Monthly Archives: January 2006
oh yes, just six days to remove a rudder – the cause, poor or faulty maltese workmanship. Had the rudder removed two years ago in malta and they refitted it with a faulty seal. Imagine how two years on sea water can corrode a set of stainless steel bearings. well it took me six days to get the bugger out!
For all those that say there is no surf on the med – read on.
saturday saw a nice metre and a half swell hit Cala Major. I headed out with mike for a try. the water was absolutely freezing and the wave was good for a shortboard or body board – sadly – i had neither. Managed to catch just one wave and completely cocked that one up, dragged backwards towards the beach with my fingertips dragging in the sandy sea bed looking for grip to get out of the wash. After less than one hour i was frozen solid – not a good idea as i was suffering from a cold, and still am.
tonight a massive swell is predicted for the north coast – a whopping four to four and a half metres – way too big for me. Mike offered me the day off but with that size and me still suffering with a cold , i dont see much point in going.
Driving in the rain here is always fun. there is about as much grip as you would find on a slushy road in england. So on saturday when i was making my way out to mikes place to lay some laminate floors for him, i thought i would have a bit of fun. all was well, my feeling for the conditions was spot on – until the last bend before mikes pad. I read the corner completely wrong and had too much speed as the bend tightened to the right sharply. I turned, but nothing, the wheels just slid straight foreward. I braked but no ABS and the wheels locked, i re applied the brakes and steered straight – heading for the bus stop/lay by on the opposite side of the road. Managed to scrub off the speed and get control back and turn out of the layby just before hitting the curb……made the heart race a little bit i can tell you – and of course i was thanking my lucky stars that there was nothing coming the other way. Wierd thing is – Murdo had warned me about this bend the week before – sometimes i can be a complete dumbass.
Talking of rain – it has pissed me off a little bit. I always like running in the rain, which doesnt happen very often when you live in this part of the world. Running in the rain has always been a little `sexy`for me. i cant explain why, maybe that scene from nine and a half weeks, in the alley way, who knows. What i do know is that if Kylie knocked on my door, arm in arm with Dido and Anne Robinson offering me a magical foursome while it was raining, i would have to shout – Ói, kylie – NO! not while it´s raining babe´. Put your pinny on and do my dishes – I´ll be back in half an hour darling!
Tomorrow, the forecast is for a 45 knot wind. Today the boat yard people came round checking all of the boats that were out of the water on blocks!!!! Fair guess is that i will be absolutely crapping myself tomorrow while i am working 30 feet in the air on a yacht propped up with some old dead trees!
Oh, by the way mom – the money arrived in my account today – two days, just like the girl promised! if that had been in a portuguese bank, they would have thought about it for more than two days before actually doing anything about it! Viva espanha!! The girl is very cute too – i might ask her to lunch one day soon.
Truth be known – i am missing portugal. Mallorca is very beautiful, rich and clean – maybe they are the exact three reasons why i dont feel at home – te he hee.
I rented my house out to one of my german friends who also happens to have a very famous uncle. The football fans amongst you will no doubt remember Frans beckenbauer? well his niece Julia is staying in my place – that is almost a claim to fame for me.
I see the lotto is going mental this week. I had a small win last weekend so have played all of my winnings this week for the big one. It is hard to imagine what you might do with that sort of money but i guess i would keep working.
YEAH RIGHT – KISS MY HAIRY ASS!!!!!
Imagine that – over 5 million a year in interest alone – it is hard to believe really. I bet some drug dealing, rapist wins it – life can be cruel at times.
ok guys – thats enough for now.
if you feel the need to text me a joke – do it, or just text to say you read my page and tell me what you think about it – i dont get many texts here in mallorca (sob sob sob). my number is +34 6973 90527
a few of you tell me you enjoy the read so let me know.
welcome back to the lucious Lisa Melvin who also admitted to me last week that she is an avid reader of this page. Turns out she is still single – and i am in the wrong country – my timing was always off!!!
anyway – i have to leave soon, this place closes at 9pm ( we are an hour ahead of the uk) and they charge me five bucks an hour for the privelage.
spread some love boys and girls
no perverts – not in that way!!!!
cinderella is a yacht – cinderella II actually – a 100ft monster! tall as well. from ground level to deck was thirty feet in the air – the ladder was only just long enough to reach, and very shakey.
I never really thought i would be scared of working at height but this one did un-nerve me for a while. the only safety rig was the wire around the ships deck, not much good for me as it only came halfway up my thigh.
Of course it was shoes off again while we cleaned and fitted two reconditioned winches to her decks but then the next chore was to remove the rudder.
