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march 2007

01/03/07 - St David's Day and another of wall to wall sunshine....long may it continue!  We again walked over the runway and across the border into Spain, this time to the Carrefour supermarket to buy another water hose with which to fill the water tanks onboard.  The present one is lightweight and is really only for emergency use, or to extend to distant taps.  There was some confusion at the check-out which resulted in the hose being under-priced, leaving surplus Euro's which we used for a taxi ride back to the frontier, eliminating the problem of carrying 50 metres of heavy duty hosepipe!    Back in the marina, Ann sat in the cockpit and hemmed three pairs of shorts for me from worn out jeans that I'd cut the legs off before we wandered over to Gina's boat ("Impulse") and nattered with her until it got dark and chilly.    Clive (my brother) e-mailed the good news that he's been given the all clear at his outpatient appointment and can now ease himself back into the 'normality' of driving and playing golf etc. (mowing the lawn, decorating,  digging the garden!!!)  2nd - Ann's last full day of holiday, and 22oC all day!  A relaxed day although we did walk up to the 100 ton gun, (photo) only to find the exhibition closed for refurbishment, so we meandered slowly back through town idly browsing the shops and the glass blowing exhibition at Gibraltar Glass in Casemates Square.    We spent the evening in the usual watering hole at Bianca's.  3rd - 24oC and getting warmer, and I'm on wave-off duty at the airport again!  Took Ann to the airport and after check in, we sat on the roof terrace, people watching, and having coffee in the sunshine until the flight arrived from Gatwick.   It's been a good week, having company onboard - thanks Ann!   4th - now in shorts only as it is too hot for anything more, washing down the deck and whipping rope ends.  7th - a glitch in the good weather, fine drizzle and cloudy skies this morning, followed by 30+ windspeeds which had the boat corkscrewing around during the evening and through the night into the 8th when the sunshine returned.  The swell left behind eased, but continued throughout the day.  However, the shock absorbers seem to be working well and eliminating most of the 'snatching' that was experienced before.  9th - ventured over the border  into La Linea again, to accompany Gina to Rosie's chandlery where I bought some more rope for spare warps after first sitting in the sun for morning coffee at a pavement cafe in the town, and putting the world to rights!  Back onboard by lunchtime and spent the afternoon studying the unique tides and water surface flow charts in and around the Strait of Gibraltar and idly watching the comings and goings of other crews in the marina, analysing their techniques and procedures, or lack of them!  11th - 25knts of levanter wind blowing, which makes the boat surge, but the sun is still strong. Spent yesterday sorting out my warps, splicing eyes into single ends etc, and had a day of reading various sailing books in between 'spring cleaning' sessions today.  12th - Another Bank Holiday (Commonwealth Day).....Mr Blair take note!!  Also Gina's birthday - Many Happy Returns! - say's she's 29, but I think she's telling porkies - nonetheless, I went and had a meal in The Ship with her during the evening, where 'mad Mick', 'tight Mick', Jane, Emma and a few others, all joined in wishing her a happy birthday.  13th - woken by the wind speed alarm as the levanter hit 35 knots but the boat seemed OK and safe to leave whilst I went into town for a few bits and pieces.  Surging worsened  during the evening, but still OK.  I received an e-mail from Darren & Vicki (of Sentito) telling me they had moved onboard their new boat "Nocturne" and were busy getting her ready for the trip south again - hope I get to have a beer onboard with them before the year is out!  14th - woke to grey skies in all directions, levanter and surging still continue.  15th - "Beware the Ides of March" - continuing the same weather as yesterday but for me, a generally more agreeable day than Julius experienced way back in 44BC.  The wind eased enough during the early evening to allow a visit to Bianca's, have a pint and see the lovely Sandra!  Quite an entertaining evening with Marilyn and Laura behind the bar giving the impromptu cabaret.  17th - "Top 'o the mornin' to yer all" in my best Irish accent!  Lovely, sunny St. Patrick's Day and not much to say about events over the last couple of days, all quiet on the western front so to speak.  I'm holding my breath with the weather forecast for tomorrow, it's supposed to be over 30knts of wind from the east, but they've been wrong before!  I got all my dhobying done this morning and had another clear up in the saloon, storing gear away in a more logical fashion than before, in preparation for sea - which I hope won't be long after Mike returns from his hols. in Thailand.  I'm hoping that he will put right the mistakes made by his stand-in Dean with regard my (still not fitted) pulpit.   18th - Oh, my head!  