Fast passage to Tazacorte, La Palma

Caramor - sailing around the world
Franco Ferrero / Kath Mcnulty
Wed 10 Dec 2014 11:43
28:38.65N 17:56.58W

The alarm went off. 5am. ARGH. Time to get up, time to get sailing. "Shall we reef?" "Yes" "Probably no need as the wind is easterly so there shouldn't be an acceleration zone".

Famous last words ... we reefed anyway. The local forecast was for wind force 4-5 (but then the local forecast is always for F4-5) and the grib files (internet world-wide weather forecast) was giving 14 knots (usually underestimates by 5 knots) so we were expecting maybe 20 knots, a good F5.

There is certainly some good sailing to be had in the Canaries! We set off - good breeze - no wind - breeze again - more wind, until eventually it was up to 26 knots. I was at the tiller. We didn't take in the second reef because we thought we were in the Gomera acceleration zone and would soon sail out of it, only we never did, well not until we got into the lee of La Palma.

"Franco, can you clip me on please, I think I might just get catapulted overboard" as I hung on to the tiller with both hands and all my strength while bracing my legs against the cockpit side. By now we were up to 30 knots. This is windy, to give you an idea, if you are walking in this wind strength, you really have to lean into the wind to make progress. Franco took in another reef in the main and we then reduced the genoa before handing the steering over to Aries who did a marvellous job keeping us on course.

We expected the crossing to Tazacorte to take all day but at an average speed of 7.5 knots, we were off the southern tip of La Palma by 10:30am! The wind was anything between 24 and 34 knots and then increased to gusts of 36 knots as we rounded the corner.

We were pleased when it died to nothing and were able to eat a flat breakfast. Gradually it picked up again and we had a gentle and pleasant sail into Tazacorte, arriving shortly after lunch.

JPEG image

The small town Puerto de Tazacorte, the original harbour