I left off from my last blog saying that I was going to look for a YouTube instructional video on how to dismantle and service Harken 53 self-tailing winches. I did find a great video but after watching it I realised I couldn't do the dismantle and service because I didn't have the correct tools. More to the point the only tools I actually had were a flat head and a phillips head screwdriver. They were definitely not gonna cut the mustard. It was time to go shopping.
We'd moved on board our new home Thursday afternoon and had planned on hiring a car on the following Monday to go do all the item shopping and food shopping. But by Friday afternoon we realised that we'd have to get the rental car sooner than Monday. The main reason for this was that there was no crockery onboard. There was a small frying pan and two small pots, so technically we could cook, but there was nothing to eat the food off. Luckily there are several restaurant options in the Marina and although it's fun to eat out, what we spent on two meals could have fed us for a week if we'd gone grocery shopping. More about the marina restaurants later.
Saturday morning began with a quick online car reservation with Centauro rent-a-car located at San Javier airport, followed by a short walk to the Marineros office to order a taxi to take us there and by noon we were once again mobile and armed with enough lists to make Shakespeare want to give up writing.
If you read my blog previous to this one you'll know that I prefer to be a short time-frame shopper, however this first day of shopping stretched out to near enough 8 hours! That's a world record for me. The main reason it took so long was that although we knew what we wanted, we simply didn't know where to start looking for it. Let's just use buying a stainless steel socket set as an example. In Australia the first place I would look for that item would be an auto parts store. Nope, not in Spain. Auto parts stores sell auto parts, not tools. Next we tried the ferreterias (hardware stores), they were a little more encouraging but they generally didn't have a lot of choice and I wanted to compare price and quality. It wasn't until we drove to Cartagena on Tuesday that we finally found what we were looking for. Just to the north of the city there is a huge industrial park and a fair sized chunk of it is occupied by nationally branded outlets that specialise in stuff that was on our lists. An Australian equivalent would be outlets like Bunning's and A-Mart All Sports. We also found a caravan parts place nearby which sells 12volt LED lights and we are now in the process of changing all of the onboard incandescent lights over to LED's, to help reduce our electricity consumption, reduce heat creation and generally give us brighter lights.
We did eventually find our crockery at a big retailer called Carrefour. That also took some time because we couldn't just have normal plates, we had to have something that wasn't going to break if it got a little knocked around and ordinary crockery is too fragile for boat life. We eventually found something perfect in a 'discontinued line' discount bin. Bamboo! Eco friendly, sustainable, biodegradable and virtually unbreakable. It was also in Carrefour that we bought our new cookware. One of the things Aannsha and I discussed, while we were disposing of our possessions just before leaving Australia, was that any cookware we bought must have handles that are attached by more than a single screw and preferably double riveted on. The fry pan, pots and pressure cooker we bought were all on special too with 70% off the usual price. Bonus.
Aannsha finally found, at a sporting goods retailer called Decathlon, a waterproof jacket and bib trousers that fitted
her perfectly. I think she may be raving about the jacket in her blog this week. We also picked up some white soled rubber boots, with super sticky grip, that will certainly keep our feet dry and warm when the weather turns nasty and we have to kit up in our wet weather gear. As of writing this blog our search is still on for a mini vacuum cleaner that is battery powered and rechargeable from a 12 volt power source.
The additions that we requested to make our home more user friendly and self sustainable are coming along. I spoke with Jose the broker and the man who's custom building the stainless steel arch and davit system, they reckon they should be able to install it by May 4th. Once that is in place we can then get our solar electricity system installed. There's some extra good news about the solar, the size of the stainless steel arch now means we can fit four photovoltaic panels on top, which will give us (on paper) 600 watts of production. While we are still tied to the marina we plan on unhooking from the shore power and working with just the solar/battery system to monitor how we're producing and using our power. If it all goes pear shaped we will at least have the option of plugging back in to the shore power. I'll let you know how that works out.
