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Friday, October 13, 2017

New ferry connection ''in a few days''

Well, you still can't book the new Naviera Armas car ferry connection from Tenerife to Valle Gran Rey, but the recent post on the company's Facebook page (below) states ''In a few days we start !!!! Valle Gran Rey, welcome to our route network''. However, as of this morning the vessel is still in Cadiz. Hurry up, I want to book...
Ferry Valle Gran Rey poniéndose “guapo”.
En unos dias, comenzamos!!!!!
Valle Gran Rey, bienvenidos a nuestra red de rutas.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Fast car ferry to connect Valle Gran Rey with Tenerife

The wave-piercing fast catamaran HSC Volcan de Teno which will connect Valle Gran Rey (Image: Naviera Armas)

The shipping company Naviera Armas has announced that it will introduce a new ferry service between Los Cristianos on Tenerife and Valle Gran Rey on La Gomera. The direct service between the two ports will be served by their high speed catamaran Volcan de Teno with a top speed of 38 knots (about 70 km/h ) and a capacity of more than 900 passengers and up to 290 vehicles on the cargo deck. It is not clear yet whether this service will also connect neighbouring El Hierro island after stopping in Valle Gran Rey, but this would make economic sense.
The service is to begin in the middle of next month (October 15th, 2017) according to local press reports. The super fast catamaran (HSC) was built in 2000 by Incat in Tasmania and was acquired by Armas last year. The company has just announced the new service through their Facebook and Twitter accounts, but as yet there's nothing on their official booking website.
The Canarian Naviera Armas shipping company has also placed an order worth 74 million Euros for a much larger wave-piercing HSC with the same shipyard and this vessel is currently under construction.
After the recent introduction of the new Fred. Olsen vessel Benchi Express which will serve the 'interior ferry line' of La Gomera this is further very welcome news as it will now offer direct cargo services to Valle Gran Rey which in turn should ease traffic congestion in the national park considerably.
I'll keep you informed when more details emerge, and I'm hoping to be one of the first passengers on the new service...
+UPDATE:
It has now emerged that the new car ferry high speed service will not connect with the island of El Hierro, but will exclusively serve the connection between Los Cristianos on Tenerife and La Gomera, and will connect La Gomera's south-western port of Vueltas in Valle Gran Rey for the first time regularly with a car ferry. Naviera Armas have also stated that their existing ferry service served by their slower vessel 'Volcan de Taburiente' which also connects the island of La Palma with San Sebastian de La Gomera and Los Cristianos will continue on that route. El Hierro will continue to be served from Los Cristianos seperately by another Armas vessel.
Wow, for more than five years there wasn't any ferry service to Valle Gran Rey and now there shall be two! Just at the right time, too, because there are major road works with traffic delays being undertaken near Arure on the only road into VGR.
More details on the new car ferry service soon...
Part of the interior of 'Volcan de Teno' (Image: ferrybalear)

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Festival 'Atlantico Sonoro' 2017

The 13th edition of the festival 'Atlantico Sonoro' is taking place in the town of Vallehermoso on La Gomera this Friday and Saturday, Sept. 22nd and 23rd 2017
On Friday the Festival begins in the town square with a dance and acrobatics spectacle at 9 pm, followed by live music. On Saturday  from 11am there will be a wide range of demonstrations and workshops of alternative therapies, massage, yoga, music, percussion, dance and much more. At night there will be a concert from 10 pm  with two live bands. All the events are free of charge. More details here: www.atlanticosonoro.com

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Minor earthquake close to La Gomera

EventoFechaHora GMTHora Local
(*)
LatitudLongitudProfundidad
(km)
MagnitudTipo Mag.
Int. max.
Localizacion
es2017ldmmo17/09/201720:49:0321:49:0328.1755-17.11682.0 mbLg   E AGULO.IGM
A minor earth tremor of 2.0 on the Richter scale occurred at a depth of nine kilometres close to La Gomera's north-eastern coast at around 9 pm on Sunday night, Sept. 17th 2017.
This is nothing to worry about, as La Gomera's former volcanoes are long extinct and the island has not experienced any volcanic activity for far more than a million years, being one of the oldest islands in the Canaries. La Gomera existed long before the volcanically very active neighbouring island of El Hierro was even born.

