11th November, 2019
After another lumpy overnight passage we slowly came into the lee of the eastern shore of La Palma. Like the other Canary Islands, the approach into La Palm is quite spectacular, particularly with clear starry skies as we had last night. The Pilot embarked at the breakwater shortly after 0700 and I was inside the harbour as the Pilot came on the bridge. Whilst a very manoeuvrable ship, hanging around in 30-40knot winds is not the thing to-do.
Berthed on time at just before 0800, the winds eased, as if by magic, or was that the ships Chaplain?!
La Palma, also known as San Miguel de La Palma, is the most north westerly island of the Canaries, and the fifth largest of the seven principle islands. Like all the island of the Canary Island archipelago, La Palma is a volcanic ocean island and is the most active, Volcan Tenegua having erupted in 1971, reasonably recent. La Palma is considered, locally as an attractive island with nicknames such as Isla Bonita and Isla Verde; you don’t need me to translate that, Beautifully green perhaps?, and hence the ability to offer eleven different Explore Ashore options.
Thankfully, it was a pleasant day; general blue skies, highs of 24 Celsius despite a generally brisk wind for most of the day.
Looking further afield, I had been keeping my eye on a storm marching across the Atlantic with a swell of up to 11 meters forecasted and locally a brisk easterly wind in the making for La Gomera tomorrow. La Gomera is very exposed to the east and 40 knots was beyond the Spirit of Discovery. There are no tug services in La Gomera and getting stuck in La Gomera is not the ideal place to hang-around for the weather to ease.
After much dialogue and rather late in the day, the conclusion was to sail for Gran Canaria rather than La Gomera. At least if the weather worsened, we were comfortable in the knowledge a tug service was available!
A scheduled sailing of 20.00 was planned, but with us now popping off to Gran Canaria, that much further than La Gomera, we needed to sail promptly at 1800 for our passage back around the top of Tenerife and down to Gran Canaria. My obliging Guest were back promptly, which was fortunate in so many ways, and we slipped our moorings just before 1900 and manoeuvred astern.
There was a fair chop, aka swell, just off the breakwater and as I back-out and whilst on the swing, swinging off the south end of the breakwater, 25 knots became 40 knots and I need a ‘hurry-up’ so I pushed the Spirit of Discovery to get her through the weather before setting course back eastward, retracing our inward track of the morning.
Lumpy seas again… see you in Gran Canaria.
Captain Stuart Horne
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