So it's now almost been two weeks since I arrived in La Coruna. My work situation has kind of disintegrated, for a number of technical reasons I won't bore you with. This poses a minor problem to my plans, but alas, there is nothing I can do but keep pushing and searching for solutions. I'm really becoming quite aware about how easy it could be for me to stay here and not move for the winter, which is unnerving, so the search continues. At present, I literally can't afford to pay my way out of the marina (you pay on departure here, as opposed to day-by-day, which means you put yourself in a debt of sorts...), so until something comes out of the woodwork, I'm iced in. I like to think of myself as being a Shackleton of sorts, stuck not really by choice, but rather by extremities. My capture being pure economics, as opposed to a harsh icy climate though - The weather here is actually quite stunning. I was somewhat amazed to find an article on the web about my attempts at work, yet it was positive, and definitely a good advertisement for any future employers! It was also quite exciting that Tom and Tina Sjogren of Explorersweb Inc. took any interest at all in my predicament, they being the ultimate adventuring duo, and also hosts to one of the largest portals of genuine adventure and exploration. It's also been one of my favourite websites for a long time, from the days of sitting back and dreaming of far flung adventures.
Besides all my ongoing woes, I've certainly not been bored while living here - Several days ago the German schooner 'Johan Smidt' appeared overnight, with a crew of high school students and teachers, on a program called 'Die High Seas High School'. One of the English teachers noticed my ridiculously large Australian flag (it was all I could find over here!), and came over to talk - He was quite unexpectedly from Adelaide, Australia, and invited me over for a cooked lunch, and to do a talk about my voyage in English to the students.
I spoke about my voyage across from England to Holland, and they were all rather impressed I knew Johannes Erdmann, who had in fact sailed up to Vlissingen with me. I spoke about my lack of toilet facilities, and explained that two buckets consisted of the toilet, the bathtub, and the kitchen sink. They were rather amused to hear I thought their boat was a floating motel, and insisted on seeing my little ship that I was intending to sail home on. So we walked around to Constellation, at which point there were gasps of astonishment, as they climbed in and out of my little boat, which I had to explain should not be boarded by all of them at the same time, for fear of sinking her.
I'd only spent a tiny amount of time with the crew of this new arrival, but when throwing their lines off, I must admit I felt a little sad. It's always hard being the one who is left behind - It's far better to leave first...
It wasn't long after, that I met a local Mini-Transat (Classe Mini) sailor, who invited me out racing. I can sail a boat in one direction, but I can tell you now: I'm no racer! It was a fun experience, and I've always wanted to sail one of these crazy French pocket rockets. I think they are the 21st century answer to the Contessa 26 - In fact, I wouldn't be suprised if they had a similar length in the water. There was little wind, but you could really feel that these boats go amazingly fast, and crossing the Atlantic in them in the bi-annual race is one incredible feat. It was also interesting to be on a boat specifically designed for solo offshore racing. They are virtually unsinkable, with foam core added for buoancy, and have a number of important safety features, such as the transom escape hatch, and the ability to completely seal off the cabin. Demasted or similar, I think you could 'happily' curl up in your floating pod and survive quite nicely. I'd love to have unlimited funds and the aid of a naval architect to build the ultimate one-handed offshore cruising boat! The minitransat is a nice idea for racing, but for my own super-boat design, I'd lessen her beam, increase the length a little, and up the displacement, increase the weight and strength of the keel, yet keep all the safety and unsinkable traits - I would now like to be referred to as 'Nick Jaffe, RNA, PE'.
After my racing experience, I suprisingly found another Contessa 26 in the marina. Noticing the owner onboard, I found out via the son being a translator, that the boat was named 'Fantasia', and had in fact come from England, via the French canal system, the Med, and around the Cape of Good Hope, right back up to Alicante! Who the skipper was, I have no idea, but if you know, please mail or leave a comment, I'd be most interested. I've been invited to lunch tomorrow by the owner, which I'm looking forward to.
So, while I've had a lot to do in La Coruna, none of it really solves my immediate problem of be stuck in an economic ice berg. I've tried to motivate myself by reading the adventures of Shane Acton, aboard Super Shrimpy, the 18ft plywood boat which he sailed around the world on with less money than I, but alas, it's neither made me any money, nor inspired any further 'southing.
What comes next, I'm not really sure. But one thing is for certain, I need to learn Spanish!