Young visitors

Blue water cruisers by definition visit many places all around the globe. Sometimes we find ourselves in a place we would attribute with the word paradise. This may be our impression when we spot the most beautiful beaches, rock formations or palm trees. But those palm trees or the roof of the hut behind the beach may cover poverty and anything else than paradise. And as often in such situations, the weakest are the ones which starve the most.

So it would be nothing else but human to meet these people and try to give them some comfort. This is many times easier said than done. Cornell Sailing offered us the opportunity to cover a bit of our responsibility by bringing us together with the kids from the local SOS Children Village. Ahead of that event, the crews from our rally donated money to buy a trumpet, an e-piano and an accordion for the local kids music group.

When Saturday came, drums on the pontoon would announce a crowd of girls and boys from that SOS Children’s village. They were given the possibility to meet us on the boats. We welcomed four of them aboard Yuana. As soon as I indicated that four is a good number to start with, one girl on deck and on one left on the pontoon started to cry and calling each other to come. They seemed to be sisters who were very much afraid from being separated from each other. Who knows that they had to experience earlier in their lives? So we weren’t hesitating to have the sister on board as well.

Inside the boat, our son would invite them to play with the paper roller coaster he developed over the past days. He would give them the balls made of crumpled aluminum foil. Everybody enjoyed playing the game. The daughter would take them into the sleeping room and suddenly now eight kids were sitting on the beds, wondering how soft a bed can be. We gave some finger rings and necklaces as a present. Back they went with a warm souled woman they would call ‘Mama’. Together we went to the big gathering for some culinary refreshments and local music. This was also there the music instruments were handed over.

Cornell Sailing made it a tradition for many years that the sailors of their Rallies can contribute directly to local aid projects. Taking into account the number of rallies throughout the year and contributors year after year, one would expect that this engagement makes a difference for the receivers. We saw many happy children’s eyes.

Jetzt kommts richtig übel

Eigentlich wollten die Jungs mit dem Beiboot Dorie für eine kreative Mathestunde an Land übersetzen. Der Plan war, eine kleine Wanderung zu machen, schöne Fotos zu schiessen, und spielerisch das Einmaleins zu vertiefen.

Papa’s Schritt von Yuana zu Dorie erweist sich jedoch als fatal. Irgendwie haut Dorie ab, und Markus landet im Wasser. Das wäre kein Problem, hätte ich Handy und die neue Fotokamera wie sonst immer in den wasserdichten Beutel gepackt hätte. Um es kurz zu machen: Die neue Kamera zuckt noch einige Sekunden, das iPhone ist sofort tot.

Das Schlimmste ist, dass Markus in den frühen Morgenstunden auf dem Handy noch zwei Artikel für den Blog geschrieben hat. Diese sind nun im Salzwasser ersäuft worden. Weil es hier in der Bucht kein Mobilfunk gibt, wurden von den neuesten Daten noch keine Sicherung erstellt.

Was ich mir zuvor nicht vorstellen konnte ist, wie sehr der Verlust des iPhones schmerzt. Brutal erkenne den nächsten Schritt der Evolution: du brauchst ein iPhone dringlicher als ein schönes Auto. Du nimmst dafür sogar in Kauf, kurzsichtig zu werden. Die meisten werden nun wohl entweder lachen oder den Kopf schütteln. Bitte bedenke:

Ich kann nun
– Nicht mehr aufschreiben, sobald mir eine coole Idee für den Blog kommt
– Keine Schnappschüsse mehr machen
– Nicht mehr mit Familie und Freunden e-mailen
– Nicht sehen, wo sich unsere befreundeten Schiffe befinden
– Unsere Seglerfreunde nicht über WhatsApp kontaktieren
– Nicht mehr auf unsere Satellitenanlage zugreifen
– Keine Wetterberichte einholen
– Kein Auto mieten und keine Strassenkarten nutzen
– Kein Wikipedia-offline nutzen
– Keine Bankzahlungen tätigen
– Weder NZZ noch Bluewin lesen
– Telefonieren geht nicht, und Musik hören auch nicht
– Der Taschenrechner ist weg, die Uhr und die Taschenlampe sowieso
– Nicht nachschauen, wann unsere Crew aus Schweden eintrifft

