxing Day is not recognised or celebrated in Spain and everything goes back to normal on the 26th December, so I planned a day out in San Cristobal de La Laguna, set in the hills above Santa Cruz.


It was the former capital of the Canary Islands and is the third most populated city of the islands.  The city centre where the historical attractions are found, was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999. It's often described as ‘Florence of the Canary Islands’ because of the number of churches, convents and old historical buildings. I would be in heaven!


Catching the tram from Santa Cruz, we slowly wound our way through the streets of the city and up the hill towards La Laguna. The views of the city laid out below were pretty impressive, although Mark would say the views of the Atlantic were far more impressive. 


First stop was visiting the Cathedral, Catedral  de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios. Originally built as a humble Chapel in the 16th century, over the coming centuries the Chapel would be extended, each time adding grander structures. In 1819 the Chapel became a Cathedral by bull of Pope Pius VII and the diocese of San Cristobal de La Laguna was created. 

What gives it its ‘Florence' feel is the neoclassical front and its large dome, covered in copper plates,  imitating the cathedrals of central and northern europe.


Inside, it is a very grand Cathedral.  Not quite as grand as those I've seen in Malaga, Granada and Palma but nonetheless, pretty impressive. There are nine side chapels, each adorned with statues and seating for prayer, but it was the Chapel of Our Lady of Remedies that was most breathtaking.  A baroque altar piece from the first half of the 18th century, carved in gold, it is the largest altarpiece in the Canary Islands.


Next up, after coffee and with the promise of a beer afterwards for Mark, was the site of the Iglesia de la Concepción. Established by Alonoso Fernández de Lugo after the celebration of the feast of Corpus Christi in 1496, the church of the Conception was founded in 1511.


Our main interest for visiting was to climb the five flights of stairs in the tower to see the views.  We were not disappointed. From the top of the tower, we had spectacular views of La Laguna, Mount Teide and the surrounding countryside.

The church houses the largest bell in the Canary Islands and to our surprise, it still works and is very loud when you're standing right next to it. They could have warned us!


It also houses some magnificent carved pieces. In particular, the ceilings and the pulpit were pretty amazing.  Wasn't to sure though about the tomb stone with the skull and crossbones, considering he was a captain! 


All churched out, we wandered through the streets until we found a quaint little restaurant away from the hordes of tourists and had an enjoyable leisurely lunch. 




Following day was my birthday. Compared to other years, it was a quiet day spent with Mark, but I got some beautiful flowers, great birthday wishes from family and friends and a chocolate birthday cake.






New year's eve and we agreed it would be a quiet one for us as we didn't fancy joining thousands of people in Plaza de Espana to watch the firework display, we would have a great view from the marina. However, earlier in the week we had been asked to move our boat as there was a party of eight Spanish boats coming in who wanted to be berthed together to celebrate New Year's eve. So we knew it may not be that quiet on our pontoon!


Our day started well, with a bit of shopping and a leisurely wander through Parque Garcia Sanabria . With numerous sculptures, tropical trees, plants and an abundance of wildlife, it is one of the most beautiful parks I've seen in a longtime. It's hard to believe that something this gorgeous is set in the middle of a capital city. Birds singing, Parrots squawking and frogs croaking, it was a symphony of nature's finest.















Back at the boat, we trimmed up Offbeat’s cockpit with fairy lights, tinsel and of course, the disco ball. We got a bit glammed up, put dinner on and opened the bubbly/beer and sat in the cockpit to celebrate the night and wait for the firework display at midnight. And that's when our plan started to unravel.



In the boat next to us, were a delightful Spanish couple,  Eduardo and Veronique and they just happened to have the same plans as us. We had spoken to them previously, but only in passing so this was an opportunity to get to know them better. We had our respective dinners and then started sharing sailing stories over after dinner drinks ‘un chippito’. Out came the brandy and rum and we were on our way!

By about 11.30, the party on the pontoon was in full flow so the four of us agreed that it would be rude not to join them.  Armed with wine, beer and grapes we made our way to the party.  We did get bit of a look from them, but as they were Spanish, Eduardo spoke with them and that was that. We were welcomed into the fold like long lost family.



