View from Mirador la Pena on El Hierro looking down the side of the Caldera to the land and the Atlantic below on a slightly misty day

 El Hierro wills of Iron Hearts of Gold

Dear Squeak

How are you? We are feeling a little windswept to say the least.  As we left the lee of la Palma we got blasted by the wind rushing down the mountains.  It was pretty full on for an hour or so until we were out of reach of the acceleration zone.  We had quite a nice sail to La Gomera after that with the company of our newly made friends Sue and Phil on their catamaran Mephisto. We anchored just inside the port entrance of Vale Gran Rei under a huge cliff.   There was a bit of a drama getting settled in as Mephisto’s anchor chain jumped off the gypsy and they had to let it go and use their spare one to stay put for the night.  After all the hullabaloo, we had a little sun-downer  and were treated to a gorgeous sunset  to end the day. 

Sunset lookingover the harbour in La Restinga with beautiful colours

Next morning it was their turn to go diving for their anchor.  Being old pro’s,  from our own little anchor  drama in Playa Blanca, (we have already starred in that  video), we gave them a hand to retrieve it.

We thought we had already endured swelly anchorages and harbours ad nauseum  but that night took the biscuit!  We hardly got a wink of sleep and with hindsight 20/20 vision,  I wondered  why we didn’t just pick up the hook, head out to see and go hove-to  for a few hours to get some sleep.  Needless to say we headed off to El Hierro as soon as their anchor was recovered. We couldn’t face another night like that!

 It was a shame because it looked like a beautiful place and it would have been nice to explore it further. We had a little wonder around the village and dinner in a nice restaurant, but the swell did not permit anymore exploring than that. We arrived in La Restinga in darkness, again! At 1.30 am we tied up alongside the wall and finally got a restful sleep.

Next morning we went to see the Harbour Master to check in and be assigned a berth.  Starting with the Harbour Master all the people we met on El Hierro were so friendly. It’s got to be the most welcoming place we’ve visited yet. I challenge anyone to find a rotten apple among them. 

We found a lovely little bar to enjoy a few sundowners and the tapas kept coming unrequested and on the house.  We liked it so much we went back there several times to eat as they had the best Mojo (local sauce you eat on everything in the canaries) we’ve tasted anywhere.

Again we hired a car for a couple of days and went exploring with Sue and Phil.  We all enjoyed the rock pools that are dotted around the island best of all.  The lava flowing from the many volcanos into the sea has formed lovely rock pools. There are over 1000 craters on the island,  so no shortage interesting rock formations where the hot lava has flowed into the cool sea. These pools, with minimal intervention, have been made into natural swimming pools.  It was too rough and the air temperature was pretty chilly for swimming while we were there, but we enjoyed a little paddle and watching the thundering waves.

We spent little more time in El Hierro than planned, as the weather turned a bit wild and we were really treated to some spectacular thundering waves.  We were nicely tucked up inside the marina but out beyond the harbour wall nature was raging. It wasn’t difficult to appreciate its power.  From a safe distance on top of the harbour wall, it was beautiful and mesmerising to watch.  We returned to the boat covered in salt spray and had to clean off all the camera’s before the salt eats them.

We had our first helping of Christmas cheer while there.  As I was only allowed to bring one small Tupperware box of decorations with us, we went to Val Verde to watch the switching on of the Christmas lights.  It wasn’t quite Oxford Street but for a tiny island out in the Atlantic it wasn’t bad.  The most underwhelming thing   was the actual ceremony.  The Mayor just flicked the switch and didn’t even say a word to the assembled crowd, or a thank you to the boys who put up all the lights.  As we were walking round Val Verde the main town on El Hierro earlier in the day, there was some frantic fixing going on as not all the lights that had been strung were actually working.

Christmas Tree in Valverde with lots of Fairy Lights in the darkness

Finally the weather calmed down enough for us to make our move.  There was still quite a big swell running most of the week it took us to get to Mindelo.  There was plenty of wind too, but nothing we or the boat couldn’t handle. It just meant the trip wasn’t much fun. The high spot was a family of four pilot whales that paid us a little visit along the way and we were accompanied by dolphins for several stretches of the trip. Sadly their visit was too short lived for us to get any footage or photos of them. There was too much wind to put our newly repaired spinnaker to the test so we still have that to look forward to. The upside was we got here in pretty good time, with a couple of days to spare before Christmas.  

When we arrived some friends we met in the marina in Arrecife were here so we had friendly faces to share Christmas with and we now have many more fiends we made over the festive period to add to our growing list.  It’s one of the hardest parts of the cruising life, that you meet so many nice people and make friends and before you know it, you are having to wish them fair winds and say good bye.  I hope we’ll catch up with some of them again someday.

Saying goodbye to you Squeak was one of the hardest things we’ve had to do for a long time.  It’s been like leaving a piece of us behind.  We can’t tell you how much we miss you but we know it’s for the best , especially since we know how much you like ocean motion.   Before you know it we will be back for the summer. One thing I will say about this trip, the time is rushing by really quickly. You know what they say – “time flies when you are having fun”.

We hope you are having lots of fun at the finca with all those trees and new places to explore.  Don’t go getting lost again, we heard about that.

Take care and give everyone there a big hug from us A&S x

To See our latest Video from El Hierro Click here     Lost Anchors & Rare Lizards