Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Diary of a liveaboard during lockdown - CV Week 13

Sunday 7 June to Saturday 13 June 2020

Monday morning and the whole of Andalucia moved in to Phase 3 of de-escalation.  For us it was a week early as the Province of Malaga had been held back a week, but as the number of new cases continued to decline over the course of the week, the Government agreed that Andalucia could move into the next phase as one.  

It would mean though, no restrictions on personal movement, restaurants could open 50% of their interiors, shops, shopping centres and cultural buildings could open to 50%.  This was it, we were reaching the end of lockdown and would soon move into the new norm, whatever that may look like!

To celebrate moving into the next phase, we took a long walk to the end of the promenade.  We hadn't done this walk since before lockdown as we were quite nervous going out to start with, but as we've progressed through the phases and we've observed how seriously people take the wearing of masks and social distancing,  our confidence has grown to venture further.  The view from the end of the promenade is one of our favourites and with a chilled glass of wine in hand, we were treated to glorious views of Gibraltar and Morocco. 

Work wise, we were in finish off job mode so we sanded and painted the galley splashback and small table for our cabin.  It's surprising how long it actually takes,  given the sanding and drying time in between coats, but at least it's done now, is in place and I'm really pleased with it. 

Another job we cracked on with was fitting our new cockpit cover. Mark had fitted one for our friends Peter and Leslie who are stuck in England and we were so impressed with it we decided it was time to ditch our worn out sunshade, curtain and piece of gazebo that made us look like sea gypsies and invest in something that would provide us with more space and look nice too.  We are really pleased with it, it's so spacious and airy, it's like have a shaded patio on board! 

Since we moved into the de-escalation phase, the weather has been glorious so Mark went out sailing with his friend Isaac for a few hours along the coast. He said it was great to be out on the sea again, under sail, a genuine feeling of freedom. He must have enjoyed it as they didn't return until after dark!

The highlight of the week for both of us was when we received a copy of an oil painting of Offbeat.  As a thank you for looking after his boat, our friend Peter had used a photo he had taken of Offbeat when we sailed to Ceuta and had painted in oils.  It looks absolutely amazing and we were so pleased with it we've made it our cover photo for our blog.

We really look forward to seeing them again soon and to hanging the painting on offbeat.

Monday, 15 June 2020

Diary of a liveaboard during lockdown - CV Week 12

Sunday 31 May to Saturday 6 June 2020.

The week started with the happy announcement that the province of Malaga would move into Phase 2 on Monday.  This was great news for local businesses as it meant they could expand their available seating areas and open the interior for 50% of normal capacity.  Just as well because the weather at the start of the week was miserable, rain wind and thunderstorms. Apparently not usual weather for the Costa del Sol this time of year, but certainly becoming the 'norm' for us!

The weather improved later in the week, which was just as well as we had bought a new sun shade for the fore deck and someone was eager to get it up and fitted.  I have to say, it does an excellent job and does look a better than the various bits of curtain and gazebo we did have up.  We were so pleased with it that we splashed out and bought a matching cover for the cockpit.  

One of the restrictions lifted in Phase 2 was accessing the beach.  Walking along the promenade over the last couple of weeks with the beach cordoned off had been quite a sad sight, so with no restrictions in place,  I expected to see the beach packed.  How wrong I was.  I walked along the promenade for a couple of miles and was shocked by the lack of people on the beach, bearing in mind what we'd seen in England.  In total there was probably a couple of hundred at most.  They really are taking the advice of slowly slowly serious!

Monday saw the fish dock spring back to life.  Over the last few months there had been some activity, with smaller fish boats going in and out but now, the big boys were back in business.  We can only assume that demand has increased now that restaurants are open and whilst not at full capacity,  they are certainly able to cater for larger numbers.  It wasn't until the dock sprung back to life that we realised how much we'd missed the noise and chatter of the fishermen. Hearing them again was very reassuring. 

