Deck The Halls 28:02.93N 16:43.55W

Hamble Warrior
Jamie Hickman
Thu 16 Dec 2021 17:33

11th - 15th December

We sailed out of the fishing harbour and away from Santa Cruz in typically lumpy conditions. It was very reminiscent of our departure from Las Palmas all those weeks back. The sea; already full of swell from the strong winds the previous day, was a confused maelstrom outside the harbour entrance and it was quite a task to put up a single reefed mainsail while also trying to stay on my feet and onboard!! The clouds hung over the land and were especially thick and dense over Santa Cruz as we passed the landmarks which had become familiar to us these past weeks; the cruise dock, the twin high rise buildings that flank the "Auditorio"; a striking piece of architecture shaped like a storm-troopers helmet that wouldn't look out of place in Sydney Harbour, and of course the volcanic peaks rising in the background.

The swell stayed with us for our 7.5hr sail south but we passed out from under the clouds as soon as we cleared the harbour entrance and we literally felt the temperature rising the further south we travelled. Its clearly the topography of the island that creates this striking divide in climate between the north and south - with the towering peak of El Teide at the centre - resulting in an amusing parallel to the UK climate!

Our trip to the holiday resort area of southern Tenerife consisted of a lively downwind romp; mostly with winds of between 17 and 22 knots, and a following Atlantic swell.

We kept the east coast of the island about 3 miles off our beam and enjoyed some spectacular views. For most of the day we had a clear view of El Teide which still appeared to have a little snow on its peak (3,717m and the highest peak in Spain for anyone that might have missed this little fact because they got too bored of ploughing through my boatyard diatribe!!!)

At half past four with just a couple of miles to our destination the mighty wind machine was turned off and the wind dropped from 20+ to 3kts in a moment. We decided to cheat a little and motor the last couple of miles which we justified to ourselves as it would be good to give the engine a little run after servicing the saildrive and prop just to make sure everything was running correctly.

Shortly after 5pm we approached a lovely anchorage with a couple of dozen boats bobbing in plenty of room and a choice of beaches on which to land a tender. The resorts of Playa de las Americas; Los Christianos and Adeje line the waterfront in a muddle of architectural styles but all low-lying and not unattractive. Behind these rise the picturesque volcanic peaks which even the flourescent glow of the obligatory "golden arches" couldn't spoil. There is something exciting about arriving into a holiday hotspot - particularly after a long stay in a boatyard and as we dropped anchor we were anticipating a few very cold and very cheap beers surrounded by happy sun-baked holiday makers.

Annoyingly; as is so often the way, our hopes of dropping anchor and kicking back to relax and enjoy our new surroundings were dashed by the large light on our instrument panel coming on indicating a sizeable amount of water in our bilges. This meant before we could do anything Jamie had to check through the boat to identify where we were taking on water and we had to pump to bilges out. It's a very uncomfortable feeling to find your vessel has taken on water and particularly so soon after launching. Thoughts immediately turn to what work we have completed and what could have gone wrong to cause leakage. Fortunately an inspection of the engine bay showed no obvious leakage there so it would appear the work on the saildrive hadn't caused problems. After a bow to stern inspection of seacocks, thru hulls and bilges Jamie came to the conclusion that the water had come via a thru hull at our stern and it was likely the force of the big following swell bearing down on us that had allowed the water in. Frustratingly it was likely that much of this could have come in during our passage from Gibraltar several weeks back and that a "topping up" from today's passage was just enough to trip the warning light. So despite being good news that it wasn't any of our recent works that had caused the leak it was more than a little annoying that it would have been far easier to replace the faulty thru hull whilst we were out of the water as it sits so close to the waterline. Frustrating but not devastating; we pumped the water out of the bilge and over the next few days we would hatch a plan to go into a marina where we could carry out the replacement in calm waters.

Over the days that followed we sat happy swinging off our anchor enjoying some sunshine; swimming and the feeling of being free once again. We paddled our battered old kayak ashore (we are determined not to employ our new one until this one is completely unusable!) We explored the local shops, bars and restaraunts. We were particularly impressed by the chandlery and fishing tackle shop where Jamie was able to find a replacement for the thru hull and also made some further investment in fishing tackle. With the trolling reel we salvaged from the bins in Las Palmas now reassembled and mounted on our stern rail and the collection of lures, line and other mystical gadgets and gizmos Jamie has now assembled I can tell you that Meep and I are awaiting the first Tuna or Mahi Mahi with baited breath!!!

