Canary Islands (cont.)

Saturday 8th. August

We busy ourselves with boat maintainence, eg anti-rust and cleaning stainless steel. We plan to leave tomorrow morning with a very calm forecast so will spray the bolt rope on the mainsail with silicon spray as we put it up then. This keeps it supple to run through the runners as it goes up the mast. We are pleased to note the long life globes we were advised in Barcelona to put in all the light fittings are a great success. They make much less drainage on the battery power.
We have some interesting and helpful yachting neighbours here. Maxine is french and lives on her boat. She has been involved with boats for years and has a wealth of information. We are particularly grateful to hear she knows somewhere nearby where we can fill our Australian gas bottles. We thought we needed to bring a fitting from Australia.

Maxine helping with local knowledge

We have Polish and then Swedish neighbours on the other side. The Polish skipper has advice which proves very helpful. With the forecasts ensure you allow for the wind acceleration as well. If its 25kts. don´t leave, and double the given wind speed. Also we learn the wind here is stronger in the afternoon.

Tonight we enjoy one of the best dinners we have ever been presented with. It is in a small restaurant where you can dine outside Each table has a tall red rose and the settings are very chic and unusual. Everything is done with flare and originality by the young couple running this place.

Part of scallop entree set on a mirror

Scallops set to music!

The chef wants to share his passion for creative and delicious cuisine through his imaginative cooking and presentation.
Sitting on a nearby table we meet a couple, and their son from Belgium, who has recognized us from Impulsive and our Australian flag. The wife had stayed in Australia some years ago for over a year and is keen to speak with us. Her english is excellent They come back to have a night cap on Impulsive. They are hoping to sail to Australia one day, so hopefully we will see them again.

It is wonderful skyping the family this morning. We can actually show them where we are by walking around slowly with the computer. It is such a treat for us to see and speak with them.

It is very calm as forecast (i.e. winds from 5-8kts.) when we set off in good time in a n.west direction for Las Galletas on Tenerife Is. We are joined by some dolphins. Fortunately Ross closes all the hatches and portholes because without warning we are suddenly in a wind acceleration zone with winds up to 30kts. and water coming over the starboard beam of the boat, and Ross getting drenched.With half the mainsail and one third of the headsail up we are doing 8.2 kts. The trip takes about 5 hours and we are pleased to be tied up in the protection of Los Galletas port.

Watching the whipped up sea from inside Impulsive

This is an attractive small fishing harbour except for the modern box like apartments built around the water front . These are a contrast from the white washed buildings we have seen elsewhere as they are painted in other colours of rose, ochres and blues.The high mountains of the Teide national park are in the background.
We spend the next 2 days with a hire car exploring the island. The cruising options are limited particularly up the west coast where there are very few available facilities.
Apart from some of the built up and industrial areas near the coast the scenery is spectacular and varied.
We drive north up steep and winding roads to the Teide National Park. The landscape is extraordinary with its many volcanic formations. We take The Rouges de Garcia walking track which takes about one and a half hours.

Start of Rouges de Garcia

This area was formed by a huge tsunami years ago which sliced out massive pieces of land. Since then there has been more volcanic activity so it is a very interesting place to walk. There are many examples of the fascinating flora and fauna here that exist in this difficult subtropical -alpine climate. From here we see Teide, the active volcano, and El Roche Cinchado, a vast and interesting shape because it is wearing away faster at the bottom than the top.

El Roche Cinchado

Teide Bugloss
-an example of the flora (showing how it has adapted to the climate here)

Along the walk

It is uncommonly arid here

Volcanic formations

We hope we can obtain a pass to climb to the summit of Teide so we will return to take the cable car trip then. Also there is unusually poor visibility today caused by the Sahara dust so we are advised not to do it now.

Mt. Teide seen through the Sahara dust

Driving further north we come to La Orotava. This is a lovely well preserved town with its narrow, cobbled streets and C17 and C18 houses with their feature of carved wooden balconies. There are many beautiful gardens here, in full bloom. We have never seen such large heads on hydrangeas.

La Orotava

Private house built in 1928 and set in beautiful gardens, now a cultural centre

"Bird of Paradise" in this garden

Puerto de a Cruz is very touristy and we are lucky to find a park. Our stop here is brief just to take in the atmosphere of this very popular resort set on the seafront and rising up into the mountains behind.
After a full day of tiring driving for Ross we take the motor way back down the east coast to Impulsive.
Today we venture up the west coast. Looking up to the mountains they are still shrouded in cloud. There are palm trees and oleandas lining the roads. There are hundreds of banana plantations up this coastline and it is interesting that the majority of them are shaded. We often see signs for shops selling Tenerife pearls.

