Shore living

Tue 6 Nov 2012 22:14
We are still amongst the date and coconut palms of Puerto Calero.

I've not got used to the boat moving so little under us, and we've had a succession of close neighbours, making our cockpit rather a public space, but on the other hand we can just 'pop'. Just pop to the supermercardo for more bread, to the ferreteria for more varnish thinner (I was very disappointed to find they don't sell ferrets at all, no furry creatures in fact, just an ironmongers), for a cool beer in a cafe in the evening light. We've also become hugely extravagant with water: the garden (herbs in a window box) is getting just regular fresh water now, not left over washing up water, we shower as often as we like, we use the hose to wash out wetsuits after the beach... massive extravagance! It's also very sociable, with lots of other people doing similar sailing to us, discussing passage plans, routes, times, as well as just passing time and getting to know each other. I've extended my repertoire  of useful skills: I cut a chap called Tim's hair. Well, I figured, if I can do Phil's... Tim and Cathy are sailing around the Atlantic, they did it once before 25 years ago (and got married en route) when they were youngsters in their 20's, now, with children grown and gone, they're repeating the experience. Don't worry, it all went fine and was declared a highly successful haircut.

We were lucky enough to be here for a talk by a whale and dolphin expert. He's based mostly around Scotland and Cornwall but goes all over the world. It was a fascinating, we feel in a much better position to identify any we're lucky enough to encounter. The marine life in the marina itself is quite interesting - yes those (Samuel) mullets are here again! We didn't see any in Graciosa, loads of fish in the harbour but no mullets, nor in Arrecife, but they're here alright. The tourists feed them bread rolls, sometimes throwing a whole one in which results in a sort of water polo game for the mullets, they're all trying to nibble it and so a clump of them end up head butting it around the place. The first one sees of it is a roll motoring itself in circles around the marina. However, there are rather more interesting fish too: loads of shoals of sparking silver fish, some with black dots, brightly striped zebra fish, and our favourite: bright red parrot fish.

He's a bit hard to see, I'm afraid, all the reflection on the surface (Amanda, you can see my future career in as an underwater photographer still needs developing!), but do you see the small blue and green fish to the left? They have bright blue heads and green and yellow tartan striped bodies with blue tails. They hang out with the parrot fish, following them around and picking up any scraps the parrot fish drop, it looks like each parrot fish has a little pet tartan fish keeping him company.

It's been really hot. I hear the reports of snow in Dorset, I know it's bonfire night so must be getting dark early and rather chilly. The conkers are probably over by now. But it's hard to relate to when you're changing your tee-shirt for the third time because it's got muggy and it's 32 degrees out there. We've indulged ourselves in a hire car - 20 euros a day was too tempting, so when we've got some jobs done in the morning we dive into the cool air conditioned space and take off to the beach - the Marina is so sheltered that it gets too hot. To the North of the island there are lovely breakers rolling in. We bought some body boards and had SO much fun, I can catch nearly all the waves now, unlike body surfing when most passed me by and I just saw Phil riding into the beach without me. Such a buzz, going so fast, but hard work with the strong waves. We were shattered in a happy achy way afterwards. That's our beloved Graciosa in the background in the picture below.

To the south of us, on the point of the Island the beaches are more remote, you have to go quite some way along dirt tracks to get to them, but we found a lovely peaceful beach, with rocks to swim out to and the island of Fuerteventura on the horizon.

We're making progress with the jobs. We had a leak in a pipe on our water maker, we found our rate of production was dropping inexplicably, combined with the bilge getting fuller when we ran it.... Phil managed to get a hydraulic hose company to make one up with the right fittings. The company in England sent out a replacement three weeks ago but there's been no sign of it yet. Who knows where it may be? We want to replace some worn steering bearings and we've found the right chap to get them made up but he's rather busy with ARC boats just now, should be able to sort it next week. Various items have been cleaned and greased, the cockpit table is being revarnished as I type... all progressing well. However, it's taking an age so we have realised that we will need to scrap our hopes of visiting the Gambia this voyage. We have to be in Cape Verdes for family to visit over Christmas and New Year and we'll not be able to squeeze in the Gambia and still be ready to cross the Atlantic mid January with our 'crew' - Ben and Steve who we're looking forwards to having with us.

Finally, just to mention that our Dutch friends on Vela caught up with us after a very windy passage down from Madeira, they emailed to say they'd arrived on the Island so we drove up the coast to look for them. We found them anchored off Arrieta, at which point we were stuck. They were anchored too far off to hail, if we waved at them we'd just be random dots waving on the beach, and we had no dinghy. There was nothing to it but to swim out to them. We didn't have a dry bag with us so we had to leave the car key hidden under a rock. We swam out (it's always further than it looks...) and came up quietly under the transom, then started calling out "Karl...Karl Largerfeld!" I should explain that Franz, when he has his cool shades on, bears a passing resemblance to the celebrity. A very confused Norma and Franz came out on deck convinced they were hearing voices after their exhausting passage as they were unable to see any boat alongside...they were in fits of laughter when they discovered us. Perhaps a new career as pirates swimming out to board boats with knives in our teeth is on the cards.