Seven weeks after we first got to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, we were finally ready to set sails again. The first week and a half went by almost without us noticing. We had spent time with new and old sailor friends. They were all preparing for crossing the Atlantic. We needed a new engine. The old one could have been fixed, again. However, it felt like we kept throwing money into a black hole. Firstly we are sailing Paloma around the world, but selling her once we come back home in three years has never been on the table. A brand new engine makes sense as an investment in several good years together, even at the extremely steep price. Volvo in Norway wanted to help, but the logistics of getting an engine shipped from Norway unfortunately couldn't be solved. We were stuck with having to buy one at the going rate in the Canaries. We eventually settled on a Volvo either way, and ordered a new one November 25th.
The week before buying the new engine, our new crew came aboard. Torgeir is one of our closest friends from back home. He will sail with us until the end of February, and fly home from Barbados. He was impatient for the adventure of a lifetime to start, long before he got on the plane in Oslo. Thanks to him, we finally got around to some of the major points on our todo-list. Installing the battery meter, reorganizing all the storage onboard, building storage for my stuff in my bunk, another round of provisioning...
After having ordered the new engine, we set sails to explore the canaries while waiting to have it delivered. We had a trying sail from Las Plamas to La Gomera, and spent a week there. La Gomera is one of the smaller islands in the west, tourists are scare and the nature is amazing. The middle of the island is a huge tropical forest, and all around the coastline there are steep cliffs with scattered volcanic beaches; some with huge round rocks and others with soft, black sand. We spent a few night at anchor in a remote bay, inaccessible by car, and a few nights in the capital city, San Sebastian. It was a wonderful week of exploration and getting stuff done. Returning to Las Palmas was a little bit easier sail, but we've experienced that the winds are never as forecasted sailing between the Canary Islands. We had to run the engine for about ten hours getting back, all the while expecting it to die any minute.
Back in LP, we kept working on the todos. Two of our major projects were electricity from another source than the engine and a biminitop. We got solar panels from a Norwegian company, Sunwind, and ordered a custom bimini from biminitop.eu. Turns out having things shipped to the Canaries isn't the easiest task in the world, which doubled as the perfect excuse for a week-end back home. Elise and I left Torgeir with Paloma, and we all got some much needed personal space. A 31 foot boat gets crowded when you're stuck in a place you don't want to be, working all day to get the boat ship shape for ocean voyages.
We weren't surprised, but still disappointed, when the engine was held back for a week by customs. Paloma got lifted out of water Thursday December 15th, the day we were supposed to be put back in the water with the new engine. Volvo started work the following Monday, and by the 22nd we were back in again. It was a stressful week, as the mechanics weren't sure the wether or not the exhaust would flood the engine once we went sailing in rough seas. However, once back where we belong, they were pleased with the waterline and everyone finally almost started breathing again. We had already started worrying we would have to spend Christmas and New Years in Las Palmas. Luckily we were able to leave the Canaries the night before Christmas Eve at 02:00.
Our next adventure will be Cape Verde, about six to eight days sail from Las Palmas. We choose the safe route, north and west of Gran Canaria, where the acceleration winds isn't as much of an issue. As I am writing this, we are a little more than 300 nautical miles north of Mindelo. We have been making 135-140 nm each day, which is impressively fast for this heavy, old lady. The sail has undoubtedly been the the best we've had till now. The first three days we had steady 20 knots or more winds in from behind. The feeling of flying over the ocean, is truly amazing. We've had a couple of challenges, and impressed ourselves with solving them flawlessly. The shackle holding the sail to the end of the boom broke, and trying to get the sail down we realized it was stuck halfway up the mast. After climbing up there a couple of times, we got the sail down with the help of a thin dynema rope, a winch and good cooperation. It is so much fun to discover how comfortable we've become solving problems aboard. Paloma has undoubtedly become home to us, and we have learned so much during the last year.