La Gomera

Mystic of Holyhead (successor to Lynn Rival)
Rachel and Paul Chandler
Tue 1 Jan 2013 22:37
A few days before Christmas we sailed across to La Gomera, an island just 25 miles west of Las Galletas.  The wind gods were kind and we had a fast reach all the way, using our gennaker. 

San Sebastian, the main town and port on La Gomera

Approaching the marina - the white pills are to keep our ilk out of the way of the ferries.  El Tiede on Tenerife is in the distance.

We berthed in the marina, which is conveniently close to the main town, San Sebastian.  It's a popular spot for cruisers and a base for charterers, as well as being Fred Olsen's home (hence this sparsely populated island's unbelievable six ferries per day).  At this time of year the marina should be full to the brim but what with the recession and perhaps also the recent opening of a very noisy (all-) night club there was space for us.  While there we met up with Rob and Jen Storrar who were visiting for a well-deserved break from the Tyneside winter. 

Apart from the noisy disco, La Gomera is our kind of place: very laid back with lovely scenery and good restaurants.  We hired a car to do a tour of the island and found it reminiscent of Madeira in places, but without the density of population and development in the valleys.  With only a few tunnels the roads mainly follow the valleys so there is little development around the coast.

Santiago - another town on the island

We were surprised to see date palms, often growing at altitude and in inhospitable places.  It seems the elegant Canary palm is not grown for its dates but for the sap, which is distilled into a syrup - a speciality of La Gomera.

Palms were evident, both in the valleys and on the hills

The valley of the big king- don't know who the king was, but it's certainly an impressive valley!

Prickly pears too - a treat for those with leather gloves

Yet another enchanting undeveloped valley

On Christmas day we explored the local beaches.

The glinting black sand is just as good as the yellow variety - this beats the Serpentine on Christmas day!

And the marina 'Christmas tree' was suitably decorated

After Christmas we planned our return to Tenerife.  For a few days the winds were strong and there was much talk in the marina about the force 7 gusts and uncomfortably rough seas in the wind 'acceleration zone' between the islands.  We geared up in fleeced oilies and set off - knowing Lynn Rival is a lot more comfortable in rough seas than modern boats - anticipating a blow.  For the first hour we had a good sail under an experimental rig of triple-reefed genoa and staysail alone.  All was going well, then the wind died on us.  Just stopped!  Disgusted, we had to motor the rest of the way back to Las Galletas. 

As anyone who has read our book will know, Paul has problems with his eyesight.  His consultant was reluctant to change the prescription without a consultation so Paul hopped on a plane back to London just before New Year.  Now he's back on board we're getting ready for our passage to the Cape Verdes.  We'll need to be prepared for anchoring off and getting ashore by dinghy.  While in San Sebastian Paul serviced the outboard motor.  It hasn't had an outing for over 3 years!  There are still a few other things to tick off the list . . .