On 15. December my mother arrived for a over christmas visit. The first two days it was awful weather with rain and wind but as usual not cold.
One day we went out sailing with Jonas, who originally wanted to sail with me but later decided to sail on a boat in a paid position back to the Mediterranean, which he thought was the better option for his life than to sail across the Atlantic ocean. Let´s hope he is right for his case.
One day we rented a car and went onto a tour through the mountains. It was one of the few days during her stays which was just perfect because we had a spotless blue sky.
We went to the small village of San Mateo were they were setting up a life chrismas story in front of the church with sheep, goats, a donkey, rabbits and other farm animals and a real shepherd
and we went to the famous Roque de Nublo on the top of the island.
On Christmas Evening we went to a barbecue party for all the sailors in the harbour away from home. The barbecue party was organised by a German woman whe does this every year since 6 years. You bring your own stuff for the barbecue, something for the buffet and some drinks. There were many people something around 50 to 60 people, mostly Europeans.
On Chrismas day we went on a bus tour to the north west corner of the island to the little town called Gaidar. There is a cave with paintings and a museum but of course on Christmas day it was closed. But because it was beautiful weather we sat on the beach and had a coffee in the nearby cafe.
On 27 December she already had to leave back home.
On 28. December my dear friends Lennart and Silke, both now living in Berlin, but I know Lennart from Hamburg, arrived for an over New Year visit. We mostly met in the evenings because I was busy preparing the boat for the big crossing over the Atlantic Ocean which was now scheduled for the 4. January 2014 with its first leg to the Cape Verde Islands. Also I had to solve my crew problem after Jonas had already said good bye.
I thought I was lucky because Romy, a German woman, contacted me writing that she had seen my ad in the harbour that I was looking for crew. She said she had some sailing experience So we met, she brought her friend with her, I showed her the boat and she asked a lot of questions. She said she would contact me. I also had talked to a young swedish lady who was looking for a boat because her boyfriend wanted to sail single handed on his Folkeboat and she needed another boat to get across as well and I was not sure who of the two ladies I would prefer. Anyway, this situation was resolved by Romy who wrote me an message that she liked our conversation and wanted to sail with me. Ok, I thought, that is a clear answer, I take Romy with us (Marcos and me) and tell Elin, the Swedish lady, that I had found someone. So I did.
Romy came along the next day and we started planning the shopping with a shopping list. Lennart, Silke, her, her friend and me went out in the evening for dinner. On 31. December we five went sailing, there was a lot of wind onshore creating quite high waves. Lennart, Romy and me liked it but Silke and Melanie got sea sick after alreay 30 minutes so we went back to port, with a short stop at the Diesel pontoon to fill up with diesel. Lennart, Silke, Romy and Melanie went home to recover and we met again in the evening to celebrate new year with the two starting with a barbecue on the roof top terrace of their hostel on the Las Canteras beach. It had been agreed that Romy would move onto my boat on 1 January.
But while Lennart, Silke and me were on a walk through the dunes of Maspalomas in the south of the island Romy called me telling me that she had thought about it once more and said that she came to the conclusions to stay on a boat and the ocean for 5 weeks is not what she wanted to do with her free time. I was very disappointed but from the experience with Jonas I had already learned to take the word of sailing hitch hikers not so serious and that nothing is guaranteed until you left the harbour with them on board. I do not know what happened, may be because her friend was so scared by the waves and the sea sickness Romy as well got her doubts whether she wanted to go or not.
Ok I thought, I will have to explain the situation to Marcos when he arrives on 2. January and try to convince him that we could do the trip also with just the two of us like so many couples do it all the time. Why should we two strong and heathy men not be able to do it?
When Marcos arrived he was always. Talking a lot, 100 things at one time to organise but always laughing and in a good mood. Only when I told him that we might have to go only by two he got a little bit silent. But he was so determined to go especially because he had taken every effort to convince his PhD tutors to postpone the delivery of the next version of his PhD by some weeks he got accustomed to the idea.