Driving up the steep, winding roads

Banana plantations

Los Gigantes is very touristy, in fact we are unable to park at 10.30am. It is a maze of apartments and hotels in narrow streets set below these huge black rocks whose cliff faces plunge 500m. into the ocean. We stop at a cafe up the top and the view over this and along the coastline is wonderful. Apparently whales and dolphins enjoy this stretch of warmer waters.

Los Gigantes

Fertile valley in n.east of Tenerife (where there is more rainfall in the north of the island)

The steep and winding drive down into Garachico is spectacular. It is an attractive town set in a semi-circle around the waterfront. There are only a few original buildings still here since an earthquake in 1706, but these are well preserved. Unfortunately the then busy port was ruined and the town no longer could trade as it did between America and the Canaries, and the port has never recovered its profitable trading.

Driving down into Garachio

Part of the old port and some of the natural pools

Looking up one of the main streets

Typical houses with the wooden balconies

Festival time - house of a marques rebuilt C17

Masca is a very small village set 600m. high up an incredibly winding narrow road. We wonder how it was built. It is an extremely difficult drive as 2 cars cannot always pass by each other and have to wait in lay-by areas to do so. The thought of the drops over the edge can be eerie.


Pirates used to come here by mule and used it as a hide-away. There are a small number of stone houses all with their lush gardens, palm trees and terraced gardens for crops and vegetables. Ross has a maize, garlic and onion tart for lunch which is very unusual but delicious. The views down through the gorge are breathtaking.

View from the road looking down the gorge

Narrow, winding roads

We continue on a scenic route back to the Teide national Park and walk the Route Samara. This walk is like walking on the moonscape, all on debris from the last volcano here. The Canarian pines grow here and are establishing themselves now the lichen and moss have.The different colours seen in the rocks are caused by oxidization. The view over La Gomera Is. (where we plan to sail to tomorrow) and La Palma , both enshrouded in low white cloud , is beautiful.

Route Samara
with Canarian Pines

View over La Gomera

Ross fastidiously checks 3 weather sites, especially with the variables with the accelerated wind zones. All sites forecast an average of 8-10 kts. n. to n.e. winds so even doubling this it should be a calm sail. We leave early at daybreak, because the forecast here at Los Galletas is benign in the morning but for higher winds in the afternoon. The days are noticeably shorter now, so it is dark until about 6.45am.

Leaving Los Galletas

We get out calmly and then have 20 kts. on the nose, with a short choppy sea and 2 m. high waves which is very uncomfortable.Suddenly out of nowhere we hit an accelerated wind zone with the apparent wind dial registering 42 kts. and Ross gets another drenching. We are making about 6 kts. We change course by 20 degrees to steady Impulsive and have less strain on all the gear. We take in the reduced headsail and have just over half the mainsail up and now average 7 kts. What a willing sail!
We are very pleased to be securely tied up at la Gomera Island at San Sebastian port.

Thursday 12th. august
La Gomera Island

San Sebastian marina

San Sebastian is very quiet until the ferries arrive each morning. This is the port where Christopher Columbus filled his water tanks and departed from for his great voyage and discovery of America. It is interesting to wonder what his thoughts were when he was kneeling to pray in the island´s main Church before he sailed away. Nearby is the well preserved house he stayed in here. The main square is shaded by laurel trees.

The well Christopher Columbus used

Replica of Christopher Columbus´ship

We plan to stay here for 2 days and in fact we need to with the unfavourable weather forecast. We may even have to stay an extra day. We are warned by locals of the strong winds which funnel down through the gullies from the mountains to the port each evening. Ross ties the boat up more securely to cope with this. We are grateful for all their local knowledge or we would have been very concerned when it first happened with no warning.
This small island is little affected by tourism and has wonderful and varied landscapes. It is very popular for hikers.
We are advised not to visit the National park today because it is an unusually hot day with very strong winds and threats of fire danger.

Church at Hermigua

We enjoy the day exploring by car, starting in a n.easterly direction up a steep and winding road to inland Hermigua, and then on to C17 Agulo high above the sea and surrounded by banana plantations. Throughout these areas are steep ravines, views of the coastline, banana plantations and terracing. There is a lot of mist and cloud particularly in the north of the island.


Vallehermoso is in a valley and has very fertile soil for the crops. We then drive s. west to the outskirts of the National Park and take a lovely shaded walk to Canades de Jorg down a steep descent into a gorge. It is much cooler here.

Canades de Jorg walk

Driving back to the marina
At the north of the island is very arid

View over Sans Sebastian marina
with accelerated wind zone showing on the sea

Driving back to San Sebastian we get glimpses of the accelerated wind zones and cannot imagine being out there. The hot and gusting winds are very strong now and we can see the masses of tall, white waves from afar.
The boats in the harbour are "rocking and rolling" in their pens. Impulsive seems very secure but the whistling wind howling through the marina is very disconcerting , as is hearing all the squeaking and knocking sounds of all the boats, so we decide to go to the Parador hotel on top of the hill to have some sleep. We have 2 nights in this replica of a Canarian mansion. It has a great advantage for us because we can look down and see Impulsive safely in her berth.

