Our overnight to Barcelona was very relaxed. With only 110 miles and plenty of time, we set off with a speed requirement so modest that the engine was run at about 1500 revs to arrive on the fuel dock around 9am. This is where our problems started……………

Filling the tanks with diesel, I took care not to spill any but filled both tanks to the top. Once we had moored on our berth in the new ‘One Ocean Port Vell’, we opened the Air Conditioning sea cocks and started the systems to combat the stifling heat. It was then that it became clear that, somehow, diesel had spilled inside the boat as the smell from the circulating air was appalling. Efforts to clear the diesel, which was evident in the bilge, consumed the days leading up to my wife and son’s arrival and was only partially successful. The bilge was flushed using toilet duck and left with cut up onions placed strategically all in an effort to overcome the smell. Paula and Ollie very kindly played down the pungency but I was acutely aware of the continuing presence. It was quite clear that this issue had to be addressed before any more plans are finalised for extended adventuring and the port side tank would have to be examined/removed and the source of the ingress established. Looking back, there has always been something of a diesel smell about the boat, ever since the tanks were replaced by Northshore and they managed to flood the bilge with diesel having failed to tighten the drain plug on the port side diesel tank.

We had been based with our previous yacht in Marina Port Vell for 12 years from 2000 until our eviction (so they could build the new up-market marina) so, knowing the city well and not having visited for 6 years, it was fascinating to see the changes. The marina is now focussed on superyachts and is very swanky incorporating a gym and spa with very polite and efficient staff. There are only a couple of docks for yachts of our size and these are all at the inner end, next to the bars and restaurants so, tranquil it is not but central it is! Barcelona is fundamentally the same, a great city and we have enjoyed long walks exploring our old haunts. More roads are pedestrianised and there are infinitely more bicycles around (many electric) with bike hire shops everywhere. The Fastnet bar is still going strong and I managed to meet up and have a beer with some of the old cronies who have mostly decamped to Puerto Olympico just up the coast.

I now have an awful tale of woe which has prompted this confessional. Returning from a long walk with Paula, I was aware that the port side water tank needed filling. The water pressure in the new marina is phenomenally high and it is difficult to keep the hose in the filler so, to prevent it lifting out and flying around like a demented snake, I wedged it in – big mistake !!! I first knew something was wrong when there was a spray of water and a rainbow at the transom as the overflow vented then a huge bang followed by another. The pressure in the tank from the hose was too much for the welds on the HDPE plastic tank and the tank was splitting apart at the seams – literally !

Pumping water from the bilge it is difficult to see any ‘up-side’ to this situation and, of course there really isn’t one but, it is important to stay positive and try. So, here goes – I was intending to ‘open up’ the port side saloon to address the diesel tank problems and the port side water tank is adjacent so it should be reasonably accessible. TekTanks who manufacture the HDPE tanks have all the records and templates and can make a replacement within a month. I have another 250 litres of water in the Starboard tank so it doesn’t stop me sailing. The replacement will have better connections as Northshore used a method not recommended by TechTanks – I’m beginning to struggle now – I will have the knowledge that all the pipe connections will be securely made and – I will have learned a very important, if expensive lesson !

I am now exhausted having ‘got that off my chest’ and not sure I have the energy to walk to the Fastnet to watch England in the semi-final of the World Cup – now that IS a lie.