Monday, 30 December 2013


Minima YC Burgee - handmade by moi 
...Vexillology is the study of flags and we've been studying them hard aboard Temptress for some weeks as every country expects visiting boats be they super tankers or the tiniest of yachts, to fly a courtesy flag whilst in their waters out of respect for that country. The flag is usually but not always a small version of the national flag, where the definition of small by etiquette depends on the size of the vessel and height of mast it is to be flown from, though more often it depends on what is available in the previous port! Visiting boats to the UK for instance fly a small Red Ensign and not the Union flag. Flying the wrong flag may be considered a serious insult to the country you're trying to enter so it pays to do your research well before hand if you want to be in the the good books of port officials.

Before we left the UK I looked at purchasing flags for the countries we would probably visit - Morocco, Cape Verdes, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and a fair few more. At several pounds sterling apiece the quantity of flags required could suddenly become a major budget item especially if we spent any time cruising the Caribbean or Pacific.

Materials and templates for Grenada's courtesy flag
I decided a DIY approach would be more affordable and after all we'd have plenty of time on long passages and making flags might be fun. It seemed ripstop nylon was the cheapest non-fraying material available in lots of colours, the sort that is suitable for an average weight spinnaker or a tent. And it has the advantage of being light and packing down small. So after a bit of internet shopping Temptress' flag kit was born with half a metre each of navy and sky blue, green, gold (orange) and yellow ripstop plus larger quantities of royal blue, red and white as one day I may even make a house flag for the boat with our mermaid logo and we needed a new Minima YC Burgee (this latter was finally created in Lanzarote). In addition to the ripstop I added a few metres of white inch and a half binding tape to make the hoist-end (the bit the string goes through) and sorted out a few duffle coat toggles from my button tin though mostly a bowline in the top of the string is sufficient.

The first flag Temptress requires is for the Cape Verdes as Jo kindly purchased a Moroccan one as a present for the boat in Baiona and the Canaries are part of Spain which we already had on board. Now the CV's flag is very straightforward - a navy rectangle with a white stripe superimposed by a red one about a third of the way up from the lower edge. Before it could be cut out however I needed to learn about sizes and proportions of a flag. Flag making is an ancient art a bit like heraldry so the terms are archaic but fun. From the internet I gleaned the following:
  • The height of a flag is called the hoist and the length the fly. 
  • The shape of a flag is defined by the proportion of one to the other - usually the fly is two times the hoist to give a neat rectangle but may be less eg 1.5 times. 
  • Use the height of the mast to calculate how tall the ideal hoist should be for your boat and you have a good idea how big to make the courtesy flag (roughly half an inch per foot of mast height)
If I was to follow the rules for sizing courtesy flags for Temptress' mast would be larger than 35cm x 70cm - that is a lot of material, I'd soon get through my stash. So how to make the process economical without making such a small flag it becomes fiddly? 
  • Cheat a bit - firstly simplify the detail as it won't be seen flying at some twenty feet above the average head on the pontoon. 
  • Secondly scale things down (checking the bought flags we already owned most seem to be around 30 cm or 12 inches high) and change the proportions too if you can - I've used 1.5 x the hoist for the fly of both the courtesy flags I've made so far and they look perfectly ok -  this way you use less material. 
  • You are probably only going to be in a country for a week or two meaning the flag doesn't have to last through endless sun or several gales so construction doesn't have to be bullet proof.
  • Use fabric paints to create any vital detail that is too fiddly for fabric (eg the Union flag on the UK ensign)
  • For UK territories, buy a UK ensign, paint the defacing charge or emblem onto white cloth then attach to the ensign!

Cape Verdes - simple blue rectangle with stripes
The Cape Verdes was easy using double sided tape to "tack" the components together - dressmaking pins won't go through more than a couple of layers of ripstop - then sew either using zig-zag or straight stitch. I hemmed the edge of this flag but probably won't bother again as the ripstop really doesn't fray but is very fiddly to keep folded over without lots of sticky tape which in turn gunges up the machine needle. Don't forget a flag is double sided - by placing the components correctly I could sew both sides on with one line of stitching. The stars that represent the islands of the CVs I drew on using t-shirt pens but they only really show up against the white strip not against the blue.

After the Cape Verdes with our change of cruising plan Grenada looks like the next flag we'll need and it is probably the most complex flag after the UK ensign that any flag maker will encounter. After taking whole day to create a template for the triangles, cut the parts out and stitch it I realised quite why courtesy flags are so expensive.  The rectangular "ground" is made of two green and two yellow triangles all bordered in red. Then there is a red circle with a yellow star at the centre and a nutmeg in the green triangle at the hoist end plus a series of stars along the border top and bottom. All these components have a significance however only the circle and the nutmeg are prominent but I omitted the stars as they'll hardly be seen when it is up the mast.

To make the flag I cut the four triangles with a 1 cm seam allowance and simply overlapped then zigzag stitched to join them into a rectangle, it won't stand a gale but does it need to?  For more on different types of seam that would be stronger see here. It's been a while since I tackled mitred corners but with some internet assistance I managed four passable ones and the doubled over border strengthens the whole. A couple of circles and "nutmegs" (made from freehand drawn cut outs in red and yellow, two sets one for each side)  zigzag stitched on both sides completed the days work. It may not be the neatest bit of sewing I've ever done but I'm extremely pleased with the result. The hoist was bound with cheap 1 inch tape enclosing a length of recycled boat string  (in a bid to reduce costs further). After this the flags of St Vincent and the Grenadines and St Lucia should be a doddle!

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Boat Jobs Always Expand

The bilge pump has been going off occasionally waking one or other of us in the night since the anchor chain was removed from bow and the wind started blowing hard from the south (beam on) this week. We know the cause - water from "that event" still finding its way from the stern services area to the bilge sump by various routes. At the end of a day of jobs we were just relaxing when the pump went off again. We'd said yesterday that we should look into it and check there were no problems with the stern gland etc so a quick five minute check before supper....
Sofa raised to access the engine
viewed from the companionway
Lifting up the engine cover reminded us there was quite a lot of water remaining in the sump under the engine that had been overwhelmed by the seawater coming up the rudder tube when we were towed at speed.Water trapped here can't drain into the bilge as an anti-pollution measure, so the Chief Mechanic got out the oil extraction pump to remove a few oily bucketfuls only to find a bolt lurking in the mucky sump once the water had gone. It was shiny and new and presumably hadn't been dropped there by a mechanic during our pre-departure service last May as it would have been retrieved.