Meanwhile,  back on Offbeat, it was time to finish off some jobs that had been hanging around.  Mark got busy finishing the aft cabin where we sleep. As much as I love 70s disco, you can only sleep with shiny silver insulation for so long.  So, to finish the cabin off and to get rid of the cork that had been hanging around for weeks, Mark glued the cork to the wall and ceiling. It does look nice now it's finished, but we can't make up our mind whether to varnish it or paint it.  Oh well, that's a project for next winter!

For my part, I was on sewing duty again.  We had to make some adjustments to the new foredeck shade, so whilst Mark was glueing and corking, I was sewing and hemming.

The week ended on a high again, as we celebrated our granddaughter Olivia's 13th birthday.   It's hard to believe she's now a teenager,  the years have just flown by, but she's growing into a beautiful young lady and we hope to be able to celebrate her birthday with her properly when she comes to visit. 

Saturday, 6 June 2020

Diary of a live aboard during lockdown - CV Week 11

Sunday 24 May to Saturday 30 May 2020

Estepona is slowly coming back to life as we ease our way through de-escalation and head into 'the new norm'. There was some disappointment by people around us that we hadn't moved into Phase 2 with the rest of the province, but as shops, restaurants, bars and cafes gradually start to open it is clear to see that the wearing of protective equipment and continued social distancing has been accepted by the majority.  

This was confirmed when I booked an appointment at the beauticians and received a message the day before my appointment stating that upon arrival I should wait outside until they were ready for me to enter.  Upon entering, I would have my shoes sanitised and my temperature taken and I was asked to wear a mask and gloves.  Hand sanitizer would be provided.  At the end of the message, it read "I will protect you, please protect me".I think that's fair enough and if it helps us all get back to 'normal' so be it.

With scorching sun and heat, we have been fairly laid back this week.  If there is work to be done, we tend to do it in the morning before it gets too hot.  Out of curiosity we took the temperature in the full one day, but the thermometer only goes up to 50°C.

The highlight of our week has to be our walk in the Cerro de la Matrona in the foothills of Sierra Bermeja. We set out early in the morning so as to comply with our time schedule and to enjoy the walk before it got too hot.  Our friend Edita was our guide and what was going to be a one hour stroll ended up being a three hour hike, but it was well worth it and the views across the hills towards Ronda and out over the Mediterranean were stunning. I can safely say that the walk was good for our souls and confirmed that walking in the hills and mountains of Andalucia this year will make up for not getting to Sardinia and Corsica. 

Mark's treat of the week was getting out on the sea.  Our neighbour Manuel, who has a beautiful Saffier 26 day boat moored opposite us on the pontoon turned up on Saturday morning to take her out for the morning and asked Mark if he would like to join him. Without hesitation and within minutes, he was changed and ready to go. As they set off, I took some video of them heading out into 20 knot winds. Mark came back after three hours damp from the sea spray, crusted with salt and a huge grin on his face. "That was fun" he said.

Hopefully if the rate of new infections and deaths continues to fall across Malaga, we will enter Phase 2 next week, which will mean more freedom for everyone: restaurants can open their interiors, markets can start up again, exercise times are less restrictive, the beaches open  and we can travel or sail across the province. 

Sunday, 31 May 2020

Diary of a live aboard during lockdown - CV Week 10

Sunday 17 May to Saturday 23 May 2020

Hurray, we've entered Phase 1 of de-escalation from Spain's Coronovirus lockdown. So, what does that mean in reality?

For us it means that we can go sailing with friends, but staying in the boundaries of the Malaga province which is south to Duquesa (12 miles) and north to Malaga (50 miles).  It also means that we can go out on our friends boats, which is exactly what we did on Thursday to celebrate our friend Richard's birthday.

Back on the sea at last!
Richard and Edita are moored next to us and over the last year have become good friends.  They own a 26 foot motor boat so when they invited us out for a whizz up the coast and supper at sunset, we jumped at the chance to get on the sea. 

It was a beautiful evening, perfect for an evening cruise and oh my did it feel good to be out there, with the wind blowing in our hair, spray on our faces and grins that a Cheshire cat would be envious of.  It made us both realise how much we miss the freedom of the sea!

