Wednesday 5 September 2012

Palma at 39 degrees

Palma is hot and busy. The shopkeepers and bar owners who were so friendly and attentive over the winter are losing their cool. It has been over 30 degrees now for the past few months and the Mallorcans are calling it the hottest summer for over ten years. My taxi driver taking me to the airport fans herself and points to the temperature gauge on her dashboard which reads 39 degrees. I remind her that in February I woke up to find snow on my decks and she laughs and tells me that it was also the hardest winter in 50 years.

Given the outside temperature it has not been the ideal day to be inside the anchor locker sitting on a heap of galvanised steel chain with a wrench in one hand and mould grips in the other, wrestling with a corroded stop cock while perspiration runs into my eyes. But this particular job has been on the list for some time and I can’t procrastinate any longer. In the anchor locker is a fresh water supply so that we can wash down the chain and windlass after retrieving the anchor. However, the anchor locker is a wet and steamy place where sea water splashes around and it’s no place for lumps of steel that aren’t either galvanised or stainless. The tap that controls the flow of water is in fact a ball valve which is reasonably fail-proof compared to a conventional tap that might leak and drain the contents of the tanks. However these ball valves come in all sorts of different shapes, sizes and materials, and the handle on this valve was made of mild steel and has corroded in the rain forest conditions of Juno’s anchor locker. Because it drains, it is also the locker where we store spare fuel for the rib and the petrol fumes add to the inhumane working environment but I press on and re-site the gleaming new stainless stop cock to make it easier to access. As usual, the task is more complex than I anticipate but after two hours the job is done and I test the valve by opening the handle and let the cool fresh water wash over me, emerging from the anchor locker satisfied and refreshed after my impromptu shower.

Normally when we clean the boat, I do everything above decks and Fatty does all things below. However this time I am on my own so I set to with a bucket of brushes, cloths, sponges and all manner of chemicals and head for the forward loo. Where to start? This job isn’t as easy as I thought and I mentally acknowledge Fatty’s efforts as I clean loo, shower, basin, and floor and then polish all the mirrors and shower doors. Maybe that’s why she has left me to clean up so that I will appreciate her more when she quietly busies herself down below while I stomp about on deck, demanding glasses of water and constant acknowledgement of my labours. Is this a man/woman thing or just me?

Finally the washing is done, the bathrooms are gleaming, the floors have been washed and the Dyson has vacuumed every nook and corner. I never like leaving Juno for any length of time and particularly when a Mistral is coming, and one is expected on Sunday evening. However deep in the bay of Palma, we are sheltered from all but the most powerful gales and the forecasted north easterly wind will have lost most of its menace when it reaches Mallorca and the buildings on the shore break up the gusts and protect us from the full force of the wind. I add two more shore lines, raise the pasarel, switch off all the power except to the fridge and freezer and head for the airport.

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