Porto Santo / Madeira to Canaries
Even though the wind had abated to a good sailing strength of 5-6 the waves were still pretty large and we had a bumpy ride for the first day. After a promising start the waves took their toll on Chris' stomach and his lunch was spotted more than once.
During the night the wind decreased even more, eventually requiring some help from the engine. The waves followed suit during the course of the next day, and by the afternoon the swell was no longer choppy and the water took on a smooth appearance. Chris, now fully recovered, slung his tree hammock under the bowsprit and releaxed in the gentle swinging motion.
The relaxed atmosphere finally allowed the sextant to come out and Jay and Ian took several measurements, followed by several hours of calculation, and finally announced that they had worked out our position to within some ten miles, which was surprisingly accurate.
Since we were going fairly slowly, Noel and Chris decided that it was time for a swim and jumped into the ocean, with a few km of water below them. They then tied a rope onto the boat and enjoyed being pulled along for a while behind us.
We even caught a fish, and here Noel demonstrates the headless catch, body builder style.
The next morning we neared Tenerife and pulled into a small bay off the east coast, and spent a relaxed day swimming and snorkelling around the boat.
Jo, Noel and Chris took the dingy and went to explore some caves on the side of the bay, managing to find a way through to the other side.
Later on that afternoon, Merryn and Rob had a small incident trying to get the dingy off the beach and give a lift to someone back to their boat, which involved in some injuries to the passenger who couldn’t get into the boat quickly enough to get clear of the waves in time. We ended up towing him back to his boat on the surfboard ! After the entertainment at the beach, we left the bay and went back towards Santa Maria, the capital of Tenerife and arrived at the marina a few hours later. Since it was both Chris' and Ians' last night, we went out for a meal together.
Having seen Chris and Ian off to return home, Rob and Merryn began to have an idea about escaping for a week and popping back to Blighty to say hello to the chaps, and went to the airport and found a flight for the next day (you need a holiday even when on holiday!). Meanwhile Caren, Jo's mother, arrived the next day and after a night on board, the reduced party of four set off towards Gomera, one of the smaller Canary Islands.
After an eventful start to the journey (lifting the neighbour's anchor with ours!) we had little luck with the wind, which was predictably on the nose as we headed south.The sun was going down as we arrived in the anchorage at Los Cristianos, when the next anchor event happened. In trying to pull up on our dragging anchor we got the dinghy painter round the prop! Noel jumped in and cut it free quickly, hoping not many others had seen our schoolboy error. All turned out fine, and we enjoyed a calm evening under the stars with a bright full moon.
The following day we set off for San Sebastian marina on La Gomera. We had a lovely sail for 5 miles in slightly the wrong direction, then had to tack back towards the island.
We were very excited to come across a small pod of pilot whales, who swam towards and under the boat.
After an easy set down against a wall in the marina, we had a relaxed evening. The next day we explored the pretty town of San Sebastian, which has close links with Columbus, who said Mass in the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption before setting off from here to discover the Americas.
The island is said to be one of the prettiest of the Canaries, and exploring inland is a must. We hired a car and headed towards the almost central peak, which is surrounded by national park. The continuous hairpin bends climb up through constantly changing scenery, offering stunning views (if you dare take your eyes off the road!). Impressive Mt Teide on Tenerife provides the backdrop most of the way.
We had to set off back to Tenerife the next day, although we could have enjoyed Gomera for longer but we needed meet Rob and Merryn on their return, and get Caren to the airport. We were able to sail nicely under the main with 2 reefs for a couple of hours, the wind then dropped and was right on the nose as we turned the corner to head up Tenerife east coast to Santa Cruz. Luckily we had another encounter with pilot whales, who cruised beside us for a while. It made for a long day, beating into the oncoming sea but we got into Santa Cruz late evening.
Rob and Merryn returned safely the next day and Caren was sad to have to catch her flight the following day.
Final preparations were then under way for the 10 day trip to Cape Verdes, including meeting our new crew member Bernardo and the slightly later addition of Cezar. Everyone was looking forward to the change in culture and getting a taste of Africa.
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