Las Palmas! Well gosh as unprepossessing as this place looked from the sea; it sure didn’t turn out that way on land. Our first few hours here weren’t fabulous – apart from the (now usual) grim approach to these ports – full of industrial cargo ships and the like – we came into the Port; swanned into the first marina; tied up alongside and looked around …. Not a soul. Well, it was around 8pm; still fully light though; so we kind of set about tidying up and getting ourselves ready for dinner and the night. Someone will come and see us in the morning, we thought …. Until about half an hour later some poor guy came running; sweating like the proverbial pig; to tell us that this was a private club and we were NOT, REPEAT NOT to be there! We should immediately, did we know immediately, leave; he was so sorry but now now now please go … all in a torrent of Spanish. So, amongst lots of jokes about being unwanted and unloved after our sea voyage we put back out; we’d seen another marina on the other side of a small beach and ok; we would just put in there. Not so fast, hombres! They claimed they were full! So a call into the Port gave us an instruction to anchor off the beach for the night which we promptly did. Hah. So much for the seafarer’s welcome ….. actually as the GC explained; the Marinas in these cruising ports don’t often accept late arrivals – usually the skipper doesn’t really know what he’s doing and makes a mess of coming alongside (we sure saw some interesting manouevers in Gib with some very fancy boats!) and they don’t want to get out of the office to work things out so they just leave it till the morning. He was right; as the next morning at about 630 some guys came out from the Marina to tell us that we shouldn’t be anchored there at all and that we could come in whenever we were awake.
This being my first time at arriving in a Port where we’d really clear in, I went ashore with the GC. The guy in charge was initially pretty unfriendly, telling us off for anchoring off the beach! However after I told him that we’d actually been told to do so by the Port etc he warmed up and got quite friendly. We could stay at the berth that we were in; the marina had all services including a laundry; showers etc; and all at a pretty reasonable price – 59 euros for the first night; 40 for each night following.
The marina is a huge U; and we were docked right by the fuel station. Unfortunately as we’d been told to come in stern first, our dinghy was high and dry on the back – only an issue as ALL the marina services – restaurants, shops, laundry etc – were all on the absolute other side – only about 50 meters away as the crow flies (or the dinghy!) but a good 15 minute walk. Not fun with lots of laundry. As Betrave and I had tons of the stuff we took a taxi round; decided that we were not going to be ripped off double the price for a wash and kept our cab and headed into town.. Friendly cheap laundromat to drop off the washing and off we went to the market.. Unbelievable; we might as well have been back in Spain apart from the fact that this is a much bigger town and a much nicer place than poor old La Linea.
Las Palmas is an interesting city. It doesn’t really have a heart, but it does have various precincts, each with its own charm and style. On the second night I looked out and could have thought we were in Sydney … it looked like Cremorne Point for a crazy minute! Betrave and I struck it lucky asking the guys working on a boat two moorings down where we should go out that night and they ummed and ahhed and then called the owner, a lovely English guy called Mark, who proceeded to help us source generator parts, gave us a contact for fuel drums AND a couple of ace recommendations for dinner and bars. SCORE! He also told us about a girl who he had met recently from St Pierre, Myriam Robert; she was sailing solo to SPM and had left Las Palmas a couple of months before. We were able to tell him that she had arrived safely home about a month beforehand. Thank you so much, Mark of Wild Venture!
Night before last we went down to the Playa de las Alcaraveras; a long beach strip that boasts a loooooong corniche; dotted with restaurants and cafes all along it’s length – a bit like Bondi except that all the restaurants seem to be micro – seating around 30 people each or fewer. Everyone was out and about even though it was the middle of the week; and there were even families still playing on the beach. We ate at a fabulous little place – Tasca Galileo on the Caille Galileo – amazing food and well worth the 40 minute wait for a table (the place only seats 30 if it’s lucky). Happily we could go away for a drink and come back for our ‘table’; when we left after midnight there were more people waiting. Very cool place and wonderful tapas. I’m very inspired by tapas!!!! We’ve been eating scrambled eggs with chorizo and cold fresh tuna covered in grilled red peppers all smothered in olive oil. Just love this way of eating.
We oldies went home and the kids went on out to find a recommended rooftop bar in the Barrio Colonial Vegueta; as the name says the colonial part of town with amazing old buildings; long fountains and gardens.. They didn’t come home till 4 so I guess they had a good time!.
A couple more days in port – one of the big attributes of Las Palmas is that as it’s a major jumping off point for the Atlantic AND a big seafaring place as well, it’s extremely well stocked with chandleries, dive shops and the like.. So for the boys it’s been shop shop shop – we now have a new hydro generator which will take the strain of the autopilot off our batteries as well as innumerable pumps, switches, new lights and another myriad of things that make us more and more seaworthy.. The GC has also managed to find a 1000 litre tank (well he wanted 220 litre drums but couldn’t get them at a decent price) so we will depart having filled up with nearly 2500 litres of diesel.. This is a just in case we find no wind; it will give us 18 days range using one engine at a time.. He has also bought flags for both Bermuda and the Bahamas, however if the winds are good we may make directly for St Pierre – a long swoop across the big blue. Let’s see …
Yesterday was our day to catch up on all things necessary on land. First stop was the gorgeous Mercado Central; where I was of course wishing that I had not bought ANYTHING anywhere else so that I could buy all the amazing fresh meat, veggies, cheese, olives and charcuterie possible under the sun and at the most amazing prices – everything as cheap as in Mainland Spain. How do they do it? Just extraordinary. I did buy avocadoes; a thyme plant to add to my little garden and some amazing cepes and corn fed chicken breasts which I will cook tonight.. I don’t think I’ve said it before but it would bear repeating that I think that Spain leaves even France for dead when it comes to food.. I was seriously walking around that market just saying; so much food! So little time to eat!! It was like being in a bottle shop in Scotland ….. so much great booze; so little time to drink …..
So this morning we fuelled up and are now just waiting for the chandlery to open again at 4 for some last minute purchases before we head out to sea. I won’t lie and say there aren’t nerves; this morning the GC and I had a major bustup on board while the kids were showering after having to go into the filthy marina water once more to clean the oil off our waterline. Pre departure nerves; it’s been building with all of us for days. Air is well cleared now and the emotion is out of the way. We are ready (though I could just duck back to the market and buy a few lettuces, maybe?)
Anchors aweigh! The big blue awaits, with everything it will bring. Do I have enough eggs? I’ll just have to manage …
PS – Mum …. we did manage the pedis though!!!!!