Generally volcanic activity in the Canaries is of a 'mild nature', but magma movements deep under and around the Canary Islands cause regular tremors. It is however a rare occurrence that such a quake was registered by the seismic station situated in the mountains above the town of Agulo with an epicentre so close to La Gomera.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Another sad anniversary on September 11th

The monument close to Los Roques on La Gomera island with trees burnt in 2012 in the background

The whole world now remembers 9/11, but on La Gomera the date is remembered for another very sad incident which happened in 1984. On the 11th of September 33 years ago twenty people died in a forest fire near Roque Agando, a landmark rock formation in La Gomera's mountains above the village of La Laja where a forest fire had broken out. The spot is on an exposed ridge and the victims were trapped there when the wind suddenly changed direction enclosing them in fire and intense heat. Among the victims were local volunteer firefighters and some people from Tenerife, including a former mayor of Puerto de la Cruz. The tragedy is one of the worst fire-related disasters in all of Spain ever and a sad-looking rusty steel monument near the spot lists all 20 names of the victims. The area around Roque Agando which stands at the eastern end of the national park was ablaze again  during the devastating fire of 2012, but thankfully there were no casualties in that major fire.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Welcome aboard the new ferry

Images from yesterday's presentation of the new Benchi Express ferry  in Valle Gran Rey.(Exclusive images courtesy of VINO TINTO)

The half-open upper deck can accommodate 100 passengers
The lower passenger deck seats 150 passengers. There's food on the counter of the cafeteria on right...
Today, Sunday, September 10th 2017, the vessel can be viewed again by the public as follows:
San Sebastián:          from 09:00 to 11:00
Playa de Santiago:    from 12:00 to 15:00
Valle Gran Rey:         from 16:00 to 19:00
The president of the government of the Canary Islands speaking at the official presentation of the new vessel and the interior ferry line in the new port terminal of Valle Gran Rey in Vueltas yesterday. (This image: gomeranoticias.com)

Saturday, September 09, 2017

New ferry arrives in Valle Gran Rey


The moment of arrival of the new Benchi Express ferry in Valle Gran Rey a short while ago...

...where she has tied-up at her newly-installed floating berth in Vueltas for the first time, ready for the official presentation ceremony to follow. (Exclusive images courtesy of VINO TINTO)

Friday, September 08, 2017

New ferry to begin service next week. Presentation to go ahead in VGR this Saturday. Revised viewing times

The damage to the new Benchi Express vessel reported yesterday has now been repaired in record time with the help of specialists from the Catalan shipyard that built the ferry. The Fred. Olsen ferry line has announced that the vessel will begin scheduled services on the interior ferry line between San Sebastion de La Gomera, Playa de Santiago, and Valle Gran Rey from the middle of next week and tickets are on sale now.
The introduction ceremony for the purpose-built ferry in Valle Gran Rey will now go ahead as planned on Saturday.
The viewing times when the vessel will be open to the public have however been changed again and the vessel will now open its doors (and hatches, I suppose) on Sunday, September 10th 2017 as follows:
San Sebastián:          from 09:00 to 11:00
Playa de Santiago:    from 12:00 to 15:00
Valle Gran Rey:         from 16:00 to 19:00

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Damage to new ferry delays schedule

The new Benchi Express ferry which was to begin regular service from the 10th of September 2017 sustained 'minor damage to the hull' during berthing trials in the port of San Sebastian de La Gomera last night.
The Fred. Olsen ferry company has stated that this will delay the begin of scheduled services, and the presentation of the new vessel in the other two ports it will serve, by 'several days, maximum one week' until repairs have been carried out. 
The new vessel will however be open to the public in the port of San Sebastian over the weekend at the times and dates indicated in the image above.
I will keep you informed on this blog...
+UPDATE:
The damage to the new Benchi Express vessel reported yesterday has now been repaired with the help of specialists from the shipyard that built the ferry. The Fred. Olsen ferry line has announced that the vessel will begin scheduled services on the interior ferry line between San Sebastion de La Gomer, Playa de Santiago, and Valle Gran Rey from the middle of next week and tickets are on sale now.
The introduction ceremony for the purpose-built ferry in Valle Gran Rey will now go ahead as planned on Saturday.
The viewing times when the vessel will be open to the public have however been changed again and the vessel will now open its doors (and hatches, I suppose) on Sunday, September 10th 2017 as follows:
San Sebastián:          from 09:00 to 11:00
Playa de Santiago:    from 12:00 to 15:00
Valle Gran Rey:         from 16:00 to 19:00

