The Canary Islands is a pretty cool place for a sailor in October/November. That is when everyone planning to cross the Atlantic turns up. It is a natural stopover as most want to head south before the autumn starts to kick in further north and it is still too early for the Atlantic trade winds to establish. A time for final preparations, recovering and meeting people that have similar plans.
Marina Rubicon on Lanzarote is filled with boats from all over, many destined for the Caribbean. Some on a direct route and some via Cape Verde. Some independently, some in a private little regatta and some with the ARC. The ARC is an annually organised rally with 250 boats of all sizes that leave Las Palmas on 21 November and ‘race’ each other to Saint Lucia in the Windward Islands. I was originally enrolled for 2020 and moved my entry until 2021 before pulling out all together. The whole thing felt a little too organised for me and I don’t want to have a fixed date for when I have to leave. Years of corporate life and being controlled by a calendar have probably damaged me to some extent. From now on I make my own planning and preparations. And I go when I want to.
There are also Atlantic hitchhikers walking the docks, hoping to catch a ride to the Caribbean with a shorthanded crew. I had a French guy in his 20’s asking me the other day. He wanted to build sailing experience and wasn’t necessarily destined for any place. He just wanted to go somewhere. I was considering the same at his age but couldn’t afford it and I probably didn’t have the guts to hitchhike either. But it goes back to the age old cruiser saying. ‘You need three things to go. Time, money and health. If you ever think you have all three – Go!’ I guess he needed money. I need to stay healthy.
So it is project work for me in Lanzarote. I have to stay here until I get my second vaccine shot anyway. First of all, I have a professional rigger that will look at the standing rigging to make sure that the mast stays vertical across the Atlantic. Not that there is anything suggesting that there is something wrong, but it feels like a good idea and the insurance company insists on it after ten years. I will also get my new sails delivered, have the life raft inspected and serviced, install a new freezer, buy a generator, change the clutch on the autopilot and get the cockpit table sanded and varnished. Just to name a few things. But I have lots of time now that I don’t have to make two trips to Sweden to get vaccinated. And it is still nice and warm in the Canaries.