Birthday girl!
We also celebrated our granddaughter Millie's 4th birthday.  We video called early in the morning so that we could sing 'happy birthday' and see her opening her presents from us.  Apparently she'd been up since 6am, but was still going strong.

It was lovely to see her so happy and I think it's safe to say she liked the Playdough Kitchen we bought her as we had to watch as she made us cookies with it. 

I'm really hoping that we'll be able to get back to England sometime soon, as much as I see the grandchildren on facetime, it's just not the same as having those little arms around your neck giving you the biggest hug.

Estepona comes back to life 
Moving into Phase 1 also meant that shops could open, albeit with strict distance and hygiene rules in place and bars and cafes could open if they had outdoor seating and could maintain the 2 metre distance rule.

Monday morning I headed off for my usual walk, but this time I could legitimately go into the town centre.  There were a number of shops open, but for me the best sight was seeing people sitting at the cafes having breakfast and talking as if nothing had happened.  Back at the marina, that too was full of life as fishing boats came in and unloaded their catches and large motorboats arrived at the boat yard.

The marina was bustling and noisy and by the end of the day, I was a bit emotional after seeing our beautiful Estepona slowly coming back to life and feeling a sense of comfort that things will get better.

Getting ready for the off!
Back on Offbeat it was time to check out the repairs we had done to the Ghoster sail - our lightweight, light-wind genoa.  Luckily we had a number of days with no wind (although by mid afternoon the heat was suffocatingly hot) so Mark could get it raised and check it thoroughly.  He also took the opportunity to fiddle about with its fittings so it raises and drops more easily. This sail is 40 years old - we inherited the original receipts when we bought Offbeat- and still works well for us. It was a beautiful sight to see the sail up and spurred us on to sit down and revise our plans for the summer so that we can get our fix of sailing and sightseeing. 

Our highlight of the week has to be our long lunch at our favourite restaurant La Escallera.  It is a fresh seafood restaurant set just behind the fishing dock and fish market and is always packed full of locals and some tourists.  It is so popular that you can't book a table, you turn up, put your name on the list and wait! 

When the wind did arrive at the tail end of the week, it was blowing a Levanter.  This is a problem for us as it means that the wind blows the smell of cooking from La Escallera straight over to our boat.  You may think it would be a fishy smell, but I can assure you it's not.  It is the most mouthwatering combination of fish, shellfish, herbs and cooking which, in combination with the happy chatter of diners, makes the place irresistible.  As we hadn't been out for 10 weeks, we owed ourselves a treat and boy did we have one. Octopus, squid and baby sole washed down with chilled Albarino.

If ever there was food porn, this was it!

Sunday, 24 May 2020

Diary of a live aboard during lockdown - CV Week 9

Sunday 10 May to Saturday 16 May 2020

No pasa a la fase 1 😣
After the highs of the previous week and the eagerness we witnessed of people getting their boats ready to go out and a few bars getting ready to welcome customers,  the week started a bit of a low.  The Spanish Government had announced the regions that would be moving into Phase 1 of de-escalation and whilst the majority of Andalucia would start to open for business on Monday morning,  the provinces of Malaga and Granada were not included. We are in the Malaga province.

Come Monday morning, there was a real sense of disappointment and a subdued atmosphere around the marina, but also quiet resignation that if we needed to be protected for another week, so be it.  We would move into Phase 1 soon or later

With the prospect of not getting out and about just yet, we carried on with some of our projects.  Mark's on bit of a mission now to reduce 'the stuff' (my words, not his) in his project box and reduce the clutter that he has accumulated.

In the meantime,  I've found a cunning way of getting my morning exercise in and do the shopping at the same time.  There is a lovely little greengrocer's about a mile away, that sells fresh produce from Estepona and the surrounding area.  It's great to be able to buy vegetables that are freshly picked and are not prepacked, plus we're supporting local farmers and businesses. So, each morning I head off to the shop with shopping bag in hand, just in case I get stopped by the police again!

Just a small job!
After one of my little shopping trips,  I came back to this.  Mark had decided that today would be the day to fit the extra flexible water tank in the bilge area under our bed.  We've had the tank since before we left England but had never got round to fitting it.  To fit the tank, Mark had to remove the mattress, drawers, wall paneling and bed structure.  

