30th October 2021
Anfi del Mar, Gran Canaria – Pastio Blanco, Gran Canaria via Puerto Mogan & Puerto Cementos, Gran Canaria
There are lots of legitimate reasons to hold your breath, when being underwater, when trying to avoid noxious fumes* or when having a temper tantrum at the age to 2. There also seem to be lots of other reasons to hold your breath and as we have explored Gran Canaria we seem to have found them all.
Puerto Mogan, like all the ports in the Canaries, is jam packed full of boats, but with our Ruffian luck we’d secured a spot and they could squeeze us in for 2 days and 2 days only. We were told that the spot was tight and as we turned we did everything we could to make ourselves thinner. We thought thin thoughts, nudged our way in and held our breath.
The boats around us yielded, their lines strained, our fenders squished and as we came to a stop just inches from the pontoon, we could breathe again as a sigh of relief escaped us.
Our Ruffian luck also extended to finding a bargain basement hire car and with Helen from Cerulean expertly piloting it, the breath holding games could begin. Helen & Steve introduced us to a game where you hold your breath as you drive through a tunnel. In normal countries this is an easy game and adds amusement to otherwise boring drives. In Gran Canaria this is a game that can lead to serious injury, life changing deformities and the possibility of death.
In Gran Canaria the tunnels came thick and fast. Entering the first, we were amused that it was only 500 meters long, an easy 30 second breath hold, as soon as we were out warning signs for the next flashed up, this would be a 60 second hold. Then, after mere seconds of rest, a 2500 meter long behemoth of a tunnel loomed. Helen was then excluded (in the name of road safety) and Fiona succumbed by laughing at how competitive Steve and Iain were being, but the battle was on.
The end of the tunnel never seemed to get any closer, which wasn’t helped by Helen gradually slowing, and Iain and Steve wanting to be crowned the breath holding champion, turned progressively brighter shades of scarlet. With eye’s bulging, chests burning and minds starting to fade they simultaneously, gave up, sucked precious oxygen and were crowned joint winners (or equal losers depending upon your perspective).
Getting to the first of the wonders of Gran Canaria it was a good job that we were all full of oxygen as our breath was taken from us. The sand dunes stretched out in front of us, casting long shadows and changing their organic shape with every gust of wind. Trekking through them we felt like extras from Laurence of Arabia but one thing that Lawrence didn’t do, was dune surf; but we did.
Hiking into the hills the air thinned and the views became bigger and bigger. Breathlessly we set about to scale the highest of peaks and waved goodbye to the views as we entered the clouds. Over optimistic Iain thought that as we gained height we’d just pop out above them, but everyone else had more realistic expectations.
With hearts pounding we could go no further and Iain pronounced he has happy with the amazing ‘inside cloud’ view. Just as his pronouncement finished the clouds parted and far below us reservoirs glinted in the sun, valleys plunged out of sight and the raw landscape stretched off into the distance.
Having a car was not all about sightseeing. We also had an Atlantic crossing to get ready for and big provisioning was about to take place. With Cerulean and Ruffian having empties both the local Lidl and Mercadona supermarkets all we now had to do was cram ourselves and €500 of food into the smallest of hire cars. Every nook and cranny was rammed and after we slipped our frames into the back more shopping was piled on top of us, around us, and under us. Rearing to go the car was devoid of air which made for the tunnel game home an easy affair.
While we were busy provisioning for ourselves the awesome Canarian OCC port officer, Agustin, was busy provisioning for 30 hungry sailors. Sailing into Pasito Blanco nearly every boat was flying the OCC burgee and with the sun high in the sky we all started making a beeline for Agustin’s house.
Agustin gave his house to the OCC for the day where hardly a breath was drawn. We felt privileged to be surrounded by so many stories of daring do, expeditions into the ice and experiences through the unexplored corners of the globe. Whenever we go to an OCC meet we realise how much we have to learn, how far we have to sail and it was all thanks to Agustin that we could feel this, what an absolute star. **
Gran Canaria has taken our breath away in so many different ways, from the metaphorical to the physical, from the poetic to the pathetic (think Iain and his holding breath game). Once again however the call of the new and the call of new adventures are driving us to head west.
* Usually dealt by Iain, but smelt by Fiona.
** Agustin: If you are reading this thank you, thank you, thank you.
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