Thursday, March 20, 2008

Vigo to Las Palmas 2 - Letters

Stella Mira tied up to a larger boat in the foreground, the yacht club with it's indoor pool in the background

Vigo to Las Palmas

British Yacht “Stella Mira"
C/O Real Club Nautico De Gran Canaria
Las Palmas, Canary Islands.

Dear Phyl,
This is to let you know that we are still at Las Palmas, & why. When we arrived from Vigo, we were, as you know, later than we thought. We arrived here after dark, and not knowing our way in, we were about 6 miles down the coast and had to motor sail up against a force 6 wind. In the morning we found we were taking water through our prop shaft, the bearings of which, proved to be slack.

When we had searched Las Palmas and found no spares available here, we wrote to Stuart Turner in England for them. We have had the invoice, but the parts are still lost in the Spanish post somewhere. We had also used nearly all our gas and found that camping gas is not attainable here. We were shunted around from place to place in our search for an agent, until we were shown the official list of agents, and found there were none there. After we had been using our primus for a fortnight we managed to find a firm who had the right size union and could fill our cylinders. We still can’t get our calor gas one filled though.

Penny has had a spot of stomach trouble. She had violent pains and we had to get a doctor to her. He diagnosed appendicitis, and wanted her to go to hospital the following day for an operation, but by then the pains had stopped, and another doctor disagreed with the diagnosis. As we cannot afford for her to have appendicitis in mid Atlantic, she is under observation and undergoing tests to be sure. She now feels fine though.

We have been delayed here too long and the hurricane season has started, and we have been advised by seasoned travelers to wait until the worst is over. According to the Admiralty Pilot, which gives statistics for the last 60 years, we must wait until October before we can cross in reasonable safety. I agree with you that the Las Palmas is a tatty place. It’s certainly a frustrating one. Believe me I’m fed to the teeth with it and will be glad to get away.

There is probably no Consul at Barbados. As far as I know it is a colony or something. Letters will have to be sent Poste Restante, Bridgetown, or to the yacht club there. I will let you know when and where in good time. We hope to make up for the delay here in good time when we once get started.

Mrs Phillips has written us and she has apparently adopted the cat, but Tony supplies the food. Tony has not written us yet though. You do not seem to have had the card we sent to Durban.

When we do leave here we shall be in good company. So far there are two Yank, two English, two Polish, one Swedish, one Spanish, one French & one Swiss boats waiting to cross and more are expected to arrive before October. There are others waiting in Tenerife, we are told.

The boat in front of us is owned by Polish twin brothers who are political refugees, on their way to Chicago. Their boat is only 18ft long with about 10inches of freeboard, much smaller than the Norena. The boat behind ours is an Invicta, which is sailed by a Swede (solo), who bought it and entered it for the transatlantic race, but he’s lived in the tropics for the last 15 years, and couldn’t stand the cold, so he retired after 4 days. The biggest boats are American ketches, one 60ft long and the other 40ft.

So far we have not had any luck with home baked bread (which may account for Penny’s stomach trouble) but we are still experimenting. Penny is still as untidy as ever in harbour and I could sometimes wish her elsewhere. But at sea she has to be tidy or the movement would dump everything on the floor. She is actually very good at sea, and takes all the hardships and discomfort in her stride.

You advise me to buy a camera and a projector, but I am scared to spend cash in case we need it in an emergency, as you know, I invested all our capital for a minimum period of one year, to obtain a higher interest rate, and once what I have is done, we shall have to fiddle. I don’t think we shall starve though, as most of our bulk stores are intact. Penny may have to learn to like rice etc, though.

One of the English chaps here has built 2 successful self steering gears and is going to have a go at mine, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Pete sent Penny a special edition of the evening post with the pictures of the floods. Goldie’s house was marooned, so perhaps she’s too busy to write to you. I’m glad to hear that Lesley likes school and has settled down. Can you give us more details about Perth, and how you spend your time? We would like to feel at home as soon as we arrive. Have the packing cases arrived yet?

The next part of this letter will ::::::::::::::::: I got stopped here by Col Bayldon & his wife, who rowed out to tell us that if we can stay till the end of October, he can get me three weeks work as a film extra, at £60 and all found in a film to be made by a British company here. Another chap as building a marina in the south of the island, and is starting a chartering agency in November and can get us 1600 pesetas a day (that’s ₤10) from which he will deduct 10% for expenses. This is very tempting. What do I do? The next bit will probably be of equal interest to Len, so I will interpolate a few words to him before I continue.

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