Snug and secure in Cartagena.

Shangrila's web diary
Ali Pery and Shane Warriker
Sun 19 May 2013 12:56

After two days of strong winds and rolly conditions inside the marina, we have decided to leave Shangrila in the marina and call it a day for this leg of the trip, and count our lucky stars we didn’t stick to Plan A which was to make for Gibraltar and beyond.  It would have been really horrible to be stuck out there in these conditions.  A sentiment echoed by the Saga cruise ship moored adjacent to us who announced yesterday via the tannoy to their passengers, that they wouldn’t be leaving the harbour either.

We’ll recommence the trip in early June, but with another crew.  All good things must come to an end, and sadly my time with Jon and Rob (who both have other commitments) is one of those good things. Jon, who has produced some really good meals and constantly fixed or tweaked something, and produced a worryingly long list of ideas on ways to improve to the boat.  He moved about her with a remarkable agility that belies his great big hulking flat footed stature.  Rob, always dignified and alert, has also produced some excellent meals, always ready with some sage advice or observation, and remarkably, no matter how bad conditions got, always managed his daily shave.

Despite the tough conditions, they have been great crewmates who have been good fun to be with, never shirked a single duty and willingly did more than was asked of them, and never complained when things went wrong.  They were also very kind and patient with me when I was struck down by seasickness for days three and four of the trip.

A good example of their willingness to forgive Shangrila her foibles is in dealing with the temperamental autopilot.  We all know what it is supposed to do. We all know how it is supposed to work, but none of us could work out why the wretched thing would suddenly “let go”.  Usually, after it has behaved itself for an hour or so and the others are trying to get a bit of rest while you’re on watch, you thought it safe to make a dash to the loo, get yourself wedged in and trousers down when suddenly “beep,beep,beep,beep” and a boat that’s made a radical change in direction.  Another choice time for it to relinquish control was when you found yourself at the midpoint between the two controls clinging on like a limpet to avoid being thrown across the empty saloon struggling up the compionway steps to take a look outside.

Another “interesting” foible, although not Shangrila’s fault yet still associated with her was that our weather information gathering systems, the Navtex and satellite phone, never worked properly.  So we guesstimated our weather forecasts by gazing out at the clouds, and tapping and peering at the barometer dropping (24mb in less than 24 hours). We all agreed that sailing in this manner, although purist and never dull, is rather undesirable.  On one occasion an ominous front loomed large ahead of us.  Our level of concern grew when we started seeing flashes of lightning emanating from beneath the clouds and both sheet and forked lightning lit up the skies.  We tried to skirt around it, but the harder we tried to avoid it, the wider the front became until it stretched from horizon to horizon, and so left with no alternative, we had to sail straight through the middle of the lightning storm.  We prepared as well as we could, by donning lifejackets, ensuring the grab bag was adequately stocked, getting the flares to hand and filling the microwave oven with portable electronic navigation devices and the EPIRB (emergency position indicating radio beacon)(the theory is if you suffer a lightning strike, all your main navigation devices will be destroyed, but the oven acts as a Faraday Cage and protects what’s inside), we then stood in a loose huddle in the middle of the saloon floor, as far from the sides of the boat and mast as possible and drove our way through expecting the worst but hoping for the best.  Lightning crashed through the skies all around us, but thankfully avoided Shangrila’s mast.  After a rather tense half hour or so, we started to see faint patches of blue in the sky heralding the passing of the storm and we started to feel a little better (although the risk of a stray bolt still existed).  The aftermath of the storm resulted in an already angry sea becoming enraged and throwing poor Shangrila around like a little cork. The violence was so bad that all the contents of the microwave bashed the door open and flung themselves across the cabin to land on Rob’s bed, much to his suprise. By nightfall the sheet lightening had retreated South, to the North Algerian Coastline, Mother Nature leaving us with a wonderful backdrop to marvel over, while the stars shone above for Shangrila and crew but the seas remained rough.

Oh how we laughed, when, after watching the bow of the boat pitching up and down and side to side with poor Jon trying to get some sleep in his berth in the fore-cabin, he told us, with good humour, of the number of occasions that he found himself pinned to the bottom of the upper bunk as momentum carried him upwards while the boat was travelling down. Or how he ended up being thrown clear across the cabin to find himself planted firmly on the opposite cabin wall. Bear in mind he weighs circa 16 stone!  It all seemed rather unfair when I was languishing in the excessive space of the palatial aft cabin, but he didn’t complain.

After we arrived, we went out for a well deserved night of festivities, which culminated in us being dragged to a local bar with live music at about 3 in the morning by a local couple we befriended at another bar, who spoke no English but seemed like good fun, and very hospitable.  On asking if we spoke Spanish, Jon proudly announced “Mi aerodeslizador está lleno de anguilas”. This seemed to do the trick.

With not so much luck in language skills in the noisy bar, Jon fixed the barmaid with one watery eye and in his finest Spanish, ordered a round of drinks. Bewildered, she looked at him for a moment put three tumblers on the bar and started free-pouring some mysterious liquid out of a blue bottle into them and then topped it up with another clear liquid.  She must have concluded that being British and not asking for lager, the only other appropriate drink must be gin and tonic.

We all agree that Shangrila is a fabulous boat. Sitting dry inside the wheelhouse, with its dual control, the Radar tracking away,  excellent all round visibility, the “Ride of The Valkyries” playing through the speakers and sipping a nice cup of tea while the weather rages outside is a rather splendid way to spend your watch

Incidentally the translation of the Spanish phrase “Mi aerodeslizador está lleno de anguilas” into English is “My hovercraft is full of eels!”