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Our little opportunity

Exchange children
February 21, 2017

Januari 2nd- Muelle Deportivo


It is Monday morning after New Year's Eve and we start the day in the marina with best wishes to our colleagues. For the past week we have been around Las Palmas yachts harbour to find a boat for an Atlantic Crossing. It is like a daily job application with a lot of competition from our fellow searchers. We make a head start with our freshly made advertisement and a visit to all Jean Marie his sail mates. We met Jean Marie on the ferry from the mainland to Gran Canaria. He and his wife Lina invited us at their house, a little further up in the mountains. We are welcome to stay for the night, but one night became three and three became a month. It feels like home and for them we are part of the family. Every day we take the bus to Las Palmas harbour, only at the weekends we are free.

On the pontoons we chat with every captain we meet. We speak with over a hundred boats and keep a clean track of who we met and who we didn't. Every day we get a new little opportunity, while we lose others. On Thursday afternoon we make our last round on the T-pontoon, when a Swiss boat arrives. They have been on anchorage for about two weeks and look very tired. It is not the right moment for a long chat, but a new little opportunity arrives.


That same evening it is one of the biggest national holidays of Spain, Three Kings. The shopping centres have been extremely crowded the last week, with traffic jams up to the highway. Children leave their shoes in front of the window, waiting for the Kings to fill them with presents. In the evening we watch the defile together with Lina, Jean Marie, Karla and Ismael to wave at the Three big names, but it's not very exciting. The procession passes at Spanish pace, so we spend more time waiting than watching. Next to us the Swiss little opportunity is waiting for the spectacle aswell. With good intentions Zoë introduces the two compatriots, not expecting that they don't speak the same language. That doesn't stop Lina and with the same ease she invites them for a dinner at her house. We have a Mexican meal and the Swiss flag is raised. The little opportunity, becomes a little bigger.

We continue our search, but slowly everything becomes a routine. During the day we work in the harbour, in the late afternoon we help in the house and in the evening we join Lina for a run or pilatus. The weekends we celebrate together with the family. Things start to become rhythmic, a sign to find a boat and head on. Half way trough the week we get very excited if we think we have found one. A smaller red boat is happy to bring us over and compliments himself because he found 'two neat hitchhikers'. Our happiness might have killed our ears, because after half an hour we find out he will bring us over to Tenerife, the island next door. We take it for granted and join him for a day trip to upgrade our sailing experience from zero to one.


Our first night in a sailing boat is a little cheat. The boat is in the marina, we cook on an electric cooker and the boat doesn't even move a millimetre. We wake up at six in the morning, eat light and sail out. We sail to an anchorage on the west side of the island, about 30 nautical miles away. Therefore we first have to cross the rough part around Las Palmas harbour. It doesn't take long before our tanned skin turns white, snow white. It's not more than the question who of us will be the first one feeding the fish. Zoë wins with a foot over the line and both teams keep scoring, with the end score of 5-3. After three heavy hours the waves finally calm down. The soup must have been tasty, because suddenly dozens of dolphins swim around our boat. For almost one hour they play around and we forget our nauseousness as if it never happened.

Straight after we arrive at the anchorage Olivier jumps in the water, he will change the anodes underneath the boat, but it is more like an escape. In the water the body seems to feel more home than on the moving boat. Both of us are relieved to set foot on land, that’s an immediate disappointment, because the land moves as much as the boat. The trip made us question several times if crossing the Atlantic is something we should do, but one day later all the doubts disappear. Humans are strange creatures. On a voluntary basis we contribute to all kind of challenges where we push our bodies just above limits, like climbing summits or in this case sailing. Afterwards we only remember the summit or these dolphins. A strange habit.


The weekend is a more familiar exercise for the body. We go camping with Karla and Ismael, daughter and boyfriend of Lina and Jean Marie. We camp in the mountains, which are covered by wonderful blooming almond trees. On the islands they have special recreation areas with bbq’s and benches where you are allowed to pitch the tent with permission. Even half way Januari is teeming with families and young Canaries who never leave their Island and enjoy their own nature. In the evening Lina and Jean Marie join us for a Swiss fondue. We try to convince Lina to stay the night. She is freezing, while for us it is one of the warmest evenings in the tent.

It is time to find a boat. We get impatient and our motivation to make more effort is low. We are fixed on the little opportunity. When Olivier passes the captain on Tuesday, he asks him to make a list with our daily meals. Will this be for real? While Olivier is already with his head between the stars, Zoë is still holding back. Even when they ask us for a day trip to get to know each other better. She only will believe when ‘the' words fall. And they do, on Friday they say that they would like to have us on board! We will cross the Atlantic with our opportunity Jatinga!

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