This will be a bit of a random post as I’m writing this through the midst of boat prep.
The marina here in Las Palmas is absolutely huge, so when we found out they were going to put us in the remotest spot in the marina we had to convince them to move us to where all the action is at.
The marina office is a panto show, with lots of gesticulating and hand waving. With some pleading they found us a good space close to the shops and restaurants. My folks can’t walk very far so we had a pretty valid reason for wanting to be close to the action.
We were in our spot for 3 days when Trina felt a disturbance in the force. The boat started to lean over dramatically to starboard. We ran out to see the mast leaning over and nearly touching a dilapidated catamaran next to us. We checked all the lines to see what lines were pulling us down. It was all very confusing as we’d loosen some warps, the boat would return to an upright position, then 5 minutes later it was leaning over again. We then noticed the back of the boat was lifted up out of the water by about half a meter. Then suddenly with a jolt the stern was no longer out of the water and the boat wasn’t leaning over any longer. Then every so often the boat would shake and the mast would rattle. We watched for a long time to see which line was snatching.
We chatted to some neighbours and discovered there’s rocks in the spot we’d been put in.
Long story cut short, we left out berth in the dark and headed back to the visitors pontoon. We were greeted with arms waving, the staff discussed what to do next passionately in Spanish after we told them we’d be stuck on rocks at low water.
The next day I had to move the boat by myself, as Trina and her friend had a hike planned which I didn’t want ruined by the previous nights events.
The marina found another spot and I made the biggest royal cockup untying the boat. A boat behind me had cleated off their line over mine on the pontoon. From the pontoon I threw the bow line onto the boat, which blew off the pontoon quickly. I panicked when I couldn’t get the stern line off and watched the boat come perpendicular to the pontoon, before long the boat would soon turn 180 and start crashing into the boat behind me whilst the stern was still attached to the pontoon. Most people were just watching, but one guy came walking over so I just had to jump onto the boat whilst still attached to the pontoon. The boat next to me were ready to fend me off. I shouted over to the marina bod in a rib who just watched instead of trying to use his rib to push Excalibur around. Someone threw my stern line back to me and some how I managed to reverse the unreversable boat back out of the little culdesac until I saw two 60 ft boats covering my exit. There was a pretty good crowd going at this point, people were shouting to the German boat to get the hell out of the way. It was chaotic. This is probably the first time Excalibur has gone astern in a controllable manner. I found a gap and headed out. Was shown my new berth and tied up. Full English and a beer at 10am in the Sailors Bar.
Victor from the Arc arranged a diver with the marina to check out the boat for damage from the rocks. I don’t really expect there’s any damage as the boats as solid as a rock. But it’s a possible the rudder or the prop could have take a knock. The marina sent a diver and have been told it’s fine. I hope this will never have to been used by the MAIB (Marine Accident Investigation Branch)
We’ve been going to the ARC socials like the sundowner drinks, which entails standing around looking for other friendly people to talk to. Think freshers week at uni, it’s exactly the same feeling. You meet all sorts of people on the ARC, there’s high proportion of retired alpha males who want to talk about themselves, if you’re unlucky you’ll get stuck between two willy wavers.
We’ve met some super friendly people here, and only wish we had more time to enjoy their company.
Being the smallest boat in the rally you sometimes get generous servings of sympathy, and a handful of comments about how they thought the ARC didn’t allow such small boats on the rally. Speaking to the ARC staff, they’re a bit sad that small boats doing the ARC are on the decline. The rally was designed to give average folk the courage and support to push their boundaries, so I’m really glad that the minimum size still allows to partake in an event like this.
In other news we planted some trees up in the mountains as part of a conservation effort. Which was nice.
Thanks to Trina and her mum I won best costume at a themed night ‘One night in Rio’ as Jesus.
There’s an opening ceremony when participants take part in a parade around the marina accompanied by a brass band. Flags of all the nations partaking are raised after a short speech. The Ambassador from St Lucia was there, wishing us a good trip and letting us know how welcome we’ll be once we get there. The hairs on my neck started to stand up at this point as it dawned on me how real this was now becoming.
We took a day off and visited a spa down the bottom end of the island which we thoroughly recommend. There’s 12 rooms, each with it’s own theme which have to be followed in sequence. The first room is the womb room. The guy explaining the rooms, I think, was in stitches when he revealed the womb room, which has a padded carpeted pink vagina entrance. Inside were about 10 water beds, each separated with a table draped in a big brown blanket, scrunched up to resemble a butt hole. It was all very strange. The rest of themed rooms were pretty standard, apart from the mist room with cats which had LED green eyes. If you visit the island, find a cheap voucher and go. That’s my advice.
