La Gomera to Santa Cruz, Tenerife

This trip had a bit of everything, and far too much of the worst bits! We knew it was going to be a difficult leg, with both wind and waves against us for much of it. Ideally we would have left at midnight when the wind was weaker but the office closed at 1300 at weekends, reopening at 0900. We were up and ready to go, John just had to check out but we were caught out by the clocks changing. It is unusual for us to be ready an hour in advance! Outside the harbour entrance I hoisted the mainsail, the wind gave us a blast of 20 knots so I rapidly dropped in one reef. With the wind on the beam and 14 - 20 knots a reefed main and genoa should be comfortable, the steep waves on the beam made it rather uncomfortable so I pulled up the staysail which we had hanked on 'just in case'. We made 7 - 8 knots for an hour and a half then someone switched off the wind! All of a sudden we were drifting in less than 5 knots of wind because we were in the wind shadow of Mount Teide. We then motored in flat seas and no wind for several hours. As we approached the south east corner, Punta Montana Roja, the seas increased then the wind went round 360 degrees and increased. The bay just north of Punta Montana Roja is a kite surfer's paradise, there were lots of them inshore but a few brave souls were well offshore and we had to watch out for them. One suicidal windsurfer shot in front of our bow, turned around and aimed at us. He did miss the stern but not by more than 6 foot! Power gives way to sail and we were motoring BUT the collision regs say you should not put your vessel into danger and turning straight onto a collision course with another vessel puts the onus on you. If he had collided it would have been his fault. This was the beginning of about 6 hours of torturous motoring, to cover 30 miles! The wind and steep waves slowed us down as they were both from dead ahead. We found the water was a bit smoother where it was more than 50 m deep so we headed offshore a bit though at times our speed was knocked back to less than 2 knots. At one point our eta was about 0300 however conditions changed for the better. Once we cleared Punta del Socorro, and gained shelter from the mountains NNE of Santa Cruz, we were able to make just over 6 knots in the right direction on the same engine revs! We eventually tied up in the marina at 2215, 13 hours to cover 59 miles. We could have sailed except we would have been aiming for Gran Canaria and it would have been very uncomfortable. There was no 'making' tack because the wind was coming from the direction of Santa Cruz so it would probably have taken even longer. We only had one problem, the port bow light got knocked off by the waves. John went forward twice to secure it and once to tie it down. On his final foray forward we buried the bows in some large waves three times, he got soaked. We couldn't wait for a better weather window because of Chloe's arrival on Monday. Oh, and it started raining quite heavily. No matter how uncomfortable the return, I am really glad we made the effort to visit La Gomera. Our next sailing hurdle is the crossing to Gran Canaria but at least that shouldn't be an upwind leg.

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