Life on a Plague Ship

January 26, 2013
Sant Carles de la Rapita, January 2013

Sant Carles de la Rapita, January 2013

For those of you who are ‘friends’ with us on Facebook, this blog will come as no surprise, since our status over the past couple of weeks has told of little other than the progress of the plague through the crew of “Rampage”. For the rest of the world, this is what’s been going on and why we haven’t put up a post since 2nd January. You see, we went to the fabled New Years Eve party in the marina bar. Great party but whilst there Duncan picked up a flu bug; by 3rd January he was feeling proper poorly and took to his bed. And there he remained for the majority of the next 10 days or so whilst the bug worked its way through; headache, bunged up nose, sore throat, coughing plus general aches, pains and lassitude.

This recovery was not helped by the weather, which has been very windy of late. Winds in excess of 30 knots seem to have become the norm although they are mostly accompanied by clear weather and therefore reasonable temperatures. Last week the marina reportedly recorded gusts of over 80 knots, and that day J was thrown off the pavement and into the road as she staggered home from the shops.

Just as Duncan was making a recovery and starting to potter about the place again, Julia went down with the bug and spent the next week or so in bed feeling miserable and irritated. She is what can best be described as an impatient patient and, despite the fact that she didn’t have the energy to lift a finger, found enforced lassitude very, very irritating.

Just before J went down with the lurgy, she and Sheila had another wonderful bike ride on the delta

Just before J went down with the lurgy, she and Sheila had another wonderful bike ride on the delta

Because of this combination of ill health and inclement weather, work on the jobs list has stalled since New Year. Working on the outside of the boat when the wind is blowing as hard as it is at the moment is both uncomfortable and difficult. Just drilling a hole for example becomes a problem when the boat is lurching from one side to the other, leading to a fair chance of the hole being in entirely the wrong place; much better to wait and seize the occasional day when the wind drops to more reasonable levels.

The quiz nights we kicked off before Christmas have continued; we get a regular attendance of about 20 people most weeks with someone volunteering to set next week’s questions at the end of the evening. There is also a regular boules afternoon but frankly, the weather hasn’t been up to standing round for an hour or two outside so we haven’t bothered to attend as yet.

Replacing the sails, (just before Duncan fell ill.)

Replacing the sails, (just before Duncan fell ill.)

Despite much of the work not having been done, we have completed a few things. We’ve bent the sails back on to the rigging; for once, there were no great fallings out and the reefing lines went on correctly at the first attempt. J has today finished making new covers for the cockpit cushions. (She has also made a number of items for dolls – NOT on the winter jobs’ list.) I’ve reseated the port side stanchion bases – they hold up the guardrail and netting. Hopefully, they won’t leak now when we’re sailing well healed. J has also made a start on making a cover for the dinghy to protect it from UV, which kills the pvc in short order; it’s difficult job as the tubes of the dinghy follow a complex curve which requires about 5 separate pieces to match it. However, this has stalled as it is impossible to do in strong wind.

Trying to making a dinghy UV protector fit!

Trying to making a dinghy UV protector fit!

I’ve also been making a new rope mat from the offcuts of rope from the new rigging lines. Quite a nice effect in red, white and blue….

Jobs outstanding are to make a new chart table instrument panel, alter the outboard davit so that it supports some of the antennas and to fit the new (to us) Aquair towed generator. All of the above are firmly blue jobs; J will be continuing with the sewing machine and helping occasionally with the other jobs. Aside from the dinghy cover and new mosquito nets, (the pretty blue ones from last year didn’t survive a season,) she is debating whether to make a new spray hood. This is a serious undertaking, and we already have the canvas etc required to do the job but time and/or her courage may fail us. One option we have is simply to replace the clear plastic sections so that we can see out! The current ones are so patched and scratched that visibility is minimal so something has to be done.

One of the cockpit cushions in its smart new stripey cover!

One of the cockpit cushions in its smart new stripey cover!

