Death of a kayak

The kayak is dead… long live the kayak…

As all good stories should, this one starts in Brazil…, you see, my inflatable Sevylor kayak, i.e. the deceased, was just too novel for its own good, and probably also too yellow for the local natives to ignore.

Even before I’d reach the shore from my anchorage of the day, children would inevitably be climbing aboard or seeking a handhold for a free tow to the beach. Mind you, there were times when I didn’t seem to mind if it was treated a little roughly… 😉

I'm not going to interrupt this...

and if the interest had stayed at just wanting to hitch a ride, perhaps my kayak would have survived a little longer. But no…, for some inexplicable reason, a surprising number of people seemed to think that inflatable kayak was a synonym for public trampoline! Even adults!!! Why on earth did they insist on walking all over it in their shoes and then feel compelled to take a nap on it? Right under my nose! The mind boggles…

I’d almost consigned my poor kayak to the trash while visiting Tobago, after a crowd of mini delinquents spent an evening leaping from one sailor’s dinghy to another, deflating the lot. But with a little first aid, Thierry and I managed to resuscitate the craft. At this point it’s innards were securely held together with bicycle patches, but how much patching can keep a kayak together when mysterious somebodies insist on stomping on it while you’re away?

So, what's the verdict doctor?

The straw that finally broke my kayak’s back remains a mystery. Perhaps it was being used as cushioned seating, or as a convenient step to climb over the pontoon fence it leaned against. I’ll never know..

Do tell however if anyone has an indestructible dinghy for sale…I’m in the market. Preferably an electrified one fitted with steel jaw traps to deal with stray budding gymnasts…


Christmas in Mindelo

Something, somewhere went terribly wrong!

I am in Mindelo, Cape Verde, and as a fellow sailor passes by, I am reminded why I ‘m here. “Something, somewhere went terribly wrong” and I have made a brief escape from a life that gave me little joy. I’m all the richer and all the poorer for it, and if surmounting difficulties builds character, I’m absolutely full of it…

Hmmm… funny, my friends used to tell me that quite a bit… 😉

Exploiting the loophole!

Eileen of Avoca is at anchor because the daily marina fee is significantly beyond my means! Would you believe it’s 4 Euro a day just to leave your dingy tied to the pontoon? Fortunately I have friends with deeper pockets than mine (using the marina), and I am able to exploit a convenient loophole by tying my inflatable kayak to their boat.

More 3-day friends!

My companions here are the Bretons: Karen and Gwenael (on a Pogo 8.5) and Michel (on a Benetau First 28, see photograph). Michel is the Frenchman that delivered my tuna to the wrong boat, and I know Karen and Gwenael from when they rescued Eileen from collision with a boat dragging anchor in Sal.

You sure do meet people in bizarre circumstances here. Adding to the posse of francophone’s is Gerard, the owner of the above mentioned infamous yacht (an Ovni 385), that almost rammed Eileen.

Mindelo isn’t a tranquil sleepy town like Porto des Palmeria. It’s the “big city” and it can be dangerous after dark if you don’t keep your whits about you (or happen to be unlucky).

The anchorage and marina are reasonably safe, with paid personnel watching both. But about town things can get ugly, especially late at night. All is not well in Mindelo, as evidenced by quarreling youths openly dealing drugs in the towns main square, but locals tell me there have been encouraging signs of improvement of late.

Making that anode fit!!!

If you are looking to make repairs in Mindelo, don’t get your hopes up. The small chandler is poorly stocked and it’s four weeks wait for any delivery. I discovered that the zinc anode on my propeller was completely consumed and bought the only replacement available in Mindelo. Two sizes too large, but nothing that can’t be fixed with some help from Michel and a hacksaw!

My water in the propeller shaft problem and lubricating oil persists, and I now know Eileen will need to be lifted if it is to be corrected (thanks Gwenael).

I just hope it all holds together until I reach Trinidad. Lifting in Brazil is not an option and it will be several months before I reach the Caribbean. Fingers crossed that the bearings don’t seize!

Ventotene to Procida (28NM)

Saturday the 26th of April

In stark contrast to the previous leg, Saturday was not the best of days to go sailing. The wind had turned and the swell had grown considerably (Force 6 on the nose is never pleasant) but there was no other option given the schedule I’d set myself. My entire trip hinged on making significant progress on a daily basis. Had I more time available I would have happily sat out much of the uglier weather in port, but I had to be back at work on the 5th and the longest part of the journey still lay ahead. At this point, nothing short of a gale would see me skip a day.

Broken Autohelm mount

Broken Autohelm mount

Just north of Ischia the mount for my Autohelm broke. Years of water seeping into small fractures in the timber had weakened the laminated block and it came away at the level of the evidently rusty screw heads. I was near several well-sheltered ports so rather than spend the night at an anchorage as originally planned I made for Chiaiozza (20Euros with water and electricity) to make repairs. Lavish use of 24hr Araldite had my tiller-pilot mount looking as good as new. I spent the rest of the evening taking in the sights of this unexpectedly pretty little port.