Exploring an island 2000 miles away

I should start to fish warmer clothes out of the corners of my wardrobe. Wardrobe? I nearly forgot, mine is over 2000 sea miles away. We left it behind just like the bad weather before Cap Finisterre. And in contrast to the typical ‘onion system’ in autumn-wintry Germany which consists of several layers of clothes to keep you warm in November, even the T-shirt and shorts I am wearing now are too much. Tenerife. We finally made it to our first real destination of the journey. While berthing, the silhouettes of the island slowly become clearer as the sun rises. Palm trees appear and are welcoming us at the harbour. Even the Pico del Teide, the highest peak of Spain, is visible for us. As I stand above the water by the topsail, the view onto the island turns the surreal fact of sailing along the Moroccan coast into reality. Reaching this island feels like an impatiently awaited gift.

And this was only the arrival. For five days, we were able to explore Santa Cruz and its surroundings. Most of us were pretty excited to visit the Teide, the volcano that shaped Tenerife. After arriving at the national park, we listened to a very visual presentation by Anna about vulcanism. Supported by our geologist Tim as an expert, we enjoyed a small hiking tour though it was not possible to climb all the way up (3718 meters in total), since the hut was still closed. I think it is great to be able to connect everything you just learned with your surroundings. Seeing the Teide in its greatness and not climbing up there was a little bit disappointing. However, I think by now we are pretty good at making the best out of the circumstances we find and still have a great time.

Tenerife is in more than one way a special place for our project: It is not only the first stop of the journey, but it was also an important place for Thor Heyerdahl, after whom our captain Detlef named the vessel. Thor Heyerdahl, who is known for the Kon-Tiki or Ra-expeditions, spent some time of his life on the island. The opportunity to meet Jaqueline Beer-Heyerdahl, family members of Rashad and Osbjørn (members of Thor’s Tigris expedition) and Rashad himself, was quite an honour for us. In Güímar, a museum about the namesake of our vessel, we had the privilege to listen to Korbinians presentation about Thor in the library of the museum, which is usually only open for scientists. Being a time witness, Detlef answered all of our question about Thor and his expeditions. Moreover, the museum offered us some interesting facts about the Güímar-pyramids and the Canaries as well.

My personal favourite moments in Tenerife happened during our free time. For example, after visiting the volcano, we finally had a little cool off at a beach and were able to enjoy the refreshing cold water. Most of us missed swimming a lot. And so we had just as much fun in the water as singing together in the bus on our way back to the Thor. Obviously, none of us wanted to miss out the option to stroll around the city and go shopping on the island. As I noticed, unfortunately the city is quite touristic, so I decided to focus on the overwhelming landscape of Tenerife. Finally, I enjoyed the colourful sea of hammocks that started to spread out on deck at night time. Somehow, we managed to find a spot for everyone. However, there was not much space left between us and you were lucky if your neighbours did not snore.

In addition to the relaxed free time, our five days at the harbour were also filled with preparations for the crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. We bought and stored such a huge amount of food on the ship, I have never seen something like that. Have you ever carried Nutella in glasses of three kilogram or dragged tins of tuna that were the same size as your head? For me there was also some work related to the photography project to keep everyone at home updated. Others supported our bosun, the engineer or the project manager and a busy atmosphere filled the whole vessel for quite some time.

Since bananas are the main product on the Canaries, we stored three whole branches on our poop deck to ripe. This has caused me to feel the first Caribbean vibes on board. Now we are ready to cross!