Before we did this, it was my first job to cover and protect the decks where we would walk, with ply wood. the harbour boys were building a staircase for the boat but it looked like i would have to go back down the ladder before they were finished – not a thought i was relishing, stepping over the wire, finding the ladder below, and then stepping down until my hands could reach the sides of the ladder below, the whol ebloody thing wobbling like a jelly!
by the time i had the ply, the stairs were built, the sun was out and i was ready to start covering the decks. By now, i was much more confident walking on the decks without shuffling along or constantly looking for something to hold on to. The weather was good so it was shirt off. Armed with a tape measure, stanley knife, adhesive tape and three boards of marine ply – i beavered away.
when it was covered, i lowered myself over the stern and into the `garage`with murdo and mike who had already started dismantling the steering and autopilot quadrants.
It was a four man operation and we lowered both to the floor but we were finished by four pm.
packed up the tools and headed out of the yard to get ready for the harbour fireworks later that night.
let me tell you all about my week – in no particular order, just the order i remember them while i am at the pc.
Last night i was invited out to Palma for the San Sebastian festival – a mega show of fireworks in the harbour. But i didnt have to stand on the quayside with all of the commoners!!!! i had been invited along with 40 other very lucky people out into the bay on a converted fishing trawler.
we started with a drink in the harbour bar, followed by a short car ride to the quay. Our boat for the evening was moored at the end of the quay, glistening white in the dusk light. Steve, the owner and captain is south african, there are tons of them out here – escaping what they describe to me as a very vicious fatherland.
I boarded the boat and took my position in the bow (thats the front to you non sea farers). i sat on the edge of the boat chatting with a few of my new friends until finally the ropes were released, the engines fired and the gear engaged.
As we pushed off, the stereo kicked in and i was treated to a full hour of Pearl Jam as we bobbed gently away from our mooring, the tune, of course, perfectly selected ´Black´made a chilling start to the evening.
I sat on the front of the boat like a figurehead – but facing the wrong way, admiring the evening of Palma Mallorca. I imagine this is where people come that can´t afford to go to monaco. there are thousands of boats here, probably 75% of them costing in excess of 1 million euros but around 50% of them costing much more than that – a small handfull that would cost as much as buying your own planet in outer space – with running costs similar!
the evening was chilly but no wind, i looked across the bay of palma, looking at the apartments, the castle on top of the hill, the cathedral, the boats, the yachts, all lit in warm orange lights. the other boats bobbing around in the harbour with their red and green navigation lights on.
we were treated to home made chilli con carne from the kitchen and shortly afterwards the fireworks started.
Three single solitary and spaced out bangs. I thought that they were a bit crap until Rick next to me said that they were just the warning shots!!!!!!
For the next 40 minutes i was completely in awe of what was without a doubt the biggest and best firework extravaganza in my whole life – someone told me the display cost 250,000euros but i think that was a serious under estimate, the sky was full of silver, blue, green, red, orange and purples for a full 40 minutes.
Of course, when the fireworks had finished, the ships started with their horns – almost as deafening as the fireworks. As i looked around the harbour i noticed to my right, a sea of red navigation lights and to my left a sea of green nav lights. it was a first for me! lucky man!!
the captain took us for a quick spin out to sea and back again to allow time for traffic to clear from the town – perfect!
i forgot to mention – was completely emtpy – like a ghost town – but i bet it is absolutely minging in summer!
unusal thing to eat but had to try it either way.
dried, raw springbok!
so my day at the office today.
started with a 20ft climb up a ladder with my tools to baord a 47 feet yacht called Virgin Lucia. My job today, remove the starboard steering box and auto pilot module for an overhaul, the port side was already out and cleaned up.
i squeezed into the aft hold section, the hatch not quite wide enough to take my shoulders unless i hunched up a little bit. the rear section is not big enough to sit in, or crouch in, the only way to work is laying flat out in the hull. the otehr problem is that you cannot sit and then lay down, there isn`t enough room for this, you have to lower yourself in an L shape and then wriggle into position. the section in the centre of the boat is less than 12 inches high, i can´t fit my feet in unless i take my shoes off!
One certanty is that you want to make sure you have all of the tools you need before lowering yourself into position.
my job this morning was to finish hack sawing through the input shaft from the steering box to the autopilot motor. The joint was siezed solid as you would expect for something that spends it´s life on salt water. My colleague ´Murdo´ had got half way through yesterday, today i uad the other half.
i would spend almost one hour hack sawing the stainless steel shaft until finally the motor dropped onto the wooden blocks carefully placed underneath. Next – find the junction box and disconnect the power feed and comand wires.
The box was hidden away perfectly, the only chance i had to open it up was to work via a mirror – absolutely no chance of being able to face the box. Once i got the cover off, disconnect and label the wires and leave a little diagram of how it all went together.
All in all, an hour and a half´s work – i stepped back onto the deck , barefoot and into glorious sunshine.
tomorrow – who knows shich offic ei will be in!
ok, so it has rained almost every day, last night, a downpour actually woke me in the dead of the night, the mornings are cold and we are an hour ahead of the uk.
i had my first run on mallorcan soil last night, will have another tonight.
