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Life of Reilly III - blog

Life of Reilly III arrived in Las Palmas a month ago. We docked stern-to in La Muelle Deportivo and settled in. Most of the crew flew home, leaving Fred and Glenn to mind the boat. Activity on the dock was pretty slow then, so we got acquainted with our neighbours and started in to prepare the boat for crossing the Atlantic.

One of our neighbours was Claude, a 75 year old French gentleman who has been living aboard his 1975 vintage boat for 19 years, most recently with his two tiny, cute, well-behaved and yappy dogs. Claude told me with tearful eyes that he had just “swallowed the anchor” and was in the process of selling his boat. Over the ensuing two weeks he laboriously unloaded the many souvenirs of his years afloat. The quantity of gear that he removed from the boat was truly staggering. Finally it was done, and he ‘assisted’ the new owner in delivering the boat to Lanzarote. Lanzarote is only 120 nm to windward, but it took the two men 4 days to battle their way to Arrecife. Apparently the new owner is as new to sailing as he is to the boat. Claude regaled me with the tale when he returned, exhausted, to Las Palmas after his unplanned solo ordeal. He also brought a gift of a bottle of Ron Miel, which we imbibed together to cement our new friendship.

Boats owned by Canarians gradually departed over the following weeks to make room for the rally participants as they arrived. Over a period of 4 weeks, the dock became totally populated by ARC+ boats, all in varying stages of readiness. Mechanics came and went, working on engine oil changes, generators and propulsion engines. Divers came and went, swimming under boats to clean their bottoms, and to inspect things underwater. Riggers came and went, climbing masts, wearing their helmets and doing a very professional job of mast climbing. Some masts have been climbed numerous times.

We are the only Canadian registered vessel. There is a Greek boat, Obama, with a partially Canadian crew, but we are the only vessel with a Canadian registration. There are boats from England, Finland, Sweden, Austria, Netherlands, Norway, USA, France, Germany. The boat next to us, Wilson, is a Bavaria 50 with owner and crew from Budapest. They are serious contenders. Their boat is fast and extraordinarily well equipped. We are going to beat them - or not.

No matter what, we will win a prize. First Canadian boat, at least. Maybe last Canadian boat, boat that had the most fun, or boat that drank the most rum, or . . .

It’s a marvellous spectacle. Boats from many parts of the world. Crews from many countries, speaking a variety of languages, all labouring to check every last detail of their vessels' preparedness. Safety is paramount, so nothing is left to chance. We have so many differences, and yet so many things in common. We are all here to do the same thing - to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a sailboat, to do it safely, and to have fun at the same time! This is the stuff that dreams and bucket lists are made of. And we are all doing it! Despite our differing backgrounds and cultures, it is amazing how many similarities we have amongst us. There is a great sense of camaraderie. We have made many new friends, and will likely remain in contact with some of them for many years to come.


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