Sailing Long Distances

About a pandemic and an eroding stone

Life on board has been rather slow in recent weeks because of the global pandemic. Early January, I wrote emails to the marinas en route to the med, La Linea de Conception and Cartagena, and asked for the latest news concerning sailors. Both wrote you’re no Spanish nationals, liveaboard, so you can travel Spain; passing through. But the two pointed out; please think twice, La Linea has a lockdown, Gibraltar is closed, and the situation might change quickly. We dropped the idea of sailing ahead and enjoyed day sailing in the Bay of Cadíz. Checking our options, we toyed with the idea of hiring a car and have a closer look at what Andalusia looks like upcountry. The web provided some addresses, we took the scooter and found the various shops or stalls ‘temporarily closed.’
An iron determination undoubtedly has led us to a shady side of the city, where we could have rented a car in the end. Too many conjunctives to my taste, so we dropped that thought. Days later, I tuned in to a Spanish News station, which covered the pandemic topic in all aspects. Frankly, I was more curious how much I might understand since the station broadcasted subtitles as well. Yet soon I was fed up with the topic when the subject changed to roads and traffic. The whole setup could have been out of a Hollywood movie. The night was pitch-black, heavy rainfall, a two-lane motorway blocked by a handful of police cars and huge spotlights illumining the scenery. I expected any moment a warning, saying in bold red letters: ‘At large – Dr. Richard Kimble’ or as an up-to-date alternative, Donald Trump. It turned out, the police stopped every single car and asked the passengers for valid permits. If not, they might get fined, that’s what the Portuguese love do, so I read and have to turn back. The reporter’s facial expression – as far as one could see her – spoke of a creepy situation, so we cross a rental off the list.
However, every single day is too precious just to let it pass. Spicing up our stalled voyage, I suggested we should wait until dusk has spread its dark coat over the marina, steel a solid rock at its embankment, clean it up, dump it on deck, and – that’s the entertaining part – watch it eroding. No, the bygone weeks were not that bad. Keeping a wary eye on a fresh coat of paint dry off was entertainment enough.
So we spent the last two months upgrading the ship, doing things that have been waiting for a long time, read countless books and spent every now and then a pleasant day in the city of Cádiz. I think you got my message; the crew is safe and sound.

The weather forecasts didn’t speak for a pleasant journey either, so we prolonged our stay in Cadíz for a week. That was the good part. Things could have been worse. And indeed, very soon they were. What we didn’t expect were exploding covid19 numbers. In December, Andalusia got pretty good away with low figures. Mid-January, the values skyrocketed to close a thousand per a hundred thousand people. Again I asked a marina, and they told us, yes, we’re open, but best you stay where you are. We’re right in the middle of a lockdown.
You see, an eroding rock on deck isn’t that far fetched. A friend suggested a piece of soap in a rock’s appearance, which degrades faster and provides more excitement on board. True, especially if the deck gets slippery, one of us skids and has to be treated with a fracture. Even an ambitious DIY sailor will agree, that’s beyond the typical toolbox wisdom.

Strolling around in Cadíz has become a routine by now, yet we discover more often than not startling facts.
The old town, with its narrow streets, surrounded by old houses four or … Read More