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Monday, October 25, 2010

Sail Tenerife to La Gomera 24 October 2010

Having re-reviewed the weather forecast for the coming days and re-read the writeups on the harbours on El Hierro (no marina - just tie up to harbour wall where there are few cleats and only two steps so could be interesting if other boats are already moored there) , decided to give El Hierro a miss this time and go to La Gomera instead.

However, with winds forecast to be 20 +knots from NE, and bearing in mind the notorious acceleration zone as one nears La Gomera, decided that an early start was a good idea.
So we left San Miguel Marna on Tenerife in the dark at 0500hrs.

As dawn broke, the magnificent view of the soaring 3718 meter peak of Mount Teide became clearly visible astern.
On the advice of the pilot books, motored north hugging the coastline to stay in the lee of Tenerife with 2 reefs in the mainsail till we were due east of the port of San Sebastian before heading for the island. The sea became very choppy on the crossing and as there was very little wind, we felt as though we were in a washing machine.

First views of La Gomera:

About 6 miles off La Gomera, Jeannette, who was on watch yelled for help - the wind had shot up from very little to over 30 knots - we had entered he acceleration zone! Her hand had got jammed against the cleat as she tried to free off the mainsheet - result - skin removed from 2 fingers and blisters on two other fingers.

The sea became quite rough with white horses all around us as we Dutch Link sped towards the steep cliffs of La Gomera at 8 knots with the wind gusting 35 knots.

Three ferries overtook us as we approached the harbour - fortunately they were more or less moored by the time we arrived.

Amazingly, as soon as we rounded the very substantial breakwaters, the wind dropped of and in the marina itself, it was almost calm - a big sigh of relief as mooring in a marina in 30 + knots is a hairy exercise. A second sigh of relief when the marina confirmed on VHF 09 that they had place for us.

After fueling up, a very helpful marine staff helped us to our berth.
First impressions are that this is a delightful island - we are in no hurry to move.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Puerto Castillo to San Miguel, Tenerife, 20 to 23 October 2010

Having dropped Mike's sister off at the airport 20/10, we left the Puerto Castillo marina and had a gentle sail down to Gran Tarajal where we anchored for the night just east of the harbour (28deg 12.5 N 014deg 01.1W in 6.5 meters sand - good holding) .

Approaching Gran Tarajal:

Dutch Link anchored off outside the swimming area marked by yellow buoys:
The marina Gran Tarajal :
21/10 sailed down to Morro Jable and anchored for the night off the beach east of the marina (28deg 02.8N 014deg 21.1 W in 6.5 meters water - good holding in sand)

Dinghied into the beach and found an internet cafe with Dutch Link in the background
Sunset at Morro Jable
Marina Morro Jable:
As the weather forecast looked good, decided to sail directly to El Hierro, a 200 mile leg. So at 1130 22/10 raised the anchor and left Morro Jable heading WSW.

Sailing ino the sunset:
with the moon up before the sunset:
Night sailing at its best - full moon and clear skies - enough light to see around the boat and see the horizon - perfect

As the wind was forecast to be light, we expected to be at sea for 2 nights. However, we received a weather forecast via Satcom C indicating possible near gale winds in the Canaries so decided to stop in Tenerife - by 1750hrs 23/10 moored in the well laid out, not overly full Marina of San Miguel (28deg 01 N 016deg 36W) at the Southern tip of Tenerife - very close to the southern international airport of Tenerife - very good marina for crew changes.

Downloaded the grib files and find that the strong winds are mainly in the far east of the Canaries so plan to leave here at 0500hrs for the 70 nmile broadreach to El Hierro in the forecast 20 knot NE-erly tomorrow (24/10) - we shall see!

Fuerteventura Puerto Castilo and trip around middle of Fuerteventura, 16 to 20 October 2010

Spent several days in Puerto Castillo, snorkelling every day from the stern of the boat to the rocky harbour mole where we saw many fish of different sizes.

