Sunday, May 24, 2020

Plans are being made

And another two weeks later, we are still in marina Lanzarote in Arrecife. On Monday two weeks ago we entered Phase 1 of deescalation process, which brought a little bit more freedom, like going to restaurants and sailing, but no more than 12miles from home port. It actually didn't feel that much different than before, although people seem a bit happier and more optimistic. Still, everything is moving so slow, we are quite fed up with it.

The flowers in marina are still pretty.
It is getting almost hot and summery here, so they'll need to water the plants even more than before.

Of course we made good use of new rules and visited the pastry shop one afternoon...

...(this is the view from the terrace to the marina)
...and on another day the pizzeria, also here in marina. Pizzas were really good, and beer as well.
Everybody here in marina is trying to make a good use of the time and we're all doing boat projects. We've done some smaller things, and our French neighbour was changing the windows on his boat. The work on the boat is never completed.
One evening we gathered with him and another neighbour and had a BBQ on Heron. It was really nice, we never ran out of topics to talk about.

Captain decided it was time to make a bow-sprit. It is a construction that sticks in front of the boat and holds one lower corner of gennacker sail, that is used in light winds, mainly from behind. Till now we've always improvised with chain or lines, but now Captain wants it to be done properly. It will look something like that.
So first we started with another attachment point at our bow, where we can "anchor" the bow sprit.
For that we needed to empty the anchor locker and we found something that looked like a wasps nest, but it was already empty.
And we put all the anchor chain onto pontoon, so Captain could drill the hole through the hull. We noticed that the oldest part of the chain was quite rusty. It is the last 30m of the chain, which we rarely use, so Captain just cleaned it with acid.
The hole in the hull is drilled and the attachment ring in place below the stainless plate.
The clean chain looks much better as well.
Tomorrow Captain is going to the chandlery to get the missing parts for bow sprit, and then we can install it. It might come very handy, because there's often very little wind in Mediterranean in summer.

Because that's where we are heading. With all the uncertainties and slow development we decided to head East and not West. We've paid marina till next Monday and then we are just waiting for favourable weather and sail first to Madeira, rest on anchor for a day or two, and then on to Gibraltar and into Mediterranean. We won't be allowed on land in Madeira, although we would like to do some sight seeing, but Portuguese borders are still closed. Maybe some other time. We'll stop in Gibraltar to fuel up and maybe get some food, if we're allowed on land. It is not clear yet if we'll be allowed to go on land anywhere else in Spain, maybe by the time we get to Almerimar or Cartagena in couple of weeks, situation will be more normal than now. And we hope that Italy and Greece open up as well by summer and we'll be able to do some cruising in Sardinia, South Italy and in Greece. But, for now these are just speculations and as a wise man once said: plans are made to be changed.

Still, in next week we're stocking up the boat with food, so we don't have to go hungry if we can't go shopping while on our way. We're excited because we have a plan! I'm not looking forward to sail for a week into the wind and waves to get to Gibraltar, and even from there it's a long way to Greece or even home, but at least something is happening. And that's already better than to sit here in frustration.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

More patience needed

It's been more than two months since we're in Marina Lanzarote in Arrecife. And it looks like we're staying here for another few weeks. This past week the rules of lockdown loosened up a bit here, we are allowed for walk or run every morning or evening. We did it only once, on the first evening it was allowed. But we make a pretty long hike every time we go grocery shopping, and we don't have to go at specific times. 

My biggest success of the week was my visit at hair salon and to get my hair cut. Although it said on the sign it was unisex salon, there were only guys inside, but they agreed that if I only need cutting they can do it. And they had a free slot in 20 minutes. Normally one would need to make an appointment for days ahead, so I thought I was really lucky. And they did a good job and I'm quite glad that my hair is shorter, as the days are getting summery and warmer.