Caramba! Versteht ihr jetzt die Dimension des Problems? Wir müssen sofort aus der schönen Bucht mit schwarzem Sand raus und nach Santa Cruz de Tenerife hinunter, damit ich mit ein neues iPhone beschaffen kann. Mal sehen, wie wir das abbuchen werden. Für Dummheit hatten wir bisher nämlich keinen Budgetposten vorgesehen.

Das Schulreisli in die Kaktusberge hat natürlich trotzdem stattgefunden. Zum Glück war der Sohn dabei, denn so konnte mir jemand den Stachel aus der Zunge ziehen, nachdem ich die Kaktusfrucht probiert hatte. Alleine hätte ich das ohne Selfie-Modus nie geschafft.

 

PS.: Auf dem Weg nach Santa Cruz telefonierte ich mit dem Sorgentelefon von Apple. Die sagten mir, dass ich nach dem Wochenende in Santa Cruz ein neues iPhone zum Preis von 351 Euro abholen könne, 50% des Ladenpreises. Das wäre ein hervorragender Service. Wir werden sehen, ob das auch klappt.

Madeira and Porto Santo

Oh, how have we enjoyed these two islands! As we found Porto Santo to be a generally dry and earthy brown place from the beaches up to the mountain tops, the southern coast of Madeira provides all kinds of tropic flavors, including fruits, flowers and mosquitoes.

The entire Madeira archipelago is of volcanic nature. Today, it is only a fraction of what it used to be, approximately 1 million years ago. When the archipelago found its maximum extension it was as long as 1400km! Most of it has eroded and washed away by the sea. In fact and when sailing down from Lisbon, we passed several under water mountains, one peaking just 20 meters below sea surface.

Porto Santo was commercially used already half a millennium ago. By then the so called dragon trees were milked. Their red ‘blood’ was shipped to Milan in Northern Italy, where the clothing industry was eagerly seeking the red color for the fashion business.

Our days in Porto Santo peacefully started at the harbor cafe with a great espresso against 60 cents. After our school lessons we would play at the nearby beach with its healing sands, and enjoy swimming in the sea every day. We explored the island with two Quads, which are the motor bikes with four wheels. Wooaaou, it was fun for the boys crawling up and down some rocky mountains and drifting along sandy trails.

The next best place after the beaches and some hexagonal volcanic columns was restaurant Torres in the tiny village of Camacha. Go there if you can, roasted chicken stands out. We were seated in the garden, sun protected by a huge passion fruit tree. I ordered a drink which was not on the menu list, particularly a tall glass of fresh passion fruit juice. Imagine how many fruits this would take. The price for it was 5 Euro and so I decided that it would be impolite to order a second one.

It was just a short 40 miles ride to the main island of Madeira. Different world, colorful all over, with up to three huge cruise ships tied up to the Funchal quays. The market hall offered a huge variety of local fruits and veggies, best presented and well marketed at a ridiculous price.

We visited tropical gardens, volcanic caves, natural swimming pools at the sea and a museum about whales and whaling. That made it quite easy for us to cover some aspects about school requirements.

The best thing for us on Porto Santo and Madeira however was that we really touched down with the blue water sailing community. Everyone in the harbor is traveling with his or her boat for a good time of the year. Many of them would pass the Atlantic Ocean this season. What however made this community so outstandingly great was that most different people with all kinds of social and business backgrounds meet. All of them are down to sailing and have a common theme which starts when helping each other with the mooring lines upon arrival. We were neighbored not only to kids from various countries, but also to a business lady from the Caspian Sea, doctors of medicine from France, financial investors from Norway, an oil exploration engineer from the other side of the world or a Swedish manager from an internationally acting Swedish furniture company. There are also cruisers who live their way around the globe on a very tight budget. That opens up such an entirely wide field of exchange. When saying “Good bye for now!” and wishing “Fair winds!”, we also say “See you in the West Indies!” or exchange invitations to visit each other at their homes around the globe.

