This week our most important purchase was a new ANCHOR! The Captain needs his beauty sleep – and a Manson Supreme 27 kg was to be his Stillnox. (A common pharmaceutical sleeping aid!) The New Zealand made anchor was highly recommended- but inversely proportionately difficult to actually get our hands on! (isn’t this often the way?)
Had we known just how tricky sourcing the renown anchor would prove to be, we would have purchased one when in Oz, and brought it over as odd baggage, as we have now done from England.
Anyhoooo…. the one we found in England travelled happily in the hold of a Ryan Air aircraft as we repatriated to Barcelona.
Some new experiences this week included:
Attending a Summer Soirée hosted by our dear friends Steve and Sonia at their beautiful home in Lymm; Cheshire, England. (Magnus has been a regular over the years, but it was an inaugural attendance for me) These people know how to throw a party – and are the most generous and thoughtful hosts one could have the fortune to know.
Meeting with highly recommended French and South African tradesmen; Magnus did not know whether to remain ambivalent about time – but was most pleasantly surprised that they were not only highly efficient and knowledgeable but also PUNCTUAL! 👍
The annual Lymm Summer Soirée
Getting our dubiously wrapped 27 kg anchor onto a budget airline as luggage without a hitch!! Phew! and…but WTH? Normal luggage can be problematic…….!!👍😮😃
Magnus’s shoulder improvement. As a result of regular and consistent exercise, Magnus has been able to make real gains in strength and range of movement. His Australian surgeon and physiotherapist have been very supportive in extending their care and concern across the oceans, and the healing is no doubt hastened by their close direction. It is quite something to hear Doug the surgeon’s broad Oz accent booming through the boat at 7.30am on a Facetime consult!
The Ashes? Pros and cons I guess. While my cricket mad friends the Dallastas were visiting Lourdes, it was great that the first two days were lost to rain – so their Day 5 tix actually saw some cricket!! BUT, as a guest in the country… Oz doing well was both good and bad, as you can imagine….although just talking about the cricket in a bar as an Aussie apparently earned me a round of drinks..! 😉🙄
This has got to be Giant Jenga. OMG this is super fun, but a helmet may be recommended if the game goes on until the tower is above head height! Magnus and I were unfortunate enough to be initiated into the game by having to pit our limited Jenga experience against a team of professional Jenga sharks; AKA “J and Big S.” After each of my turns, which lasted 10 excruciating minutes of careful tapping, and painstakingly removal and replacement of chosen Jenga block… (under the professional coaching of an imported German expert Bianca BTW) Big S would saunter over and just whip one out, and casually throw it onto the top of the tower, which appeared to be built by the Romans when it was his turn!! Needless to say we were gracious in defeat, but the 4 yo boy who was bursting to play cheered like mad!!😂😂
FOOD AND BEVVY HIGHLIGHTS:
Delectable Samosas especially from Coventry – apparently renown for super Indian food, and full assent from us!
Sonia’s homemade curry: a combination of two recipes, including a touch of Jamie Oliver; warm, full of flavours …. yummmm…
Costco carrot cake – don’t knock it till you try it! Even the non cake eaters hoovered it up!
English Sunday roast complete with yorkshire pudding in a shady beer garden.
Col lombarda in a jar! We were trawling through the pantry for dinner options, and opened a mystery jar. To quote Magnus it was “like candy!” Well maybe fibrous, vinegary, nutritious candy.. but delicious nonetheless! Who knew that humble red cabbage could compete with Marabou chocolate for our affections!
Quotes from several potential boat painting guys.
New dinghy bought and tested with oars, tick. Old engine being cajoled by Magnus, progress TBA. After a promising start with a clean carbie, the 4hp Yamaha just couldn’t deliver power under acceleration when in the water. Currently in the workshop for further attention.
New life raft purchased and on boat. Old one not yet removed, as we hope to do a practice launch and inflation with some other liveaboards soon.
Very valuable meeting with an experienced local to gain extremely helpful knowledge about local conditions, in particular the Mistral and Levante winds, which blow pretty much west and east between Barcelona and the Balearic Islands and can cause big seas, even when not very strong. He also gave us some good advice about common places for sandbars, and which marinas were good, including access. His advice was certainly gratefully received, and we have changed our plans about possible stops after considering his advice. (For my kids’ sake, the Balearic Islands include Ibiza and Majorca!)
Sorting of starboard cabin, which has been a dumping ground for all manner of useful stuff. Now we have a loose idea of where most of the useful stuff might be.
