On board log from 26.54N 17.59W

As I type this we are some 100 miles out to the west of Gran Canaria, heading nicely on a rhumb, or direct, line towards St Lucia. We are sailing at around 8 knots towards the west in bright sunshine and confused seas, feeling good having just eaten a yummy chicken pesto salad for lunch!

We had decided in Las Palmas that we would exit the marina early so that we could head offshore to practice with our storm sails and generally learn how to sail the boat. As we left the quiet shelter of our berth, Ric from Edinburgh played the bagpipes on the foredeck to rounds of applause from other participants on the dock, and no small amount of emotion from the Northern Child crew. Many of us have been working up for this passage for a long time, and now here we are, realising that dream. Lines off, St Lucia next stop, over 2 weeks and 2,700 miles away across the other side of the Atlantic.

The seas outside the breakwater were running quite high as we headed out of the main port of Las Palmas and started sailing, a good indication of what was to come. Rejoining the rest of the fleet just after midday we watched the start of the racing division and then manoeuvred ourselves into a good position on the start line for the start of ARC 2007. With the huge bang of a maroon from the starting boat at 1300 hours exactly, we were off! Under darkening clouds we hurried south away from the line with a great view of most of the rest of the fleet to the north, behind us!

During the afternoon we worked our way south down the east coast of Gran Canaria heading for Maspolomas and the southern tip of the island before dark. As evening came on the skies cleared out and the moon rose full on our stern, illuminating the scene beautifully. The ocean was starting to get less crowded and by dawn we could only see three other yachts on the horizon.

We are now powering along the straight line towards St Lucia and all is well on board. It takes several days to settle into the watch routine of life aboard ship at sea, but we are all slowly getting there. It has been a rewarding 24 hours sail so far, with two patches of calms and several small squalls to keep us on our toes. We have sailed a total distance of 177 nautical miles since the start, although the first 30 or so miles were around the east end of Gran Canaria.

As I write this log over the next few days I will introduce you to the crew, the boat and keep you fully informed about life onboard. You can see where we are 24 hours a day on www.northernchild.com , linked to the Yellow Brick tracker that we carry. This device is a small GPS tracker which has its positions displayed every hour on google earth, and I think you will all see by the end of this voyage what an amazing piece of kit it is. Northern Child becomes addictive! That’s it for today.

A bientot, Julian – Northern Child skipper