So where from? Whilst Chief Mechanic rotated the prop shaft, watching from above, the First Mate spotted exactly where the bolt had slipped from; the prop shaft/gear box coupling was one bolt short. A bit of fumbling around guided from above and the nut was also quickly retrieved from the sump. More twirling of the prop shaft revealed that a couple of the remaining bolts were also loose. It's happened before, last time off Brixham a few years ago where motoring with no wind we suddenly stopped making progress through the water. Fortunately the tide was sweeping Temptress out into the expanse of Lyme Bay as it then took Kevin a long time to rig up a makeshift prop brake to stop the propeller turning so he could put all the bolts back! This time, safely moored in a marina, it was a five minute task and all the bolts are now securely fastened once more. Wouldn't want to attempt that in any ocean swell.

Five sided engine access
Meanwhile fluff was cleared from round the engine cover (or sofa depending on your point of view) and the top of the water tanks - just where all that fluff comes from is a mystery, there are mostly just two of us onboard! And how much water was still aft of the engine area waiting to work it's way forward? Open up the doors under the aft head sink to investigate... first remove two boxes of spare light bulbs and plumbing bits, then a few dozen loo rolls (the Atlantic Crossing supply) wrapped in bin liners and finally the inside of the hull could be seen. The loo seacock looked a bit rusty. Rusty? It's bronze no idea where that stain has come from; one to keep an eye on. Tentatively try the seacock it closes but won't budge open. The Chief Mechanic swaps roles to plumber and works it open and shut a few times before asking the First Mate to try again. This time it moves freely. We mop out the dribble of salt water, rinse this bit of bilge with fresh and mop again, leaving it to dry overnight (or was it that we couldn't be bothered to put everything back 'cos it is definitely time to cook supper?).  The last of the oily water is left in the pump in the cockpit (can't face a third trek round to the oil dump), Kevin heads for a shower whilst Susie notes that the cabin sole really needs a wash down too - one for tomorrow - then we sort out the furniture and cushions and settle down for the evening, a couple of hours and several trips to the oil dump round the other side of the boatyard after we started a quick five minute check. Thanks Buzz FM for keeping us entertained through out!
I will get this not on that bolt


All tightened up once more

Extracting oily bilge water -
this oil extractor pump is a brilliant tool

Meanwhile our extended stay in port has a silver lining in that Temptress' job list is at an all time low of ten items unstarted and three part done. Even better the one job that has been on the list since 2002 (and annoying the First Mate ever since it got to the top of the list about six months after joining it) -"fill and fair the furler switches"; Kevin announced today with a big fan fare that he has finally worked out how to do! So we might just might tackle that one too before Christmas, possibly or possibly not - what would we do without two purely decorative water proof switches at the top of the companionway?

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Dissimilar Metals

When two different metals meet if the circumstances are right then one will generously pass itself over to the other which may or may not be what you want. If it is in a cheap battery then yes this is a reaction you need to effect a flow of electricity but if it is two bits of metal on a boat then usually this is not a desirable outcome.

The problem on a boat is that it is hard to avoid having different metals together in some places - stanchion posts are usually steel, their bases may be steel or aluminium and the toe rail those are attached to is often aluminium. And the circumstances are always going to be right as sea water is salty so conducts electricity quite well. The result can be unattractive bubbles of corrosion or it can have more serious consequences such as where a steel fitting like a radar bracket is attached to an aluminium mast. The new pulpit required two replacement stanchion bases and these have been manufactured locally from stainless steel rather than the original aluminium for speed, time and cost reasons. This has moved the risk of galvanic corrosion (the correct term for the process) from between base and post to base and toerail. However corrosion can easily be prevented by using a suitable barrier, in this case a thin plastic pad between the two metal parts.

Corroded windless base
Meanwhile as Kevin moved the anchor chain around so that the pulpit could be fitted he discovered some unwelcome galvanic corrosion has started between the steel plate that the anchor windless sits on and the anchor windless itself. A mass of bubbling metal at one corner of the aluminium windlass case where it bolts to the plate indicated that the aluminium was leaving the windless for the steel plate. If allowed to continue the corrosion would weaken a strong point that Temptress might rely on if we were anchored in severe weather so needed urgent treatment. To that end all 70 odd metres of the main chain plus the warp and chain we use for our second anchor had to be removed from the anchor locker to ease access to the fixing bolts. The chain and warp are now laid in tidy lengths on the pontoon alongside the anchor and been given a good hose down for the first time in several years.

Will he get out of there?

Windless, plate and messy shelf

The steel plate just needed a clean up
The anchor well also contained a fair amount of rotting seaweed, rubbish dropped by the metal workers when tailoring the pulpit (the boat hook helped remove a marker pen before unloading the chain) and mystery stuff like bits of the manufacturers label from the anchor which you think would be washed over the side not down into the well, two halves of a chain link actually lost in the depths by the skipper when he replaced the swivel that joins the anchor to the chain earlier this year and other odds and ends. Most rinsed out easily with a hose as the two cowls on the outside of the drain holes were knocked off by the towing bridle (one of the repair jobs waiting to be done under the insurance claim) only the heavy items remain, probably indefinitely. The well being like an upside down pyramid about chest deep is hard to get in and out of  and it is impossible once in, to bend or squat down to pick up stuff from its small floor space (I know I've tried). A possible need for one of those litter picking thingies or else we have to simply ignore the remaining rubbish.

A day or so later Kevin threaded himself feet first into the well, the only way to undo the bolts that hold the anchor windless and its steel plate in place. Both I and passers by wondered if he'd get out again but he did. Then the forepeak had to be partially emptied of sails so that the windless could be disconnected from its power supply as the cables aren't long enough to otherwise lift it onto the deck from its shelf at the rear of the anchor well. Meanwhile the rough weather lashing the coast resulted in the water supply to the pontoon being cut due to wave damage so fresh water to wash everything down with was in short supply. Having scrubbed away the dirt with bucketfuls of sea water the final rinse was water from the galley tap. The weather was decidedly flaky - apart from strong southerly winds which have been tossing water over the marina wall for the last couple of days, intermittent rain showers coated red Sahara dust on everything. And, when it wasn't raining, you were breathing in that same thick dust leading to coughing and sneezing fits or a perpetual runny nose, working outside had become particularly unpleasant.

