Archive for Tenerife

Panoramarama part 2

Posted in Photographs, the Canary Islands, the Madeira archipelago, Walking with tags , , , , , , on June 7, 2011 by maidofmettle

I’m not at sea this time, but working through the photos and particularly the videos of the other trip is taking a while, so have another interlude : )

(of course, the quickest of you will have noticed that I just plain forgot it was due to publish!)


Panoramarama resumes on Porto Santo, part of the Madeira archipelago lying about 450 nautical miles south-west of Portugal. Terra Cha literally means the end of the earth, and it feels a bit like it!

Just round the corner from where I took this photo, it’s an unexpected green grotto on a jagged ridge plunging down into the ocean. The barren landscape you can see from it is typical of much of the island, though a lot of reforestation work has been carried out in the centre.

Again, just left-click on the thumbnails to open bigger versions.

Madeira is a different story – mostly densely wooded except for one high plateau and some of the biggest central hills. Even the view from the harbour in Funchal was beautiful, especially around sunset.

(and now I’m back. Woo-hoo!)

We all did a fair amount of walking there, but for me it’s a place I went on my own that sticks in the memory as the most beautiful – the village of Boaventura on the north coast.

The landscape around Mt Teide on Tenerife was much more barren but just as spectacular. This is the view across the giant crater to the north of the peak, taken at some point during our climb up Teide.

Gran Canaria doesn’t have a massive peak comparable to Mount Teide, but it’s probably had several that would have rivalled it at times, though only craters and ridges remain today. This is taken from the edge of the Caldera (crater) de Bandama, looking down to the coast, with Las Palmas in the background on the far left and the crater itself on the right.

The centrepiece of this picture is Roque Nublo, one of the most famous landmarks on Gran Canaria (especially since the Dedo del Dios – God’s finger – unfortunately collapsed into the sea). Mount Teide is just visible on the horizon, more than 50 miles away.

Roque Nublo (on the left) and Teide are both still visible in this one, but play second fiddle to the valleys and ridges surrounding Roque Bentayga in the centre.

That’s all for now!

Tenerife to Gran Canaria – family visits

Posted in Fun, Photographs, Sailing, the Atlantic Ocean with tags , , on November 21, 2010 by maidofmettle


I have lots to catch up on on the blog…

Soon after our trip up Mt Teide we took a little visit the next day to Siam Park, a water park near Playa de Las Americas.

Siam Park is mostly a water-rides park but was really well kept and the few animals that there were seemed to have a lot of space to swim about. We had a lot of fun trying out all the rides, some of which were more extreme than others.

Sea-lions at the park entrance

We didn’t have our camera on us much but the park’s website picture gives the best idea of the sheer drop that runs through a big tank of sharks that luckily the lifeguards pretty much had to push you down once you were lying down ready to go.

Crazy shark infested slide!

Pete went home for a few weeks to catch up with family and friends in England leaving Chris and I to explore Tenerife a bit more.

We had a car for a bit over a week so managed to see a lot in that time. We also found a giant sports shop called Decathlon that needs to come to England. You can buy pretty much anything you could imagine there. We’d gone there to see if we could buy some bodyboards and were not disappointed. So, armed with two boards we set about trying to find somewhere to try them out.

Looking at one of the surf-spot websites we found a beach that claimed to be for “all surfers” Bajamar on the north coast looked good and sandy despite the fairly long walk to get there. We actually went there twice, both times we tried the boards out but only managed to use the smaller broken frothy waves…the second time the waves were particularly big and the power of the water was incredible even at the point nearest the beach. That day we nearly lost our shoes when, unbeknown to us, a rather large wave must have travelled all the way up to our things sending the shoes in all directions quite far along the beach. We didn’t see it happen. My towel was not so lucky and is probably somewhere somewhere out at sea by now. Lucky we didn’t have the camera with us that day, else I suspect we’d have lost that too.

Bajamar on a calm-ish day


Only after the two trips did we find out from a couple of people that Bajamar is apparently “for professional surfers only”! I can certainly believe that on some of the rougher days but we had fun trying and can only get better.

We also had a rather calmer day at Los Cristianos, home of the nicest cheap Chinese buffet outside of England and a place where you can pay to sit with your feet in a tank of fish that according to the sales pitch is ‘very good for stress relief’. Needless to say perhaps, we passed on the opportunity to have our feet nibbled by fish.

Poor guys, whose feet will you get to nibble next?!

One of our favourite places on Tenerife was El Medano and we spent a fair bit of time there enjoying the beach with some BBQs, relaxing and watersports on the main beach. It is quite a popular windsurfing and kite-surfing spot.