We plan to lift out for a few days in March just before we set off, mainly to clean the bottom of the hull and change the seals on the saildrive (the bit with the propeller on it). The final job before departure will be to replace the caulking in the cockpit. This again is a tedious, painstaking job involving taking out all the old caulking from between the teak panels, cleaning and then replacing it. I foresee some tense moments ahead because J is something of a perfectionist…

Anyhow, enough from me and fixation on work what we hasn’t done. J would like to take the chance to tell you about the way the locals celebrate the arrival of the 3 Kings:-

Waiting for the 3 Kings to disembark (note ferry in the background with lighted star on the bow.)

Waiting for the 3 Kings to disembark (note ferry in the background with lighted star on the bow.)

Here in Spain 6th January, or Kings’ Night is probably the most significant night of the Christmas celebrations and is the time when gifts are exchanged (makes sense when you stop to think about it.) Anyway, I arranged to meet up with friends Peter, Jackie and Sheila on the evening of 5th to watch the local festivities. We wandered along the seafront to the Club Nautic at about 6pm and there was nothing to be seen other than a few horses being led from the boxes. However, within about 20 minutes a great crowd had gathered and the excitement started to build. The Kings arrived by ferry (!) – the boat had a handy star on the front to show them the way. They announced their arrival with fireworks from the stern of the boat and when they came ashore they were each escorted by a huge retinue, all with their faces blacked which I feel somehow would not have been entirely acceptable at home.

One of the kings - bearing a remarkable resembance to another white-bearded, gift-bearing chap!

One of the kings – with an uncanny resembance to another white-bearded, gift-bearing chap!

They then proceeded on three large floats (as opposed to camels) up through the town hurling sweets at all the children in the crowd, to the accompaniment of a band and followed by 20 – 30 people on horseback, all splendidly if somewhat randomly decked out in costumes from the 15th and 16th centuries, (the final chap looked suspiciously like Henry Vlll, though I don’t remember him being involved in the Christmas story.)

Another of the kings aboard his float and surrounded by gifts as he tosses sweets to the crowd.

Another of the kings aboard his float and surrounded by gifts as he tosses sweets to the crowd.

Anyway it was all good fun and afterwards we walked through the town to admire the Sant Carles Christmas lights for the last time and then retired to a very nice cafe for coffee and cakes.

The really rather splendid Christmas lights in Sant Carles

The really rather splendid Christmas lights in Sant Carles

The following morning we reconvened to share a special cake designed to look like a crown and containing two hidden objects. One is a dried bean which supposedly brings bad luck to the recipient who must also buy the cake the following year. The other is a little figure (hard to determine what – possibly a cross between a sheep, a cow and a dog!) which bestows good luck for the coming year. This fortunate person also wears the magnificent cardboard crown provided. Apparently the youngest person present is supposed to sit under the table and as each slice of the cake is made, they decree to whom it should be given, thus ensuring that there is no manipulation on the part of the cake cutter with regard to who receives the charms. We didn’t actually learn about that until later but it is doubtful that any of us could easily have squeezed under Sheila’s table anyway…

Sheila, Jackie and Peter with our Kings' Night cake

Sheila, Jackie and Peter with our Kings’ Night cake

Sadly Duncan missed all this jollification since by then he had succumbed to the Sant Carles lurgy but we did save him a piece of cake.

We expect one more day of very strong winds on Monday and thereafter hopefully we will a bit of a break and be able to carry on with some work. We are looking forward to visits in February from our friends Jane and Clive and later in the month from Maggie so we need to have some evidence of time usefully spent.




  1. OK Questions, questions, can we see a photo of the new mat in all its red white and blueness. And who got the bean and who got the dog sheep cow charm?

  2. Well now, the mat isn’t actually quite finished – ie the Skipper never got around to sewing it but the request for a pick may spur him on. As for the charms, poor Jackie received the bean but husband Peter won the dogsheepcow so hopefully that will have restored some of the good luck aboard their boat!

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