Trip on Cora starting 2019-06-15 in BSAJuly19

Canary Island Coastal Skipper Course, 15/22 June 2019 – report by Bob Buchanan

San MiguelMap. southeast tip of Tenerife.

Back in 1996, I passed my coastal/yacht master theory exam, and decided to go for the practical course as soon as I had 5 minutes to spare. That spare 5 minutes came this year 23 years later. (I have been very busy sailing.)

I tried all across the south coast to find somewhere to take the course, but to no avail. So, unfortunately, I had to go to Tenerife, with Canary Island Sailing (recommendation from Becky Goddard) cheers bex, excellent choice.

Yacht: Bavaria 36 ‘Cora’.

Sailing course: Coastal skipper. Instructor: Tony (from Brixham, also fluent in Spanish)

Crew (apart from myself) Aaron, American, ex linguist in military. Fluent in Russian, German, Greek. Now living and working in Zurich, Switzerland; Kisina, Aaron’s girlfriend, from Kiev in Ukraine. Spoke very little English. Also, had never stepped foot on a yacht before; Hugo, From New Caledonia, a French Island near New Zealand, living in Athens, fluent in English, Greek and Spanish. Also a free diver, down to 55metres.

We all met up and had an evening drinks and meal near the marina to get to know each other.


The morning was full of safety briefings, and what was going to be happening in the following week.

After lunch, we left the marina and headed out to sea. It was light winds, so full genoa and main were put up. We practiced tacking and gybing and man overboard. Then back to the marina for a quick briefing on how everyone got on.

That evening was spent in a local restaurant (Chinese) talking about the day, and how it went, and everyone’s good and bad points.


After breakfast, and a few more safety briefings. (Life jackets were compulsory at all times)

We left San Miguel at 11.30. Our destination was San SebastianMap on the Island of Gomera.

We had a very good sail for about 3 hours. Full main and Genoa, everyone taking a turn on the wheel. There were lots of pilot whales, turtles, and a few dolphins.

Kisina was not put on the wheel until we were not far from La Gomera and the wind had died down. She took to the wheel as though she had been sailing for years. (She didn’t even have a car licence, or driven a car before) We arrived in the marina at 18.30.

Tony took us to a local bar/restaurant that he knew, and we had a very good meal that night.


More boat handling just outside the marina, then a sail/motor over to Los GigantesMap back on Tenerife. It’s a very shallow entrance and can only be accessed in calm weather at low water; it’s about 2metres at low water springs (we were right on springs)

That evening, we had drinks and a meal in a very good restaurant in the back streets of Los Gigantes. Tony lived a few miles up in the hills from here, so went home for the night.


We left Los Gigantes (Tenerife) and sailed back to La Gomera. We passed San Sebastian, on to a small bay, (La GuanchaMap) where we dropped anchor for lunch and had a swim. After lunch, we practised more man over board and boat handling. (also I had to do blind navigation from a point on the chart, into the marina) it was 45 minutes of telling the helm to steer a course along a contour line, getting depths every 5 minutes. Then, with a steady boat speed of 4 knots, I had to work out where we were along the coast. Then I had to tell the helm to change course towards land, then follow contours from 50m down to 20m. At 10m change course parallel to shore and head to marina. At this point I was finished, I could do no more. I asked Tony if I could come up on deck, but he said no. My thoughts were that if we were heading for the rocks, he would have aborted. And if I was out with my calculations we would be sailing past the marina. He finally let me up on deck to see we were right in the middle of the entrance to the marina. So pleased with myself I cracked open another bottle of water, cheers.

At about 18.00hrs we berthed against the wall in Puerto SantiagoMap. (Angela Merkel holidays here)

We had a meal (no alcoholic drinks) then left at 22.00hrs. It was pitch black, no moon (it was due up at 23.30hrs.) Leaving the marina, we motored up the coast towards San Sebastian. We followed the 50m contour until we had the lighthouse in the background, and the green on the quay wall in transit. Kisina was on the wheel most of the time, picking a star to follow, not going by compass readings. At 23.30hrs as we were approaching the harbour, the moon started to rise, and give us a bit of light.

The entrance to San Sebastian is accessible in any weather and any state of tide.

The ferries from Tenerife use this harbour.

At night, the entrance is not as straightforward as you would think.

As you approach the harbour, you have a green on the harbour wall. To your left, on the rocks on shore, you have a red. These are the red and green lights for the entrance for the harbour.

From the green on the harbour wall, you have a port red marking the main channel for the ferries.

To the port side of this red, you have another red, marking out the fairway for yachts etc. this channel is roped off with yellow buoys.

To the port side of this, is another red buoy, for a small boat channel.

And to confuse you even more, in the background, is the red and green for the marina entrance. The reds flash at different intervals. But you try counting and identifying them.

Five reds and two greens. Tony the instructor said, if in doubt, go down the main ferry channel.

We berthed in San SebastianMap at 01.00hrs


We left San Sebastian marina, and did a lot of boat handling in the harbour, then left for Las GalletasMap back on Tenerife.

Not far from the marina we had more man overboard practice, with and without engine. Then into the marina for the night. It’s a small marina about 5 miles from our base in San Miguel.


Our last day. More boat handling in the marina. Then back out to sea for more man overboard practice.

Sailing back to base we did more blind navigation using contour lines and tide and boat variation.

Inside the marina was a bit more boat handling. As the wind was getting quite strong, Tony said that he would back the boat all the way up the marina and back into her berth, but said to me, unless you want to do it.

So I took the wheel, backed up right to the end of the marina, turned down the channel and into the boats berth without any problems.

We tidied up the boat and waited for Tony to come back with all our certificates.

Kisina was given a competent crew.

We did 130 NM and 3 night hours.

San Miguel, Tenerife  28.0204,-16.6122
San Sebastian, Gomera  28.0887,-17.1091
Los Gigantes, Tenerife  28.2472,-16.8422
La Guancha  28.0718,-17.1276
Puerto Santiago  28.0269,-17.1973
San Sebastian, La Gomera  28.0888,-17.1083
Las Galletas  28.0777,-16.4931