Atlantic crossing 2

Mon 20 Nov 2006 23:58
Thursday and 10 days to departure. Blowing and raining hard with more
forecast so mast work still not done. Trying hard to curb impatience,
its only a few hours work to get it back up so Monday 20th will be fine. The
welding engineer guy reckons it's not a problem, in fact he says he wouldn't
have bothered. Plenty of other work to do before the official scrutineers
come, as had to cancel the first appointment. I am intending to put a toggle
at the top of the mast, more of a universal joint, to absorb any movement
without any more stressing. All the safety equipment has to have the boat
name, all shackles on deck have to be seized, must have two big buckets,
very comprehensive list of stuff in a grab bag, epirb, portable vhf radio,
whistles, lights, pills, tin openers, first aid kit, string, mirror,
various flares, sea anchor, illustrated copy of life-saving signals and so
Victor and Alex will be arriving Sunday and Monday so help is at hand.
Friday morning, laying abunk and pondering, I thought some missed out detail
might be interesting. When the bad news bombshell arrived on Wednesday, I
moved Thisbe around to the yard jetty, fortunately not much breeze so was
able to
pick my way between all the comings and goings of other anxious yachties.
Only about 500 yards, around a couple of packed fingerberths. With so much
going on no one gives you so much as a second glance, tied up alongside
and started work. The lorry with the crane was due at 5 oclock so I had
about three hours.
Being very familiar with all the gear made it much easier, and the mast
was soon wobbling about like a loose tooth, kept in balance by string fore
and aft. Electrics down below, all plugged together by design, were soon
separated, with care taken to flag everything for ease of reassembly. I
was glad that I had spent a whole day last winter soldering the radar
cable, about 13 connections from memory, into a big connector. Heres the
interesting bit, the lorry duly arrived, and although I did my best to make
the driver aware that my Spanish was limited to ordering stuff in bars, he
opened up a continuous babble with lots of pointing and arm waving.
I recognised the name Nestor in all this as being the man I had made the
crane arrangements with, and fortunately spied him coming along the jetty.
From about 20 yards, point blank, the driver looked in the direction of my
pointing finger and without pausing for breath, switched his attention to
him. Signor Nestor is a small man, but wiry, you know the sort, up a tree,
down a
drain, under a car, no problem. He jumped the four feet down onto the deck
and sat in the crane sling that the driver had swung around using a kind of
remote control hanging around his neck. Up he went, cocked his leg over the
cross trees, and lashed the sling he had been sitting in around the mast,
you can imagine what that was doing to my temporary string arrangements. By
which time I was wondering how he planned to get down,
no problem, grabbing a couple of halyards he just slid.. He is very tanned,
but up close you can see old scars on his face neck and hands?
Very strange behaviour from a man shortly before in his office in tidy
clothes. Without any language you have to assert yourself in other ways so
the next ten minutes was hell, trying to limit the damage as the mast was
yanked from the boat
Saturday. Trying to make order out of chaos but difficult with the mast
work still to do. Tools, boom, sails, and lots of bits and pieces underfoot
with nowhere and no point to store them. The welding work was done this
afternoon and have booked the crane for Monday morning, though I expect to
have to chase that up on the day.
Saturday evening was the owners cocktail party, good fun and plenty to
talk about. I met a man from Fowey who had sailed his boat all the way to
the Canaries single handed, Richard Blunt in his Vancouver FLECK.
Some seemingly crazy types with lots to say for themselves, living on the
edge as they appear to do sure stimulates the mind, cant get a word in
I have been asked to carrying the flag as representative of St. Lucia in
a kind of
opening ceremony on Sunday morning, (on account of the fact that I look
part and our Grandad was from the island) a great honour for me..
Sunday morning. The parade, what a blast. A very loud brass band playing a
kind of jazz/pop fusion, exciting enough to make people smile as we walked
by waving our flags. Everyone had been asked to bring boat hooks to use as
flag poles, a very colourful scene, flags of every nation taking part, and
of course the good old Cornish flag of St Piran on a few poles, including
Rod Bennett and his crew Dave and Alan from Moonshine, proudly doing their
stuff for Cornwall.
A little boy aged about four caught my attention as he finally struggled
free of his parents and fell in behind the band, marching with a very
determined expression on his little face, reminded me of son Alex doing
exactly the same thing many years ago, driven by who knows what.
A big surprise when friends from back home suddenly appeared from out of
the crowd, Di and Mike Martin. from Truro, who came across especially
from Fortaventua where they are holidaying, it took them longer by ferry
than the flight down, nice to see familiar faces.
The march started off very orderly, carrying the flag of St. Lucia entitled
me to be in position 4 in the lineup, but order soon went out the window and
we all had fun in the warm sun. The march ended opposite where we started
but across the other side of the marina, after some speeches we hoisted the
flags up into the warm breeze. Felt fair choked up, sailors from all over
the world setting out on an exciting adventure, the flag of our old
dead grandads country waving gently at the top of the pole beside the
beautiful harbour, tots, teenagers and oldsters all enjoying the day
together, thinking that in exactly one week we would be just setting out
into the Atlantic to finally live the dream. Great food for thought.
Back to the ship to clean off all the gunk thrown by the dinghy racers and
off to the airport to meet brother Victor off the plane from London. His
version of travelling light is three big bags, a laptop and a fourty quid
excess baggage bill. Dont know where we are going to stow it all but still,
I expect we will manage, just as with old Nester, no problem. Manny