So the next day we went shopping to the super market and after it was delivered to the boat we stored it away, especially the water. We were still planning for three people because in this harbour you never know who comes along the next day. Especially I had contact to a man who was coming on 4. January in the evening which was still ok, because we had to wait until 5 January because Marcos needed his last shot of vaccination against Tetanus.
On Saturday 3. January we went shopping to the fruit market for fruits and vegetables, took them by taxi to the boat, washed them on the pontoon and stored them in the nets under deck and in the evening went went with Silke and Lennart to have a farewell dinner.
So on Sunday 4. January we were actually set for departure on Monday 5 after Marcos would have returned from the doctor.
But then, shock horror, when I climbed off board on Monday morning to take my last shower before departure I noticed a crack in the welding of the stainless steel mounting (Bugbeschlag) where the fore stay (Vorstag) is connected and which holds the whole mast.
I thought, we can not go with such a crack because we would risk the mast. I told it Marcos who was of course disappointed that we would not leave and it was unforseeable how long the repair would take. Plus the next day was a holiday on Gran Canaria and therefore on the afternoon of the 5. January most shops were closed.
So I immediately started to see how difficult it would be to get the mounting off. Luckily it turned out to be one of the easiest jobs I had done on this boat. Basically I only had to unsrew 5 thick bolts and fortunately all nuts came off without greater problems. I only needed a second hand to hold the bolts from one side while I was turning the ratched. This second hand was lend to me by Elin, the Swedish lady. So with her help after not more than on hour the damn thing was off.
I had already contacted the sailmaker on my pontoon who was also doing stainless steel weldings whether he could weld it. He had said that if I give it to him that lunch he could do it.
Because I had been ready with the demounting before his lunch break I could give it to him in time and he promised to weld it either the same day or if not than certainly the next day (which was that holiday).
Meanwhile Sören had come along, the man I had been in contact about the Atlantic crossing. He turned out to be a very friendly and sociable young man from Copenhage in Denmark. Marcos was around as well and we three had a nice chat together. And because we found each other so sympathetic we soon agreed that he would come with us. He only had to go to his hotel to pick up his clothes. After his return he washed them in the marina laundry, hung them up on board and afterwards we went to Decathlon to shop a sleeping bag and a towel and I had wanted to look at a Decathlon shop anyway. It took us about one hour by bus to go there and one hour back.
Because it was the evening before an important holiday it was a party evening and I had been asked by some other sailors whether I wanted to join them the evening to go out. I said yes and despite our trip to Decathlon I still managed to take a shower and to be in time to meet our party gang.
We went to the old town of Las Palmas which was packed with people. First we had beer with some pinchos (finger food) in one bar, then another beer with some tapas until we eventually found a dancing club where we stayed until 4 o´clock when they closed.
So when I got up with a slight hang over I went to the welders boat and was very happy to get from his wife the welded mounting.
I had bought new nuts and bolts already the day before so Sören and I could mount it back on. We slowly but determined did our work and after something like two hours we had everything back on including the genoa hoisted and furled around the forestay.
Marcos had been out the evening before and had stayed there over night.
Already some days ago we had met the mutual friend Esther of Marcos and a friend of him when Marcos and I had been out one evening with Lennart and Silke. It must have been the 2 January, his first day on the island. Esther is an artist originating from Las Palmas and had just recently come back from London where she had been working. She is doing sculptures, paintings and many other materials. She had been contemplating to come with us to the Cape Verde Islands but eventually had decided that she did not have the money for the trip and the flight back. But she had instead invited Marcos and me for dinner on 4. January and during the dinner had developed to travel with us virtually. So on 6 January she came along to take some pictures of the boat not only from the outside but also the inside in order to write messages to us onto them, messages she would only send to us by e-mail after we had arrived on the Cape Verde Islands.
We will see what that messages are like, they will be in Spanish, so Marcos will have to translate them to me.
So, after all these ups and downs we did our last shopping of bread, a little bit of water and most important gas for the cooker on the morning of 7. January. After a little lunch and the safety instructions for Marcos and Sören we left Las Palmas at 16:00 to Mindelo on the Ilha de Sao Vicente of the Cape Verde Islands.