Moria successfully completed her trip from Scotland to always sunny Tenerife (where it has been raining steady since she arrived.) We are now only waiting for Jessica and we will be fully crewed for the transit. Moria was a good sport, after two days of travel she managed to stay awake all day and even joined us for our evening sundowner on Urs & Isabelle's boat. Considering that our evening sundowner starts at about 8 PM and ends at midnight it was quite a trick!
Yesterday I took the ARMAS (Naviera Armas) from Santa Cruz de Tenerife to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. (50.50 € round trip) Las Palmas is the departure point for the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC), an annual sailing rally from the Canaries to the Caribbean. I have been very curious about the ARC so I thought it would be fun to go over and take a look.
The outbound trip was pretty much as expected, that is to say boring. I had not taken my laptop as I didn't want to carry the weight. As it turns out the ferries have internet so I could have amused myself for the 2 3/4 hour trip. I did have a cheap novel and passed the time reading. I was surprised that at both ends the ferry took on a pilot, apparently the Canary Pilots have a strong union!
The port at Las Palmas is larger than Santa Cruz and very industrial. The ferry dock in Santa Cruz is about 1/4 mile from Reboot and 1/4 mile from downtown Santa Cruz. When we arrived in Las Palmas I expected the same. We docked in the middle of nowhere. There were a bus waiting to take us to the other Naviera Armas facility which is much closer to the downtown area. I expected to be met by a potential Caribbean crew member but when I got to the facility I was told that she had gone to the Parque Santa Catalina to meet me. I found the parque (in the words of the local promoters "the crossroads of the world.) but was unable to find the person I expected to meet. My search was not made easier by the thousands of cruise ship tourists who had apparently just arrived that morning.
After waiting for a bit I decided to walk down to the marina. It, like Marina Santa Cruz, is quite a long walk from the downtown area. The marina is right next to a beach. In front of the beach is an anchorage area. I decided that I preferred the marina at Santa Cruz. First, there are no finger piers so everyone is "Med" moored. The boats are packed in like sardines - any motion on one will be transmitted all the way down the pontoon. Second, the pontoons seem much closer together making docking and getting underway more difficult. Finally, the bathrooms are a lot further away for almost everyone. No a good thing for an urgent need in the night! The anchorage was already quite full, more than a month before the ARC. I was told but could not confirm that in order to make room for new boats after one had been on a dock for some time period they sent you off to the anchorage. Not my idea of a good time. I really could not judge but my impression is that the water is not as clean as in Santa Cruz. On the positive side there is a long strip of marina stores and providers right at the marina.
There was little evidence of the ARC other than the boat flags so I did what all good cruisers do - headed for the bar. There are several, I chose the most central, the "Sailors Bar" (catchy title.) Link: Sailors bar. I ordered a beer and a pizza from Carlos only to find that I had to wait 40 minutes until food service was available. Carlos and I agreed that I could pass the time drinking beer. The pizza arrived and I (apparently) decided to wear the first piece on the front of my white shirt! Cleaning myself as best I could I continued to eat (with my mouth.) A few minutes later I discovered that the bar had free internet. I checked my mail and discovered that the person I was supposed to meet was looking for me so Carlos was kind enough to send a text for me. While waiting a French/Hungarian couple I had meet looking for crew positions recognized me and joined me. A bit later the potential crew member and her local friend showed up. We all had a great conversation.
After a bit I decided to take off and wander around Las Palmas. I ended up in the Elder Museum, a beautiful hands on science museum. I had a great time walking around pushing all the buttons.
I walked back to the ARMAS dock. We were loaded into the bus for the trip back to the dock and the bus would not start. After a short delay a second bus arrived and off we went.