On saturday i am heading out for surf. there is a small swell expected , should be enough for a long board but i doubt the short boys will get any thing.
off to buy a map of the island now, will check in again at the weekend
i was still wiped out from my journey but mike figured today would be a good orientation day for me.
I had arrived in a place where – clearly there was enough money to banish world poverty for ever – and this was just one port of many.
i was in awe of these boats, all out of the ocean and on the land. no-one mentioned that i would need to be good with heights though – it never crossed my mind. i was showed around two of the yachts that were being re-fitted. the first called 50/50. A 1.8m euro yacht, with six, yes six bathrooms, in for its ANNUAL 1million refit!!! 1 million each year for christs sake.
the next – i didnt remember its name but it was of course, much bigger. while i was walking around, i noticed one familiar boat – richard branson`s Virgin Atlantic Challenger II is here, looking a little shabby.
after a little pequeno almoco i got my first job for the duration. clean and rebuild an adjustable prop from another yacht out of the water. i started work and got stuck in. Mike had introduced me to all of his team but no doubt i would forget all by monday.
then , before lunch i was called to another yacht to help one of his guys remove a propellor shaft, turns out it was the same boat as the prop i was working on. the captain was there overlooking the works , a pleasant irish chap called Morton. As i climbed what must have been a 20 foot ladder to get on deck i met Murdo. he greeted me and then said – shoes off please – and leave them turned soles up so that they dont damage or stain the deck. believe that?
when i got on deck, all of it was covered in bubble wrap too – i called it àircraft clean`.
we worked in an engine bay through two access panels. the holes werent big enough to get through and even if we could, the engine bay was big enough for the engine and nothing more. so cramped, we were using mirrors to see round corners and figure our what we were doing. a couple of hours later, the prop was out. Bad news for the captain though, the stainless steel prop was pitted by one of the bearings – it has to be sent for xray but the general feeling was the pitting would run too deep and a new prop would be needed.
at lunchtime, i headed to see my new flat. perfect, in a cute village called Portals Nous. two bays away from magaluf – where all the fat slags go on holiday – so i might head over there tonight!!!!!!
after dinner, i got talking to one of the girls. she thought she knew me from somewhere ( i have never used that line personally) so we got talking more, turns out she was from devon but we had never met. she suggested that maybe i looked like someone famous. ì was likened to sean ryder from happy mondays once before`i said. ì know who you mean she said – but i think you are much more handsome`.
I blushed of course, thanked her and then carried on with my work.
when work finished, i headed off to a couple of bars with the guys and finished up in a bar near to my new apartment and finally hit the sack at 11pm.
that will be my new address for the next few months.
so let me update you on the adventre.
the ferry pulled into valencia at about 8.30 on thursday evening and started offloading. this boat was huge, bigger than Bernard Manning`s belly. As i watched the artic trucks reversing in, they looked more like a full stop on a piece of A4 paper than a huge truck that normally freaks you out on the motorway. Thing is, there were three car decks, and two of those were big enough to take artics. the place was huge.
on the top deck, a sauna, swimming pool and gymnasium.
the next deck down, two restaurants, a cinema, two bars, two tv rooms and a discotheque, the next deck down was full of cabins.
I was starving and also getting very tired. the last time i slept was tuesday night-wednesday morning and i woke up then at 09.30. so i was now at more than 36 hours without sleep. I was hoping to sleep on the ferry. first thing to to when i got on board was learn the floor plan. you might say it is a little anal but whenever i am in a confined space, i always want to know where my escape routes are and how to reach them. while i was wandering around i found one of the restaurants and decided on chicken and chips, polished that lot off and then continued with my tour of the ship.
as we pushed out of port, i stood at the bow of the ship (thats the front for non sea farers!) and watched valencia dissapearing besides me. as we left the harbour, it was cold and windy – midnight on the med – sounds very romantic but it was cold, only made worse by star filled skies with no cloud. i headed inside.
hit the tv lounge, i saw `miami csi`on the tv and thought that would be good until i fell asleep. Bloody spanish – dub over everything! it they had used subtitles i would have been ok but this was just not on so i went for a wander again – i wasnt really that tired after my chill on the front of the ship.
after around half an hour, i returned to the tv lounge, the tv was off and the lights were dim so i decided for a sleep.
when i woke, the lights of mallorca where clear in my windows, just enough time to get to the car before disembarkation.
as we left the ship, it was still dark and i headed out onto the main drag in palma. my heart sank………it was busy as hell, traffic everywhere, i was tired, had no idea where i was going, it was still dark and the locals drive like complete nutters, like you drove as a kid on the dodgems at the fairground – only difference was that they didnt actuall bump into you – but i think that was more luck than judgement. I was back in a city!!!!!!
