Last Days in the Canaries
26 November 2013 | La Gomera
Jane, cloudy but warmish
One more sleep and then we will leave tomorrow from La Gomera; which is one of the three only places you can check out of in the Canaries for Barbados. Alas the wind is not looking good for us, from Wednesday onwards all we can see is very little wind and in the wrong direction so we will not have time to stop in the Cape Verdes. Not a bad thing as once one gets going on a long leg it is sometimes not a good thing to stop.
On our way to Gran Canaria we stopped at Arrecife, mid east side of Lanzarote. We had been chased out of Puerto de Naos by a very officious port policeman when we tried to anchor, and there was not a lot of room in Arrecife, but we managed and even had our first take out dinner on board from the local chinese - it was so good.
Getting into Peurto de La Luz in Las Palmas we were welcomed into the marina much to our surprise as the place was nearly full with ARC boats, we ended up managing to stay for four nights before they threw us out. It was the cheapest place we have ever moored and it was great as water and electricity were included, so I managed to do 16 loads of laundry (cockpit cushions included) while we were there. Spent some time with our friends on Sonsy Lass who are on the ARC+ rally which left on the 10th November, were even invited to one of the ARC dinners which was fun. We were amazed at how unprepared a lot of the boats were and the chandlers were having a field day. Each participating boat is checked over by the organisers and there was a lot of groaning going on as a lot of boats thought that some requirements were a bit OTT. Our friends medical kit to meet the ARC specifications cost them 1,100 pounds, a bit excessive they thought, as did we.
We ended up staying in Las Palmas longer than planned at anchor, as we were able to get some jobs sorted out there and bumped into a few people that we had not seen since we were in the Caribbean. Richard and Pip on their last evening took us to a fantastic steak restaurent called 9 Calla Portugal, it was excellent and we would recommend it to anyone who will be in LP and likes meat. We also rented a car for a day and went up into the mountains, what a treat to see autumn/fall colours and enjoy some of the interior of the island.
From Gran Canaria we headed to Santa Cruz the capital of Tenerife in the north east corner. Yet again we had to go into a marina as there are not a lot of safe anchorages amoungst the islands. Yet again we hired a car and had a look around the island, just delightful with some charming villages and the huge Tiede volcano was fascinating. We headed south to San Miguel, a very popular golfing area with a huge choice of different cuisines on the broadwalk and a lot of English who winter over there.
We had planned to go to La Palma which is locally known as Bonita (pretty island) which is the most unspoilt of the islands and very beautiful. However half way there the wind and waves picked up dramatically and for the first time ever we decided to turn around and went to La Gomera instead. It was a good decision and we ended up going to La Palma a few days later by ferry for a couple of nights as there was no way we were going to be able to get there on Ta-b in the time we had. Yet again we hired a car and toured around the island. It is a little gem, which sadly the German walking clubs have found, and even in November (normally a quiet month) it was pretty busy. There is hiking everywhere, anything from a half day to a week around the lush forests and volcanos.
We enjoyed La Gomera and met a lot of interesting people there, one being an Ozzie called Andrew Abrahams who is part of the Atlantic Challenge. There are 16 rowing boats with teams of 1-4 people who are rowing in a race across the Atlantic to Antigua. Andrew is one of two solo rowers and we have become his unofficial support boat. Russ helped him with some repairs and we managed to feed him his best meal (he said) since he has left Oz, luckily he likes curry ☺ We look forward to seeing him tonight when we get back to Gomera.
Then it was back to Tenerife and Gran Canaria to pick up our crew, had a couple of great days sailing and met them in Magon which is known to be the little Venice of the Canaries. There was no room at the marina, but luckily we were able to anchor off which in fact we prefer. Our first day it was Friday market day and the place was buzzing, ferries coming and going packed with people - crazy. We met another two British boys who were antifouling their rowing boat and are due to leave for Barbados next week. They are not part of the Challenge - just doing their thing for 60 odd days against the elements. We were impressed. Rowing4research was their boat, if you want to check them out. We did enjoy Magon, the buildings were painted white with different colour trimwork, little canals and lots of great shops and restaurants. A popular place to holiday we would think.
Picked up Kim, Cam and Jim and ended up motoring all the way to Tenerife yesterday and after a good start this afternoon to Gomera we are now motor sailing. Did a huge fresh provision shop this morning, an eye opener for the crew as they are not used to everything being in Spanish and not many people speak English. Also shopping for up to 25 days takes some thought as you can't just run to the shops when you run out of something, and fresh produce does not stay fresh for over three weeks ☺
Memories of the Canaries? Lots of very dark clouds over delightful volcanic islands, no rain but big winds (until yesterday) and sunshine offshore. Old sugar plantations which now grow Bananas, and seem to be everywhere, and fantastic walking trails and forests. It has been fascinating to spend some time here.
We are as ready as we will ever be, and so is Ta-b, and we are keen to get going. Will use winlink.org to download weather grib files and will update our position there daily. If you want to follow us go to site then map, user positions and type in VA7JHP and you should find us. Can download a short blog remotely to our sailblog site and plan to put a few up on our trip too. Our AIS will also show where we are on various AIS tracker sites too. Barbados here we come, we will write from there. Enjoy the build up to Christmas, we will miss the lovely house lights and snow for sure.