The Burnetts extend warm (belated) holiday wishes to their friends and family back in the States and around the world. They are still in Gran Canaria, their “Christmas Island” this year.
The Burnetts have been up to their ears in boat drama. A few days before Christmas, as they were patiently waiting to get off of the wait list for a spot in the packed (and horribly understaffed) Las Palmas marina, they were tossed around at anchor by a terrible swell, as the Canaries are currently being barraged by unusual southeast winds. The predictable “Azores high” has become an “Azores low” this year, and so the 25-35 kt “Christmas Winds” are all wonky. That night we awoke to an (unfortunately) familiar, “BANG!” and came out of the boat to find an abandoned monohull, anchor light off, dinghy missing, attempting to take a bite out of our starboard hull. The boat, nicknamed “Spanish zombie boat” by Greg, seemed to have come from nowhere, and the shocked Burnetts had to re-anchor in the dark. Morning light revealed several scratches in the gelcoat of Marvin’s starboard bow and the conclusion that the zombie boat’s anchor had wrapped around some of the famed harbor junk, causing it to shift and swing out of sync with the other boats. It was already attempting the same sort of interaction with the next cat down the line when we finally left the anchorage. Poor lonely zombie soul.
We were able to leave because Greg scouted out a spot in an annex of the marina, asked for that specific spot, and got it. Greg is becoming fluent in Spanish bureaucracy. This is fortunate, as when Mel saw the list, “The Amazing Mirbin” was way down on it. Unfortunately, our side-to spot was not well-protected and got the full impact of the swell coming in from the gap in the breakwater. While our family was opening their presents by the cozy fires at home, Greg spent Christmas morning donning his wetsuit and diving into the dirty, cold marina water, tying lines from our boat to the mooring chain 36 feet down. This was the only way we could keep Marvin from banging into the nasty concrete wall he was moored to. Greg helped the two cats beside us tie off from the wall as well, essentially saving Christmas! (Don’t tell him that. He hates Christmas.) While he was doing this, two boats got shoved by the swell under a nearby pontoon, and eventually one of the dilapidated boats sank. On Christmas night, Greg gradually made a sort-of Christmas tree-shaped pile of wood from the sunken boat on the dock, collecting the diesel-coated bits every time they slammed into our hull. We should have had a bonfire! The next morning was spent with Greg donning his wetsuit again, as the mooring chain had broken, and Greg had to reattach all of the lines to a concrete block he found in the murky bottom.
Because of the lack of protection, to preserve their cleats and their docklines, the Burnetts left (after a THIRD dive by Greg to release the lines) and are now anchored out again. We provisioned for an Atlantic crossing before facing the reality that there is a lot of dead calm between us and the Caribbean, which would demand more motoring than feasible, and so we might be stuck here for at least a week. This is not terrible, as just in the brief time we have been here, we have met a lovely community of fellow cruisers. Allie has a pack of 8 friends she runs around with, and Tommy has finally found a companion. This suits them both. Before we left our little marina annex, it was starting to become like the neighborhoods Mel grew up in, where random kids come knocking unannounced and are let in to play, with parents only knowing the exact location of their kids at dinnertime. We also experienced one great advantage of a community like this when, while Greg was diving, we had four strong men and two strong women help out, scavenging fenders for the dock, pulling in lines, putting on shackles, combining ropes in clever ways, tying rolling hitches, winching lines in, and basically helping us save our boat. (Well, the cleats and gelcoat, anyway.) Mel dubbed these kind souls, “The Amazing Marvin Rescue Team.” (Boat people live for this kind of challenge, by the way. Don’t let them fool you – they were having a blast!) And so despite the recent challenges, the Burnetts still attended a wonderful Christmas potluck, surrounded by like-minded Canadians, Australians, South Africans, French, Mexicans, Austrians, and Norwegians. The opportunity to meet people like this from all around the globe makes the extra effort a cruiser has to expend on “home maintenance” worth it. Peace on Earth, indeed!