Salvagem islands to La Gomera, Canaries

Dick and Irene Craig
Sat 3 Oct 2009 17:57


On Saturday night, one of the wardens from Salvagem Grande, collected six fishermen from the boat tied to a large buoy, in the bay where we were anchored. They had all gone ashore to watch football leaving just 1 or 2 chaps still on board. Apparently this fishing boat has permission to fish here and comes for a month at a time.

Dick and Philip went snorkeling and saw young barracuda and a large grouper which was about four feet long.

We took the rib ashore Sunday morning and met the wardens and their dog. Salvagem, a friendly bitch also accompanied us, as we walked up the mountainside and around the volcanic island with one of the wardens.

There were a lot of young birds covered in grey down which was becoming a little scruffy as the feathers grew. The birds were quite large even though they were chicks, possibly the size of a partridge. They nested in crevices in the rock and holes in the sand.

For the most part the island was quite rocky and scattered with rocks. There was some soil in places and in one small corner, a large area of sand and a huge number of white shells, rather like white winkle shells. The warden didn’t know from whence the shells had come.

The island is only around 2.5 square kilometers so we were only ashore for an hour and a half.

As there was very little wind, we decided to leave as soon as we had returned to the boat. However, we had some difficulty at first in raising the anchor chain far enough to even unclip the bridle. Eventually, whatever had trapped the anchor chain released it and we were on our way, sailing with the cruising chute. I prepared salad while we were traveling and we ate lunch en-route.

After an hour, we replaced the cruising chute with the parasailor and managed to sail for a further five hours before we finally had to switch on the engines.

As we approached Tenerife next morning, a cargo ship, also making for Tenerife, came up behind us and I had to call him on the VHF to check that he had seen us. The chap at the other end of the call said he had seen us but you wouldn’t have thought so. Our AIS data showed that the closest contact point would be .007 nautical miles in less than two minutes. I turned 20ª to starboard and the cargo boat was still close enough for the crew to call in for breakfast.

We have traveled 1001 nautical miles since leaving Gibraltar on the morning of the 15th September. The time on passage has taken a total of 8days 3.5hours, of which we have sailed for all but 25.5 hours, most of which was the final fifteen hours to reach Tenerife.

We tied up to a very low pontoon, to port and to stern. Dick went ashore to complete the formalities and returned in a poor humour. It seems that this being a public port, we not only get charged for our berth but also port tax. In addition to that there is also a tax for each day that we are here so although we are staying two nights, we are charged for three days.

The port tax is the same amount for a period up to ten consecutive days and may be transferred from one port to another. Not ideal in our case as we prefer to anchor and don’t expect to have to stay in a marina again until we reach Las Palmas. The tax is due to be paid again every ten days while one keeps one’s boat in the marina.

There is no WiFi and the local internet café cannot support the use of one’s own computer. It is necessary to use the desktop computers provided.

Philip kindly washed over the boat but dissatisfied with the results, he walked to a local chandlery and purchased some boat cleaner.

I started the first of what turned out to be a marathon wash but despite the volume, managed to get it all dry the same day.

The four of us walked into town to a local, recommended restaurant. The recommendation was good and the restaurant well supported by locals. This is always a good sign.

After a splendid lunch, Peter bade us all farewell and departed to catch a bus to the airport from whence he will fly to the UK and then onwards to Alicante.

We three whom remained with Tucanon, walked to the supermarket to replenish our fruit and vegetables.

Horror! I was polishing the misnamed stainless steel and noticed that a large piece of stainless steel, onto which the anchor roller is attached, had some rivets and some screws missing. I drew this to the attention of the captain who knew better what he was looking at. By extending his body over the cross-beam and twisting his body into positions I would have thought impossible, he found that all 7 screws on the outside of the boat, attaching this  plate to the cross-beam, were missing and that the steel plate was bent. I cannot even begin to imagine what could have caused this to happen. We certainly have been given no clues. Last time I looked all the screws and rivets visible on my side of the boat were present. Do these boats only last 3 years?

