Atlantic crossing 3

Wed 22 Nov 2006 00:25

Great to have brother Victor onboard and have spent some time getting him
settled in. Must say I think he looks very cute in his purple gear, he looks
lovely and clean, kind of unrumpled and neat. We have spent a long time
chewing the fat, so much so that my plans to prepare the mast before crane
time slipped behind. Monday morning 9am sharp I went to see our old friend
Signor Nestor, I spotted him sliding back into his shop when he saw me
approaching on my bike. His English is pretty good, ' crane here mabe 12 o'
clock you call me later I tell you ' I nailed him to say 'for sure
today' and returned to the ship. At 10.30 I tried to call him up but not
possible so set off again on the bike. He made a call and said ' you bring
boat now, crane he come'

Bit of a breeze but double handed we were soon alongside. I had intended to
run all the lines and bungee them at the foot of the mast, plus re-attach
the tricolour to the top. Also needed to attach the forestay and new toggle.
Problem was, we had turned the mast over to help with the welding, and it
needs at least three people to lift it high enough for the cross trees to
clear the ground. As I was figuring all this out, trying to make sure the
boat was secure, steady and properly fendered off, plus find my bag of tools
which were stowed somewhere for safekeeping, but where ? The crane lorry
drove into the yard, now about 11.30. About now the insurance rigger man
turned up and said his boss had asked him to help in making all secure, had
was wearing his tool belt and he gave me a hand to connect and securely pin
the stay and toggle. We got over the mast over problem by lifting the
forestay over to the other side, a bit tricky as its made up of lots of
metal tubes, each one about 3' long and each connected to its neighbour by
four metal pins slotted into the end of each. Rough handling can cause the
pins to bend, so the whole thing has to be kept as straight as possible, the
tubes can also slide apart if the foil is allowed to go head down beyond the
horizontal, usually resulting in them going back together wrongly if one is
allowed to rotate. Not good as there is a slot running up the side of each
to take the sail. Its just possible to correct the alignment if the mast is
put up with them out of alignment, but!! By now Nestor and the driver were
getting the strop on and I can tell you, so was I ! ! ! I ran around trying
to keep ahead of what I had already decided was going to end up as certain
disaster, but by now the mast was swaying in the breeze and the foil was
bent at a horrifying kind of 'threepenny bit' curve and flopping about. I
was almost apoplectic. The Spanish were wondering what I was making such a
fuss about, Nestor knew but had his own agenda, the driver had another gig
to go to, his own heart transplant going by the way he was pushing things,
the wires were getting in more and more of a tangle and dragging in the
dust, don't ask about the foil as I had already written that off and was
into problem two re that, how to replace it, at least £1000 in England, God
knows what and how here without the lingo etc. etc etc.

I was trying NOT TO, scream, be undiplomatic, allow the the situation to
get even more out of hand, have a heart attack, fall off the jetty into the
water, allow Thisbe to scrape against the wall as the tide was rising, start
bawling ' beam me up'.

Could go on and on about this but I feel faint when I think about it, the
mast is in and secure, don't think there is any damage to the foil but wont
know for sure until later today (Tuesday) I would rather you prick my eyes
with needles than go through that again. Alex arrived this evening,
thankfully without much luggage but sporting a long tube.. fishing rod.
Great to see him and share his enthusiasm and energy.

Tuesday. Spent the first couple of hours sorting out the stores situation
with Vic and Alex. We emptied all the lockers and made notes of the contents
and made some decisions and a comprehensive shopping list. We have lost
track of the ARC daily events due to all the problems, and missed a seminar
on provisioning which would have been very useful. Victor and Alex went off
to the supermarket to buy the stores, enough for three weeks bearing in mind
the ton of stuff Sue had packed into the bow locker back in August, while I
got on with sorting out the rigging etc and trying to bring the boat back up
to scratch. It looks as though we are going to be ok as I have not found
anything untoward relating to the mast. Sails are now on and progress made
with the work for the safety check I have booked for tomorrow afternoon.
Very relieved. The massive pile they returned with is all but stowed so
things are finally beginning to shape up. A bit more work to do to the boat
tomorrow, dress her overall with the signal flags, order the perishables for
delivery Saturday, and buy 120 liters of water in addition to the 150 in the
tank. Allowing 10 a day for the boat should give us ample. Thinking is to
stow the 2 liter bottles wherever there is a space. She is finally looking
like a smart sailing boat and attracting a lot of attention. The air here
is full of very fine Saharan dust again, they call it the Galena here and
its very invasive, looks like mist or fog in the distance, not nice. Only
four more days.