Meeting the Tecla

Reading: Swallowdale (Arthur Ransome)
Weather: Showery in the morning, but bright sunshine from lunchtime onwards – 20oC
Thought for the day: Why does Santa Cruz have masonic symbolism all over its buildings?
Evening meal: Baked Dorade with lemon and garlic with salad

Over the coming days, I am hoping we will have an ‘aim’, but today by contrast was completely aim…less. With a day to pass in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, I wandered the streets with no particular purpose. I headed initially approximately towards the port to see where the Tecla was moored and took any diversions down side streets if they looked interesting. These diversions included occasional coffee stops whenever a shower came through, though initially I forgot that coffee here is a small shot of liquid caffeine, so I limited these stops to avoid becoming too hyper.

Santa Cruz is a lively town (the coffee might help explain this!) and is in fact the capital of the island of Tenerife. In some ways it feels odd to be thinking of it as Spain, given that the nearest piece of land is Africa just 130 miles away. The nearest point of Spain is 810 miles away. But, Spanish it definitely is …. It is very much just a local residential town rather than a tourist destination something belied by the number of cruise ships moored in the port. One slightly unusual feature of the city is masonic symbols on a lot of the public buildings. Academics differ about the reason for this, but one academic from the University of La Laguna, maintains that if you join together some of the buildings with Masonic symbols, they form a pentacle or five-pointed star that would extend through the centre of the city and whose centre would be the García Sanabria Park. Dan Brown would be proud ….

For many years the port has been the heart of the economy of Santa Cruz and it remains the centre of much of the tourist and commercial activity. With two oil rigs at the entrance to the port, it seems that there is a range of industries here, but the most obvious was the cruise ships bringing in tourists.

It also seems to be an important staging post for yachts doing the ARC. Although this starts at Las Palmas on Gran Canaria, it was clear that a lot of yachts were preparing in Santa Cruz. The marina has Dutch, Belgian, German and British boats in significant numbers. I even chatted to a Swedish boat from Skarhamn in the Bohuslan Archipelago – unsurprisingly a large Hallberg Rassy! The most unusual was a Belgian-flagged Wharram cat.

Once I had found the Tecla, I wandered back around town and the Plaza de Espana which seems to be a hive of activity, though it was hard to see why as there wasn’t much there. I guess it wasn’t too far to walk from the cruise ship terminal! Then slowly back to the hotel to wait for a taxi to take me down to the Tecla for 6pm. While I’d be happy to walk down there again, my bag wasn’t, so I gave in and allowed it to be ferried in style in a taxi.

On board I met the crew – Jet (skipper and part-owner), Erik (mate), Marit, and Tinke. All Dutch …. The other three of us were Rachelle (from British Columbia), Sanne (Dutch) and me. An initial briefing took us through what we were going to do and the plan is to head straight through the ITCZ (the Doldrums). At the moment, it appears that the zone is narrowest close to the Brazilian coast, so we will head over there using the NE trade winds as far as the equator and then pick up the SE trade winds along the Brazilian coast. If we have time we may apparently stop on the Brazilian coast somewhere, but 5,500 miles later we will arrive at the Falklands ….