Thursday, November 21, 2013

ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers)

The Rock of Gibraltar with a cloud indicating the gale force winds in the strait!

Our marina in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria

Captain Steve up the mast and looking down at Maria who winched him up there!

One of the many parties for the ARC 2013 participants!

The offices for the ARC.  The workers are everywhere and very helpful!

This boat will be crossing the Atlantic with us too (French as you can see).  We're certain it will beat us!

Our number for the crossing.  It reminds us of the current year!

Carrying the official USA flag in the parade of nations for the ARC!

The dock where Aspen is resting for the time being!

The USA flag proudly flying next to the Spanish flag!

ARC costume party for the Ruby Goddess and either a Roman Senator or Slash of Guns 'n Roses fame?

Our friends on the boat next to us in the marina.  What great costumes they had!

Two fisted drinker...

Supplies for the long journey across the Atlantic!

Safety demonstration with a live helicopter, rescue swimmer and evacuation from a sailboat.  It was very impressive!

Just some of the 220 Rally boats in Las Palmas.

Another safety demonstration with a life raft in the pool.  The admiral didn't want to get wet :)

This is our tracking device onboard Aspen!

Maria making a point with a fellow sailor on the Rally.  I think she won of course!

Another view of carrying the USA flag in the parade with fellow USA sailors!

The costumes from one of the parties with spectacular entertainment!

The Spanish really know how to entertain and party!

The crowd watching the festivities at an ARC party.

S/Y Aspen – November 21, 2013 – Log #112
Aspen Position: 28 degrees 09’ N  015 degrees 25’ W (UTC Hours)

Inspections, meetings, seminars, safety drills and of course the parties have highlighted the past fortnight (2 weeks in our language) for Aspen here in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria.  International crews from all over the world have gathered in the marina to take part in the largest sailing rally on the planet, the ARC.

As each day passes the tension in the air becomes more and more apparent among the participants in our upcoming voyage across the Atlantic ocean.

Food, water, spare parts and oh yes, even the crews are onboard scurrying around getting boats ready for the journey. 

It should take us around 21 days to cross to St. Lucia in the Caribbean from our comfortable berth in Las Palmas once we leave on Sunday, Nov. 24th. 

We have been fitted with a satellite transponder that will track our position, course and speed every hour of the day and night.

If you would like to follow us online at any time just go to:
(Right at the top of the Map there is a TAB that lets you choose between ARC+ and ARC.  Choose Atlantic Rally for Cruisers without the + to see Aspen!)

Look toward the back of the massive fleet and you will see Aspen dancing among the waves.

So when you are enjoying your nice Thanksgiving dinner sitting around a warm crackling fire with family and friends maybe give us a thought if you would, far far away out on the endless sea, traveling ever so slowly with only the wind and sea for our Thanksgiving company.

Sail on, sail on and sail safe Aspen...

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Rock

I returned the Rock of Gibraltar; the icon that was given to me by my fellow sailors when the 20 boats in the Blue Water Rally safely arrived in Marmaris, Turkey after surviving the piracy in the Indian Ocean.

Here is why I returned THE ROCK:  

To Members of the 2009-2011 Blue Water Rally

Fate brought us together as sailors.  Sailors who had a dream of sailing around the world on our own sailboats. 

Together we overcame the constant challenges in the vast expanse of the unforgiving sea.

Our eyes have seen wonders that are hidden from ordinary people, yet lay before our bow each day that we sailed. 

We have experienced the wonders of the world through the eyes of a sailor, of which we are now one.

Phyllis was our dear friend and a member of our Blue Water Rally family.  Bob was our dear friend and a member of our Blue Water Rally family.  Scott and Jean were also our friends and members of our Blue Water Rally family.

Fate stepped in to create a tragic memory that will live with us forever.

The crystal Rock of Gibraltar has now completed the circumnavigation upon its' arrival back in Gibraltar, where this was sent from.

This crystal Rock of Gibraltar belongs to no single person in this rally.  Instead this Rock of Gibraltar belongs to each and every one of us, no matter how small a role we played in this grand adventure.

Please accept the return of this priceless sailing relic to commemorate the bond that we all share, together, as fellow sailors in the 2009-2011 Blue Water Rally. 

Cherish THE ROCK!

Epilog: THE ROCK will pass to each boat who is heading to Gibraltar to complete their circumnavigation.  By doing so THE ROCK will keep arriving back home until the last boat completes its' circumnavigation.

Of course there are still members of the Rally who probably won't be going to Gibraltar because of their new route back to the northern hemisphere via South Africa.  So that point is up for discussion :) 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Gran Canaria

Aspen in her berth at Las Palmas, Gran Canaria.  Notice our ARC flag flying high!

 Cruise ships like visiting our marina too!  This is Princess Cruises.

The museum in Gran Canaria holds more than 1,000 Neanderthal skulls in their collection along with mummified remains.  The caves on the island helped preserve the remains in excellent condition.

Behind Maria is the flag for the Admiral of the Oceans - Columbus.  From one admiral to another!

The main shopping street and McDonalds in Gran Canaria.

Endless sand dunes along the southern coast of Gran Canaria.

Yes the sand is one huge beach!

The interior of Gran Canaria.

Inside the caldera of the volcano.  Gran Canaria is a huge volcano!

Remnants of the volcanic cone.

Maria hiking in the caldera on Gran Canaria

We saw this tree changing colors on the flank of the volcano - oh boy, is winter coming before we leave?

S/Y Aspen – November 4, 2013 – Log #111
Aspen Position: 28 degrees 09’ N  015 degrees 25’ W (UTC Hours)

Aspen rests quietly with her stern pointed at the dock and two bow lines holding her in place at Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Spain.  The Mediterranean salt has been rinsed away and more provisions are being loaded onboard every day.  Soon we will be on our way across the Atlantic Ocean and bound for the Caribbean once again to finish sailing around the world.

We joined what was called the Atlantic Race for Cruisers (ARC).  Now the name has been changed to the Atlantic RALLY for Cruisers.  But this is still a race for a lot of the boats waiting here in Gran Canaria.  The start that is not too far away and there is excitement in the air.

More and more boats are arriving daily in the marina.  At the end of this week there should be 250 sailboats with their crews preparing for the long journey ahead.  That number doesn't include the 50 sailboats who leave this Sunday to sail for the Cape Verde Islands before they sail across to the Caribbean.

We will have some company out there this time!

The next couple of weeks will be filled with briefings, safety seminars and boat inspections, along with getting Aspen ready and her crew rested.  Rested???  With happy hours, nightly entertainment and parties we wonder how much rest we will get!

We will just have to endure!

The route we will be sailing is the Columbus route:  Sail southward from Gran Canaria toward the Cape Verde Islands and then don't turn west until the butter melts.  But Columbus ended up in the Bahamas, a lot further north than we plan to sail! 

St. Lucia is our intended landfall in the Caribbean.

Before we leave we will give you a website where you can track us across the ocean.  Every one of the 250 boats with us will have a transponder onboard so you can see how fast we are going and where we are headed.  Tracking us may be a lot like watching grass grow, that is how fast we will probably be going!

Sail on, sail on and sail safe Aspen...