After everyone had arrived (Trina’s mum, my folks and Ben and Jo), we did a day trip and celebrated my folks belated 50th wedding anniversary in a cave.
We had the obligatory safety inspection which we passed with flying colours. Roger was very impressed with our setup which was secretly very pleasing. I don’t think it’s that hard to do, just read the rules and follow them…
Jerry the Rigger and Sean came to check out our rig. Again thumbs up. It was great to see a familiar face. Unfortunately it’s Jerry’s last year inspecting the boats out here. Jerry’s synonymous with the ARC. I hope to catch up again with him next year.
We also had a mini scare after the rig inspection. Coming over we noticed a cigarette style round hole in the main, only a tiny one. When we went to patch it up we noticed there were more. Turned out the boom has been chaffing an inner shroud, and when the main is reefed it wore small holes in the main. The scare came when it looked like some of the strands in the inner shroud were broken. Jerry came to the rescue, and was satisfied that there was no damage, just a bit of
We’ve been doing our food shop in stages.
First off we went out and bought 120 liters of water, 25 cartons of UHT milk, a bunch of part baked bread and a lockers worth of tinned veg.
5 days later we went to the local market and put in our order of fruit and veg and meat. We’ve ordered 50 oranges, 40 granny smiths, 20 onions, 15kg of potato’s and a handful of other fruit and veg which doesn’t have such a long shelf life.
On the meat side we’ve ordered things like bacon and sausages, pork chops and steaks, diced beef, ham etc etc. The meat will be deep frozen to -20 degrees and delivered 2 days before we leave.
Quick thanks to Trina’s mum for being our Spanish translator. We’d have ended up with 100 unripened mango’s and a bag of sheeps heads if it wasn’t for your skills xxxx
We haven’t bought an awful lot of meat, as for the first 4 days we’re normally on noodles til our stomachs are settled. We’ll also prepare ready cooked meals.
Our fruit and veg came to £100 and our meat came to £50. We’re going to be soooo healthy by the end of this trip 😀
We inadvertently doubled up on super noodles on one shop thinking we’ hadn’t got a supply for the trip. Consequently we now have 52 packets of super noodles. We’re not going to starve.
We did a two handed workshop, a workshop with handy tips for boats crossing with only two crew on board. Their were about 60 people there. When asked who had sailed two up on the way down to the Canaries, most people put their hand up. Us included. When asked who was crossing two up, our hands went up, one other couple put their hand up, and we looked at each other and said under our breath “ah shiiiiiiiit” lol
Two quotes of the week I can remember.
We did one interview with Yachting World, but didn’t have time to stop to chat to Sail Life, and when Yachting Monthly who came over just as I came back with a pizza for lunch. Asked if we had 10 minutes. I stood there on the bow and just said “I just want to sit down and eat my pizza”. So they took a snap of me holding a pizza box on the bow. That’ll be center fold spread!
Whilst we were dunking 60 oranges, 25 apples etc in milton on the pontoon to kill off bugs on day, we heard some next to us up a mast shout down to his winch operator “I WANT TO FEEL IT TIGHT AGAINST MY ARSE!!!”
That’s all I can write. I don’t wish to exaggerate, but the prep has been non stop, completely nuts, off the scale. We’ve met some lovely people out here, and forged new friendships with people we’re hoping to catch up with across the pond, or next summer back in Europe. The staff have been top notch. The event has been well organised and I’m glad we did it.
The weather for the start is light and variable, filling in with hopefully some good winds that’ll propel us across to St Lucia. On a side note, we’ve literally looked at the big chat to the Caribbean for about 3 minutes the day before departure, which feels a bit nuts.
We would like to thank Trina’s mum, my folks and Ben & Jo for being our dockside support. We really appreciate all the help you’ve given us, and we’d like to thank Oliver and Ollie for Operation Overwatch, who’ll keep an eye on weather, mechanical support etc etc, thanks for replying to random messages for assistance. I hope to catch up fully at the other end.
Oh and lastly I should probably thank Trina for putting up with a knob of a boyfriend/skipper, god know’s how she hasn’t pushed me overboard and set off on her own at times. Thank you! Love yoou! xxx
Here’s a bunch of photos.
Happy Christmas ya’ll