Monday 20 March 2017

Cienfuegos 3

Yesterday, Sunday, was part frustration part enjoyment. I spent most of the day on the boat tackling the endless list of jobs. First up was to try and patch the dinghy which had developed a slow leak in the front chamber and more recently in the bottom. I tracked down the possible sources and spend a couple of hours patching and taping up seams. I stopped the water leak in the bottom but not I discovered later the slow puncture. Frustration number 1.
Next up to replace the temporary repair to Angus’ vane attachment. I needed a wing nut of the right size and suddenly remembered that Mick had bought a few Angus type spares in Gran Canaria. Wonder of wonders, there were two wing nuts in the Angus spares box. Thanks Mick. A job quickly completed. That doesn’t happen very often.
Next up replace the reefing pennants. I needed a longer one for the second reef so that I could also use it for the 3rd reef without having to tie an extension to it. The pennants run inside the boom and go through pulleys at each end. I had previously bought the rope necessary and had already replaced the mainsail clue line with the same stuff. To do this without dismantling the boom which I suspected would not be possible given the age of all the nuts and bolts involved (they would probably be seized/corroded) I needed to attach a thin line to the existing rope, pull it through then attach the line to the new rope and pull that through. Sound simple enough except that first I simply tried to attach the new rope to the old. Of course, I could not make a good enough join so that would not go through. Then I did it properly but it was still a devil of a job pulling the new rope through and I was very concerned about the join parting in the boom and then I would be well and truly buggered. Anyway, I eventually did get it through but the dam new rope would not run freely through the pulley on the end of the boom. I could not understand it, it was the same rope as that which I had already used for the clue line. It was no good though it would have to come out, I could not risk being unable to reef the sail in a blow. So out it came. By this time, it was 1600 and I was well and truly pissed off. My plan had always been to go ashore for the evening to a Cuban music venue I had found in town so I packed up work for the day and went ashore after a very wet dinghy ride.
I was very short of cash – just about $20 Cuban dollars (CUC) about the same in pounds and (thought) I could get no more until the banks opened tomorrow. My guide book warned about the ques too so I was pleasantly surprised to notice the bank in town had cash machines outside it and they worked too, so I could get money. Mind you I needn’t have worried; the music – lovely traditional Cuban Folk music was free and the drinks were cheap. $CUC 1.50 for a beer and $2.50 for a rum. Earlier I bought a fast food Pizza and a beer for $CUC 2.50. The other evening I had a basic Cuban meal near the marina and beer for $CUC 5.50. The meal was plain but ample, two pieces of Pork, Rice and Salad and fried (to a crispy finish) bananas.
I arrived at the small music venue just as a coach was disgorging tourists and my heart sank but it was fine. There were plenty of locals and room enough for everyone. The locals were mostly elderly folk who were soon up on their feet waltzing and doing the Salsa. There were a few youngsters too. One very slim attractive young man who had the most fluid body movement I have every witnessed. He danced with several the elderly women – to their great obvious pleasure. Again, I noticed a mixture of ethnicity and again it seemed to me at least that it mattered not a jot to the locals. Some of the tourists joined in the dancing too. It was a most delightful scene.
At the break, I moved to the back to get a drink and soon an attractive young lady tried to engage me in conversation. Not very successfully given my non-existent Spanish – her English was better – and my hearing is none too good in noisy places anyway. For a moment, I was flattered but then suspected that she and her friend were perhaps ladies of the night! I bought them both a drink and politely moved on!
Back at the boat I had to get the outboard off the dinghy and it hoisted up on the deck to comply with the local regulations. A bit of faff on my own. I need to construct a hoist of some sort. Of course, this morning I had to do it all again in reverse.
Into town again stopping off at the Barbers on the way for a $CUC 5 haircut – very consciously done. Then the State Telephone shop to try and get an Internet card. The previous evening I was told come back today. After queuing today – the same response! Yesterday I did by a couple of 1 hour cards from a black-market street vendor for $3CUC each. I think the state price is $1! I must look out for him again at this rate. I could send some WhatsApp messages home from the one and only state Wi-Fi hotspot in the town square last night as a result. I have one card left and hope that I am able to post this and my previous posts with it shortly. You will know if I succeed if the date of this post is the 20th. Which I have just remembered is my Brother Richard’s Birthday and other brother Andy’s is tomorrow. Happy Birthday both!
The town square is where it seems everyone goes to use the internet. In the evening especially it’s thronged with youngsters using their phones to get on-line.
I’ll be heading back to the boat to continue my chores later. I hope to take a bus to Trinidad later in the week. It’s 50 miles away and so will probably stay over-night given there are only two buses a day!
Well I wasn’t able to connect my lap top in the town square so I started the walk back to the marina. I stopped off for a so, so meal but very cheap, about £5 including a glass of wine and a desert. The main course was a sort of chicken stir-fry with vegetables. No complaints given the price. Then back to the boat to continue with the jobs. A reasonably productive afternoon. I succeeded in replacing the reefing pennants. To do so I had to use a spare halyard for reef 3-4, it was the only way I could find a long enough piece of rope of the right diameter. I finished up by 1730 and resolved to have a further go at getting on line to post the blogs. So, I went ashore and back to the Hotel I had called at earlier where I asked about Wi-Fi but got the response that they had no cards. It occurred to be that I might be able to use one of the ones I had acquired earlier. Sure, enough despite dire warnings about being hacked I was able to get on line and post these blog articles.
Next, I’m going to get dinner across the road. Tomorrow more jobs on the boat and then on Wednesday, perhaps a day trip to the town of Trinidad.

Apologies for the continued lack of photos.

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