I was on deck during the ferry departure from Las Palmas and as luck would have it met the second engineer. She was off duty (she had the midnight to 6 AM "cold iron" watch) and we started to chat. Her English was quite good and she told me that it was a treat to practice speaking it. I told her that I lived on a sailboat and was retired US Navy. She asked me if I would like a tour. I said of course. She excused herself and when she came back told me that the Captain would be delighted to show me the Bridge and that she had permission to take me to her domain - the engine room. So off we went. The bridge was very large and very modern. The first officer walked me through all the controls as we slid down the side of Gran Canaria on the way to Tenerife. The bridge is about 60 feet in the air so as soon as we rounded the point we could see Tenerife in the distance. I was then invited by the Captain to dine with the crew. How very nice. Off then to the engine spaces. Most of the equipment was familiar, the big difference from my personal experience was the level of computer control and monitoring. We then went to dinner and voilà, we were back in Tenerife. What a great way to pass the trip back. So I was off to bed after a nice day.
When Andrea, her cousin and I went to the beach she and I went for a walk. I discovered that she has a real love of sea shells but had never seen a conch. So I dug down deep in Reboot and found one that I had brought up SCUBA diving. I think you can see from the smile she was pleased to add it to her collection.
October is a big month for me. As I pointed out last year it contains five of my favorite historical events. Two were yesterday. See http://blog.sailboatreboot.com/2011/10/answers-2-3-favorite-historical-events.html I did not post as I had regressed into "computer guy" mode. First I was working with the marina to get their wireless running better. Then I was helping another cruiser get his "Sailmail" program to run. It was frustrating. We were able to get it running on his primary computer but not his backup. So at least he will have access as long as the main computer continues to work.
(For those curious, the other two favorite historical events were the birth of my sons. Way to go, Diane!)
Today was another playing in “Poo”
day. I continued to work on cleaning the bow holding tank. Rob (Kuijten) was not
so lucky. The aft head that he has been using refused to flush. After taking
apart the electric flushing system he discovered that the switch had rusted and
was no longer working. After a quick consultation we decided it was safe to
bypass the switch and use the panel switch. The only problem with this solution
was that there is a manual valve that controls “wet bowl” or “dry bowl.”
Turning the control while also turning on the panel switch would take someone
with 10 foot arms. We agreed that if we could set it in the “web bowl” position
it would be OK. With some random parts and a great deal of creativity Rob came
up with a solution that not only held the switch in the proper position but can
be removed in a minute or two.
After finally being able to flush
the toilet Rob proceeded to give the head “a clean sweep fore and aft.”
Actually, I think he spent a couple of hours cleaning and sanitizing the head
from top to bottom. It really looks great! The picture tells
XO playing mouse with Rob
Rob and XO have become great
friends. When we sit in the cockpit XO takes up residence on top of the dodger
and hangs out. Every once in a while he will stick a paw over or make a noise.
Rob loves to play with him or just pick him up and pet him. So XO now has two
staff instead of just one.
For the last couple of days we have been purging the holding tanks on Reboot. Normally one does what they can to not fill them up. When full you get a pump out, throw a little bit of water in the tank, and then pump it out again. We have had the luxury of filling the tank completely, letting it sit with chemicals overnight, and then pumping out again. The first couple of times it is amazing how much "stuff" comes lose from the side of the tanks. When done, we are actually pumping out clear water and much of the smell is gone. Quality.
One thing leads to another on sailboats. You know, if you read my blog, that we had to replace the impeller the other day. Doing this resulted in a lot of water in the bilge. We then discovered that the automatic float switch for the bilge pump was not functioning properly.
It turns out that it was just filled with grime so disassembly and cleaning was all it took. We also mounted it a little higher in the bilge in the hope that more "gook" would flush under the switch.
Here is a picture of pouring water into the bilge to make sure the switch was working.
I thought my engine problems were solved when I unwrapped a big hunk of rope from the prop shaft.
Today we started the engine and it was pretty clear that there was not water. So we started at the inlet, found it was clogged even though the filter was clear, and tried again. No joy.
The next step was to open the salt water pump. Sure enough, the impeller had decided to self destruct. Normally Yanmar engines are pretty easy on impellers but this obviously was not the case. Fortunately I have spares on board so it was just a hour or so to swap out the old for a new. We now have water coming out the exhaust and the engine is not overheating. So hopefully we have found all the problems.
