We leave Lemnos at dawn and head towards Kira Panagia, a remote and uninhabited island (with no internet!!) The anchorage has a narrow entrance (80m) and opens up in to a Y-shaped bay. Apparently in a northerly it can be fun surfing into the bay and likewise hard getting out! We try the western side but that has too many big brown jelly blubbers so we head to the eastern end. The pilot book says "If you want peace and solitude, this is the place to come..." And lots of charter boats have certainly taken that advice, completely spoiling the peace and solitude!
Tonight we experience what is known as the “pyjama dance”. A midnight thunderstorm storm (fortunately only 15kts of wind) and everyone is up on deck in their pyjamas checking their anchors, bringing in the washing and cushions. A big motor yacht with professional crew who decided plonk himself in the middle of everyone is also out re-adjusting everything. Fortunately they ended up further away from us, and kept an anchor watch so we could eventually get back to sleep.
We get away early again and make it out of the narrow entrance out of Kira Panagia. Up goes the main and genoa and we are initially making good speeds, however the wind eases and goes behind us. We goose-wing for a while and also use the gennaker but the breeze is eventually too light and as we get close to our destination the engines have to go on. It’s very choppy and the main is driving us mad. We get around the corner down the western side of Skopelos and get a bit more motor sailing in before dropping the main. Sadly there is no room in Loutraki Harbour to anchor or moor and it doesn’t look so nice anyway. We decide to head across to a small island between Skopelos and Skiathos to review plans - conditions are perfect to unfurl the gennaker, but then - Bang! Gennaker comes partway down. The halyard casing shredded and the sail is stuck halfway down. Impossible to furl it now. And this is the new Dynalite halyard we put in at Leros - Great!. It was very challenging to get it onto the boat and Keith got a whack in the head with the tension rope in the process. I held the boat just off head-to-wind to allow the sail to blow onto the boat, holding it against the boom, as bits of shredded halyard casing blew back towards me. We were unable to save the halyard so had to cut it and lose it completely. Bugger - that put a dampener on things. To add insult to injury there was no space in the small island anchorage so we continued on to the beach just south of Skiathos harbour, called Megali Ammos. We pack up, have lunch and rest up before taking the RIB ashore to walk around the town. Its a very pretty but touristy little town. We walk up to the church and clocktower at the top of the hill. The anchorage is a bit noisy during the day but it gets quiet and calm night and we have a great sleep.
Looks like the breeze is going to be blowing in the direction we want to go. Yee ha, I smell a kite run! No hurry of course, (its not a race...) as we dont have that far to go by our standards, so go and anchor off Komi Beach for breakfast. This is apparently one of the top 10 beaches in Europe/Greece/Skiathos (I forget which...) It has a lagoon behind it, crystal clear water and also lovely white sand, but there are deckchairs and umbrellas cheek to jowl. We take a walk along the beach and get away about 11am and get set up for the kite. Had a great run for about 4 hrs before the breeze dies. We enter the Evia canal and try to find an anchorage for the night but not much luck. We then finally make contact with the Chalki port authorities about the Old Euripus drawbridge opening times and sadly discover that if we don’t go through tonight it would be Monday night before we can! It's now 4pm on Friday, we dont have a great anchorage for the night (let alone 3 nights) and we are still about 30+nm away! So we hot foot it to Chalki on both Volvos and make it at 10:30pm, burning a fair bit of diesel. We head for the town quay, which is heaving with restaurants, loud music and people everywhere. There are some large bollards on the quay but the people milling around are more intent on their ice cream cones than taking a line! Keith brings the stern in expertly (as usual) so I casually lasso a bollard, (surprising even myself!) cleat off the line and step nonchalantly ashore, boat papers in hand, to go in search of the ticket office. Apparently I got a small round of applause from my audience, and yes the ticket office was definitely closed, not even a security guard to bribe! I got on the phone and managed to convince the Port Authority to let us through the bridge even though we haven’t paid. We promise to come by in the morning to give them some money before we leave. The bridge opens just after midnight, on the slack tide, retracting underneath the road revealing a narrow entrance. We watched nervously as the northbound boats emerged, and then one by one the southbound boats started being called through. Finally we hear ITIKI called and gunned it in case they changed their minds - its a relief to get through around 12:30am and anchor in the south bay, quite exhausted. Not quite the day we had planned!