Before leaving Portugal for some time, we shall not forget to mention how easy it was for us to communicate with the locals. Even the bus drivers were fluent in English as far as their job required it. The lady from the bread counter in the supermarket was not shy to interrupt a colleague, just to explain to us that the reddish color of the bread comes from the beet root juice they would add. Lots of charming people, nature and culture. Great place indeed.

Kindergespräch

Auf der Passage in die Kanaren haben wir drei Thunfische von etwa 35cm Länge gefangen und wieder freigelassen, weil sie noch so klein waren. Etwas später unterhalten sich die Kindern darüber, wie alt ein Fisch sein soll, dass man ihn nehmen und essen darf:

Tochter:
“Baby-Fische müssen geschützt werden. Diese nehmen wir nicht. Alte Grosseltern müssen unterstützt werden. Die nehmen wir auch nicht. Sie wären sowieso zäh. Wir nehmen lieber die Teenager Fische, die haben eh nur Probleme.”

Sohn:
“Fische mit Problemen schmecken doch nicht!”

Tochter
“Die Probleme sind im Kopf. Den schneiden wir sowieso ab. Der Körper ist gut”.

Sohn:
“OK, wir nehmen die Teenager.”

Haha, zum Glück haben wir zwei so herzige Noch-Nicht-Teenies und dazu fitte Grosseltern 😉 !

[auf dem Foto sieht man den 65cm Thun von letzter Woche]

 

The Portuguese job

They say it brings good fortune to the sailors who paint their logo on the inside of a breakwater. Ok, nothing simpler than that, we thought, and fun for the kids as well. To say it right away, it came quite differently, and sadly, it wasn’t kids friendly at all.

Before arriving in Porto Santo we haven’t seen harbor walls as richly decorated with paintings by hundreds of sailing crews from all around the world. That wall is very, very long and whenever we pass on the way to the beach, we spot a piece of which we didn’t take notice before. We find paintings of other sailors whose blogs we were following for long. And not very surprising, many other yachts under Swiss flag have stayed here before us.

Whoever once created their own tour logo would now paint it on the wall. Others just invent their logo as they paint, or leave a fantasy picture with a sunset and a dolphin, which is actually not a fantasy to sailors. Many paintings show one or two sails, some show a more or less pretty mermaid. Some show an anchor, others a lovely customized beer can. Many paintings are tiny, whereas other ones claim large patches of that wall. Almost all pictures have in common that they display the name of a yacht, the flag of the home country, the year of visit and perhaps the names of the crew. The oldest (still visible) painting we found has been on that wall for almost 20 years!

Quite obviously, our painting contribution should include the logo from our web site. It wasn’t too hard to find a free patch, and soon we knew why: our spot wasn’t the best one because the wall was terribly uneven there. It would be difficult to nicely apply the paint. Anyway, this was where we started and where we wanted to finish our job. So we printed our logo on a couple of papers and used the scissors to produce a template. Kids job? Possibly yes, but they just wanted to paint and so I was using the scissors by myself.

Soon after we taped the template to the wall and were ready for painting. Kids job? Unfortunately not! The paper template got wet from the paint and was destroyed within minutes only. I could just do a couple of blue dots which should give a fair idea of the outlines of our logo.

Now began an epic long time of crafting, surely with no kid arts involved. I was applying the color dot by dot across the mountains and valleys in that uneven wall. That seemed to become an endless job. I accepted to trust the fishermen who were racing their old cars up and down the lane just behind my back. Since I had no brush, I dotted the sticky paint to the wall with cable ties. Wasn’t Van Gogh using that method for his beautiful arts, with a proper brush at hand of course?

