Mina2 joins the Rallye Des isles du Soleil. Formidable!

Mina2 in the Caribbean - Where's The Ice Gone?
Tim Barker
Thu 15 Oct 2009 15:24

Quinta do Lorde Marina, Madeira: 33:03.594N 016:19.332W

15 October 2010, 1330 hrs


Sorry everybody - forgot to tell you that we would be in Madeira for a number days with no adventures to report so blogs would be few and far between. We are off again on Saturday (17 October) heading 260 miles south to Tenerife, starting at about 4pm, so the blogs should kick in again on or about Sunday afternoon.


But whilst I’m on, let me tell you a little of Madeira and what we’ve been up to. We arrived Monday afternoon, and on Tuesday there was a coach trip for the rally folk (henceforth to be abbreviated to “RIDS” – Rallye Des Isles du Soleil) to the Botanical Gardens, which was lovely. We had been told to reassemble at the coach at 1145 sharp. 1145 came and went, and everyone was on board except for one person. So we all had to hang around waiting for the idiot. At 1205 Lawrence eventually turns up. Great start! We then went into the capital, Funchal, on the southern coast, which is an attractive, wealthy, buzzing metroplolis. In the afternoon we had a tour round the Blandy Wine Lodge where some of the islands greatest export is created. The guide was speaking solely in French so for some of the Brits (who we were now getting to know) the fascinating commentary was not understood too well. For me, the commentary was not understood at all.


Talking of not understanding things, the following morning all the RIDS skippers were summoned to an hour and a half briefing meeting on technical things like fleet communication times and frequencies, and emergency procedures. All quite important stuff. The meeting was conducted in rapid-fire French until one of the non-French contingency asked if there could be un peu transalation en anglais de temps en temp. Someone was wheeled out of an adjacent office to translate the preceding 30 seconds-worth (which turned out to be about VAT on French-registered yachts which, of course, had no relevance to us) whereupon our newly-commandeered interpreter spun on his heel and returned to his office. The content of the rest of the briefing remains a mystery to many of us. Not much help to the 25% of the audience who spoke little if any French. We’re all going to have to improve our French enormously otherwise we’ll miss out on a lot.


Yesterday I had the official inspection of my equipment to ensure that I met the high standards of the RIDS Organising Committee (my boat equipment, that is). Trembling, I welcomed the Members Of The Committee on board, and showed them my bits and pieces. So far, so good. “And you have emergency flares?” came the next question. “Of course” I replied. “Let me see just one” he said. I keep my flares in a big waterproof tub –20 or more of them. All sailors know that flares (which are very expensive) remain perfectly effective for a dozen or more years but they all have a 4-year expiry date. So what I (and most other sailors) do is to buy a small handful of in-date flares every year or so and chuck out an equivalent number of the oldest flares in the stock. I open the barrel and at random pluck one out. Expiry date 2007 – they’re not impressed. So, praying to the God of probabilities, I pull out a second one and see it is marked”Expiry 2006-12” (meaning December 2006). “Ah, 2012 - parfait!” they cry with delight. Test passed.


I’ve taken a number of photos of which, once I have sorted them, I hope to post a few on this blog whilst we are in Madeira and have broadband connection. These would have included one of Adrian who surprised Lawrence and me by arriving for dinner in Funchal wearing a blindingly fluorescent yellow shirt. Apparently he had been unable to resist the extraordinarily low price tag for that, and the equally garish fluorescent green shirt he had also bought, of just €4 each. Whilst Adrian is an exceedingly astute accountant, on this occasion it turned out to be a false economy as he has defrayed a good part of the cost of our venture so far by bribing me not to publish the evidence! He was obviously seriously embarrassed by our hysterical reaction (but not half as embarrassed as he was when he backed his hire car smartly into an enormous concrete pillar in the underground car park. Please keep this to yourselves as this another faux pas which I promised faithfully not to divulge). In Adrian’s departure we have lost a very colourful member of the crew. We miss you, Adrian !


At lunchtime today, after Lawrence had plied me with my nth glass of crispy dry white Portuguese wine I was enjoying a very deep siesta when Lawrence came bundling down the companionway in a state of excitement. “Quick Tim, they want to film you”. I shambled on deck to find a full camera crew and within seconds, brushing the cobwebs from our befuddled brains, Lawrence and I were on French television having to lie about how great it was spending months together in each other’s company in a small boat.


Meanwhile, au revoir, old friends. Catch up with you soon.