From tomorrow more shops and also restaurants (only terraces can be used and there are rules about distances between tables, disinfecting the tables etc) are opening and we're allowed to move through entire island. I think my goal for this phase is to get to a good pizzeria and have a nice meal. There is a huge debate here among cruisers in marina if we're allowed to go sailing around the island already, the most of translations and interpretations of the Spanish rules say we could, but the local police says we can't. One of the cruisers is particularly eager to go and is sailing out tomorrow, so we will see if he's allowed to sail to one of the islands anchorages or he'll be coming back to marina escorted by Guardia Civil.

Otherwise not much is happening here. It is getting warmer each week and the summer is definitely coming. Probably due to lots of rain that we had in April, many plants started to bloom. I think this is Crassula, we've always had some in our house as pot plants, but I've never seen it bloom before.

The mama cat is doing fine, her name is Flora now. Argentinian family, that adopted her, are taking good care of her and only her shaved belly reminds us of all the drama with babies and her surgery.

Argentinian family dog is now her best friend (the dog on the right), and she goes for a walk with him every day. She actually likes all the dogs. The white fluff ball in the middle is also a dog, he belongs to Swiss couple that adopted one of the baby cats. The baby is also doing fine.
Flora is quite young and wants to play all the time. The dog is also eager to play...
...but he's already 17 years old and can only run so much.
I'm glad this story has a happy ending.

We're also working on some boat projects. Captain repaired our grill...
...that is pretty old and falling apart. We tried to get the new one, but none of the shops have what we want.
So we're keeping the old one for now, we just replaced the cap of the burner...
...with a small stainless pan that we had. We already tested it and it works fine.
There is a French guy in marina that is repairing sails for people, so we asked him to make us some hatch covers. This will protect from the sun and keep the boat less warm and it can also prevent the rain from coming in through the slightly leaky hatches.
He also repaired our sprayhood that was leaking also. We applied some waterproofing stuff on it, but it didn't stop the leakage, now he put another layer of fabric over the top area and this should fix it. He also replaced both side "windows" that were cloudy and stained with new plastic. This is how sprayhood looked before...
...with cloudy plastic...
...that got brown and stained at places.
This is how it looks now - the top part is double fabric now...
...and the side windows are more see-through. He didn't have enough material to replace the middle part as well, but that part is still ok.
One of the things we did was replace the lid on inspection hatch on one of our diesel tanks. This one we converted from one of the water tanks to diesel already 8 years ago. Captain studied materials and all the specifications of the tank thoroughly, so we were sure we can do it, we also replaced the filling and breathing hoses, so they were diesel proof. But we forgot the seal on the inspection hatch lid, and after filling the tank with diesel before leaving Antigua in 2013, the seal got soaked with diesel, swell up and broke the lid. Before our return from Caribbean we then had to pump the diesel from the tank and repair  the lid. It was an improvisation, but it held through several years. Only last autumn, as we got our tanks full again in Gibraltar, we noticed, that the lid was leaking diesel again. After using up most of the diesel from that tank, it was time to do something about it. We tried to get new lid, one from the chandlery here in marina was almost the right size, but unfortunately just a little too big. We mailed the manufacturer, but got no answer (it is a French company and honestly I wasn't surprised that they didn't react to our mail in English, it was not the first time that it happened). So Captain studied materials once more and came up with a solution. This is the inspection hatch...
...these are the two parts of old lid - we joined them together with epoxy resin in 2013.
Now Captain made some additional plates that go on the bottom part of opening, sealed it off and put the lower part of the lid to tighten it up. And while the tank was empty, Captain cleaned it as well.
There are still lots of things we can do around the boat to pass the time.

When it's allowed we'll go sailing a bit, and we would still like to sail to Madeira, once the Portugal opens the borders and ports. If it doesn't happen soon, we will maybe sail to mainland Spain when it's possible and then see from there. We're trying not to be too impatient, because it doesn't really help. But I'm really looking forward to the pizza and a beer...

Thursday, April 23, 2020

More about boat projects and cats

And two and a half weeks later we are still in Lanzarote, and not much has changed. We're still in a severe lock-down and despite lots of talk of softening some of the rules or even getting them lifted, nothing happened so far. The lock-down has been prolonged till 10th of May. We'll see when we will be able to go for a walk, a swim, or even sail between the islands.