What to use as insulation? LanoCote, a sort of lanolin grease often used to protect against corrosion, had been smeared on when the steel plate was replaced a few years ago but obviously hadn't stood up to the wear and tear of the anchor chain rattling past or all the salt water that washes into the anchor locker when at sea. As mentioned plastic is an ideal inert insulator. We recently bought a couple of 50x70cm sheets of 1mm thick translucent pink plastic in the local ferreteria as part of our ongoing mosquito screen project (more on that when it is complete). Ferreteria Tias (or FT) is a veritable Aladdins Cave of DIY materials and kitchen equipment that we have both become addicted to. Kevin re-purposed a 20x20cm piece of the lurid plastic to become a sandwich filling between the winch and its steel mounting plate. It is easily cut with scissors or a knife and can be drawn on with a biro or pencil.
Plastic cut and ready to go
 Meanwhile opening up the electrical side of things has enabled him to check on and clean  the down switch that had caused us problems when anchoring in Essaouira over a month ago. Something to pass the time between dry spells! And, as its still raining and rapidly getting dark, the whole lot can wait until tomorrow to be reassembled.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Vacuum Packed Chicken and Pickled Cabbage

Elise, Gordon & Steve
Thanksgiving Dinner 2013, RC Louise
It's over a month since Temptress was towed into Puerto Calero, Lanzarote and we are still here though the boat has moved all of 20 metres to the next pontoon across. It was easier to move than to try to turn Temptress round so that she is bows-to for work on the new pulpit with the bonus that access by boatyard staff on this pontoon is easier.

Repairs have got under way but it is a frustratingly slow process. At first Kevin was busy gathering insurance quotes, finding a shipping company for the rudder etc but now we have to wait for the tasks to be done. A sturdy new pulpit has appeared on the bow, but as yet no navigation lights. The mainsail has been repaired but remains on the sail loft floor, Kevin will go and assist the sailmaker to fold it again next week. Sprayhood repairs will be completed on Monday or Tuesday but the rudder has unfortunately been seriously delayed by a lack of suitable steel, we hope for good news tomorrow on that front. All in all it looks like we'll be celebrating Christmas here.

Oud-Arn, Tracy, Susie & Kevin
In our spare time other things get done. We've cleaned fenders, rinsed Moroccan mud from our mooring lines, pondered over how to fix the trim round the forepeak hatch and achieved a zillion other bits and pieces. The boat inside and out looks a bit of a mess with boxes, buckets and general boat clutter strewn everywhere. We sit on bunk cushions from an aft cabin round the saloon table. In between we've been exploring the island, even finding the enthusiasm for some geocaching which here amongst the lava rocks is a bit like the challenges of Omani caching. Which rock? Do you remember the picture?

Fitting the new pulpit
The forward heads has become a bit of a nuisance -  it fills with seawater slowly. Fortunately the sea level outside the boat is such that the bowl never overflows but it is an inconvenience to have to pump it out before you use it. The valve seals look serviceable, Kevin took the pump apart and cleaned the components a week or so ago but after only a couple of days water began to seep in again. It has done this on and off since we left Southsea and had one replacement set of flap valves fitted already this year. A messy investigation task for the coming week.

Mainly we have been sorting out storage for the massive amount of provisions that four people will need for six weeks and beyond. Provisioning occupies our thoughts continually as we think through storage, ideas for menus, discover from other cruisers strategies for preserving fresh stuff as long as possible etc and is a welcome distraction from the repair project.

Our  trip across the pond will take three weeks or perhaps four if we spend some time in the Cape Verdes, add a contingency of at least a week and extra stores as the Caribbean can be expensive. (Did we mention that this is our revised destination as we don't fancy the 1200 mile of headwinds the Pilot Atlas predicts to the east of Brazil late January early February?)

Food for six weeks plus is therefore required. Fresh foods like meat and veg are simply not going to last that long so Temptress has to be loaded with tins and dry stores like flour, pulses and beans. Potentially four weeks of eating meals made from canned food means variety will be key to keeping the crew happy so we are also adding tins never normally consumed like peaches - for breakfast as well as for desert and frankfurters (can you make a decent sausage casserole with these?). Utilising our hire car we've bought a massive amount of stuff already and have got to know what Lidl, Hiperdino and Eurospar offer. The focus has been on long term, heavy stuff like tins plus items we may not easily find "over there" like favourite coffee, shampoo and the like. More perishable items can wait until the crew arrive in January. We've also purchased foodstuffs that are relatively cheap here like powdered milk and washing up liquid. And edible items unique to Spain such as a vacuum packed cooked chicken (best before Feb 2014), hard cheeses (keep forever) and chorizios (also keeps for a long long time). But where to put it all?

Dry Stores & UHT Milk

Some of the bottles and jars

Surrounded by tins - we mark the contents on the top
making it easier to spot what's what from above

Wine for drinking before we leave!
The bilges are almost full - a couple of dozen tins of tomatoes, what seems like six months worth of baked beans, corned beef and car crash (tinned sardines in tomato sauce, a sandwich favourite) plus lots of other stuff. The aft heads space under the sink is crammed with packs of loo roll in protective bin liners (trying to estimate the quantities required reduced us to some schoolboy humour). A cubbyhole under the chart table is likewise stuffed with eight kitchen rolls and three boxes of Kleenex, I was amazed just how much could be fitted in this spot which has housed only a roll of flags for many years.

Under the saloon table are currently two folding crates full of tins of veg, jars of potatoes, tetra packs of sugar and jars of Nescafe Alta Rica. Saloon lockers are beginning to fill with dry stores like pasta and rice but we know there will be more to come; flour, yeast, kidney beans (if we can find them), drinking chocolate, the provisions list is endless and the quantities measured in kilos or dozens.
One locker space Jeanneau hadn't though of!
Other boats appear to have far more storage than Temptress with lockers behind and above the saloon seating backs as well as below the seating. It's the price we pay for an airy open saloon. So we started looking at our boat with new space greedy eyes. Are there any "dead spaces" behind all that teak that are currently inaccessible? Well yes definitely behind the curves of the porthand sofa. With the upholstery all away being renewed we took up the challenge. Kevin drilled a thumb sized pilot hole and we eagerly peered in with the help of a torch. Both ends revealed sizeable voids. I went out for an hour or so and when I returned neat ovals had been cut. A couple of judiciously placed pieces of marine ply prevent any contents sliding beyond arms reach along the back of the sofa. Temptress has two new lockers. A length of table protector will pad the hull to prevent rattles and condensation then we can put the lockers to use. We are now wondering where else!

