Saturday, 25 October 2014

Madeira to Tenerife

Madeira to Tenerife

4 October to 13 October

We left for Santa Cruz Tenerife on the Saturday morning with a good weather forecast and a feeling that it was only 300 miles so was a short hop. We planned for Catherine and me to take out the boat as part of the first watch but with the swell entering the marina the boat was moving about in all directions and we had not untied it yet! So Steve and Annie we called up and between us we made it out of the marina unscathed. 

The winds were stronger than expected at first which was due to the funnelling effect of the islands. After 30 minutes we put in the first of three reefs that we would need that day with winds exceeding 30 knots for most of the day. The wind and the waves that followed the wind were not a problem and we had an enjoyable sail at first. During the day, a further set of waves built from the East, which came in groups of three, every four minutes or so directly across the beam. These waves were steep and caused the boat to roll from side to side. Not too bad during the day (you could do things between the waves) but it made sleeping very difficult at night– back to sleeping in a washing machine. 

At last some fair weather
Further reefs in the sail overnight kept the boat well within its comfort zone until the morning when the Easterly waves subsided and we were left with a very pleasant days sailing. 

Our only sighting of Dolpins on route.
One sighting of Dolphins on the Sunday excited the crew and after the photo call the dolphins went off to their next photo engagement somewhere. Otherwise there were very distractions for the crew and even tracking other boats on the AIS was not exciting as there were only a handful of boats in the two days. The game of guessing how far out we could see Tenerife with its high Volcano became tedious as a mixture of cloud and darkness meant that we were practically parked on top of it before we actually saw it rather than the 40-80 miles away we had guessed between us.

Once we had arrived at Santa Cruz at 11am in the morning we were very tired to the point that Catherine and I did nothing until the late afternoon while Steve and Annie went to explore. Santa Cruz is a very attractive town and the more we explored it the more we liked it. Catherine and Annie search out the best restaurant on google before we headed out in the evening. It took an even more intensive search on foot to actually find the restaurant but was well worth it. 

Catherine, Steve and Annie

The following morning we all went on the tram to hill top town of La Laguna which is 30 minutes away, high into the hills. It was a former capital of Tenerife and was very engaging with old convents, churches, museums and building. If there is a tower then we will climb it and so when we found the church bell tower we climbed to the top. There were clear signs to warn people about touching the bells or throwing rubbish off the top of the tower. They did not mention that the bells strike every 15 minutes and it is deafening when they do. So it was a shock to us at the top of the tower but even more of a lucky escape for Steve who had been standing inside the bell just seconds before it struck.

Lucky escape for Steve

 The following day we sailed from Santa Cruz to Las Galletas which would be the end stop for Steve and Annie. But we had a few days still once we were there to explore the area, particularly the British parts of Tenerife. But first we had some maintenance to do.

Hope, Despair and Victory

Steve had agreed to do spend Thursday on maintenance with me and the main priority was to fix the water maker. Replacing the hose that we had cut in error in Lisbon was straight forward and we put the diverter valves in the correct pipe this time. We tracked the leak down to one particular joint which we took apart and using TPFE tape we repaired it. We re-cleaned the water maker with the cleaning chemical but this time we used warm water and set the water maker to actually make water at the same time so all parts would be cleaned.

So two hours later when we tried the water maker with sea water, we were really pleased that the water had no smell, tasted drinkable and with only a slight weep in the joint that we had repaired. We discussed that we could live with the leak and we could make matters worse if we tried to repair it. However, there is that nagging feeling that we had not quite finished the job so we took it apart and brought some better jointing “string” (better than TPFE tape according to the advert)  to secure the joint.

After a couple of attempts, we wound yet more of the string around the thread and on the final attempt to screw it in we cross threaded it. I had noticed this quickly so there was limited damage but it was not going to go back on without a Tap to recut the first part of the thread. Nothing left to do but pack up and go into Los Americanos to meet Annie’s sister Lynne and boyfriend John for a curry. Nice to have traditional English food again and this was our first experience of the British part of Tenerife.  Curry was not bad and after a few more drinks we put any thought of water makers behind us.

I was confident on the Friday that we would fix the problem and we set off to the local hardware store where they speak English to buy a Tap and Dye set. On the way we passed a Chandlers come hardware shop and decided to ask them as we were passing. The shop keeper did not speak one word of English but was interested in what the problem was. So Steve mimed the sequence of us screwing in a thread which became cross threaded. It was clear he still did not quite understand (as he tried to sell as PTFE tape) but he pointed to his phone and tried to call someone, presumably who spoke English.

After failing to get through, he indicated that we should follow him and he beckoned us to get into his van. We were a little disconcerted after driving 20 minutes when we had no idea where we were going and why. During the journey, Steve sat in the front, and through a combination of mime and naming the odd country which he recognised, recounted our journey from England to Tenerife.  

We arrived at a house which can only be described as a building site inside, rubble everywhere and not habitable but we did meet his friend. Not sure how he thought this person was going to help as he  was not a talented builder, could not speak English and seemed to have no tools other than a few hammers (which explains the state of the house). But clearly a very good friend of his and it seemed that he had used us as an excuse to leave his wife in the shop while he could go out. Steve once again mimed what the problem was and how it happened using a large plastic bottle as a prop which seemed to generate a common understanding of the problem at last. They drove us to the hardware superstore and after 30 minutes (mainly chatting to more of his friends) established that they did not have the right tools either. 

We were resigned to not getting the problem fixed today on the way back to the marina but once again we stopped off at his shop on route while the two of them rummaged through various drawers. Eventually he showed me pipe joint with a thread that was tapered which might just recut the thread. My hope was restrained by the knowledge that they could just further damage the thread and I would have even a bigger problem to sort out.

So the four of us went back to the boat to find it locked up – it was now two hours after we had said that we had said to Catherine and Annie that we would be 10 minutes and neither of us had our phones. We had the possible means of correcting our problem, two willing volunteers but we could not gain access! As an off chance I suggested that they may have put the keys somewhere for us which proved to be the case. A dodgy couple of moments where I could see everything falling apart yet again!

However, we got access to the boat and we use the tapered joint to recut the first part of the thread to my great relief. The question was now how to pay them for the last two hours but they refused to take any money. And we had not even managed to speak one sentence to each other.

Thirty minutes later the pipe was back on, fully secured and we had cured the leak. Thanks to Steve, his enthusiasm, patience and determination that is one big job successfully put to bed.

Back to Real Life

That night we met up with Lyn and John again and went to the restaurant that is colloquially known as the Cow Shed – basically it serves meat and lots of it. We ordered 3 meals for 5 of us which was still far too much but the meat was excellent. Managed to drink too much again and ended up in our favourite bar on the way back. I am beginning to think that Steve and Annie were a bad influence – they may feel it is the other way round!

Saturday was the last day Steve and Annie were with us and they went off to the beach for the day. Catherine and I went to explore Los Christianos as we had never been there. Steve described Los Christianos as Blackpool with sunshine which is probably a fair description - everyone we met was British, the signs were in English and the bars were run by Brits. It markets itself not on charm but on cheap beer and curries although we did not really explore too deeply.

El Medano
The next day we went to El Medano to see if this would be a good place for Rebecca, Ed and our grandson Arthur to come to in October. It has a nice feel to the town, a mixture of different nationalities and good restaurants and Cafes. The beach was also sandy so would be good for Arthur.

With that settled, we prepared to set off for la Gomera the next day.

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