A slight easing of shoulders amongst the crew when our fresh fruit and veg showed up Saturday evening, only a fraction later than the market stall promised, vastly improving our chances of a full set of teeth on arrival… and we got tucked into washing, drying and crating up the goods, hopefully eliminating any small scurrying stow-aways. The atmosphere of muted focus with dawning apprehension, dark with a fresh breeze and clouds blocking out the stars. Pete and Richard continued to create new inventions on the skippers suggestion, dismantling the odd one given further experimentation. A workshop of activity. Cooking galore with Claire and Richard prepping the first few days food and a heavenly stir fry from Charlotte that evening. Boats far and wide were jealous of the smells wafting from the Betelgeuse galley.
Stepping off Betelgeuse for a swift final jar at Sailor’s was perfectly in sync with the first of the booming fireworks, expected projection showering debris on the beautifully polished superyachts, perfect views from the pontoon.
Glasses were raised to the upcoming voyage and preparations so far as the skipper, gradually realising it wasn’t a map of the Canary Islands he was looking at, considered stealing the Cape Verde Island chart built into the table at the bar.
Then it was the day of departure. Early start, lots to do, weather checking, final stashing of crates and bags, meals, stored goods and most importantly snack briefings from Claire, last showers and poos encouraged. Final final briefings and phone calls home snatched between the activities and ropes released. Cast off, we were off! Boats were leaving left right and centre and we joined the chocka marina, dodging vast multihulls amongst a wave of fog horns and flags. Spectators galore lined the breakwaters and ACDC Thunder blasting as loud as possible from the cockpit. Charlotte had a dance-off with the Arc rep on the breakwater sealing our exit with a ‘THANK YOU CANARY ISLANDS’! Good luck shouts and cheers from the shore. Faces universally split with grins. Until we reached the start line for a recce and the seas were quite substantial and the grins wavered just a fraction. We tucked back into the shelter of the breakwaters soaking in the sheer number of boats, big, small, beautiful and questionable. Sails, everywhere, coloured ensigns streaming, waves from passing boats, ARC or otherwise, crisscrossing the bay. A perfect, competitive start with 2reefs in 25kt NE’ly winds, we flew across the start line shortly after the cannon blast from the Spanish Naval ship.
Little did we know, but long should we have anticipated, that having a meteorologist onboard would mean one thing and one thing only. Briefed of a slight wind acceleration zone SE of Gran Canaria at the skippers brief the previous day, the general consensus reached amongst the fleet was to head south for some time and then west to avoid it. This, naturally was my advice, but became suspicious given particular interest Jonnie showed in follow up questions. We naturally steered straight for it leaving a decent portion of the fleet in our dust and we had riveting afternoon of sailing, max speed 16.5kt surfing some decent sized waves with following seas. Beautiful skies overnight with Richard spotting Jupiter straight off the bat and Charlotte correctly identifying our partner star Betelgeuse before the rest of Orion was even visible. Not a speck of moon and crystal milky way, partly obscured by some scrappy stratocumulus. Some gentle bioluminescence off the stern but relatively little wildlife spotted so far. Teas, coffees and biscuits galore with some lively downwind sailing, pole out to port, main out to starboard, preventer firmly in place to stop any accidental jibes given the rolling seas.
Monday morning now and first lot of night shifts complete, we’re well fed and watered, sun-creamed up and the winds have eased a little. So far so good!
By Will (By Skip: now known as “Wordsmith Will”)