NEW FERRY ARRIVED IN LA GOMERA - OPEN TO PUBLIC

The new ferry just off San Sebastian de La Gomera with Tenerife in the background (Image: eltambor.es)
After several stopovers in other Canary Islands ports the brand new Benchi Express ferry joining the fleet of the Fred. Olsen Express ferry company has finally arrived in La Gomera and will begin to service the island's interior ferry route from Sunday, Sept. 10th 2017, connecting La Gomera's ports of San Sebastian, Playa de Santiago, and Valle Gran Rey.

Prior to commencing the service the ferry will be introduced and open all its doors to the public free of charge as follows:

Today, Thursday 7 th of Sept.:
in San Sebastián from 11:30h to 12:30h, in  Playa de Santiago from 14:30h to 16:00h, in Valle Gran Rey from 18:00h to 19:30h
Friday 8th de Sept: Valle Gran Rey 11:00h to 13:15h,  Playa de Santiago 16:00h to 17:30h, and in San Sebastián 18:00h to 19:30h
Sunday 10th of Sept.: San Sebastián 09:00h a 10:00h / Playa de Santiago 12:55h a 14:00, and in Valle Gran Rey 14:40h a 16:30h
On Saturday there will be an official ceremony of presentation and introduction of the vessel with many important Canary dignitaries present, which is open to the public and will take place in the harbour of Vueltas in Valle Gran Rey, the new vessel's home port.
Reduced ticket prices when booking the new service from/to Los Cristianos on Tenerife:
You can now book tickets from Los Cristianos through to Playa de Santiago and Valle Gran Rey and vice versa at a much reduced rate on the Fred. Olsen website. Before selecting the main journey between Tenerife and La Gomera, which will give you times and prices, click on one of the two blue bars below that (one for Playa de Santiago, the other for Valle Gran Rey), and new times and prices for the combination of the two ferry trips will appear. This will give you the combined journey at a bargain price.
+UPDATE:
Damage to new ferry delays schedule
The new Benchi Express ferry which was to begin regular service from the 10th of September 2017 sustained 'minor damage to the hull' during berthing trials in the port of San Sebastian de La Gomera earlier today 'due to strong winds'.
The Fred. Olsen ferry company has stated that this will delay the begin of scheduled services, and the presentation of the new vessel in the other two ports it will serve, by 'several days, maximum one week' until repairs have been carried out. 
The new vessel will however be open to the public in the port of San Sebastian over the weekend
++UPDATE 2:
The damage to the new Benchi Express vessel reported yesterday has now been repaired with the help of specialists from the shipyard that built the ferry. The Fred. Olsen ferry line has announced that the vessel will begin scheduled services on the interior ferry line between San Sebastion de La Gomer, Playa de Santiago, and Valle Gran Rey from the middle of next week and tickets are on sale now.
The introduction ceremony for the purpose-built ferry in Valle Gran Rey will now go ahead as planned on Saturday.
The viewing times when the vessel will be open to the public have however been changed again and the vessel will now open its doors (and hatches, I suppose) on Sunday, September 10th 2017 as follows:
San Sebastián:          from 09:00 to 11:00
Playa de Santiago:    from 12:00 to 15:00
Valle Gran Rey:         from 16:00 to 19:00
The new vessel's wheelhouse with skipper 'Mel' Garcia Bethencourth (Image source: puentedemando.com)

Sunday, September 03, 2017

New Ferry now under way to La Gomera

The new Benchi Express ferry which was built near Barcelona is now underway towards La Gomera and should begin the new scheduled services of the interior line in a week's time on Monday, September 10th 2017.
The ferry has been en route since early Saturday and spent last night in the port of Algeciras in southern Spain close to Gibraltar from where she left this morning heading directly for the Canary Islands (see position at 11:20 UTC above). As I write the purpose-built vessel has just left the Mediterranean at a speed of around 14 knots and should soon sail down the Atlantic off the coast of Morocco. We wish her fair winds and a following sea.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

A very serious discussion...

