Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Sailing to La Gomera

Punta de Rasca   
The sunrise over Punta Roja as we left Playa de las Tejitas in the early morning was quite spectacular but, as the sun rose further, the daylight made Tenerife seem dark and foreboding. At 3717m high, the bulk of El Tiede rising into the damp, predominantly northerly, airflow results in Tenerife being cloudier than most of the other Canary Islands and Wednesday 15 November lived up to that reputation, with low grey clouds covering the sky. We motored along the southern coast of the island, marvelling at the dramatic scenery, numerous volcanic cones and dark, arid, rocky ground, feeling a little like we were looking at a real-life set from The Lord of the Rings. All we needed was for Gollum, clutching a gold band, to appear……..
Western side of Tenerife and Playas de Americas    

Once past Punta de Rasca the flatter slopes of the western side of the island opened up to us, including the famous ‘fish and chips resort’ Playas de las Americas.
La Gomera   

Being quite a lot lower at only 1487m, La Gomera had less cloud over it and we were pleased to be headed towards it. Gradually the wind built but from almost due west, exactly the direction we wanted to go! Nevertheless, a decent breeze is not to be sniffed at, so we hoisted the sails and switched off the engine. Unfortunately, this was nothing like a good breeze. We had a short period of good sailing but after about 20mins the wind increased and decreased and veered and backed through up to 60˚. It was hugely frustrating and we spent about an hour making virtually no progress. So, we switched the engine on again and motored west and, eventually the wind filled in properly from the north (thanks to the acceleration zone between the islands) and we had a couple of hours of good sailing until we closed the south coast of La Gomera and the wind died once more.
La Gomera – (top right) San Sebastian, the capital; (bottom) Puerto de Santiago   

We had considered stopping at the marina at San Sebastian, the capital of La Gomera, but with a very benign forecast for a few days, we decided to head towards Puerto de Vueltas on the west coast of the island. If we found that the swell was making its way to far into the anchorage we could always get back to anchor off one of the beaches on the south coast before we lost the daylight.
Puerto de Vueltas ahead   

Motoring close to the coast to try to keep out of the adverse current, we had great views of the arid south of the island with its deep ravines formed initially by lava flows and then exacerbated by erosion. Rounding Punta Iguala, we saw our destination, Puerto de Vueltas, a small town in an even more dramatic setting than either San Sebastian or Puerto de Santiago.

As we closed the glassy calm anchorage it was difficult to judge the scale of the place, even with the other yachts at anchor. The cliffs are incredibly high, in the region of 800m, and they dwarf everything in the vicinity.

It is possible to go alongside in the harbour but we elected to anchor off Playa de Argaya. There was very little swell and in the settled conditions it was an enormously impressive anchorage. We spent the evening just marvelling at the scenery.
(L) View of the anchorage from ashore in Puerto de Vueltas   

Puerto de Vueltas, La Gomera, Canary Islands