Back to Las Palmas
Position 28:07.516N 15:25.532W
Date: Wednesday 23rd November 2012
The ARC fleet was due to leave Las Palmas on Sunday 21st November, but a quite deep low pressure system passed over The Canaries bringing with it some quite strong winds and big seas. Sunday brought with it stiff south westerly winds and so the organisers decided to delay the start for the majority of the fleet until Tuesday 23rd. I had planned to sail back to Las Palmas on the Sunday so that I could reclaim one of the berths vacated by the ARC boats, but when I heard about the delay I decided to stay in Santa Cruz for a few more days. As the depression continued to do its work it brought squalls and quite heavy rainfall to Santa Cruz and it was not until Wednesday 24th that there was a small weather window to head back east.
Eileen had stayed in the UK and so I made the trip solo again. The winds were OK and I sailed all of the way, which makes a pleasant change. The apparent wind averaged about 25knots from between 50 and 60 deg off the port bow. But the seas were not quite as pleasant with the waves ranging between about 3 and 5 metres on the beam. Ocean Gem took it all in its stride, which is more than can be said for its human cargo; I still have the bruises to show for it. A particularly impressive one was the result of me being careless and forgetting to hang on whilst I coiled a rope. I was projected from a sitting position about 2 feet into the air and about 3 feet along the deck with my port side gluteus maximus absorbing the impact. Nearing Las Palmas I crossed tracks with one of the large ferries ploughing its way towards Tenerife, with much pitching, rolling and yawing. I suspect that there were a few green faced passengers on that particular crossing.
I arrived in Las Palmas just before dark and after spending a night on the reception pontoon was ‘helped’ into a berth the following morning. I say ‘helped’ because the marinero who directed me to the berth was one of the rudest and most bad tempered yobos I’ve had the misfortune to encounter for some time. This is unusual as the other marina employees are always calm and helpful. The berth I was directed into required me to enter stern to and downwind; and the wind was still blowing quite hard. However the marinero had a powerful rib to assist so I was not too concerned. As I entered the berth, in perfect control, he decided to use his rib to push against the stern of my boat. This caused my bow to swing across the wind which soon pushed the boat sideways on to the berth. Rather than redirect his efforts to the bow and straighten things up he screamed at me at the top of his voice, whilst jumping up and down in his rib and waving his arms in the air, like a complete idiot. Fortunately the people of a nearby boat were able to push me off and everything settled down without any damage being done. I’ve had a run in with this particular marinero before, and he really doesn’t deserve to be allowed to continue in his job, but he is a public service employee working for a Spanish local authority and short of buggering the Pope there is no way he can be fired.
I’ll spend a few more days here in Las Palmas working on the boat, and waiting for my crew to arrive before we head off for somewhere new.