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Atlantic Whale and Dolphin Foundation

Month

May 2019

A Day on the Freebird One

freebird-one-catamaran-tenerife1cKnowing that I was going on the Freebird 1, I was awake and ready by 8:30 to set off for Puerto Colón, early but excited for the boat trip. On arrival, we had an hour to relax at a café and get something to drink before the first trip. At 10 am, we took off for the boat, not knowing what to expect, we had heard good things about the boat, and when we spotted the boat, we were not disappointed!

The Freebird 1 was a large white boat, with a really nice outside area for the passengers to sit on and an aesthetic inside area with a bar and nice sofa seats. When we boarded the boat, the staff of the boat were extremely welcoming and came straight to talk to us and make us feel comfortable on the boat.

The boat set off for the first trip of the day just after 10 am with a large number of excited passengers ready to see some whales and dolphins. The passengers were welcomed with a few sandwiches at the start of the trip prepared by the staff. The first encounter did not take too long to happen with a family of 3 pilot whales showing up first. The whales stayed around the boat for about 20 minutes, making it for a fantastic first experience of seeing whales.

The second encounter did not seem to come that much later! This time it was a family of bottlenose dolphins that were seen swimming and playing around the boat for around 10 minutes, giving off a small show for the passengers when they decided to breach the
water a few times. After these small encounters, the boat took a small break at an area with an impressive view for a small swim break for the customers. The staff at this point approached us and were very generous, offering us the opportunity for a swim. For the rest of the trip, no whales or dolphins seemed to want to surface, but
nonetheless, a great trip.

After the trip was finished at 1pm, we had a nice talk with the staff and helped them set up the boat for a second, longer trip by cleaning and setting up the boat with towels.
The second trip started at 1:30 pm and was a longer trip. The sea had seemed to become a lot choppier by this point and seemed to cause a few problems for the passengers. Even if there was this problem, the staff did all they could to keep all these customers happy and did a great job at it! As the sea was so choppy, the boat had to take a shorter trip closer to the shore, but still did not stop the great views and atmosphere, with them taking us to around the most beautiful areas of the coast, including the great
cliffs of Los Gigantes, which was also the swim site for this trip. The boat staff were very happy to let us have another swim. About half an hour after the swim break, the staff provided food for the customers and us which we helped with giving around. They
cooked some fantastic food, really filling us up!

The only small problem with this trip at the moment was that we had no encounters with any whales or dolphins. At this point we were called to the captain’s area and given binoculars to search for them which was an amazing experience. After about 45
minutes, we managed to find a family of Pilot whales, giving the customers great joy. This encounter seemed to have a really large number of individuals, giving us a great experience seeing so many of them around us. The boat then went back to the pier where all the customers got off. At this point we did a full clean of the boat, the least we could do for the staff providing us with such an adventure.

Just before we left, the staff called us over and offered us refreshments, which we all took with gratitude. Overall, this trip was an amazing first experience of the boats in tenerife!

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“Myself and 5 others squeeze into skin tight wetsuits, which quickly reminds me to cut down on fast food”

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Turning up to the beach with our surfboards, which had seen better days, and seeing people effortlessly gliding over waves made me think ‘this is going to be embarrassing’.

Myself and 5 others squeeze into skin tight wetsuits, which quickly reminds me to cut down on fast food. Before entering the sea, the instructor (with stereotypical long surfing locks of hair and body like Zeus – weep) runs through a tutorial on how to surf.
We lie flat on the board and practice paddling and standing up on the board, strongest foot first followed by weakest foot which is placed in front. Right foot behind is called regular, left foot behind is known as goofy.

Now all experts on how to stand, we enter the water. We swim out on our boards, getting bashed by oncoming waves as we go further. It comes apparent that catching a wave is much more difficult than I thought. “Paddle like your life depends on it” are the instructions shouted by a friend, who has surfed before.

With his advice I catch the next wave and have an image of myself gracefully skimming over a wave like a cool scene from surfs up. In reality, I attempt to stand and instantly get flung upside down beneath my board.

Luckily, I wasn’t the only one who struggled to stand. Each of us took it in turns to catch a wave and attempt to ride it. It usually ended up with the person falling head over heels followed by a roar of laughter from the rest of us and themselves once they resurfaced.

Nick, one of the other surfers, managed to ride several waves and so he took home the honour of being surfer of the day. The rest of us managed to stand up for a few seconds but would usually end with us being thrown off the board like ragdolls.

The day was filled with laughter and each of us thoroughly enjoyed trying to learn something new to us. With a bit of practice, I could easily see us all riding 50ft waves in the near future (by that I mean being dragged by the attached surfboard and we skim off the water like pebbles).

Finally, we leave the water and I realize that looking like David Hasselhoff in Baywatch, running down the beach, really only happens in the movies.

Time to Saddle Up!

Now, to anyone where horse riding does not come naturally to them, believe me you`re not the only one. For some, riding a horse is like riding a bike, it comes naturally to anyone who has rode before. However, as a first-time rider, all I can tell you was that I was definitely not a ´natural`.

While others found it easier to rein in their nerves, my terrified expression was undoubtedly seen by the instructor, the seven other people that I was with and maybe even the horses.

The Bonanza Ranch is a family owned business, ran by Oscar, a man that instantly greeted us with warmth and hospitality. With over 50 well trained and qualified horses to choose from, it was no surprise that shortly after arriving, we were soon paired with a horse that would match the most basic beginner to the most experienced rider.  

Being an amateur rider, my faith, trust and life was essentially in the hands – or rather hooves – of Teide; a tall black and white gelding, that although realistically was around 15 hands high, felt similar to Mount Teide`s 3718 meters.

As a proclaimed leader of the uncoordinated, ungraceful and quite honestly clumsy; my only real fear was falling off the giant animal and how much it would hurt if I did.

Strolling along the sandy landscapes of El Desierto, Granadilla; when I finally remembered to breathe and not look down at the floor, it was great to be surrounded by natural reserves of South Tenerife.

Lead by Oscar, his daughter and another staff member, we were lead through diverse volcanic areas that have existed for millions of years.   

Despite the stress I felt at the beginning of the excursion, the views and the feeling of accomplishment afterwards was undoubtedly worth it. Now don’t get me wrong, while i’m sure the sense of achievement I felt, was clearly shown on my face, I was definitely ready to get off my high horse!    

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