We are so lucky to have such wonderful family and friends, from the loan of a car, to the use of a hall as a sail loft, to the provision of copious amounts of English biscuits, our welcome back has been generous and effusive. It is possible that we may explode from the quantities of food and drink we have consumed but the company has been fantastic and we still have a week to enjoy.
The weather has been very English with a mix of bright sunny days and cool, drizzly ones. In the two or so weeks we have been here the landscape has morphed from the greeness we arrived to, to the beautiful oranges and reds of Autumn.
It has also been raining in Las Palmas we understand and the dingy has had to be emptied, thank you Gavin ( K1W1-Beans). And there has been reports of rats climbing warps to get onto boats! Having lived in the countryside for many years we have had our fair share of invading rodent life, but sharing our journey across the Atlantic with a rat doesn’t bear thinking about. A thorough search of the boat is called for I think.
Generally however we are feeling much better about leaving Raya now more ARC boats have arrived, including some of our yachting friends who have also been checking up on her for us.
In addition we have had Yanmar Engineers on board. Ever since we bought the boat we have had a problem with a blowback from the engine coolant if we really push the engine, many people have tried to find the problem without success. In Las Palmas, fingers crossed, we seem to have found a horse whisperer for engines. Rick was pleased to discover a Yanmar service workshop on the dock in Las Palmas, initially things looked unpromising as their English was limited and our Spanish even worse. The engineer didn’t need words however, he just listened and felt the engine quietly for half an hour, eventually identifying a tiny stream of bubbles rising through the coolant and a minuscule hole in the gasket. They came on board last week to replace it, so hopefully that is one more problem ticked off.
We are beginning to think that our return baggage could be getting out the control. We have the two bags of clothes we bought with us, add in the large amount of shopping we have managed to buy in the last couple of weeks, ten large paper charts of the Pacific, fancy dress costumes for the ARC ‘eighties movies’ fancy dress party, Christamas lights for our family Carribean Christmas and a huge sail bag.
On the sail down from Gibraltar, with the boat struggling in the light winds directly behinds us, we made the decision to collect the cruising chute. When we bought Raya there was one onboard, but we decided it would be too difficult for the two of us to manage and would take up too much of our precious space, so we left it in the storage unit in Southampton. With our growing confidence sailing the boat, realising how little space we can actually squeeze our new life into and the fact that we have friends on board for the next few months of mainly downwind sailing, we have decided to take it back to Las Palmas with us. An extremely frustrating four hours on the phone later and I think BA/Iberia have agreed we can fly with it.
In the few free moments we have had, we have been busily thinking about the best way to feed four people three meals a day for the Atlantic crossing. We expect the crossing to take about eighteen days so that’s quite a bit of food and it’s not just the what to eat, we also have to factor in the when to eat what. It’s no good planning to have chicken salad on day sixteen when all the lettuce, tomatoes etc will have gone off or pasta for day four when it turns out to be very rough and boiling big pans of water is not a great idea. When you mix in the fact that we are shopping in a foreign country and the will or won’t the freezer work all the way, provisioning is going to be quite a challenge.
Picking up the Pacific charts and flags, reminds us that before we head back to Las Palmas, we also have lots of even further forward planning to do. When we are not indulging in our friends hospitality and we can drag our brains away from Atlantic preparations, we have to start thinking about permits and agents for the Panama Canal and Galapogas. Then there is a need for rough timings so the friends that are joining us can plan their flights, crew letters to leave here so they can get through customs, the much more complicated logistics of no longer being in Europe including family emergency communication etc, etc, etc………..
Sailing? It really is the easy bit!