30 March 2009
This is now a very busy time here in the marina, as lots of people have six-month contracts and they are all about to leave at the end of March. We on the other hand are booked in here until June, so there is not the same pressure on us to come up with Plan A let alone the rest of the plan alphabet. That doesn't stop people asking the question, though, 'Where are you headed next?' or 'When are you off?'
The good side of the imminent departures is the various leaving events that have happened recently. Last Wednesday over 40 people turned out for the last organised walk of the winter season, from the marina over the hills to a little place called Torre, which has a very good restaurant. We got there to find it was huge, and it was one of those places where you can choose your fish or meat or shellfish from a tank at the door and it is cooked for you. I spotted a mackerel, so I ordered that, the first I had tasted since leaving Scotland! It was a lovely day, and the walk back was as nice as the walk there.
Last evening the group who had the joint Christmas dinner had a reunion nosh-up at the Chinese buffet in town, topped off by a round of the amazing Heaven and Hell game, which had us in stitches at Christmas when played in a cockpit. Only this time we were in a restaurant! I was amazed we weren't thrown out, as the game involves calling and moving around. But the management were benign, and the fellow-diners seemed OK, as they were in groups also.
We took a big decision when our friends Tom and Sus were visiting us here earlier in the month. (The picture above was taken by Sus at Sagres) It is that we will book the boat into this marina over the summer and for the full 12 months from June until June next year. So the boat will stay put, although we will actively seek out crewing opportunities on other boats to recover our sailing confidence and skills, while not having the responsibility of it being our boat. One such arrangement is firmly inked in, on a yacht which is bound for Madeira in mid-June. We will crew for the crossing of around 500 miles or 4-5 days, and then spend a few days on Madeira itself, before catching the Portimao ferry and the train back to Lagos. Other opportunities will come our way also, as nobody seems to like doing long hops with just two people on board, so we are not the only ones! So if anyone out there wants crew this year, get in touch!
Today I felt like doing something constructive on the boat, so I decided to clear out and paint the large aft locker, or lazarette. It was the one cockpit locker I did not paint during the winter refit in Ardfern, largely because the Danboline paint does not dry quickly in cold temperatures. All the internal lockers took their time drying then too, I remember. Anyway, we hauled every bit of our stowed junk out of the locker and tied it down securely on deck for the night, and I climbed into the locker, hunkering down in a very confined space, and got stuck in to the work with the paintbrush. When I couldn't reach the lower corners I asked Ju to tape the brush to a length of plastic pipe we have, and that worked well.
Tomorrow we will re-stow things, and I will turn my attention to the gas locker, which needs painting also. We have done the lid today, but tomorrow I will haul all the small items in there beside the gas bottles out, and clean and paint the interior.
Our friends Trevor and Lesley came round the other day for lunch, which we made on the smoker. They brought various bits of fish, and the smoker did a lovely job of them. Trevor noticed out tiller is in a sad way, having begun to delaminate in earnest. I have been aware of it doing that since we got the boat, and have been wary of it coming apart in some of the stoory sailing we did last year on the way here. In fact I bought a large lump of hardwood in Ardfern and fitted it up as an emergency tiller just in case the worst happened. However, I took the delaminating tiller off the rudder fixing today and it has deteriorated too much to just leave for any longer. So we went off and located the man recommended to us as the man in the marina to ask about wood! He says he can make us a replica from hardwood (iroko) quite cheaply, so we left that in his hands, and fitted our emergency tiller meantime.
This morning I called up a fellow sailor using DSC, to help him check whether his DSC radio is working properly. He answered the call, but when he tried to call me back his radio failed. This happened before with another fellow sailor, who took the matter up with the manufacturer, got an admission that it was a known fault, and had the machine repaired at no cost. I have been amazed how many sailors I speak to who have had DSC radios installed admit to never having used them to make an individual call to anyone. The point is, if they won't work on an individual call, how do you know they will work if you press the mayday button? I blame the RYA DSC radio courses, which never touch on how you can use them to make individual calls to friends nearby, without everyone within range on 16 knowing which channel you are going to talk on!
Anyway, that is the size of things now, at the end of March, aboard the good ship Little Else. We will regain our sealegs and appetite for sailing this year, slowly, and on other boats. Meantime Little Else remains home.