A visitor, a birthday and a goodbye

20 to 27 September 2020

Three weeks in Almerimar somehow turned into four. Life on Pontoon 2 developed an all too easy rhythm. A couple of big blows from the west were an excuse to stay a bit longer but really we were just content in our little Dutch bubble.

Only over the weeks we had upped the British contingent of our bubble by the inclusion of our neighbours, the wonderful sailing family Pickle! Theirs is a pretty inspirational story which started with a near death bed decision to sail the world. You can follow their next chapters from zero sailing experience, to doing up their boat SV Pickle and sailing her down to the Med on their YouTube channel. Knowing that the wonders of the Mediterranean await them made us slightly envious that we were heading West.

Children Beau and Bear have the makings of expert boat kids, helping out with boat jobs and with a wide eyed wonder for the world. They fast became pontoon playmates for Jasper, thereby sparing Stefan from more games of tikkie than his dodgy ankle could handle. Language proved no barrier to firm friendships being made and toys shared.

In true cruiser neighbourly spirit we shared stories of our sailing experiences as well as books and tools with Pickle’s grown ups, Nicky and Chris. We were able to exchange Stefan’s windlass troubleshooting skills for Nicky’s splicing ability. She made very short work of redoing the splice between our anchor chain and line which had been done (very badly) for us back in Turkey. Thank you, Nicky! We will think of you every time we see that splice.

Two events raised the excitement levels on the pontoon in our fourth week in Almerimar. Whilst swimming off the beach nearly every day we had encountered some small jellyfish – Jasper and Bear had even had a couple of stings from them – but nothing like the visitor we had around Pintail.

Alerted by a shout from Bear everyone around gathered to see a huge, white and frilly jellyfish swimming around the boat. And it really was enormous – probably 3 metres long from the tip of its white squishy head to the end of its brown tentacles. We watched it for a while as it swam under the boat and out the other side but couldn’t identify what type of jellyfish it was or whether those tentacles would sting. Whatever it was, none of us fancied swimming with it!

The next day we caused another rumpas on the pontoon when a crowd gathered to wish me a happy birthday complete with flaming candle and song!

We celebrated with a coffee morning fueled by my fantastic new coffee machine and some no bake chocolate cake that sent not just the kids into a sugar frenzy!

Jasper provided not only a perfectly pronounced “happy birthday” in English and some beautifully cut, stuck and coloured birthday bunting but also a present opening service. My fan from Annemieke and Steve was suitably Spanish and the perfect gift for a woman of a certain age. And just to be clear, Steve, that age is definitely not 60!!

A birthday dip in the sea was definitely on the agenda although the water was getting colder by the day. We were all grateful not to see our friend, the jellyfish.

My celebrations were all wrapped up with a wonderful fish dinner at El Tunel. Thank you everyone for making my day so special. Your birthday hugs more than made up for those I missed from family and friends back home.

Celebrations over, we really needed to think about leaving. Our jobs were all done and we had already stayed much longer than we had planned. But the weather conspired to keep us in Almerimar a little while longer and we sat out another couple of days of strong westerlies. We had got comfortable and felt happy surrounded by friends. It would have been so easy to stay.

Oda and Onno were the first to cut the cord and decide to take a light weather window to get to Fuengirola to visit some friends. We considered heading off with them but ultimately decided to stay for one last weekend and catch up with them in a few days.

As we said “fair winds“, we weren’t certain when or where we would see them again but as Off Course disappeared from sight we are sure we heard Jasper’s familiar call echo out on the pontoon,

“Pak me dan, als ja kan!”

(Catch me if you can!)

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