The boat was in complete upheaval. Previously when I've come back to this I've turned round and gone straight back out again, but this time I couldn't.  I therefore became the plumbers apprentice, making tea and handing tools whilst he had half his body twisted in the bilge or under the bed.  And I'm very pleased to say, the new tank is installed and working and the boat has been put back together.

Gibraltar and Jebel Musa
Although we are allowed to go out for exercise daily between 6am-10am and 8pm-11pm, we haven't really taken advantage of it as we don't tend to eat until late now because it is still so hot until the sunsets. However, we did go out one night for a short walk to the viewpoint which is about one kilometre away and has great views of Gibraltar and North Africa.
Maintaining social distancing 
It was a beautiful calm evening,  the sun was setting, the Starlings and Wagtails were in the trees making the last calls of the evening and the Seagulls were perched on the crane, observing the rules on social distancing!

Oh how we love Spain!

Monday, 18 May 2020

Diary of a live aboard during lockdown - CV week 8

Sunday 3 May to Saturday 9 May 2020

With the entering of Phase 0 of the de-escalation plan (still can't understand why Phase 0!) we saw the gradual return of familiar faces to the marina as Isaac, Richard and Pedro all took the first opportunity available to come and check their boats.  Mark was in his element. And, if I'm honest, I was just a little bit emotional hearing the sound of mens chatter and laughter and the roar of engines as boats were kicked back into life. Perhaps the 'new norm' wouldn't be so bad after all.

Before and after
One of the improvements I've been suggesting ("nagging" in Mark's words) for some time is to have a splash back put in place on the worktop between the galley and the saloon.  You would not believe the amount of times I've been chopping veg or cutting fresh crusty bread, only to find that half of it ends up in the saloon sofa or floor.  

Well, my wish came true as Mark cunningly recycled a shelf from the galley and fitted it with brackets and installed it between galley and lounge.  It isn't permanently fixed, so we can take it out and clean and it still needs painting and varnishing, but I am so pleased with it and it really makes a difference when preparing and cooking food.  Funny how it's the little things that bring you pleasure! 

Another job that came to fruition this week was the unveiling of the cockpit sunshade.  Over the winter months I had spent hours sewing binding onto the edges to reinforce the strength.  As the sunshade is about 7 meters long and 4 meters wide, there was a lot of sewing but, when we put the sunshade up and saw it in all its glory, it was well worth the work.  It was also nice to receive compliments from other boat owners although we do think we look a bit like sea gypsies at times, especially with the washing on the line!

Our week ended on a real high as our new barbecue arrived just in time for the weekend.  Those that know me will know that I have wanted a boat barbecue since before we left England.  Mark had made the mistake of showing me a picture of one that sat in a stainless steel holder made by the same guys that made and fitted our grab rail.  But, we had never got round to buying one as our boat budget was always swallowed up by things like engine parts and nuts and bolts. I never gave up hope though.

Just one of many beautiful sunsets
Anyway, last year whilst on our summer travels, it became far too hot to have the cooker on in the galley, so we mainly lived off cold meats, cheese and salads. A barbecue would have been perfect for cooking whilst enjoying a chilled glass of wine as the sunset on another hot balmy Mediterranean day. 

Whilst planning for our travels this year, we did quite a bit of reminiscing,  talking about what worked well, what wasn't so good and what could we improve to make life better. The subject of a barbecue came up and Mark suggested that it would be great if we had a portable barbecue which we could use on the boat, but also take ashore if we wanted a barbecue on the beach. And, there was enough money in the budget to buy it.  I thought it was a wonderful idea. Eager to close the deal before he changed his mind or more engine parts were needed, I said let's get it ordered as soon as so that we have it for when lockdown is lifted.  Mark ordered it from a marine store in Malaga and it arrived within a couple of weeks. We have used it quite a few times already and the food is delicious.   

I think it's safe to say it was a good investment and will certainly see a lot of use over the coming months.

And someone certainly seems pleased with it!

