Atlantic crossing 6

Thu 30 Nov 2006 08:34
First the story of how I met the Queen of Spain for Olivia aged 9.

In the dining room of the posh Santa Catalina Hotel, Las Palmas Sunday 26th
the day of departure. After pigging it on the boat for all that time I had
to remember my manners, no peeing in the fountain and all that.
I had just collected my scrambled egg from the buffet, and was pleased
to snaffle the last piece of bacon, when I spotted her, I knew she was the
Queen because she was wearing long gear and a belt that hung down one side
with a dagger on it. She also had on a long cloak down the ground with fur
around which I thought was a bit much as it was already agetting quite
warm. And of course she was wearing her crown. Being the smarmy person I am,
I said to her, ' Your majesty, the pictures on the stamps and stuff dont do
you justice, you are far more beautiful in the flesh, although they did get
rid of that little mole thing in the corner of your nose'
She looked at me a bit hoity toity I thought, but I was wrong. She said,'
Signor, have you ever heard of the Garotte ?' I replied that I had learned
to do it many years ago at the old time dancing club at the Palace in Truro,
but would not be able to go to the ballroom with her as I was going to sail
the Atlantic after breakfast. She
looked down a bit disappointed, and was even more disappointed when she saw
that all the bacon had gone. I was quick to see my chance and said that if
she held out her plate she could have the last piece of bacon that I was
lucky to get. Before she had the chance to make me Earl of Seville, or Duke
of Costa Del Sol, giving me the right to ride around on a horse taxing the
peasants and foreign visitors, a man came and stood very close to me, so
close that I could smell garlic and brute aftershave.
At first I thought he was the King, but he had a crew cut and was too young.
could see he was one of the royals though as his wallet bulging in the
breast pocket of his jacket. He must have been hard of hearing as well as he
had on an
earpiece. He jabbed me very hard in the right lower back with his thumb
which made my leg go all rubbery so I limped over to the table and sat down
thinking their was no need for that. I suppose he was just a jealous
courtier. Bang went my chance of becoming a spanish Grandee.

I regret that I have fallen badly behind with my diary. I have been feeling
very tired after the hard work of the last two weeks, and also feeling a bit
seedy, motion sickness and hunger. The one making it harder to do something
about the other.
The start was a riot of colour and music. A perfect day as we watched the
big racing boats leaving first, the crews all decked out in their matching
shirts, wonderful boats that must have cost millions. Last farewells were
being made all around on the pontoons as the great moment was now only
minutes away. Everyone seemed reluctant to let go and get on their way,
always one last job to do. Enough was enough so at 12 oclock we untied and
steered Thisbe out into the melee taking our turn to go through the narrow
entrance. The shore was crowded with Las Palmans waving us off, and the ARC
girls in their yellow shirts were standing on the very point counting us
out. What a sight, all the boats picking their way around each other as we
made our way slowly up to the start line, an imaginary one drawn between a
big ferry boat and the shore. At 12.40 the maroon for the racing boats went
off, up spinnakers and they shot off. We were far too busy doing our own
thing to enjoy the sight but it must have looked wonderful from the shore.
It was soon our turn, the one o'clock bang signalling the start of three
weeks at sea. The anticipated 10 th 12 foot swells off the end of the island
didnt happen, the wind acceleration did occur but not as bad as we had been
warned. The boats were already starting to scatter over the ocean as it got
dark and we settled do to making sure we had a safe night. The route across
is up to you so everyone has a different plan, ours was to head for 20n 30w
as our first big waypoint once clear of the islands.
Monday. One crew member mal de mer. the wind shifting across our stern
making it difficult to handle the sails but making reasonable progress. At
about 9am the lashing at the bottom of the headsail halyard, where it was
connected to the furling drum, parted, and the sail slid down and went over
the side. The halyard shot off up to the top of the mast. The jinx had
returned. After some discussion the inevitable was faced, someone had to go
aloft to get it back. The problem of getting Alex to the top on my own was
solved by using my fancy electric windlass, he was up there before he could
shout ' for Gods sake be careful '. I lay on the deck braced against any
fittings I could get a purchase on, looking up at him as he hung on for dear
life, the top of the mast swaying about 10 feet either way. One hand for
the ship the other for yourself was never so apt. Brave and brainy, he
sorted it all out carefully, making sure we didnt have to go through the
exercise again. After he came down we lay down and had a well deserved rest.
I must hold up my hand after seeing the evidence, in the scramble to sort
out the mast I had done a poor job of the lashing, it hadn't parted, it had
come undone. Slapped wrists for me I guess. Cant write anymore now as due on
watch, glad to report slowly getting back to three crew but more about that
in the next episode. Manny