Friday, September 20, 2013

Last Sausage B4 Africa...or beyond

2013 09 19
La Linea, Spain (beside Gibraltar)

Meredith at Dockside in La Linea, Spain
Gibraltar in the background
We have been lying low in La Linea at €15 a night waiting for the past week of ferocious west wind to quit blowing through the Straits of Gibraltar.  Today is calm and the gribs promise lukewarm wind tomorrow, ten knots or so, but out of the east.  Looks like  we will depart on Saturday.  

The week at La Linea has been put to good use and six hours a day are devoted by both Connie and me to inspecting the boat, replacing and refitting parts on the boat and provisioning the boat.  With an ocean crossing in the immediate future checking systems never grows tiresome.

Gibraltar being duty free
the Cigars, Five Cohiba Siglo IIs
cost a mere
$50.  Score.
Here is one reason you check systems.  Thinking our fresh water pump sounded a bit different in tone I checked it out.  Luck was with us because the pump seals had failed and the pump had filled its little cupboard with water.  The pump would have failed completely in a matter of hours or minutes.  

Connie dried and labelled all the wet cans while I installed our spare pump.  As soon as we fired up the system with the new pump we had problems.  New pump meant different pressures on all the connections.  This little beggar let go, just let go.  The hose clamp fell off the cold water faucet in our head allowing the hose it secured to disengage.  Water flowed at full pump pressure for five minutes before we isolated the leak and got it stopped.  

Poke it, twist it, prod it.  If it is going to fail you want to fail in controlled circumstances. 

Trip Planning

Four elements govern our departure plans: a change in the strong west winds which have been blowing through the Straits of Gibraltar for the past week, timing of High Water at Gibraltar, timing of Low Water at Rabat, our destination, and lastly hazards underway.

Wind: Not leaving in strong (thirty plus knots at times) winds on the nose is obvious.  Today is calm and tomorrow should be mildly in our favour.  Looks like a motor job.

Tide Gibraltar: Tides are in our favour for departure.  High Water Gibraltar on Saturday is about 0500 am so an 0800 departure exposes us to as favourable current through the Straits as one could expect.  

Tide Rabat: This element in the puzzle is a bit more worrisome.  High water at Rabat is about 1600.  We must arrive Rabat on a rising tide.  The marina there will send a guide boat out to guide us over the bar that blocks the river entrance to the marina.  They will only do so, however, on a rising tide.  

It is 155 miles or so from La Linea to Rabat which is a 31 hour trip if we can hie to a 5 knot planned speed.  An 0800 departure Saturday puts us at Rabat at about 1400.  Not much room for error so we will have to be very careful.  On the upside the marina informs us the river has been dredged so we may not have to worry about the bar.  Until we verify it is gone we worry about the bar.

Hazards Underway: Sailing the west coast of Morocco is best done well offshore, at least 15 nm.  Local fishermen string endless miles of net closer to shore than this and such things are well avoided.

Pirates.  Spanish pirates.  Actually irrationally angry Spanish fishermen make life miserable for sailors all around Gibraltar.  The fishermen believe that sailboats disturb the fish.  They take their anger out in unconstrained acts of violence committed against innocent sailors.

IInbound to Gibraltar with a companion boat we were attacked by a Spanish fishing boat.  The Spanish skipper crossed our bow a boatlength in front of us with his massive nets in the water.  Just clearing our bowsprit the moron cut all power to his diesel and left us, with all of forty feet of water clearance.  We were at speed.  While we managed not to become ensnared in his nets it was bone rattling and disconcerting.

Done with us, and he having not created a collision at sea, the Spanish idiot repeated the action against Fabuloso, the catamaran travelling with us.  

Welcome to Spain.  In this country anything is possible. 

La Linea is a nice Spanish town and much maligned by many cruisers.  We find the cafe life of a Spanish city vastly preferred to that of the tourism of Gibraltar.  Gibraltar's claim to fame is her tax free status.  Our experience however is that merchant greed and British pricing have  eaten up any potential cost reductions for most goods.

Connie and I feel ready to cross the Atlantic back to North America.  By now we are anxious to get underway but of course we must wait until midNovember when the trade winds begin to blow.  Until then we will tour Morocco and the Canaries and then spend more time that we originally planned in what is rapidly growing in our minds into a great cruising ground: the Cape Verdes.

