Las Palmas, Canary Islands

What a crazy ten days we’ve had. Filled with parties, meeting new people, tree planting, the mother of all provisioning trips, and a crazy amount of boat maintenance.

The passage from Rabat was the worst yet. It started off fine, then the crazy systems that have been smashing into Gibraltar finally caught up with us and we had 48 hours of pretty crazy conditions.

We’re talking 4m waves, tightly packed. A constant 25-30knots, gusting higher. Just horrible after a while. It’s extremely hard to get anything done and it was the first time so far the autopilot couldn’t cope so a lot of hand steering was required.

After 4 days we pulled into the south of Lanzarote just as dawn broke and with heavy eyes moored up. We spent a quick two days there re-charging. I would have loved to have spent more time around the island as we liked what we saw but the ARC rally was opening and we didn’t want to miss anything. A quick overnighter to Las Palmas and we’d made it!

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We always thought we’d arrive here pretty much ready to go, and I honestly thought we were, but you quickly understand that you can never be ready. They’ll always be something to buy or install, some seminar to attend, some boat party to get to. Even now, the night before our departure over the Atlantic, we still have a list of things to tick off tomorrow morning.

We’ve loved every second of the ARC though. From the moment we arrived at Las Palmas the atmosphere on the docks was electric. Everywhere you look there were people from every corner of the world working away on their boats. The safety checks the ARC requires are quite strict but they really get you thinking about the reasons why you should setup your boat in such a way. We pretty much nailed the safety check but it was the advice we got on top of the equipment list that really opened our eyes to things.

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A few people have asked me why we’re doing the ARC, why pay for a rally when you can just go over on your own? I can now safely say I couldn’t have wished for a better prep for this trip. The seminars were great, ranging from weather to downwind sailing tips and everything in-between for your 3-4 weeks at sea. The experience on hand to teach you is first rate, some of these guys have over 20 Atlantic crossings in the bag. Enough said.

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There are also loads of activities they put on so there’s something for everyone, the tree planting trip to help rebuild the forrest here was a highlight for us.

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Another reason we have loved the ARC is the social aspect. Every night there are parties or meals (or both). We met so many amazing people who really made our ten days getting ready a joy. Sure there were a few headaches some mornings but we found a good balance of work and play and have made from friends here we’ll be keeping in touch with the other side of the pond.

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We got all our big ticket to-do’s out of the way (well apart from the solar panels which I need to wire up tomorrow- don’t ask). Our new parasail was installed and we went out on a test sail with it. So amazing, but we’ll take our time with it as the power it can generate is way above anything we’ve had before. Our water maker is installed an producing lovely fresh clean water from the sea. We got our electrical charging issues fixed also.

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So, here we are. I’m typing this at 10pm the night before we set off for our crazy adventure. I can’t really put into words the feelings I have. I’m very excited, and also scared to death of what the coming days will hold. The weather looks a bit rubbish for the start as a Low just won’t leave us alone here but we’ll head out with the other 180 boats.

We’ll try and post from the water as we go, and our Yellow Brick tracker will show our location on the location page.

2800 Miles. 20-25 days. See you on the other side.