…and finally we are underway to St. Lucia. The race got delayed by one day because of strong winds and heavy seas. The entire crew felt a great sense of disappointment, but trusted the ARC organisers knew what they were doing. Indeed, having a lot of sick people on board the first day would not have been great fun. Some of us took the extra day as another day of rest; others took it as an opportunity to see the old town of Las Palmas and visit the museum dedicated to the man whose “footsteps” were are about to follow; yet others were able to spend another day with their loved ones who had come to Las Palmas to see them off. A final crew dinner at the Club Sottovento, just as the crew of mega-yacht Leopard III left to go to sleep early and get ready for what undoubtedly will be their six-day crossing, got our morale back to where it was a meant to be for today’s start.
The departure from the docks this morning was smooth but emotionally charged, with some of us even hiding a tear or two. The 30-some boats in the racing division all greeted each other, wishing one another a safe crossing. With northerly winds of 25 kts and good swells of up to 3 meters, we crossed the start line with impressive speeds of around 10 kts. The first few hours were spent to get around the island of Gran Canaria, crossing the acceleration zone. This meant some spectacular broad reach sailing with nice rolls amidst the swells from the prior day’s storm. And, most importantly, none of our crew showed any signs of sea sickness.
Some us frantically managed to take pictures and update our Facebook profiles, send Whatsapps, text and other messages to friends and family just before they were about to lose their mobile signal and go cold turkey on living without social media for the following few weeks. The Yellow Brick application showed us that we are positioned 10th in the racing division just before we hit the wind shadow south of Gran Canaria. Not bad for a first day, but leaving enough room to improve our ranking. Interestingly, Yellow Brick seems to believe that we all did leave on Sunday and calculates our expected time of arrival to be January 3rd. Undoubtedly this will be corrected at some point. Our watch system will start at 6 PM, and until then we are being entertained by Chris’ fantastic play list which is blasting over the ocean as we update this daily blog.