Sunday, December 12, 2010

Atlantic Crossing - Day 1

The sun peeped over the sea wall of the marina at around 0715 and as the morning light filtered down through our hatches a gentle nor'wester played with the flags on the poles behind GWTW's berth. For once the wind wasn't coming from the direction that we wanted to sail !

It's Sunday December 12th 2010 and today is probably THE biggest day in our sailing life since we sailed out of Sydney Heads in April 2006. We are excited and also a bit scared as we venture out to cross the Atlantic Ocean. 2800 miles or roughly five Sydney - Hobart's of nothing but ocean and the weather systems that go with it.

We retired to bed early the night before our departure in the hope of having one final decent night's sleep but this idea was quickly squashed  thanks to the blaringly loud music from a local disco near the marina that closes at 6am. We woke tired and bleary eyed rather than bright eyed and bushy tailed. Not quite the way to start a major ocean passage, but still, there will be plenty of time for an afternoon snooze later.
Up and at 'em is our motto and after the obligatory cup of tea in bed we were ready to take on the day. A few quick calls to family and friends and a last check of emails and "passage weather" and it was time to go.

At 1000 UTC under sunny skies we dropped our dock lines and headed out of the Las Palmas marina on Grand Canaria. As most of our friends had left the marina the previous day (we just wanted one more lay day to chill out) there was no one left to wave us farewell or play us a departure song so we did it ourselves, well not the waving part. We thought it most appropriate to play the Andrea Bocelli tune "Time to Say Goodbye". So on went the ipod and up went the volume.
The fishermen on the breakwall gave us a quick nod, just as they've probably done to the hundreds of boats who have left before us and with that we were on our way.

Flat seas and a  healthy lunch on our first day.

The wind was filling in nicely from north, directly behind us, which unfortunately is not our best angle of sailing. Cats don't perform well dead downwind, so the sail of choice was the screecher alone.
The rest of the day and afternoon was a combination of sail changes and motoring as the wind came and went at various strengths and angles. .As we reached the bottom of the island a pod of dolphins came and frolicked alongside the boat for a while. Tradition says that dolphins bring you luck, well don't know about that but they always make us smile.

Around 1800 the light began to fade and as the sun dipped below the horizon the sky was filled with colour. Rich reds and oranges fading quickly to dusky pinks. Our first Atlantic sunset was definitely not a disappointment.  Grand Canaria  slowly slipped behind us and thousands of miles of blue ocean stretched out in front. The warmth of the day was now gone and as the cool of the night began to creep in a dazzling canopy of stars and a slither of moon appeared overhead.

Caribbean here we come!

A dolphin bids us farewell as we leave the Canary Islands

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