Las Palmas is becoming something of a strange dream. Time is behaving in a really weird way. On the one hand it feels as if we have been here forever – having never lived or been anywhere else. It feels as if we have all the time in the world to prepare. On the other hand it seems as if there is no time left at all and a rather large and invisible clock is ticking loudly to constantly remind us that we are about to leave to cross the Atlantic Ocean. From time to time I get a pop and fizz of something like a mix of excitement and terror! Then the feeling is gone again and it’s back to this ‘not’ normal place and the things that are happening.
We are loving getting to know new friends – but it is almost overwhelming – there are so many people and we all have so much in common. Lots of people seem to know us from having read this blog and that is humbling and lovely. Also it is great to meet others whos blogs we have been following.
It is such a whirl here and our physical state of being seems to be either hung over or drunk! We are tired a lot as we never seem to stop rushing about!
Friends have asked us to explain what it is like in Las Palmas in the run up to the ARC and I have to confess it is a challenge to explain. When I write it is great to write what is happening as close to it having happened so it is more immediate and has the reality and feelings in it – but there is so much crammed in here – it is so intense almost everyday that it is a task to unpack it. I will have a go.
In the past 11 days we have met hundreds of new people and we have had friends and family on board. Our friends Rachael and Jim came to stay and we had a lovely time relaxing and laughing – walking, eating and drinking. I have discovered the local Rum in GC is delicious – oh no!!! We have done some great touristy things – like a visit to the villages around the city, a botanical garden and 3 museums …
We have had our safety check and passed – phew and been to about 9 parties! We have shopped and planned and made more lists. Anyone not on the ARC reading this should be exhausted by now…
I never managed to stay in school to do my A Levels having run away with the circus at 16 so I didn’t experience the first few weeks at University – fresher’s week and all that stuff. However this experience is what I imagine that would have been like – except that the average age is probably 60 and not 20.
Where to begin? There are hundreds of boats here and we are all squished in beside each other. The fenders are constantly under strain and every day the marina staff seem to be on the look out for any spare space as more boats arrive. We are glad we got here early. The boats are moored up in size order from A-T and then along ‘The Wall’ are lots of beautiful 50+ Oysters etc. – The Cats are mostly a bit further away.
It feels very intense – a community all here for the same purpose all experiencing more or less the same anxiety – it is like some surreal watery waiting room …As always we have dived in. Missing live music we invited anyone who plays an instrument on board Magic for a Jam session. We managed one Saxophone player and a Guitar player – we did a few songs and it was fun but perhaps it would have been less pressure on Simon the Sax player had there been more musicians.
Although there seems a lot of time – there is also a lot going on so not much time for the repeat sessions you would ideally need for musicians to jam. Music really helps to ease the tension.
Fixing things continues of course – our Genoa will be returned next week – we had to wait for special tapes to arrive from the UK. A new seal will arrive from Germany for our stern door – when that is fixed we do hope that the water ingress will STOP!
Rules of the Boat
Keep the Water OUT
Keep the People IN
We are learning a lot about fixing things on Magic but we are still very reluctant learners. One great tip we got was this
If it doesn’t move but it is supposed to use WD40
If it does move and it isn’t supposed to use DUCK tape
Wi-Fi is a constant pain and not having always on and fast Wi-Fi is very good for teaching patience and resilience. I saw a Maslow Pyramid drawn the other day with Wi-Fi at the bottom and I get that totally. While Mark and I are a generation that remembers no Internet – we are no so used to having the www available to us that we get really frustrated being “off grid”
The ARC organization has been fantastic – the office help with every question, the handbook is excellent – the lectures start tomorrow and we have heard from the ARC+ guys who left a few days ago – that they are great – There was a Welcome/Farewell Party for all the crews of ARC+ and ARC – it really was a spectacular event we were greeted by a Drag Queen angel and then given as much Sangria, beer and wine as you could drink – then there were painted people and feather clad women – all from the Las Palmas Carnival – the entertainment was great and the drinks generous –
but the networking conversations with other sailors was inducing a deeper anxiety in me. One team I spoke to who were Russian and doing the ARC+ said that they thought (having done the ARC before) that the most important thing was to have a spare water maker and spare autopilot!!! And we thought we were ready! It seems no matter what you do or how much you spend you will never be ready. As with a lot of things in life – you just have to decide what is ‘enough’ for you. The sundowners have now begun – free drinks from 16.30 – 20.00 each night. These are sponsored by various people – like the people you order your drinks from and meat from. For any one anxious about planning the food for the ARC – don’t worry – once you get to Las Palmas it is all made as easy as possible by the suppliers who know exactly what you need – how much and how it should be packed. The fruit and veg even arrive onboard in various stages of ripeness to account for the 20 are days at sea.
