26 November 2008

Las Palmas, Grand Canary Island

Med moored at the Las Palmas Municipal Marina
Grand Canary Island
Canary Islands
North Atlantic Ocean.

Happy Thanksgiving America! Here on Sandpiper we have our own dead bird of sorts to celebrate Thanksgiving with. While cleaning out Sandpiper's bow stowage area today Amy found our little 'feathered friend'. If you have been following us then you will remember that after leaving Malta for Gibraltar, during my 'mellow' morning watch, I was shaken by Amy screaming that there was a fire below. When I ran down the ladder there was a bird flying straight at my head. Due to my hearing loss, somehow what I heard was "Fire" what she had said was "BIRD".

Well anyway, we thought he had flown away after a couple attempts to get back inside Sandpiper. Today Amy found out that he was successful. Said bird had flown back down the forward hatch into Sandpiper's forward storage area and committed Hari Kari after deciding that he had enough flying around the ocean looking for land. Needless to say, he had been up there awhile in an area that we rarely access and was in less then stellar shape.

Last week Sandpiper left Lanzarote Island and all the naked Europeans at noon for a 90 mile overnight sail to Grand Canary Island to where Sandpiper is presently moored. An hour after leaving the anchorage we caught our mandatory Bonito, which as usual, we threw back. Then the winds picked up, giving us a nice beam reach sail. This lasted till 2am when the winds blew out and forced us to motor the rest of the way to Grand Canary Island.

We arrived just after sunrise to the harbor entrance to Las Palmas. Once inside the very large shipping port we found a crowded anchorage and dropped the hook. Las Palmas is a much larger city then we had imagined. It has a huge port with several marinas. There is just about every American corporate business here along with several huge shopping centers. There is a huge Carrefour grocery store with 'Roller Girls', customer service girls skating up and down the isles. There are several McDonalds and Burger Kings in town to get our junk food fix as well. The best thing about McDonald's in Spain is that you can have a beer with your Big Mac!

The anchorage is very protected and right off a beach where you can land a dingy and can be downtown in seconds. We spent several days at anchor waiting for the Atlantic Crossing Rally with their 200+ boats to leave on Sunday. The ARC Rally is a huge annual event where hundreds of fancy/expensive boats all gather here in Grand Canary and depart on their Atlantic crossings together. Some are racing, and others are just along for the ride. This event costs thousands of dollars to join. For 'Team Sandpiper' and every other boat we know,  found no reason to join this rally.

It was fun the night before going out to the 'Sailors Bar' in the marina and seeing everyone new to cruising wearing all their brand new foul weather gear on (nice sunny day). All of us non-rally cruisers, wearing their dirty shorts and flip flops, where all drinking beer together. The rally members were celebrating their last night ashore. And us cruisers were waiting for them to leave so we could bring our boats into the marina.

Early Sunday morning we dinghied ashore and walked out to the harbor entrance to watch all the ARC Rally boats pass by as they left the harbor in matching outfits and nice shiny boats. There were thousands of people out along the shoreline to watch the start, and many boats just out in the harbor to watch the start. And just like that, all 200+ boats were gone, all heading west for St. Lucia in the Caribbean.

Since Sunday, once the marina was clear of all the ARC rally boats, cruising boats have been showing up from all over the place. Now the marina is filled up once again, but this time with much less shiny boats.

We pulled Sandpiper from her anchorage to her slip here in the marina where we plan on staying until Monday morning where we might be possibly leave the Canaries ourselves to the Caribbean. Sandpiper is pretty much ready to go, with only a few minor projects left to complete. And we need to load up the Piper with enough beer and wine to get us to warmer latitudes.

More before we go,
Tom and Amy

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