LA PALMA ISLAND
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.
A dug out cave
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.
Houses painted in brighter colours here
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.
Amazing cloud formation driving up to the national Park
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.
Top of the crater looking over the e.coast
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.
Some of the observatories
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.
Restaurant overlooking the Atlantic
View down to Santa Cruz port
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.
Hiking to Cuba de la Galga
-with laurel trees
View from the summit
The gorge we walked up
Well organized walk
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.
A typical house in La Palma with flowered wooden balcony
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.
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.
Teide showing above a heavy bank of cloud
Sunset off Tenerefe Island
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
We spend several days here with a mixture of organizing Impulsive and exploring the more northern parts of this island
A major sculpture on the foreshore
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 Cathedral and the "Old Town"
The Santa Ana cathedral is huge with a neoclassical facade, set in the square of the same name, with 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.
Monument in the gardens
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.
Typical houses painted green and white at Telde
Vega de San Mateo is an agricultural town set in a very fertile valley.
Vega San Mateo
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.Looking across the slopes
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 red( spicy) and 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 with wind blowing 30 kts. so we can sail. We are thrilled to enjoy a good final sail. Listening to Beethoven´s 9th. symphony adds to the atmosphere.
Favourite Recipe this leg:
Called "scallop steaks", is the english translation
Seared scallops and prawns
Arrange attractively on a plate with: a small serve of mixed salad greens
2 heart of palms, each topped with half a cherry tomato
Serve with crunchy bread and olive oil, and salad dressing if desired.
Arriving at Pacito Blanco to leave the boat here until setting off to cross the Atlantic.
Pasito Blanco marina is a secure, and is attractive being set in a resort area, with its streets lined with palm trees. There is nothing else here except a small supermarket. Being down south of the island it is very hot.
We need the planned several days here to prepare Impulsive to leave her for four months. Apart from the regular cleaning, stainless and anti-rust work Ross has issues with the furling system, the rigging and some electrical systems he wants to check.
There is quite an atmosphere here for the three day annual fishing competition. Ross sees the winning marlin fish which he says is magnificent. It weighs 420 kgs and is 8 feet long. The celebration dinner is booked out but at mid-night others may join in and drinks are offered all night we are told. We hear the band finish up at 5am!
It is very hot here and the voltage from the power supply from onshore is too weak to run the air-conditioning. We have hired a car to go to the centre we are advised we can have the gas tanks filled, but are disappointed to find this is no longer possible here. We will have to bring the suitable attachment back from Australia. Having the car we can find a beach for a swim though. As soon as we drive out of Pasito Blanco the scenery is barren land, and high cliff faces dropping down into the ocean.
Arquinequin is a nearby attractive old fishing village. Also there is the tourist town of Porto Rico and the largest resort of Gran Canaria, Maspalomas. It has the usual blackish sands here but has a backdrop of the sand dunes set beside the Atlantic. We have a swim here away from the main crowded beach, but have to clamber in over rocks and pebbles. There are only a few people swimming here and it is very refreshing.
We really enjoy a swim at the picturesque Paya de la Amadores, near Puerto Rico, where all the golden sands have been brought in from the Sahara.
Paya de la Amadores
We return to Puerto Mogan and stay our last night here as our flight tomorrow is very early and we want to leave Impulsive gleaming.We have a very relaxed time and enjoy it all the more with all the memories of having our week here with Scott, Jeanette and the girls.
We have had another wonderful season with many happy experiences and some challenging sailing. We are ready now to go home to enjoy being with family and friends.
If the forecast says expect 15 knots
You`ll get 35 at least
With lots of white water across the deck
And not always from north east
The volcanos that formed the islands here
Cause the wind to funnel through
The so called acceleration zones
Where the water`s more white than blue
And then when you`re tied up safely
The wind rolls down the slopes
And rattles through the rigging
And tests the mooring ropes
So spare a thought for Columbus
As he took mass at San Sebastion
Before sailing off into the blue
Take time to see the volcanos here
Beginning at Timanfaya
The power of the mighty eruptions there
Make you feel like a very small player
One man who subdued the volcanic rock
Was the artist Cesar Manrique
He smoothed and rounded and softened it
Raw, rough power becomes almost meek
Fuertoventura island is aptly named
It blows hard,especially down south
We fished out a frog suited swimmer there
Nearly ready for mouth to mouth
If you want to tuck up right out of the wind
Puerto Mogan`s the place for a spell
Take some special Danish crew on board
For some sailing and swimming as well
Tenerife`s majestic Mount Teide
Stands tall above the cloud
You could ski across from La Palma
If gravity allowed
La Palma`s an island of scenic walks
Lush green ferns and laurel trees
Make the effort and climb up La Galga
(More fun for the eyes than the knees)
La Gomera`s also a hikers delight.
When you climb Mt Garanjay
The other islands all loom close
Though they`re 50 miles away
Now we`re ghosting off the Tenerife coast
A half moon lights the sea
We`ve tricked the wind acceleration zone
Sailing`s joyful again.Yippee!
We`ve spent a few days at Las Palmas
The base for the ARC
In November the port will be buzzing with life
Till the fleet all heads out to sea
Now we`re off to Pasito Blanco
Impulsive,we`ll find someone there
Who`ll recognise the good work you`ve done
And treat you with loving care.