The ongoing debate is how/where we'll store kilograms of potatoes which need cool and dark conditions to survive without sprouting. Usually we have a couple of kilos under the galley sink but the space is too small for much more. The cool box will be turned into the boat's fruit and veg store and the beer in the fridge will have to give way to dairy stuff and fresh meat for the first part of the voyage. We collected plastic egg boxes in Morocco to protect four dozen eggs or so (the actually quantity is a bit of a weird number as eggs came in fifteens or dozens). Apparently eggs keep for long periods unrefrigerated (and they rarely are on Temptress) if turned every couple of days. There is space on top of the sail repair box to stow the boxes though they probably will need some padding (an alternative use for beach towels?).
The skipper nose in a good book

Remind anyone of DXB? Actually Playa Blanca

The square at Femes

Beating to windward off Punta Pechiguera

The lighthouse, Punta Pechiguera

Another distraction is planning our landfall. Which courtesy flag(s) do we need to make? Our Pilot Guide for the Lesser Antilles is over two decades old, should we buy a new one for more recent immigration/customs formalities and harbour info? We have up to date electronic charts which hopefully will show new marina developments in former anchorages so we can avoid them. And then there is deciding which island to actually head for, after all it helps setting off across the Atlantic if you know approximately the course required to reach a destination even if ultimately we make landfall elsewhere. Whatever happens the crew will not starve though they could be eating some strange combinations if the voyage takes to long; pickled cabbage and fruit cocktail anyone!

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Good ideas are often the simplest (but may take some time to implement)

With our fuel tank holding sufficient fuel for 500nm of motoring it is rare that we are ever short but for an ocean crossing with the potential for a lack of wind any extra fuel we can carry is a bonus. It will give us peace of mind being able to run the engine to charge the batteries if solar and wind generation fail or are insufficient as well as get us into a port. With that in mind Kevin had been mulling over how to fix fuel cans on the side deck since we left the South Coast last May. In Ireland we met a boat “Lady Menai” who had a plank affixed between the stanchions on either side of the boat. Each plank was drilled with holes through which line could be threaded back and forth around the cans ensuring they were securely attached and would survive almost any bad weather.

Mk I - Hardwood plank tied inside stanchions on Temptress
 Having turned down by reasons of cost and space, fuel cans in a sale in Baiona, Kevin has spent many hours since trawling hardware stores for suitable containers and planks. In Rabat he purchased two lengths of Havea (Rubberwood) for a good price and oiled them. Initially these were tied to the stanchions either side of the boat just forward of the cockpit using string but here in Lanzarote he was finally able to buy U-bolts so redrilled the holes and attached the planks outside the stanchions to give more space for cans and passing crew. The cans were found in Arrecife, a little expensive but practical sizes and strong plastic which we hope will be UV resistant for a few years.  Four thirty litre fuel cans and two twenty litre water containers are now secured in place using lengths of white cord, one cord per can so only one has to be undone at any one time. The water containers will give us an emergency supply should we ever contaminate Temptress’ water main tanks and provide a means for capturing rainwater if the watermaker fails. Just need a funnel now to direct the rain into them from the forward end of the mainsail.
Mk II - Held on by U-Bolts

fitted out with cans, looking aft

String stopping cables
disappearing down a dark hole
 Meanwhile down below in the forward heads a fluorescent light failed. It is one of four, two to port and two to starboard either side of each of the mirrored locker doors that hide our toiletries and first aid stuff. Replacing the tube is a simple task I’ve done before, unscrew the cover, replace the tube and hey presto. It was not to be; inserting the tube from the light on the other side of the mirror as a check revealed that the fitting was faulty, not the tube. The chandlery at Marina Rubicon hadn’t a slim enough 12v light fitting, cleaned out by the many other boats heading west across the Atlantic and not as yet chance to restock. Though it was nice to see that the ones they did have were the same brand; the Essex based manufacturer is still in business more than twenty years after supplying Jeanneau with light fittings prior to Temptress’ being built.

Grubby light fitting on starboard side
We pondered on alternatives for a couple of hours until John on Orion I, our neighbour on the pontoon showed us an LED strip light he’d purchased in IKEA. Originally meant for inside a cupboard, its slim profile, 50cm length was just right for vertical niche in the corner of the moulding behind the curved Perspex light cover. Even better LED lights are 12v so no transformer or additional wiring required simply snip off the supplied 12v “plug” and wire directly into the existing connectors. It was simple to attach using the provided sticky strip and screws. Not quite as diffused a light source as the original but it works and the light is pleasingly more warm white than the rather clinically cold glare of the replacement tubes we have. With the cover in place no one can see that it doesn’t match the other fittings and presumably it uses less power too. As a bonus whilst we were at it we removed the other light covers and cleaned away ten years or so of dust from around the remaining three light fittings.

Job done - new light strip on the right
During all this Kevin has been liaising with Waterline who will do the various repairs needed and fit the new rudders, JWS in Southsea who are building the rudder, Think Worldwide who will ship it  and Sancargo the local shipping agents who will import it on our behalf. It took a while to find shippers; too big to fly into Lanzarote at just over three metres and weighing 150kg including its packaging, the options were fly to Tenerife or Gran Canaria and put it on the ferry or ship directly from Europe to the island.

The latter proved interesting – by lorry from Portsmouth to Cadiz then into a container costs some two thousand pounds, almost as much as flying it in and beyond the limit acceptable to the insurance company who are paying the cost. However by road to Barcelona where the rudder can be loaded on the same ship as loose cargo at the start of its voyage to the islands, the cost becomes a more reasonable sum of around seven hundred pounds. It’ll take a couple of weeks to get here by this route (the ship calls at various places enroute including Cadiz) but at least it will get here. Southampton-based Think Worldwide have done this sort of thing for yachties before! So it’s looking like we’ll be approaching Christmas by the time rudder is fitted and we can do a trial sail.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Domesticated Or Is Boredom Setting In?

Today the sky is grey, the wind is howling and it apparently rained heavily in the night though the downpour didn't disturb me. Luckily the skipper got up and closed the hatches!

So far this our second weekend in Puerto Calero, has been quite productive. Yesterday the cockpit table and mug rack received their first coats of Deks Olje #1 in ages and are beginning to look quite smart again. There is a long way to go before they are fully finished as have to wait for one side to dry out completely (3 days) before can turn them over and do the other side. The task was started on Friday with a bit of a "doh" moment when having sanded everything I (Susie) realised the instructions for re-application said a wash would have sufficed. Still the sanding will give a better finish so probably worth the extra hours invested.