The Parador hotel courtyard

Today we walk in the National Park from Los Mimbregas to the peak of Garagonay, La Gomera´s highest mountain. The drive in is beautiful as is the walk with the shaded forest with some areas shrouded in mist. The mists are caused by the cool Atlantic trade winds meeting the warm breezes here and they provide dew and humidity providing the lush growth here. The peak itself is exposed and windy but the cloud has lifted and the views across to Teide on Tenerife Is., Palma Is. (our next destination). and El Hierro are spectacular.

Hiking up Alto Garagoney

View across to Mt. Teide

We do stay another day. We catch up on jobs on the boat including washing her down again after the strong winds as she is covered in fine, black volcanic dust.

Terracing near Valle Gran Rey

Later we drive west to Valle Gran Rey, again along a most scenic route and down a winding, steep descent, and through a fertile valley to this attractive town set by the Atlantic.

Boats in the small port here

Typical beach with black sands

Expensive new houses at Valle Gran Rey

Cesar Manrique sculpture at top of the ascent out of this town

Looking back down to Valle Gran Rey

With the weather forecast making it still inappropriate to leave we have another day
here relaxing on Impulsive reading, drawing and painting which is very relaxing.
We find one excellent restaurant here which has been cut into the rock and overlooks the Atlantic. It is small and cosy with interesting cuisine and lively service. Another place we enjoy is near the main square and has more traditional food , and lots of atmosphere with a constant flow of locals coming to dine there.

Lighthouse leaving La Gromera

Monday 16th. August
With a favourable forecast at last we leave early to sail 50 n.miles n.west to La Palma. We begin slowly with some tide against us and some swell. Later the wind comes round to east of north and we motor sail with the headsail up and just over half the mainsail, tracking at up to 8 kts.
We enjoy this crossing very much.

La Palma Island is another small island, well known for its many wonderful walking tracks and spectacular scenery. This is a quieter island without the heavy tourism seen elsewhere. In C16 it was considered the third most important port in Spain.
All the roads here are steep, narrow and winding, with wonderful views.
Traveling north up the east coast we come to the Los Tilos laurel forest.This is a misty evergreen rainforest. Also growing here are ferns, myrtles and lime trees. It is beautiful walking through here, now a biosphere reserve.
Somehow we take a wrong turn along the north coast, (we are finding the maps here hard to follow!), which gives Ross a particularly difficult, and sometimes hair-raising drive, but the scenery is magnificent. There are not many towns or restaurants in this area but one the tourist information man suggests is excellent, with local cuisine and in a lovely setting.
The archaeological site of La Zarza near La Mata, has rock carvings by the ancient inhabitants of the island. These are very simple , mostly of spirals and circles. The walk in to see these is again lush green, with laurel trees and a large diversity of bird life.
The scenery along the west coast is equally spectacular as the east and the north coasts. the greenery is due to the heavy rainfall in these areas and the warm climate.
Turning east we approach the southern boundary of the Caldera de Taburiente, near El Paso, which is quite a large town. We descend down to the bottom (another scary drive) where many walks lead off for exploring the park. Some campers are just returning from a long hike and are very pleased with themselves. We are very happy to just be looking today.
Ross is pleased to park the car near the marina and we walk along the waterfront boulevard with its attractive houses, cafes and bars to find a simple dinner. Many of these places have the wooden balconies and overhanging baskets with colourful flowers. Many of the houses on La Palma Island are painted in bright colours.
The following morning we stow the boat to prepare for an overnight sail tomorrow. The provisioning is much simpler here where we can buy fresh food regularly. i am just keeping 2 spare meals in the freezer in case.
Then we head up to Roque de los Muchachos to the National Park. The steep walls of the crater are a fantastic sight, some over 2,000m high. We are fortunate to have a clear day with breath-taking views.
There is an astronomical observatory up here. It is known world wide because with the clear skies at this site it is a perfect place for making these observations.
While we are still descending, we find lunch at a charming al fresco restaurant with its overhanging grape vines and views across the Atlantic , which is very pleasant.
This is excellent preparation for the 4 hour walk at La Galga up to Cuba de la Galga, on the east coast with its wonderful examples of deep ravines and vertical cliff faces. The forest here is lush green and very cool to walk through.
Tonight while we still have the hire car we drive 8 ks. out of Santa Cruz to a well known restaurant, Las Tres Chimeneas. It is a delicious dinner and a pleasant atmosphere. We also enjoy seeing another area of the island.
Today we enjoy a "home" day on the boat and have our delightful Swedish neighbours on board for a drink before dinner. They have no children or commitments at home, so have set off for 5 years to travel the world. We hope to see them after crossing the Atlantic next year, and they also hope to come to Australia.