Wednesday, we hired a car and drove up to Mt. Teide, some 3000+ metres above sea level. Unlike the morning of our arrival here, when the volcano was hidden by thick black clouds, today sun was shining, the air was clear and it was warm.

When we reached the cable-car station and went to queue for tickets, there was a sign stating that unless we had a permit, obtainable from Santo Cruz, we could not approach within 200metres of the crater. We had not been aware of the restriction and although Dick and Philip took a cable-car to the top of the mountain, I decided that, having stood on the edge of the crater some 35 years ago, I didn’t want to spend €25 euros not to do so.

Instead, while drinking a cup of freshly made coffee, I wrote the postcards which I had just purchased at the souvenir shop.

When the guys returned, they told me that it had been cold on the summit and they were glad to have taken warm clothes with them.

We left Mt. Teide and drove down the mountains between hectares of lava flow, in the opposite direction from which we had come. The lava was fascinating consisting of so many varying colours and textures, from almost white to beige, green, brown, orange, grey and black. Some flows looked like gigantic fields freshly ploughed, others were just rocks. Then there was vegetation. At first mainly cacti but gradually we were enveloped in forest.

We passed two restaurants which were closed. We came to another which was open so we went inside and ordered a meal. Just prior to reaching the restaurants, mist had started to swirl around the car and while we were eating lunch, the mist became fog.

After lunch we continued to drive down the mountains and we could see the sun-lit plain below the cloud, before we were back again in the sunshine. We made a small detour to see the Gigantes, which were enormous, then continued our circumnavigation of the island.

Next morning, Dick and Philip made a temporary repair to the damaged plate at the front of the boat. At least it now shouldn’t fall off into the water. It will have to be replaced when we reach the Canaries. There is obviously a design fault here and the same thing can easily happen again.

Before we left the boat at noon, to drive to the south of the island, Dick installed the second of the five electric fans. The first is in our cabin, the second is in the galley.

We met up with Austin who is joining us on the ARC, near the port at Las Christianos and although we thought we were going to pay for lunch, Austin had planned ahead and settled the bill before we could stop him doing so.

After lunch, we adjourned to an internet café where we ordered coffee and spent the rest of the afternoon. Austin had a previous engagement and had to depart just before 3pm.

Philip was able to book air tickets on-line for his wife to join us and also his return ticket to the UK at the end of our voyage together.

Dick booked our return flights to the UK and Lagoon has agreed to replace the faulty rudder parts, even though the boat is no longer covered by warranty. Another box ticked. It can sometimes be tough to get things done when we don’t have easy access to the World Wide Web.

Friday morning we left Marina del Atlantico and made passage to San Miguel to check out the marina, should we need to use it on the day that Philip’s wife arrives.

The marina staff at San Miguel were very friendly and gave us a discount as we are members of the Cruising association. We were also able to access WiFi from the boat which is always a big plus point. However, the noise of metal against metal as the pontoons moved up and down and the squeak of the warps andfenders as well as the banging of the rubber compensators didn’t make for a good nights sleep.

We left Tenerife just before noon and made passage to La Gomera. This is the island from whence Christopher Columbus departed when he commenced his first voyage to the New World.

En-route to La Gomera, we sighted pilot whales on three occasions. The first sighting was at 13.15 when we came across a dozen to twenty whales. One jumped completely from the water but the rest were content to laze around near the surface, exposing various parts of their bodies as we observed.

There were seven whales, half in and half out of the water blowing, when we came across the next pod at 14.45. Then, at 3pm we spotted two whales just lying on top of the water. They too were blowing.

As we entered the picturesque harbour at La Gomera, the buildings on the side of the hills looked like a collection of dolly mixtures.

Philip very kindly washed the decks once again before we all went ashore for our evening meal. We will definitely invite him again.



Young bird in its rocky nest

Tucanon from the lighthouse on Salvegem

Mt. Teide