Ruffians Road Test

Larry and ‘Tiger Thing’. Poor Tiger Thing really needs a proper name!

17th October 2021

Playa Francesa, Graciosa – Santa Cruz, Tenerife

When location managers from Top Gear look for places to film, they seek out sweeping roads with impossibly dramatic backdrops, they look for fascinating cultural side trips where local prejudices can either be dispelled or reinforced and finally, they want to be able to show the raw power and amazing technology of their steeds.

As we left Graciosa Ruffian showed her raw power. She scooted along and whisked us towards Santa Cruz in Tenerife at breakneck speeds. Ruffian was so content looking after herself that she let Iain actually do some cooking at sea* and with Fiona waking from her slumber she was greeted with not only porridge, but porridge which didn’t resemble snot or taste like sludge. He’d remembered to add salt, dice apple and even serve it with apple blossom honey. True offshore luxury.

Arriving in Tenerife our buddies on Cerulean had been busy sorting her power issues. On her side deck sat 3 huge batteries and with the Steve/Helen combo providing the brain we provided the brawn. Attaching block and tackle, the old batteries slipped out from their super snug enclosures and, in their place, the Victron technological marvels were slotted. The batteries seemed so large that they could power a fleet of Tesla’s and were so sleek they’d upstage any Aston Martins.

After the physical exertion, and wanting to see the inside of Tenerife we took to the roads with in a car that would embarrass all those at top gear. The roads wound their way up through lush forests where trees cling onto the vertical hillsides and through clouds that were whisked in updrafts. Going higher and higher we popped out into bright sunshine and could understand why Tenerife is the astronomical capitol of the canaries.

Dominating every viewpoint was the same backdrop, the docile volcano of Pico del Teide. As we drove through hard lava fields, across dusty planes and along high ridges the volcano was ever present. The roads swept up and down giving the perfect shot for those location managers.

Finding ourselves at the southernmost point of Tenerife and with dusk not far away a signpost pointed up an impossibly steep hill, along a ridiculously twisty road. We squeezed past cars on their downward track as rocks slid off the road bouncing into the abyss. Cresting, we could see nothing but blue sky and then the valley beyond opened up. The road clung impossibly to the cliff side and every turn threatened to send us to our doom. We could feel the presence of the location managers and their discontent at the squealing of our poor car.

More and more adventures were on the cards and with dawn arriving we were off for another of Iain’s legendary morning hikes. The plan was to head for the hills and get to an abandoned coastguard station for the rising sun and breakfast.

The dew was still on the ground making path slippery and the precipitous drop felt perishingly close but putting foot in front of foot we gained altitude and the abandoned coastguard station. Its grandeur from a previous cultural age was persistent with ornate stone work framing doors and windows. These had these been adopted by the local artists to frame their works of art which covered every surface.

Back on Ruffian we were back into the world of old school technology. We’d enlisted the expert ear of an experienced cruiser to listen to our SSB in the hope he’d give us some tips on connecting it to the outside world. The modem initialised and the SSB clicked away, but no connection could be made. Thomas from Walkabout moved his ear about the boat and honed in on the backstay tuner. Directing Iain he pushed the magic button labelled ‘Tune’, the tuner sparked into life, the backstay tuned to the right frequency and a delightful green connected icon lit up on the computer. Thomas’s expert ear was everything we needed to give us complete freedom with connectivity.

The film sets of Tenerife might be enough for the location managers of Top Gear, but they are very land based and the call of the sea is once again strong. We now seek isolation and independence by heading out of the safety of the marina and into the adventure of the sea.

* Offshore cooking is usually Fiona’s domain as she is armed with a cast iron stomach which not even the smell of diesel mixed with some of Iain’s vomit can upset.

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Author: Iain & Fiona Lewis

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