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.