It’s been 19 days since we last blogged, where has
all the time gone and just what have we been up to you wonder?
Life here continues to be exciting. I blocked the
toilet in the middle of the night. Well, actually, Bryn and I did it between us.
He was sick about midnight (so we were still up). I caught quite a bit of it in
some kitchen roll (2 pieces to be exact), which I flushed down the loo. No
problem, you might think, but things are not quite that simple with a sea
toilet. For a start, flushing it at all involves levers and pumps to ensure that
water and whatever only go out and no seawater gets back in afterwards to sink
the boat. Any more than 2 pieces of loo paper at a time means that you are in
grave danger of blocking the pump. So 2 pieces of heavy-duty kitchen roll, plus
lumpy vomit was fatal – instant blockage. I'll leave it to your imagination what
David said. He then stripped down to his pants and proceeded to strip down the
loo. Luckily, as we don’t use the loo while we are in the marina, nothing
noxious had been flushed down it for ages (apart from the vomit), but it still
smelt pretty disgusting. At 1.30 am he gave up and we decided to leave the whole
lot to see if it 'softened' and shifted the next morning.
You have to imagine the next bit – as David had
been up to his elbows and kneeling in smelly water, he needed a shower. Not
wanting to walk up to the marina facilities (it was a freezing 10 degrees
according to our new – Lidl’s best – weather station), he stood there in just
his pants on the pontoon with me hosing him down – under a full moon. (The next
day I asked if we could do a reconstruction so that I could take some photos for
the blog – like on Crimewatch – but
he suffered a humour-loss and refused.)
The blockage hadn't shifted by the next day, so
David poured half a bottle of Mr Muscle down the loo, closed the sea-cock and
let soak all day and overnight. Still no joy – the stuff wouldn’t move, so
eventually David disconnected the pump, took out all of the piping and found the
blockage. He also discovered that the pipes were half the diameter that they
should have been due to a build up of lime scale! Bashing the pipes on the
pontoon broke the stuff up, and soaking in vinegar did the rest, so we now have
clean pipes. We will be getting some Calgon for once-a-week treatment from now
on. This has also galvanized us into action about measuring up and ordering the
bits for the holding tank set up, which we will need for cruising in the
Work on the boat
Apart from dismantling loos in the middle of the
night in his pants, David is getting lots done on the boat job front – cutting
and polishing the hull, sorting his nuts, bolts and washers, hiding down the
engine hole, swearing at the engine, and has taken over school in the mornings
while I work. We have upgraded the hot water system on the boat – by buying a
new kettle! This one holds 1.7 litres and turns itself off – a great improvement
on the one that held only 1 litre and didn’t (and had started to make some very
strange noises when in use).
Christmas in the Marina
Christmas has arrived in the marina, courtesy of
the Brits. The IMPERIAL LADY is festooned with red, blue, yellow and green
flashing rope lights and has a Santa shimmying across a connecting wire across
the water to MOODY GOOSE, who risen to the challenge with at least 20 Santas and
multicoloured lights. (I’m sure that the Santas are reproducing – there seem to
be more of them every day.)
Santa – coming to a marina near you
As the Marina is relatively quiet, we are getting
quite a few birds coming here to fish – including a very nervous egret and a
number of storks who fish off the pontoons early in the morning. The storks fly
around in the half-light like pterodactyls. David and the children took the
dinghy right up the river and found flamingos, later identified as Phoenicopterus
Flamingos on the Rio Arade (borrowed
There was great excitement when we found what
appeared to be a 6-inch ‘bat fish’ kissing CAPE’s bottom. After a bit of internet searching, we
identified it as a sea hare (Aplysia). Apparently
the name comes from the two long rhinophores on their heads, which look a
bit like rabbit ears. They are normally found
on the sea bed, camouflaged to match the seaweed that they eat.
Our ‘bat fish’.
Bryn and David are having guitar lessons with a
teacher who lives on a boat here in the marina. Both are progressing slowly, but
something resembling 12-bar blues is starting to emerge. It can only get better!
working on her recorder again in earnest – the marina echoes to scales and Scarborough Fair every day. She has Love Me Tender lined up for attention
next. Things are progressing to the extent that our neighbours have dropped the
petition to have us moved back out to the anchorage!
The rough weather that northern Europe is getting
means good surf here in our bit of Portugal, often with a 5-star rating
on the Magic Seaweed website. We are
still belly boarding as often as possible, and the children are still having
surf lessons each weekend.
CAPE’s surf dude and surf chick
modelling their belly boards and Christmas wetsuits.
Finally, Jackie and Stu’ arrived for a long
weekend to immerse themselves in ‘The CAPE Experience’ – but that’s another blog