26 May, 2010

Doing Time

Denny left Sydney yesterday and is currently in Dubai waiting for the connection to Athens.  I have been sailing in the Ionian or more exactly laying at anchor.  The above picture is just one of the anchorages I stopped at called I think Port Atheni.  I had sailed from the mainland at a great place Astakos.  Very few boat visit the harbour and the town reflects it.  The people are friendly, The shopkeeper helpful. I stocked up on provision, fruit and veg plus a new phone card to access the internet.  This year I have not used free WiFi but the 3G phonenetwork to access the internet.  The access is great quick and available almost anywhere and at any time.

23 May, 2010

The fleet is in port

I decided to go into the harbour of Kalimamos quite early in the afternoon. I had had a great sail from Meganise but the weather was still overcast and slight rain was still falling. The harbour is quite narrow with a newish breakwall. The pilot warned that there were rocks on the inside of the wall and caution should be used when going stern too the breakwall. I decided I would go bow too and drop my kedge anchor in the harbour and run the rode from the stern. The bow would be against the breakwall and hopefully the keel would be far enough off the wall to clear the rocks. I lined up the position on the wall went ahead and threw the anchor off the stern. Everything went according to plan and I was tied up and welcomed before I knew it.
Soon after securing myself a small wooden yacht entered the harbour and decided to repeat my mooring technique. His approach run was not well executed because it started well over my anchor line. When he threw his anchor over the stern it was well over my anchor rode. I pointed this out to him however his response was: he had not yet let go the rode so it was not across my anchor. Was I just stupid and he knew what he was doing. I watched as they secured their little vessel bow to the break water about six boat widths from Malua.
The fleet then started to enter the harbour. Sailing Holidays flotilla of 14 boat started to come into port. The first vessel dropped their stern anchor alongside mine and came up to the breakwater bow first, just on my port side. It was executed perfectly under the guidance of the fleet leader, a competent Kiwi. The next vessel repeated the manoeuvre, then the next and again the next. By the time the space was filled between Malua and the tiny wooden boat six anchor rodes had crossed his anchor. At which point he could take it no more and approached the fleet leader complaining. I must say I could not hold back repeating his words back to him that he knew what he was doing and was he in fact stupid to position is anchor blocking the mooring for six vessels. The fleet leader assured him come the morning all would be sorted.
He left before the fleet left port untangling his rode by using his RIB.
I must say the fleet leader did an excellent job in getting all the fleet into the small port without a single raised voice.

Finding your way home

In your home town getting lost on your way home can only be attributed to taking the wrong turn or having just a little too much to drink. When sailing not finding your way back to your boat can have dire consequences. In my case I was a sober a judge, knew the right turning but just could’nt get to the right bay. I might say I was walking on in the RIB.
I had anchored Malua in one of the many bay of Abelake on the NW side of Meganisi. In the late afternoon I set off for an evening walk having walked in this area the previous year. That was both an advantage and a disadvantage. I knew my way around but also recognised the road and the twists and turn over the hills. I climbed up from the beach through a fairly rough bit of land with overhanging trees and bushes. Noting as I reached the road that a previous walker had stepped in a mud puddle and a few meters up the road there was a pile of stones. Great pointers for my return.
I walked for about an hour and reached Little Vathi to find Charlie Girl stern too the quay. I was invited onboard for a drink which then turned into a delicious meal. The weather had turned to rain but looked as if it would pass before it got dark. Excusing myself I left about half-an-hour before it got dark – about the time it would take me to walk back to the bay in which Malua was anchored. Charlies parting words were “we have a sleeping bag you can stay on board”.
I set off at a pace up the mountain along the road towards the bay just as the rain started to fall. I remembered the road was it from this year or last. No problem just follow the road to the pile of stones and the mud puddle. The rain was no falling and the night had closed in. I could just see but finding the pile of stone was a problem and the mud puddle had of course turned into a pool. No sweat I could see the anchor lights of the boat in the bay below so I head down the side of the hill through an olive grove. About 100 m from the shoreline the bush closed in but I was able to pick my way through the bush in now the darkness. Success I reached the beach. The wrong beach and wrong bay.
OK I recognised the dirt track leading from the bay knowing it would circle the headland and come out on top of the hill above Little Vathi. All I would have to do was return and start again. After about 40 minutes walk I was back at the start point. Right follow the road. This looks familiar - this year or last? Now it was quite dark but with the white road I could make my way. I followed the same road and reach the same olive grove so I knew I had gone too far. Back track to a point I could see anchor lights. The same lights the same bay? No more lights a different bay. Only one way to find out. Head off down the hill side. After a short time I came out in an olive grove which had the same feel as the last but on this occasion I could see the an anchor light. Again the last 100 meters was thick bush but this time it was pitch dark and raining. I took my time and struggled through the undergrowth only to come out on the same beach as before. Ok back along the dirt track to the start point. I was now getting cold and my feet were sore in the wet dockshoes. The thought of the warm sleeping bag on Charlie Girl was tempting.
Right, start at the beginning. Think what you did last time and take the right turns this time. As I passed a house with a high wall I thought the entrance led to the front door but not wanting to miss an opportunity I took this turn. No front door just the correct path I had taken earlier in the afternoon. There was the pile of stones, now look for the mud puddle. Well it had gone replaced by a flowing stream. I head off down the slope and even in the darkness I knew I was on the right track. After a few minutes I was on the beach and there was the RIB securely tied to a tree. I was off to the dark outline of Malua in the distance. I climbed aboard, took off my wet jacket and stepped fully clothed into the bathroom to turn on the hot shower while I undressed and started to warm up. Was I pleased for the shower and to be home in my own bed.

