We spent a night in Santa Cruz…….a bit like coming home………and went to the African market to stock up on meat and salted cod, ready for the off. Another bike load of supplies was stowed on board and we set off for La Gomera……. As usual our plans were changed by the winds that grew stronger and veered, so that by 0400 we were fighting to stay on course. Plan B swung into action and we put into San Miguel Marina for the remainder of the night, resuming our passage to La Gomera after lunch.

Sunset on our way to La Gomera. Goodbye Tenerife

Sunset on our way to La Gomera. Goodbye Tenerife

We finally arrived in San Sebastian on La Gomera at 2030 and negotiated the ‘yellow brick road’ of buoys leading to our Oz. How long have we been planning on coming here?? The morning brought us sunshine and a day of exploration. San Sebastián is delightful.

The centre of San Sebastián.

The centre of San Sebastián.

The people are friendly and very open. The town is small and unspoilt by tourism, the mountains rise up on all sides and there is a beach we can walk to via a tunnel, just behind the marina.

Looking east from the hill above the beach.

Looking east from the hill above the beach.

On the Beach. Bikini topped Jenni ......... Snow topped Tenerife

On the Beach.
Bikini topped Jenni ……… Snow topped Tenerife

We all enjoyed our stay in La Gomera and wish that we had arrived earlier and could have stayed longer. Jenni had a great idea to take the bus up to the top of the island and walk down, so leaving Marcus at ‘home’ to get on with some jobs, Jenni, Dan and I set off for the bus station and a spectacular bus ride which wound itself round hazardous hair pin bends, into the cloud and up to the national park, where we got off the bus ready for our trek. We stepped off the bus into horizontal drizzle and quickly put on jumpers and rain jackets……it felt just like a summers day in Wales!

The 'Cloud Forest'. Very Tolkienesque.

The ‘Cloud Forest’. Very Tolkienesque.

The walk turned out to be 12 kilometers of constant downhill trekking which wound down through laurel forest and on through palms and down to the terraced fields that step their way to a 220m waterfall.

About half way down.

About half way down.

A bit further down we came across La Gomera's very own Gherkin Tower

A bit further down we came across La Gomera’s very own Gherkin Tower

Terraced fields on the side of the valley.

Terraced fields on the side of the valley.

The going was very tough and our knees were wobbling by the time we got to the bottom of the winding trail.

The 'Long and Winding Road'

The ‘Long and Winding Road’

Stretching out ....... only another 4kms to go to the bus.

Stretching out ……. only another 4kms to go to the bus.

We all found it hard to walk the next day, but decided to take the bus again all the way to Valle Gran Rae. This time we had Marcus with us and there was far less cloud than the day before…….the views were really magnificent.

La Gomera is such an unspoilt island. Tourism has no hold here as only the rugged and resourceful venture this far from the beaten track. In the 70s there was a hippie influx and in Valle Gran Rae and there is a meditation and retreat centre which is tucked round a track under impossibly steep cliffs. After spending the day exploring the town and lazing on the beach, we made our winding way on the bus back to the other side of the island.

Back on the boat in San Sebastián we met up with Kit and Belinda on Quilcene, who we met a month ago in Santa Cruz. We spent the evening with them and dropped by for mince pies and elevenses the next morning, just before we set off on our big adventure to The Cape Verdes.

We left La Gomera at 1600 on Sunday 22nd …..The Swiss Family Hayward setting off into the Atlantic.

Sunset on our first day. The adventure has begun!

Sunset on our first day. The adventure has begun!

Our first sunrise about 60 miles out from the Canaries with 600 to go!

Our first sunrise about 60 miles out from the Canaries with 600 to go!

The first night of watch keeping went well and both Crew managed their stints without a problem. We have a rota printed out so that we know exactly who is cooking, washing up and on watch. The person who’s day it is to cook stands two shorter watches, which means we are able to shunt the schedule forward every day so we all get a day when we can see the sunrise or sunset.

Cooking onboard is tricky ….it’s a bit like trying to live in a washing machine…… we have to strap our selves in to save being thrown across the galley. We have had some very tasty meals, including Spanish omelette, spaghetti bolognaise, lasagna, paella, curry vegetable pie and chicken with roast veg for Christmas dinner.

Jenni's magnificent Spanish omelette

Jenni’s magnificent Spanish omelette

Both Jenni and I have made bread and attempted to make yoghurt.for some reason the yogurt just won’t work…..probably because the motion was more like being in a washing machine and the milk must have been confused and thought it was in a butter churn. So as you can see, we are not going hungry!

Despite the movement of the boat, I have been managing to sleep, whilst the rest of the crew have been struggling. Jenni gets bounced up and down in the forepeak, Marcus can’t sleep in the aft cabin and tries to sleep in the lower saloon, but the cacophony of sounds from the galley wake him and Dan, who has been suffering from sea sickness, decided to open his hatch to get some fresh air, only to have a wave break straight in on top of him. The upshot of this was that he had no dry bunk and was having to try to sleep in the upper saloon, but being disturbed by the person on watch. A school boy error that has meant that there is a lot of mattress rinsing and drying to be done in Mindelo!

Christmas at sea was a first. Father Christmas managed to find his way down the mast and stockings and presents were opened up in the cockpit around the tree lashed to the binnacle. At sunset, a pod of dolphins came to play with us.

image

Very special.

THE CAPE VERDES

We are now in Mindelo on São Vicente. We arrived here at 1300 on Saturday, so the trip took less time than expected…….just under six days.

Force 8s ....... No problem!

Force 8s ……. No problem!

We are delighted to have made it in one piece and to be out of the wild motion caused by the short seas running across the ocean swell. Everyone here has benn saying how un-seasonal the winds and seas have been. We are hoping that the seas settle down before we head on to Brazil.

Entering Mindelo port. A very welcome sight.

Entering Mindelo port. A very welcome sight.

Mindelo is delightful and doesn’t seem at all as threatening as some of the guide books would have us believe. There was live music in the main street when we arrived and it went on until 0500

The main street where the music seems to play non stop.

The main street where the music seems to play non stop.

………needless to say it didn’t disturb us. We were all in bed by nine o’clock and slept through ’til nine on Sunday.

Every arrival brings a day of jobs, so Sunday was spent washing down the boat,

Cleaning down the deck, we found our first flying fish fatality. A bit too small for breakfast for four!

Cleaning down the deck, we found our first flying fish fatality. A bit too small for breakfast for four!

taking the auto pilot to bits (I forgot to mention that the tiller bolt sheered again,), giving clothes a much needed wash, cleaning the galley (great job Jenn!) and getting the crew cabin emptied, dried, aired and it’s matresses rinsed and hung out to dry.

The marina from the floating bar.

The marina from the floating bar.

Looking aft across to our new neighbours and new back garden!

Looking aft across to our new neighbours and new back garden!

In the evening we had six people from neighbouring boats aboard for drinks. It’s lovely the way in which we can make new friends on our way and Dan and Jenni have met up with some of the boat hitch hikers that they met in Las Palmas too.

It is now Monday evening and almost the last day of 2013. We have three of Jenni and Dan’s friends aboard having a ‘jam session’ in the cockpit…….at least they were until just now when a string broke on the guitar!

This has been a lengthy post and no photos to break it up. I will get photos added when wifi allows. Happy New Year.

1 Comment

  1. So enjoying your blog, Maggie. Improving my geography and sailing jargon all the time! So pleased the dream is being realised. What a great Christmas! Good luck with the next bit of the Atlantic. Keep on blogging! Love Zora and Cas.

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