Las Palmas and final preparations

Wed 16 Nov 2005 21:01
We are now in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria making final preparations for the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers). We're due to set off for St Lucia on Sunday 20th. There are about 250 boats taking part, numbered roughly in order of size and we are 243. There are a few smaller boats around but there are some gigantic ones as well. The vast majority are 40-50ft.
Lots of Anna and Eddie's friends are here - there's Koshlong, Wild Alliance, Blue Marlin and Blase and we've finally caught up with Keoma and the Dearloves. Starlight were here for a bit but have now gone to Tenerife. They and other non-ARC crossers like Regina and Sarah Grace will set off from there on the 20th. Starlight plan to go via the Cape Verdes. That makes it a longer trip overall but with shorter legs.    
Anna says: "I'm totally panicking! Three weeks at sea sharing a bunk with Eddie! Ahhhhhh!" 
The rally lays on seminars on things like First Aid at Sea, Tips for Downwind Sailing etc. Plus there are parties and happy hours sponsored by the likes of Yachting World and local chandleries. If you'd time and the inclination, you could be fed and watered free for a fortnight.   
Tonight there's a fancy dress party and Anna has made us all some masks. She is going as Carmen Miranda, Penny is a Zebra, Eddie is a Lion and I am The Man from Atlantis (don't ask). Last night was the family supper in a local pizzeria. It got very loud when the karaoke got going. There are 36 children going on the rally. The youngest is 2 year-old Nancy from Wild Alliance. Our friend Roy Beaumont on Zamia 2 is the oldest entrant at 75.   
The pump on the engine that was causing us trouble in Puerto Calero has now been fixed and for quite a lot less money than we originally feared. We passed our safety inspection first time. Penny has sewn anti-chafe material onto the jib sheets. We've put up nets in the saloon for fruit and veg. The bilges are full of bottled water. We're taking about 500 litres - that's 4 litres each for 25 days. So not many showers. Penny has done almost all the provisioning - we've just the fruit and veg to order. We should be able to get it delivered to the boat on Saturday morning. 
Anna isn't really panicking but everyone is apprehensive. Sue from Koshlong said it reminded her of the last days before big exams. Some people have clearly had the most well designed revision plans and have completed them, others are doing it a bit more piecemeal. I don't think there's much more we can do. Penny and I both want to get on with it. The forecast for Sunday is currently W10 and rain so we may start with a gentle beam reach. 
Giles (Middleton, our extra crew) has just rung from the airport. He's arrived. It will be great to see him. Tomorrow, we'll go out to get a feel for the sea again and practice some man overboard procedures.           
Las Palmas is not the greatest marina. It's a port the size of Felixstowe and a lot dirtier. But the chandleries are amazing. The main one has to run a customer number system like the deli counter in Tescos to cope with the crush. People spend hundreds of Euros. We've not had time to look at Las Palmas. WOMAD is on here and we went along for an evening. Otherwise, our sightseeing has been restricted to supermarkets. Strangely, the big, posh, John Lewis/Waitrose-like one is doing a big promotion of Les Roper (that's right, George and Mildred) DVDs. Friends with TVs say Upstairs Downstairs is another local favourite.   
We've been to reception laid on by the city authorities (folk dancing and free Canarian potatoes featured). There's a big party at the main yacht club on Friday. Men who go in open-toed sandals have to wear socks. Another yacht club has a swimming pool the children can use. It's got cold again - 22 degrees the other evening. We need to go South again.
I'll post some stuff re how to follow our progress and, if I get time, a few pictures before we go.