More than one hour later and being half through my job I started to feel the good vibes that concentrated painting can do to the body and soul. It was such a satisfying and mind clearing activity, standing at the wall, trying not to mess up my patch with dropping color, no longer caring for the racing cars behind my heels.

Some other sailors said that they like my arts, whereas that level of satisfaction of the rest of the family wasn’t really peaking up. I missed the rest of the afternoon, dinner, and a good part of the evening. At least the job was then finished. At some time the first and then the second one of my kids showed up, being sent on a search and rescue mission by mom. They surely wanted to know when they can start with their part of painting?

“Oops, there are some other free patches along the wall, more even ones, not that elevated, and yes, they could perhaps do something very artistic which requires neither a template nor cable ties”.

“It’s cool to paint with cable ties, I wanna do that as well!”

There is even more hope for the kids: we hear that more of such decorated walls are around, for example in Funchal (Madeira) or in Horta (Azores), all of them on Portuguese territories.

Fisch, Fisch!

Endlich ist es soweit, wir haben die ersten Fische im Kühlschrank! Den allerersten Fisch hatten wir sogar gestern schon am Haken. Dank Jööö-Effekt haben wir ihn wieder gehen lassen. Ein einzelner Fisch hätte auch keine Mahlzeit gegeben. Höchst vorsichtig wurde der Haken mit einer Rohrzange abmontiert (die Zange hat natürlich den Haken gefasst und nicht etwa den Fisch). Vielleicht möchtest du nun nicht mehr weiterlesen, denn ich schreibe ehrfürchtig und wahrhaft, wie es den Kollegen erging.

Heute Abend schwimmen plötzlich wieder viele Fische um unser Schiff. Da kann man gar nicht die Angel unbenützt lassen. Schon bald ist einer am Haken. Wieder ist die Rohrzange im Spiel, denn es könnte ja sein, dass er sich wehrt und plötzlich beisst! Schwupps ist der Fisch in einem Eimer voller Salzwasser. Das ist sozusagen die Zwischenstation, denn schliesslich soll auch er überleben, falls uns keine weiteren Fische an die Angel gehen sollten. Es braucht jedoch keine drei Minuten bis zum nächsten Biss.

Nun kommt ein besonderes Schauspiel: der Fisch schwimmt wie verrückt hin und her. Dabei zieht er die Angelschnur mit sich, und weil insgesamt sechs Köder und Haken an der Schnur hängen, machen die anderen Köder die gleiche Fahrt. Das wiederum weckt den Räuberinstinkt anderer Fische, und so hängen plötzlich drei an derselben Schnur! Seither wissen wir, dass sich diese Fische offenbar auch gegenseitig fangen.

Jetzt ist das Schicksal des Fisches im Eimer klar. Auch ich kann nicht mehr zurück, denn einmal ist nun einfach das erste mal. Der Fisch muss zweimal die schwere Winschkurbel über sich ergehen lassen, und dann noch den Kiemenschnitt eines scharfen japanischen Damastmessers. Im Gegensatz zu mir hat er jetzt keine Probleme mehr. Für Junior ist alles höchst interessant. Gerne hätte er alle Aktionen durchgeführt. Ich lasse ihn nicht, denn ich will die Transition vom lebendigen Fisch zum Filet erst mal selber beherrschen, damit ich ihn hernach gut anleiten kann.

Während die ersten beiden Fische noch Widerstand geleistet haben, ergeben sich der dritte und vierte sang- und klanglos. Entweder mussten sie einfach zu lange im Wasser am Haken warten, oder sie wurden dadurch entmutigt, dass von ihren Kameraden nur noch die Köpfe ins Wasser zurück sprangen.

Nachdem drei der vier Fische tot sind fragt Manuela aus der Küche, was denn das überhaupt für Fische seien. “Gute Frage!”, ich weiss es nicht. Sie sehen schön und lecker aus, möglicherweise auch etwas unglücklich, aber das ist bei Fischen ja normal. Nach einer Internetrecherche beschliessen wir, dass es sich um Makrelen handelt, und ein Freund bestätigt das per WhatsApp.

