Currently located 70nm NE of Tenerife and experiencing very strong 20-30kt NNE winds with a 2-3m NNW swell. Current temperature is 16 degrees
Welcome to day 37 of our voyage. Following a very enjoyable 4 day visit to Tenerife we departed our berth at 1000 this morning and are again back at sea battling strong NNE winds. At present it is not to bad as I have chosen to head NE and we are currently making good 6-7ks of boat speed and will continue on this course for the next 24hrs or until the wind veers to the NE.
It is nice to have the Ship back again after handing it over to Kenny for the passage from Mindelo to Tenerife. This changing around of Staff Crew positions is important for Young Endeavour as it allows us to train and mentor Staff so that we always have Crew Members like Kenny progressing through so that hopefully one day they may be appointed fulltime Captain. During this period I still maintained responsibility for the Ship but was able to enjoy some more time with the Crew, catch up on the never ending paperwork and managed to get a little more sleep.
Our stay in Tenerife was really enjoyable with everyone given the opportunity to get out and explore the Island which all of us did. For those of you that don’t know that much about the Canary Islands it is an amazing place with spectacular scenery, wonderful food and extremely friendly people. I think that the majority of the Crew have already decided to put this down a ‘must return to destination’ when they next travel overseas.
Writing tonight’s Log is Robbie who has kindly volunteered to write about his and some of the other Crew’s adventures when they attempted to climb the highest mountain in Spain during our stay in Tenerife. Enjoy!
Until tomorrow, take care.
Day 37 – Tuesday 24 Mar 15
At 1000 this morning we cast off the lines and left Tenerife behind after a wonderful four days of food, sunshine (or not depending on who you ask), large beds and long showers, and of course, an occasional drop of the local vino, heady stuff. As was the case in Cape Verde, the youth crew mostly spent their time ashore off having their own adventures, so much of what happened is unknown to me; but I have no doubt that the experiences we had will become treasured memories, and though the stories we will tell of those four days may become old and faded in places, they will never lose their flavour. So since I cannot possibly tell you all of what transpired, I shall at least give you one small taste, and the rest shall be for you to imagine.
In the early morning of Sunday, myself and four other youth crew (Vinny, Amanda, Bridget, and Julie), donned our packs and, after double checking that we had enough food and water, hopped on a bus which took us up to ‘El Tiede’ (Apologies, I’m not sure how to pronounce that, but you can just call it ‘the tallest mountain in Spain’). Our plan for the trip was to hike up to an altitude of 3,260m, to the Alta Vista refuge. We would spend the night there and in the morning hike the final 500 or so meters to the summit in time to watch the sun rise. Best laid plans indeed. Upon reaching the start of the trail we were all pretty excited at the prospect of a mountain hike, we had plenty of water and what we assumed were warm enough clothes. About half an hour before this, while we were having a final toilet break at the tourist centre, I had purchased for myself a pair of mittens which turned out to be the smartest thing I did all day as pretty much as soon we had started along the trail, it began to snow.
The first group we came across advised us to turn back, especially since four of our number weren’t even wearing hiking boots, just runners, neither warm nor waterproof. But being young and in the mood for adventure we pressed on regardless, telling ourselves that if the conditions worsened we could always turn back. The trail we were on is made up of two sections. The first is a relatively gentle climb and as such it gave us no trouble; what concerned us was the second section, a steep climb to the refuge, which we worried would be slippery and dangerous (as we had been warned by at least three different groups at this point). However, upon reaching the climb we were amazed to see a group a Germans, in shorts and canvas shoes, coming down seemingly without a worry in the world, by which I mean they were actually running. This gave us a massive confidence boost and we resolved that we would definitely make it the refuge and spend the night.
To be fair it hadn’t actually snowed all that much at this point and the climb up, while physically exhausting and a little chilly, was completely safe, no ice at all. So it was then a few hours of climbing later, we finally reached our destination and shuffled into the refuge for some hot food, coffee and, after huddling for a while under a sleeping bag waiting for the dorm to open, some well earned sleep (and may I say, the doonas at the Alta Vista refuge are PHENOMENAL, I consider myself fairly on the straight and narrow ethically, but I spent quite a few minutes debating whether or not I could feasibly smuggle one out in my pack.) What we hadn’t really considered in the admittedly brief planning stages of our expedition was that weather continues while people are asleep. Hence, in the morning, we awoke to around about a foot of snow covering the ground around the refuge, and were told that the climb to the summit would be impossible on account of the 10 feet of snow blocking the trail, and the 100km/h winds that would await us if we tried. Not that this stopped the two Russians from giving it a red hot go (they came back pretty quickly mind you). Thus, having been thoroughly conquered by the mountain, we began the slow decent back to the road through snow that was thigh high is some places.
I should at this point reassure you all that we were fairly warm, obviously we would all have preferred to have an extra layer of two, but due to the extraordinary kindness of newfound friends from England and Germany, the less well equipped members of our party had been supplied with gloves, scarves, and in one case even walking poles. The deep snow even proved to be a blessing since it made the decent much safer than would have been the case if there was only a thin layer of ice over the rocks. Their were a few slips and some sore bums, but aside from that we were mostly just blown away by the sheer beauty of the landscape. What had been a rocky mountainside the day before had become a vista of glistening white snow drifts, bushes had transformed into crystallised sculptures, and encompassing all of this, the most serene silence you can imagine, the kind of quiet that only accompanies falling snow, the kind of silence that poets dream of. Of course once we reached the easy part of the trail, we were no longer sheltered from the wind and that silence was replaced by howling winds and stinging horizontal snow which at times reduced the visibility to a mere 20 metres or so (luckily the trail was well signposted).
In the end we made it back to the road, and after getting rides from our new friends (I cannot find words enough to express my gratitude to those wonderful kind people) and catching a couple of buses we all arrived back at the ship to get warm, put on some dry clothes, marvel at the sunny 25 degree weather on the coast, and try to process the amazing adventure we had all shared.
I could probably tell the story much better, and there are innumerable details that have been omitted, but there is one detail that deserves to be told on its own, and that is the sheer degree of friendship, of caring and looking out for one another, that we experienced. Whilst in the grand scheme we were never in any real danger, the conditions were certainly testing, and the care and compassion that I witnessed on the mountain are, I think, a testament to what the Young Endeavour is all about. Yes, we all rave about the beauty of the sunsets and the joys of sailing on the ocean, but the real magic of this ship is how much we have come to care about one another, and dare I say it, how much we have come to love each other.
At 1000 this morning we cast off the lines for what will be the final time in our voyage. We are now on the last leg of our journey. It is a bittersweet realisation to have. As we head into watches overnight I know that the friends I have made on this Ship will be with me for the rest of my life, I know these last seven days of our voyage are sure to be just as full of joy and adventure as the 36 that came before them, and I know that I will be there in amongst it all, taking it in. I wanted to write something about the end of our voyage, but I cannot bring myself to; instead I will just say that I would not trade this experience for anything, and for however much time I have left on this ship, I will endeavour to live the sea life to the fullest, to make the most of the time I have with the staff and the crew, to do my best to ensure that this last leg is unforgettable.