Sunday, December 12, 2010

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

I started to write a post about Las Palmas almost a week ago, but then John wrote his thrilling tale, and that was pretty much the most exciting thing that has happened here. This stop has been all about getting the boat ready to cross the Atlantic, and that has meant that we’ve done a lot of waiting: w in line at the chandlery to find out what on our list they had—or didn’t have, waiting for vendors to show up at the boat, waiting for a part shipped from the States to arrive and clear customs. The vendors don't make fixed appointments, or if they do, they're late. Sadly, that has meant that we haven’t explored Gran Canaria except to find big supermarkets for provisions. On our major shopping expedition yesterday, we did see the old town of Las Palmas from the freeway, and the cathedral looked impressive.

We did get a lot done, though. Besides fixing the head, John fixed the generator (after the part arrived), and we had the tri-color light on top of our mast replaced. The socket for the top light bulb was loose, so the connection broke in rough seas. We have alternate navigation lights, but they’re at deck level and simply not visible at any distance in seas over a meter. The life raft and EPIRB were also due for re-certification, so we got that taken care of. John also got new glasses. He’d been holding his old frames together with tape for a year or more, but it was the need for a new prescription that drove him to take care of this, finally. Märzen got her nails trimmed and new supplies of treats and special dog food and stuff we can only find at a vet's office. And, of course, there were the mundane boat chores.

We had been hoping to meet lots of other cruisers here, but that hasn’t happened either. We’re on a dock with mostly local boats or foreign boats that are here long term. Our next-door neighbors, for example, are spending the whole winter here. They’re very nice people from the Alsace region of France, and we’ve exchanged names but very few words because of the language barrier. German is our shared language. Also on our dock is a nice Swedish couple and a boat being delivered to New Zealand by a British skipper and crew. We’ve had drinks a couple of time with James, Joe and Ju and have enjoyed their company, but once they finish their repairs and leave here, they’ll be hurrying to make up lost time.

Fortunately, we were also able to reconnect with some people we met in Gibraltar. Moira was crew on Avocette, a boat we’ve become friendly with and saw again in Madeira. Now she’s on Salt Dragon. Lucky for us she got her new skipper, Shane, to bring her by on the dinghy before they took off on their crossing. We’ll try to find her again on the other side, and she’s on Facebook, so that will make it easier. Also through Facebook, we were able to connect with Liat and Assaf on Jinja. We only met this young Israeli couple briefly in Gibraltar, but we hit it off, so we were glad to catch them here. John even had them over for quesadillas since we found some reasonably priced flour tortillas. They left Friday for Cape Verde, and we have tentative plans to see them again around Christmas.

Meanwhile, our friends in La Palma (Jim on Orinoco and Mike, Linda, and little boat dog Lucy on Aquila) left for St. Lucia yesterday. I got Linda started with a blog while we were in La Palma, and she plans to update it daily. Here’s a link for anyone who’s interested in following another boat across the Atlantic. Mark and Kimberly of Swanya, who we met in Cartagena over the winter, are waiting in La Gomera for a better weather window. A system is approaching this week that will be a hassle to those on the transatlantic passage, but it shouldn’t inconvenience us as much.

And tomorrow we too are making our get-away to Cape Verde. (We had thought we would leave today, but then realized that we don't have charts, so we're waiting for the chandleries to open tomorrow.) We won’t be exploring all of the islands. Without a water-maker, I’m reluctant to add a lot of time to our crossing. The quality of the water in Cape Verde has been reported as questionable, but we’re going to a marina in Mindelo (the only marina in the country, so far) that is owned and run by some Germans, and I’m pretty sure the water will be fine. Our hope is to rendezvous with Avocette and Jinja there for Christmas. It looks like we should arrive on the solstice unless we get no wind or adverse wind and have to motor.

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