As I write this there are two men cutting a large hole in the boat. One is using a power saw from inside what used to be the wardrobe, and the other is outside with an angle-grinder cutting round the p-bracket. Hopefully, like the channel tunnel, the two holes will match up. The problem we discovered when the boat was lifted out the water at the beginning of March for some routine maintenance, a bottom scrub and new antifouling. The p-bracket, which is a large bronze casting with a bearing surface to support the propeller shaft, was cracked and looking decidedly dodgy. We called in expert help and Pedro found us a welder to try and repair the crack, but it was too badly damaged and we needed to get a new one. Unfortunately p-brackets are not designed to be removable – hence the major structural work now happening. We located a replacement casting from Barcelona, but we had to put the boat back into the water until the new part arrived and Hugh returned from his trip back to the UK to oversee changing tenants in our house. We are now in high season for boat maintenance, so its been a bit of stress waiting, waiting, waiting to be lifted back out of the water and to get the work started in the midst of the Easter holiday. Hugh thinks that the work will take a week, and then we are back in the water to begin our summer cruising season. I can’t say that I’m happy about a big hole being cut in the boat, but needs must and I’m told it will be better than new once they have finished – well Hugh would say that wouldn’t he.
Hector has added a few new experiences to his belt. The first time we came out of the water, we stayed in John and Sheila’s fabulous house in the Port and Hector had the pleasure of a garden for a week. This time, we have decided to stay on board, so we are living up on stilts at an angle of 5 degrees, amongst all the other boats being blasted, sanded, varnished etc. Hector was craned out of the water on board the boat – who knows what he made of that experience. He now thinks he is living up a tree and happily prowls the deck, spying on unsuspecting dogs below and peering over the edge, whenever a noise catches his attention. I’m sure he thinks he is nearer the birds now too.
We had planned to sail home this year, returning to Scotland around the end of September, but we now think we will stay on in the Med for 1 more year and explore a bit more of mainland Spain, France and Italy, possibly even as far as Greece (at least that’s where I fancy exploring, Hugh may yet have other plans!). As all the sailors amongst you will know, the America’s Cup is being held in Valencia this summer so there is a huge explosion of luxury yachts appearing in this part of the Med and unfortunately the prices are escalating to make the most of this beanfeast. We were hit in January, when the Club de Vela increased our winter mooring fees by more than 75%, which unfortunately puts this place in the strictly unaffordable category for next winter. We will therefore look for a new winter berth in hopefully the south east of Italy, Bari or Brindisi, or we might even go as far as Crete. We will keep you posted as our plans develop.
March and April so far have been the worst weather months of this winter. We have actually had to eat lunches indoors! My friend Christine came over for a week while Hugh was back in the UK and we had a great week, although the weather didn’t behave itself. We hired a car – I told Christine I’d found a good cheap deal, then discovered we had an ancient basic Fiat Panda with no central locking, no radio, no air conditioning, no oomph – your basic 1970’s utility vehicle!!, but it got us around the island and we had a great week, talking, eating, drinking and playing scrabble on Lynn and Jan’s boat.
On Easter Sunday we have been invited to a Greek Easter feast of Jan and Lynn’s yummy food that will include a whole lamb that they plan to roast over an open fire onboard their 10m motorboat out in Port Andraitx Bay. For avoidance of doubt, let me repeat…. “plan to roast over an open fire onboard their 10m motorboat”. There are about 10 of us invited (12 in total) and Jan has constructed a fantastic barbeque on the stern of the boat with a motorised spit for turning “Charlie the lamb” for 4 hours while he cooks. It promises to be a unique experience although granted not a lot of fun for Charlie! We are hoping for good weather otherwise the feast will be moved to a garden in Andraitx village – so fingers crossed.
Happy Easter everybody