Junior singt freundlicherweise ein spontanes Lied für die toten Fische, und die Tochter erklärt, dass sie nie wieder Fisch essen wird. So geht das also.

She made my day!

It seemed to become a nice day yesterday. Our trip from the Spanish village Portosin to an anchorage bay around Cabo de Cruz offered some wildlife experience which was new to us. Motoring down beautiful Galician coast lines we spotted an area with hundreds of seagulls quietly resting on the sea surface, kind of unusual. We changed course right into the seagull’s place to find the cause for that gathering. It didn’t take long to find the reason: Thousands over thousands of crabs were floating there, just below water surface and the birds apparently enjoyed a big eating party.

Somewhat later and after steering around stunning rock formations into Ria Arousa, our traveling direction had changed so that the little bit of half wind just seemed to be enough to sail for the last hour of the day. Out came the furling mainsail. A furling main sail is a main that rolls into the mast for stowing it away. Due to the easy conditions I was a bit too relaxed with controlling the tension of the outhaul line. In short words, the upper part of the sail got jammed inside the mast. From below we couldn’t see what exactly was wrong. The sail just wouldn’t roll neither in nor out, at least not much. A jammed main can easily become a serious problem, for example in a storm or on a gusty day with the shore on the ‘wrong’ side.

As low winds were forecasted for the next 48 hours, we proceeded to our anchorage bay under engine again. Bumping into a heard of eating dolphins was a pleasure but it didn’t solve the problem with our main. Having the anchor dropped, we decided to cook our dinner and wait for ‘manjana’ to fix the sail. The night was calm, with the main sail up.

Now comes the new day, and what made this day. Fixing the jammed sail is another job which requires one person to be hoisted up the mast. Manuela volunteered, in fact that was the better solution because hoisting myself up would require a body builder. So up she went, armed with our two biggest screw drivers and a Swiss Army knife for the case of further emergencies, for example if one finger would got jammed as well. That wasn’t going to be an easy job, that was for sure. Manuela is anyway better with undoing crazy tough knots and the like, and an extra portion of patience would certainly also be helpful. I’m better with pressing the buttons which would turn the motor to drive the main a bit in and then two mills out again. In fact, I got dozens of in-and-out commands and executed each one without any comment. Down came some funny noises, like on a women tennis court, quite an appealing sail problem.

Sitting in the cockpit next to my buttons I was already thinking who to call in case we couldn’t solve the issue by ourselves. Perhaps Carmela, Office Manager in the Club Nautic Portosin could recommend someone around Cabo Cruz who was good in fixing jammed sails. Just yesterday when checking out, she offered that we could call her, should we run into troubles. That was the friendliest of the friendly marina staff I have ever seen.

At my next glimpse up the mast I realized the the main now looked considerably better. Apparently, Manuela managed the worst part of it, and soon the command came to fully roll in and then haul out the sail for checking the full functionality. It worked, and my heart was – once more – jumping with joy.

My estimation was that it could take beyond three hours and a couple of new words for the kids to get this item solved. Instead, Manuela made it within one hour only and in silence (apart from the tennis, you know…). Moreover it should be mentioned here that she had fear of heights for the last decades, and working 18 meters above sea level, held and secured by two steel wires is definitely something which is well included in such fears. That even elevates her achievement of the day.

So Manuela received warm congratulations from the entire crew and enjoyed the second half of the day without any further house keeping or cooking or any other duties ;-). I gladly noted that my relaxed sail setting didn’t end up in one or two days of trouble, perhaps with many bucks gone.

Here I have to state that I would never trade in our fully electric driven furling main sail, also not after this nasty experience which, yes, left a couple of red drops on our main, nothing bad. Too many are the advantages. A yet unsolved issue however is that the bimini (cockpit shadow cloth) prevents direct sight to the main. That means that the one operating the main cannot really see what he is doing. This remains an open point for the time being.