We get up late-ish by our standards and head over to the town of Chalkis. Up on the hill on the mainland side (we are very close to Athens!) there is Karababa's Castle where we get a glimpse of some of the rich history of this town. The Ottomans had dominated at one stage, fortifying the castle against the Venetians, and many of the relics are on display in the castle. We walk across the Old Euripus drawbridge that we passed through last night and manage to find someone at the (still closed) ticket office, who has limited English but an uncle living in Sydney, so we can pay our bill and be on our way. A quick grocery stop and then a visit by the fuel tanker to replenish what we burned last night, and we are off again. We motor under the new “high” bridge, past the derelict factory and further into the Evia canal. We hoist the main and unfurl the genoa but the breeze builds and we are soon reefing, then of course the breeze drops and the reef comes out, and of course it promptly builds again and reef goes back in. It continues to build and we reefed the genoa and then furled it putting a 2nd reef in the main. One motor goes on to help us punch through the chop. We have seen gusts of up to 32+kts and it builds as we get closer to land. There have been fires in Evia and we can see some smoke in the distance. Next thing there are water bombers passing overhead, picking up water in the bay nearby. In this kind of pressure that is no mean feat! We round the corner to our chosen anchorage but there is not too much relief from the Meltemi yet. Here is where the 'Elvis' skycrane helicopters are picking up water. There are at least 3 of them coming in quick succession, an amazing sight. We end up anchoring off a small beach club at Agiou Dimitriou. Holding is good but still subject to gusts. We end up spending a couple of nights here to catch our breath and enjoy drinks at the beach club, a RIB tour of the bay and watching the Elvises (or is it Elvii?) refill.
The wind looks like it has backed off a bit and is sort of ok-ish so we decide to take a small hop south to another “protected” anchorage to make tomorrow's planned journey to Andros a little shorter. We hoist the main with 1 reef and furl the headsail to 2nd reef. Needless to say the gusts were 10kts stronger than predicted and they don't seem to have any gaps between them, so they are not really gusts. We realise we haven’t been adding enough VAT to the forecasts! We saw up to 35 kts (just as we dropped the main of course) but at least it was a quick trip down and I didn't burn the bread I started making. Thanks to the extra batten cars (to stop the main from billowing on hoist/drop) and the 10mm Dynalite halyard, we can drop the main very quickly! The anchorage here (Elafolimano) is great holding but not the least bit protected from the strong winds. There was one other mono already anchored here, but the brave soul has already left by the time we get settled. Only hope he is going south and has a strong stomach! Yes he was French.
It is here, looking at the forecast yet again, that we finally have an epiphany. Yes we have a window to get to Andros, where we might have to wait for another window to get to Tinos and onto Delos, from where we can visit Mykonos ie racing from one protected anchorage to another, getting belted in between and not having time to see anything when we get there. Or we can concede defeat to the Meltemi and go south. The Meltemi has just about blown itself out by the time it reaches the southern Aegean. We are so over having it dictate where we go and what we see and do that we decide to avoid Andros, detour by Delos and miss Mykonos to go to straight to Milos.
Well normally we do our passage planning based on 6kts boat speed. If we are sailing and we fall well below that, especially if it means getting in somewhere after dark, the engines go on. Motoring long distances normally puts us in a bad mood, but after a little bit of sailing initially we more or less motored most of the 89nm in light airs. Knowing we did not have to fight the Meltemi anymore meant we didnt mind this quite so much! In fact you could not wipe the smiles from our faces. Yes we missed a few islands we will never come back to, but the relief is palpable. Arriving into Adamantus (don’t you love that they named the town after an ‘80s one hit wonder?!) was such a joy. We feel like a weight has lifted off our shoulders! Its marvellous what a difference Milos makes....