Yesterday marked the end of our first week on board and we are pretty much settled in. There are still a lot of things on our shopping lists and quite a few jobs to be completed around the boat. We are optimistically looking at slipping the lines and beginning our journey by the end of May. Since the day we arrived the weather has been cool and very windy, constantly blowing SSW and it's been raining for the last two days, but at least the boat is getting a fresh water wash down.
We're staying in Marina de las Salinas and it's fairly quiet once you get used to the many halyards slapping against masts in the wind. The shower and toilet facilities are a good standard, cleaned daily and not too far of a walk and although the hot water does take a little while to reach the shower head, it's piping hot when it does arrive. A 15 metre berth for one month here is 800 Euros (AU$1,289) and your electricity, water and WiFi are included in that. The WiFi speed is very good at 12.84Mbps down and 5.87Mbps up. However I am guessing that when summer arrives and this place has more people's devices attached to the Internet, that speed may slow down somewhat. Right now there are only a handful of liveaboards in the marina and we get to enjoy great Internet speed.
There are several restaurants around the perimeter and depending on your budget and food preferences there's something to cover most tastes. We have eaten at the Spanish 'what you see is what you get', no frills restaurant and the food and service are very good. They have a menu of the day for 10 Euros which includes 3 courses, salad plate, bread and aioli and a small beer or glass of wine. We also tried the Argentinean restaurant and their menu selection ranges from fresh pasta dishes, pizzas, steaks, BBQ ribs, burgers, salads and chicken parmigiana with a big range of toppings. The prices are very reasonable too.
There are also quite a number of shops selling spare parts and accessories for the boating industry and you may be wondering why we simply didn't just buy things we needed for the boat from them. One word. Price! Let me explain. When we moved on board on the Thursday I noticed that the incandescent lights in the day head had burnt out, so I took the two small bulbs out and went to the marina ferreteria to buy new ones. They turned out to be 9.80 Euros each. Ouch! Out of interest I priced the same two small bulbs in a car parts store in San Javier, 1.40 Euro for two. Lesson learned, shop around, away from the marina, for anything you need.
We needed gas for cooking as we had inherited an empty gas cylinder when we moved on board. A Google search pointed me in the direction of a petrol station just a 5 minute drive from the marina. Bonus. As you can see from the picture, the gas locker on A B Sea can hold two cylinders, but the previous owner had been a short trip kind of sailor and only ever needed one cylinder, so we'll be up for buying a second one, probably from the caravan parts place. In Australia you take your empty gas cylinders to the petrol station and they refill them on the spot. In Spain they take your empty cylinder from you and replace it with a full one, I'll admit to feeling a little ashamed whilst handing over the rust eaten, salt covered empty one and receiving in return a brand spanking new full one. The price is a little steep at 17.80 Euros (AU$28.70) for a 2.75 kilo cylinder. But we need gas and so we'll have to pay whatever the going price is. It will be interesting to see how cooking gas prices differ in various countries. Upon returning to our yacht I proudly showed Aannsha our new gas bottle and then went about getting it connected to the boat's gas line. Here was where I stupidly created rookie mistake #2. You can see what went on and how Aannsha solved the problem in 30 seconds flat in this week's Sailing A B Sea YouTube video.
The very deep chest fridge/freezer that's on board has taken some getting used to, but after some tweeking and monitoring I think that we've finally got it set to 'just right' as Goldilocks would say. Initially everything was freezing rock solid, but after buying a thermometer and slowly turning down the dial whilst monitoring the temperature we have found our Goldilocks setting. I can safely put beer in there now without fear of it freezing and going to waste.
So far everything is falling into place in its own good time and we are both really looking forward to the day we top off the water and diesel tanks, make sure the fridge is full, the cupboards stocked with food and we slip the lines on A B Sea. Though before that day arrives we're going to need our mast reattached and the wind blowing in the right direction.