Leaving Tenerife

The final week in Tenerife was great fun as the staff in the bars and cafes that we went to knew us very well and had our drinks lined up before we’d even sat down. They were amused by our attempts at Spanish and patiently corrected us on pronunciation. Santa Cruz is a lovely town and we were lucky to be in such an unspoiled area. A cycle ride into the centre of Santa Cruz and a 10 min walk in the other direction to the best beach on the island.

 

 

 

We were sorry to leave but the time came when we could put it off no longer. We said our farewells and did our best to explain that we were going around the world. (I think they understood.)

 

We had a pleasant, calm motor over to Las Palmas and were relieved to arrive as this was a significant milestone for us and the next time we move we will be leaving to cross the Atlantic.

Unfortunately, we were met by Mr Grumpy who obviously didn’t like working on Saturday afternoon and took it out on us.  Clive had a good row with him as he said we couldn’t have a side berth. We’d been promised one in an email so we stood our ground and refused to move off the visitors’ pontoon until his boss arrived the next day to sort it out.  Surprise! Surprise! His boss was extremely apologetic in the morning and we ended up with one of the best berths in the marina!

We’ve now got 5 weeks to prepare the boat and explore the delights of Las Palmas. We’ve already joined the marina’s club which has a roof top swimming pool overlooking the marina, a bar, restaurant, lounge area, etc etc. This afternoon we’re going on a bus tour of the town to see the best areas that we can cycle to in the coming weeks.

We're lucky to have some friends coming out to las Palmas when we leave (probably to make sure that we go), and the numbers seem to be increasing daily. At this rate there'll be more people waving us off from Las Palmas than we had in Deganwy!

Also, we’ve got our youngest daughter Steph and her FIANCE Matt joining us in a few weeks for the crossing (and beyond, I think).  They’ve just had a leisurely cruise aboard some huge liner in the med and Matt popped the question on their first night. She’s been on cloud 9 ever since and talk of planning a wedding has been the hot topic. I’ve tried to tell her that once we’ve gone through the Panama Canal we’d find it almost impossible to fly back for a wedding, so I think that’s going to be taken into consideration. I have suggested a Caribbean wedding but that was a ‘no’. We’ll have plenty to talk about for the 3 weeks that we’re sailing across the Atlantic!

 

Tenerife

 

I know I said that I wouldn’t write anything until we started to move again but I have to just make an entry on my visit to the UK.

I’ve been lucky enough to go back for a week and just by luck was able to see both daughters together. As Steph is also abroad a lot this was such a treat. We had a group girlie hug when we met up and the one day that our visit overlapped was pure heaven. We went to Liverpool 1 with grandson Luke and as if I haven’t had enough the choice of venue for lunch was The Salthouse, which is a tapas restaurant!

My son in law is a Liverpool fan (it’s more important than religion to him) so I had to go into the Everton shop and get a picture of Luke with an Everton T-shirt. Son in law was not amused! Nor was he impressed by my attempts to get Luke interested in Barbie dolls when we went shopping. He’s such a joy to wind up.

The week was a treat for me, spending time with them all and seeing my grandson being doted on. I left the UK so soon after he was born and it’s hard to know how things are going when you’re so far away so I found it very reassuring to see first hand that all was well.

I managed to see my hairdresser Russel for a much needed cut and also caught up with ‘the gang’ and, even though I’d bought a return train ticket to Chester, I ended up crashed out at my friend Cherry’s house after her usual sumptuous, thrown together without a recipe dinner. I have such good friends I feel truly blessed! They’re such fun and always there when you need them.

It felt very strange being in Prestatyn again and I had no desire to go to have a look at our house which is currently rented out.

Returning to Tenerife felt like going home. I know that sounds strange but that’s where Clive is, the cats and the boat. Home is where the heart is!

When I got back to the boat the cats were noticeably fatter and have been having smaller, more frequent meals, so that’s the way forward from now on.

Before I went to the UK we had a visit from a friend of ours who stayed with us for a week. As he had a hire car we were able to explore the island a bit and we managed to get to Mount Teide.