Plans and realities
In the 20 months since we left ITIKI in October 2019 there have been so many plans that we have lost track. We lost a whole season that we had planned to split between Greece and Turkey (Plan A), avoiding the dreaded Meltemi season in July/August. Then there were the plans in case we got back late in season 2020 (B, C, D etc), which we didn’t. Finally, we settled on a plan for when we actually got back in July and launched in August 2021. Who would have thought we would once again find ourselves in Aegean Greece in the middle of Meltemi season - but rather be here than in Prison Australia. We are keen/determined to go some way north in defiance of the prevailing winds. It seems like the most interesting stuff is up there, and we can’t leave it unexplored. Lesvos and Limnos are both islands we really do want to visit as are Delos and Mykonos. We aim to be in Gibraltar mid-October so and there is a long way to go to get there. The Corinth Canal, which provides a short cut through to the Ionian sea, is closed due to a landslide so it’s around the Peloponnesus again for us – adding a few extra days. We hope to meet up with Team Argonauts (Rob and Kylie in their FP Saona) in the Ionian before we skip across to Sicily and into the Aeolian islands, trip up the east coast of Sardinia, The Maddalenas and then across the Balearics - Menorca and down the west Coast of Mallorca. With the demise of our AGM batteries our plans to upgrade the inverter in Gibraltar have now evolved into a “major” – the conversion to Lithium – so it looks like we will be there for a couple of weeks.
Missing our Mojo
Looking back over our first couple of weeks in the water, it has taken us a while to get back into the rhythm of cruising. We didn’t expect that, but we probably should have after 20 months off. Planning where to go and what to do has been complicated by the need to dodge the northerlies, find appropriate anchorages, find a place to get our gas bottle filled, ongoing set up of the boat and sorting out the odd teething problem. All the time keeping an eye on our timetable to get out of Greece and continue good progress west - we ended up doing 18 islands and just under 1000nm before exiting! Initially we felt like we were always in a hurry to get somewhere else, with no time to appreciate where we were - and it was causing a great deal of stress. Once we made the decision to head south and get away from the Meltemi it was a weight lifted off our shoulders and we seemed to click back into our former routine. Sometimes what you think you want to do or think you should do because “you just can’t miss <insert name of someone’s favourite Greek island here>” just doesn’t really feel right. We finally realise that we are on a delivery run, with a bit of time to enjoy ourselves along the way – not a relaxed cruising season where we have all the time in the world. Anyway I am getting ahead of myself. Here are a few highlights from the northern Aegean.
Highlights of the north
From Leros we moved to Lipsi and the Arki, aiming to head north to Chios for the gas bottle refill – having no idea how much gas we had left in the remaining bottle, this was a bit of a concern for us. It was only meant be blowing 12kts from the north so it should be ok, right? Wrong! Well the breeze was ok but we are banging into short chop so we make a detour to Marathokampos on the south coast of Samos. This was actually a bonus as it’s a really lovely, laid back little coastal town with a penchant for murals - we decide to stay a couple of days, hire a car and explore the island. We are staying on the “town quay” – a half finished marina with dodgy electricity but no charge. Samos is really mountainous in the middle (like most Aegean islands) with steep descents down to coastal towns.
Of course we took our empty gas bottle with us in case – we managed to turn up at a helpful servo about 1 minute before the local gas guy arrived. Not good news though as the gas factory is closed on weekends and it seems our French gas bottle is ever so slightly different from the fittings in Greece. This may not be easy.
Anyway we continued our tour visiting a lovely little mountain village called Manolates. It’s a car free village with steep and narrow winding streets. One of the things I love about Greece is the way that fruit (and some veg) just grows so incredibly in the tiniest of spaces, seemingly without any human effort. Meanwhile I struggle to grow some basil in a pot with extensive (maybe too much…) TLC. Grape vines hanging over a trellis, providing much needed shade, fruit laden, citrus, pomegranates and fig trees growing through a small hole in the concrete of a tiny terrace house front porch. One tiny house here had what looked like zucchini vines covering it almost completely! We drove on through Samos town and into the hills to Mitilinii, another traditional hillside village with winding narrow streets, but at 45oC heat defeated us and our walk was very short.
Meet me in the middle
We visited the amazing Eupalinus Tunnel. Built in the mid-6th C BC, this double mouthed tunnel was an incredible feat of engineering and mathematics. Intended to carry water through a clay pipe from the springs on one side of the mountain down to the town on the other, it stretches 890metres. Construction took place from both ends of the tunnel with workers meeting in the middle and despite some twists, turns and the fall to facilitate water flow they were only 40cm out of alignment when they met up! Not bad considering the engineering tools available at the time. And the big bonus was a cool 25oC inside!