Sunday, 10 May 2020

Diary of a live aboard during lockdown - CV Week 7

Sunday 26 April - Saturday 2 May 2020

The week started to the sound of children's chatter and laughter as they gradually returned to the port to enjoy the freedom and sunshine and to ride their bikes or scooters and feed the fish.  After six weeks of eery silence, it was a beautiful sound. A bit like the dawn chorus on a spring morning. 

I can only imagine what it must have felt like for the children of Spain, especially those that live in apartments. At least as adults we could go out to the shops, but for some of the children their only escape would have been a balcony. And having witnessed first hand how sociable and family orientated local families are, this for them, would be like the first shoots of Spring.

Happy birthday 
Other joyous occasions during the week was celebrating our daughter Victoria's birthday (affectionately known as Pip) and my brother Glen's 60th birthday.  Both were celebrated via video call with a glass of wine to raise a toast.  We are dearly hoping that once the 'new norm' settles in and we have a better insight into how travelling by aeroplane is going to work, we can go back to England to see our families and do some partying!

Social distancing rules observed!

We also had a visit from staff from the marina to formerly thank us for choosing their marina to stay in.  I'm not quite sure why they gave Mark the wine, they obviously don't know me that well, but it was a lovely gesture and it made good headlines on their social media.  And you'll be pleased to know the wine wasn't too bad either.

Views from Playa del Cristo
In response to the falling number of new Coronavirus cases, the Government announced that as of 2 May, everybody would be allowed out for exercise or walking, but only within a given timeslot and for those walking, within 1 kilometre of their home. 

So, Saturday night, with masks and gloves in place we headed off to the mirador overlooking Playa del Cristo.  And what a treat it was. A beautiful warm evening, with clear skies and as the sun set, it illuminated north Africa beautifully. It reminded us once again why we love Estepona so much, with its pretty town, friendly people and views across to the next continent. 

Just visiting! 
On a final note, our week was completed by a visit late one afternoon by these gorgeous but bedraggled Swallows that we think were migrating north.  Sitting below in the cabin, with hatches all open, we heard the very loud sound of birds chirping away.  Tentatively getting up to have a look, I found these four, sitting on the guard rail next to the open hatch, singing away. They stayed there a good few minutes and I was so lucky to get these charming photos of them. 

Moments like that are so precious in these strange times.

Saturday, 2 May 2020

Diary of a live aboard during lockdown - CV Week 6

Sunday 19 April - Saturday 25 April 2020

I think we lost our mojo a bit this week as for us, it's been a relatively low key, lazy week.  No major projects, just admin and pottering around.

Happy Anniversary!
Except that we did celebrate our third wedding anniversary, albeit it very tame for us. No big night out, just a nice meal and a bottle of wine.  Crikeys, I can remember the days when we would party hard until the early hours but at the moment it all seems very sensible.  I know that they say life will never be the same, but I hope the spirit of some things return. Most likely when our Swedish friends Elisabeth and Tim return!

Admin took the form of preparing a shopping list of things to order now that some of the shops in Spain are open and Mark found out that his favourite Ferreteria delivers.  

We also had a serious look at what we could feasibly do cruising wise this summer.  Whilst we would dearly love to go back to the Balearics,  we were both in agreement that given that this was looking less and less possible.   Whilst there is talk of easing restrictions in Spain, we don't know what that will look like and when the maritime restrictions would be lifted.  Some say that aviation and maritime will be the last to be lifted, who knows!

So given the uncertainty and how the situation is in Spain, we have decided to stay in Estepona until at Spring 2021.  We have agreed that if we can go out sailing we would still like to do that, but no further than 100 miles (24 hours sailing time) from Estepona.  If there was to be a further lockdown  in Spain we would want to get back to Estepona where we know the lay of the land and feel relatively safe.

Cruising ground 2020
This still leaves us plenty of places to explore though.  We have mapped out that we could go as far as Cabo de Gata, which we absolutely love or to Melilia on the North African coast.  Then there is Morocco itself or even popping out through the Gibraltar Staits to visit Cadiz. Only time will tell where we'll end up!

