Armed with my 'to do' list I began to get stuck into it. The first thing I had to do was book both Aannsha and myself in for the three week intensive sailing course in Gibraltar. There are a few reasons why we chose to learn to sail in Gibraltar.
Firstly, it's 50% cheaper than doing the same course in Australia and I'm not talking chicken feed here. For both of us to do only the RYA Competent Crew and Day Skipper course in Australia it would have set us back a cool AU$13,200 (UK£7,323). Whereas doing the RYA Competent Crew and Day Skipper course, PLUS diesel engine maintenance, marine first aid and VHF radio handling courses in Gibraltar has cost us the grand total of AU$6,557 (£3,638). The same standards, the same certificate, half the cost. I don't know how Australia justifies the price difference.
Secondly, as we are planning on spending the first 3 years or so sailing around The Mediterranean, we thought it would be beneficial to actually learn to sail in Mediterranean conditions. Also the area around the Straits of Gibraltar is a very busy marine traffic area, with huge cargo vessels coming and going day and night. The experience of being taught under those heavy traffic conditions is priceless.
Thirdly, I've never been to Gibraltar and as it is only a 7 to 8 hour drive from our base in Javea in Spain we thought it would be nice to get a chance to check out the scenery of Spain on the way, plus have a day or two after the sailing course to sightsee in Gibraltar. After all, this whole sell up and buy a yacht, is a lifestyle change and part of that change is to stop and smell the roses along the way.
Anyway, back to my 'to do' list. I asked Aannsha, who was visiting family in the UK, if she could pop into a branch of the Nat West Bank and transfer the UK pounds from our international currency card to the sailing schools Nat West Bank account in Gibraltar. The sailing school lady I'd been in contact with assured me that it could be easily done as Gibraltar is UK territory and they use the UK pound as currency.
"No, we can't do that". Was the firm response from the Nat West Bank person Aannsha was dealing with in the UK. Hmmm, what to do? A couple of texts between Aannsha and me, followed by a few emails between me and the sailing school lady and it seemed the only option left available was to pay the sailing school invoice via PayPal and incur the 4% handling fee and whatever pitiful currency exchange rate PayPal was offering. Now if you've read 'Barry's Blog # 2 - The 3am Wake Up Call' you'll remember me mentioning the little voice inside my head that tells me to take an umbrella because it's going to rain. Well that little voice spoke again and said "Add the international currency card as a payment method in your PayPal account and transfer the UK pounds directly to Gibraltar that way."
And you know what? The little voice was right again. The payment went straight through, no pitiful currency exchange rate to get ripped off by and no 4.4% PayPal surcharge. One hour later I received a payment confirmation email from the Gibraltar sailing school. I love that little voice.
The next two days were spent happily ticking off items from my 'to do' list;
Gather together and file in date order all video footage ready to produce YouTube videos - Check.
File in date order all still photos ready for adding to blogs and Facebook - Check.
Write next blog, upload to site and schedule for release on Friday morning - Check.
Tidy up the pages of the A B Sea website - Check.
Go shopping, remember to buy beer and chocolate - Check.
It all went like clockwork and after a few more checks, including writing three more blogs, the list was done.
I woke up on Christmas Day morning, just four days after Aannsha had departed for the UK, and that's when the rot set in. Let me paint a picture. Spanish TV is unwatchable, they simply talk way too fast for me to follow along. It's the same with Spanish radio. I do have about 3TB of movies and TV shows on a hard drive but that gets boring after so many hours. I couldn't begin producing our YouTube videos because I needed Aannsha to do her parts on camera alongside me. I had to stop watching other peoples' YouTube videos because I'd chewed through 20GB of data in four days and at 30 Euros (AU$46) a pop that was going to work out to be 225 Euros (AU$345) a month if I didn't cut back. I was bored and when I'm bored the other little voice inside my head (the negative one) comes out to taunt me.
You've got the whole month of January before Aannsha gets back, what are you going to do with all that time? Maybe you made the wrong decision with this lifestyle change! What if you can't find the right yacht at the right price? Are you sure that people will want to watch the videos you produce?
I had a whole week of that negative voice running amok in my head and no one to talk to about it. The thing that kept me sane was knowing that my younger brother Phil, who I hadn't seen in 13 years, was flying over to Spain for New Years and we were heading out to a party at his friends house. At 6pm on New Years Eve Phil let himself in through the front door of his apartment, sauntered into the lounge area, took one look at me and said "You're not going out dressed like that are you"? I grinned a crazy grin. Yep, everything was just as it always had been and all was well in my world.
The party was just what I needed. Fantastic food, lots to drink and nice friendly people to talk to. They even had their own fireworks to set off at midnight. Not all of the fireworks went in a skywards direction as intended, but nobody got hurt and much fun was had by all. The next four days were spent catching up with Phil and getting to know his girlfriend Laura until they had to leave to get back to work in the UK.
It was now January 5th and I still had at least another three weeks until Aannsha returned from the UK. I was dreading the return of the negative voice in my head once the high of spending the new year with my brother had worn off. Then I received a unexpected text from Aannsha saying she was ready to book her flight back to Spain. She felt she'd seen everyone she wanted to see, visited the places on her list and best of all, she was missing me. So just four days later on a sunny Tuesday afternoon I took the 15 minute walk up to the Javea bus terminal and just moments after I got there the bus from Alicante airport pulled in and Aannsha stepped off. Once again, within the space of a week, all was well in my world again.
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