Eupalinus Tunnel, Samos:
We take a short and accidental drive through the charming, narrow and touristy streets of Pythagorio town. This looks like a very popular village and the yachts lining the town quay are practically an extension of the harbour-side cafes.
Along the south coast there is a long stretch of “beach”– all stones of course – and we are straight into the water to cool off. Its a refreshing 22oC but you are dry, hot and sweaty again before you even get back to the car. It’s been a long day so we head back to ITIKI, again taking a scenic route through “Upper Marathokampos” (thanks Siri!). The next day conditions are perfect so we leave the harbour and head west, but first let’s go for a sail! We need to get in to deeper, cleaner water to do some desalinating and fill our water tanks. We also need to get the main sorted with the new halyard and first reef which are now Dyneema. Turned out to be a great shake down hitting 11.4kts of boatspeed – Yee ha!!!. Its great to be a sail boat again! Our anchorage, off a beach at Limnionas is only 3.2nm from our last port of call however we took the scenic route and arrive with our water tanks 3/4 full and a load of washing done as well. We settle in for the night and have a visit from the crew of Vivere, an Aussie catamaran who have been cruising for 3 years already. Of course the first question we get asked is “How did you get out?”
With a forecast of 15-18kts from the north we decided to head west to Ikara – remember the story of the boy who made wings using wax and flew too close to the sun? Will this is allegedly where he landed. More likely the Meltemi blew him out of the sky! Anyway we had a tip off on filling our gas bottle here so we gave it a try – the tip turned out to be a bum steer but anyway we had a great reach with 1 reef in the main (must put that 2nd one in...) seeing gusts of up to 32kts coming past the top of Fourni island! We got the last spot in the "new" "marina", no management, no electricity or water and no charge – there are any number of these in Greece – we assume they are built (or started) with EU money but then it runs out and they are never finished, commissioned or managed. It’s very hot again today, we drag ourselves around the small village until our wings are well and truly melted. The only way to cool down is to take a paddle board out of the marina, tacking into the wind, to a small cave for a dip to cool down. There are some suspicious warm spots in the bay although there is no one else around – turns out there are some hot upwellings/springs around the island...
It was much debated over a game of Rummikub in the evening as to whether to believe the forecast of 9-11kts from the north. This is August in Greece after all and we have seen some “forecasting discrepancies”. In the end we agreed to wake early, head out and give ourselves 2 hours to evaluate and head back to Samos if it was shite. Turned out the forecast was spot on and we were able to "2 Volvo reach" the 42nm across to the southern end of Chios island. Along the way we make some more adjustments to the main and top off the water tanks. We are anchored off the popular Komi Beach, the anchor is dug in well and the water is lovely.
Below: Scenes from Chios
It’s a chilly 28oC for our departure to Chios Town today, but we are not complaining! Motoring north we notice a NATO warship on our charplotter. Apparently it's "Sleeping" although doing 14kts! No doubt patrolling the maritime border between Turkey and Greece as we are pretty close here. We continue a couple of miles north past the main port town of Chios and find “Chios Marina”- another incomplete project – and take a spot alongside on the eastern mole. There are a few other yachts here and a giant barge that looks like it has been there for a few years. That is the problem with these unmanaged marinas, they get filled up with marine “detritus” and eventually there is no space for freeloaders like us. We have made contact with the all-important “gas man” and wasting no time on completing this mission, Keith drops the RIB in the water and takes our empty cylinder around to Chios town and drops it off. We can pick it up tomorrow morning and then head off. We spend the afternoon on board doing some more work between dips to cool down – the marina water is surprisingly very clean. We walk into Chios town for a bit of exercise, catch up with the nightlife and get a bite to eat. It’s a bustling place with plenty of tourists coming and going. A huge BlueStar ferry comes charging into port at a great rate of knots and heading directly towards where we are sitting having a drink. Just as we start to fear for our lives (and remember that cruise ship in Venice) he flips his stern towards the northern end of the bay and holds this huge vessel in place on its motors (no anchor) as trucks, cars and people race on and off. An incredible sight and amazing seamanship.