Spent Saturday afternoon polishing stainless steel - the bimini supports and a few other bits before tedium won. It is satisfying seeing everything bright and shiny again with the rust stains eliminated but there is an awful lot of it - solar panel supports, the wind gennie post and supports, umpteen stanchions, the wheel and binnacle, bimini and sprayhood frames, the pot our aft kedge anchor lives in and probably a lot more. Contrary to expectations stainless does rust but not as much as other just stains less! At least a week's work for the crew but as we've little else to do at present it is welcome work.

Later we said goodbye to our friends Buket and Ender of SY Istanbul who the following morning would be heading further west to the next island Fuertaventura (strong winds) for a week or so before making the trip to Las Palmas at the end of the month from where they'll set off for the Caribbean. It is a day's sail to Gran Tarajal and theirs will be a fast trip as it is blowing F4-5 gusting F7 but they are keen to not to get rooted in one place for long. Today, Sunday, the rally fleet for the Atlantic Odyssey (AO) are also due to depart. Their destination is a bit further as the thrity or so boat are heading across the pond; not a day I'd choose for making a start on such a voyage, one good reason to not be part of an organised group with a fixed timetable. Apparently yesterday in Arrecife was bedlam with the AO crews making last minute purchases of bottled water and chandlery.

Gradually over the next few weeks many of our friends will be leaving Lanzarote for Gran Canaria, timing their arrival to be just after the main Trans-Atlantic rally, the ARC has departed. By the time they arrive there should be space in both the marina and the anchorage and hopefully the shops will have restocked. We sadly won't be there until much later, probably January possibly February, when most yachts will have already set off.

Meanwhile Temptress waits for her new rudder and other repairs. The surveyors report has been sent to the insurance company and quotes have been requested. Whilst stuck here we have decided to invest in new salon seating, the old stuff is tatty, grey with years of accumulated salt and dust, gradually rotting away under us, the foam failing. So next week I am off to a fabric warehouse with our upholsterer, Janine to select new material and hopefully by early December we'll have brand spanking new, comfortable seating. Oddly when she opened up the cushions the base ones were done with average foam which has not surprisingly collapsed after twenty years of use but the backs which see less compression, wear and tear have top of the range foam which is perfect. The latter can be reused!

Having learnt from last weekend that everything and we mean everything even the supermarkets and chandleries, are shut, today we got up late and after a breakfast of poached eggs mooched around down below. Since breakfast I've put chickpeas to soak for hummus, mung beans to sprout and started a batch of yoghurt. The latter is a first for us on board and we wait with bated breath to see what it turns out like in six or eight hours time. The recipe I used was one from Hugh FW found on the Gruniard website - I doubled the quantities as we've a 1.5l thermos from our desert driving days. Yoghurt is another breakfast favourite, over fruit or with honey and pine nuts or all three, simple and easy to prepare at sea.

Yoghurt Making
Hummus and Beansprouts

Lest you might think the Skipper has been idling about; Kevin hijacked my Kindle and has been working his way through the entire series of Jack Aubrey novels between chasing up quotes and having the boat lifted out. He has been quite happy to volunteer to do the laundrette run! Whilst we were cruising ten years ago his IT skills were in demand from other boats trying to connect via their mobile phone to the internet... well technology has moved on and now the requests are for help with wifi or with satellite phones and the internet - strange how little has actually changed.

Lanzarote being a bit of a windy place and the Sahara being a hop, skip and a jump away across the sea, dust gets in everywhere. Not quite as bad as Dubai but still coating everything including the rigging, which you touch at your peril as ropes and wire have taken on a gunky brown tinge (more rain please?). And with hatches open to cool the boat the dust has been working its way down below too. Need to get the dusters and Dyson out in the next couple of days for a serious bit of "spring" cleaning unless we want to start cultivating potatoes on the salon shelving!

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Inspection Lift Out

Being man-handled backwards into the hoist basin

Going up

First sight of the rudder remains

Another angle

A single spot of antifoul missing forward of rudder
- contact with an unknown object?

The lower bearing had fallen out

The rudder went in here

Not a piece of sculpture

One man and his rudder

The skeg and internal structures were pronounced okay which was a relief, though the stern tube needs some cosmetic repairs. Mid afternoon Temptress was dropped back in the water without a hitch. Afterwards she was manhandled around so we are now stern to the pontoon meaning the cockpit is protected from the northerly breezes and has sunshine rather than shade most of the day. Result! Next step is to collate all the quotes for work to be done; rudder building, gelcoat repairs, sail and sprayhood repairs etc. and submit to the insurance company.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

The Aftermath

Alongside the reception pontoon - tow boat ahead
Thursday morning, Puerto Calero; Temptress' crew, still exhausted had to be up to complete paperwork and apparently first to be moved to a more permanent berth. The harbour Master himself would conduct the operation but we viewed the "tug" with alarm. It was just a few meters long, no bigger than say Southsea's workboat or Minima's safety boats but unlike them was not a rugged, heavy craft but  relatively lightweight elegant open boat with a generous curving bow. Pleasing on the eye but we wondered if it would be able to manage 16 tonnes of uncontrollable yacht. However it is their boat and their harbour so we went with the flow even when the HM said he wanted to tow from ahead on a line when both Kevin and I's instinct in such confined space would have been an alongside tow.

We untied the last of the mooring lines and the HM set off. Kevin called to him to go faster and more to port (left) so Temptress cleared the bows of a beamy catamaran secured to the pontoon a few boat lengths further on. Our tug sped up but not enough for Temptress' keel to bite in the water so she responded by yawing rapidly to the left well beyond her tug. Kevin yelled back at the First Mate to start the engine and I scrambled to put it in full reverse but could not avoid what happened next. Crunch! Temptress' pulpit (the metalwork around the bow) crashed heavily into the post supporting the first pontoon running out from the shore on our left. She reverberated off then swung away off to the right on the end of her towline. Somehow the pair of us managed to get fenders raised sufficiently as poor stricken Temptress came to rest alongside the forward part of a large motorboat whose flaring bow curved above our guard wires threatening further damage.

After some heated discussion the HM agreed that the Skipper knew best how to manoeuvre his boat and agreed to be secured along side us. Then, using the engines from both boats to alter course as required, Kevin got us moving in a more controlled fashion mid-channel up the marina. Meanwhile a group of cruising yachties had witnessed events from one of the other pontoons and a couple of them suddenly realised where we were headed. The berth adjacent to their boat had become free that morning when the occupant left for pastures new. The crowd scrambled along the shore quayside and onto Juliet pontoon up by the boatyard. From on board Temptress a shouted conversation between the Skipper and the HM (it was too windy for anything else) ensured we too realised where we were headed and as it dawned on me I seriously doubted we'd get there in one piece. Another sharp left was hampered by the huge bow of a bulky motorsailor we'd be sharing the space between the fingers with.