Who gave the percussion section of the London Symphony Orchestra permission to move onboard?  A rather late St. Pat's night, ending with Mike (the chef from Bianca's) and I having a few nightcaps onboard, still wearing silly hats etc from the 'do' at the bar. (photo)  No idea what time we packed up, but it was after 3am!!  At least the forecast 30knt wind hasn't materialised and it's a warm sunny day.  20th - Good Luck to my mate Chris in UK, who is in hospital today for an operation and will be off work for a couple of months.  Yesterday brought  high winds from the west, which is the 'open sea' side of the marina and caused quite a swell to enter, the wind alarm sounded at 35knts and continued on and off throughout the day, the swell making it difficult to either get on or off the boat at the bow.  However, today saw a return of the sunshine and warm weather, with little wind......ideal sailing conditions!!  I want to get back to sea and moving on!!  21st - Happy Birthday Rachael.  (Chris's wife)  Hope all is well after the op.  I spent most of the morning helping Roger and Andreas to fit new halyards and hoist the re-cut genoa onboard Roger's boat "Storm Dodger" (a Moody 52) in preparation for their departure on Sunday for Venezuela via the Canaries,  Cape Verde Islands and Trinidad.  After essential grocery shopping, Gina and I went over to Rosie's for yet more rope, this time for use on the second anchor.  Let me assure you guys, a 100 metre coil of 18mm rope is some weight to haul back into Gibraltar, so much so that a visit to a hostelry in La Linea was needed - purely in the interest of local history you understand!!  23rd - Richard came and introduced himself to me, he and his wife Anne had tied up their Warrior 35 "Escoveza" just a few boats along from me.  They are spending the season in the Mediterranean before heading off across the Atlantic in winter.  25th - a lazy weekend!  Helped Gina fit some blocks for hoisting her dinghy yesterday and today had a lovely roast dinner in Bianca's with Roger, Astrid, Andreas, Gina and about 13 others to mark their leaving for the other side of the Atlantic.  Work on the boat has delayed their sailing today and they are now planning on leaving (weather permitting) at 0800 tomorrow.  26th - Happy Birthday Clive!!  A somewhat different day today.....firstly it rained all day!   I wandered over to Storm Dodger to say Cheerio to Roger and crew, Gina was already there and we both ended up sailing with them from the marina over to the fuel pontoon adjacent to the old Sheppard's Marina, and getting soaked in the process.   After they had taken on 1100 litres of fuel, we said our goodbyes and walked back to our respective boats as they set off on the first leg to the Canaries.  At 6pm, Gina came to ask if I would go with Dave and Steve on "Cosacan", a 60 foot steel fishing boat, to help Roger who was drifting off Tarifa - becalmed and with a burned out gearbox.  I grabbed my oilies, jumped on Cosacan and we set off into the Strait in search of Storm Dodger.  About a mile from their position, we were tailed by a patrol boat of the Guardia Civil who were clearly  suspicious of our course and position, mid-way between Spain and Morocco, because they called up their fast RIB which came alongside and demanded we stop whilst they boarded and searched the boat.  The armed police, wearing black balaclavas and lacking any diplomatic training, 'asked' for passports, which neither Steve nor I had with us, and although they accepted my driving licence as proof of ID,  Steve (who had visions of being arrested and locked up in some gloomy Spanish prison!!)  was reprimanded for not carrying any identification - even though we had no intention of landing in any  country other than Gibraltar.  Eventually, they were satisfied and in fact, then helped us to pass the tow rope over to Storm Dodger, allowing us to begin the tow back to Gibraltar.  Once inside the bay, I boarded Storm Dodger, and we brought her into Marina Bay without further incident at 11pm.....just in time for a pint on Roger!!  27th - Found Mike, who returned from Thailand yesterday and showed him the pulpit made by his 'understudy'.  He's livid!!  Not just with my complaint, but with a host of other Dean induced calamities, but he has agreed to put it right (at no charge) on Wednesday.   28th - Cadged a lift along the coast to Estepona from Al and Gill, and went in search of needles for splicing braided rope.  They are like the proverbial needles in haystacks - impossible to find!  I eventually gave up and caught the bus back to La Linea.  Werner departed Gibraltar in his kayak, continuing his paddle from London to Durban via the Suez Canal, good luck to him!!  His website is at www.k4a.co.za  should you wish to follow his adventure.   29th - Mike came and fixed the pulpit, now I just need to fit it.  I have several other jobs in hand but as soon as they are complete, I will be off to sea once more (and I can hardly wait!!)  30th - Said my goodbyes to Al and Gill onboard "Callum Star" as they sailed off to Sotogrande and Estepona.....everyone is going except me!!  Maybe it was something I said??

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