We are sitting in the BA lounge at T5 in Heathrow awaiting our flight which has been delayed from 7pm by two hours. Heathrow is fog bound and many flights have been cancelled or delayed. Add to that the baggage belt coming mysteriously to a halt and chaos ensues in the departures hall, but now we are finally all checked in and have a glass of wine to sooth the pain. Thankfully the cruising chute was accepted as part of our luggage allowance so if they ever get the belts going, hopefully, it will arrive in Las Palmas at the same time as us.
The last three weeks has whizzed by, we have had a great time and the hospitality of our friends and family has been second to none. But as we packed and organised our final bits today our minds have already moved on, back to Raya and the many tasks we have to get through over the next few weeks.
Just yesterday as I walked with my sister Penny, through Richmond Park, the oranges of the trees glowed through the autumn mist and the next phase of our travels seemed a world away – which of course they are. On 22nd November we head off accross the Atlantic from Las Palmas, with luck making landfall about eighteen days later in St Lucia in the Caribbean. The next week the kids arrive and we spend Christmas cruising down through St Vincent and the Grenadines and on to Grenada. We then have a few weeks to enjoy the island before crossing the Caribbean Sea to Panama, through the canal out into the Pacific, where our first stop will be the Galapagos Islands. We then undertake our longest passage, over three thousand miles to Marquesas the most Easterly Islands of French Polynesia – just typing the word Polynesia sends a ripple of excitement through me. In our heads the vision of being anchored off a pristine white coral beach, with blue warm sea, in a stunning Pacific atoll, is one of the inspirations for the trip. We spend about six months island hopping accross the Pacific, before, this time next year, dipping down to New Zealand for a few months to avoid the Cyclone season.
Put like that it seems quite straight forward, the enormity of the adventure has yet to dawn on us, but we have very much approached the journey so far one step at a time and hopefully will continue to so.
The next step, crossing the Atlantic Ocean, is quite a big trip by any standards and as we say farewell to everyone in the UK we realise that most of them are much more anxious about it than we are.The last six months has given us great confidence in the boat and ourselves and the encouragement from other sailors, who have been accross before us, has been fantastic. It feels very much just like the next challenge, perhaps when we join the frenzy that is pre-ARC Las Palmas our emotions will change, but at present we feel calm and are focussed on the pepetual long lists that yachting seems to demand to get the boat ready to leave.
Before we can start that however, we have to get back to Las Palmas and onboard Raya. The flight is still up as departing at 21.14 which will mean arriving at about 2am. Hopefully our transport will be there to meet us, big enough to fit all our luggage inside and then when we get back to the marina our security card will still get us in the gate.