Muffler problem and Christmas on Gran Canary Island

December 19th to December 23rd This time was all about the muffler and firstly removing it from the stack. This took a bit of doing as it is such a small cavity to try and manoeuvre a long exhaust pipe and then the muffler through. Of course the bolts were all rusted on very tight and even after numerous sprays with CRC they wouldn’t budge and had to be cut off.

December 24th Robbie and I went for a drive to the big mall while Mark and Jennifer rode their bikes into town to get the seafood for Christmas day. We thought we knew the way to the mall as Robbie and Mark had dropped Jennifer and I off there a couple of days ago. However, Mark was navigating with his phone then. Anyway we took a wrong turn and we ended up in the commercial port area. No problem says Robbie, I’ll do a quick U-turn here and I know where we went wrong. All of a sudden we heard a loud shout, and a Policia civil guy came out and called us back. He was very mean and stern and took Robbie’s licence, and questioned us severely about where we were staying and when we finally got through to him we were on our own boat he said “ This is not Venuezsuela, or Africa you know, this is SPAIN we are in Europe and you just can’t do what you want”!!! We of course were very apologetic as Robbie didn’t want to get arrested and he finally let us go. I said Merry Christmas to you and we got an off you go wave but no smile.

Eventually we got to the shopping mall and of course it was crazy. Once inside the mall you could have been anywhere in the world, the place was huge and 3 stories high, with a giant Carrefour supermarket on the 2nd floor. They are a French owned chain and usually have a great selection of good quality items and fresh food. We saw whole little piglets with their heads and feet still on in the meat case. Not so nice. We looked for a ham but there was nothing like it. They have legs of pork that still have the feet on them and they are smoked, they are not refrigerated and they are a strange yellow-green colour. We have seen them all over Spain and they go nuts over them, but we are not as enthusiastic! We will make do with our Turkey which thank goodness came without its head and feet.

Back to the boat and I made the stuffing and cooked the turkey, Jennifer and Mark made a green bean casserole with new potatoes and Jennifer tried out a bread mix which made a really beautiful loaf of bread. We put it all together and had a very enjoyable evening on Southern Star, followed by a game of 500 which Robbie and Jennifer won. We tried changing packs of cards but it didn’t matter what we did Mark and I just couldn’t win. The end tally was 5 games to 1. 

December 25th we started the day off by trying to skype and ring our families. Success with some and not others. We then cooked breakfast for Mark and Jennifer with Bacon, eggs and small pork sausages on the Bar-B-Q, baked beans, toast, and orange juice. We sat on the dock in our deck chairs. The wind was starting to pick up but it was very pleasant.

We went for a walk into town and the boys took the high road and Jennifer and I took the beach. There was not a lot of people around, but we did come across a naked man! We were able to drag ourselves away and met the boys up the top and then continued into town, where we found a restaurant and Robbie talked them into selling us a bottle of Mumm champagne that they were reluctant to sell at the start. We then walked back and we crashed and wanted to watch a Christmas movie, which we ended up watching Die Hard 1, which was not very Christmassy but it was OK.

Mark and Jennifer cooked a delicious seafood dinner of prawns on skewers, grilled on the Bar-B-Q, and Jennifer cooked the lobster in garlic, onion and butter and I made the Caesar salad. It was topped off by Jennifer’s Key Lime Pie which was absolutely beautiful.

I was a bit sad that we weren’t with our families and friends but we got really spoilt by Mark and Jennifer with presents, including books, 3 handmade bowls, a wallet and fishing lures for Robbie and we had the nicest Christmas day. We have a lot of making up to do!

December 26th: Christmas is over and it’s time to start cleaning. My first job was to polish the exhaust. It was black and ingrained and I spent an hour on it with elbow grease with very little result. Robbie was servicing all the engines, main, wing and the generator. I think he just wanted me out of the way! Anyway Mark saw what I was doing and next thing he had tools, sanding paper, ear muffs and special polishing blocks and before you knew it Robbie was out there too and 5 hours later the exhaust looked like new!



December 27th: Robbie had been busy with maintenance items in the engine room and then assisted Mark repairing his stainless steel using our duck, and my mission was cleaning the boat and trying to keep the decks clean from the dust, apparently it comes from the African desert and is quite often corrosive as it’s from mines. I would have to agree with this as there was some corrosion on the fly bridge Bimini stainless steel which I managed to get off. The boat was in a mess as I was cleaning the engine room carpets and I looked very unglamorous in my cleaning get up and then there’s a gorgeous swimsuit model with her sister and photographer and can they come aboard Southern Star to take some shots. I explained the boat was in a bit of a mess but they were dead keen so of course I said yes. At this stage the model was in Jeans but they went up on to the bow and next minute when I walked around she was in a g string and then changed to a swimsuit. I thought Mark and Robbie would have been right there but they weren’t really interested and at that stage they were cleaning our duck just take a couple of photos they said. So I did, then they moved up to the fly bridge and she was lying over the instruments panel. They were thrilled and very appreciative that we allowed them on board.

We tidied up showered and headed out for dinner to one of the local restaurants. We had an Octopus starter which looked and tasted amazing. 

December 28th: Today was non eventful and more cleaning and some planning of a schedule for the Caribbean, which is still up in the air. It’s one of the things we have to sit down all four of us and try and figure out a time line. We are hoping to get some visitors come and see us and we need to try and figure out where we will be and when. This is really difficult for us. For example things like the muffler occur and that means you are stuck until its repaired, (we had the problem with the alternator in Mykonos when Barb and Jeff were with us) then there’s the weather factor – that can cause a delay of a week and then there’s the “we really like this place where we are – and want to stay longer”. So all in all there’s a number of things that make forward planning very difficult.


