Collage of photos of Santa Cruz de La Palma

La Isla Bonita

La Palma  Dec. 2017     

Dear Squeak

Hope you had a lovely Christmas and didn’t steal too many baubles off the Christmas tree. We know how much you like shiny rolly things. You’re just not that keen on rolly boats, and who can blame you. 

La Palma was a really lovely place reputed to be the “Isla Bonita”, the beauty of the canary Islands and it certainly lived up to its name. There was a lot to see and do but the marina was the rolliest we’ve been to yet.  They are supposed to be fitting a lock gate to keep out the swell which they told us would arrive any day.  We have since heard that it is still not in place.

It was so nice to spend a few days in Santa Cruz. There are so many interesting buildings and artworks and things to see only a short walk from the Marina.  The town hall, the oldest shipping Company, Salazar’s Palace and many other grand  buildings all had  enormous carved wooden staircases;  beautiful, intricately carved, wooden ceilings and carved huge doorways and doors  all from a time when the island was a very wealthy place.  In colonial times it was a strategic trading post for ships going from Europe to the Americas.  In the 1600’s it was the third largest port in Europe.

 On the outside many of the buildings in the town had lovely carved wooden balconies all filled with brightly blooming flower pots to give the place a splash of colour. It was such a contrast to the bleak and dusty hillsides of Lanzarote. 

We hired a car for a few days and did a tour of the Island.  It’s a pretty steep island and anywhere you want to go, the roads go straight up into and above the clouds.  Some of the roads are practically vertical with lots of hairpin bends. A couple of times we had to take a turning down a hill but it was so steep you couldn’t see the road. It was like driving over the edge of a cliff. I had white knuckles and brown trousers!

 We went to the Banana museum to see if we could get a few tips about how to grow our bananas back home a little better. None of ours seem to be doing as well as the Bananas here. Some of them are planted on such steep terraces on practically vertical hillsides and every scrap of land is used, obviously the pickers don’t suffer from vertigo.

The first day we took the mountain road over the top of the island to where all the observatories are. La Palma is famous for its stargazing.  It was such a winding road it took us nearly all day to cross over. Fortunately they have carved a huge tunnel that seems to go on forever that took us right through the centre of the island to get back again.  

The Next day we went to Villa de Mazo where they celebrate the Corpus Christy Festival in style with ornaments and banners made out of Grasses and natural materials such as moss and lichen and they make carpets on the cobbled streets with leaves, seeds, stones and moss all laid out in pretty designs.  We saw all the memorabilia from that festival in the Red House Museum but it would be really nice to come back in June one year and see it all happening.

We really enjoyed the days out but back on the boat there was still work to do. The engine and the generator got a service.  We fixed the electric lead that burned out in the last marina. The Spinnaker is back on its furler and ready to go.The Spray hood got new windows so we can finally see where we are going. Steve had to fix the loo, not his favourite job and the Christmas cake finally got made.  Not a moment too soon. 

I’ve still got to catch you up on a lot more of our adventures but that’s for another letter which I’ll send you when we reach the next new place.  We are heading for La Gomera and El Hierro next . I hope the weather will be a bit kinder to us this leg of the trip. 

Catch up soon, take care

A&S xbike with veg crate on the back with dog inside

P.S. when I went to the Hardware Store, to see if they had any Cinta de dos caras, double sided tape. this little guy was waiting for his owner outside. I thought I know someone who would like to travel in style like that.  Oh Squeak it was such a lovely hardware store too, one of the really old-fashioned type with shelves up to the ceiling and loads of little drawers full of all sorts of bits and bobs. And there was a little old man who knows where everything is.


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News from Lanzarote and La Palma

Collage of Steve and I at Playa Blanca Lanzarote and our cat Squeak

La Palma December 2017

Dear Squeak

How is finca life treating you? We both miss you so much but we think we made the best choice for you. As we were coming down the south east tip of the island of Lanzarote,  we entered the WAZ wind acceleration zone and it was so lumpy you wouldn’t have liked it. We were only going around the next corner to a beautiful beach to anchor. We tucked in behind the headland as tight as we could but it was still rolly. 

Playa Blanca is a beautiful place with bleak bare hillsides and a really wild look about it and it has one of the few white sandy beaches on the island.  It was such a lumpy night next morning we moved to the opposite end of the beach. It seemed a bit better there but the forecast was for the wind to get up. We spent a couple of days trying to get some jobs done but as the wind got wilder we just couldn’t hack it any longer. It was definitely not your kind of weather. We gave up and called the marina on the radio to reserve a place. Next thing we know we can’t leave the bay  because the anchor is stuck under a ledge. High drama!  In the end, we had to leave the anchor behind and high tail it into the marina before the storm really kicked in.

It took two days once the weather had calmed down, trawling up and down with the dinghy heads in the water, arses in the air looking for it.  We did eventually find it and get it back on board. So much for a holiday, we were knackered! 

Then we had a pretty lumpy sail to La Palma. It calmed down a bit by the middle of the second day but you wouldn’t have liked that trip either. In fact nearly all the sailing we have done this whole trip has been lumpy.  Bella Bear has been winging about it like mad. She reckons you got the best deal. She wants to know why she couldn’t have stayed home too. Hugo Bear has been feeling rather poorly most of the trip. Bella keeps running off with his sea legs cos she doesn’t know where she left her own. She refuses to give them back so Hugo has been suffering.

Where we stayed at Marina Rubicon there is a lovely Passeo that runs all along the seafront for a couple of miles or so to the small town of Playa Blanca.  All along the passeo someone has put little cat houses with cats names painted on them and food and water dishes inside and a little bed. There was Freddie’s house and Joeys house a whole array of them. We saw lots of pussy cats there, you’d have made tons of mates and all of them were big and fat and rather well fed, like yourself.  Actually we have seen loads of cats everywhere we’ve been and all of them look healthy and fat.  I thought the Canine Canary Islands would be full of dogs but no it’s all pussy cats round here.

As we approached the Island of La Palma it was dark again. The last day the sea had calmed down a lot and we had great wind so we picked up a bit of speed.  Whatever we do we don’t seem to get the timing right to arrive in daylight.  This time arriving in the dark was a really beautiful thing. As we closed the island you could see the tungsten yellow street lights dotted along all the lanes all around Santa Cruz and it was like someone had spread a lace table cloth over the island. I tried to take a couple of snaps but they didn’t work out.  Like so many of the beautiful  things we experience travelling on a boat, you have to be there to see them, blink and they are gone. 

La Palma is famous for its clear skies and has been made a world heritage site for star-gazing.  They have minimal street lighting to avoid light pollution etc. but as much as it’s beautiful there, nothing compares to the beautiful night skies we sailors see in the middle of the ocean. They are just another thing, impossible to photograph, on a constantly moving boat.  I reckon for most of the best things in life you’ve simply got to be there.

We arrived in La Palma at silly o’clock in the morning. It’s a tiny little marina with lots of three point turns required to get yourself on and off the waiting pontoon and into a berth.  Well we managed it, no scrapes, but it was a bit exciting in the middle of the night.  I’m absolutely knackered and done in from the trip so I’ll sign off for now and get some shut eye for a few hours. We will be off exploring in the morning so I’ll tell you all about it in the next letter.

We all miss you like crazy, especially Bella because she says now she has to get the blame for everything.

Take care, lots of love.

A&S x