So, like the sign at the Wurst House says

Time to stock up.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

For Those of You Who Might Think I Am Inclined to Exaggerate

2013 09 17
La Linea, Spanish port beside Gibraltar

Friends wrote to see if we had ever received our solar panels ordered in Almerimar and the answer is a resounding no.  The panels were to be in Almerimar ten days ago, on a Friday.  I agreed to pay €15 for express delivery which meant three days delivery time from a warehouse twenty kilometers away.

The promised panels never came.  I attended at the chandler twice on the Friday and both times was completely ignored by the staff.  This is the Spanish way of telling you they have bad news.  They really hate to disappoint you so they just ignore you and hope you go away.  That way they do not have to feel bad.  As for you...well no one in Spain really gives a damn.

Monday following the Friday delivery date Connie again went to the Chandler and again was completely ignored.  We left town without paying the special delivery fee.

Now, for those of you who might believe we are just reaping the rewards of our own ill treatment of Spanish retailers I enclose this: a note received this morning from fellow cruisers two docks over from us in La Linea.  They have been trying for two weeks to buy a part for their movable keel.  First the wrong part was sent by a UK retailer.  It took a week to arrive and had to be returned.  The cruisers then ordered from a French dealer who promised he had the correct part.  That was a week ago and they paid for overnight delivery.  This morning I asked (intending for it to be a friendly inquiry) whether they were now in possession of the correct part.  Here was the response...

No no, we still don't have the part. Why are we not surprised? Do you have the stomach for the story?

Nothing new, we've all been thru this before:

We agreed to paying 95 EUR !! last Thursday for what was supposed to be overnight delivery with something called France Express. We tried to contact France Express yesterday only to learn they sent it *courier* instead. It would have arrived yesterday except, according to the Tracker info, *courier* didn't have the full, correct address !!! 

The package went from their office to Nice, somewhere else in France, then Koeln Germany, then Madrid, then Seville. It's still stuck in Seville, and the address UPS has is Cadiz. The UPS tracker note says they were trying to determine the correct address yesterday, and they sent a postcard !!!! to the Recipient. Now what address would that recipient be, since we are the recipient and they don't have our address to deliver the package?!!!!! Why wouldn't *courier* try to contact the Sender instead?!!!!!!!

I was able to Skype the French gal Sylvie I've been corresponding with this morning, and she sounded rather helpless (hapless?). Told her she had to contact *courier* and give them the correct address. Said she'd have her colleague "look into it" and get back to us. Sigh.

In meantime I sent a message to *courier* and am now trying to call their French headquarters, the only phone listed. Wish us luck.

ps added Tuesday: The story ended today when the part was finally delivered.  The part had in fact been shipped using the French Courier.  For €95, the express delivery fee, the French Courier picked up the parcel and drove it two blocks to a different courier where they left it to be delivered.  They gave the second courier the wrong delivery address.

Today the email writer received a self congratulatory email from the French Courier touting its ONTIME DELIVERY of their package.  ?????  

Friday, September 6, 2013

Trees As They Relate to Spanish Economics

2013 09 06
FRIDAY (this is important as you will see if you keep reading)
Almerimar, Andalucia, Spain

An actual discussion leading to a contract entered into between myself, as buyer, and a local chandler:

Me: I want to order that solar panel we talked about this morning.  When can you get it in?

Seller: It will be here Friday.  I have four other panels coming from the same supplier and they will all be here Friday.  I can add your panel to the order if we act right now.

Me: Guaranteed by Friday?

Seller: Guaranteed.  

Me: Good.  Order the panel for me.  I will pick it up on Friday.  We leave on Saturday.

Seller: That will be a problem!

Me: What kind of problem?

Seller: The order might not get here by Friday. 

Seller: If you want it here for sure by Friday you will have to pay a €15 fast delivery fee. 

Me: Sighhhhhhhh.  Good enough.  Place the order, I will pay the €15 fee.

Seller picks up the phone in my presence and orders the panel with courier delivery.

It is now Friday at 2000.  No solar panels.  This is how business is done in Spain.  

So where do the trees come in? 

Spain is the only country in the world where "I was Sleeping Under a Tree" constitutes a valid legal defence to any criminal or civil action.  Fail to show up for jury duty?  Just tell the judge you were sleeping under a tree.  Automatic get out of jail free card.  

Just not doing something is not considered objectionable here.  Not doing something for a foreigner is, I think, a plus one.

This country is pretty much screwed. It should be.