Sailing to La Gomera (Dutch)

Next day Tuesday 27 February we had 28 to 30 knots winds in the marina. I was glad being in the marina tied well to the pontoon. However, today the real storm came with up to 50 knots winds. Minor damages where reported but I am okay. Hard wind all day however makes you quite tired. The noise, the squiking of the ropes, the movements all add up. Just imagine being in Sint Maarten when Irma visited. A nightmare for sure. Anyway, thanks to this weather in Holland people are doing what they have not being able to do to much in the winters lately, skating on natural ice! Have fun there.

Of course, one goes to La Gomera for the hiking. So was I. After the storm there was a nice day without rain, which I took advantage of to make a hike, not to long, about four hours I reckoned. If I only knew…

La Palma revisited

Back on La Palma. After four months high and dry on El Hierro, I am back in the water. My first sail went to La Gomera. Anchored at Puerto de Vuelta for three days and enjoyed summer like weather. Swimming next to the boat, hiking the sweat in my shirt, met nice people from Norway doing so, and rowed my dinghy in 30 minutes a shored because the outboard motor did not start. All the good things.

Now I am in the marina of La Palma again. A very rolly marina. They are working on a door to close the marina off to prevent the swell to enter the marina but the work is going on for some time now. Meanwhile, while northern Europe has Siberian cold the associated high blocks all lows from the Atlantic so I am stuck with the depressions with near gale winds and lots of rain. Yes, in La Palma. Look at these colours left. Black is coming my way 😨.

Nevertheless,  I had plenty opportunity to do what is most favorit on La Palma, hike! So I hiked one trail in the national park de la Caldera de Taburiente in the center of the island and in the rain forest of Los Tiles in the north. In both cases I was not able to hike the best trails. In the first case the number of tourists was abundantly so closed and the second only oned easy path was open due the heavy rain we had the day before. Nevertheless both b-trails where nice enough for some good pictures and Steven Spielberg aspirations under way to the summit of Pico de las Ovejas.

Interesting detail of the forests in Los Tilos, apparently they survived millions of years.

Whereas we have lost this type of forests in Europe, here the still are. On La Palma, looking in the past, as it is. Great idea.

 

One other thing for which La Palma is renowned and protected for, is its unspoiled darkness at night. La Palma is one of the best places in the world for star gazing. So that was what I did, and learnt what every sailor should know about the polar star, Polaris. As a souvenir we where allowed to take a picture of a less far away heavenly body, the moon.

 

Tomorrow is a smal weather hole with moderate winds between the near gale winds. If possible I will sail back to La Gomera, but then for the marina San Sebastian. Apparently a good marina to ride out the storms to come and enjoy La Gomera some more.

Back on track

End of January I flew back to El Hierro. It is quite a trip to make. First you get a plane to Tenerife, easy enough. I got a very early flight which was great because I had to get to El Hierro next. Two ways possible, by plane or boat. The latter leaves around five PM and arrives 2,5 hours later. Than you get at the ‘airport’ of El Hierro, in the middle of nowhere. Busses don’t drive anymore so either a taxi to La Restinga, fifty euro’s and an hour’s drive or wait for the next morning busses, only 6 euro’s, but  you need to change three times for 45 kilometers and it takes about three hours with waiting time. I booked a plane from Tenerife, just 40 minutes flight, to leave at 2 PM. I arrived at 11.30 AM at Tenerife, nice on time and took the bus from Tenerife Airport South for an hour’s drive to Tenerife North Airport. That is, Santa Crus de Tenerife, where you get the bus for the last fifteen minutes to the airport. That is, if there is no traffic jam, which there was. I arrive 1.30 PM at the airport just in time to get the small propeller plane.         

