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?


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