San Miguel, South Tenerife 28:01.10N, 16:37.50W
Fri 4 Mar 2011 18:41
Our weather window opened up on Fri 11th Feb, so we bade farewell, as usual, to friends and set sail from Tazercorte, La Palma. The plan was to sail around the north of both La Palma and Tenerife and then to drop south down the east coast of Tenerife to make our landfall at the capital, Santa Cruz de Tenerife. This would make best use of the forecast northerly wind, accepting the shortish stretch up the sheltered west coast of La Palma where we may have to beat into the wind. The distance was measured at about 130 miles which, at our average of 5 knots, would take at least 26 hours.
Tazecorte and The Crater from the sea
We started off well but soon were in the island's wind shadow, so motorsailed until we picked up wind again at the north end of the island. It was a great wind, but not quite the right direction (of course!). We sailed beautifully but were forced to the NW when we really wanted to be going NE. Tacking wasn't helpful either as we ended up heading straight back towards the north coast. Eventually the engine was employed in order to sail closer to the wind to clear the most northerly point of La Palma. The good wind stayed with us but did not allow us to clear the north of Tenerife so we changed plans and decided to head to the south of Tenerife instead, passing between Gomera and Tenerife. It became an exciting ride with less and less sail as we picked up the acceleration zones. Eventually, down to only a reefed main, we were still flying along at 7 -8 knots through the night. Early morning saw us heading down the SW coast of Tenerife in the wind shadow with both sails and engine before the sting in the tail as we rounded the SW point, a few miles from our destination. Within a few minutes the wind rose to a F6-7 (on the nose). We scrambled into full waterproofs. life jackets and harnesses for the 2 miles into the marina!
We were not too sure about southern Tenerife having watched the resorts slide by as we headed south. We found ourselves in a purpose built golfing resort populated by English. We had a look ashore and discovered that there wasn't really a centre to the resort. There were a few bars and cafes and a moderate supermarket, all selling everything that the English tourist is perceived to desire on holiday. We are not sure if this is due to English demand or whether the Spanish think that we expect burgers, chips, English breakfasts, scones, teacakes and children's menus.
I eventually managed to locate a bus stop and then a timetable by masquerading as a guest at one of the enormous hotel complexes. Suitably armed we planned an excursion to the National Park of Teide, Spain's highest mountain at about 3717m. Plan A, going up to near the summit by cable car and then walking to the top was dismissed when we found out that we needed a special pass, only available in Santa Cruz. Plan B, just going up by cable car, was dismissed due to the high cost so we settled on Plan C. Plan C was to catch the bus to the visitor centre, the route of which passed through the National Park. (We had seen the peak many times and had a fine view of it from the marina). We should have realised that this was going to be a problem as there was only one bus per day to and from the visitor centre.
El Teide from the Marina
We set off early and caught the bus to Los Christianos bus station where we waited for our connection. The bus started at the previous resort, Playa das Americas, and ours was the next stop. It arrived on time, absolutely full, to receive the thirty or so passengers waiting with us. I suppose that this is the way that numbers are limited in the National Park. So that was the end of Plan C!
Checking the timetable, we toyed with the idea of going to Santa Cruz, but when the bus arrived and was also full we gave up. We then had a while to wait before our bus home, so had a quick look around Los Christianos which was a vastly concentrated version of San Miguel. We ordered coffee in English for the first time in Spanish territory and decided that as soon as the wind was in our favour, we would try to head north to Santa Cruz to try and gain a better impression of Tenerife!