i drove until i found a cafe in the heart of town with a parking space in front of it – both of my surf boards were on the roof and my mountain bike was inside, i wanted to keep them all in my line of sight.
i had no credit on my telephone so couldnt call anyone – and i couldnt buy any until the shop was open. but then, just as i started sipping my coffee, Mike Dellar called me – `where are you`he said – i just laughed and said – `Palma` there were no noticable buildings or businesses that i could relay to him. I suggested that i met him at the port and he waited there for me. even a tired fool like me could follow those yellow ‘port`signs back to where i had just came from.
he saw me pass him and called me to talk me in…………finally – i had arrived and met a friendly face! i suddenly felt more safe and secure.
my first day in palma had begun.
ok, let me bring you up to speed with my latest adventures.
i finally left my house yesterday at 16.30. the sun was beginning to sink in the sky and casting long shadows in front of the car. I was driving east but put my shades on just for the effect. dropped out of the bottom of the driveway and hit the tunes – queen and david bowie – under pressure (1981), started to chime as i crested the hill and looked down on a sun bathed vila do bispo.
for some reason, it seemed as perfect as the chemical brothers did in my last trip to the alentejo.
the shadows were long in front of the car but always visible as i drove east along the coast. the shadow dancing from left to right as the road twisted and turned, but never going out of sight.
i was amazed at the detail in the shadows. my wing mirrors, long board fin, mal fins, my head and even the different shade from the tinted glass were all visible. i seemed to spend more time watching my shadow than i did the road.
still nervous about the trip, the car, what layed ahead i kept to the speed limit all the way to lagos where i joined the motorway. hell, even on the motorway, i stuck to the speed limit – that must be a first ever. i wasnt in a rush.
I left mase in the house for a few days with the cats, after he leaves, franzi and kati will take the cats to sagres and look after them in their new house until i return.
this was the first time i had driven further east than Faro. along the same route that i had taken twice in the other direction when driving from england. I had to keep remindinig myself that i was heading for mallorca and not returning to england, like my 15 month dream had ended.
before i got to faro, i lost the shadow of the car, the sun low in the sky , just pushing a little dusk light for me to see the countryside on the far side of faro – i had never seen this before, it was all new, but still eerie.
within an hour and a half i was at the spanish border, the traffic on the motorway was nearly nothing as it was no mans land, no-one passing through.
i cracked open my first of four red bulls – seemed like a good idea to stay awake. kept the car ‘nailled’ at 70mph and took it easy.
next tune that struck me was ‘ nillson’ , everybodys talking at me. a line in there said í´m going where the weather suits my clothes´wierd what you listen to really. kept skipping tracks until i finally settled on Dido of course and kept going.
at 200 miles i decided i needed a pee and a coffee, the red bull was slow to kick in and i had already drank two.
i was in spain, saying obrigado to a spanish man who i am sure wouldnt appreciate it – have to remember – gracias……..keep practicing. i scoffed my food and necked the coffee and hit the road again.
the next stop would be for fuel in albacete.
as i was getting close, teh road was a scratchers heaven, glorious black stuff, good open visible bends, crash bandicoote would love this road.
i gathered the ´hood´ was getting rougher though, all of the houses had bars on the windows. when i finall found a garage that was open, it was – pay first- then fill up- the fuel pump cutting off automatically when it reached 50 euros.
as i tried to find my way back to the motorway i got pulled by the filth!!. he dropped his starsky and hutch light on the roof and flashed me over. the town was desolate at 1am, i guess anything moving was a target. but the good old boy, i showed him my passport, then in my best spanglish – asked him which way to valencia. the good old boy said – ´follow me – i´ll show you´and led me onto the motorway. i didnt have the heart to tell him he had a tail light out!
still had 180kms to valencia and it was getting late, i was getting tired so another coffee break was needed but nearly all were closed. i found a great little truckstop. naturally the girl serving was very talented. coffee´d myself up to the eyeballs and headed out on my last leg, valencia.
what a swizz. hit the town at around four in the morning and thank god! the place was deserted and i had to find the port. as i looked at the roundabouts and traffic lights i wondered what chaos would ensure come rush hour. thankfully for me, they were still all in bed. the ferry port was of course closed so i tried to get a few hours sleep.
valencia is to ports as heathrow is to air travel. no chance, the place came alive with cargo ships and trucks about 30 minutes after my eyes closed.
the place finally opened at 8am and i went to see if i could buy a ticket. not yet, they open at 9.30. more coffee , a poo, and a quick read.
then, i get my ticket………ship doesnt sail until11.30 tonight so i get teh whole day in valencia, just me and all of the hot spanish chicks……….this could just turn out to be a perfect day – or at least an excellent adventure.