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August 3, 2004

Seagull Pie

At the weekend we took the dinghy over to Isla Conejera with Sanna, one of Cyberdog's designers. The island, which lies about 10km west of San Antonio, is uninhabited apart from some endangered black lizards and the occasional drunken yachtie. Every day here the temperature is over 30c now, so after a hot walk across the island up to the lighthouse, Carita was bright red from the heat and we were dying for a swim, but the view was worth it. At the top of the hill, in a clearing, however, we came across a large, fairly fresh pile of seagull feathers stacked on the grass, and further on we found some large bones which had been cut through with something big and heavy rather than chewed the way you would expect an animal to do.

Not many people go to the more isolated parts of Ibiza, but occasionally if you do, you'll come across someone living in a cave who's (taken way too many drugs and) gone back to nature, surviving off whatever he can catch. But whatever it is we probably won't be going back there for the sunset.

August 5, 2004

Email Problems

My email's been up and down over the last few days due to some teething problems with the new server which seem to be sorted now. If you've emailed recently, there's a chance I may not have received it so please send it to me again.

August 11, 2004

Carita's Birthday

It was Carita's birthday at the weekend (22 now, so she's getting a bit past it) as well as being a year since we met so after having a bottle of champagne at sunset we went out for a lovely meal to Vaca Argentina, which serves the best steak in Ibiza (flown in fresh from South America). Being unable to stay away from work for a whole day, we then went around and had a drink with Carita's work chums before going out to Es Paradis with Sanna.

Es Paradis, one of the big clubs in San Antonio, is white and bright inside, with a dance floor surrounded by fake Greek pillars that worryingly took me back to Century 2000, a club in Edinburgh in the early 90's which has since been renovated several times. It was incredibly empty as well, so after a very expensive beer we took the dinghy back to the boat and continued drinking there.

August 15, 2004

Big Brother Awards

Privacy International's have announced their Big Brother Awards for UK government organisations and companies doing the most to invade personal privacy. The winners include the Department of Transport for their EVI (electronic vehicle identification) programme in which cars will report their location and traffic offences including speeding back to their centre instantly, the Office of National Statistics for their Citizen Information Project, and British Gas.

Lloyds TSB won a runner-up prize for threatening to close customer's bank accounts unless they reported to the bank with photographic ID to prove their identity. But who can blame them with so many terrorists around?

August 16, 2004

Ibiza Assassination

Things were livened up in quiet Sant Josep on Ibiza last week when two men wearing ski masks machine gunned a man sitting in front of a restaurant dead. Most of the shots missed him, but he wasn't lucky enough to dodge them all.

I don't believe I'm linking to this as it's the worst English newspaper I've ever seen and reading it makes me cringe, but I can only find the story in The Ibiza Sun, a free local paper run by an old British couple. As they report, there was "general consternation & confusion after the event" and the victim was "supposedly involved in certain supposedly criminal activities involving cars & drugs". Allegedly.

August 18, 2004

Guestlist

We've had one of Carita's friends, Otto, and his chum, Janne staying with us onboard lately. This pic and this might give you an idea of how that was.

August 19, 2004

Outboard Problems

Last night the outboard didn't sound right so I took a look at it and discovered that the main swivel post that the steering connects to had broken. Bugger. With Colin coming down in a couple of days and us planning to go off sailing, I worked stripping it down until 01:00 then went off in search of a Mercury dealer first thing this morning.

Naturally, they don't have the part (which costs a ridiculous 400 euros) in stock. Unfortunately, neither does the Mercury importer in Madrid. How long might it take for them to get hold of it then? Maybe October. Maybe never. Most probably never. So I've spent a reasonably pissed off day trying to source one from other countries. Later I spoke to one of our friends who has a watersports business here and told him about it. "Of course", he replied. "That's normal, we always get our parts from Holland or Germany."

