17 oct

Two weeks now in this marina. Oh how the time has flown. What have we done? What do we do all day? Good questions. Essentially, the day boils down to getting stuff done. If we are organised enough, there is also time for play. But usually we are not and spend the whole day doing daily chores. Cooking, washing up; trying to get the girls sleep; showering; washing nappies; the supermarket shop; tidying up; finding the hardware shop; seeking internet translations for ‘cup hooks’ or ‘ electric cable’ or whatever hardware is needed….then whilst the translation is understood, the items are sold out, or laughably expensive, or just not on the menu. None of these chores go away just because we are on the voyage of a lifetime…sadly not.

It is not all bad – far from it. But being organised is essential. When we are (like today), we get stuff done AND get to play. Today went like this; wake up – check weather, breakfast; Ben to supermarket whilst I watch kids, wash and tidy up; Ben returns; morning coffee on German boat next to us (sweet folk in their late 60’s – loving Olive); then prepare lunch for the girls whilst Ben fits autohelm; then prepare supper whilst watching and playing with kids; then French friends aboard for coffee; then swimming pool with Dutch friends.  This is Olive returning from the pool.

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Olive has made a new friend, Dylano a lovely 3 year old dutch boy who is warm and open and doesn’t mind a cuddle. Just see how cute and expressive they are. I love this shot – such interaction – what mini grown ups!

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Then back to boat, Ben makes netting for Alfi’s cot to replace the emergency measure wooden board currently in use to stop her falling out! I tidy up, wash up, do nappies…BLABLABLABLA…then play with kids…feed them….watch Alfi pull herself up to standing in the zoo – this is a new life skill she has developped! Go Alfi!

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…read Olive her bedtime story only to have her entertain us by identifying everything she sees (her bird knowledge is extraordinary). Then we officially put kids to bed whilst Olive unofficially revolts pulling every trick she knows to be released from the zoo….whilst we eat supper we try to resist the coup that she attempts…it’s a battle of wills…we win (but only just).

Then it is adult time….which means checking emails and more importantly, the weather, again. The weather has become my news. I am addicted. Especially as the desire to leave is strong. Although the rain has stopped, the low hanging over the North Atlantic has cast its spell over us all. Look a at the size of it! For those that don’t know, anything more orange / red than blue is what we don’t want to see. Colour chart shows wind speed in knots.

This is current wave forecast…madness! Colour chart shows wave height in metres…DO NOT WORRY WE ARE NOT GOING OUT UNTIL IT IS LESS THAN 2!!!

Anyway, as you may be able to see, the problem is less wind, more the wave height / swell…3-4 metre waves. I now know what this means . I now know how this will feel. I can tell you it is not a recipe for roll free happy sailing. Thankfully, it looks like the wave height is dropping a bit. It is still enough to make you think twice but no longer enough to stop us in our tracks,. So Monday? Tuesday? Back to sea. For the longest passage yet and the longest I have ever done…destination; Canaries with a possible pit stop in Morocco.

So to prepare…what needs doing? Provisioning. Dry stocks but mainly, vegetables. I am always on the quest for fresh as possible vegetables. That have not been refrigerated. These keep the longest. The best are those still with earth on them…with careful storage, it is amazing how long they can keep. Alas such veg are harder to find than you might think. Yes the supermarket has loads of veg, but many in the fridge or at some point along the distribution chain, they could have been in the fridge. You can never tell. So to the market I will go. Translated phrases in my sweaty palm. Euros in the other. Yes I should bargain, however I’ll be so grateful for finding those veg that are best for sailing distance/ storage without a fridge that I’ll roll over and pay whatever is asked. (Still, less than home and nicer veg so really cannot complain). After that, the supermarket. Then somehow carry it all back. Unload. Pack away. These trips as a family have been slow, tedious and rimmed with a tantrum here or there. A buggy, a papoussse, limited carrying capacity, fractious children and all the while on foot. No. We now see the value in one getting out there as packhorse and the other staying on the boat with the kids. Such is the task that we are both quick to volunteer to do the shop if only to get off the boat and away from childcare! We love our kids of course we do, but caring for two under 3 on a boat is always the tougher job.

Anyway weather and provisioning aside, we need to get out of here…Lagos has given us real insight in to the world of the retired-well-meaning-ever-so-nice-do-anything-for-you-mob. We met their leader the other day, who should remain nameless. We had been referred to him when we were asking around about where to buy plywood. So there we found him, in his ‘office’, a broom cupboard at the back of the marina between the bogs and the bins. A little airless corner that smelt of both bogs and bins. Poor chap. Is this what it had all come to? As it was a day or two later we ended up in his apartment as he had helpfully offered Ben the contents of his shed on account of him packing up and moving back to Blighty after a decade and a half of Lagos. I understood that he came here on a 50 foot boat but got no further as his wife refused to do any more ocean sailing (seems this is a common tale). She decided this not long after leaving UK shores, somewhere amidst Biscay. So the 50 footer was downgraded to an apartment and a small boat. Anyway, he was very sweet and kind and helpful man. He even had a weekly broadcast over the VHF radio. He said he was sad to say goodbye to ‘his people’. We tuned in. Imagine Hi-de-Hi meets the classifieds swirling as a big fish in a small pond. Get the picture? It announced of local events; wine tastings, the position for dog sitter no longer vacant; where to leave rubbish, please not on the promenade; burger and bridge night from 7pm….I could go on. But what struck us most was towards the end of the broadcast, there was an invitation for ‘any contributions’. It being a VHF radio, anyone at anytime could pick up their radio and say what they wanted. Sadly, the invitation was not accepted and the pause that crackled over the radio was a painfully long and ever so silent. Were we the only saddos listening in? And even then we only tuned in for a laugh. Which we got…oh dear. On his last broadcast. No. One thing is for certain. We need to get away. Else we may end up participating in the dinghy races that we saw a week ago. These were not dinghy races on open water. Rather in between the pontoons in the marina. There were many little dinghies filled with tubby leathery skinned retired folk wearing bumbags and t-shirts swollen with beer bellies over chino shorts. All vying for victory. No more Butlins for retired sailors for us…no no no. Sorry guys we mean no offence but this is not our scene. We need to get out. What with Ben’s beard reaching physics teacher proportions…we are in danger. What next? Elbow patches and his own broadcast on VHF radio channel 9? Can you imagine??? (Sorry physics teachers – I’m in awe of you really). No, it is certain….we must get out we must get out. WE MUST. GET. OUT.

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