El Medano main beach

El Medano salt lake nature reserve

We tried some windsurfing with a small amount of success. Chris was very good at it considering he’d only done it once before. I found it quite difficult despite having done it a few times. The waves made things tricky so we both fell in a lot.

Chris…standing up like a pro…

…then doing a sort of edgy leaning type trick?

Caroline actually standing up…

…and then not.



This deserves its own section
It was really good to see Mark and Clare and Mum and Dad within a couple of days of each other. They had all booked to come to Tenerife on holiday so drove to Radazul to see us 🙂

We had a couple of lovely days thank you!! The restaurants were good too 🙂 We hope you enjoyed the rest of your time on Tenerife.

Caroline, Clare, Mark, Chris. Pontoon picnic

Mum and Dad enjoying Radazul’s adult ‘exercise park’


We left Tenerife for Gran Canaria in the evening as we had both good weather and swell forecasts. The trip to Gran Canaria from Tenerife battles against the prevailing wind and current directions and so is a bit like going up-hill rather than down. Therefore we really wanted it to not be too rough and with just enough wind to keep us moving. Some accounts of this trip speak of there being more wind than predicted and steep waves therefore we decided to leave when the wind was forecast to be about 8-10 knots. We got a little more wind (more like 14 knots at times) over night but fortunately no steep waves. Due to the wind direction not being quite as favourable as forecast we ended up having to do some tacking, which feels a bit frustrating when you appear to be going away from your destination half the time whilst zig-zagging towards it. In fact the wind dropped off and we ended up motoring for the last few hours.

During the motoring we think we saw some pilot whales…they were much slower moving than dolphins and didn’t stay about for long.

Gran Canaria

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria currently has a full marina due to all the Antlantic Rally (ARC) boats waiting to leave on Sunday. This means we had to find a space in the anchorage which is also pretty full. We were glad we planned to arrive in the light as the harbour is quite confusing even in the day. We eventually found a spot, were putting out the main anchor with an extra long bit of rope temporarily tied on to the end of the chain to let us to set the second anchor so we wouldn’t move around as much in the tiny space. As the last bit of chain went into the water the rope came untied from the chain and went PLOP leaving Chris despairing somewhat to say the least. I had previously been saying I’d lost my confidence driving in small spaces but this was soon to return after quite a while driving about fishing for the chain with the small dingy anchor. Our friends from the French boat Cachoeira came over with their dinghy and gave Chris a hand to catch and pull up the anchor much to our relief.

Fishing trip

We were really really tired by 2pm when we finally got everything sorted. It is quite a lot harder being in a crew of two. We’d chosen to do two hour night shifts so had got a lot less sleep overnight. Also, we had entirely escaped some sea-sickness despite this having been one of the calmest trips in Maid of Mettle.

We were surprised to find a small flying fish on the boat when we arrived. It must have jumped there at some point overnight and couldn’t get back in the water. So its life had not been wasted we decided to eat it. Thank you flying fish. It was quite nice, a bit like plaice or cod actually even though Chris wasn’t too hungry, he did manage to try it.

Poor flying fish

Flying fish salad

Now we need to recover, get our appetites back, learn to get used to the roly anchorage and work out whether we are still sea-sick or have a lurgy!


PS Good luck to James, Lesley, Trycha, Alice and Jilli whose journeys across the Atlantic with the ARC started today!

Mt Teide

Posted in Fun, Photographs, Walking with tags on November 10, 2010 by maidofmettle

El Teide…”We’re walking up that!”

It’s a bit frightening to think that it was this long ago but when I went on holiday with some school friends after finishing A-levels I looked at visiting El Teide and walking up it. At the time I couldn’t persuade anyone else to consider walking the track up to the highest point in Spain so we went up in the cable car instead. Actually at the time I didn’t realise that we hadn’t even got to the very top itself as it was incredibly cloudy so I was in blissful ignorance at not having quite got there. Nine years on (I feel old now) I have succeeded in fulfilling an ambition to climb to the very top of Mt Teide 🙂

El Teide is a giant at 3718 metres above sea level but cunningly has a mountain refuge (The Alta Vista) at around 3000 metres where you can stay for €20 per night in a dormitory. We booked to do this partly because it looked fun and because we wanted to take it quite easy walking up because of the altitude. Also, if you stay in the hostel you do not need a pass to walk the final 200 metres up to the crater of Teide after the cable car. This is on the assumption that you walk up and are back down to the cable car gate by 9am.