Latest figures published for Spain indicated that the virus appears to be coming under control.  Whilst the totals are still shockingly high, with 223,759  confirmed cases and 22,902 deaths, the rate of acceleration of contaigon and deaths is slowing.  However, the Spanish Government are not yet ready to take the risk of relaxing lockdown as the extention to the State of Alarm was approved until 10 May.  The only concession the Government has made is that minors under the age of 14 can go out with one parent for one hour a day within a 1 kilometre radius of their home.  Eveything else stays the same for the time being.

On a happier note, we have been enjoying the company of our new friends, the sparrows.  I feed them twice a day, morning and early evening and even bought them some seed to give them a bit of variety. In return, we get a dawn chorus in the morning which, at 6.30am, I'm not sure if it's to thank us or wake us!

Saturday, 25 April 2020

Diary of a live aboard during lockdown - CV Week 5

Sunday 12 April to Saturday 18 April 2020

Week five started on a high as it was Easter Sunday and although the weather was wet and gloomy, it was a day to enjoy.  Normally I would have gone to church as the mass on Easter Sunday is usually very joyous and uplifting.  This year there was no service, except for those being broadcast on the television, but the bells did ring out at midday.

I couldn't help but reflect on the difference to last year.  We had spent the Easter weekend in Estepona and Easter Sunday had been a wonderful day. I had gone to mass at our local church and seeing all the children, parents and grandparents in their Sunday best had reminded me of when I was a child and we would do the same.  Mark had joined me for the procession from the church and we had followed it for a while.  We then had lunch in a very local restaurant surrounded by lots of families all talking and laughing and we felt a real part of the community. No wonder we love Estepona so much! 

Easter Sunday treats
We did celebrate in style though with video calls to the grandchildren (who were bouncing off the walls with the sugar rush) in the morning, followed by a full roast dinner, nice bottle of red wine, delicious rosquillas from our friend Paci and Laphroig from our friend Peter (this was Mark's treat!). All in all, a lovely day. 

With the weather forecast for the week continuing to be unsettled we looked at getting on with a project inside the boat.  There were a number that we could have chosen, but Mark decided that he would 'crack on' with the aft cabin.  

Man on a mission!
First major project was to remove the foam/glue in the storage area.  This would involve removing everything that was stored there which is mainly sails, dinghy equipment and our sailing gear and as this had to go on deck, timing with the weather was critical.  Removing the foam/glue was a long tedious job using the heatgun, scrapers and the electric multitool.  As you can imagine, it was rather a messy job but Mark managed to get it done and together we cleaned the aft cabin storage area and got everything back in place before the next band of rain came through.

Second project in the aft cabin took a bit longer and involved having to sleep on the bunks in the cabin for two nights.

Back in winter,  before Coronavirus and lockdown hit us, we had decided to insulate our side of the aft cabin (where we sleep). We had made this decision based on our experience last year in the Balearics. Mark had already bought the insulation so we were ready to go.

Before we left England for our adventure,  Mark had insulated the ceiling in the saloon cabin with reflective lining which reflects the heat off the boat and keeps the temperature cooler than otherwise could be.  In the heat of summer last year and using an infrared thermostat, he took a reading of the saloon cabin ceiling and the heads ceiling, which highlighted a difference of between 5° and 10°, a lot when it's  35°+ outside.

🤔 no words needed!
In preparation, I had previously stripped the foam and glue off the walls, so it was all primed and ready to go.  The plan was to first glue on the insulation and then cover the insulation with cork, which could then be either varnished or painted. We set about removing the mattress and covering everywhere with protective plastic.

To cut a very long story short, we only got as far as putting up the lining as we ran out of adhesive and with everywhere shut, couldn't buy anymore.  The fumes of the glue from the lining forced us to sleep in the saloon, with the aft door shut but aft cabin window open and fans on to try and expel the smell.

As with all projects we do, why do one when you can do three!  Next day, Mark decided it would be a good time to fit an extractor fan in the aft cabin above our bed and do some plumbing ready to fit a flexi tank under our bed.  Unfortunately it wasn't possible to complete both these jobs in one day and as much as I love the idea of sleeping under the stars, I didn't fancy sleeping with a hole in the roof with possible showers on the way. Hence our second night on the bunks in the saloon.