We were constantly checking on our cat family - this is mom, very friendly and talkative.
She moved the babies from an older bigger sailboat to a car on the carpark, where they all lived under the hood of a car. Babies are sooooo cute. Half of the marina was feeding them and bringing them water.
There's four of them, apparently the fifth fell in the water and drowned when mama was moving them. Poor baby. As the babies were growing, they moved to a bigger car. Logical.
This one was particularly brave and active...
...and probably the cutest.
This is the last photo I have of all four of them, because couple of days ago the people from animal shelter started to catch them. They were afraid that when the cars start moving again, babies would be in danger.

Next days there were only three left.
They caught them in next two days. They were all vaccinated and mama was also brought to the vet and got a surgery, so now she can't have babies any more. A couple from Argentina is going to adopt her, and a couple from Swiss adopted one of the babies. So these two are going to live on boats. And the shelter is going to find families for other three babies. The sad thing is that mama cat is missing her babies so much, she is constantly looking around the cars and calling them. Heartbreaking.

While our days still mostly revolve around food, we're still working on boat projects. One of them was to waterproof the sprayhood. Surprisingly we had some rain a week ago and we saw it was leaking.
On one of the days, can't remember which one, it all feels like Groundhog day anyway, Captain climbed on the mast to check on things. There was nothing specific to do, but it was a good exercise.
And opportunity to make some photos from up there.
Then we started a big project of replacing a hatch. The old hatch was leaking quite a bit, which wasn't surprising since it has been bent and didn't lay on its frame flat and tight. Probably at some time or other a line came between the hatch lid and the frame, even before we got the boat, because I remember it was always leaking.

This is a new hatch we bought already before we left Monfalcone last June. See how Captain is still smiling at this time.
Next step was to remove the old hatch. We worked with carpet knives...

...spatulas and wooden pegs and finally managed to separate the old frame from the deck.

We naively thought that all we need to do after this is a bit of cleaning of the deck around the hole and then we could glue the new hatch into its place. Well... Once we put the new hatch into the hole for the test we realised it's too small. One centimetre on each side. It was a big shock. Obviously we made a mistake when ordering it. We were both frustrated and angry. So, what do we do now? First we needed to close the hole in the deck, because the forecast for next day was rain. Lots of rain. Here, in Lanzarote, where it almost never rains. So we put a big piece of insulation, like the one we used in our fridge, on top of the hole and over it we tied an even bigger piece of tarp, Sunbrella actually. This is how it looked from below.
Then we decided to clean the old hatch and try to repair it. It is a looooot of work, over the years we tried to stop the hatch from leaking with silver tape, which we now had to remove. Even with the blow drier (to heat the glue of silver tape), tweezers and lots of patience, the progress was very slow.
Next day the rain came. It was much more than we ever saw here. The covering for a hole in the deck we made a day before worked well, but the sprayhood was still leaking. It will need another coat of water proofing liquid.
Captain went to bathroom without umbrella and came back completely wet. I guess the nature was grateful for all the rain, people maybe not so much - the streets of Arrecife got flooded and some cars got stuck in the water.
Sprayhood wasn't the only thing in the boat that was leaking. One more hatch in saloon will need to be repaired as well, and the big panoramic window that we were re-sealing in Autumn while we were in marina Rubicon, is also leaking again. On boat you just never run out of work.

It took us few more days to clean the old hatch, disassemble it...
...straighten the bent parts without breaking them...
...replace the seal and put everything back together. Just to put hinges back together took couple of hours. And then today was the big day - we put hatch into the deck for test and everything looked good and aligned and level.
Then we put some SikaFlex on the frame...
...and put the whole thing into its place and screw it down.
It looks good...
...everything nicely aligned and the seal sits nicely and even on the frame. It never looked this good. Hope the water will stay out and then we'll be very happy.
Next hatch will surely take much less time and by the time we finish it, we'll be experts.