August 20, 2004

New Photo Systems

A few weeks ago the power button fell off my trusty Fuji camera. After reading lots of reviews for a replacement I ended up with Canon's Powershot S60 and the Sony W1 (or W12 as they call the black version for some reason) on my shortlist. Canon, with their long experience in making cameras have endowed the S60 with several functions like exposure bracketing and a nice 28mm (equiv) lens. The Sony on the other hand is just a bit more advanced on the electronics side with a lovely big, sunlight readable display, faster transfer, and much better video recording. All the reviews said the picture quality on both was very good. It was a long, hard choice but finally I opted for the Sony and I'm very happy with it.

Here are some of the shots I've taken recently with it;
Ibiza photos

I'm using a new system for uploading and displaying them on the site called Gallery which links nicely into iPhoto using the iPhotoToGallery plug-in. I now just have to select the photos I want in iPhoto on the Mac, click export, and it resizes them and uploads them to the site. Most of these shots aren't Photoshopped at all but the colour balance is much better on this camera so they need fewer adjustments. Previously, photoshopping and uploading a set of photos would take about six hours work and I'm so far behind uploading photos from trips I've made that I need a faster system. Gallery also lets you choose the size of image you would like to view and watch a slideshow of the shots as well as some other features. Any problems or comments using it appreciated.

August 28, 2004

Environmental Driving

Colin's been here for the last week and I've been having too much fun to get a chance to do any updates in that time. He flew into Ibiza last Saturday and we borrowed a car to collect him from the airport. Although I was told there was hardly any fuel in the tank it was just showing reserve so I wasn't in any rush to put petrol in and most of the service stations had big queues as it was Saturday morning. Bizarrely, the indicator didn't seem to be moving though, and it was still showing some reserve when the tank ran dry and the engine cut out in the middle of the island. Luckily, however, we were going downhill at the time and momentum kept the car moving. It began to crawl as we climbed the next hill, pissing off all the cars behind us, and it looked as if we were going to be stranded in the middle of nowhere, but just as it was about to stop we reached the next crest, gathered some speed, and freewheeled down. This went on for about 5km until, amazingly, we freewheeled into San Antonio, around the traffic system, across the road, and came to a stop on the garage forecourt next to the petrol pump!

Some photos from our partying in Ibiza are here.

August 30, 2004

Mercury Corrosion

Unable to find the part I needed for the outboard engine in Spain, I called a Mercury dealer in Glasgow to find out if they could get it for me in time for Colin to bring down with him. In complete contrast to the experience I'd had with the Ibiza dealers, the guy there knew exactly what I was talking about and told me off the top of his head that he thought he had a used one lying around somewhere. He had a hunt around and when I called him back later that day he told me that he had it. Unbelievable. Colin then agreed to collect it, only to find out that their workshop, which had been very close to his flat was now far outside of the city. Still, he endured massive upheaval and personal risk to retrieve it, and brought it down to Ibiza with him.

After increasingly frustrated attempts over the following 5 days to remove the final two bolts from the broken part of the outboard, I finally gave up and handed it over to someone else. One of my friends here put me in touch with Frank, a mechanic who, remarkably for high season, collected it the following morning and called me in the afternoon to say he'd done it. Although Mercury make great outboards for fresh water, they don't survive so well when you add salt to the equation and are apparently plagued by corrosion problems. All the different metals soon corrode and the stainless bolts had fused with the alloy mount so that the entire engine had to be disassembled in order to drill through the bolts in two different places. Apparently, Yamaha outboards don't have these corrosion problems and are also easier to dismantle - something I'll bear in mind when I next go engine shopping.

I'd planned to put the engine back together myself, but seeing it in so many parts I decided just to leave it to him, and, a couple of hours later we had a fully working engine again, which we test ran to the bar.

August 31, 2004

Shitty Job

Just before Colin left, the toilet got blocked. And it was me who did it after a particularly virulent night of drinking. I was tempted to ignore it until my hangover went away but knew leaving it festering in the heat wouldn't make the job any easier so I stripped off and started taking it apart to find the blockage. Even with my past experience of toilet maintenance this was a classic, the smell almost making Colin, myself and the dog throw up, but once the initial shock of being covered in shit wears off it can actually become quite interesting.

So in case you too find it interesting, here's a picture of Lavac toilet maintenance in mid-flow, so to speak. Go on, you know you want to...