Slow Sailing

07 December 2017 | San Sebastian, La Gomera
28 November 2017 | Garachico, Tenerife
18 November 2017 | La Palma, Canaries
07 November 2017 | Puerto Santa Cruz, Tenerife
16 October 2017 | Graciosa, Canary Islands
09 October 2017 | Rabat, Morocco
30 September 2017 | Ait Bennadou, Morocco
11 September 2017 | Cadiz, Spain
27 August 2017 | Faro, Portugal
11 August 2017 | Guadiana River, Portugal
04 August 2017 | La Linea, Spain
31 July 2017 | Marina Smir, Morocco
18 July 2017 | Granada, Spain
29 June 2017 | Pollenca, Mallorca
19 June 2017 | Mahon, Menorca
08 June 2017 | Ciudadela, Menorca
26 May 2017 | Soller, Mallorca
06 May 2017 | San Antonio Harbor, Ibiza
24 April 2017 | Ibiza, Balearic Islands
02 April 2017 | Valencia, Spain

Here We Go!

07 December 2017 | San Sebastian, La Gomera
Heather
It looks like we are setting off on our Atlantic crossing on Saturday with a possible stop in the Cape Verde Islands. We had planned to head over to El Hierro, the last Canary Island but it has been really unsettled in the weather department with lots of wind. Big swells arriving in the next few days and another weather system coming make us think we should get while the getting is semi good. Friends we met on the Central America cruise years ago- Tempest, had a blog and the saying on it was "Sailing around the world so you don't have to". It's funny how over the years we have come to understand what they meant. That when faced with a big passage where you know the motion is not going to stop until you get where you're going and you will have to deal with whatever is handed to you makes you a little nervous and surely adds to your gray hairs- or at least it does to us! It is much more comfortable to read about it. But we're ready and we've enjoyed all the places that our boat has carried us to between passages.

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Our stop to Tenerife again was brief but nice. We met up with friends Joanna & Yves again at Garachico Marina and they gave us a ride into Santa Cruz to get our mail (thanks mom!) and then we had a joint Mexican dinner on our boat that night. Yves made awesome margaritas and chicken enchiladas and we always enjoy their daughter Adaleida. Although it does seem unusual having a baby onboard! We hope to meet up again.
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We arrived to La Gomera and pulled into the marina. While fueling up we saw banners with Altantic Challenge on them and wondered what they were. On a stroll through town that evening I noticed a pigeon way up in a palm tree with its leg caught somehow on a frond. We had no way of getting it down. It spent the night up there, hanging upside down by his foot. The next morning we asked the marina for an extension ladder and they said the only one was over at the Atlantic Challenge area because they were setting up. What is this thing?! The friendly work men let us borrow their ladder and we got the bird down which felt good. He seemed OK and could fly fine. On bringing the ladder back (we looked like crazy people carrying this thing down the street) we learned that the Atlantic Challenge is an unassisted rowing race across the Atlantic that starts here and ends in Antigua! Takes some people months! It is very interesting looking at all the boats and meeting some of the rowers. The only wholly American team is Oliver, from New Jersey, doing it single handed. There's another 4 person team with 2 Americans and 2 British guys. So, while we are dreading aspects of our passage and how we will be blobbing out for 3 weeks, we can think about those tough souls who are setting out to row across, eating freeze dried food and using a bucket for their business, much of it in survival mode. It is ALL RELATIVE now isn't it?

Check out the Atlantic Challenge website!

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We rented a car, got to the different corners of the island and did some great hikes. We've seen a lot of lovely birds here. And the Canaries sing their little hearts out. I can't get enough of them. This island is filled with cats too. If they are fixed, their eartip is cut. Many were really tame and friendly. They would quickly come over to say hi and surround you.
We found the scenery to be really dramatic and hiking in and out of gorges, having picnics on mountaintops was great. We covered a lot of miles here.
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We know we are following in our friend Tim on Slick's footsteps. We sailed to Tahiti together before parting ways. On a trail here Jon spotted one of his stickers that he left behind all around the world so we really ARE following in his very footsteps. Funny.
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I don't think I have enough Spanish jamon, dry sausage or cava on board but I did try to stuff as much as I could in. Tomorrow is a day of strapping things down and getting ready for the roller coaster, one last menu del dia and a best wishes to Oliver who doesn't head out till December 12th. But we'll be out there together anyway!

