The Big Day Arrives - Departure!

Niord's Big Adventure
Tony Gratton
Mon 4 Dec 2023 11:39
Sun 19/11/2023 Las Palmas, Gran Canaria
Finally, finally, finally, and after a superhuman effort, we are ready! We have joined the other crews who for days now have been looking relaxed and contented with their preparations while we looked enviously on.
We do a last fill of our main water tank. It is expected to last for two days, then we will be on a strict minimum water ration of a maximum 3L per day, compared with the 120L per day an average shore side person uses. For two days we can use as much water as we like. The situation will be monitored closely as our crossing depends on it. Water has gained its own column in our expanded log book!
We listen in to the last ARC broadcast. Tony sets the radio onto dual watch on 72 and 16 as instructed. A team photo is taken for us. Our lines are ready to slip. For the first time since we left the UK, we have time on our hands to enjoy the sun and soak up the atmosphere.
Niord's impromptu plumbing
New addition to the aft cabin! One of Niord's temporary water tanks.
Additional storage!
We stow where we can!
Even more nets! The bow cabin becomes a store room.
Finally ready to go!
On our way to the start line, with a massive fleet ahead
We slip at 1130 behind our friends on Tanoa, and then join the most enormous queue of boats trying to leave the marina! The entrance to Las Palmas marina is narrow, allowing only one boat at a time to pass. Our fleet is 160 boats or so, all trying to leave at the same time. It's crazy! Boats are filing in three and four abreast, one hundred footers jostling with the likes of us for space! Onlookers crowd the harbour walls on both sides of the entrance to wave us off. The ARC yellow shirts are there too. Horns blare, and some wag plays "Highway to Hell" at full volume! We are proud and excited. Eventually we make it through, and things calm down a little, though boats are streaming past on both sides. Karen produces a cuppa for us as a diversionary tactic. Jamie is busy filming everything. We slowly make our way out of the massive harbour, raising our main on the way as we head into wind.
Leaving the harbour proper we motor sail into the melee, making our way to the back of the fleet and heading to windward to position ourselves ready for the start line. There are three starts. First is the open class of big boats. They are impressive as they head over the start line. Next is the racing boats and catamarans. Finally, it is our turn. Ten  minutes to go and we are under sail. Five minutes. Then we are off! Next stop Saint Lucia!