Courtship…

Sunday 20/08
Deja vu… that odd feeling you get when you find yourself in a situation that seems so familiar yet you know that you have never in your lifetime been to a given place. I felt it so strongly today and then realized that although I have never been to Cartagena before I have been here – many times. Here being getting onto a strange boat and coming to terms with all the systems, clearing out what was probably some sentimental piece of broken something or other plus heaps of other ‘stuff’ that somehow manages to accumulate on any given cruising boat over the years.

It is a task that should ideally be done when the boat’s owner is somewhere else – like in another country. It never ceases to amaze me just how much useless junk somehow finds its way into the far corners of any number of lockers or lazarettes. On more than one occasion I have binned some or other broken fitting or stripped nut or bolt or whatever only to discover that they have somehow migrated back into a different locker. Some owners when questioned will reluctantly admit to being guilty and usually tag on ‘I thought it might come in useful some day…’

Today (Sunday) was spent doing just that, well I did anyway. Avi let out a yelp of glee this morning when rooting through one of the cockpit lockers produced a nice little compact pressure cleaner. Half an hour later he had scrounged up an extension cord from one of the neighbors and in short time had the machine buzzing away merrily. After a good couple of hours the fore deck looked more like a yacht than a vacant piece of ground and the trampolines magically turned from a yucky charcoal black color to a much more pleasing blue grey. We are getting there.

While he was busy outside I tackled the saloon and nav station. I must admit that there are times that I sit and scratch my head at how other people’s minds work. We are all unique individuals but there are many traits common to all humans. We are all subject to gravity, the march of time and sunburn. Logic should be… well logical. When stowing all the odd things that are part and parcel of sailing boats long distance, the way those various items are stowed should follow some sort of logical order… engine and other associated mechanical spares should for example be in one locker, not spread over three or four different locations. The same goes for all the operation manuals for the vast array of electrical and other equipment fitted to modern yachts.

I once had the pleasure of delivering a Swan 65 some years back. The previous owner must have been OCD or something, every locker was labelled with its contents, and there was an impeccable logic behind where and the way everything had been stowed away. It is a system I have tried to copy over the years as it sure makes life at sea so much less stressful – knowing where to find something when you need it in a hurry goes a long way to ensuring a safe passage.

One can get a lot done in a day here in Spain at this time of the year, it gets light before seven in the morning and dark around nine in the evening – essentially fourteen hours of daylight. It does take some getting used to though, if you eat dinner at the same time you do in say Cape Town at about six, by the time you go to bed you are hungry again…

Tuesday 22/8

Young Hugh White arrived on Sunday evening and spent most of yesterday with Avi pressure washing the rest of the boat down. By the end of the day it was a remarkable change from when we first arrived. It’s funny how quickly a boat can begin to look tatty when left unattended for any length of time. The decks and running rigging collect an improbable amount of sand – I am not sure if this has come over from the Sahara or whether it originated locally, but from wherever it came there was lots of it. After a good wash down the decks are a bright shiny white as they should be and I know it sounds a bit silly but the boat seems to be happier. We as humans have long conferred some sort of life force to inanimate objects and boats in all their shapes, sizes and configurations are classic examples. You will hardly ever hear a boat, especially a yacht, referred to as “it”. Usually when someone is describing his or her pride and joy it is invariable “she”.

She is a very forgiving boat, or she just loves a following wind and so on. And we as skippers and sailors talk to our boats, and in their own way they talk back to us. Thus when getting a new boat prepared for a crossing it is in many ways a courtship. Much like human relationships start with two people getting to know each other it is the same between a crew and the boat. I have a feeling a lot people who might read this will laugh and wonder what I might have been putting up my nose, but trust me on this – when you are out there in the big blue and mother nature decides to see if you are paying attention you need to be able to trust the boat, and the boat needs to be able to trust you. It is very much a two way street. So we do what we can to make the boat fell special, putting credit into the bank for the inevitable time when we are going to need a good solid platform under us.

I was wondering when the first of the Gremlin family would make its presence known. I have never, not once done a delivery where there was not some or other problem that reared its ugly head and threw a spanner in the works. This particular problem has deep implications.. it would appear that we have a serious battery problem. When we got onto the boat I saw that the house voltage was very low. Everything had been switched off so it made no sense. The next day we connected to shore power and truth be told with all the other things going on it slipped onto the back burner.

By lunch time today we had pretty much gone through all the cupboards and lockers inside the boat and repacked to a system that basically means that if we are looking for something we now know where to look. Thus it was that there was one locker left and when I opened it I found where on this boat the bank of house batteries are kept. Whilst they look reasonably new there was a nasty surprise when I opened them up – 4 of the six batteries were bone dry. It’s no wonder the voltage was low.

First option is to top them up and see what happens, so Avi and Hugh have missioned off into the village to see if they can track down a couple of liters of agua destilade or distilled water. The next couple of days will reveal whether or not they can be salvaged or if they need to be replaced. It’s a real concern as the batteries are a vital part of the vessels operating systems – all the navigation instruments and lights, auto pilot, anchor windlass and fridge and freezer run on 12 volts.. Que Sera Sera.

Tomorrow is another day, we shall see what happens, until then

Y’all stay safe and keep well.

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