Gran Canaria: we almost get stuck and take a big decision

Gran Canaria was a special time for us. First, it was difficult to get there, then even more difficult to leave (in fact, at the time of writing we are still here). Las Palmas Marina was completely full this year, even after the Atlantic Ralley for Cruisers (the big Atlantic crossing event with several hundreds of boats) at the end of November. Usually it becomes a bit more quiet afterwards, but this year it didn’t and we now know that we were even lucky to get a place in the marina after waiting “only” five days at anchor. Luckily we are pretty much autonomous energy wise and always store enough food and water on board.

Then a difficult time awaited us. We had to take the decision of whether we’d still cross the Atlantic and make our way to the Caribbean or whether we’d stay in the Canary Islands, most probably till April or May when we could continue our loop back to Europe via the Azores. The main pros were the attractiveness of the Caribbean islands, the warmer weather, and a bit more of adventure. The cons were that we’d have to spend much more time on the open ocean (almost two months) for a short time in the Caribbean and do more boat work to be ready for the crossing. Somehow this decision didn’t come easy to us. We had made it so far and invested so much time and money and now we didn’t know how to move on. We felt that we were too late for the Caribbean (our original plan was to leave at the beginning of December, but that was long out of reach as we still had a lot of boat projects before a potential crossing) and that the “staying here” plan was not the exciting thing we wanted to do during our sailing year. As the days went by, time was likely to be the decision maker as the duration of any visit to the Caribbean was getting shorter and shorter (one has to leave the Caribbean around late April to avoid the hurricane season). It was frustrating as we were practically paralyzed by the fact that we couldn’t come to a decision.

Instead of deciding and working on the boat, we escaped to land life. Las Palmas is a real city with high buildings and the largest port in the Canary Islands, and surprisingly, a nice beach with excellent waves for surfing. So, we went to the movies (which had been on Ela’s wish list for months…), shopping, and even bought a bodyboard. Christmas went by with a nice sailors’ party, a big pot luck where everyone brought food and drinks, even a spontaneous band was assembled – yes, the sailing community is pretty awesome.

And then our friend Daniel came to visit us until New Year. We spent most of our time at the beach, working on our (not so awesome) surfing skills and paying regular visits to the Café Central which serves fantastic vegetarian hamburgers. We watched the New Years fireworks from the main beach of Las Palmas (Las Canteras) and then celebrated on Plaza de la Musica almost until sunrise with a big crowd of Canarians. It was great to have you over, Daniel!

Now it was the beginning of January, and we still hadn’t taken a decision. We pretty much agreed that time had now decided against the much longer voyage to the Caribbean. So, during the second week of January we rented a car and explored the island. The South was too touristic for us, but the center has really nice hiking opportunities and the West coast is beautiful as well. It was during a long hiking day that we reflected our decision again and realized that we were actually unhappy with staying. It wasn’t why we had invested so much into this project. We could always come back to the Canary Islands and do more land-based activities. But we couldn’t so easily go on a sailing adventure to the Caribbean again. Discussing this with some of our neighbors at the marina, we were further encouraged to go. In fact, we were not the only ones still to leave and come back the same year. After more than a month that this decision had been on our minds (and stomachs) we finally decided to go for it! And it felt good.

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