...can be heard here when you turn on the sound at the bottom right:

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Port terminal to be finished soon

Above plans for the landscaping and finishing of the recently constructed harbour terminal in the port of Vueltas in Valle Gran Rey were published by the government of the Canary Islands. The terminal will be connected to all services and car parking, a taxi rank and bus stop will be provided. Green areas and trees to provide shade and shelter will be planted and public lighting with solar panels will be installed. The estimated cost for these improvements is close to 214.000 Euros and the works will take three months to complete. Let's hope they didn't forget public toilets.
The terminal in its present state

Friday, August 25, 2017

Second Gomera Sound Fest

Rock band 'Ni 1 Pelo de Tonto' aka 'N1P' (Archive image)
The second edition of 'Gomera Sound Fest' will take place tomorrow night, Saturday 26th of August 2017, and will feature three bands plus the Canary Islands' most successful DJ, Quique Serra will play a set to finish the night. The bands are 'Kuarembo' (ska/reggae/world music), 'Trezo' (latin pop/rock) and the well known rock band 'Ni 1 Pelo de Tonto'. The event will take place in San Sebastian de La Gomera's main square Plaza de Las Americas and is free of charge.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

New ferry service now taking bookings (Updated)

The new Benchi Express which will serve the 'interior line' of La Gomera (Image: Fred. Olsen)
The reestablishment of a ferry service between the three southern ports of La Gomera will become reality on Monday August 21st 2017 when the new purpose-built vessel will make its first scheduled sailing and bookings can now be made on the Fred. Olsen ferry company website.
The brand new 90 ft ferry which will cover the so-called interior ferry line connecting the ports of Valle Gran Rey, Playa de Santiago, and San Sebastian de La Gomera was launched in Barcelona recently and has a capacity for 150 passengers on the lower deck with an additional 100 passengers on the mostly-open upper deck. The vessel which was baptised Benchi Express has a cafeteria, and storage space for travelling pets, bicycles and light motorbikes. New floating jetties are being installed in the three ports to facilitate passengers which will also make the ferry wheelchair accessible.
The new service will run three times daily in both directions starting from Valle Gran Rey. Departure times are as follows:

Valle Gran Rey:                          06:30 am, 12:30 pm,  5 pm

San Sebastian de La Gomera:     10:45 am, 3 pm,   9 pm

Playa de Santiago (to San Seb.): 07:20 am, 01:20 pm, 05:50 pm
Playa de Santiago (to V.G.R.):    11:30 am, 03:40 pm, 09:40 pm

The new service operates seven days a week, but this is the initial timetable and I expect some changes once the winter season begins, so always check times again before booking. Prices: The basic single online fare is 10 Euros (or € 8 if you're over 60) for the journey between San Sebastian de La Gomera and Valle Gran Rey and 8 Euros from/to Playa de Santiago which comes down to only € 2.50 and € 2 respectively if you are a resident of La Gomera, according to the Fred. Olsen booking site. 

