Social whirlwind

John & Susan Simpson
Sat 20 Nov 2021 10:56
The past 10 days or so have whooshed by in whirlwind of social activities interspersed with a myriad of last-minute jobs getting the boat and crew ready for the Atlantic crossing.  We leave on Sunday 21st November at 1.00 pm - woohoo!!!  Last Saturday we took the boat out sailing for the day to acclimatise Noa and Laura to how she works and to test the various sail plans.  It was lovely to be out of the marina and sailing again.  We can’t wait….

The ARC preparation programme is a mixture of social events and preparatory seminars.  As you would expect, Covid infection control protocols have been in place so these have been a little different to previous years.  However, we have still had a fabulous time and met lovely people from all over the world.  We took part in the ARC flag raising ceremony where 29 flags were raised, representing all of the nations of the sailors taking part in the rally.  Noa and Laura volunteered to raise flags but, the Union Jack and Belgian flags already being taken, they ended up raising flags for New Zealand and Norway.  Given what I said in my last blog about the number of Norwegian boats it seems strange that the flag wasn’t raised by a Norwegian national.  There must be plenty about! All the boats sounded their horns as the flags were raised, with John going one better on the trumpet.

On Friday of last week a group of ARC participants took part in a reforestation project which the ARC has been supporting since 2010.  Each year a coach load of participants is taken up to the mountains where a 50 year tree planting project is under way.  There is a section of the mountain designated as the ‘ARC Forest’, planted by ARC participants, and we were pleased to visit the area where we planted trees 10 years ago.  
John with his ’10 years ago’ tree

There’s some way to go before the area could be called a forest, but it was great to see the progress made and our contribution to the larger project.  Our group planted 224 trees this year and in total ARC participants have planted 3,000+.  Around 270,000 trees have so far been planted by the Foresta project in total, equating to offsetting 2,500 CO2 tons per year.  To me that seemed like quite a small number but a bit of googling revealed that driving an average family car for 2,500 miles releases 1 ton of CO2, so 2,500 tons of CO2 would compensate for 6,250,000 miles driven every year. Not too bad I suppose.

As well as the events organised by the ARC rally team we have also enjoyed other activities around Las Palmas and evening drinks on boats meeting other crews.  Noa and Laura headed off on the e-scooters one day and ended up paragliding off the cliffs above Las Palmas!

Immediately next to us in Las Palmas is a charter boat called Polygala, flying the Belgian flag.  Noa, being Belgian, got chatting to the crew when they arrived and discovered that the boat is being set up for a ‘Love Island’ type TV programme featuring 6 Belgian celebrities.  It’ll be quite a squeeze on board as they only have 10 beds and there are already 2 sailing crew and 4 camera crew before the addition of the 6 celebrities.  Some ‘hot bunking’ will be required.  We ran through our combined knowledge of famous Belgians - Adolphe Sax, Toots Thielemans, Django Reinhardt - can’t be any of them!  Noa has actually heard of 3 of the ones who are coming so we wait to see what happens next.  It’s all happening within 2 metres of where we sit in our cockpit of an evening, so we’re looking forward to their arrival!

The list of jobs to do before we leave seems to be never-ending but we are getting there.  It looks as though the winds will be very light for the start of our Atlantic crossing so it may be a slow journey.  Last time Casamara crossed the Atlantic with her previous owners she took 16 days and 16 hours.  Our current forecast puts us at 17-18 days.  We have provisioned for at least 21 days just in case. It took quite a bit of planning to think about what we might need to eat and drink for that length of time.  We won’t be able to nip out to the shops for something we’ve forgotten!  Stowing the food away is also a bit of a challenge.
It’s all got to go somewhere!

One of our final tasks was to make sure the crew is looking good.  I went to a local hair salon with just enough Spanish words to get my hair done.  It felt odd not to have the usual salon small talk but all went well.  Others amongst the crew were brave enough to let me loose with my scissors!

We also left Casamara’s mark on a rock by the marina in the time-honoured way of sailing vessels.  Noa and Laura did a sterling job painting the stone and left their handprints here too.  Looks like it was quite a messy experience!

This is our last blog before we leave for the Caribbean tomorrow (Sunday).  If you’d like to follow our progress across the Atlantic to St Lucia there’s a tracker on board and our position will update every four hours.  You can find the fleet viewer here:
Our event is ARC 2021 and if you wish you can filter the vessels so you can see just Casamara.  You can also download the YB races app from the App store and follow us that way.  We can receive text only emails and would love to receive messages on our ‘at sea’ email address casamara @ mailasail . com.  Just remember that we can’t receive attachments, only text.  We’ll try post a blog or two along the way, but if we don’t manage it - see you on the other side!