After a good nights sleep, we wandered down and introduced ourselves to Jimmy Cornell and his daughter Doina. Jimmy rang a guy called Henning and organized for him to come down and install a pole for our D400 wind generator. Then it was off to the Frontier Police to check in. They are in the main port, a taxi ride away. They were quite particular about checking in and out and were concerned we didn’t check out of Algerciras because of Schengen.
The Welcome Party for the Rally that evening was a great opportunity to meet the other B50 rally’ers. Dee whipped up a great pasta dish for the pot luck and we drank some great Lanzarote wine and beer. Party over, Phil and I wandered over to Ian and Ann’s boat to drink yet more beers before I needed to gently call time on Phil before he could still (just) manage to disembark (sans thongs). It was a great first night and an ominous sign of things to come.
Next day we started on the cruising seminars, something Jimmy had organized for free for anyone and everyone, be they in the rally of not. It was great to get some formal education for what is now our profession. It can sometimes be a bit scary how much you still don’t know after all these years doing it. Jimmy is the guru of course having both done it all and then written numerous books and guides on our chosen vocation. His photos were brilliant too – we were treated to an amazing slideshow as Jimmy’s trip to the Antarctica and then through the North West Passage, as he sailed from Antarctica to the Arctic. In addition to Jimmy, we heard some a number of other experts covering all sorts of topics from medical to photography as well as all those topics you would expect on crossing the Atlantic. We were in information overload.
One of the best speakers was Thomas, who had just sold me a parasailor, a spinnaker built like a parachute with a hole/wing in the middle. The parasailor came with a days training, which we were hoping to do whilst Thomas was in Lanzarote. Unfortunately the weather gods were not with us and with gusts to 50kts, we stayed in the marina and went through things on the front deck with Thomas. After he left and the winds died off we went out for a sail on Sunday and in a gentle 10kt breeze, we managed to put Thomas’ training into action.
On Saturday, the Rally had organised a safety at sea demonstration with liferafts and a simulated helicopter rescue using a rescue helicopter from Gran Canarias. Dee volenteered to be the damsel in distress but they used a dummy instead.
In Arrecife, we had the choice of 3 chanderlies, where we could get 60% of what we needed. Luckily our next stop was in Las Palmas where the ARC leaves from and their chanderlies were fantastic. We were able to get a bunch of jobs done and we were pretty busy most days doing boat jobs. Some of the rally guys were very experienced in their own right and I was able to pick their brains on various subjects. We were enjoying our first rally experience.
One of the things we worked out was probably 70% of the boats had backup for their self steering, either wind vane or dual autopilots. Being a cat, our only option was twin autopilots. Rob from BnG told us that 25% of boats had an autopilot failure last year on the rally and the ARC reported a 5% failure rate. Not wanting to hand steer our way across the Atlantic we decided to go for a second autopilot, this time a Raymarine. More on that later.
We also managed to play a little, riding our bikes everywhere around town and down the coast on a magnificent bike path that went along the coast past the airport. We checked out a couple of nice restaurants, both in town and at the marina, and consumed more good Spanish wine on the backs of our and other boats.
The rally organized an island tour, which Dee and Phil went on. The islands got a wonderful national park with its extinct volcanoes and lava flows. Phil managed a 30km walk to a church were the lava miraculously stopped, a pilgrimage the locals do once a year from wherever they live on the island to this church in the middle of the island.
We also did an island tour to Fuertenventura, the next island down by bus, ferry, bus; as the rally had problems last year at this island’s marina and decided the safest way to get there was not sailing. This tour was great as we visited some cool sand dunes, some pretty little villages and drove along some spectacular mountain passes.