+UPDATE: There seem to be the 'customary' delays and it appears that the new service will now be running from Sept. 10th 2017, if it doesn't suffer another 'retraso'. 
Please also note that in order to make a booking you'll have to select 'La Gomera' in both the 'Origin' and the 'Destination' windows on the Fred. Olsen website, which then will lead to two further selection windows appearing where you can choose between the three ports served by 'Benchi Express'. As of now tickets on this service must be bought separately from the tickets you'll need to get from/to Los Cristianos if you're going from/to  Tenerife. This is all a bit cumbersome and should be made more convenient for intending passengers.
The new ferry's AIS tracking is now functional and her movements can be followed when they have it switched on (MMSI 225987686). She was still undergoing sea trials in the second week of August near the port where she was built and launched, but should soon make her way down to the Canary Islands.
++UPDATE 2:
NEW FERRY ARRIVED IN LA GOMERA - OPEN TO PUBLIC
Reduced ticket prices when booking the new service from/to Los Cristianos on Tenerife:
You can now book tickets from Los Cristianos through to Playa de Santiago and Valle Gran Rey and vice versa at a much reduced rate on the Fred. Olsen website. Before selecting the main journey between Tenerife and La Gomera, which will give you times and prices, click on one of the two blue bars below that (one for Playa de Santiago, the other for Valle Gran Rey), and new times and prices for the combination of the two ferry trips will appear. This will give you the combined journey at a bargain price.
+++UPDATE 3:
Damage to new ferry delays schedule
The new Benchi Express ferry which was to begin regular service from the 10th of September 2017 sustained 'minor damage to the hull' during berthing trials in the port of San Sebastian de La Gomera earlier today.
The Fred. Olsen ferry company has stated that this will delay the begin of scheduled services, and the presentation of the new vessel in the other two ports it will serve, by 'several days, maximum one week' until repairs have been carried out. 
The new vessel will however be open to the public in the port of San Sebastian over the weekend
++++UPDATE 4:
The damage to the new Benchi Express vessel reported yesterday has now been repaired with the help of specialists from the shipyard that built the ferry. The Fred. Olsen ferry line has announced that the vessel will begin scheduled services on the interior ferry line between San Sebastion de La Gomera, Playa de Santiago, and Valle Gran Rey from the middle of next week and tickets are on sale now.
The introduction ceremony for the purpose-built ferry in Valle Gran Rey will now go ahead as planned on Saturday.
The viewing times when the vessel will be open to the public have however been changed again and the vessel will now open its doors (and hatches, I suppose) on Sunday, September 10th 2017 as follows:
San Sebastián:          from 09:00 to 11:00
Playa de Santiago:    from 12:00 to 15:00

Valle Gran Rey:         from 16:00 to 19:00

+++++UPDATE 5 see:

Fast car ferry to connect Valle Gran Rey with Tenerife


Thursday, August 03, 2017

'La Villa' rocks again

The annual Villa Rock festival will take place in San Sebastian de La Gomera this Saturday, August 5th 2017, from 9 pm. This year five bands from the Canary Islands, including La Gomera's own Tonelada, will perform various styles of rock music and the event is free of charge.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Algae affecting many beaches

Algal bloom at Vueltas beach, one of the many beaches affected in the Canary Islands

 Over recent weeks large amounts of micro algae have been observed in the coastal waters of the Canary Islands which have affected many beaches. This is a natural phenomenon that is produced by biological, environmental and climate factors and causes the seawater to become discoloured and turbid. A report by the public health department of the Canarian government warns that one should not swim  or bath in seawater where massive amounts of micro algae are present and also to avoid any contact with the algae deposited on beaches by the tides. On La Gomera notices warning of the presence of algae have been placed at beaches in San Sebastian and Valle Gran Rey. 
The report also states that while micro algae are generally quite harmless, some may produce toxins that could ''produce negative health effects'' when swimmers make physical contact by touching or ingesting these through the mouth or nose or by inhaling aerosols which may be emitted by the algal bloom. Some dead fish have also been washed onto beaches which probably perished due to much lower oxygen levels in the sea areas affected by the algal bloom. 
A dead fish washed ashore (Images: HP)

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Fiesta del Carmen 2017 starts today

Summer time is the main fiesta time in the Canary Islands and now it is the turn of the 'Fiesta del Carmen' which is celebrated in many seaside towns, harbours and fishing villages. This fiesta involves a procession by boat and here in Valle Gran Rey, La Gomera, it is one of the major fiestas in the sheer endless fiesta calendar. Carmen is the patron saint of the fishermen of Vueltas harbour where the fiesta is celebrated in the port from this morning and festivities continue all next week. 
The boat procession is today, July 16th 2017, from 5pm and you can join in the fun by just queueing for a place on one of the many participating boats, but be prepared to get wet - not only on the outside - as the drink flows freely. There'll be a fireworks display in the harbour just before midnight tonight, followed by salsa-dancing all night until the early hours of the morning. Highlights on other days include a reggae night with two bands on Thursday, children's amusements, DJs, folklore groups, etc., during Valle Gran Rey's largest fiesta. 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