We’ve got another week in Tenerife before we move on to Las Palmas so I’ll resume my story then.

 

Porto Santo

We set off early on Wed 11th Sep to Porto Santo and are lucky to have an extra pair of hands in Kevin who saw our advert for crew for the trip. He lives local to Lagos and has plenty of long distance sailing. We split the night passages into 2 hour solo watches and I did 10pm -12 and then 4-6am. It was beautiful. The sky was bright with millions of stars and underneath the sea was black and just to make it more magical it was phosphoresent, so as our boat cut through the water it was lit up by hundreds of tiny lights that sparkled and then just disappeared. It was as if we lit up the sea with fairy lights as we sailed along.

 

I was queasy as usual on day one but Peri went one better and was sick on Clive’s life jacket when he left it on the floor to have a nap! Not the way to treat the captain, I’ll have to have stern words with him.

Porto Santo didn’t do much for us when we first arrived and we couldn’t understand what everyone raved about so we hired a taxi and did a tour of the island. The old guy that took us grew up on the island and was full of stories about what it was like when he was a child and how hard he had it, walking for one and a half hours up the hill every day to let the cattle out and then going back at night etc etc and he was only 8 years old then. He gave us a good history of the place and I can tell that in 10 years time it will be ruined by all the hotels and apartments that are going to be built. I guess we’re lucky to see it now and we certainly warmed to it following the tour. We’ve finally had some rain, the first since we left our house in Prestatyn and even then it had been dry for a few weeks. The only difference here is that it's still warm and once the shower has gone the sun is out blazing again.

Madeira and beyond

One thing that struck me as we left Porto Santo for Madeira is the number of boats doing the ARC with young children onboard. The boat next to us was a German couple with 3 children and there were Swedish, Norwegian and Dutch children all playing together and communicating in the various languages including English. The children are obviously taken out of school for an extended period and home tutored on board. Initially I thought this was being slightly irresponsible but then seeing them all together, communicating with each other and knowing what they’re going to see of the world, surely that’s the best education to prepare them for life.

We arrived in Madeira at lunchtime and as the marina in the capital Funchal is quite small we decided to go to a new marina about 30 km away. We radioed ahead and were met by a dinghy that took us to our berth. We booked in and I immediately paid an extra €30 for full use of the beach and all pool facilities. The’ve build a small village around the marina  and up into the valley and it reminds me of Portmeirion, a modern version. The beach area has attended sunbeds and either an outdoor pool filled by the ocean or a more rocky area of beach that’s roped off and is great for snorkeling.  There are 2 other pools in the complex but all I want is the snorkeling.

We hired a car for a few days (Renault Clio) just to make life a bit easier as we didn’t fancy a long bus journey to Funchal.

Clive and I got the cable car to the top of Funchal hill/mountain and then came down on one of their crazy whicker toboggans. 2 guys push your toboggan down the streets for about 2kms. It’s great fun.

Kevin suggested that Clive and I have afternoon tea at Reid’s Palace one day so he booked us a table on the terrace. Wow! What an experience. Dress code was important to get in and we had a breath taking view of the ocean with Funchal to our left and the hotel’ s gardens beneath us. The service was the high quality to be expected of such a place and the 3 tiered plate of goodies tasted as good as it looked. Actually, no, it was better. We had champagne with our sandwiches then had a choice of dozens of tea blends to have with our fresh scones, cream and strawberry jam. The finale was a selection of bite size cakes to die for.  We had a wander around the hotel’s picture gallery to see who else had dined there over the years and it was more a case of who hadn’t had tea there. Winston Churchill, Amy Johnson, Terry Thomas, all sorts of royalty, Ernest Hemingway,etc. It was so gentille I expected Poirot to appear at any moment. We drove away with smiles on our faces and happy memories. Thanks for the suggestion Kevin.

We found a good fish restaurant in the next village, frequented by locals, which is always a good sign, and went there a couple of times. We also drove out to Santana and had a quick drive around the weird little houses there. They’re like little dolls houses and have thatched roofs that go right down to the ground. There wasn’t much else to see but we bought some lethal local punch made from rum, honey and lemon. mmmm!