Loving Lesvos and Lemnos
We have gas! Although there are no doubt Byzantine monasteries and amazing Mastic Museums here in Chios, we are going to forego these pleasures, pick up our gas bottle and head north while the weather allows it. It’s just a short hop north to the tiny island of Oinoussa. We are greeted by a mermaid at the entrance to the port and find a small bay to the east of the town to anchor. We have it to ourselves. We take the RIB for a tour around past the tiny town and smaller islands close to the entrance, and a closer look at the mermaid. It's lovely not to have the strong north winds blowing our brains out and some lower temperatures. After sunset we take the RIB out again to see if the mermaid is lit up, which she is. A beautiful sight and a lovely calm evening.
We head off at 9ish and true to form the forecast is stronger than expected and there is a bit more west in it. We have some excellent reaching conditions followed by some goosewing action with the Genoa - the new tweakers come in handy as well. We took a shortcut through Turkish waters but seem to have gotten away with it. We have been messaging our Greek friend, George the Pilot, who has been getting increasingly excited as we head northwards. He is stuck in Oz and gutted that he is not here to show us around his hometown (Melinta) near Plomari on Lesvos, but he has recommended Plomari as a great place to explore the island by car. We tie back to the quay and spend the usual 2 hours adjusting our lines and setting up the (death-defying) passarelle before heading out for a walk around town and to organise a rental car. It’s very lively and noisy on the quay, it’s a main thoroughfare through town so traffic all night and nobody has a muffler on their scooter! What are kids doing playing in the park at 1am FFS?!
Our tour of Lesvos starts off looking for a monastery the car rental guy mentioned, we couldn’t find it, but we did find a Roman aqueduct in the small town of Moira. Trying to navigate on a stylised tourist map, we drove through ever the narrowing streets, with café patrons inches from our car windows having to tuck their feet under the café tables as we passed. Suddenly we spotted a sign and the road opened up to a stone paved boulevard leading down to the aqueduct. It seemed so out of place – again a sniff of EU money?! The aqueduct is well preserved and worth a visit. Next we headed down to Mytilini for morning tea and again get lost in narrow back streets. Thank goodness rental cars here are so small! The very large Mytilini castle overlooks the harbour town and boasts extensive “cisterns” for water storage (from that aqueduct no doubt). We wander the grounds and take in the fantastic views as well. Next stop is a monastery and then on to a cute town looking for lunch. We find plenty of cafes serving drinks only and hosting old men sitting around doing nothing - do people not eat lunch here? Next stop another monastery with a café where we could have lunch! The monastery had a bit of a military theme with model planes and weapons on display. Then on to a skala (bay) in the north with lots of lunch places here! It's heaving with people eating, it's 2:30pm - perhaps we just get hungry too early. From this bustling oasis we took a winding, dirt road along the north coast, looking down the steep cliffs we can see the odd shipwreck. Weaving our way through a few more costal towns but the northerly is blowing now so no good for swimming. Up into the hills we go to a castle near the town of Petra – closed 10 mins ago - bugger. I guess one castle a day is enough.
Of course we take the scenic route back to Plomari - a long and winding way through the forest and some tiny towns, then through to Melinta, where “agent” George the Pilot has booked us in for Sunday lunch tomorrow. Sunday lunch out with the family is a big tradition in Greece and we are looking forward to partaking. First of all we drive back to a village bakery to grab some bread and say hi to George’s friend, but sadly she is off at a baptism, so we just get some bread instead and go to lunch. The restaurant is in a lovely setting, on a beach with a beach club underneath. An aperitif and a swim at the beach is in order before heading upstairs for lunch. We have come to love the octopus and Greek salad (or village salad as the Greek’s call it) and the restaurant does freshly roasted chickens on the spit. Fantastic! We even manage enjoy a lovely bottle of Greek wine, it got better towards the bottom of the bottle anyway! Once we had polished that off we decided it would be a good idea to depart for Sigri on the western end of the island, the conditions were good, it would buy us another day and we would have a better chance of a good night’s sleep! We spotted George’s house from the water and sent him pictures. We had offered to water the garden but that would have taken all day apparently. From the water we also spotted the “Hidden church” perched precariously on a rocky outcrop on the coast – glad we didn’t try to get to that in the rental car!
Below: Lunch at Melinta
From Sigri and we have a great 2 sail reach most of the way across to Lemnos. Some very shy dolphins join us along the way. We checked out the bay of Moudros, which was used to prepare for the Gallipoli landings, and the town port at Moudros, but after a wander around this sad little place we decided to anchor off a small beach resort called Chill in the bay of Asprokavos. Fortunately the music was not too loud!