I will be posting position reports on our website Venturefarther.com. Latest Reports are located 2/3 down the front page under Travel Reports. Here we go!
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Perpetual Motion

28 November 2017 | Garachico, Tenerife
Heather
Ever feel like you're being watched? We did the other day while having lunch in the car after a hike.
We met a different raven on a mountaintop and gave him a grape, which he ate. Then we gave him another one which he hid under a rock using his beak, for a minute, before going back to uncover it and eat it anyway. I guess he can't resist grapes!
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We've been exploring the island of La Palma, the furthest west of the Canary Islands, known for great hiking. It appears to have more weather too. We stayed at a really nice marina in downtown Santa Cruz which is situated such that it gets a lot of swell so the boat is in perpetual motion. You get a double loaded slip all to yourself so you have room to rig a web of lines. We had several days of wind while we were there so we got our sea legs after a few days in the berth.
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We arrived on a weekend and so got to participate in the Spanish tradition of Sunday BBQ chicken. Everyone is outside, enjoying the day and then eating a big BBQ meal at 2pm with friends and family. Another lovely square to be in...
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We spent a day exploring Los Tiles, a rainforest park on the northern part of the island. The moist NE trades hit the mountains, get held up there and dump their water continuously on the forest, which grows so thick the understory never sees the sun. From here, there is good water and we hiked along old paths that carried the water down to the banana plantations below. La Palma is serious about bananas. One day when we were walking by a packing house, a man called me over to give me a few bunches. Now they are ripening on our stern. They also grow avocados here and they are delicious.
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We did some amazing hiking in the national park La Caldera de Taburiente. It has significant mountains surrounding a huge caldera 8km wide. You can hike along the rim, or down into the eroded center way below but on the day we had planned this great trip where we were going to leave the car on top, bike down 15k to the base of the canyon and then hike back up, they closed the canyon because there was a chance of rain in which case it wouldn't be safe. I was so bummed out but hikers have died in the canyon from flash floods. But anyway, in the morning you can be on a beautiful Canary Pine filled mountainside and an hour of driving later you can be walking through a moonscape to a lighthouse with the ground warm under your feet from all the volcanic activity. And I'm not sure how they do it, but bananas grow well here all along the shore too in the old lava flows.
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On the highest point of the island there is a starlight reserve. Situated way out to sea and with 1/3 of the island set aside as park, this is a world class place to observe the stars. Something like 18 countries have their telescopes here and the Grand Telescopio Canario is one of the world's largest. You can drive around the area looking at many of them which was very interesting.
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At times we hiked in the clouds, at others, by the colorful sea. I love the foliage, the birds, the way the clouds make pretty patterns in the sky. This island is gorgeous, and filled with friendly people. They've made us bocadillas (typical Spanish sandwich) to eat at viewpoints, local meat filled potato pockets to eat in squares and even dinner a few nights ago with some new friends in an historic building used by the Masons called the Investigator's Club. The food was just OK but the uniqueness of the place and company of new friends made it special. It has been a fun week.
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Jon is getting used to his new Spanish keyboard although he occasionally asks me where such and such a key is. We had a boisterous sail back over to Tenerife today to pick up some mail in the city tomorrow and then we'll head to La Gomera. We've both got blisters and I'm down a toenail but our muscles are growing and we're enjoying a 4th meal a day- foursies, which we'll have to stop once this smorgasbord of hiking finally comes to an end. It'll be a sad day for sure!
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In Between Fixing Broken Stuff

18 November 2017 | La Palma, Canaries
Heather
Turns out Tenerife is not only a great island to explore & hike on, you can also find what you need to keep your boat going too. We've been quite busy lately staying on top of things breaking and fitting in the fun stuff we want to do.

Santa Cruz de Tenerife is headquarters for Jimmy Cornell's Odyssey rallies and everybody was piling into the marina while we were there to do last minute preparations. We saw Jimmy in the office, taking care of his flock. Wow, we are all looking older- Jimmy too! He is such an icon for cruising though and it is good to see so many boats heading across. Should help the Caribbean get some money rolling in. We were on an overflow dock out with the megayachts enjoying frequent power outages and card key access malfunctions, sometimes the only way onto the dock was to climb up on the gate and push the handle down using a large PVC pipe while Jon yanked on the handle at the right moment to open to gate. Despite this, it is still nice to be right in the city. This auditorium is right at the marina entrance and reminds me of the Sydney Opera House.
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We used the car to get new batteries which took 3 trips- one to order them, one to go get them and one to bring back the old ones and get 80 Euros back for the lead. This after having just added over 5 liters of water to them! We also finally were able to get our USA propane tanks filled since there hasn't been a place since Rome and we'd been making do with a big orange rusty exchangeable cylinder instead. Jon was able to resurrect our Greek phone which had become totally useless with all the bloatware that Alcatel keeps installing on it. It got to where we couldn't do a thing on it nor have it unplugged at all because there was so much stuff running on it the battery would go dead. But he found a program online where you can basically hide all these useless apps so everything sped up again and we can actually use the smart phone again! Then the wifi on my laptop died. We looked for parts but in the end there is no fixing it since like all electronics, the updates eventually render your device useless. So now I have an umbilical cord that attaches an external wifi antenna. Sweet! Then Jon's laptop died- completely dead, we had good warning but were hoping to avoid having to buy a Spanish keyboard laptop here. But no, he will now have to get used to one. Then a circlip fell out of the end of the spinnaker pole so we had to search that out since we are hoping for a totally downwind passage across the Atlantic with the sun out the whole time and so we'll need the pole! The owner of the chandlery just gave Jon 3 of them for free, on his lunch break when the store was actually closed. People are very kind here. So we feel like we made progress with those things and our backs have healed from heaving around 12 golf cart batteries. We even threw in appts to get our teeth cleaned. We were thinking back to the simplicity of our first cruise in '97 when we had a fridge and a GPS onboard at that was it......

