December 22, 2008
From Las Palmas on Gran Canaria, we sailed westward, passing just south of the island of Tenerife, to the much smaller island of Gomera. The second smallest of the seven large Canary Islands, Gomera is a nearly circular volcanic island about 12 miles in diameter, whose largest peak rises over 4600 feet. As we approached on a gray overcast day after an overnight passage, clouds shrouded the highest peaks, and it remained cloudy or hazy through much of our stay.
I was surprised to learn that Gomera was inhabited before the Spanish “discovered,” conquered, and colonized it at the start of the 15th century. These indigenous people were of Berber origin, descendents of the Cromagnon race, of medium height, agile and strong, who lived by breeding cattle and rudimentary farming and the harvesting of seafood. In 1492 the bay of San Sebastian de La Gomera became Columbus’ last port before he sailed across the Atlantic. He was to be followed by many other illustrious explorers who stopped at the island on their way to great discoveries: Hernan Cortez, Francisco Pizzarro, and Vasco Nunez de Balboa among others.
We approached the island and anchored just outside the little manmade harbor at The Picton Castle anchored under the cliffs of Gomera at Valle Gan Rey.
Valle Gran Rey, under impressive towering cliffs. When I asked one of the first group who went ashore what it was like, his reply was that it was full of German hippies. When I went ashore I found a harbor filled with rugged and seaworthy looking small fishing boats and a few hearty small yachts that braved the swell that kept all the vessels rocking. What looked like a little village from the harbor turned out to be a very The harbor at Valle Gran Rey.
pleasant small town with interesting cafes, restaurants, grocery stores, some more tourist oriented shops and a hardware store. Our visit was short but Rich rented a car and we had a few hours to explore the ruggedly beautiful interior, returning to watch the hippies drumming and dancing on the beach at sunset.