22 Nov 2012

[Captains Blog] Las Palmas, Gran Canaria

Two days to go before we depart. Life has been somewhat hectic to say the least, and with all the jobs that needed doing, I haven't had any time until now to think about my blog.

What have I done so far? Well, we had to have the boat safety checked by the ARC people. This was a comprehensive list of all things required to make the passage as safe as possible, with multiple redundant bits of kit in case the others failed. Six parachute flares (in addition to the two in the liferaft) Four red hand-held flares (in addition to the two in the liferaft), four white flares, two orange smoke flares, all to be housed in a waterproof container, along with gloves and goggles - and that's just for starters.

It didn't help that I went down with Montezumas revenge the night before last which laid me up for the best part of a day. Something I ate clearly didn't agree with me and I had the equivalent of a nuclear explosion around the midriff that caused two tsunamis going in opposite directions at the same time.

We did have a pleasant evening last night with Paul and Sheryl Shard (famous for their "Distant Shores" travel programme) - we invited them on board for drinks and they ended up staying for dinner as well. Really good banter around the table and good advice from people who have sailed the equivalent of 4 times round the world.

Tonight involved attending a Jeanneau dinner for the 15 boat crews in the ARC. Skippers had their photos taken, had to make a small speech and overall a good time was had by all. We managed to blag a really big Jeanneau flag to fly from Jay Jay as we depart Las Palmas - should hopefully get a photo of our boat and us into the Jeanneau website!

So, back to what we have achieved since Saturday: We now have compass lights that are independent of the navigation lights, several new fuel cans to bolster the fuel supplies, oil changed in the engine, a new oil filter, a plank of wood that I found on the quayside will be used as a brace for the fuel cans on deck, new swivel blocks fitted, rigging checked and given the 'all clear', weight redistribution on board to balance the boat, and many many more. The atmosphere here in Las Palmas is simply electric - so many jobs being done by so many people, all to the same deadline. A trip to the chandlers takes 1 hour minimum. You have to take a ticket like the ones in the delicatessen counter at Waitrose and wait for your turn to come around to be served. Also, nothing is priced - you simply pay the bill when you have selected your wares. Having said that, we are meeting many really nice people from several countries, exchanging ideas, and swapping things like books and movies. We should now have enough literature and entertainment to keep us going for a few months in the Caribbean, and some friendships that will last too.

The last 2 days will see the final bits and bobs done, Jay Jay cleaned and shining, the final provisioning and stowage complete, final refuelling, and then it is time for the off. Can't wait!