Trying to document our safety procedures. This is a work in progress.
New ball fenders for the stern, or where ever they end up. Our old ones were flat, and the valves nowhere to be found. We heard a story about a person who was killed by a wayward valve that shot out like a bullet under the sudden extreme pressure of a large boat compressing the fender against a jetty. (as they are designed to do!) This kind of thing must be less likely than winning tatts/the pools, but to be avoided nonetheless?
ANCHOR bought and fitted – Magnus is STILL occasionally elated by the memory of this hard come by and unlikely success!! I will continue to call him “The Anchorman” to prolong the unexpected joy of NOT having to spend more money to adapt our current anchor set up to accommodate the New Zealander!
This week started with a bang! We awoke to the deep beats of a trance club and the flashing lights of an enormous malfunctioning strobe light, all the while pitching and rolling as if on a fairground ride!! Our first thunderstorm on the boat was a real cracker, so to speak.
The trance beat of the thunder escalated to a deafening hammer as hailstones the size of cherry tomatoes pelted the boat from all sides. Our small occasional leaks became quite persistent trickles under the pressure of the torrents washing over the hatches. (note to self: buy more sikaflex) Needless to say we were fairly happy to be tied up safely in a sheltered marina – it was quite rough enough thank you very much!
This happened on the first night we welcomed our first family member to Almazul… Magnus’s youngest daughter Anna visited us for a few days this week, and upped our average photo and video footage by 1000%!
experiences this week included:
The crazy thunderstorm – the only damage we sustained was to the Bimini top – several seams tore apart; and to the Saab , which gained cellulite overnight (a common problem..) but in this case on the boot, roof, and bonnet.
Discovering several new places in Barcelona – La Boqueria food market – colours, aromas, ANYTHING you could think of to eat or cook.: El Courte Ingles – a fab department store with a skyhigh restaurant boasting incredible city views and a sumptuous buffet, and an unbelievably decadent basement food hall… and it hurts me to say that it may top DJs in Bourke St Melbourne, and even Harrods?
Going to a FESTA! The Catalan festival “Festa de Gracia” in Barcelona includes Catalan traditions such as the incredible spectacle of human tower building – where groups of skilled people (colles castelleres) together form tall cylinders, the record being 10 people high! We witnessed a group form a base ring, and concentric circles of people pushing inwards to reinforce the foundation of the tower, then others climbed up the sides of the tower symmetrically until the last layer; small children wearing helmets – ascended to the top!! We saw one successful construction to 6 people high, and our friend witnessed a 7 person high tower, with a tumbling unscheduled deconstruction at the final moment! Crazy stuff! This would never happen in Sweden…or Australia for that matter. Another aspect of the festival was street decorating, with many streets competing for top honours. Music and food was everywhere. Other traditions included a fire run (correfoc) and “colles de diablis “(groups of devils) chasing and dancing to the beat of drums. We knew we were not in Australia or Sweden on this evening!
Having Anna to stay. It was very important when choosing the boat that it would welcome our families whenever they would like to visit, and Anna was the first. (And come on down Johan and Amelie, Cecilia and Marcus, Lara and Kyle, Bonnie and Craig!!) Whilst Anna was here we had some nice anchoring, with some swimming and paddleboarding from the boat, a day in Barcelona, eating out, beach days….. a nice vacay blend?
