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.