We were sorry to leave the marina as it was a lovely location and very comfortable but the Canaries were calling. We set off and motored all the way as there was no wind and the ocean was as flat as a pancake. We saw a few turtles go by. Clive aimed at one to get a photo, got too close and frightened the poor thing. There were flippers flapping and it dived. I wasn’t too pleased with him and fortunately it bobbed up again in our wake and swam off.

The first sighting of Tenerife was the huge mass of the volcano Teide that dominates the island. The strange thing was that once we arrived and were in port we couldn’t see Teide any longer.

We said our goodbyes to Kevin who was flying back to Portugal. He was such a good find and we enjoyed his company while he was with us. It was handy having someone that knew the Portuguese way of doing things and he spoke enough to get us understood.

It felt such an achievement to arrive in Tenerife after setting off back in July. We’ve covered 2,000 miles to get here and can actually see Gran Canaria in the distance, so it’s not far to the start line for the ARC in November.

We’re going to stay here and chill for a couple of weeks and I plan to fly back to see family,  including my gorgeous little grandson.

So there’ll be no Pink and Fluffy for a couple of weeks now. Normal service will be resumed when we move from here, whenever that is.

Portugal - Part 2

We had an early start to travel from Porto to Sines and the journey down included fog which kept us on our toes. We were entertained by a whole fleet of dolphins that swam across in front of the boat, probably about 30 of them and some stayed to play with us for a while before swimming off to join the others.

Sines is a quiet, pleasant town at the centre of which is a Moroccan looking castle. On my morning jog I managed to get lost as I have an appalling sense of direction and as the town is built on a hill I certainly had a good workout.

After just one day there it was time to move on to our final port in Portugal, Lagos. It has a decent sized marina with plenty of bars and cafes and the town is only a few minutes walk away. There’s also a beach nearby and we’ve had our first swim in the sea, the first of many. We’ve managed to chill out for a week and had some good dining experiences ranging from a fish”shed” known by the locals  as providing good rustic food in a shed like environment, to our meal of Chateau Briande in an upmarket restaurant in town which was comparable to any 5 star hotel back in the UK both in the quality of food and the impeccable service.

The Portugese drivers are respectful of cyclists  so our trips out to explore have been enjoyable and stress free. They also have an over zealous attitude with pedestrian crossings and stop if you’re anywhere near them even if you don’t actually want to cross the road. (That has actually happened to me and I felt obliged to cross!)

There are some good fashion items to be had here including some interesting and stylish shoes that would really tempt me if I wasn’t a ‘live-aboard.‘   Mango posters are everywhere so its obviously a popular shop here.

One of the cocktail bars that we go to has started to put blankets out in the evening for people sitting outside. They obviously think it’s getting chilly but I’m still wearing vest and shorts at 9pm. My favourite cocktail is spicy mohito. Havana rum, fresh ginger, fresh chilli, lime and sparkling water. It’s gorgeous and has quite a kick.

It’s our youngest daughter’s birthday this week and as she’s working somewhere in the South of France the logistics of getting a present to her have resulted in me being really boring and transferring some money to her. It’s also our eldest daughter’s wedding anniversary coming up but at least she’s got a postal address so no excuse there.

We leave for Porto Santo tomorrow (Wednesday) and from there to Madeira. When we get to the Canaries we’ll have until November to pootle about before prepping for the Atlantic crossing.

On our last day here in Lagos we had a food parcel from home. Another friend has a boat here and drove down from Wales to do some prepping for the ARC so we took the opportunity to get eldest daughter to collect some supplies together. Not only did she get everything we asked for but she included some treats for the boys and a few chocolate treats for us (including a chocolate moustache lollipop from Lewis’s.)  The most treasured of all though were some more photos of Luke to go in my album and a print of his foot at 5 weeks. He looks adorable!

 

It’s the end of an era today as Kika is heading off for Morocco and we won’t see them now until the Canaries. They’ve been good company and invaluable support since we left Wales all those weeks ago.