Yesterday, after a fantastic few days in Gib, we packed up our spotty bundles and left our friends to continue their trip east without us. They were weatherbound in Gib until Saturday, so we decided to head home.
We walked out of Gib, across the runway, into La Linea, the border town. It was like walking from a prosperous city to a very poor one. The bus station was horrible, filthy toilets and poorly signposted, as were the ticket offices and buses themselves!
The bus journey was great, though, especially the bit from Algeciras to Tarifa, the southmost point of Spain opposite Morocco, approximately 15 miles away. The trip took us high into the hills, past countless wind turbines, and lovely green landscapes.
The bus trip took 4 and a half hours. After about 2 hours the driver stopped in a deserted car park, muttered something about ten minutes stop, and disappeared. No-one got off the bus, there would have been no point. No loos, no cafe, nada!
Eventually we arrived in Seville, had a coffee and a cake, and headed for the tourist information, to try to get some help finding accommodation. All they did was dish out lists of places and suggest we ring round. So we went out, went for a walk and found a likely looking hotel, and that was it. Sorted. Out later for paella for dinner (missed lunch) and then we retired for the evening. We were really tired, as the day before yesterday we had taken the cable car up to the top of Gibraltar, and walked down the very steep Mediterranean Steps. This is not recommended for those suffering from vertigo, and it takes two hours. Your legs take some time to recover, we are still stiff! But the bird life at the top was amazing. Ju counted 50 eagles then stopped counting, and there were griffon vultures, honey buzzards; it´s the northerly migration season. The birds were really high up. I will add some photos when I get back to the boat.
This morning we did the city bus tour, this afternoon the cathedral, and now we are chilling in an internet centre for a while in the heat of the afternoon. Seville is an interesting city with a really rich history. Like the cathedral tower which used to be the minaret of the mosque, and has ramps instead of stairs so the guards could ride up on horseback!!!!!
This evening perhaps a bit of flamenco, and we´ll head off back to Lagos tomorrow.
Currently in an internet cafe in Gibraltar, undergoing culture-shock after a year away from the UK to find somewhere that flies the Union Jack off every lamppost. Been to Marks and Spencers, eaten the fish and chips and shepherds pie! Now what?
Ju had her card eaten by a Barclay's Bank cash machine last night, so we are off there soon to recover it. She wasn't the only one. When we got to the bank this morning to reclaim it there was a growing queue of disgruntled punters whose cards had all been swallowed by the same machine. Much faffing about and declarations that they couldn't possibly open the machine while the bank was open, as it is connected to the police station, so we are having to go along once it has closed, knock on the door like something out of the Lavender Hill Mob, and get the card slipped out to us!
Our sail here was great, with added adventure (as always, you may think, dear reader)! We set off on Thursday, in contact with Arwen, another boat from Lagos, who left some two hours behind us. We kept them in view for a while, then they weren't ther, it was getting dark, and we established radio contact with them, only to find out that their engine had stopped and they couldn't start it again.
Steve didn't hesitate, but turned us round and upped the revs on the engine to go back to help them. On the way our engine began to falter, and Steve had to spend some time changing filters and so on before we were on the go again. We homed in on Arwen in the dark, using GPS and a searchlight, and nosed up to her to transfer Steve over. A tricky manoeuvre, but June did it very well. There followed some hours of stooging about in the swell, zig-zagging behing Arwen, going along under main alone. Ju and I were sent below for a rest, and around 1am we got the call that Steve had managed to start their engine. June repeated the feat of helming and we were all off again. Of course Arwen is a faster boat so we soon lost sight of her as her engine zoomed her off into the distance.
We headed for Barbate, but the weather turned nasty and we spent Friday night in Sancti Petri on a mooring. Lovely and quiet.
On Saturday, the weather was not much better, but we headed for Barbate, and experienced rain and thunder on the way. The handheld GPS and VHF radio spent the trip in the oven. I spent the trip stuck behind the saloon table reading the adventures of Hornblower, as I wasn't required on the helm!
On Sunday we had a great trip down past Tarifa to Gibraltar, where we will spend the next couple of days.
At 6.30 this morning I woke up to Ju telling me she had had a worrying encounter with our on-board toilet -the heads- during the night. During the normal pump-out sequence a roaring water sound shot past her right ear, through the new holding tank's overflow pipe, and there emerged a nasty niff! As it was dark and I was snoring, she simply and thoughtfully waited until I woke up to tell me that we had a problem. We couldn't have done much in the dark anyway.
I got up and had a look and, lo, the holding tank had filled itself right up to the top. It is only supposed to do this when you shut off the drain at the bottom, the outflow seacock, and this was set to 'open', as we don't use the tank in port, so it drains naturally by gravity into the sea. But not today!
What to do? First we pumped out what we could through the deck drain, then inside the boat into a sequence of malodorous buckets, and finally the tank was empty. Various wire brushes were pressed into service down the 'out' pipe. No luck. Ju was stationed on deck to shout at once if she spotted any evidence of drainage. Nothing.
We tried pumping air down the pipe, using the dinghy pump. Nothing. We considered blasting water down using the freshwater hose off the dock, but abandoned that idea as potentially too messy.
Finally we bit the bullet and pumped up the dinghy, and I rowed round, leaned over and found the relevant hole in the hull, and poked about for a while with the wire brush. Nada and again nada. So finallly we got the shore hose and blasted water up the pipe into the holding tank from beneath. Success at last!
The culprit was not, as we at first uncharitably thought, a guest to the boat having inadvertently used loo paper and popped it down the pan. No, it was the curse of all boaties, limescale from human pee. Why do toilets on land never clog up with this stuff, we thought, Anybody got any theories?
So, we were very glad this happened this morning and not tomorrow, when we plan to leave the boat for a week and sail as crew on Piper with Steve and June to Gibraltar, via Faro. This morning it only cost me my early morning swim. Tomorrow it would have cost us peace of mind!
More when we have sailors' tales of the briny. We went out on Piper for the day yesterday, and had a pleasant mooch to about five miles offshore and back. I helmed on the way back in, and apart from getting slightly out of shape on the glide in to the finger, did reasonably well.
Keep those comments coming please, we love to get them!