Myrina, the main town of Lemnos, is a a charming town. A wide and sheltered bay with a small town quay (full) so we anchored in the bay. The town is dominated by a large rock formation and overlooked by Myrina Castle on one side, and a traditional blue and white church on the other side. We pick up our hire car and tour the island. The cave church was the highlight. The walk up to it was hot and dusty but the scenery is spectacular, with some amazing rock formations and caves. The church itself is quite tiny and the cave forms its roof. We head through a couple of traditional Greek villages, even though the streets are so narrow there are still cafes with tables and chairs lining them and the patrons’ don’t bother to pull their feet in. We enjoyed a coffee in one tiny town (Portianou) which was popular with Allied troops stationed here ahead of the Gallipoli campaign, then a lovely lunch by the water on Moudros Bay. We continue our drive through the spectacular countryside, sadly the archaeological sites on the island are closed on Tuesdays - timing is everything - but we drop in to the war cemetery at Moudros. It was to the hospital at Moudros that many of those who fought at Gallipoli, were evacuated, including Australian and NZ soldiers, and they are now at rest here. We finish the day with a walk up to the church on the hill overlooking the harbour and a quiet night aboard. Moving on again tomorrow.
We have done this before so we know how it works right? Righto! We had a checklist for everything we did to pack up the boat so all we need to do is go through that again and do it in reverse! Righto!! We find the crumpled and faded print out of the list and get to work. On top of the “standard” preparations we had 20 months to think about improvements and adjustments we wanted to make, so we have yet another list to work to. We need to prioritise the stuff that can only be done out of the water and in particular make sure the workshop guys get their schedule in place. They are incredibly busy after so many boats missed last season and now its July, peak holiday season so everyone wants everything now! We are no exception. Add a few “emergencies” to that, delays due to the Meltemi and frustratingly a week passes before we even get a visit from the chief engineer. Finally we get a schedule and everyone seems to turn up on the same day at the same time – not complaining though.
Time and the weather has removed most of the plastic coverings from the few blocks and deck fittings we left on the boat, so that is one less thing to undo. Even the gaffer tape over the ends of the jammers and gaps in the cross beam has gone. Fortunately the covers over the skin fittings on the hull had stayed in place as there was evidence of wasps nesting nearby and also under the solar panels. We struggle to remember where we stored certain items and even what things look like. We had to consult some old photos to see what colour the mainsheet was - and how it was rigged – we finally found it in a cockpit lazarette!
The boom was resting on a dead fender (the topping lift was moused) and there is a thick layer of mud underneath it. The run off and pooling of dirty water over such a long period, as well as the baked on bird crap, had left stains on the deck which only a deadly chemical could remove. And the rust on the stainless, and sadly pitting in some areas, was horrendous. We cleaned it so many times but still one month later there is still rust stains appearing around the base of the SS fittings days after cleaning it off. We lost track of the number of times we washed, scrubbed, gernied, rinsed etc at one point we gave up as the boatyard is so dusty and with the wind, and their water is so salty, the boat is just as dirty again the next day. But slowly it comes together.
Our days develop a kind of rhythm, but with the heat and the jet lag we need to take it easier than we might like to. We wake each morning to the sound of goat bells. Our boat backs on to a fence and there is a stony field between us and the runway to “Leros International Airport”. The goats (and the odd donkey) wander past several times a day. We take to lobbing our food scraps over the fence for them and they certainly don’t last long! No idea what they eat the rest of the time as its slim pickings between the stones. We try to get a fair bit done in the morning and take a break in the middle of the day. We have a hire car so we can drive to a nearby bay for a swim, head to the shops or into the CBD of Lakki to visit Poppi’s café on the harbour front. We treat ourselves to a couple of Friday night dinners at local restaurants which are outdoor dining (beats falling asleep on the couch watching Vera). Masks are mandatory indoors of course and for hospitality staff, who seem adept at wearing theirs under their nose or over their chins.
Keith feeds the goats
We seem to have to visit the hardware shop or chandlery every second day of course as we find more items we didn’t know we needed. They guy in the hardware store in Lakki gets to know us by sight and is very helpful, scooting around the store on his Segway to find things for us.