Ouch - one of several...
Although Kevin was fairly confident we could turn (ahead on one engine, astern on the other) and poke our bow in, rid ourselves of the tow and then be heaved in the rest of the way by the now large reception committee, the HM himself wavered. Temptress turned but wasn't going fast enough so drifted almost across the entry to the boatyard hoist basin. Kevin yelled, I looked up and caught mostly in the face a line from the far corner of the basin which was quickly secured to our starboard stern cleat. A line off our bow was taken by the team on the pontoon finger whilst others ensured we didn't collide with our other new neighbour "Orion I" moored on the opposite side of short finger. Soon the hullabaloo was over, the crowd departed and we were left to make Temptress secure. Debbie offered us coffee and her husband John made us welcome assuring us that we were in good hands even if the HM's boat handling did leave something to be desired.

Various marina staff came to visit during the rest of the day with apologies. In the office everyone could not be more helpful too so despite our rather dramatic arrival we began to be reassured and started to relax. Time to call the insurance company and get the ball rolling for repairs. By mid afternoon their surveyor had arranged a liftout for Tuesday 12 Nov at midday so he can inspect the damage. Meanwhile we'd been visited by the boatyard manager who promised that the pulpit will be replaced and the damage they'd caused made good at the marina's expense.

Snug at last if a little bent and bruised -
the anchor is upside down from our tow in,
turned that way to prevent it snagging on the bridle
And to add to our eventful day, it seemed we were minor celebrities due to our "dramatic rescue and tow" into Lanzarote. Alex from the office asked us if we wouldn't mind doing a local TV interview - just one question "what happened" and we had twenty seconds to answer. Kevin was perfectly tuned into the situation - what was needed was a plug for the SAR folk and he was more than happy to provide it ensuring that Canarians knew how professional and caring the crew of Guardamar Talia were. Then Alex took over in front of the camera; presumably his torrent of Spanish was a plug for the marina for being able to offer us shelter and lift out facilities! The cameraman then followed us around the boat "tidying up and examining the damage" for a few minutes before heading off. The following morning we learnt that Temptress' rescue had also appeared in the local Spanish language papers.

Adrenaline finally gone we slept shakily on Thursday night but woke resigned to being here for some months. It could be worse, winter in the Canaries is not cold, our home is still afloat and Lanzarote is spectacular, just a walk on the lava field on the headland beyond the boatyard is impressive with huge clear turquoise waves crashing on the foreshore. We've hired a car (the marina staff got us a good deal) and decided that as we are here for the foreseeable we'll tackle some of the bigger jobs on our boat list. You know the ones that aren't essential to safe sailing but none the less will add to the comfort of the crew or well being of the boat. Number one of these is re-upholstering the saloon - the grubby cushions are over twenty years old, seams are splitting and underneath the cloth is starting to rot badly in places. We've patched it but it is not going to last too much longer with us living aboard full time. The local sailmaker (a chirpy Brit) is organising someone to come out from Arrecife next week to take a look and provide a quote for new foam and covers.

We also have to consider what next. A long term stay in a marina was never part of our budgeting and this will be our second unplanned one, the other being Oban whilst the First Mate's back recovered during August. Therefore we may have to curtail our long term cruising destinations and return to the UK to top up the contingency coffers. However until Temptress is well on the way to recovery and we have some time scales, whilst we might mull over the options, we aren't making any decisions. Life is full of surprises and we like it like that - our mantra is that plans are made to be broken, better to have one to alter than drift along with no idea of where you are heading.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Numero Uno on the Phucket-Bucket List...

Moroccan fishing boat hidden in the swell
There are some things in life that make sailors long for a tree to sit under; losing your rudder on an ocean passage is one of them and is top of the list of things you hope never to experience second only perhaps to actually sinking. From Essaouira, Morocco to Isla Graciosa off the  northern tip of Lanzarote is around 250 nautical miles or about 36 hours at sea, small beer in terms of some passages we’ve made and Temptress set off eager to be somewhere new. The forecast was for a north easterly F4 becoming F5 later and perhaps becoming more easterly as we approached the Canaries. Our course was basically just west of south west and we chose to steer a little higher as we expected a 0.5 to 1 knot current which would push the boat south. The sun was shining, the weather pleasantly warm but not hot in the breeze. Cheerfully we argued about our top three anchorages before agreeing that Tobermoray, Loch Moidart and Warbarrow Bay qualified whilst Newton Creek, Lulworth Cove, Loch Dram na Buie were runners up.

Down here at 30 odd degrees above the Equator it gets dark around 6pm so we ate supper early on our first night at sea, Monday 4 November and Kevin took the first off watch. Temptress was romping along comfortably at seven or eight knots with the second reef in the main and a small amount of jib unfurled. The north easterly had kicked up a wave train at slight odds to the huge ocean swell which sporadically caused a mountain of water to break with a roar and our wake added to the melee with pyramidal piles of water that splashed up the starboard quarter sprinkling the watch keeper with cold salty water. Oiles, snug mid-layers and a warm hat were required.

There was a thump felt rather than heard in the cockpit but loud down below, quickly followed by a second one then George beeped frantically complaining he was off course.  I rushed to help him out but came to a stop short of the control panel down by the wheel as my harness line wasn’t quite long enough. Unclipping quickly I grabbed the wheel and pushed the standby button. Meanwhile Kevin pulled on his layers and lifejacket and appeared on deck. Having got round aft of the wheel it quickly dawned on me that the steering was oddly stiff then as a wave lifted us the wheel span far too easily under my grip. Temptress was tossed round in a gybe by the wave, we both yelled the “rudder has gone” as the boom swung across violently. Temptress carried on round into a tack and another gybe and probably another tack but by then we were trying to pull in the mainsheet and get things back under control. With the jib backed and the main pinned in we hove to, safe but shocked.

