We were fortunate to have a nice long break on land between to break up our trip from France to the Caribbean when we joined up with the ARC group. ARC is the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers and it’s an organized crossing of the Atlantic Ocean hosted by World Cruising Club.  However, many sailors try to avoid sailing breaks so they don’t lose their sea legs and end up going through seasickness again. As a side note, during our crossing from Cascais Las Palmas, we hit 1,000 sailing miles!!! 🙌🏼 

On Tuesday when we arrived, we tried to check in at the ARC office, anxious to get the itinerary of events and seminars, and our flag, but when we arrived they told us we had to make an appointment to check in, and there weren’t any available until Wednesday afternoon. Alrighty then…(we learned later that unfortunately this delay would cause us to miss the remaining seminars and the social event that night). With nothing else to do, we went back to the boat. We hadn’t been able to get the marina WiFi to work at all, so I was anxious to talk to some other cruisers about how they were accessing internet, but we wouldn’t meet any other ARC sailors tonight. Since we started sailing, we’ve developed this unofficial rule that we go out to dinner our first night on land after a passage, and our last night on land before leaving for passage. We often cook or grill on the boat the nights in between, but it’s so nice to have that break and celebrate our arrival and departure. 

Pietro has been to Las Palmas when he sailed the ARC on a monohull several years ago so he knows some areas of the city pretty well. We were all ready to stretch or legs after six days at sea, so we ventured off to main part of the city. Turns out, our minds were more ambitious than our bodies and the brisk 45-minute walk to the other side was exhausting! Catamarans are pretty spacious but there’s still not much room to stretch your legs and apparently our muscles are atrophying hahaha! Everyone was in need of a drink so Pietro suggested we duck into the next pub. It looked like an alright place, pretty quiet in the late afternoon. We requested large beers all around and some snacks. The food was… so-so. They brought us bread and some baked egg and potato omelet thing that had been sitting under a plastic shield on the bar all day. I guess this is normal tapas here but food that’s been sitting all day just isn’t really that appetizing to me. For the record, no one else was super excited about it either but we were hungry enough  after our long walk to eat it. After our beers we ventured on, and Amanda used the google machine to find us a nice looking independent local restaurant with burgers. Typically, Pietro always goes for a big steak the first night on land but I think we’ve broken him of that habit with it American penchant for a good burger! The restaurant, called 200 Grams, was pretty great! It was in this nice little district with pedestrian streets where all the little restaurants had outdoor tables with umbrellas. Since it was dark and a bit chilly, we opted for inside. I wish I’d taken pictures of some of the eclectic decor, but sadly I didn’t think of it at the time. It was a really cool place! The food and beer was good and satiated us for our long walk home. 

On Wednesday, we got our marina showers! Fortunately they stuck us in an unofficial part of the marina that’s really for locals. We docked on a big stone wall (not the most ideal setup) where there was a 3 meter (9 foot tide). Since the tide was so big, we had to leave a lot of slack in our dock lines so there was a lot of time spent pulling lines to bring the boat in to get on or off. We must be rebuilding some of those muscles! Beyond the wall where we docked was along building where many small wooden boats were in dry dock. They all seemed to have a storage unit or small efficiency behind it accessible by the boat owner. No one lives there but every day old men come tot he marina, open their doors to being out chairs and sweet up camp to sit and chat all day. One weekend, they put a bunch of the wooden boats in the marina to have races. They’d have about 10 guys in each boat pulling lines, holding the mast, leaning to steer, etc. it was crazy! Would have been cool to take the dinghy out and watch the races but we were surprisingly quite busy during our time there. That afternoon Bob and I checked in and got or ARC information, official flag, and official race tracker, among other things. 

Thursday, Amanda and I set out to pre-shop for our provisioning. There are two big major grocery stores in town, the nearby HiperDino, and the further but larger supermarket at El Corte Ingles. The latter is about a 40-minute walk but is a major department store with six floors, the supermarket being on the lowest level. We accidentally skipped lunch before we set out on our journey, so when we reached the other side of town, we found a nice little restaurant to have a glass of white wine and some tapas to hold us over to dinner.

Before we checked out the food situation, we explored the other floors, but were unable to locate any kitchen household goods like the French press we desperately needed to replace (broken in stormy seas off the coast of Spain) and a refillable pepper grinder! On this trip, we were so overwhelmed we didn’t realize that there’s actually a second building across the street with six more floors, including the things we were looking for. Frustrated, we went to check out the supermarket section and grabbed a few items. Naturally we couldn’t pass up trying this fancy Coke with coffee! (We all tried it the next morning after our regular coffee, in cute little glass espresso cups – of course I forgot a photo! It was ok, but the general consensus was that we’ll stick to either coffee or soda but not mixed! Hahaha!) The biggest task at the store was to compare available items and prices against the vendor order forms the ARC provided. It’s great that ARC has these connections and provides these options – if we’d been pressed for time, or had fewer people with less varied tastes on board, we may have just used those forms and been done shopping! But we wanted to make sure everyone was happy, since meals are basically the most important part of the day besides not crashing the boat! It was a long walk back but hey, at least there’s a good view! 

The ARC does a great job of providing services  information, local resources and recommended vendor information for all the things you’d need to prepare for your crossing. They even assist with things like butcher orders from the vendors they recommend. Fortunately, the city has been hosting the ARC for many years so the major grocers all have delivery service to the marina. We inventoried the remaining food items on my handy spreadsheet to prepare for our next round of provisioning. The spreadsheet allows me to see what we consumed on the prior crossing, and helps me plan for what else to buy. Amanda and I sat down and planned meals and other items to have on hand before our shopping. She had a lot of super helpful suggestions and since everyone would be sharing the cooking responsibilities, it’s important to have things people like to eat but also don’t mind cooking. We’re hoping we can catch some fish along the way to supplement our provisions. We can’t ensure what we’ll catch, or how much, so whatever we catch will be a bonus and add variety to our planned meals. By the way, planning meals for six, three of whom are very big eaters, is quite a challenging task! Different cultures and backgrounds lead to a variety of tastes and preferences, not to mention the sheer quantity of food! During the evening was the ARC’s costume party, themed Night in Rio. Since we didn’t think we’d arrive in time, and since they released the theme so late, we didn’t have any costumes. We had a lot of fun meeting and talking to other sailors in the ARC+ group going to St. Lucia (leaning Sunday) and our group, the ARC+ going to St. Vincent. Including some people we’ve been communicating with via Instagram! Getting to know cool people has definitely been one of my favorite parts of this experience so far!

Friday saw us back at the El Corte Ingles, where we discovered the second building with household goods. Yesss!! We did a little perusing of some other necessary items and then waited in line at the Orange mobile phone and data kiosk for about 45 minutes to get a SIM card for internet. Apparently the one customer before us had a challenging request or situation. After a frustrating experience, we managed to find gelato and some pretty park decor on the way back – I just love boulevards like this!

Our friends Paul and Tracy decided to stop in the Canaries to do some extra provisioning and have some additional work done before crossing the Atlantic, so even though they aren’t part of the ARC we dragged them along to the farewell cocktail party for the ARC group leaving Sunday (as if we had to twist their arm… lol) 

Saturday was more provisioning prep and more gelato for me! Dod some extra wandering and found this awesome little place with fantastic flavors. Who doesn’t love gelato?!? No, seriously, if you don’t I don’t know if we can be friends anymore. 🙂 Later, we took the dinghy from our boat to Paul and Tracy’s anchorage spot on the north side of the marina to watch the ARC fireworks! They had a great view, and they have a bigger boat with two spreaders so that was an obvious choice 🤣