Arrived in El Hierro around 2.40 PM, a bus was not to be expected for an hour, I took the taxi anyway, and arrived in the afternoon to find Senja in good order. Nothing stolen, no damage, only dirty, very dirty indeed! Salt crystals and sand all over the boat and all the stainless steel was covered with rust. Very strange for stainless steel but apparently that is caused by a phosphor factory in Morocco which smoke blows with the Sahara sand over the Canary Islands.  For the first 13 nights I had booked an apartment so I could work on the boat and leave after a day’s work to my apartment and have a good shower. I had still a water tank to repair and some new electronics to install. Having the experiences that nothing goes right at once working on your boat, it seemed a good thing to be able to escape to another place.

Relaxing however was also important, so I quit working at four in the afternoon to jump in the sea, 18 degrees, and take a shower afterwards to wash away a day’s work. Time to enjoy El Hierro. Which is enjoyable. El Hierro is the smallest and the most remote island in the very south west of the Canary islands. I fact, it is the outer most border of West Europe middle in the Atlantic Ocean. Having been on the North Cape, this could well be the South Cape. El Hierro is volcanic and a few years ago there was even volcanic activity close to the coast of La Restinga, serious enough to raise an alarm in the area. However, nothing dramatic happened. But you can see the black lava stone and rubble which makes up most of the coastline. El Hierro is much less touristic than the other islands, which shows in the people who do visit. Mostly divers in La Restinga, apparently a very good diving and snorkeling spot, many hikers and people who have a 1968 feel around them; very laid back and easy going. El Hierro is not for the typical tourist who goes to Tenerife or Gran Canaria for that matter. I like it.

Is the coast a bit bleak, more inland and higher up, about 1000 meters, is a pine forest close to the village of El Pinar. This part has a total different feel and I really liked hiking there. I did however, misinterpreted the change in the weather there. Did I leave La Restinga in shorts and T-shirt in 20 degrees and sun, in El Pinar I arrived after 15 minutes bus ride in 13 degrees, overcast and a little rain! Nevertheless, the hike was on and I strolled into the pine woods while the weather slowly improved. I climbed up the summit of one of the hills and enjoyed the scenery. In the middle of the pine wood was a camping site, more or less, with over 30 barbeque sites joined together. I guess that this place must be very popular in the summer. One of the 1968 feel guys I met in La Restinga was sleeping here but left because the cold. He now resides in one of the many caves at the coast line close to La Restinga! And he is not the only having a cave for himself.

Coming back from my hike at El Pinar to take the bus back, I noticed that a hiking trail exists from El Pinar to La Restinga, about 2,5 hours walk. Not for now, I just had my walk, but a few days later I took the bus back to El Pinar and hiked my way back to La Restinga. A very nice walk with its own feel and look. Some housing, some agriculture and finally closer to the shore, and 800 meters lower, the place became more desolate but beautiful on its own.

However, apart from the relaxing and sometimes intense walks, I also worked on my boat. I was able to open up a part of the floor in the galley floor and inspect the water tank where I believed the leakage was, but did not found anything strange like a hole or a hose disconnected. Use a probe I was able to inspect the water tank at many places but I could not find the source of the leakage. I left it for another time. I was however able to install new electronics (AIS) which was places within a network of other systems and to my great pleasure, it worked immediately and communicated with all the other systems. Good going! Of course, I also polished all the stainless steel on the boat, which is much, up to a shiny appearance once again. I even was told by one of the fishing men that Senja was the most beautiful boat in La Restinga. How happy do you want to make me?!

After two weeks Senja was put into her element. Which is also something I did not look upon without apprehension. The place I left the boat was not a ordinary shipyard for pleasure boats and yachts, but the yard from “the confederation of fishing men”, dealing with…small fishing boats. However, Dario, the crane driver, in his mundane and no nonsenses attitude went to work. He drove the crane around Senja, put the bands under the hull, and slowly lifted Senja off the nine oil drums, which you would not see in our country,  and countless poles which had carried her through gales and what have you more, for almost four months. The he drove the crane above the water and lowered Senja in the water where I could confirm that nothing was amiss. The engine started right away and I sailed with a natural certainty the boat to the mooring. We are floating again and what a pleasure that is!