A quick assessment of the damage on deck showed that the traveller blocks had broken loose on the port side so we pulled the car up to starboard and locked it there. The portside traveller control line had ripped out it’s sprayhood eyelet  across as far as the companionway granny bar, by quickly shoved the cockpit cushions up against the hole any further ripping of the flapping material was prevented. Later we tried to duct tape it but the material was all too damp. And much later when it was light I scavenged a shackle from our davit hoist and repaired the traveller as faras we were able, daylight also showed that the lower pulley wheels on the blocks at either end had gone broken apart by the force of one or other gybe so it was no longer easy to adjust. We put in the third reef to slow us down.

What was left
Then clipping on around the backstay, the skipper took a torch and ventured down Temptress’ stepped transom. Lying on the bottom step and hanging over the edge he reported that the rudder had indeed gone but that the stern post and the metal work that had supported the GRP was still in place. One relief as without the stern post we’d have a large hole several inches in diameter in our stern and sinking would be a very real threat. In fact the lower rudder bearing with nothing now to hold it in place had dropped down onto the top of the metal work too but we only realised this later.

What were our options? Sixty miles out from our last port which now lay impossibly upwind, the huge lee shore of Africa to the south of us, the Canaries south west of our position and North America some thousands of miles to the west. We tacked over and hove to again so Temptress now pointed north-west, that way we’d drift away from the coast whilst we considered our options. Even like this we were making 4 knots, in the coming days we worked out how to get this down to under one knot. We took turns to doze. With the AIS keeping watch for any shipping coming over the horizon we felt fairly safe. At least the boat was floating. The initial adrenalin rush was wearing off we both felt sick with crampy stomachs from the shock. Wait ‘til dawn and then make a decision.

Rudderless sailing in a BIG dinghy!
Before dawn we’d figured out how to guide our drifting a bit by adjusting the sails. Unlike a dinghy though moving our weight around wasn't going to make much difference to our direction but similar principles applied and Temptress as always was well behaved responding to our alterations, waves permitting. And soon too Kevin realised that the stump of the rudder gave us some additional control when the odd wave tried to toss us round, but it was tiring on the arms, often full lock to full lock to bring the bow round or trying to hold the rudder in line whilst it was battered by a breaker.  The good news was and boy we needed some that we could sail this way at up to 5 knots with some directional control. During Tuesday I tried steering too but found that half an hour was all I could manage, Kevin steered for hours his hands sore from running the wheel through them. Adjusting sails was a constant task too so no respite for the crew not steering.

Torn sprayhood and damaged traveller

At least the skipper could smile!

Our knight in shining armour...
When the wind abated a bit and the waves went down we tried George to give Kevin a break but though he struggled bravely his computer brain wasn’t quick enough to counteract the breakers so after a couple of involuntary tacks or gybes it was back to the skipper. When Kevin needed a rest we simply hove to and locked off the wheel.

We found it hard to eat our bodies still reeling from shock were simply not hungry, our plan for a risotto from the previous days leftover were abandoned. I hated being down below in the spinning world it had become for any longer than I had to unless lying down. Quick notes in the log or checks on the AIS were all I could manage. We survived on cuppa soups, cups of hot chocolate or tea, apples and bananas with the occasional chocolate hobnob.

Sometime on Tuesday morning we started hearing Las Palmas Traffic Control but couldn’t raise them ourselves. We did though manage to raise SY Gemini our US flagged neighbour from Rabat who had left there after us heading for the Canaries. To hear Susan’s American accent responding to our call was a comfort and she promised to try Las Palmas on our behalf as they were closer than us. Meanwhile we also put in a call on the satphone to MRCC Falmouth to alert them of our situation and outline our plan to continue sailing as best we could towards the Canaries then call for a tow into Lanzarote when closing the land. Our course was at best a yawing one some twenty or thirty degrees either side of our heading and we didn’t think we’d be safe close to any coast. They provided us with Las Palmas MRCC’s phone number and assured us that they would notify them for us. They also asked us to report in to Falmouth every three hours or so and our short conversations with their calm English voices were also quite a comfort during the ordeal.

Frustrated with our progress which the PC screen showed as a wavering scrawl north west then west and then a bit more south west as we learnt to control the boat, late on Tuesday evening Kevin tried the engine. It was disappointing to discover that although the additional water flow over the holey steel plate gave better control the increased speed dragged down the stern which in turn forced water up through the stern tube into the boat. We did not want to bring about Temptress’ sinking so the engine stayed off.  We did though do some fuel calculations and if the wind should die would be able to motor slowly on our reserves for some twenty hours which might be useful later.

Next obstacle was the Concepcion Bank, a large area of rock that rises from the seabed to within 20m of the surface in one area lay between us and our goal. It doesn’t take much imagination to picture what would happen to the already high waves and swell when the Atlantic is forced to go from almost 2000m deep to 200 to 700m in a short distance. We definitely did not want to be anywhere to the north of that. Temptress was gybed so we were now heading almost due south to sail around thirty miles off its eastern edge, dispiritedly not making much progress towards the Canaries but at least safe from shipping which was passing either to the north of the bank or to the south. And the bank gradually started to give us some shelter from the swell which improved our comfort a bit.

Not the best course we've ever steered!
Our second night at sea was though the most miserable I think either of us have ever spent anywhere; worse than dismasting Clarionet off Ireland, worse than having to abandon Temptress during the 2002 hurricane in Barbate Marina. It was dark and moonless too. We weren’t cold or wet but with the crazy motion and tiredness I wanted nothing more than to be on land and never go to sea again, we both expressed a longing for a tree to sit under. Around 2am on Wednesday, both exhausted from sail trimming and hand steering we decided that we’d hove too again so Kevin could get some sleep, both staying in full oilies and lIfejackets, clipped on in the cockpit in case of any problems. The skipper snored and somehow kept his perch laying on the leeward cockpit seat whilst I sat opposite legs braced to keep me in place and dozed between occasional checks around the horizon and down below on the AIS.

After an hour and a half’s power nap we both felt improved. Temptress had covered 200 nautical miles since leaving Morocco, 140 of them without a rudder. Our overnight wandering track had taken us south to the rhumb line between Essaouira and the south coast of Lanzarote where the various safe ports were but back into the paths of shipping so a full watch was needed. Now clear south of the monster bank, the wind was down to F3 and the seas calmer, perhaps it was time to think about getting a tow. I tried Las Palmas Traffic on the VHF, we could hear only a crackly response and I guessed they heard not much more from me. Then we were hailed by Maersk Norfolk a container ship some five or six miles away steaming north to Europe, Las Palmas MRCC were trying to contact us and could he relay? My hero! The radio operator was cool, calm and collected as he passed information back and forth – name of vessel, how many people on board, what state were we in, what assistance did we need. Las Palmas promised to contact us again when they had an ETA for the rescue boat. Maersk Norfolk then wished us well and continued on their way, we will be forever grateful for their help.