Friday 20th. August
We leave La Palma about midday to time our overnight sail towards the east to arrive at Gran Canaria Island at 8 or 9 am. It is a pleasant afternoon out here motor sailing with the headsail and most of the mainsail up, averaging about 7 kts.
With a magnificent sunset we are tracking towards the n.east cape of Tenerefe past
the top of Teide just looming above the heavy cloud formation below it.The wind has come round slightly so we are motor sailing with 3/4 of the mainsail up. There is just a slight swell.
Ross asks many people how far off the n. east coast of Tenerefe the accelerated winds are likely to occur.( It is marked on the chart to be be very strong in this area) We are surprised when they are such a problem that no-one has the answer. Last night he visited the crew of a the large ferry and was told that about 3-5 n.miles off shore. We are very grateful for this knowledge and plan our course accordingly.
For sometime we enjoy the warm glow of the lights from Tenerefe, and later the
reflection across the water from the 3/4 moon.
Arriving this morning without having to experience any accelerated wind zones is a great relief. There is no pleasure sailing in these.

To avoid accelerated wind zones we decide not to return to Tenerefe to Santa Cruz marina. We are unable to make a booking for this time for a permit to the summit of Mt. Teide. We look at it on the internet and decide we don´t need to do this extra travel to go up the cable car, having now seen several volcanos and having been up to their summit.

Gran Canaria Island
Las Palmas
We spend several days here with a mixture of organizing Impulsive and exploring the more northern parts of this island
We walk about 4 ks. along the foreshore to explore the "Old town". It is all very quiet
and even though it is Sunday most places of interest are closed early afternoon.
The Santa Ana cathedral is huge with a neoclassical facade, set in the square of the same name, wit its bronze statues of dogs. Casa de Colon,or Columbus House, is the palace of the first governors, and where Columbus stayed. it is now a museum showing aspects of Columbus´great voyages eg. part of an interior of one of the ships. Nearby is a small church, San Antonio Abad where Columbus prayed. South of the cathedral is Plaza del Espiritu Santo which houses its monumnental fountain, a chapel and several typical historical houses.
Santa Catalina Hotel, built in the late C19 is near the marina , is very grand and is set in the Parque Doramus. These sub-tropical gardens with their water features have an impressive monument to the Guanches during their resistance to Spanish invaders.
One of these days we call our "Mr. Bean" day. I never thought I`d experience seeing Ross having a day like this. He has so much to think about and organize, and most things just seem to "go wrong". We all have these days but this one is just incredible. In the end we just laugh and imagine many worse things that could happen. The last straw is we walk a long way to a recommended excellent fresh seafood restaurant to find no lights on and that it is closed until Sept. !st for holidays!
We take a drive inland visiting several charming small and quiet towns.
Telde is unique with its green and white painted houses. It once held the seat of the local king of the Guanches.
Vega de San Mateo is an agricultural town set in a very fertile valley.
Santa Brigida is said to produce the best red wine of the island. There are views over the slopes where they grow these vines on the town´s slopes. The streets here are lined with eucalyptus trees.
Tafira Alta is in the hills near Las Palmas. There are lovely villas and gardens, and elegant hotels here.
We have some interesting dinners at Las Palmas at and near the marina.
We have thoroughly enjoyed the Canarian cuisine, including the famous small Canarian potatoes with Mojo sauce which is red( spicy) or green. The fresh seafood has been delicious too.
The wines have been interesting with full flavours. One we particularly enjoy is a red from the area of the towns above where we were told they grow the best reds on the island.
It has been overcast as expected during our time in the northern part of the island.
Apparently it is sunnier in September. We enjoy the cool especially when we are on the boat in the marina. Also it has been quiet every where but the busier season here will begin soon with boats arriving for the Atlantic rally crossing. Also tourism is at its peak here during December and January.
We frequent the "Sailors´s Bar" near Impulsive often for the WiFi connection. It´s always buzzing. This is one of several places we post a notice about sailing across the Atlantic in January enquiring if there if anyone may be interested to sail in radio contact with us. They would have to maintain a similar average speed to us.

Wednesday, 25th. August
We leave for our last sail of this season this morning to track down the e. coast of the island and then along the south coast to Pasito Blanco.
We start off motor sailing with both sails up and a large swell, with the wind behind us but varying. Now we round Punto de Ganda we have a starboard tack and blowing 30 kts. so we can sail. We are thrilled to enjoy a good final sail. Listening to Beethoven´s 9th.smphony adds to the atmosphere.