Las Palmas again via San Miguel and Santa Cruz Tenerife
We had a great 6 days with our friends but will try not to bore you with too much detail. We set off last Sunday (11th Nov) and had a great sail down the east coast of Gran Canaria in brisk winds (mostly 15-20kts but gusting more – max 39kts). We were hoping to get a berth at Mogan, reputedly the nicest, most genuine port hereabouts and perfectly situated for the crossing west to Tenerife. The port official had other ideas though (and we’ve since met someone who spent months persuading them to give him a berth there), as did the next 3 ports / marinas, all claiming either to be full or too small or something. We ended up at anchor outside the tiny fishing port of Arguineguin where we were the only Brits amongst four Scandinavian boats. There was barely room to swing a cat (which maybe why the catamaran there had bow and stern anchors out).
Monday saw us screaming over to Tenerife with winds in the mid 20s knots (force 6), gusting to low 30s. The wind was “on the beam” (coming at us from the side landlubbers) which produces the fastest sailing, although rough seas made the motion pretty uncomfortable (bucket unused though!). With the extra confidence that comes of having more experienced sailors aboard, we averaged a massive 7.9kts whilst sailing and recorded our highest ever speed of 9.7kts briefly. I know that is only a half-decent running speed for some of you, but to us it’s like being on Concord! We’d phoned ahead to avoid being turned away again, so were happily berthed in San Miguel by late afternoon. This is a small new marina built amongst golf-based holiday developments, and has nothing to recommend it other than its having space for us. In fact it has no natural protection and with the wind still bowling along, berthing was interesting. Whilst it passed off well for us, a similar sized German boat coming in a bit after us lost the plot and got blown onto the bows of boats already parked, not once but twice – the second time at high speed which caused quite some damage. I hope Goldcrest now gives me some credit for not hurting her this time!
Our purpose here was to hire a car and visit the interior of the island. At nearly 4,000m Mount Teide is the highest in Spain and we had seen its summit from the boat as it emerged from the mist. We drove up through the national park and stopped to admire the view to the peak and the lava fields and dramatic rock formations which surround it. There is a cable car to take you near the summit but we didn’t fancy the 2 hour queue for it. As it was one of our number was suffering a little from altitude sickness! The way down the other side lead us back into the mists and through slopes of pine trees growing on the bare lava rock and watered, we presumed, by the moisture in the mists. Back at sea level, the coastline of Tenerife really is pretty dreadful with all the rampant and mainly hideous development but at least the mile after mile of terraced and netted banana plantations were an intriguing sight.
Wednesday the 14th saw us motoring up the coast in no winds at all, headed for Tenerife’s main city, Santa Cruz. Although the port is a bit of a mess whilst they re-route and cover the main road into the ferry terminal, the town had some real Spanish character and we enjoyed exploring its pedestrianised streets and attractive parks.
We used our spare day there to do a bit of shopping and I took advantage of friend Steve’s expertise to get some jobs done on the boat. The big one is that we’ve now re-positioned the Duogen, our dual purpose wind and towable generator, and improved its towed power output. It’s still not ideal in wavy conditions on starboard tack, so it will need some mods when we get to the Caribbean. At least some of the time it is now capable of powering all the boat’s systems again.
At work on the Duogen:
That left us a day to get back to Las Palmas so our friends could catch their Saturday morning flight home to blighty. Although we had a few hours sailing to keep life interesting, the high spot was a large pod of Pilot whales passing astern of us. They were a bit distant, but nonetheless thrilling.
Steve & I sailing back to Las Palmas:
Now we are back at anchor outside the marina. We arrived to join something like 70 boats at anchor and a very jolly looking fleet of ARC boats in the marina. Judging by the flags they are flying, some of them must be on their 8th or 9th crossing – why? After saying goodbye to our friends we set off to find the old town and discovered a very different Las Palmas to the one which so underwhelmed us the previous week. Its full of well preserved old buildings, cafes and tapas bars, so despite being ¾hr’s walk away, we intend to spend more time there whilst we wait for our “crew” to join us on the 26th.
Las Palmas old town: Columbus’ house (left) and an elegant art nouveau frontage: