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After the second day at anchor On La Gomera we sail away at night to El Hierro, just before the south wind rises. At night, as it is a 60 mile boat trip and can therefore last longer than a daylight period. Rather sail away at night than arrive somewhere at night. The wind is cooperating, so we arrive at El Hierro early in the afternoon. We do not receive an answer on the port canal. We also don't see anyone responding to our arrival. We enter the harbor very slowly but nothing happens. We see a few open spaces at the jetty and then decide to moor the boat there. A bunch of other sailors take the mooring lines and a little later we are safely moored at El Hierro.
El Hierro has our special interest because it is the only island in Europe that is completely self-sufficient. They produce all electricity and water themselves from sustainable sources. To our surprise we see that there is also a wifi station called "El Hierro free wifi"; here on the island they have free wifi for the whole population! And the conditions that you have to click on are nothing bad, but just positive things such as that they do not store any data of the users. Fantastic!
Soon two more sailing yachts arrive and we have neighbors on both sides. On the one hand a somewhat older French couple, on the other a young British couple with a kind of converted Ocean racer called "Flycatcher of Yar". It is a nice, cozy but also cheap port. The quay wall is a true work of art. In the harbor we see a sea turtle swimming a few times. In the evening we eat pizza in the "southernmost pizzeria in Europe" as the manager claims.
There are several diving clubs in the small village. There seem to be beautiful dive sites on El Hierro and we make an appointment with a dive school for a trip to a nearby reef. On the morning of the appointment I gather my diving gear and discover that the regulator and dive computer are missing! There is no other way that they were stolen during the rescue mission of the boat! I'm pretty upset but it's no different, so we rent a regulator from the dive club and buy a new dive computer. The diving itself exceeds our expectations! Never before have we seen so many fish everywhere you look. We dive under two natural "bridges"; it is a real fairytale world!
On my birthday we want to explore El Hierro and try to rent a car. Renting a car is not possible, so we take the bus. Just before we go to the bus stop a downpour comes down. We see our British neighbors Ed and Megan brave the downpour and leave the boat towards the town. As soon as the downpour is over, we go to the bus stop, which is very inconspicuously close to the harbor entrance. The bus is not a real bus, but more like a delivery van. Two stops further Ed and Megan get on board and look a bit surprised when they see us dry in the bus. "You took the wrong moment to go to the wrong bus station" I remark with a smile. They have the same destination as us and it will be fun in the small van. The final destination of this van is a larger bus stop where several lines meet. To our surprise, there is nothing at all there at that junction. A bus hub in the middle of nowhere! We have to switch to a larger regular bus that is already abandoned there. To our surprise, our driver also changes from the minivan and now suddenly becomes the driver of the large scheduled bus. The minivan is now left deserted.
The capital of El Hierro is not much, so we return soon. We are now in the front of the bus and see that the bus driver is getting a pile of mail bundles. In every village there is someone ready to accept a bundle of mail. That is efficient! In the evening we invite Ed and Megan for a drink. The next day they invite us to dinner with them on the boat. They are nice people but like everyone else here they will soon be leaving for the south. In their case, they still have doubts about the Cape Verde or Gambia, a day later the decision falls on Gambia. A bit of a shame, because it could be nice if we would meet them again in the Cape Verde.
Meanwhile, there is an almost imperceptible tension in the air. Almost everyone here at this port in El Hierro has a destination hundreds of miles away and it shows in the equipment on the boats. Most boats are unloaded and on the deck are lashed tanks, extra sails, and so on. The boats are equipped with self-steering devices, thick anchors, windmills and solar panels. These are not day trip boats but survival machines for the ocean. We now have to wait for a favorable "weather window" as sailors commonly call it; a weather period that is favorable for making an ocean crossing.