It is a tradition in Spain that at midnight you eat a grape with every chime of the bell. Hence taking grapes with us. If you've never done it, you should try as it's no easy task, especially if you've had a few drinks. However, come midnight with mouths full of grapes, hugging complete strangers, we watched the fireworks and saw in 2024.


We called it a night at a out 2am, slightly worse for wear, but looking forward to what 2024 has to bring.



Oh, and the firework display was amazing!

Thursday 4 January 2024

Christms in Tenerife

December 2023

After a really tough 26 hour sail from Lanarote to Tenerife,  we arrived a little battered and bruised but excited to explore pastures new. With no time to waste,  we headed out on our first night to get our bearings and something to eat. We knew that Christmas in Santa Cruz would be special, but we weren't prepared for what greeted us as we left the marina.

To reach the town from the marina, you have to walk cross over a pedestrian bridge that is above the main road. The bridge leads into Plaza de España which is the main plaza in Santa Cruz, which was alive with music, foodstalls, pop up bars and a Christmas Market.  After the journey we'd had, it was a bit of an assault of the senses, but in a good way.

The square was lit up with thousands of lights in trees and the streets, on statues of the 3 kings, bells and carriages, Christmas trees on every corner and the most beautiful illuminated belen. There were people milling around, singing and dancing, children playing and riding on fairground attractions and just a general atmosphere of fun. 

We  had dinner in a great little restaurant in a little street lined with small bars and restaurants and full of locals.  Whilst eating dinner, we heard children singing in the builing opposite us, so Mark asked the waiter if the children were rehearsing for Christmas. He gave us a bit of a blank look, so Mark repeated the question again and pointed to the building.  Ah, no he said, that's not for Christmas,  that's for the carnival. 

Crikeys, if all this was only a prelude to the carnival, we knew that we were going to have a good time here!

After a good night's sleep, it was down to work, sorting out Offbeat and getting her ready to be a festive home for the next few weeks, as we had decided to stay until after King's night on the 5th January, possibly leaving on the 7th January.

I was dispatched to the shops to buy some Christmas decorations for Offbeat whilst Mark tidied and washed down the decks. But, true to form, I had to do a bit of exploring as well. I had a wander through the main shopping area and wasn't disappointed with the selection of shops.   All the Spanish high street names plus quite a few individual shops.  I was going enjoy shopping here, even if my bank balance didn't.

Armed with as much Christmas tat as I thought I could get away with, I headed back to Offbeat to get her ready for Christmas. By the end of the day, she was good to go!



Christmas in Spain would not be complete without a visit to see the Belen. It is a very important tradition in Spain as it sets out the Nativity scene. Most cities, towns and homes will have their own Belen. For some families, pieces of the Belen are passed down the generations and are added to each year.  

Unlike in England, where the nativity scene is quite basic, in Spain,  the nativity scene includes all aspects of village life.

A visit to see the Belen is almost on a par with going to Church at Christmas, with families making an outing of a visit. 

Time passed very quickly and before we knew it, it was Christmas eve.  We had a table booked at the restaurant we'd gone to on our first night and later there was going to be a bit of a party on the pontoon.

Dressed up in our Sunday best,  we headed off to the restaurant.  In Spain, they celebrate Christmas eve known as Nochebuena which translates to "the good night" by having large family get togethers and then going to Midnight Mass.  The giving of present is saved until the 6th January. 

The restaurant was really busy, filled with Spanish families and friends having lunch together. There was a great atmosphere and everyone was really friendly.  Safe to say, we had a rather spiffing time.

Back at the boat, we joined other boaties on the pontoon for drinks. It was nice getting to know our neighbours and to share stories and plans.

But, I had planned to go to the early Mass as I didn't fancy wandering around by myself at midnight, so I left Mark too it. Let's just say, he had a wonderful time and by the time I'd returned, he was a bit worse for wear!









Even though it was just us two, Christmas morning was busy with telephone calls to families and grandchildren and prepping Christmas Dinner. 

As much as I love our life, it's on occasions like this that I really miss being around the girls and grandchildren. But, having said that, we had a lovely day and went out for a walk in the evening. 

There was a big classical concert taking place in the car park in the marina, so we watched that for a little while and then went to the square where more live music was playing. There had been something on every night, different bands and cabaret acts, all free of charge. The square was buzzing, so we stayed there just to soak up the atmosphere. 