I'm glad to say though that true to his word the work was completed the next day and order was restored. And boy was that bed comfy after two nights on cushions with little foam.

The Coronavirus situation in Spain this week has, if not improved, at least plateaued and people are hopeful that the measures put in place by the Spanish Government are working with the results being fewer new cases and less deaths than last week. As of Saturday, the total number of people infected with Coronavirus stood at 99,576 and sadly  the death toll had reached 20,043. There is still a long way to go before free movement will be restored, but hopefully we are heading in the right direction.

There was a semblance of normality returning this week in the fishing port with the lifting of restrictions on non-essential workers.  It was quite reassuring to hear the sound of the fishing boat engines and the voices of the fishermen as they set off early in the morning for their days fishing.  Watching them return was a treat too and I know the Seagulls were overjoyed!

Birthday celebrations 
The highlight of the week though has to be our grandson Finlay's 6th birthday.  How do you celebrate a birthday when the family can't get together? You have a party via videoconferencing of course. It was great fun and was really special, especially when we sung happy birthday whilst he blew the candles out on his cake.  True 21st century celebration.

I think he had a good time, but after an hour of complete chaos I had to have a very large glass of wine!

Friday, 17 April 2020

Diary of a live aboard during lockdown - CV Week 4

Sunday 5 April - Saturday 11 April 2020

The week started on a positive high note. The marinero informed us that the postman had tried to deliver a parcel for us but as there was no one in the office they had to take it back.  It was waiting for collection from the post office in town if one of us wanted to go and get it.

That was it, the excuse I'd been waiting for to get out and have a proper walk. I would go and collect the parcel and there was no arguing!

Hair, makeup and decent outfit on I was ready to go.  But, before I could leave, Mark insisted I wear a mask. That seriously cramped my style. Never mind, I was not to be put off.  Out I went into the big wide world, clutching the postal notification in my hand as if my life depended on it.

Walking along the streets, it wasn't as quiet as I thought it would be as people were busying around doing their shopping. Arriving at the post office, there were several people in front of me and it was one out, one in. I ended up waiting about 20 minutes for my turn, but I didn't care, it was a change of view and a bit of people watching.

Parcel collected (Mark's new socks!) I decided to go to the fruit and veg shop close by to pick up fresh fruit and veg that's grown locally. Again there was a queue to go in, but the wait was worth it to be able to buy carrots with their tops still on, together with freshly picked avocados and oranges.

On the way back to the marina I talk a short walk on the promenade which is technically out of bounds but I was desperate to see the beach and sea.  It was really sad to see the beach cordoned off when only a few weeks ago families had been celebrating Dia de Andalucia. It was empty, except for somebody by the waters edge with a metal detector which was really random considering a) we're in lockdown and b) the beach is out of bounds. But hey, each to their own! 

As you can imagine, trying to keep occupied and motivated during lockdown can be challenging at times so we try to vary our activity as much as possible. For me, I've set myself a goal of walking 5 miles a day, which in itself isn't hard, but can be challenging when you only have a 100 metre path to use.

Mark is continuing with his fishing and has progressed to the end of the pontoon in the hope that he'll have more luck catching them as they swim past. He really hoped that he could catch some fish for Good Friday as it's the one day of the year I refuse to eat meat day (the Catholics amongst us will get it) but unfortunately he didn't catch anything so it was off pre-bought prawns and octopus cooked up in homemade paella!

As well as fishing, he's busy on a new race on the virtual regatta. This time they are sailing from Cape Verde to Cadiz, racing 16th century 'Caravels'. It's a 2,000 mile race and by Saturday he'd covered about 1,000 miles. As it's done in real-time, it's made him realise what a long slog ocean racing is. 

