Karma Chameleon.

Silves emerges on the big dinghy safari.

14th January 2021

Portimão Marina, Portugal

Boy George sung of the Karma Chameleon. At first glance this could be a song about a cute little reptile who can change his colour between red, gold and green. On closer inspection however it could be interpreted as a sad song about alienation and rejection. In the world of Ruffian however we like to think its title is all about change and making the world a better place.

With change in mind, it was all change on Ruffian. The stark white and worn decks were slowly being transformed to a smart new grey, the pleasant painting temperatures had been changed by a bitter northerly wind, and Fiona’s attire had changed to that of a manual worker, battling the cold, at the end of a near endless job while knowing the end of one job just means the start of another.

We mixed up a super-sized batch of paint to get to the end of the painting and cracked on in the cold. As the deck was slowly transformed our joints complained and ached after hunching over the deck and having to push the increasingly thick paint around with increasing stiff brushes. After hours we’d made the change upstairs and Fiona had changed from a warm happy camper to an unhappy frozen one.

At the end of the day Fiona was so cold that she crawled under a blanket still reluctant to lose either her jumpers or hat. The blanket just wasn’t up to the job and quickly she realised that a good addition to the normal blanket would be an electric one. Now slowly warming up she then sought out the electric radiator which was perfect fit under her knees and was at last happy with her jumper, hat, blanket, electric blanket, radiator combination.

Strolling the evening streets around Portimão we continued the theme of the Karma Chameleon and were about to significantly increase our karma quotient. We spied a disabled lady whose electric wheelchair had taken a turn for the worse, and was precariously balancing on 3 wheels; as there is no AA or RAC roadside recovery for wheelchairs we swung into action.

After transferring Joy into a chair borrowed from a nearby bar, Iain contemplated complicated solutions involving boat tools and boat spares. Fiona on the other hand spoke to Joy obtained the tools and, quick as a flash, the wheel was reattached, the chair stabilised and Joy remounted her steed. Relief flowed over her as she scooted her way home and we felt we’d just made the world a slightly better place to be in.

Change was in the air once again as the sun filled the skies, banished the clouds and made everything sparkle. Taking full advantage of this Callista and the Ruffians were once again going embark on one of their epic walks. The Algarve coast lay in front of us and once again every perfect beach was fringed by cliffs and every perfect view was framed by blues, whites and yellows. After miles and miles of this we happened upon the most perfect beach of all.

This beach, like all the others was lapped by perfectly clear water, like all the others the sand was soft and warm, like all the others cliffs towered above us catching the warmth from the sun and providing an amazing backdrop, and like all the others caves, stacks and arches were everywhere we looked. What made this beach perfect was the sole ice cream vendor selling ice creams to the sole inhabitants, us, and not only did he sell ice creams he also had radioactively green ice lollies to boot.*

In a final instalment the Karma Chameleon came with us to Asterie, an HR 43 we first met back in Falmouth. For months they’d had a scary problem where their shaft simply falls off the back of their gearbox. Both Dave and Iain were convinced the answer to this problem was simply doing up some nuts, a little threadlock and general brute force.

The challenge to this solution was that we couldn’t see the nuts, couldn’t easily reach the nuts, there was nowhere to balance the spanners and even with the spanners in place Dave, with his tiny T-rex arms (his words) couldn’t reach them. We turned the engine room into an operating theatre with an endoscope pointing at the gearbox, Dave using the endoscope screen to direct Iain, and then Iain applying brute force with his normal sized arms. After 4 hours we felt like surgeons having completed a complicated operation, but in reality, all we’d done was tighten 8 nuts, we did however once again top up our Karma quotient.

Changes haven’t just been happening on Ruffian, there have been rumours about big changes happening in Portugal. There has been talk of lockdowns, movement restrictions, business closures and more social distancing. Fingers crossed we’ll be able to use our good Karma to minimise the impact of Covid-19 and the changes to Ruffians life.

* Any guesses who went for the run of the mill vanilla ice cream and who went for the E number positive ice lolly.

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Author: Iain & Fiona Lewis

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