Friday, March 28, 2008

Catching up

Finally have a flaky internet connection - so a quick post. Will polish later.

Wednesday 26 March

Monday – a public holiday here, as it is in the UK - we flopped about a bit, slept and read, cleaned up the boat, fitted the new bilge pump, watched a DVD – nothing strenuous. Then while cooking dinner on Monday night the gas, already a bit half-hearted, ran out completely. What a blow – we’d already, as we thought, emptied the other cylinder. Fortunately we discovered that we had enough left in it to concoct a strange meal of corned-beef in tomato sauce and instant noodles.

On Tuesday Sam and I set off towards the fleshpots of Badalona in search of Camping Gaz. We managed to find the middle of Badalona, which we have always missed before – it’s laid out on a grid pattern with we don’t find intuitive (a map might help, if we could find one). At the third try, five blocks up and about fifteen over from the marina, we found a ferreteria (ironmonger) which sells Camping Gaz, huzzah! Opposite was a small supermercado, so we stocked up on the basics, fortified ourselves with coffee and beer and walked back along the seafront, taking 30 mins or so. Hooray, again, for Sam’s new trolley – without it we would have no fingers left. It carried a full gas cylinder and much of the shopping with ease. What a fantastic invention the wheel is.

Today I insisted we went into Barcelona and got Ben to pick the destination. He went for the Museo Picasso – a good choice, we thought. En route we climbed to the roof of the Cathedral to introduce Ben to the view of the Barri Gotic, the old quarter of Barcelona. There were thousands of youngsters from school parties around but fortunately they aren’t allowed on the roof. There was a queue at the museum but it wasn’t too full, and we saw the collection of paintings owned by Picasso (some lovely Cezannes, Renoirs, Mattisses et al) as well as the museum collection which goes up to 1917 then stops dead and starts again in 1959, which is quite a big gap. Back via the Born area and home again on the tram, which we like a lot.

Sunday 23 March – Easter Day

We arrived in Barcelona late on Saturday after a very uneventful flight. The transfer to Badalona was a bit more interesting, though. The bridge from the airport to the station was closed so we had to get a bus (a mile on the bus to cover about 150m in a straight line). Still, once again the Renfe train tickets were free. We decided to transfer to the Metro at Passeig de Gracia because it was late on Easter Saturday and we might not be able to get a train to Badalona either at Sants (the main station) or França (the end of the line). Big mistake on three counts: (1) the transfer at Passeig de Gracia is about half a mile up and down steps and we all had heavy bags, (2) Sam had €100 nicked from his pocket on an escalator, and (3) because of repair works the last few stops on the Metro were replaced by a bus.

Not all bad, though: by the time we got to Pep Ventura it had stopped raining, and Sam’s new trolley worked superbly. In all the transfers we never had to wait longer than two or three minutes, could you imagine that in the UK? What’s more we never heard a train as we walked down to the boat, so we might have made the right choice. We got to the boat about midnight having landed around 9.15pm.

On Sunday we finally caught up with Alan and Joan Teed on board their stunning Hylas 49 Moonstruck. On the way we strolled along the beach at Barceloneta (Ben barefoot, of course) which was bracing, and interesting, but really not very warm. Moonstruck was very impressive, beautifully made with lots of great design features. The switch panels open to display an immaculate and beautifully labelled wiring loom behind – remembering those two days we once spent trying to thread through the Navtex cable on Magewind, we were extremely jealous. Ben asked lots of impressive engineering questions (e.g. “I see you use Raymarine instrumentation, I suppose that’s all on SeaTalk?”

I probably last saw Alan when I was 17. I can just see the face I think I remember, and he looks very young, but he has changed a bit! He and Joan seem very happy together. Sam told me later that she rarely helms the yacht, which I find amazing considering the mileage they have covered in the past 18 months, up and down the US east coast and across the Atlantic from the Caribbean. Still the downside of me doing the close-quarters helming (which I usually do) is that all the scratches in Kalessin’s gelcoat are my fault. Moonstruck has no exterior scratches, although a few internal scars from objects taking off at sea. This despite the fact that initially the bow thrusters didn’t work so all the manoeuvring had to be done the old-fashioned way.

Since we arrived the weather has mostly been cool (8-14deg), clear, sunny a lot of the time with a F4-6 wind roughly from the north. This could be a Mistral, but unfortunately it doesn’t come with a label and there are few Brits around the marina to ask. So we don’t know yet. Moonstruck was due to leave on Tuesday for Blanes and then Marseille, and in fact we saw a large yacht sailing north on Tuesday lunchtime which could have been her – with winds so much from the north it could have been a rather tough sail. Easier in a 16-tonne Hylas with 75hp engine than in Kalessin, though. So far I am very glad we took the decision not to move at Easter, it would have been a cold, wet, difficult passage.

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