Heading back to the marina, we were treated to a wonderful firework display. Rather fitting end to the day. 


Wednesday 3 January 2024

Lanzarote to Tenerife

19 December 2023

Having studied the weather carefully, we had picked a weather window where we expected light winds for the first part of this 24 hour journey, with the wind picking up to a useful sailing wind in the late afternoon and overnight and strengthening further in the next morning.  It was forecast to be a north easterly wind which is perfect for sailing with twin gibs (goose wings) and makessailing at night easier as there's no need for me to go on deck.

I spent the day prior to us leaving setting up the line and poles, so once at sea we would be good to go!

After saying our goodbyes to Leslie and Peter and getting the marina to shift a couple of superyachts so that we could get to the fuel dock to fill our tanks (with the crew of the superyachts looking down on us) we cleared the port entrance at 1150 and set a course for the channel between Lanzarote and Fuerteventura. 

About a mile out of the marina, the first problem became apparent; the rudder on Kirsten, our windvane ( see the Rabat to Lanzarote blog) popped up out of the water. Something had gone wrong with the hinge. After a few minutes hanging over the back of the boat I could see the problem - a stainless steel catch had straightened out under the loads coming down from Rabat. I could also see the solution - a couple of holes in the hinge fitting to bolt it all together.  Sounds simple, eh?  Well it took me 50 minutes and a great deal of increasingly vehement swearing to get those two bolts and nuts in place. But we got back under way eventually, and my mood got back to its ordinary resting grumpiness pretty quickly.



As we approached the channel between the islands, we saw a huge mass of sails. Two, maybe three regattas were under way. But as we turned westwards, they seemed to melt away, leaving plenty of space for us to chug along under engine. The wind and waves were pretty kind in the lee of the two islands, so I took the opportunity to rig the two heavy poles that we would be using when, according to the forecast, the wind would veer from northerly towards eastery and increase.  And, sure enough, by 1640 the wind got up and we ware able to unfurl our lovely twin Yankee sails.

As we got further away from the islands, the waves got bigger and, coming at us from the side, made Offbeat roll uncomfortably.  I adjusted the sails and Kirsten, the self-steering gear, and turned with a ‘taa-daa” to Teresa. She had seen the hours that I had put in refurbishing Kirsten, had endured all my offloading of problems about it and the mess of tools that cluttered up the boat for days on end, and had the grace to appear to be impressed at my little victories. And now she was seeing the result for the first time. “ Well done sweetie. Very nice. Shall I get the tea on, now?” Hmph.

We bowled on through the evening and with darkness approaching, I reefed the sails to make controlling the boat a bit easier in the dark.  By 2200 we started to see the navigation lights of ships ahead of us and we prepared to cross a fairly busy shipping lane between Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria. It took three hours before we were clear of the ships and could take turns getting some sleep.


During the early hours of the morning the wind started to drop. The problem with the wind dropping was the waves didn't reduce at all, and its the sails that keep the boat stable in rolly seas. So by the time the wind failed us completely and we reverted to the engine, the boat's motion was very uncomfortable.


After an hour of motoring, the wind came back quite strong from the same side as the waves (islands do funny things to the wind. And to waves, for that matter, as they reflect off cliffs and can cause odd cross-wave patterns and confused seas that we were experiencing tens of miles from land. Ancient navigators - the Polynesians, most famously of all - could see such patterns in the waves and divine the location of islands days before arriving.) Then the wind dropped again. Then picked up a bit. Unfortunately with all the rolling, Teresa lost her footing, slid off the seat in the cockpit and straight onto the mainsail traveller, which is a thick heavy metal bar. There were a few expletives and tears, but luckily nothing broken.


As we were approaching another shipping lane and could make out our destination, Tenerife, I put the motor back on and we motorsailed the next five hours, sometimes the sails giving us good speed, sometimes the motor making up for the wind dropping. 


As we started to be able to make out details on Tenerife, the sun started to break through the clouds that marred the second half of the journey and our spirits rose after a tough 16 hours.  The wind gave us one last blast as we sailed by the huge harbour complex of Santa Cruz towards the marina entrance. We tied up in the marina at 1500 and by 1515 were eating beer, wine and crisps to celebrate a short but challenging sail, marvelling at the city laid out in front of us.