Rented a car to explore the central part of the island of Fuerteventure, stopping first at the old capital, Antigua which was first settled in 1485. Below is the 18h century church of Nuestra Senora de Antigua.
Then on to the picturesque town of Betancuria nestled between the volcanic peaks, founded in 1404.

Stopped for lunch at the old fishing port of Anju on the west coast for lunch. Had a stroll along the heavily eroded coast with its many shallow caves.

Stopped at an Aloe Vera processing factory.
There are around 250 different species of Aloe Vera of which only a few are suitable for the body lotions. The species used here are best for harvesting when they turn pinkish.
One of the staff kindly showed us which part of the plant is used for the lotions - namely the transparent coulourless inside of the 'leaves'.

Stopped at an viewing point along the road and were fortunate to see Chipmunks - the last time we had seen them was on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia.
Most of the time we were driving through desert-like landscapes with the road twisting its way between the volcanic peaks.
The furthest south we reached was the area of sandy beaches called Costa Calma - very long golden sand beaches with sand dunes behind them - the whole coastline covered by huge resort hotels.
Normally there is a lot of wind here as can be evidenced by the large wind generator park and wind surfing championships are held in this area. However, when we were there there was hardly any wind.
Although at first sight everything looks barren, there is some agriculture - raising herds of goats
and in several areas we saw fields covered with a type of canvas where tomatoes and other crops are grown
Close to the marina of El Castillo there is an old sea salt producing area

Stopped at Pozo Negro - a possible anchorage in calm conditions

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sail Puerto Calero Lanzarote to Puerto El Castillo, Fuerteventura 13 to 16 October 2010

Left Puerto Calero 13 /10 at 1230 sailing slowly past the race course for the RC44 World Championships. Anchored in Bahia de Avila (28deg 5.86N 013deg 44.9W in sand) for a snorkel round the boat - water temperature 25C.
Moored in the spacious modern Rubicon Marina at 1600 hrs.

Left Rubicon at 1400hrs 14/10 and motored to Corralejo on Fuerteventura wher we moored at 1600 hrs in same awkward berth as before.

15/10 rented a car from Hertz (36 Euros/day) and toured the north part of the island.
Took the dirt track along the low rocky northern coastline stopping at various spots to watch the surfers. This part of the island has some of the best surf.
Please Click on arrowed square bottom right for full screen and click on arrow bottom Left to start video clip

The track took us past the small fishing village of Majanicho

rejoining the tarmac road at the Faro de Toston.
Close by passed some Noddy-like holiday homes.

Similar to Lanzarote, the island is very arid.

Stopped for a picnic lunch in the shade of the cliffs at the picturesque fishing port of El Cotillo.

Then drove via Villaverde to Oliva where we visited the Casa de Los Coroneles which was built in the 18th century as the headquarters for the military.

Then over the hills to the capital, Puerto del Rosario - one look at the harbour confirmed that this is not a place for pleasure yachts to moor - caters only for large ships and very small boats.
Took the eastern coastal road back to Corralejo via the Dunas de Corralejos, 10 km of sand dunes - Jeannette found this an ideal spot for sun salutations.

which, since the building of two high-rise beach hotels, is now a nature reserve. The sandy beach here is perfect for families with young kids.

At 0800 16/10 left Corralejos before the wind picked up (very difficult to extract ourselves from this mooring in cross wind) and after anchoring in the harbour to have breakfast, we motored over to Isla Lobos for a snorkel (anchored in 8.5 meters in sand 28deg 44.21N 013deg 49.44W).

1130 anchor up and headed south. Had a good sail for the first 2 hours but then the wind came round to a Southerly 4 Bft on the nose - after a couple of tacks , gave up and motored the rest of the trip.

With 15 plus knots from the south, our mooring in the very small berths of Puerto El Castille (in Caleta de Fuste) was a bit tricky, but with the help of the harbour master and his helper, we made it OK.