The drive into the Teide National Park is wonderful, the roads sweep through forests and up into the clouds. We were a little concerned as we drove straight into rain on the way up but were hoping that the mountain weather forecast could be trusted seeing as it was saying it would be bright and sunny. Luckily, the higher up we went, the more we escaped the cloud and the better the views became.

Lush mountain views on the way up from Santa Cruz

Having had to find a space in a car park about five minutes from the start after a bit of walking on the road, the first part of the track (at about 2500 metres above sea level) was relatively easy with quite a gentle slope. We passed the Eggs of Teide, which were apparently sort of lava ‘snowballs’ from when the volcano (oh I forgot to mention that bit) erupted at some point. The last recorded eruption was in 1909.

The ‘Eggs of Teide’ and old lava flow

The interesting thing about the rocks around here is that they are very like pumice stone. You can easily pick up some pretty big rocks and they turn out to be very light. They also apparently have some special flowers that grow here but I think it was the wrong time of year for those.

The last third of the walk up to the refuge was much steeper with some quite big rocks making steps in the path. It was on this part that we possibly started to feel some effects of altitude. Luckily we didn’t have too many problems and only noticed a little bit of shortness of breath and some minor head pressure/feeling a bit funny (hard to explain) fleetingly on the way up when exerting ourselves. Going slowly was helpful for getting used to the altitude and so actually made the walk a whole lot easier and enjoyable in a way than if we hadn’t been thinking about the altitude.

Getting steeper

Where’s the refuge? There it is

It was exciting to reach the refuge. What a brilliant place it is…immaculate with some lovely sofas in the hallway, a small kitchen (complete with cutlery, saucepans and plates etc) and probably the most expensive (but worth it) Coke machine in the world.

Alta Vista Mountain Refuge

Post-walk Coke…mmm

Dinner and said post-walk coke
Not only was everything so clean and well kept but the beds were HUUUGE! Ok, Ok so maybe that’s when you compare them to a boat bunk but all the same, very comfortable. We gleaned information via some other people who could speak Spanish and English well enough to communicate with the man running the refuge to find out that in order to get up to the summit in time for the sunrise we would need to be on the track by 5am as it would take a couple of hours to climb the final bit from the refuge to the summit.

Chris and his really big bed

Despite the really big bed I think I failed to get more than twenty minutes of sleep. Apparently altitude can affect sleep so maybe it was that. I felt a tiny bit fluey overnight (maybe acclimatising) but by the time 4.15am came around I was feeling fine again and was excited to be doing the final bit of the mountain.

Ready to go 4.40am…Let’s go, got to see the sunrise
We head out onto the track at about 4.50am into the dark, fully dressed ready for the cold and armed with head torches. We were glad to have those as we had met a couple beforehand who thought their stay in the hostel was part of a led excursion…consequently they were not particularly prepared, especially the man who claimed he would be “the first man to walk to the top in pyjamas”. It think he was exaggerating somewhat but all the same we felt a bit better having brought some gear with us. The path ran through lots of boulders which were quite impressive even in the dark but you needed to keep your wits about you to avoid tripping over.

Pete and Caroline negotiate the path

Chris on the track

It was interesting to see lights ahead and behind us as we walked up and even better to see the sky getting gradually lighter. The last two hundred metres after the cable car station (marked by a gate) were very steep but I think made easier by having stayed in the hostel the night before. As we got nearer the top we started to notice that some bit of earth were warm! As it got lighter we could see the warm bits were steam vents which were quite handy for keeping warm as the wind was quite cold up there.

Sunrise came and it was really special to share the experience with the others who had stayed in the hostel. You could see some amazing colours and the shadow of Teide surprised us in the clouds as the sun got higher. All in all the ascent had taken us about six and a half hours over the two days. It was well worth it.

Sunrise from El Teide

We made it

Teide’s shadow looming behind us

Once the sun had come up and it started to get a bit chilly at the top we walked back down past the crater and its steaming sulphury scent and made our way back down to the cable car station.

Chris, Ratty and Ted having a mini break at the cable car

Chris and I decided to walk back down so we could see what we hadn’t in the dark, whilst Pete took the cable car back down to meet us.

The way back down

The way down was pretty steep and we were glad to get to the nicer path for the last bit.

Wooo, the nice path!

We arrived back at the car in an epic three and a half hours…both shocked at how fast we had got back down and pretty worn out but agreeing that was probably one of the best walks we’ve ever done.

To the Canaries…tweet tweet…I mean woof

Posted in Cooking, Photographs, Sailing, the Atlantic Ocean with tags , , on October 28, 2010 by maidofmettle

We made it to the Canary Islands!

We left Madeira in a slightly less than perfect forecast but with a fantastic rainbow.

