Saturday, November 19, 2022

Explorations and fun on Gran Canaria! And it's the day before departure

 We did take a few breaks from boat maintenance to explore Gran Canaria. We rented a car and travelled to the third highest point on the island, Roque Nublo, which means Rock in the Clouds. It was formed by a volcanic eruption around 4.5 million years ago. Surrounding the rock and summit were pine forests that thinned out to reveal a moonscape of volcanic rock. The girls discovered slivers of obsidian stone along the way and fascinating holes in the rocks created by past volcanic activity.

Roque Nublo

The drive was unlike any we have done before. The roads were in good condition but narrow and very, very steep. Also, there were about 17 winding routes to take you to the same spot. The scenery was spectacular with flowered covered homes clinging to the terraced hillside. 

Lunch was at Tejeda, described as one of the prettiest villages in Spain. We had a selection of local dishes which we shared, including rabbit. Despite Aria's expression in this photo she loved it!

Back at the marina Aria and Micah joined the other ARC children for Kids Club and Lana and Stu spent 2 mornings surfing. A taxi from our marina took about 10 minutes to get to the surf beaches at Playa de las Canteras. We have discovered that Gran Canaria has plenty of surf possibilities. We would love to explore more of the breaks surrounding the coast but boat preparations and fun with fellow ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) participants have us back in marina.

Lana, Aria and Micah joined with other ARC folks and a local reforestation company to learn about forestry practices on Gran Canaria and to help out by planting native tree species. It was an interesting day as we learned that the 2 varieties of tree we were planting were native only to a few islands in the area. These trees had thrived during the ice age as the islands remained slightly warmer than the mainland due to being surrounded by ocean. Many of the native forests had been decimated, down to 3%, over the past several centuries as the trees were harvested for home/ship building or used as fuel for fires. Replanting of the forests on Gran Canaria is undertaken by private companies and it was an honour to be able to assist them.

The docks were quite empty when the ARC+ left but the slips have gradually refilled with boats who will depart with us on the ARC November 20. There was a grand parade complete with 2 bands and a procession of nations being represented. Locals lined the avenue and cheered us on as we made our way through the marina. There are only 2 boats from Canada and we were proud to carry and raise our flag with them during the ceremony.

Aria and Micah from Oyai, Comox, BC
Lohan and Mael from Jayana, Montreal, QC
Ready to raise the flag for Canada!

A new group of kids has become a solid pack of international friends. The clackety clak of their scooter wheels can be heard up and down the dock throughout the day. There is always some kind of plan being hatched and they have been organising their own activities of swimming, art, cards, movie watching, excursions into town as well as attending the kids club every morning. These photos only captured a few of them: 

Ellinor (Sweden), Skye (UK), Aria, Luise (Germany), Jules (Germany), Alek (Sweden), James (UK) and Lohan (Canada)
Bea (UK) and Micah

Aria and Jules (Germany)

Vilde (Norway) and Aria

One of the social highlights was the ARC 70's Disco Party! 

Here we are in our spectacular costumes. The venue was packed and everyone made a big effort with their 70's garb.

The kids also went all out!

Micah won a prize for best costume!

We participated in the deployment of a life raft, hopefully the only time we will ever do this, in the safety of the swimming pool. Being inside the raft with 7 other people was hot and smelly. The raft was wiggled to simulate being on the ocean and even a small amount of movement was nauseating. This experience was so helpful though as we got some realistic experience in safety at sea.

We are so excited to welcome our crew aboard Oyai!

James has logged many blue water hours and we are so thankful for his ability to jump into action at at moments notice. Whether it's finding us a new washing machine in the depths of Las Palmas 48 hours prior to departure or being given 70's disco attire and partying into wee hours with us after just arriving on Gran Canaria. 

Amelia has coached both Aria and Micah as part of the Comox Bay Sailing Club. She has slipped into a routine here on Oyai getting to know our crazy girls a bit better and taking time to explore Gran Canaria. She has also been kept busy scrubbing and polishing, helping with shopping and preparations for life offshore. We are looking forward to utilizing her creative skills in keeping our smaller crew occupied on passage. She will also get to translate her dinghy sailing skills into sailing a big boat on the Atlantic.

James and Amelia

It is now less than 24 hours until departure. I have to admit that taking the time to post this has been a bit stressful as there is still so much that needs to be organised. I have been picking away at this post between washing and storing fruit/veggies, helping install a washing machine, organising the boat and feeding the kids. That being said, everything will get done and we are all so excited. I think I will do one last trip to the grocery store as there is room in the freezer for some ice cream :)

Please continue to follow us by tracking our progress with the PredictWind link! Our next post should be from Rodney Bay, St. Lucia sometime in early December!๐ŸŒŽ

Saturday, November 5, 2022

Marina life in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria

Well, here we are in Las Palmas....our last stop before leaving Europe and setting sail across the Atlantic.  The marina is full of boats who are part of the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC).  Most of the "family boats" are on the same pontoon together so we have had an instant group of international friends to meet and play with. Our neighbours on either side are from Sweden and Norway. Just down the dock are families from Mexico, the UK, Denmark, Portugal, USA, Germany, Belgium and even from Alberta ๐Ÿ˜€There will be a large number of boats leaving tomorrow, November 6, as they are part of the ARC+. This group will stop off in the Cape Verde Islands on their way to the Caribbean. Our group, the regular ARC, will be departing November 20 and will sail non stop from here to St. Lucia in the Caribbean. When the ARC+ sailors leave their slips tomorrow the empty spaces will be refilled over the next week with more new friends who will be on the same crossing as us. 

Our last 20 hour passage before arriving in Las Palmas was textbook happy sailing. 

Here is a photo of us taken by another boat when we had both our head sails up:

At dusk, we took our spinnaker down and continued through the night with our poled out genoa sail.

Aria and Micah were quite keen to get to Las Palmas for Halloween. While Stu and Lana were napping and recovering from night watches they got busy and created their own Halloween costumes. There were no pumpkins to carve but some boats were decorated and we put up a sign to welcome trick or treaters.  And yes, there was candy!!!

There is always work to be done on a sailboat, especially when you are preparing for a large crossing. Everyone around us is in the same state of repairing, replacing, provisioning, cleaning and maintaining. It is a great space to be in as everyone is focused on the same goals. 
Aria and Stu are servicing one of our winches here:

We have been exploring a little bit but mostly just to marine supply stores, groceries and a couple of meals out. The girls stuck to the familiar burgers and pizza while Stu and Lana enjoyed a tapas plate of local fare. It was delicious! We love to try anything new we find in the fresh fruit and veggie markets too.
                                                Dragon fruit and persimmons!

The scooters and rollerblades are in constant use. There are lots of paths for moving around the city safely.

We were even able to get our covid boosters at the Vaccuguagua!

The marina here has rooftop pool at the clubhouse. Our days have easily slipped into a pattern of boat/school work in the mornings and then the afternoons are spent with friends at the pool.

We are looking forward to exploring more of Gran Canaria in the next 2 weeks before we untie our lines and set our sails for the Caribbean. Check back in a week or so to find out what we get up to.

Goodbye Oyai & Hello New York City!

After leaving Annapolis, we explored the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay for a couple of weeks.  We sailed to a quaint little town called St...