The Meltemi honks in most days, occasionally giving us a day or two’s break, but it’s getting inside our brains and really doing our heads in. It doesn’t bring any cooling relief from the heat and it’s just annoying! We can’t run the aircon either as it relies on sea-water cooling. The boatyard dogs also start to annoy us as well. They bark at everything and nothing and chase the car as you come and go. A couple of days we had donkeys come and wander through the boat yard and under ITIKI which was novel. They managed to find something edible in the barren wasteland of the boatyard, some kind of nettle thing I think, but fortunately they left the herb garden alone. Basically we are longing to be out on the water.
Up the mast (without a halyard)
One thing that is not permitted at the boatyard is to go up the mast on a halyard. I guess this policy is more aimed at mono-hulls who could easily topple over sideways off their frames with extra weight and movement up top. Not such a concern for a cat, however this blanket rule avoids any liability issues and arguments. We have quite a list of jobs which means lining up a cherry picker and sending the engineer up. Finally there is a Meltemi-less window on Monday and the fun begins. Firstly we had him put in a new tri-light to replace the existing anchor light. This gives us navigation lights at the top of the mast, as well as a new and much brighter anchor light. When we are sailing at night with the gennaker it covers either the port or starboard light depending on which tack we are on, as the navigation lights are mounted on the seagull striker. Next is a new masthead halyard. This gives us the option to more readily change between gennaker and kite without dropping the gennaker. It also gives us another halyard to go up the mast on, rather than the main or the topping lift. Then the fitting of a folding mast step at the top which will give Keith something step onto when he is up there in the bosuns chair. Much easier to see what is going on right at the top. Finally our main halyard, which was moused, is so twisted that we can’t pull it down. This also happened in Hammamet. We will be replacing this with 10mm Dynalite which is less subject to twisting and should run more smoothly. So we really need to retrieve the old one and use it to mouse in the new halyard. Finally the main track gets a hose out to try to remove 20 months’ worth of Grecian dust (or “earth leakage” as I heard one sailor call it!) George (the engineer) took lots of photos for us which was great!
We watch each day as boats come in and go out. One boat (The Cape) did both in one day, having got into the water and discovered their sea cocks were seized up! Their yacht was unceremoniously plonked in front of ITIKI for a couple of days so we invited them over for a drink. Turns out they had also just bought a stunning house on Leros and were patiently waiting on a container from Holland containing all the furniture they would ever need and more!
Finally got started on the antifouling with 2 coats plus an extra layer at the water line. Keith did the leg and the props himself. Our port prop was replaced under warranty whilst we were away so it is pristine. We have the engineers fit additional fuel filters to each engine and the genset because although the fuel quality has been pretty good in the Med, we have concerns about the Caribbean and the Pacific.
Next it was testing the batteries. Sad news here. Although they had remained fully charged by the solar, with no load or discharge over such a long period their condition had deteriorated. One of our 5 service batteries was completely dead so we pulled it out of the bank (down to 600Ah). Another 3 will need replacing and only one really just passed muster. So it looks like we will have to consider a Lithium upgrade sooner rather than later! The starboard starter and Genset battery are all good but the Port starter will also need replacing, most likely with the healthiest service battery. We are fairly confident the batteries will get us to Gibraltar, where we had some electrical work scheduled anyway (we planned to upgrade the inverter from 2000 to 3000W) so its time to consult the “experts”, start designing our full conversion and checking the bank balance!
We get the headsails back on deck, rigged and furled. The main and lazy bag comes back from the sailmaker and we re-batten it and get it ready to hoist. Keith finishes the varnishing and oiling of the teak and I even make a start on the interior curtains.
Our dingy, which was damaged in the process of having the chaps repaired, is taken away for more repairs. Sadly this is not the end of the story though as it now has a slow leak instead of a fast one.
We lower our beloved stainless steel Ultra anchor, which has been collecting water and dirt, and remove a few rusty chain links. I try to give it a bit of a clean but what it really needs is to dig itself into some nice sand to return to its former, shiny glory.
We have been counting down the days to our scheduled launch date but quietly pushing for an earlier date. Unfortunately this means paying a full month of the Greek cruising tax for 4 days in the water, but we are so desperate to get out of the boatyard and we finally launch on the 29th of July. We are back!
Lynda is slowly getting used to the transition from working to not working and racing to cruising.