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Sailing Letter July 2015

August 6, 2015

When we were heading for the Canary Islands we thought about nice sailing areas with day sailing distances between the different harbors. Lot of anchorages and nice weather.

We now understand why many people coming to the Canary Islands stay in one harbor until it is time to leave for the Caribbean islands or Cape Verde. Anchorages without swell are scarce, going from west to east,  south to north is not without difficulties, due to the wind, acceleration zones and swell. The acceleration zone is where the prevailing northeasterly trade wind compresses between two islands with high mountains. Most islands here have mountains exceeding 1000 meters, Tenerife’s mount Teide is 3700 meters.

We have, during July, visited La Gomera. La Palma and Tenerife. All passages have been made with good wind forecast, but still with the addition of 20 knots of wind between the islands. Starting with the passage between Gran Canaria and La Gomera, our intention was to stop in San Miguel (south coast of Tenerife) on the way, but the wind and sea picked up so we did not want to go close to shore during those premises. Instead we took another 23 nM directly to San Sebastian on La Gomera, which we believed would be a more sheltered approach. As soon as we were free from the south shelter of Tenerife, we picked up high seas and heavy wind. Up to 40 knots before entering the harbour.  A week later we took the step to La Palma, approx.. 60 nM rounding Gomera, going across and then up the west coast of La Palma.  Nice and easy going south, awful waves and wind (+35 knots) crossing to La Palma and then again almost calm conditions the last 15 nM to Tazacorte, the harbor on the west coast. Next week coming back to La Gomera we experienced the same conditions. Not sure anymore to be able to anchor outside the harbor of Valle Gran Rey, we were surprised by the calm waters 3 nM outside the harbor. The trip to Tenerife (San Miguel) was the same. Seasick and shaken (“not stirred”) we entered the harbor of San Miguel for a couple of days stay. Wiser we waited for a forecast of less wind before going to Santa Cruz (Tenerife). Prognosis said 5-10 knots. We got 40, before we finally entered the harbor of Santa Cruz, not really believing we would reach there since our boat (24 tons) practically stopped in some of the steep and short waves. After a week here we will now go to Gran Canaria (Las Palmas) and stay there until we are thrown out by the ARC rally beginning October. Then we will decide where to go. Another reason for us to go back to Las Palmas is that the harbor is good, the town is nice, the harbor fees a third of everywhere else, and you can easily take care of the boat and stock up with food for the next trip.

PHU. This sounds like it is all bad, but that is not the case. Having the luxury to sail in the “right direction” makes a fantastic sail! We have had beautiful times on all islands, seen a lot, walked a lot and met nice people. All islands are different! Starting with:

La Gomera

A beautiful round, green, island with a lot of mountains. The harbor in San Sebastian is friendly, easy to access and the town is small and nice. Playas for snorkeling is close by. Not many tourists. We took the bus to Valle Gran Rey in the south, through forests of Laurel trees, small villages and winding roads that makes you ask for a big beer to settle the nerves when you are at the destination. We did another tour going north to Vallehermoso and the roads were as winding and the cliffs as deep as going south. Coming back from La Palma we anchored for 2 days at Valle Gran Rey, in crystal clear water with good holding and perfect weather. Very sheltered. Seeing the anchor at 11 meters is not what we are used to in Swedish environments.

In San Sebastian we also met the crew of Pusan, a Swedish boat on the move for 5 years now. It is always interesting to share experiences and learn from others. They have been in the marina for close to 8 months now and we think we know why – read the first part of this letter…

La Palma

La Isla Bonita (the beautiful island). Coming round the west corner, out of the acceleration zone and in to calm water, the island gave a very green impression. It is a major banana growing area. You will see bananas everywhere, also in the small cities/villages. The harbor, Tazacorte, is fairly new, very sheltered with huge piers and lots of restaurants, with a touch of Spanish tourism. No swell reached in when we were there. Pleasant marina and a nice village (Puerto Tazacorte) close by.  In La Palma everything is uphill. Cash machine is in the Villa Tazacorte, the “main” village 2 km away from the harbor, but all uphill. We took a hike one day to El Paso (famous for cigars). It was only 9 km away but on an altitude of 700 meters. It was about +30 degrees in the shadows so we were really dehydrated (despite 2l water bottle) when we finally got there. After some rest we ended up going all the way down again J

In La Palma we experienced the celebration of Virgin del Carmen, the fishermen’s saint. (Peter put some nice pictures on the blog, see July 16.) We also took the bus to Santa Cruz La Palma. A nice old town, but the harbor was awful. Swell, wind and waves despite a 1 km long pier. Not a place for us.