Some two hours later the radio crackled into life “Temptress of Down, Temptress of Down this is MV Callisto” They had been asked by MRCC Las Palmas to relay the ETA for the rescue boat to us – four hours so about eleven in the morning then. In fact the large orange ship (sound familiar, it was a newer version of the one we’d rafted alongside in Essaouira) appeared over the horizon well within four hours and had been on a collision course with us for at least two of those setting off our AIS alarm each time the CPA was recalculated (ie with our every yaw sideways) until driven crazy by it we turned the sound off! At 09:10 Guardamar Talia called us on the VHF to say they were 52 minutes away. First impressions can be misleading “we will do this from the manual” was not exactly inspiring as we envisioned them actually reading through the preparatory work step by step. But soon we realised these were professionals who knew exactly what they were doing and were doing it by the book. Nothing happened until they were certain we knew what was happening.

First we had to take down our sails then we were instructed to check for any lines over the side as they did not wish to risk them wrapping themselves round their brand new boat’s propellers. Then 31 m of orange ship manoeuvred itself so that its 8m wide stern was within a few metres of our port beam and a heaving line thrown expertly across our bow. Kevin caught it and heaved. The bridle came over to us – a loop in the end of pair of wire hawsers attached to a heavy stretchy rope. He was instructed to slip them over Temptress’ forward cleats and use the small black lines attached to the loops to lock them down to they wouldn’t jerk off in the ensuing tow. After that the mother ship slowly moved off the crew un-reeling the line from a huge drum on their aft deck. All communication was clear and in good English and they gave us plenty of time to acknowledge each instruction was understood.

The Guardamar Talia about a hundred metres ahead of us slowly increased speed and suddenly Temptress was being towed along like a pendulum swerving from side to side. The problem was that as we swooped from left to right and back again Temptress was reaching eight knots and the electric bilge pump began hammering away urgently. We were taking on serious amounts of water though the damaged stern tube. A heart in mouth moment once again. A quick call on the radio had them slow down before we sank. Kevin dashed down below and crawled into the services area under the stern whilst I sat and operated the cockpit bilge pump which moves massive amounts of water rapidly. With a couple of small towels grabbed from the linen locker stuffed into the top of the badly cracked stern tube the worst of the ingress was stemmed. Whilst our rescuers chugged along at their minimum speed of 3.75 knots Kevin worked to sort out the bilge pump. He’d cleaned the filter only a short while before the tow started as a precaution but it was not pumping much away. He dismantled my wardrobe again to get at the pump and poked into the outer part of the filter with a skewer, then tweezers before finally removing the incoming bilge pipe entirely and finding it chocked full of rubbish some of which must have been washed down from nooks and crannies of the boat never reached before – plastic tape, a whole teak plug, oddments of epoxy all gummed up with hair and fluff. After undergoing surgery the pump worked more efficiently than it had in ages though it continued to go off during the rest of our trip as water found its way forward to the sump at the bottom of the mast.

Suddenly our lives became very quiet. We were no longer in charge. The sea was flatter, Temptress swung madly off one wave only to be brought up short by the bridle before charging off in the opposite direction so it was all a bit odd and jerky but we didn’t have to steer, adjust sails or anything. We tidied up down below, turned our left over veggie curry into a spicy risotto for lunch, dozed in the cockpit or slept on the saloon berth. Land Ho! After fifty one hours at sea we spotted the volcanic outline of Lanzarote it was almost 2pm on our third day at sea.

Coming alongside the Guardamar Talia
Eventually we thought to ask our rescuers where they were taking us. It turned out the new marina in Arrecife was the intended destination. I explained to our contact on the rescue ship, later we discovered his name was Paolo, that we would need a lift out and did they have a hoist large enough? He went off to find out via Las Palmas MRCC, what was available. The hoist there it turned out was as yet uncommissioned, Puerto Calero was the alternative but two hours further on so our course was altered, ETA around 11pm may be a little longer. The tow tried going a knot or so faster but rapidly realised that this was a mistake as the bilge pump sprang into life again so settled back at just over 4 knots. Patience was what it was going to take. Temptress crew discussed what lights were needed for a tow – we could remember what lights the towing vessel needed but what about us? We had to look it up and the answer was simple and logical, our standard lower navigation lights without the steaming light.

Supper was a boat stew of tinned chicken in white sauce, tinned potatoes and frozen peas – delicious, our appetites had returned with a vengeance after near starvation for twenty four hours or more. As we approached Paolo issued more instructions explaining how they needed to move us alongside for the final bit into the marina. We put out our fenders on the starboard side as requested, then they gradually shortened the tow line keeping the bridle in place as a precaution and only finally removing it when we were all tied up in port. Then carefully the huge steel Guardamar Talia came alongside our relatively tiny fragile plastic home and with big boat's huge fenders, our relatively minute ones and her mucky black rubber rubbing strake between the two boats Temptress was safely towed the last few metres round into the marina before being manhandled into a space on the pontoon behind her rescuer.

We’d been instructed to bring the ships papers with us and come on board as soon as everything was tied up safely. We guessed our rescuers would want to be off home to Tenerife as quickly as possible. It was strange to finally come face to face with the people you’d spent the whole of the last fourteen hours with. The orange overcalled crew took our thanks with smiles and expressions of relief that we were safely delivered to port. We all shook hands and then cups of strong coffee in hand sat down with the Captain to do the paperwork. A huge bill will be issued, he warned us, once he was back in port and could calculate the fuel but for now his estimate would be five thousand euros (yes you read that right) but don’t worry said his translator Paolo, your insurance should cover costs like that. He was busy reading the Spanish version of our policy. In one of those odd coincidences as we chatted about where we’d come from we discovered that Paolo and his family had holidayed in Inverness around the same time as we were entering the Caledonian Canal there. Wow that seemed like a life time ago to us now.

Towel stuffed cracked stern tube
Paperwork over it was time to say goodbye and thank the crew once more, they couldn't have been more professional, helpful, kind and careful. The Guardamar Talia left quickly and the marina night staff took over providing two more forms to be completed before we could retire to our bunk. It was gone one by the time we were sorted and finally in bed, glad that this particular adventure was over. Finally we could put away our phucket-bucket list for the foreseeable future, this particularly stressful entry having topped anything either of us had ever experienced before and not one we wish to repeat. Ever.