Meeting good friends

Cruising is all about sailing to new and exciting places, the culture you find there and then the most important the people you meet. Talking to the locals is not always satisfying because of your lack of language skills although sometimes in Greece you can be surprised when a person replies to you question in an Australian accent. They have invariably spent their working life somewhere in Oz and have now returned to retire on their Oz pension. They always remember their time with pride and affection.
It is not these people that make a lasting impression on one sailing but the other cruisers who follow the same lifestyle as you. These people turn from “sharing the same anchorage” to real friends. One such couple are Richard and Charlie from Charlie Girl. We have crossed wakes for four years in a row and on each occasion Denny and I have really enjoyed our time together.
The first occasion was at Pylos when they came into the small harbour and I asked if I could take their lines. “thanks but we are quite familiar with this location”. From that started a great friendship. The following year the Cyclades and then the Ionian. This year it is again the Ionian. Richard and Charlie have sampled most of the restaurant in the area that they cruise so a recommendation of where to eat the evening that we meet is a given. On all occasions the owner recognises them, the service is great, the food good and the extras a very nice touch. As usual we stopped for a drink and then headed off for a very pleasant meal at the Rose Garden at Little Vathi on Meganisi. Over dinner I said cooked a mean curry and offered then the opportunity to sample one the next evening.
Fortunately I had all the ingredients and a little help from Herbie and his spices. The meal turned out a great success so next year I expect Richard to recommend the curry house on Malua.

16 May, 2010

Changing weather Vathi Ithica

I went for a walk last night up the mountain to the village overlooking the harbour town of Vathi.  It was quite a trek up the valley.  I gave up before I reached the top but I could see far into the distance.  There in the east there where black clouds.  It was overcast at the time as you can see from the photo.  I returned to the village completely tired and decided to have a meal at a restaurant owned by a Greek Australian who had run a fish and chip shop at Manly wharf.  His grilled lamb looked good so a ordered a portion.  It was outstanding.
After the meal the restaurants started to packup their outside tables.  I asked why? Going to rain, yes rain hard.  I finished up and returned to Malua just in time to catch the first drops of a wind and rain storm.  The wind rose and turned the placid bay into a windswept mess.  Luckely there were only a few vessels anchored in the bay so I could sleep with easy.
Today I checked the weather forcast and it showed that the wind would turn from the east to a westerly going as high as 25 knots.  I just had time to way anchor and head north to the seclusion of Vlikho bay.  After washing off the anchor prudence suggested that I just go stern to along the whalf which I did between two British boats.  After lunch the wind rose to well over 25 knots from the beam.  First a charter boat's anchor pulled away and they had to run the motor to stay off the jetty while one of the crew went off to find the skipper.  When he arrived they took off unfortunatly pulling the anchor chain out of the next vessel along.  A large British yacht.  He asked for my help so I jumped on board as we steamed off the jetty pulling up the anchor.  Just made it.  A Kiwi in a RIB came alongside to say the Harbour Police wanted all yachts to move out of the anchor area because the ferry was comming in and they were not confident thay they could hold the vessels course in the high wind.  I returned with him to Malua.
Not wanting to stay beam on to the wind I dropped the lines headed out hauling the anchor from the wheel position.  A less than optimal situation.  I got away without disturbing the boats alongside.  I headed over to the secluded part of the bay and tied up alongside the whalf.  Within an hour all the other boats had moved and sought shelter in this area.
Sleep this evening but the forecast does not look good for tomorrow.

