December 26, 2006 GMT
Lithuanian Children

A few days ago we'd finished repairs for the day and were imbibing a well-earned beer or three when a young backpacker couple approached enquiring about the boat and whether there was any chance of crewing to somewhere interesting.

Pictures and maps are HERE.

Katya is from Leipzig and is an industrial engineering graduate, and Augustas is a Lithuanian software engineer. They met in Spain, and their common language is English - obviously. I mean, no-one speaks Lithuanian except Lithuanians.

So they accompanied us to the boatyard where Aransas was yet again subjected to the indignity of being lifted out of the water and placed (very gently, by the Mexicans) on blocks. They took up residence on the boat and are working really, really hard; they ask about everything and are learning lots, just as I did when I started in Port Aransas. We gave them a Christmas present of a couple of nights in a decent hotel. We call them The Children to differentiate them from The Kids, who are Stuart's and arrived today.

The boatyard is next to a very expensive hotel with a marina, and as "residents" of the boatyard we get to use the pool and bar; the breakfasts are great. Alan and his Rumanian wife Alex have a big catamaran in the marina, and Alan and Stuart have a couple of acquaintances in common; Alan has a "skipper" (who isn't really as he can't sail and doesn't know anything about the boat) called Carl. He's the personification of Dobby; really, it's indescribable.

Anyway, Stuart and I have sorted out a few electrical problems on the cat (mainly involving me, being small, grovelling around inside one of the engine compartments trying to rewire one of the alternators and removing/bypassing the dead regulator), in return for which Alan invited us for Crimble lunch at the other expensive hotel yesterday; and jolly fine it was too. Alan can drink for England and is a very generous host.

So, we've refitted the bowsprit with new mounting brackets, the forestay is back up so I can go up the mast, without it falling over, to fit the new screecher halyard and jackstay. We have a proper climbing harness for this, as well as a bosun's chair which apparently is less comfortable. I've been doing more electrical stuff - new forward-looking sonar transponder and instrument head, new autopilot instrument (calibration was a nightmare, especially when I nearly knocked out Augustas testing the rudder whilst grovelling around inside the depths of the locker beside the chart table), trying to make sense of the battery monitor and solar panel controller readouts (still not really managed either of those as the manuals are the usual).

My new passport still isn't on the horizon (or the DHL tracking website), and although Stuart's trying to persuade me to sail to Cuba and points south (awfully tempting) I'll be flying back to Port Aransas as soon as the paperwork arrives as the shoulder's a lot better (enough to ride shortish days, I reckon) because, after all, I'm on a bike trip, not a boat trip. I think.

Posted by Cynthia Milton at December 26, 2006 10:05 PM GMT

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