NEW FERRY LAUNCHED

The all-new Benchi Express at her launch yesterday (Image: Fred. Olsen Express)
Afloat and baptised !
The brand new ferry which will cover the so-called interior ferry line connecting the ports of Valle Gran Rey, Playa de Santiago, and San Sebastian de La Gomera was launched in Barcelona yesterday. The vessel was baptised Benchi Express with the customary bottle of bubbly during a ceremony with representatives of the Fred Olsen company. HOOOORAY and congratulations !
The purpose-built ferry will accommodate 250 passengers on two decks and there will be an open area on the upper deck available to passengers, while a cafeteria on the lower deck will offer drinks and snacks. The vessel will travel at an average speed of around 20 knots and being just under 90 ft long will be very easy to manoeuvre, which combined with the shortly to be installed floating jetties in the three ports will assure very fast turnaround times.
The reestablishment of a ferry service between the three southern ports of La Gomera will take some more time to become operational as the new vessel is not fully fitted out yet and will have to undergo lengthy sea trials, etc., before she'll obtain her seaworthiness and safety certificates while the ferry line will have to pass the usual  bureaucratic hurdles, but by the end of this summer the sorely missed connection should once again be a reality and its future assured. If you're planning a trip to southern La Gomera later this year, I'd recommend to wait with your ferry booking until the new service's schedule has been published. Find out more about the interior ferry line (click)...
+UPDATE: New ferry...  (click)
By the way, from midnight last night the ticket price for inter-island travel in the Canary Islands has decreased for residents as the subsidies from the Canarian government will now cover 75% of the regular price, leaving residents to pay just a quarter of the fare for travel by sea or air between the islands. Pity that I'm not a resident anymore...

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Local police trained to deal with heart attacks

...before the ambulance arrives. (Archive image)
'The Canary Islander' recently reported:
''In La Gomera, there are many tourists who visit the island with serious health conditions, and island residents could also have health problems, but this island tourist destination has experienced increased incidents of heart attacks or emergency situations when an individual’s heart stops beating for various reasons. The 112-emergency service reacts very quickly by sending ambulances with trained medical staff, but often local police can be at the scene of a health incident more quickly. People who experience heart attacks on holiday are more likely to survive if they receive medical help quickly.
Therefore, the local police in San Sebastian de La Gomera has just received updated training sessions on the use of semi-automatic defibrillators and cardiorespiratory resuscitation methods that should be carried out in emergency situations. Also, cardio respiratory resuscitation equipment is now carried in all patrol cars.
The local police have portable defibrillators that mean that they can move these easily and use them in a wide range of situations. These new defibrillators are in addition to those already installed at three municipal sports centres. In addition, four out of six municipalities in La Gomera have semi-automatic defibrillators in public spaces. So faster responses by local police for emergency health incidents when waiting for ambulances and trained medical experts to arrive.''

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Latest image of new ferry

The new Benchi Express vessel under construction for the Fred Olsen ferry company which is expected to come into service later this summer, connecting Valle Gran Rey, Playa de Santiago and San Sebastian de La Gomera three times daily in both directions. It is not clear when the above image was taken, but it appears to be some time ago. The Olsen company has also announced the installation of floating jetties and ramps in the three ports to facilitate the speedy berthing of the vessel which also will make it easier for passengers to board and disembark. (Image: Fred.Olsen)
+UPDATE: New ferry...  (click)

Friday, June 16, 2017

Bloomsday in La Gomera

Today is Bloomsday in honour of James Joyce, when celebrations take place in Ireland and around the world to celebrate Thursday 16 June 1904, which is the day depicted in the famous Irish writer's novel Ulysses. The day is named after Leopold Bloom, the central character in Ulysses. The novel follows the life and thoughts of Leopold Bloom and a host of other characters – real and fictional – from 8am on 16 June 1904 through to the early hours of the following morning.
This year a celebration will also take place in La Gomera, but not until Sunday, June 18th 2017, in the beautiful historic village of Agulo in La Gomera's north. The event starts at 7 pm in the Casa del Pintor Aguiar where excerpts of Ulysses will be be read in different languages as well as poems and other texts dedicated to Joyce's work, accompanied by music from Seamus Mac Aogain. 
The town of Agulo

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Canary Islands prepare for this summer's fire threat

