Ian and Denise arrive

Phil May and Andrea Twigg
Tue 18 Oct 2011 23:04
Ian and Denise joined us today.  Their room was not quite ready (Bertie and I were cleaned out the bilges) so they had to spend the afternoon sitting on the deck waiting for the cabin to be prepared.  It was probably a bit like arriving in a hotel before check-in time, when they tell you to sit by the pool for a while but you really want to unpack and feel like you have really arrived.  Anyway they are all moved in (and fast asleep) now.
I think they were a bit worried when their first experience was an engineer coming onboard to look at an alternator problem.  Yes, we did have both the alternators fixed in Canet, but those were the big "house battery" alternators.  Each engine has two alternators and now the other "starter battery" alternator is playing up on one of the engines.  Eric the mechanic come and took the old alternator away, after various exclamations of "oh dear" and "oh my goodness" when he tried to remove it.  We couldn't loosen the belt and so we got the alternator out by Eric pushing the belt sideways while I turned the key to crank the engine and run the belt off the pulley.  Health and safety would have a nightmare.
We bought some new Dyneema rope and sturdy snap shackles from the chandlers today.  Dyneema costs £5 a metre but it is twice as strong as regular rope so hopefully it will hold out across the Atlantic and beyond.  It was quite an eye opener looking at how stretched the rope we were using on the spinnaker had become, and the lightweight shackles we were using on the spinnaker guys had worn down by a millimetre with just a couple of days of heavy usage. 
Fitting the new rope was a bit nerve racking.  Our approach is to tape the new rope to the old rope and then pull the new one through all the channels and pulleys, but there is always the thought that the tape might come unstuck. I have no idea quite how we would get the new rope installed if we didn't have the old rope. Running the rope down the mast probably involves someone up at the top dangling the rope down and someone at the bottom with a bit of wire trying to hook it out.  And the deck lines run through 15 metres of plastic tube.  How would we poke 15 metres of rope down a plastic tube?  It sounds like we would need an awful lot of wire coathangers.  Anyway it all went fairly smoothly and the new rope is in place.
Tomorrow is the big shopping day.  We need food for 8 days, fishing tackle for the big tuna Bertie is going to catch, and the paper charts of the Canaries that I inadvertently forgot to buy in advance (we do have the electronic charts but we need the paper as a backup).  Planned departure is midday on Thursday, provided we get the alternator back that morning.