By Sunday night we’d been in Vigo a week. And we’ll be here for a little longer
yet. At least Otis Redding managed
to roam 2000 miles before making ‘Frisco dock his home. Things are getting sorted
gradually. The alternator is fixed,
the spinnaker has been repaired.
Other spares have arrived. Other niggles come to light – a very slightly
leaking hydraulic backstay tensioner for example. More spares required. More waiting needed. This is a nuisance but no more than
that. Had it been possible to get
afloat a great deal earlier than we did – say late May or early June – we’d have
had the opportunity to shake all this stuff out before we set sail from the
UK. But, that just wasn’t possible. By the time we were ready to put the
boat through her paces it was time to go south - to ensure that we avoided the
worst of the weather in the Bay of Biscay. Ha! Not sure that that bit of the plan
worked quite as intended but . . .
Thoughts of shakedowns reminds me of happy times as a forward observation
officer in Germany in the late ‘70s. Mounted in an ancient Mk13 Centurion
tank, my job was to play soldiers with the cavalry, mounted in much more modern
Chieftain tanks. Few Centurion
tanks worked in Germany – they were pigs to maintain
and work on. But, mine did because,
following the advice of my predecessor, the moment we got back from Christmas
leave, the driver (the redoubtable Bombardier Scawthorne – he of the
world-beating pre-dawn egg banjos, resplendent with trademark oily black thumb
print) would be despatched with instructions to drive it as far as he could and
then get REME to recover and mend it. Then, repeat the exercise until he could
manage the entire Munsterlager ring road without breaking down. On the first foray, in a good year, he
might make the camp gates – so, several hundred yards. But, by the time REME had recovered the
thing about a dozen times over ever-increasing distances, and rebuilt it each
time, we’d be ready for the spring exercise season. And, despite the fact that we lagged
badly on roads, we could lick the Cav cross-country. Proper tankin’ – none of your
namby-pamby tarmac or cobbles stuff.
The principal hold-up here has been with the B&G wind
instruments. If we want them fixed,
this is a pretty sensible place and time to have it done. Having had the masthead unit fully
serviced in the UK before fitting it to Arnamentia in
June or so this year, we were reluctant to accept that the problem lay
there. But the electrician has
established that as fact and we can now see that the printed circuit board (PCB)
inside it is corroded. Must have
been a bad day in the office on the day that it went in for service in the
UK. The UK agents have
asked that I deliver the whole masthead unit back to them so they can see for
themselves. Yeah, right. We have suggested that there might
usefully be a service agent to service agent conversation to get at the
facts. But, of course, they are two
independent companies who just happen to have been appointed by B&G as
service agents. So, when B&G
claim to have a ‘global network of B&G support’ it isn’t entirely clear what
that means. Glass half full or half
empty outside the warranty period?
We’ll see. But, had a
corroded PCB been diagnosed in the UK, it would probably have made more
sense (and cost less, all things considered) to buy a new unit (and get a
warranty). One might have expected
to be so advised. Whatever, the new
part will not now be with us until mid week or so.
The hiatus has given us an opportunity to rationalise a few things,
service this and that and mug up on
stuff like communications and instruments (you rarely get round to this tooling
about in the English Channel). Some stuff that wasn’t earning its keep
has gone to the tip. One item might
be of interest to others thinking of venturing afar by sea. It will be of little interest to others
so a skip here is advised. Let me
make it clearer - if you are not interested in how to avoid taking aboard
contaminated fuel, don’t bother with the rest of this paragraph – see ya
later! Anyone who knows about this
long distance stuff will say that you have to take the risk of fuel
contamination in far-flung places seriously. Various filter funnels are on the market
that will separate out water and debris from the fuel before it gets to the
tank. In the US they are
marketed by Mr Funnel and West Marine.
In the UK, similar stuff comes from
Parker/Racor. They all comprise a
funnel in which there is a cylindrical Teflon coated stainless steel filter Having sold 3 sizes of such
filters for some time – the biggest of which supported a flow rate of 19 litres
(5 US gallons) per minute – Racor brought out a new filter funnel which was the
same 10” diameter as their standard large funnel but had two filter
elements. The flow rate claimed for
this was 56 litres (15 US gallons) a minute despite the fact
that the filter elements were much finer (74 microns compared with 127). It sounded just the ticket if, perhaps,
a little too good to be true. It
is. The flow rate we have achieved
with this using two different fuel berth pumps is laughable. The explanation is, we are told, that
the diesel coming from the pump is naturally full of air and that this coats the
filter element. So, almost nothing
gets through. That is, doubtless,
safe. But it’s not quite what we’re
after. Apparently, if we refuelled
by pouring diesel into the filter funnel gently using a little jug . . .
Fortunately Jonathan Calascione obtained a West Marine version of the less
ambitious 19 litre per minute model for us and this works fine. It filters to 149 microns and we hope
that’s good enough. It’s a little
slower than we’d like and we’ll have to get used to chatting up the fuel
attendant and ignoring the hostile looks of the owner of the mega stink pot next
in the fuel queue. But, if that’s
what we have to do to avoid contaminated tanks, so be it. We’re going to keep digging at this one
and have engaged in e-mail correspondence with both Parker/Racor and Mr Funnel
to get to the bottom of it. And,
with luck, we’ll identify the optimum solution – which would achieve just enough
filtration and impose the least possible delay in the refuelling business.
The service we’ve had in Vigo from the marina staff at Marina Davila
cannot be faulted. Even the marina
restaurant rates a mention. Here it
is, on the upper floor of the only building of any architectural merit in the
immediate area – the marina office building. It has wonderful views across the Ria –
provided that you ignore the first few hundred yards that are taken up with
lines of hundreds of little white vans awaiting export. The rest of the immediate hinterland –
for half a mile or so - comprises industrial buildings where chaps mend nets and
fix whatever has to be fixed in a major port. So, there can’t be much passing trade
for the restaurant – one imagines.
We went there at half past eight on Saturday evening. It appears to be expensively staffed and
all of these were still adjusting their aprons and ties – 8.30pm being a
ludicrously early hour for anyone to wish to eat dinner in Spain. So, the
restaurant was otherwise deserted.
Hence, the Maitre d’ got a slightly old-fashioned look when he enquired
whether or not we’d booked. But, he
sorted us out and didn’t seem fazed by the fact that we chose to skip the first
3 courses or all of the possibilities that followed the main one. By 10 o’clock, just as we were beginning
to wonder how any restaurant staffed like this could possibly survive outside
the sailing season (for this is where we now are), in poured those who had
booked tables and filled the place up to the brim. We legged it a little later, having had
an excellent couple of hours and some very passable food in thoroughly pleasant
So, what now?
We’ll keep on taking the medicine.
There is no particular rush.
Chris and Penny Copeland join us on 17th October in Lagos in the Algarve. And, if it has to be Lisbon, it will have to be Lisbon.
But, there is little reason to doubt our ability to make Lagos in time, despite
further delay. Meanwhile, the
weather here is sunny and warm.
Vigo is a
city of huge variety and we’ve seen quite a lot of that. What’s not to like?