There are a lot of prizes for things – best photo, best log, best time, biggest fish…but the prize Mark would like is the one of the best Wall Painting – all the boats taking part are invited to paint on a wall something that represents their boat – Mark is taking this very seriously as there is a whole Ham and Wine to be won!! He has designed ours and had already picked his spot on the wall and invested hours – he loves it! There are a few more hours of work to do on it and he loves to paint. It was great to see him doing what he loves.
`(just found out that Mark should be painting on a ROCK to win the prize NOT the wall – whoops I will tell him tonight and see what he says about the hours he has already invested on the Wall – yikes)
We have decided that it is not enough to have an old plotter and radar so we are investing in a new Zeus 7 B&G navigation system – sounds good eh! It arrives next week – so we are cutting it fine to have it fitted and tested but we know it will give us more peace of mind to be able to see more clearly who is around us at night. Also some of our crew have worked with this system before so we can learn as we go.
Anxiety making moments seem to pop up during the day – and events or people can trigger them. We went to see a demonstration of a rescue helicopter taking a casualty off a boat – ‘Pop! Fizz! ‘– Rather than just observing and feeling “oh how very interesting’ – I was thinking – what if that was Mark and May and I are on the boat watching him being lifted off – what if – what if…. Mark and I both felt the same and we said that we didn’t want to ever see that in a real life situation.
Then there was a demonstration of the proper use of flares – Pop! Fizz! ‘– Stomach turning again – we just don’t want to be ever in a situation where we have to use our flares
Then we watched as our friends prepared to leave their berth for the ARC+ start. Pop! Fizz! ‘–
Then we watched as 70 yachts left the harbor for the start of the ‘not’ race – the ‘not’ race has a handicap, a starting line, trackers on all the boats with a ‘leader board’ and prizes for the best times…..
Pop! Fizz! ‘– There is a great deal of testosterone about and lots of talk of tactics and tuning
Pop! Fizz! ‘– I have been watching the ARC+ boats on the tracker App – it is a fantastic App and it is wonderful to see them on their way and then read their related LOGs on the ARC website
Pop! Fizz! ‘– We watch as the track of four boats have turned back… we know now that some were mechanical issues – one was severe sea sickness and one was taking on water Pop! Fizz! ‘–
May has been to the vet 3 times now for tests for things that we know she does not have – but now we have the papers to prove that she doesn’t have what we knew she didn’t! Her hair is going yellow in the sun which is weird looking so we have some shampoo for white hair – we will see if that works for her and we have some new anxiety meds for her – Zylkene – which are supposed to be like a natural chill out – hormones of lactating mother dog or something – we will see. I think that May and I enjoyed the Bach Rescue Remedy stuff together so perhaps I will try her Zylkene. I don’t get sick but I do get scared and I hate to be scared because it gets in the way of having fun.
Today we have James, Marks son with us as well as Geoff and Beryl Marks mum and dad. We love having family time and this is one of the things we have missed the most living aboard and travelling. Tomorrow John arrives and next week the rest of the crew – then
Pop! Fizz! ‘– More prep and parties – we have a party on Magic on the 16th, we have the Fancy Dress Party on the 18th – then there is the Hat Party, the Owners Dinner, The Parade in Town, The Crew Dinner, The Farewell Party, the food and drink to order, the repairs to complete, the new Nav instruments to test – more sundowners and 10 lectures – I think that the next 11 days are going to be a blur…