Archive for October 21st, 2011
Santa Cruz – Not Any Old Port In A Shower

Even in Tenerife a little rain must fall now and then, that’s how I came to be dodging spots up north on another day of story gathering for Tenerife Magazine. It had already been a busy slightly soggy day with a tram ride to La Laguna to visit the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias for some science, and back to Santa Cruz to fly around like a culture vulture chasing sculptures in galleries and in the street, but more of that at Tenerife Magazine.

The capital city’s port is always on my list of calls and I knew the Russian four mast sailing ship Kruzenshtern was in port for a few days and about to depart within hours for Vigo on the Spanish mainland. Luckily a mad dash brought me to its mooring spot and as it loomed over me I could see it was a hefty piece of work. I’m sure you want the technical details so here we go, it was built in Germany in 1926 and is a Russian Navy training ship or barque to be precise. Kruzenshtern is 114.4 metres (375 foot) long, 51.3 m (168 ft) high, weighs 3,141 tons and can go at 17.3 knots (32 km/h or 19.9 mph). It would have been lovely to see all the sails deployed but on this dull wet day there was little chance of that.

The gangplank was down but sealed off and manned by young recruits, I gave a hearty ahoy there and tried to blag a tour on board with a mix of Spanish and English. The answer was a firm no but one poker faced joker said if I came back tomorrow I could get a tour – it would of course be far out in the Atlantic by then and my swimming isn’t quite that good. I settled for a few quick discreet photos, not wanting to wake up in a salt mine many miles away. I wonder what the 257 crew did with their time in Santa Cruz, hopefully they managed to enjoy a few of our decadent ways.

There is nearly always a nautical surprise or two in Santa Cruz, this time it came in the form of two German war ships moored on the far side beyond the security fences. The Sachsen was partly hidden by a pleasure cruiser but the Schleswig Holstein (above)Â was standing proud ready to be identified. The two ships are Brandenburg class frigates built in the early 1990’s, both 138.9 metres long capable of 29 knots and carrying 220 crew. They pack a punch with anti air and submarine weapons and exocets to see off any hostile ships. The pair had arrived from Tema in Ghana and were ready for a quick departure to Souda in Greece.For now though it was my turn for a quick departure on the good ship Titsa back to Los Cristianos – steady as she goes.