Last night as Rob and I were wandering around looking for a place to eat we came across a display of winning costumes from previous Tenerife Carnivals. They are so elaborate that I joked "once they are ready they drop the girl in with a crane."
Marina Santa Cruz has added a cruiser lounge. We now have Wifi on the dock (but not on the boat.) Also vending machines for coffee, soda, water and snacks. It looks like I can bootleg power if I want to run my gaining computer. The only down side is that the connection isn't all that fast, but believe me it is better than not having it.
I am back to having a second person on the boat. Rob has arrived. He is part of the crew for our Atlantic transit. Good guy. Here he is having a "fag" while we eat dinner at a Chinese Restaurant in Spain.
Andrea's cousin's girlfriend was heading back to Romania. Since she was leaving from Tenerife South airport we decided to spend a day on the beach at Los Cristianos. After dropping her off the three of us headed for the beach. It had been raining in La Laguna and Santa Cruz so we did not have high hopes for a beach day.
We stopped for a bite to eat as it was still early and overcast. I ordered Cafe Americano (basically strong black coffee.) The waiter came over and asked me where I was from. I usually answer New York as everyone knows where that is and I did grow up in the suburbs. He told me with a laugh that he was serving me "Cafe Obama, American and black."
There is not a great deal about the American election on the news here but there is far more coverage than what we get in the US of foreign elections. Of course I can't follow the reporting as I don't speak Spanish but both President Obama and candidate Romney show up with about equal time.
The sun did finally come out after about two hours of hazy but warm weather. It got very hot on the beach very quickly but since it was near the end of the day we just headed back to Santa Cruz.On the way out I snapped the picture of the sand sculpture being created by one of the lifeguards. Unfortunately there were jelly fish in the water so we didn't get to swim but we got some sun and had a nice time walking the beach.
You may remember from 4 years ago that I spent the night in a marina being wakened by heavy freight trains going by. They were always proceeded by the clanging of bells and the whistle that trains use when they are approaching a grade crossing. In the morning I woke up and discovered the grade crossing to nowhere. Each time a train comes the gates go through the entire cycle.
In the Marina de Santa Cruz we have a similar anomaly - the ramp? to nowhere. As you can see in the picture there is a ramp heading down to the water but then it stops. Even at high tide the base of the ramp is a good foot above the water line. It must have some purpose but for the life of me I have no idea what it is.
I house sat for Andrea today so that she could go to work while the electrician fixed the electricity in her new flat. It was quite the comedy made even funnier by the fact that I don't speak Spanish.
Apparently the wire from the basement to the flat was not working. So the landlord had run a wire down from his apartment into the circuit breaker panel to give it juice.
Two guys showed up. Their tools were in a plastic bag. The tools consisted of a pair of diagonal pliers (side cutters), a drill and a screwdriver. (note the absence of a voltmeter.) They had a new circuit breaker panel.and breakers. They disconnected the temporary power and proceeded to remove the old panel and replace it with the new one. This took about 1 1/2 hours. So far so good. Then they went down to the basement and turned the power back on. Of course nothing happened since the problem in the first place was the wire from the basement. They spent the next three hours (yes, three hours) trying to figure out why there was no electricity. During this process a third guy showed up and they all were talking with each other about the problem. Finally, I am not sure how, they did get power into the apartment. At this point they started to work on the ceiling lights.They got one of the two lights working, when they hooked the second light up there was a spark and they blew the breaker. At this point they started taking more things apart. Since they didn't have a meter they attached wires to the drill and used it to test for power. You haven't lived until you have watched a guy hold a drill with the trigger pressed while another guy pokes around in a power box. After about another hour of this they declared the light fixture broken. Fortunately by this time Andrea had finished work and was able to talk to them in Spanish.
The best moment came when one guy was up on the step ladder working on the light and the other two guys were standing on the ground on either side with all three chattering at rocket speed in Spanish. It reminded me of the "how many ... does it take to change a light bulb? One to hold the light bulb and two to spin the ladder."
When I volunteered to house sit I wasn't real concerned. I figured I could take my laptop over and read a book on my Kindle for PC. Of course somewhere in the middle of all this the battery died.