December 29th: Today we designated as our “sightseeing day” We have now been on Grand Canary Island for 12 days, we are not sure where this time has gone, it’s just flown by. We all jumped in the car, Mark is navigator and our first stop was the botanical gardens. We ambled around the stunning gardens which are 27 acres and set in a small valley with stunning gardens, ponds with turtles, cliffs and waterfalls.

We even saw caterpillars and Monarch butterflies, haven’t seen this since I was a kid in Blenheim, NZ.

We found a great winery for lunch set up on a hill amidst the very dry, scraggly grape vines. We then drove a short distance to Pico De Bandama a lookout with stunning views to the coast.

We drove 40 kilometres to Roque means Rock in the Clouds, it is a volcanic rock 262 ft. tall, and its top is 1,813 m (5,948 ft.) above sea level. It was formed by a volcanic eruption around 4.5 million years ago. For the indigenous people of Gran Canaria, the Roque was a holy monument and a pillar of heaven. It served them as a ritual place to sacrifice to the sun-god. (Credit to Jennifer for the info!)

We had stunning views over to the ocean, including Las Palmas. Back to the boat for a quiet night and another die hard movie.

December 30th: the memorable thing about today was me losing my EFTPOS card in the ATM machine. Jennifer and I walked to the nearby Superdino supermarket and I was supposed to draw some cash out so we could pay the muffler guy tomorrow morning. We found an ATM, I put my card in and it sucked it in like normal but nothing happened. Then I realised I had put it in the wrong hole. Shisen Housen!! The bank was shut already but there was a guy in there at his desk on the phone. We looked pretty gutted I guess and after a few minutes he came out and told us to come back the next morning at 10am. Luckily after our problems in Thailand with card failure we now have our visa card and a separate debit card. We carried onto the super market, did our shopping and if we spent over 60 euro they deliver to the boat free, so we decided to do that rather than get a taxi back. We took the frozen/fridge stuff with us.

Jennifer’s groceries arrived a couple of hours later, she gave the two boys a tip and it was so funny they literally ran to the little mini market attached to the fuel dock and brought chocolate buns. I walked up there to see where my groceries where but they didn’t have them. Oh great I thought they’ve disappeared but they eventually turned up about 2 hours later.

We all had a game of 500 and dinner on Southern Star. Mark and Jennifer have now downloaded 500 on their phones – Mark made a very generous gift of the “Samstung” to Jennifer so she can play too. Funny though, she says it only displays 7 cards instead of 10, wonder why that is???? (LOL)


December 31st: We had to set the alarm to get up at 7am so Robbie could be at the muffler place to collect the muffler at 8am. It’s so good having Mark and Jennifer to help us. Mark goes with Robbie and so does the navigating – that saves me a lot of stress thanks Mark! The boys didn’t take long to arrive back with the beautiful new muffler, certainly a different picture than the old one! Unfortunately the bolts Robbie had already brought weren’t long enough because the new flanges were a lot thicker, so they made another quick run to buy longer bolts and then the fun began in ernest. The difficulty was to insert the muffler through a hole in the back of the fibreglass stack. They had to firstly tie it up with rope using the 5:1 pulley block and the crane to lift the muffler and then manoeuvre it into the small space. Then they had to rebolt the mounts to the fiberglass floor, align it to the existing flange on the exhaust pipe coming from the engine. Then they had to wrap the special insulation lining and cover around it. Then they had to repeat the process with the top part of the exhaust through the very small top hole of the stack.

Jennifer and I walked to the bank to retrieve my EFTPOS card from the bank. Whew that was a relief. We noticed that they have now put tape over the hole! We walked into the town and checked out the big markets. Great stalls with lots of fresh produce, meat and seafood. We decided it was too hard and a bit too early to start our main provisioning so we continued onto El Corte Engles the department store that has a great supermarket also. The only things I couldn’t get were cheese sauce and gravy mixes which isn’t a big drama just means I will have to make it myself.

It took all day to finish the muffler and at the end of it there was a lot of smiles and relief. Then the clean-up job began. Mark left to commence his list of chores on Starlet and Robbie and I started cleaning. There was a lot of soot and black marks all over the boat but especially a lot on the boat deck.

We finished cleaning around 6:30pm and the boys had a well-earned cold beer before we showered and changed and got ready to go out. We had a bottle of French Champagne on Starlet and then walked to find a restaurant. It was around 8.45 pm by then which is actually early for Spanish people. We found a great Japanese restaurant and were the first customers of the night. The food was fantastic, the staff were great and they gave us a gift each of the nice beer glasses.

Back to the boat and Jennifer still had lots of energy to dance on the bow of Starlet!


2016 January 1st: Happy new year! It was a hard slog waking up to depart Las Palmas at 6:00am like we were supposed to. Well we got underway at 6:45am and I did have a hangover. As soon as we got out of the marina there was a large gentle swell which was OK. However it really chopped up as we followed the tip of the island around and although it wasn’t too uncomfortable my stomach didn’t feel happy! Both Robbie and I managed to get a bit of sleep (separately of course) and not far from Tenerife Mark called us on the VHF to say they had spotted whales. There were a pod of about 10 whales, they were just swimming along in a close formation. It was hard to get a decent photo, and we are not sure what sort of whales they were but they weren’t jumping out of the water or tail slapping. It was a lovely start to the New Year and I’m sure it’s a good omen!

We arrived into Marina Santa Cruz at 4:15pm and are berthed behind Starlet alongside the dock which is great. Much easier for us than a stern tie berth. We took a walk along the boardwalk there were lots of people out walking their dogs, skating and walking off the New Year/Christmas excesses!


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