Forest fires season 2017

Janet Anscombe reports:
''The Canarian Government has announced its forest fire fighting and prevention measures for this summer. The announcement was made in a presentation yesterday by Canarian President Fernando Clavijo with the Government’s Política Territorial, Sostenibilidad y Seguridad minister, Nieves Lady Barreto. Specialist helicopter units (Equipos de Intervención y Refuerzo Forestales – EIRIF) will cover all the islands, being physically based in La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro, the result of an investment of almost €3m over two years, explained the president.  The minister, for her part, emphasized that the creation of EIRIF represented fundamental progress in fire fighting and prevention in the Canaries, with the units’ capacity to intervene on any island when required being an important preventative measure which, although it couldn’t stop fires starting, allowed an improved response to extinction and early assistance to stop fires spreading. Each squad will comprise 24 personnel including a technician, a foreman, and 6 specialists, and so together with 3 coordination technicians and 3 physical trainers, there will be 78 additional operatives integrated into the islands’ existing intervention resources.The units will act as reinforcement for the existing Cabildo cover which each island has in its own right, and will be employed between June and October, the high season for forest fire risk, whenever a fire exceeds insular level and requires a coordinated regional response from the Canarian Government. This will be of particular importance should fires break out on more than one island simultaneously. There will also be a hidroavion from Madrid based in the islands, and the training exercises for that were taking place recently between Gran Canaria and Tenerife (Photo: Ejército del Aire)...''

Happy Dia de Canarias

Today is Dia de Canarias, the Canary Islands' celebration of all things that make the Canaries and their people so unique and different from their Spanish colonial masters. There were many events in virtually all towns and villages over the past few days to mark the occasion and celebrations continue today during the Canaries' national holiday.


Monday, May 22, 2017

New ferry soon a reality

Parts of the hull of the new 'Benchi Express' under construction. Image taken some time ago. Source: Juan Carlos Diaz Lorenzo
The reopening if the so-called interior ferry line between the ports of Valle Gran Rey, Playa de Santiago and San Sebastian de La Gomera will soon become reality as the purpose built ferry ordered by the Fred. Olsen ferry company is nearing completion at a shipyard in Barcelona. The new catamaran type vessel will have a capacity of 250 passengers and is estimated to cost around three million Euros. It has been announced that the purpose-built vessel will be able to dock very rapidly with a new automated mooring system and the help of floating jetties which the company will install in the three ports in La Gomera. The new ferry will not sail to Tenerife, but its sailings will be timed to connect with the large Fred. Olsen ferry to Los Cristianos in Tenerife with three voyages in both directions per day . As a further cost-cutting measure tickets will be sold online and through special vending machines in Valle Gran Rey and Playa de Santiago and these will also give up to date information on sea and weather conditions and real-time arrival and departure times. The new vessel will have a cafeteria and will be baptised 'Benchi Express', same as its predecessor a few years ago which however had only been chartered for a few years by the Olsen company. It is hoped that the vessel will come into service in July of this year. Hoorrrrraaaay !!!
Read more about the interior ferry line and its history (click).
+UPDATE: New ferry...  (click)

Friday, May 12, 2017

Major investment in La Gomera's national park

It has recently been announced that La Gomera's Garajonay national park will receive a further 2,1 million Euros in funding. The money will go towards conservation measures, the restoration of damaged and degraded areas, fire prevention, and general improvements.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Dramatic video of ferry crashing into pier


The Naviera Armas ferry 'Volcan de Tamasite' crashed into a pier in port of Las Palmas on Gran Canaria last night after it had just left the inner harbour of Puerto de la Luz.
Thirteen passengers on board a ferry were injured when the large ferry slammed into a concrete quay at the port of Las Palmas. A spokesperson for Naviera Armas, the Canary Islands company that operates the ferry, said that a "loss of electrical power" caused the accident. Emergency services said five of the injured were taken to hospital with minor injuries. 
The above video shows the ferry hitting the breakwater head-on, sending huge chunks of the concrete protective wall tumbling down onto the service road of the pier.
The company also said that the ferry was able to dock under its own power following the accident as the fault had lasted only two minutes and that the stranded passengers had been accommodated in hotels. However, there were some very angry scenes directly after the accident with passengers screaming and shouting at staff and demanding to be brought ashore or rescued immediately.
According to local media there has also been a diesel leak from the vessel due to the accident and the port of Las Palmas has put emergency measures in place to contain the spill and clean it up before it could reach the inlet of a nearby seawater desalination plant.
The ferry company Naviera Armas has stated that the damaged ship is structurally sound and only damaged a section of the prow which will be repaired promptly, but revised timetables for their ferry sailings will apply until this vessel is back in service.