A Note from Safari in Gran Canaria
Author: Carmel Kavanagh Posted on: 23/11/07 Print Version

Dia dhaoibh go leir!

What have I let myself in for?? Am I mad or what? I think so. It is a long time since I have spent such a stressful few weeks. In fact I haven't experienced such stress levels since I retired as Principal of Scoil Chaitrona in 2006! As you may have gathered we are in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria preparing to cross the Atlantic with the Arc (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) next Sunday, November 25th at 1300 hrs.

With the help of God and every last cent in our bank account, we will be on the starting line with the other 239 boats.
But what a hectic 7 weeks we have just spent!

Proud Grandparents - Ken & Carmel Kavanagh

My life seems to consist of making up lists, waiting for people to come to the boat to install or repair something and generally panicking that we won't be ready on time. Names like Antonio, Julio, Nin, Juan, Alfred, Juan Carlos are as familiar to me as the names of my own children. On one particular day last week, there was a diver down cleaning the underside of the boat- we could hear him scraping away at the muck and weed on the bottom, there were 2 individuals in the engine room looking at the generator, there was yet another man in the cockpit abusing me in French for not having called him earlier! In the middle of it all our daughter, Helen rang with some great personal news. Cyril and I were trying to have a quiet cup of tea for lunch ! The cockpit floor was out - it was plain bedlam!

But we are not alone - that is the one enormous consolation! It doesn't seem to matter if you arrive in Gran Canaria in a huge, brand new Super Yacht or in a 40 year old wooden Folkboat, everybody seems to need a full team of mechanics, electricians, SSB radio experts and divers on arrival! The queues get long, tempers short and the bank balances deplete with alarming rapidity!

There have been some plus points however! The weather is delightful - always warm enough for shorts and a T-shirt! Family and friends have been to visit and tried their best to ease the stress and cheer us up - which they did!

Thank you so much, sister June, brother-in- laws Frank and Patrick, friends Maeve and Therese, son Colin, daughter-in-law Kathy and granddaughter Sophie for visiting us over the past few weeks.

It was wonderful to see you all and to enjoy the proximity of your love and support.

Dressed for the ARC

We were also hugely cheered to hear of the birth of our first grandnephew, Thomas Walsh - the first Walsh of the next generation. Congratulations to Nigel and Danella, the delighted parents. And off course the success of our daughter, Helen in being granted her State Licence to direct archaeological digs on the first attempt, has us just bursting with pride.

The arrival of our first crew member, Cyril Geran on board is akin to our very own personal Saviour joining the crew. His presence alone has had such a calming influence. The 38 year old Kavanagh marriage now has a chance of reaching a 39th year - it was beginning to look doubtful. In particular as the big, posh, brand new boats began to fill up the marina, one began to harbour serious thoughts of jumping ship onto a more spacious, luxurious boat - a nice 60 footer with all the amenities on board would be really nice. However, Grannies aren't in such huge demand as a "must-have" dollybird on board so I suppose I will just have to stay put on Safari!
Cyril Geran

It is difficult to convey the work and worry involved! How will I feed 4 big men and myself for 3 weeks? Where will I store the food and water and other drinks on board a 42 ft boat?

Well, so far we have cleared out the shower and main wardrobe and reinforced the doors with wood and all the drinks will go in those. In total we will carry 1,000 litres of liquid - 600 in the water tank and the other 400 stacked and hidden around the boat and on deck.

I will be using a lot of tinned food. As we don't have a freezer, fresh meat etc for week 3 is out of the question.

We have now sorted out the meals and bought most of the food. But I still have nightmares of the crew crawling around their bunks looking for crumbs of Week 1 leftovers because they are starving! But my ultimate nightmare is loosing the can-opener!

What about personal showering? Well, the daily allowance on Safari is one litre of water per person per day!

Start of Provisioning

So I have invested in economy size packets baby-wipes and liquid, antiseptic soap which doesn't require water. I wonder how Christopher Columbus managed without such mod cons?

The boat is now kitted out as well as we can possible make it! The SSB radio is linked up to the computer, the generator is working away and we have also installed a wind generator - to be sure! The engine is ticking over smoothly and hopefully will stay that way. The twin jibs are in place and ready to go. We are crossing with the twin jibs Philip Watson used for his trip in 2002. We have spares for everything- even a spare cooker! Ken and Cyril spent yesterday servicing one of the toilets - not a very pleasant task but now its done and hopefully will not let us down mid-Atlantic!

And then what about the actual sailing? Well, I can safely say that I am looking forward to taking to sea, to finally crossing the Atlantic. I have no idea what it will be like but I do know that I enjoy the challenge of a good sea voyage.

There will be 5 of us on board all together - Ken and myself, Cyril Geran and Eddie Brennan of Howth Yacht Club and our son, John.

The trip across is 2,900 nautical miles and we would like to cover between 140 and 150 miles per day which means that it will take us about 21 days.

Ready for the Parade of Nations

We will be heading south until "the butter melts" and then hanging a right for the Caribbean. Hurricanes are not expected (I sincerely hope not!). I know I will be challenged in many unforeseen ways but I will be doing something I really want to do before I hang up my deckshoes!

If you would like to follow our progress first go to:
Then go to "Fleet Viewer" on right hand side of page. We are in the Cruising Class. Our entry number is 204 and the boatname is "Safari of Howth".

There is an awful lot more I could tell you but time does not permit. I want to thank all of you who have recently sent Good Wishes. Your support is very much appreciated.

Finally, after a lot of thought I would like to dedicate this journey of a lifetime to our four children, Colin, John, Helen and Susan, to our daughter-in-law, Kathy, without whose encouragement, support and love this entire venture would have been impossible. Thank you, kids! We hope you will be proud of de "Folks"!

As I am crossing the line next Sunday, I will be quietly saying the following prayer to St Catherine of Siena: Na treig do chlann
Na diultaigh sinn
Ach in ar gcontuirt
Cuidigh linn

St Lucia - get ready - Safari is on her way!

Slan agus Beannacht do chach!

Carmel & Ken

Carmel Kavanagh
Safari of Howth