We suspended our daily trip ashore on the 14th to erect our enormous Christmas tree and "trim" Hamble Warrior with our small collection of lights and decorations. It is rather ironic that even compared to our previous 3 Christmas trees we have had since living aboard; this year's tree is probably still the most modest and yet with this being the first year aboard where we will be actually sailing with a tree up (rather than being in a marina berth over the festive period) it actually took nearly as long to "put the tree up" as when we used to drag home 14ft monsters that towered into the vaulted ceiling of our living room back in Cambridge. Infact, it took me approx half the time to wrap a string of lights around the tiny tinsel offering and strategically attach 4 decorations than it took for Jamie to devise a means by which to attach it to the interior of the boat using powertools and cable ties!! Finally, however, the tiniest tree was in place and it was a full 10 minutes before Meep came to chew the top of it and declare it festively delicious! We were quite pleased that he didn't manage to dislodge it though and feel this bodes well for our little tree coping with a boistrous sail in Atlantic swell.

Having got Warrior suitably decked out for the festive season I insisted Jamie hang my hammock on the bow for me which is a rare treat but one that I always insist on photographing because I strongly believe that lying in a hammock in the sunshine is what most people (who don't read our blog of course) think we do all day. Infact it is a treat which occurs once or twice a year at most but as it was the first time I had ever climbed into a hammock wearing a swimming costume and Santa hat it seemed a shame not to share it!

While enjoying my hammock time we had two separate sets of visitors. The first was a neighbour on his way to take his two cats for a walk on the beach. Meep was of course fascinated by the two beautiful tabbies in the dinghy and was very keen to jump in with them which could only have ended badly! It is, however, always a pleasure to meet fellow kitties aboard! The second set of visitors didn't leave us with quite such a feel-good vibe. We had been watching the "Cruz Roja" (a Spanish equivalent to our RNLI) rib visiting each of the boats in the anchorage in turn and we were curious as to why. When they got to us we exchanged a few words in "Spinglish" where they established everyone aboard was accounted for and then handed us a mobile phone and asked us to look at the photos. With the sun glaring on the screen I couldn't really tell what I was looking at and carried on talking to the crew while Jamie ducked under our sprayhood to get a better look at the photographs... as I continued my pidgen chatter it finally dawned on me what they were saying. They wanted to identify this person; they were keen to know if he was from a boat in the anchorage; he'd been found just over there... they were trying to identify a body. I looked over at Jamie as the colour drained from his face. We couldn't help them. We didn't know this man. Maybe he had come off a sailboat. Maybe he had fallen from a ferry, or off the breakwater. We couldn't offer anything to help them with their investigations but it was a sobering moment and our hearts go out to the family and friends of this unknown person. May he rest in peace.

On the evening of our third day at anchor we began rolling and the conditions stayed that way for the next 36 hours or so. We ate dinner on our non-slip tablecloth and then took to our bunks where we could only be rolled a few inches either way. Again the beauty of sea-berths at anchor is they are so much more comfortable in a rolling anchorage than the v-berth in the forepeak, so we slept pretty well.

The next day we awoke to more of the same so after setting about a few fairly simple tasks; putting up the new "world map" to replace the map of Europe we took down a few weeks back (very exciting), and cutting out a full-table version of our non-slip cloth (very useful) we decided to abandon our rolling home and go ashore to run a few outstanding errands. We took a walk out to a very well-reviewed money exchange and managed to get ourselves some US dollars for our arrival on the other side of the pond. On our way back we found a busy little bar serving pints for €0.95 and Jamie was so distraught to discover we had been being ripped off at "Popeyes" these last few days (where we'd been leaving a whopping €1.50 per pint) that he declared the working day over and we immediately set about righting the wrong of our exorbitantly priced guzzling.

We returned to Hamble Warrior late in the evening to find she was still rolling about but we didn't care as we were rolling about anyway. We'd finished the night with dinner at Linares Restaraunt where we'd been entertained by a singer on a keyboard who could conjure the most remarkable Louis Armstrong and as we splashed our way back to the boat in a barely inflated kayak against the incoming swell we serenaded our neighbours with our own tuneless rendition. We pulled ourselves back onboard; peeled off our soaking salty clothes and tumbled into our bunks where we were rolled gently to sleep.

What a wonderful world.


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