Saturday, 22 August 2015

Santa Cruz, Nelson's arm, the Scottish flag and all change

Santa Cruz was the scene of Nelson's only defeat. It was here that he took shrapnel in the elbow and lost his arm. Apparently he was so grateful for the good treatment of his men who were captured that he sent his victorious counterpart, General Gutierrez, a barrel of English Ale and cheese to say thank you. The General responded with a barrel of Malmsey wine considered then to be the finest in the world. This imbalance of cultural exchange between the two counties has remained to the present day!

The Scottish flag seems to be flown everywhere in Santa Cruz. Above is one example over the municipal buildings. We were most puzzled on our arrival and speculated that Tenerife had anticipated the result of the Scottish referendum, got it wrong and had forgotten to take the flags down. Or perhaps there was some link up with the North Sea Oil industry, there being a number of floating drilling platforms in the harbour!

Wikipidia put us straight however. The Scottish Saltire is almost identical to the Tenerife one but the latter is a darker blue. It was first adopted as a maritime registry flag in 1845 but only became the official flag of Tenerife in 1989. 

Apparently there are two popular theories to explain the similarity. One is that it was adopted as a mark of respect for the bravery displayed by the Scottish sailors in the battle of Santa Cruz (where presumably the Scots being good Catholics were fighting with the Spanish). The other is that the big wigs in Tenerife had very close ties with the masonic lodges of Scotland and chose the flag for that reason!

Today is Saturday and I'm a single handed sailor once again. David flew out yesterday. Bernie left a couple of hours ago for his flight this evening. It was great having their company and companionship over the last 10 days or so but I am looking forward to single handing the short sail to Pasito Blanco on the south coast of Gran Canaria tomorrow and may yet single hand some of the longer passages ahead. The challenge tomorrow is to avoid or get through the acceleration zones off Tenerife and the more renown one of the south west coast of Gran Canaria in one piece. I will need to plan the passage carefully with way points set at key points. I've already noted that the mornings are quieter than the day and evenings and will therefore leave here early tomorrow around first light (0600 ish) that will hopefully enable be to get beyond the clutches of the Tenerife one before it gets going. As for the Gran Canaria zone, I think the best tactic may be to get close to the coast well north on the west coast so that by the time I'm well south I'll be inside the zone. More research needed though before I decide.

Santa Cruz has continued to grow on me and despite my earlier remarks there are some pretty spots. This is the view from the cafe where I am having lunch and writing up the blog...

This morning I went on a hunt for a camping gaz re-fill. After a long walk along the dock front I found the garage to which I had been directed but of course they did not do camping gaz. Fortunately there was a Feriteria up the road which did and what is more they did not bat an eyelid when I presented my very rusty bottle to be exchanged. On the way back I found the most wonderful fresh produce market absolutely packed with wonderful goodies. I've now got enough fruit to last me a week. In the market and walking back to the marina through town I was struck by an atmosphere of convivial bussle. The locals are often very animated and clearly enjoy themselves when out and about. There are very few foreign tourists, yet without exception as soon as I engaged with shop staff or waiters and they realised they had an ignorant Englishman on their hands without a word of Spanish, they could not have been more helpful. Nearly everyone seemed to have a grasp of basic English which was in stark contrast to our experience in Vigo much further north.