Getting there, final leg to Gran Canaria

Thu 20 Nov 2008 16:57
Late October Fiona and I said goodbye to family and friends and flew down to Puerto Calero to take the boat the final 100 miles down to the start of the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers in Las Palmas. With less than one month to go there were several other ARC boats in the marina, and the excitement was building. We lifted the boat out of the water for a final coat of anti-fouling for the winter, had a keel cooler fitted for the fridge, solar panels fitted and an engine service. Waterline Yacht Service who were doing the work said that they had also noticed a little water in our propeller's sail drive gearbox, should they check the seal and change the oil. The answer was of course yes, and that asymmetric once again becomes part of our story with this piece (below) found inside the gearbox. It is shown on our galley sink so you can see the size. Somehow we had sailed 1000 miles and been in and out of about a dozen marinas with this in the gearbox. Hopefully there will be no more tales to tell of this sail, but as it is our main weapon for the Atlantic crossing I am sure there will be.
For the four days out of the water we stayed in the local hotel which we enjoyed, and returned to our room one day to find this little towel sculpture of an elephant waiting for us. Snakes and monkeys followed but this was my favourite.
Soon it was back in the water and we were ready to go but having had a few delays in Puerto Calero we abandoned our plan to get to Las Palmas by day sailing round Fuertaventura, and decided instead to sail the 100 miles straight there from Lanzarote. It is too far for a day so the plan was to leave mid-afternoon for an early morning arrival. Another first for us, overnighting on our own. It was a fairly uneventful if unpleasant journey as previous strong winds had left a large swell, but the wind had died leaving little to steady the boat.
When we got to Las Palmas almost a week before the ARC office opened there were already 85 ARC boats here. Most of the boats on our pontoon were ARC boats but the local fishing boat next to us had a family lunch part on the first Sunday we were in. At about 4 o'clock the table was cleared and out came four guitars and two ukulele's and we had a ringside seat at for an afternoon of local folk music. It was full of harmony and sentiment which the still photo does not catch but quite delightful. Later Fiona captured this picture of a cruise ship leaving behind some of the ARC fleet
The next day the ARC office opened and we checked in and had our safety check done with no problems, and had Jerry the Rigger check our rigging and we then got on with provisioning the boat. For a while lists of things to do seemed to grow every day, but finally today we look at the list and are almost down to things we can only do on the day of departure. One of the jobs we had to do was dress the boat in its signal flags yet another first for us, and a fun job, Fiona and Andrew stung the flags.
There is now a real sense that we are about to be off, after months of planning, since this morning we had our first weather briefing discussing likely conditions for the start. Tonight there is the Tobago Caribbean Carnival party hosted by the Tobago tourist board, to get us warmed up for the Caribbean.