By being docked right in the city, we used any spare moments that we were at the boat to enjoy the old buildings, the Plaza Espana with its large green pool of water, and all the pretty parks & museums. The Canarian architecture of the varnished wood balconies is very evident and we like the way the towns on Tenerife and Gran Canaria have been so colorful compared to the first islands closer to Africa where they use only white paint for everything. Time is running thin for our favorite Spanish menu del dia where you get a 3 course meal and a cana at lunch- and here we get Canarian specialties.
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Amidst all the chores, we did a good tour of the island seeing a lot of it. It is so nice to see all the green trees and breathe in the fragrance of pines, flowers and eucalyptus. I only wish that when I looked up into them, I could see the koalas like we did in Australia. It feels like one should go with the other. While it seems a bit uni-dimensional, we keep leaning toward hiking more than anything else. It's just so beautiful with varied terrain and we have a lot to talk about anyway so it is a good activity for that. We did 2 days in the Anaga Mountains, the oldest geographical region of the island and full of trails. They either go straight up or straight down to the sea. Good hamstring & quad work-outs and always lots to see over a picnic lunch. We've met lots of friendly cats & dogs.
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We did another 2 days in Teide National Park. Driving the park road is pretty spectacular especially late in the day when a layer of clouds has formed down low like a valley and you are way above as if you're flying above the clouds. There are sections with old Canarian pine woods at lower elevations as well as raw volcanic scenery up higher where around 4 million tourists a year visit to take in the Spain's highest mountain & its surrounds. You need a permit to reach the summit and for that you have to plan over a month ahead so we couldn't get one, nor a space in the refugio where you could summit first thing in the morning. But we did get to climb adjacent Pico Viejo and still got high with great views of Teide itself at an angle that blocks out the teleferique that carries people to within 600 meters of the summit. And we had this summit to ourselves. Along the way there were a lot of lava bombs & pinnacles of varying shapes & sizes.
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We weren't sure if we wanted to sail around to the northern side of Tenerife or not so we took a great drive over there to check out the marina & coastline. Really steep, twisting roads here! It was a very windy day and the seas were piling up on shore. Then we get to the marina and it's built like a fortress. It's really a work of art as many of the marinas around here are. The cute town of Garachico was once the most important port on Tenerife with great wealth until 1706 when a huge volcanic eruption buried most of the town and filled the harbor with lava rendering it useless. All the wealth moved away and they instead adopted the motto "Strength in Adversity" because they also suffered the plague, a devastating locust bloom, some floods, etc. Since that time, they have never had a port until 2012 when with EU support, they finally got their harbor back. Now it is as loved by the locals for fishing, strolling and doing exercise walks as it is by the boaters. We watched a guy catching fish by feeding them some old baguette, then scooping them out of the water with his hand onto the cement steps and picking them up to put in a bag. Easy dinner.
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Anyway, we decided we wanted to sail around and spend a few days there. Along the way, we got up close to several offshore oil rigs since for whatever reason there are several anchored near shore. The wind had died so we didn't surf into the marina and it was so peaceful to be there. We did a long hike one day up the old lava flow to the volcano that blew its guts out on the town 311 years ago. This town has a great feel and I love the look of it. They've made lava rock swimming pools out of their old harbor and the old fort, the only building to have survived the eruption, still graces the waterfront. We will really miss all the lovely squares and beautiful buildings of Europe.
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We've been meeting some boats headed across and whether our schedules will line up is hard to say but regardless, its nice to hang out with some new faces.

And now we're on La Palma, motored over here today in calm seas. It is very green and picturesque. We'll try to rent some wheels to get to the best of it.
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Vessel Name: EVERGREEN
Vessel Make/Model: Tashiba 40 Hull #158
Hailing Port: E. Thetford Vermont
Crew: Heather and Jon Turgeon
Extra:
Over the years, we've explored much of the Caribbean Sea & Atlantic East coast on 3 different long term trips. In January 2012, we left the USA and headed for the Pacific. We visited the Galapagos, French Polynesia, Samoa, Cook Islands & Tonga before heading to New Zealand. We've enjoyed thousands [...]
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