First day at sea (Atlantic Crossing)

Paul Huntley
Mon 24 Nov 2008 11:22
26:42.38N 16:30.55W
Slightly overcast skies with a temperature of 26 degrees celcius
Monday morning at sea with the crew of Libertad, only 2600 miles to St Lucia, my! its a big ocean.After a magnifcent start from Las Palmas Gran Canaria with bands playing up and down the pontoons and horns tooting from all directions ,the entire port was closed to allow the 225 A.R.C yachts to depart in safety. The harbour walls were lined with what seemed to be the entire population of Las Palmas, all waving farewell in response to our toots,Thank you Las Palmas for being wonderfull hosts.
The start line just to the south east of the entrace, it was formed by a Spanish Royal navy ship at one end  and the end of the breakwater at the other.The racing division were to set off fifteen minutes befor the rest of the fleet at 12:45 U.T.C and the cruising fleet to follow at 13:00.The start area was similar to Cowes on round the island race day with all the boats milling around vieing for the the best start position.
We had one our two problems within the first half hour ,with  Bob discovering a fresh water tap being left on in the aft heads, loosing perhaps, 100lts of our valuable fresh water, litterally down the plug hole.I have switched off the pressureised water system and taped the taps closed ,so now we will have to make up the loss by using the water maker for our two x two hour generation priods each day.The main engine alternator has decided it did'nt want to work and the portside sheet winch failed, the latter be fixed by a strip down and lubricating.The alternator may take a little more thought but we will test the output as a start and replace with our spare in necessary.( any thoughts Guy)
We began the passage on a downwind broard reach with the wind well aft of the port quarter ,clearing the area to the south of Las Palmas airport with the imfamous wind accelleration area by at least five miles. on a course of 180 degrees m. Dinner was served by yours truly, at 20:00 hrs offering Oxtail soup followed by Spaggetti bolognese with grated parmasan topping and a desert of chocolate gateau, They said it was OK.
We now changed course heading south along the eastern seaboard of Gran Canaria ,running down wind with twin Genoas poled out on the main boom to starboad and the spinaker pole to port, what a beautiful sight.
As darkness fell we were on a heading of 230 degrees at 7.5 knots with no moon and a sky pin pricked with a million stars.We have addopted a  on two hour watch system with two on watch whilst sailing in the ARC fleet and the shipping lanes from the Cape of Good hope.During the night the wind eased to a N by NW force 2/3 but we have been averaging 6 knots.Dawn broke at about 07:00 hrswith that big African sun comming up from the east and Mauritani .With  Bob and James on watch we found ourselves alongside ARC 77 with just main and genoa set wallowing in the swell.
Dave has developed a bit of a cold so is taking full advantage of his off watch period to sleep but the rest of us are all fit and well.
We have been listening to the VHF 16 with some yachts having near misses with leviathan tankers  and he like It must be quite a shock for the bridge officer of a tanker to suddenly see hundreds of yachts on his radar screen, reminescent of the opening scene from the Longest Day when the German gunner in a cliff top pilbox spied the invasion fleet headind for the Normandy beaches.
James was on the breakfast watch and served up cereals followed by bacon an egg butties ,very nice! I followed on behind with the washing up.
The sun is shinning and the sea is blue and we have a pod of Dolphin playing in our bow wave, yes it realy is tough out here!
Thank you from us all the the many  messages of good will. The rest of the crew, I hope will add to this entry with their thoughts on the passage, (are we thre yet?) 
Best wishes to you all from the skipper,boss, (those are just a sample of the names they are calling to my face)