Trip on an Hanse 300e starting 2013-12-25 in BSAFeb14

Canaries sailing – report by Bernard Smyth

I had two weeks in La GomeraMap in the Canaries over Christmas with one week’s sailing with Canary Sail, a family-run RYA approved training school, from San Sebastian ( There were three of us under instruction from a Belgian skipper in a Hanse 300e. The father and son I was with were doing coastal skipper and competent crew and I went along for the ride to refresh my day skipper ticket.

We had to motorsail over to Tenerife, to San Miguel, which is becoming another base for Canary Sail. The distances were quite a surprise as the passage is as wide as the English Channel.

To get to the Christmas lunch with all the crews and staff, we motored some of the way back towards Playa de Santiago on La Gomera but I was lucky to be on the wheel when we caught the wind in one of the acceleration zones between the islands and we got up to 6 knots. After dinner ashore the coastal skipper applicant did some night exercises. I don’t recommend Santiago as a stopover as there is a peculiar swell that jerks the boat when tied up against the harbour wall. What a night!

On the way back to base next day, we did some anchoring and MoB exercises with our patient instructor and had an enjoyable day although the big lunch shortened the amount of instruction we had.

Next day we went back to Tenerife, again seeing lots of pilot whales as we did most days between the islands. As the plan had changed from the original one (to return to San Sebastian), we ended up in San Miguel, where I was given a berth on a luxury motoryacht for my last night, to save the expense of a hotel. This town is a hotel resort with many hotels and apartments, so it’s full of English and Russian visitors. The marina has reasonable facilities and a small open-air bar as well as one on the end of the huge harbour wall.

Throughout my fortnight there, the weather was warm and mostly sunny so we could wear shirtsleeves by day and eat outdoors in the evenings with just the addition of a sweater.

The instructor, Eddy Coenen, introduced us to a new (to me) way of tying up to a pontoon or wall. He refused to let us step off the yacht on to the pontoon but taught us to “lassoo” the cleat from the bow or stern. You attach one end of the line to a boat cleat, then loop the line, split it into two sections, one in each hand, with a line running between them. You then throw the two sections out towards the cleat with a splayed action that hopefully leaves the line encircling the cleat. It works! I wonder if BSA skippers will like this method.

All in all, an interesting experience.

La Gomera  28.0876,-17.1086