Las Palmas. The ARC Fleet Assembles

Las Palmas. The ARC Fleet Assembles

Oct 31, 2008 @ 22:21 28:07.74N 15:25.55W

We set off from Lanzarote at about 11.00am Thursday. The weather forecast was not good but promised to get worse if we stayed. We were soon in among the longest highest rollers we had experienced so far and we were down to 3 crew. Nonetheless, we now have great confidence in Oboe’s ability to look after us and in our ability to sail conservatively and safely. We still blew along at over 6 kts most of the time, weathering the odd squall when winds gusted up to 40kts for brief moments and our speed increased to over 10 kts, surfing down the back of the passing waves.

It seemed like no time before darkness fell, the lights of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura faded behind us and the lights of Gran Canaria loomed on the horizon. But there they stayed, tantalisingly distant as we battled the rollers until the early hours of this morning. I studied the charts and pilotage notes for entry into the huge commercial port of Las Palmas and memorised the lights I needed to find, to guide me through the container port, the cruise liner dock and into the inner harbour. Just as well, because we found ourselves only just ahead of Independence of the Seas, supposedly the largest cruise liner in the world. We heard her on the VHF and we could see her steaming in quite a way behind us. We dodged a tanker on its way out and dropped lines on the Marina reception pontoon at 5.00am, exhausted! Next I knew, the harbour master was banging on the side of the boat and it was 8.30am – time to register at the office.

Here we will stay, polishing, servicing, checking, stocking up on supplies and eventually provisions for the Atlantic crossing – ARC2008, with its social events, safety briefings and demonstrations and the general camaraderie of adventure sailors. The excitement seems already to be building among the crews and families who have been here for some time already. Tonight, for instance, being Halloween, saw 20 or 30 ghosts and ghouls of all ages trick or treat our boat. Amazing to see so many young children ranging in age 6 to 14 at a guess, so excited about sailing the Atlantic and one suspects, the world with their parents.

Nigel Backwith

Skipper

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