Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Letters from Las Palmas

Las Palmas British Yacht “Stella Mira”
Las Palmas.

Dear Len,
You will no doubt be surprised to get a letter from me after all this time. My literary short comings are not from lack of intention but from sheer laziness. At the moment we are lying about 200 yards from the yacht club at Las Palmas. Penny has come back from shopping and keeps distracting my attention by talking to me, which gives me a good excuse to stop writing, but I must not be tempted.

By the time you get this letter Phyl and Lesley will be almost due to arrive, and you will also probably have heard from the bank. I feel all kinds of a rotten so and so to unload my responsibilities onto you, but am taking advantage of the fact that you and Queen will be so pleased to see Phyl that you will forgive me. (I hope). When we arrive, I know that I shall have to knuckle down again, and may never have that chance to spread my wings again, poor little humming bird that I am ( especially after 4 or 5 days in a force 5 wind), so I felt that I must make the most of this break in my life. I wish that Phyl would have come with us, and even more, that We and Yours could have done this together. Its not all beer and skittles, but the good far exceeds the bad, and it think the bad will make us understand our own shortcomings more.

When we arrive, I hope we can afford to keep the boat, as we have now learnt her trustworthiness and she is truly our home. Although we moan at the rolling when we get in heavy weather, I think this would be the same in any boat this size. If we have to sell her I hope that it will not be immediately and that you will have a chance to do a really good trip in her.

I will not tell you in this letter, of the things that have happened to us on our way here, because it would take too long, and if I wait till my next letter Phyl will be with you and this will kill two birds with one stone. I will enclose a letter with this one for her, which you can give her when she arrives.

We hope you are all in good health, and that we are not causing you too much trouble.


Dear Phyl,

I hope you are as well as this leaves us. This is just a short letter which I will put in with Len’s. We have had a good trip so far with nothing worse than force seven. The next leg of our journey, although one of the longest, should be sunshine with fair winds behind us. The boat, except for the self steering, which still does not work, is proving to be very satisfactory, and we are becoming more and more proficient at handling her. Your fears of a jinx were groundless. Several other boats are here waiting to cross the Atlantic, ours is amongst the largest, and our equipment and stores superior to most. The yacht club, here has offered us all their facilities and we have been adopted by two English members, a retired Lt Colonel and his wife.

We will write in detail, giving you all the tale of our trip, when we have had time to see to our immediate needs, so this will only be a short letter. Write and let us know what kind of voyage you had. We missed you by a week, and I can imagine how disappointed you must have been.

I hope that you and Lesley like Perth and that you and Queen enjoy your holiday together.

I wish you were here, everyone we meet expresses friendship towards us and the other boats ask us aboard for drinks and a good old natter. You’d love it.

I’ll stop now, because I want to write a nasty letter to Tillerman.

All my love

Las Palmas British Yacht “Stella Mira”
C/O Real Club Nautico De Gran Canario,
Las Palmas, Canary Isles.

Dear Phyl,
I hope that you are all well and that you are all settling down and still like Perth. Though it’s a bit late now if you don’t.

Forgive me if I don’t write any details of our trip to Las Palmas in this letter. We are rushed off our feet trying to prepare the boat for our next step. I have had your letter for several days now but this is the first time I have had a chance to answer it. It is a dull day, otherwise we would be continually interrupted by visitors.

It is very frustrating here. Although the shops are full of all types of fancy foods, we find that the things we really need are hard to come by. For instance, camping gas, which is advertised as an international service, is not obtainable here. There are over 70 agents on Tenerife, which is two days sail, but none here. When we run out, which looks to be soon, we shall have to sail over for some. Batteries for the navigation lights and the echo sounder, are not sold here either. The shops are stuffed with ½ 1b packets of English biscuits, but they all turn out to be stale. Squash (cordial) here, although with English brand names, is packed in Spain and tastes peculiar. Fruit and veg are cheap and plentiful, but are pig bin quality, except bananas of which we eat about a dozen each per day, raw, frittered or with custard.

Penny is seriously learning Spanish, but I am too old a dog to learn new tricks easily—respite for another banana—but I find many of the words similar to Italian, so I get by.
How did you get to be on television? I thought we got away from all that when we left Ilfracombe. Is Australia really like Bob’s slides? You are presumably in the winter now, and have the real heat to look forward to.

We were entered in one of the local races last week and came 4th. The first two were in a twelve metre and a six metre, so we didn’t do so badly.

We have been asked to enter for the annual race to Fuertoventura which is 60 miles away. This will be a good tuning up run to try out the various alterations we are making to improve our comfort during our longer trips, and we shall take Colonel and Mrs Bayldon as crew, to try to repay them for some of the hospitality they have shown us.

Penny has written to Tony and asked him to send us some Eiffel Tower lemonade crystals and some Spanish and French books, but there is no reply as yet. Penny thinks that she can learn languages on her lone watches when we are at sea, I spend my time on watch planning bigger and better boats so that we could all do this together.

When we have fitted out I will take time off to write of our voyage from Vigo to here, but I warn you, you may find this boring. We have not finished our first film yet, but when we do I will send them to you.

I will say goodbye now. Give my regards to all.
Love Sim.

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