"Is there a supermarket locally?" said an English lady's voice off to my right. Aannsha and I were slowly walking back to A B Sea with yet another load of shopping bags and various shaped boxes tucked under our arms and clutched firmly in our hands, so the question was obviously aimed at us. I turned my head in the direction of the voice and spotted the British red ensign flag lazily flapping in the wind off the stern of a yacht called Ladyhawk and there in the cockpit was the source of the question.
The lady's name, as we found out further into our disjointed conversation, was Pauline and her husband was Allan. We explained that we'd hired a car for two weeks as the marina was quite a long way from the actual town of San Pedro Del Pinatar, but the nearest supermarket could easily be got to by taxi. Apart from some courteous smiles, general head nodding and hola and buenos dias to the marineros we hadn't, so far in our stay at the marina, had what you would call a proper conversation with anyone. As it turned out this conversation with Pauline and Allan would be completed in several stages. Our first load of shopping contained the frozen goods and in particular a tub of ice cream so after we explained the general direction of the nearest supermarket we had to hurry away to get our cold stuff in the fridge/freezer.
Walking empty handed back to the car for more shopping bags we stopped again at Ladyhawk and offered to give them a lift to the supermarket the next morning, Pauline and Allan accepted our offer and we said we'd see them at 9.00am the following day. As we returned from the car with our second load of shopping, Allan called out my name and said "We usually have drinks in our cockpit at six, would you like to join us?" The offer was happily accepted and we moved on to get our next load of shopping on board A B Sea. Our conversation continued in this disjointed fashion for several more trips to and from the car and by the time we'd stowed away the last of everything there was just enough time to put on clean T-shirts before sundowners at 6.00pm on Ladyhawk.
Sundowners on Ladyhawk
Both Pauline and Allan were retired, he an ex doctor and she an ex school teacher, and they'd been sailing Ladyhawk as liveaboards for the last 16 years. The next couple of hours were spent sharing our respective background stories and chatting about plans for the future over a couple of bottles of red wine and nibbles. Allan explained that although Ladyhawk had just had a new engine installed she was being put up for sale as they wanted to buy a motor cruiser and do things the easy way for the foreseeable future. We outlined our plans to make our first destination Port Grimaud in the south of France where Aannsha and I had began our travelling lifestyle together in 1983. We were not sure how long it would take to get there as we would be stopping along the way whenever an attractive scuba diving spot was discovered and that led to my explaining how I got anaphylactic shock if I ate fresh prawns or lobster, but I could counter the reaction if I took an antihistamine pill 20 minutes before eating. As a retired doctor this unusual method of self medication made Allan raise an eyebrow, but I assured him that my method had worked flawlessly for the last 30 years. Eventually the sun went down and we left Pauline and Allan with an invitation to 6.00pm drinks in the cockpit of A B Sea the next day.
We come bearing gifts!
At 6.00pm sharp the following evening Pauline and Allan came on board bearing some generous gifts. The first gift was a bottle of bubbly with instructions that it should be opened either when we tie up in our first marina or anchor overnight for the first time. The second was a complete set of paper charts for the south of France, perfect to use in conjunction with our electronic charts. The third gift was an EpiPen, a medical device for injecting a measured dose of epinephrine (adrenaline) to counter anaphylactic shock. It was the first item to be proudly placed into our empty first aid box. More red wine was consumed as the sun began to set, but Pauline and Allan were taking it easy as they were leaving for Cartagena early the next morning. After some lively conversation we exchanged email addresses and said our goodbyes. Aannsha and I were quite chuffed that we'd met such a nice couple for our first yachties sundowners and we hope we bump into Pauline and Allan again somewhere in the Med.
As you read this blog we will have been living on board A B Sea for 3 weeks and it seems that as much as we have achieved there is still a ton of things that we need to do before we can slip the lines and really begin our sailing journey. There's loads of cleaning still to do, in particular all 24 aluminium framed ports and hatches need to have the small black mold, that likes to propagate there, removed and the windows themselves cleaned inside and out to achieve the 'sparkle effect' that I mentioned in Barry's blog # 4. There's also a lot of online shopping to order, while we still have access to a physical delivery location. But there are many things that we don't have any control over as they are being organised on the time frame of our broker Jose and the subcontractors who are carrying out the work and delivering the items we have ordered. This is causing me a small amount of stress because as a regular reader you know I like to make lists and meticulously tick off each item as it's completed or purchased, but all I have are vague promises that everything will be completed before the end of the second week of May. Fingers crossed on that.
Every afternoon Aannsha and I generally take a stroll around the marina, it's not a huge marina so it only takes us 20 minutes, but it's nice to get away from the computer screens and enjoy the cooler late afternoon sea breeze. One of the things we notice is how there is some sort of game of musical boats going on. With no rhyme nor reason any given boat can be moved by the marineros to another berth, sometimes just a few boats down the line or sometimes to the other side of the marina. Yet other boats that have been berthed here since we arrived suddenly disappear during the night and are replaced with a different boat a few days later, it's very interesting to watch. We have also noticed a pick up in the activity of cleaning and prepping the boats for the summer season. Sometimes the owner comes and gets involved, but more often it's just a boat maintenance service doing all the prep work and repairs.
Talking about repairs, we have had a big disaster (slight disaster in the overall scheme of things) on board this week and it has made me berate myself hugely because a little foresight could have prevented it from happening. I accidentally knocked the 4TB hard drive, that contained our collection of movies and TV shows, off the end of the bed in our onboard cinema (AKA the Princess Suite). It hit the wooden floor very hard and now the read/write head of the drive will not engage. I'm so gutted about it as I'd began putting together this collection about 5 years ago when our stack of physical DVD's began taking up too much space in the lounge. I digitised everything we owned and had added to it over the years with DVD's bought from car boot sales and $1 shops. It was a great collection and now I have no idea of how or how long it's going to take for me to rebuild. You can see how gutted I am in this Saturday's YouTube video. I'll let you know how the rebuilding process works out.
Monday of this week I spent almost the whole day researching the stuff we need to buy online. I eventually ordered a lot of the items from a UK based marine chandler, the haul includes 2 Spinlock lifejackets, a motoring signal cone, an anchor signal ball, a grab bag, a couple of 12 kilometre walkie talkies and a Standard Horizon handheld VHF radio with built in GPS that is waterproof and floats. I'm interested to see how long that package takes to arrive here at the marina. Next I have to order a dive compressor and a DJI Mavic Pro drone. Both are expensive items so I'm sure it will take a while to find the best price online.
It's a beautiful sunny day with very little wind, so I think that once we have our blogs uploaded and pictures added in, it may be the perfect time to tackle cleaning the ports and hatches. It's a long job and apart from achieving the 'sparkle effect' it will give me great satisfaction and a sense of moving forward once I can happily cross that job off the big list of things to do.
Until next week, take it easy and keep moving forward.