Finally completing the walk to Sitges! We have attempted this before, and had to abort due to difficulty locating the track at many points… we had the same difficulty, but were more stubborn this time. We walked 25 kms in 35 degrees and although beautiful, there were times when the steep inland tracks felt like “no country for old men” (or women for that matter!!)… By the time we got home, it was a fairly sluggish finish TBH
We have had varying challenges and joys discovering differences in cultural expectations here in Spain. Magnus has torn his hair out waiting for tradesman to arrive at all, let alone on the arranged day, anywhere close to the arranged time. All of our contacts have turned out to be trustworthy and very good at their job – but we have come to understand that the appointment making/keeping is very different to Swedish expectations. …… It is good that Magnus is now learning to do some Pilates breathing, after the cursing phase has passed…or better still, regarding it as a wonderful surprise and actually rejoicing if someone comes within a couple of days of when we thought they might..!! Regarding frustraions and challenges, my biggest so far came this week, when after a long day in Barcelona, not just one bus left us behind, but two drove off, leaving us swearing in their dust…..aarrgh!! Let me tell you this sad tale., if only for my own sake. There we were, Magnus, Anna and I; suitably wilted after a long hot day in Barcelona, standing at a crowded bustop inhaling dust and diesel fumes waiting for the L94 to open its doors and welcome us into the airconditioining and whisk us home. After watching our orange chariot for about 20 minutes, we sprang into action when we heard the hiss of opening doors, only to be brushed aside as they immediately closed again and the bus slid steathily away, while we and other potential passengers chased it down, banging the sides to alert the driver of his small? oversight (Hello, the PASSENGERS?!) But all to NO AVAIL! (insert curse here) OK, so it’s now clearly time to employ some pilates breathing, slightly tight lipped, but FINE!! (not really, but what can you do.) So now we repeat: inhale diesel fumes, wait sweatily for 15 minutes, then watch the next L94 even more closely, and jostle to the front of the queue to avoid previous unfortunate situation. Made it onto the bus! Tick! Then the bus driver says we need change… COINS in fact… I was a little cranky by now, and my inner mongrel introduced itself and I thought quietly “I am NOT getting off this bus…” so I stayed put, and hoped that Magnus may have gone to the nearby Maccas for change while I held up the bus – I was prepared to feign fainting, childbirth… ANYTHING really, but no; he and Anna had disembarked for good – and so after some minutes I realised I would be travelling home without my companions. But more compellingly, I had a flashback to my last brush with the law in Spain, and decided that maybe being held in police cell at 50 yo would not seem like quite the adventure it was in 1993! (with Carolyn G, nee S!!) We got home eventually, on our third bus attempt.
A very unexpected meal at a local cafe – my omelette arrived con pan, but Magnus’s hamburger arrived sin pan? (bread!)
Anna got a taste of what caring for her elderly father might be like, reading the menu when we both forgot our glasses, ordering when we couldn’t hear the waiter… when all she really wanted was for someone to invite her out to a bar, far far away from her responsibilities!!
(On a side note – when we forget our glasses, we are practicing the emergency strategy of taking a photo then enlarging it to read! (thanks for the tip Per) Effective, bit not efficient, quite laborious actually!!)
FOOD AND BEVVY HIGHLIGHTS
Catalan street food at the Festa – small bites of absolute authenticity! We bought ours from a small stall made of card tables, like a CWA stall at a local fete. Perfect!
The Captain made POPCORN!! I think I am seeking salt, or that’s my current best excuse for absolutely HOOVERING up an indecent amount of popcorn on Friday evening.
Risotto Milanese at the very local Italian cafe, eaten to the strains of a haunting saxophone solo, in the company of a Guadalupe native. (The Milanese variety of risotto includes saffron and parmesan. Simple but perfect.) Must try this at home.
Discovering a strange beer called Desperado, apparently a fave of Steve’s? Not being a beer drinker, I was not aware of the slightly odd combination of flavours that this brand delivers. It is labelled as having TEQUILA??? but not the matching alcohol content. Please explain Steve?
Swedish Marabou chocolate, imported by Anna.
Discovering Japanese Mochis, in a Spanish department store, as you do! (Thanks Anna!) When I told my daughters that they MUST try these NOW because they were SO good, Lara informed me that they were old news to her, and available at our local Woolies. Whaaat??? My best description of these is: a very creamy mousse (although I think technically it is called ice cream) encased in a layer of sweet rice paste. Delish! I am glad i enjoyed these wholeheartedly before reading that 2 people died this past NYE by choking on mochis!! (Statistically most people who choke on mochis are over 65, so I am going to hoover up a few more in the next 15 ears!!) Magnus may need to hurry a little more though!
Embarrassingly little to report this week but:
Fixed Bimini top
Started writing boat safety/emergency procedures, crew induction etc
More requisites ordered, some arrived. (Bec’s lifejacket)
Learned how to fix a snubber to the anchor chain
We are really hoping to set sail for Gibraltar at the end of September – so in terms of readying the boat, and ourselves, “SH*T JUST GOT REAL” to quote a line from the New Zealand movie “Hunt for the Wilderpeople!”
Well, this week unfortunately most of the bleeding was done by our “segundo” visitor; Alex from Sweden…. those Swedes🙄😮.. breaking your nose on the first day of a beach vaycay? Who does that??
And the perspiring? Well, that is our status quo…day in, day out, outside, AND in the saloon, which we fondly refer to as our “Spanish Sauna.” (mostly between 10am and 8pm, when the inside temp is often 34!!)
