We have arrived in Las Palmas, Grand Canaria, which means the European leg of our trip is now complete. The summer has past so quickly and it is difficult to comprehend that our next passage will be across the Atlantic to the Caribbean.
We left Lanzarote on Sunday night, we were only half convinced that it was the right decision, Rick had come down with my tummy bug a couple of days before and was only just on the mend. However the weather looked perfect and it did mean we would be sailing under the red moon.
It was just under 100nm so we opted for an early start to maximise sailing in daylight and got up at 2am. We slipped the lines as quietly as we could and tip toed out of the marina. We have never left in the dark before and were surprised how long it took for our eyes to adjust to the dark. But we made it out to sea without incident, grateful again for our chart plotter and AIS system.
The moon was almost completely eclipsed as we left and by the time we had stowed the fenders and lines, set the sails and were settled enough to look for it again, we couldn’t see it. For a moment we thought we had got it wrong thinking it would be red and that actually it would just go dark, but then we found it hidden behind the main sail. It was a perfectly clear night and it did look beautiful glowing a dark orange with just a hint of light peeping out of the base. It was easy to see why such a strange unexplained sight, century’s ago, could be imagined as a forewarning of doom, it did look very unnatural. Gradually as the night wore on we witnessed the shadow slowly withdraw until there it was back, a full moon. We do feel lucky to witness these things from such a unique and uncluttered perspective.
The next morning we had a tiny visitor, a chiffchaff type bird with a pretty pale yellow chest, which flew erratically around the boat for a few minutes, until exhausted it landed on our deck. Unfortunately we were also on the foredeck in the middle of rigging the pole for the Genoa and so wherever the poor bird tried to rest we, or a line, seemed to be there to disturb him. He stayed around for twenty minutes or so coming very close to us at times and eating a few crumbs we put out for him. I hope we were taking him in the right direction.
Poor Rick felt unwell for most of the journey, unless he was really needed I let him sleep, so we arrived fifteen hours later, Rick sick and me feeling really rather tired. It crossed my mind that we were a bit like our earlier visitor all of us working hard to get south for winter. Tradition insists of course that despite not being on top form a “got here beer” must be consumed and with surprisingly little effort we managed a can between us while waiting for the marina officials to get through the queue in front of us. Luckily the process wasn’t too arduous and we were soon tied up at the dock. No more sailing for us for a while.
Las Palmas is our departure point to head off across the Atlantic in November. We are crossing as part of a rally – the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers or the ARC. It is probably the most well known of all sailing rallies and over 250 boats will be joining this year for its 30th anniversary. We felt for our first ocean crossing that it would be a good idea to have some support and a chance to learn from the experts. We know quite a few people who have done it in previous years and it sounds like it’s going to be really good fun. The organisation so far has been exemplary, even down to the information pack for early arrivals that was handed to us on our arrival yesterday containing maps, ways to enjoy Grand Canaria, fliers from local businesses etc.
Las Palmmas Marina is huge and rather full I can’t imagine where they are going to find room enough to accommodate the hundreds of boats that will descend in the next few weeks. A very different place than the last few marinas we have been in, our pontoon is full to bursting with sailing boats of all shapes and sizes. Many of them homes to live aboards, many making their own preparations for an Atlantic crossing, others that seem like they haven’t moved for years. There definitely won’t be a problem hanging out the laundry here.
We have just over a week before we fly back to the UK for three weeks, when we return we expect to find many more rally boats have arrived and within a couple of days the ARC office will open and it will be full steam ahead for preparations and parties. Our task for the next week therefore, is to try and get as much done as we can before the crowds arrive.
What’s the chance of finally finding someone who can work out the problem with our temperamental freezer, can we pick up everything we need from the chandler here and exactly how many cold drinks will four people drink over a three week period??