In between rain showers (don't ask, the weather is awful at times) we've managed to fit in a few jobs that were on the endless 'to do' list. Of particular note is the fridge fan, fitted next to the fridge compressor so that it keeps it cool.  It has the added bonus of having a light fitting as well, so we can have a funky illuminated sink if we want! He has also been busy adding a wifi AIS set, fixing a bad connection on the vhf radio arial and an exhaust temperature alarm so that we get a warning if the engine is overheating. For my bit, I've been polishing the stainless steel, removing rust spots and generally revitalising it all.   

As we entered the fourth week of lockdown, the extension to the State of Alarm was approved by the Spanish Government, so there will be no movement until at least 25 April.  Although Spain appears to have reached the peak of infections and deaths,  there is talk of a further extension until 10 May albeit some sectors may return to work earlier.  As of Saturday, the total number of Coronavirus infections stands at 163,027 and the number of deaths due to Coronavirus is 16,606. Social distancing in Spain is still a critical part of trying to get control of the virus and to this end, the police are taking a firmer approach to people who are recklessly breaking quarantine, with reports of hefty fines and for persistent offenders, a short jail term.

It's not all doom and gloom though, there have been some positive highlights to the week.  With the closure or restaurants and bars around the marina, we have noticed Sparrows searching for food so we've sort of adopted them and make sure that they have a daily supply of fresh. In return, they chirrup us in the morning which gladdens your heart in these uncertain times. 

Monday, 6 April 2020

Diary of a live aboard in lockdown - CV Week 3

Sunday 29 March - Saturday 4 April 2020

With the sun shining and another two weeks of lockdown in place, we have, for us, had quite a lazy week.  Well, when I say lazy, I mean we've been doing light work rather than hard physical jobs.

The week started with a beautiful sunny day and a 2 mile run on our pontoon. Being plugged in to Steve Wright's Sunday love songs helped me through.  I'd forgotten how much harder it is running in full sun!

At last, lunch in the sun!
It was such a lovely day that we took the canvas tent off Offbeat and had our first meal of the year in full glorious sunshine.   

Naturally it had to be accompanied by wine and beer!

The ever changing weather! 
Tuesday saw the return of the wind and rain and it's been like for most of the week.  We try and keep our spirits up with keeping busy doing project work, baking, playing card games, reading or updating the blog.  

Mark has been busy this week with his virtual race as it drew to a close on Friday night. He was leading in his group of friends and as they were only a few miles behind him and he didn't want to loose his advantage. 

Keeping the boredom at bay
So, Mr Competitive stayed up until 5am Saturday morning to make sure he came in first in their group.  Overall he came 4,080th out of 34,000 competitors which is good going considering it was his first time in a virtual race. The next one starts tomorrow from Cape Verde Islands to Cadiz, racing 16th Century 'Caravels', which will keep him busy.

We try and keep up to date with what's happening in Spain and the UK even though at times it can be hard going.

This week was a particularly difficult week for Spain, with the number of new cases and the number of deaths increasing every day.  Thursday was indeed a bleak day, when 950 deaths were reported in a 24 hour period.  This figure will most likely increase as it is currently counted by those who died in hospital. The current number of reported cases of Coronavirus are 130,759 and reported deaths stands at 12,418.  Sadly, these figures place Spain as the second highest country of recorded cases (second to th US).

Such is the strength of feeling across Spain to try and stop the virus spreading any further, the Government announced on Saturday a further extension to the State of Alarm meaning that the country will continue with its enforced lockdown until April 25.  For us that means no movement from Estepona at all, not that we would want to leave without saying goodbye to our friends. 

Speaking of which, we have made good friends with the ladies who look after the marina and clean the facilities. We tend to see them most days, either to wave and shout 'hola' or have a chat with them (observing the 2 metre rule).  It's a great way for us to practice our Spanish and for them to practice their English and we often share stories of our children and families. 

Friday morning one of them, Paci, was calling to us from the pontoon.  Mark went to see what was up, but nothing was wrong, she had just brought us a selection of homemade cakes.  Her mother is with her and loves to bake and we were the lucky recipients. 

The cakes were traditional Easter cakes that are made to celebrate Semana Santa (Easter Week) and as everyone is confined to their homes this year, what better way to celebrate than to eat lots of sugary cakes. Delicious!