Bye bye Madeira

We had decided that we wanted to move on and the weather and wave forecasts suggested we would have a safe but possibly uncomfortable trip. As a result of the forecasted twenty knot winds we undertook a rather ‘bumpy’ sail to the Canaries. In fact, the word ‘bumpy’ is a well known sailing euphemism for rough, uncomfortably rolly and one of those sails that means you spend a bit too much time staring into a bucket. Fun as staring into a bucket is, there are things I would rather do.

We aimed first for Graciosa, an island at the West of the Canaries near Lanzarote and the first daylight hours of the trip weren’t too bad actually despite a rather unwelcome soaking near the start. This prompted a mass donning of full waterproofs which proved to be a good decision. The motion in the cabin was surprisingly ok as we were travelling nice and fast, though none of us wanted to outstay our welcome there. All three of us managed to eat lunch (good old lidl tuna salads, yum) and we all spent lots of time outside in the fresh air getting used to the boat’s motion again.

Some big waves

It is always slightly nerve-racking leaving and going out to sea again. It takes a good few hours to start to relax and not feel quite so anxious at the start and also to get used to doing things you once found easy whilst in port. A good example of that is getting in and out of the cockpit. Stepping over a couple of hatch-boards isn’t exactly difficult in harbour, but add in a safety line to get tangled in and the waves rocking the boat (and you) from side to side at inopportune moments and you can start to wonder how you even managed it before. However after a while you learn to look out for waves that might cause trouble and time your entrance and exit accordingly.

After over a month on Madeira it soon became clear that our sea legs weren’t as solid as we would have liked. As a bit of an experiment I had decided to try the Traveleze that we’d been given a while back by the Trycha and the girls. It seemed a good plan given that you only need to take them every twenty-four hours and they taste good too. I think they were helpful for the first twelve hours until it got dark and we started night shifts. The seasickness monster caught up at night. Pete suffered most followed by me. Chris escaped unscathed thanks to frequent drug taking. A combination of this, the waves splashing over the cockpit and the cold wind meant I was about ready to give up by the time I had eventually got to bed for the first time and was wondering why this was a good idea again. Yet again, I had just an inkling of why Ellen Macarthur spends so much time crying on her video diaries..seasickness makes you feel rubbish. No one should ever underestimate how difficult it is to get out of waterproofs in a rolling boat. It’s probably fair to say that all of us were at a pretty low point by night one.

Eerie night-time waves

The next morning I vowed to start taking Biodramina once again…I had become slightly disillusioned by it on our last trip but I once again had my faith restored by a recovery I believe was prompted by it. Given the direction of the waves (on our side), the discomfort of that and the fact that the forecast suggested they might get bigger as we neared Graciosa we spent quite a lot of time wondering what to do about our heading and hence our destination. We tried out a number of headings to see what they were like and eventually, somewhat reluctantly, it was decided to head to Tenerife (nearer the East) because this made sailing much more comfortable. The waves moved from our side to almost behind us which meant it was much nicer and dryer though we also knew this would most likely prevent us from sailing toward Lanzarote etc due to prevailing winds and conditions. Pete very stalwartly refused any seasickness drugs until he realised that we’d be in trouble if he didn’t stop being ill. After another night and a bit of sleep he appeared to have made quite a miraculous recovery…Sorry to go on about it but “Biodramina you’re amazing!”

Our last full day went quite well. Appetites were returning which was great and Tenerife was getting closer quite quickly.

Approaching Tenerife

All of this put me in quite a good mood even if I was already foreseeing larger steeper waves as the water shallowed near the island. In fact, my worst fears were not realised and the bigger waves never came. I even had a go at cooking whilst at sea – something that I’d never dared do before. I decided to challenge myself by cooking something mostly from scratch (ok so I used one tin of potatoes) It was quite fun if a little stressful trying to cook with a moving boat. The hardest bit was juggling two saucepans and having to gimble them by hand the waves rocked the boat. The bowl of dirty washing up wasn’t high on my list of priorities at the time and I soon saw it fly off the kitchen surface onto the floor with an almighty crash. The pan lid bears a rather good dent as a result of that. Next time I will champion the one pot dinner so my other hand can be ready to catch anything that cares to fly away.

Feeling smug about having just cooked inside at sea,
Caroline shows off by washing up on the floor as well

It was dark by the time we reached the marina. The last bit took quite a while because the wind had dropped with something of an anticlimax to what we expected – we were worried about the wind acceleration zones around Tenerife but didn’t experience them.

Tired…no, exhausted we moored up at Marina de Santa Cruz and went to bed.