However, this week our personal moisture output was exacerbated by our increased efforts towards improved fitness, for which Alex is directly responsible! Although injured, he set a good example while here, and even left us with some equipment for Magnus to train his shoulder with when he left. 👏👍 (all this WITH a broken nose, as it turns out!)
And…. serendipitously, we are pleased to report that our salutations repertoire in different languages is improving weekly, due to many occasions for raised glasses in warm and varied company.
Some new experiences this week have included:
Making exercise a priority, we have run most mornings. Thanks Alex!! Alex demonstrated his personal commitment to keeping fit by breaking his nose doing chin-ups on his visit here, hence the BLEEDING!! This happened when we all ran to the outdoor gym on his first morning – where he proceeded, amongst other things, to do far too many chin ups on monkey bars with SUCH vengeance that he hit his head very hard on one bar, which caused his head to RICHOCHET forward into another bar – very efficiently BREAKING HIS NOSE!! 😟😧 Aaaargh!
Managing to buy what we actually intended to buy, in Spanish and Catalan!? We ended up with the right fabric for making fender covers from a shop where the owners and employees didn’t speak English… This involved me learning several sentences about elasticised fabric, eg for making tracksuit pants, drawing pictures, using a photo… and happily we got there in the end. Well worth it – because pantalones de chandal sounds so much more exotic than tracky daks!😆),
Being able to book a table at a restaurant in Spanish, I guess this will be an important phrase to remember?
Almost walking to Sitges, although another attempt is required, now that we know where the two ends of the track connect in Garraf – this took some time, and MORE stumbling Spanish, but well worthwhile for the view from the ruin of Garraf Castlilo
Sitting at Rat Penat Beach bar listening to our Brazilian neighbor play. (Rat Penat means bat, as ascertained while learning about the history of Bacardi Rum. (I know?!))
Learning the new way out of the car park but we’ve been circumnavigating for six weeks, saving about 2 kilometers in circles per grocery trip. Tick!
Finally visiting the castle after which Castelldefels is named. Currently it is closed for renovation, and to prepare the inside for a museum, however the building itself, and commanding view of the area was worth the walk anyway.
Eating at our most local restaurant – a super Italian, while listening to a swansong vocal performance, including a rousing rendition of Janis Joplin’s “Mercedes Benz.” This is the first time we’ve actually had dinner there.
Me discovering a moment of rhythm on a box drum one evening. (My daughters will dispute this could actually happen..)
The fear and trepidation (not to mention nausea) that overcame Magnus as he anticipated putting a drill into this beautiful boat. Luckily the drilling was accurate and intended purpose achieved the first time.
Farewelling some of our boat neighbors, as they departed for various lands… The Balearic Islands, Brazil, The Canary Islands.
Trialling the new bosun’s chair – Magnus hauling (winching actually) me up the mast a little.
Witnessing a happy Swede singing his version of a Brazillian song, and then some Brazillians taking these made up lyrics and making some meaning of them, all with fun and gusto!! (the original song was …. new lyrics were “Ahh ka bushka town..” etc )…. This refrain was heard around the jetty for a day or two!
Discovering vending machines that sell fishing gear (sinkers, hooks, bait – you name it) ice, and BEER!! While have slowly become accustomed to hard liquor being sold everywhere, including milk bars, supermarkets, and petrol stations – but beer from a vending machine is a new one on me!
FOOD AND BEVVY HIGHLIGHTS
Sadly no new wine highlights, except maybe a surprisingly fresh white lambrusco.
But, OMG the squid ink rice with scallops that we bought ready made at our CARREFOUR supermarket, as a side dish to some magnificent bonito fish cooked by Magnus.
Creamy vegie curry for a change.
Very nice creamy Swedish style pork, complimented by a local tempranillo.
Final touches to the VHF installation
Change of MMSI registration
Hatch slider fixed, Hallelujah!
Fender covers finished, also Hallelujah!
Rigging assessment completed, awaiting quote
Solar panels decided on, frame yet to be decided.
Trial of current portable 100 W solar panel complete, we unplugged from shore power, and existed very happily on the solar power for a couple of days, although they were super sunny, as most have been.
Transom showerhead changed.
Anchor ordered, albeit from England, needing transportation back by hand by us when we visit Steve and Sonia at the end of August.
Fire extinguishers installed
Carbon dioxide monitor installed
We are one week closer to leaving, and now have almost completed the more fiddly jobs, and now larger installations and tasks are looming. cleaning and painting the hull are filling our thoughts ATM + so no philosophical ponderings from the Captain this week!