Tenerife

The harbor in San Miguel is a bit tricky to see. It is also a bit shallow, which we did not know until we were already in the marina. The water is crystal clear so 10 meters depth gives you the shivers passing all rocks you see from deck. We had the possibility to do nice walks north and south of the harbor. An area mixed with golf courses, tourist areas and a fishing village (Los Abrigos). The fishing village was known for its fish restaurants. We also did some jogging. However, at +30 degrees the jogging has to take place early in the morning.

Tenerife

Last days of July was spent in the harbor of Santa Cruz, Tenerife. Big new harbor with finger pontoons and good shelter for all winds, except southerly. The city is feeling small and cozy even though it has about 400.000 inhabitants. Lots of buildings from late 19- early 20- century. Today (Aug 4th) we took a guided tour to the highest top of Spain, “Pico de Teide”. It was fantastic looking at all old craters and geological remains. We took the cable car to 3500 meters above sea levels.

We will now wait here for the wind to give us a possibility to go to Las Palmas on Gran Canaria.

Nature

  • Sharks: one with no upright tail fin might be a “Smooth-hound” shark. Rather small (1,5 meters), the other had a very high fin with a brown body. We checked our books and think it could be a “Hammerhead” which we know is to be found close to La Gomera
  • Lots of lizards. Some endemic to the Canary islands.
  • Spotted dolphin
  • Sea turtle
  • We finally got a good book for identifying the fish we see during snorkeling and in the clear waters in the harbors. The trumpet fish is a favorite.
  • Our Greek Basil got sick and had to be thrown away. Maybe some seeds that we saved and some leaves/branches can give us a new fresh start.

 Gastronomy

  • Almogrotes (new green variant of goats chees, herbs and olive oil). We managed to find a small Spanish cook book with the recipe.
  • Almejas in marinade. A fantastic dish we got in the small fishing village close to San Miguel. We also had some very good fish marinated the same way in a warm sauce made of olive oil, spices, tomatoes, onions, chorizo (we guess due to color).
  • Tuna carpaccio: also in San Miguel. It seems that San Miguel/Los Abrigos is the Tenerife mecca for fish and shellfish.

Until next time,

BR, Eva &Peter

From → Sailing Letters

7 Comments
  1. HaHa, det där känner vi igen! Hade precis samma upplevelse när vi var där.

    Jag lyfte båten igår i Chaguaramas och flyger till Sverige på måndag.
    Sedan kommer vi båda tillbaka i slutet på september. Morris har semester ombord på Jabulani i Grenada.

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    • Skönt att höra att vi inte är ensamma om erfarenheten med acc-vindar. Möjligtvis blev det lite för negativt. Seglingar “i rätt riktning” har varit härliga. Hoppas vi ses nästa år. Vi lämnar Kanarieöarna troligen i början av november och hoppas på en eller två månader segling runt Kap Verde öarna, därefter troligen Karibien. Ha det gott i Sverige, värmen tycks ha kommit till slut!

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  2. Hej Peter och Eva! Vi hittade er blogg via paret Prenzlau som också långseglar just nu. Det är alltid intressant att läsa om andra seglares erfarenheter på ställen där man själv har seglat. Vi kom till Kanarieöarna i juni och befinner oss just nu i Los Gigantes, Teneriffa. Vi håller verkligen med er om seglingsförhållandena här. Det är en stor skillnad att segla här under sommaren än under vintern. Vi vill gärna besöka La Palma innan vi beger oss söderut och kommer i så fall segla till Santa Cruz de La Palma då det är närmast. Men ni fick ingen bra bild av den hamnen? Johan har varit där tidigare men under vintern och tyckte då att hamnen var bra. Vi får se hur vi gör… Vi kanske ses någonstans men tills dess fair winds! Malin och Johan

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    • Hej Malin Andersson och Johan. Alltid roligt med nya besökare. Betr La Palma så tyckte vi ön var fantastisk. Santa Cruz motsvarade tyvärr det vi hade läst om när vi var där. Otroligt svall i hamnen.blev nästa sjösjuka när vi såg rycken i förtöjningarna, trpts normala NO vindar. Läste mågonstans om att hamn myndigheterna hade planer att fixa dyningen/svallet på något sätt. Å andra sidan var Tazacorte en supersäker hamn. Dock lite isolerad.
      Hälsar
      Peter&Eva

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      • Tack för era svar! Det blir nog att vi skippar La Palma. Vi är på La Gomera nu och fixar en del saker på båten som behöver vara klara innan vi lämnar Europa. Sedan blir det nog att vi segla till Kap Verde med ett eventuellt stopp i La Restinga, El Hierro på vägen. Trevlig segling till Curacao!

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    • Sorry, förstår inte var Andersson kom ifrån 😠

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  3. Passa på och bunkra på La Gomera, i Restinga finns det bara en (typ) Seven Eleven butik…
    Cap Verde kan man definitivt lägga några veckor på!

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