11 May, 2010

Dock Shoes

I try to go for a walk every evening while cruising in the Mediterranean. If one doesn’t you either get cabin fever or you get fat. Walking on the Greek island is more difficult than in say Turkey or even Italy because of the rocks and stones. The goats have eaten most of the vegetation. The stones have hard edges, the paths are strewn with them set to cut anything that stand on them. In my case to cut my dock shoes.

Yesterday I set off up a path on the mountain side of the island of Lefkas. On previous occasion we had anchored in Tranquil bay in the shadow of the mountain I had seen large lorries and cars appear to disappear into the mountain side. The road like most modern Greek road had been cut out of the mountain coming from the south to the town of Nadris. At one point the road disappeared but the rock cutting continued. I followed the cars as they drove down the road then disappeared never to be seen again. I speculated that the road entered a tunnel which came out the other side of the mountain close to the town’s centre.
I now had the chance to solve the puzzle of the vanishing vehicles. Donning my trusty dock shoes I set off up the path towards the road. It started to climb at quite a steep angle as I cane close to the disappearing road. Just one more turn and all would be revealed. What an anti climax. All the road did was take a sharp turn and run back on itself but at a lower level. It was screened by the bushes and trees. What appeared to be the tunnel entrance was in fact a hair pin bend. However a track led off from the apex of the bend and followed the contour of the mountain. I set off down this track which became narrower and narrower and more stone with every step. After about a kilometre it had degenerated into a goat trail clinging to the side of the mountain high above the bay. Soon even the goat trail petered out and I was faced with the decision of turning back or continuing hoping it would lead to some track down the mountain. Denny can attest that in fact there is no decision in these situations. It is always, there must be a way down if we continue.
At this point I started to realise why the road had taken the hairpin bend. The mountain was so steep that even the goats had given up making a track. What to do? Continue of course but my dock shoes where starting to feel the effects of the rocks and jagged stones. They were loosing their grip, first the left foot then the right. Was it my arm that contributed to my loss of balance or was it that I was out of practice.
After much effort on my hands and backside I managed to inch my way down the mountainside, the final stages over sheer rock face. I surprised an old lady tending her back garden as I appeared out of the brush at the base of the cliff face.
Once back on level ground I sat down to take the stones out of my shoes. I noticed why I had lost traction on the mountain side, my dock shoes had worn through. There was a large hole in the soles of my favorite walking shoes. Well it will be a new pair of shoes before I again set off up a Greek mountain track but maybe the next time in a pair of Australian elastic sided boots.

05 May, 2010

Corfu Castle

Malua is anchored in the shadow of the "New" castle at Corfu.  We sailed north from Preveza, to Paxos stayed a night at Galios and then on to Lakki.  Met two OZ boats of which one was from Croatia.  After a reasonable dinner a shore we left the next day to motor north to Corfu.  Did a trip round the point to look at the Venitian houses in the old part of town then back to the bay south of the castle.
The water is so clear we could see the sand patches so we dropped the anchor in one and went astern letting out 40m of chain.  We were last here in September 2009 when we had to leave early one morning because the wind had come up with the sun and the slop was just so uncomfortable.  At the moment ther is no wind and the sea is as flat as a mirror.
Iain and I visited the market this morning to replenish the stores.  I left him in town to walk around and connect with the internet.  I rewired the refrigerator so both compressors would run then started the generator to put some amps into the tree battery banks.  Looks good.
I have also got my Vodafone 3G USB modem working so connecting to the net will be a breeze if not expensive.

04 May, 2010

Extra Battery Bank

You can never have too many amps on a boat.  With today's gadgets and instruments they seem to eat up amps right before your eyes.  Three years ago I install a second bank of batteries.  That was in addition the the main house bank of 600 amp hours.  The second one was of the same type but only four 6 volt 200ah which gave me an additional 400 amp hours.  Unfortunately in installing this bank I decided to remove the engine start battery believing that the I had enough amps and the charging regime of a starter battery was different from the two house deep cycle gel batteries.  One seasons experience I found that after a few days the two banks had dropped on voltage and it was not save to rely on them to start the engine.  It always started but the draw of the starter was just too great.
While in Oz I purchased a new 1,2 both battery switch, went to my store a took off a role of battery wire.  It is heavy being pure copper.  I thought I would have to make it into a belt to wear on the plane to keep the hold luggage within limits but Emirates gives you 30Kg and this time I was just under the limit.

I set about analyzing the current situation.  I thought I knew the circuits and had then drawn in my electrical diagram but like everything on a boat things change and one forgets what changes you make.

The next challenge is to draw the schematic of what the circuits should be and then to see if you can implement it within the confines of the switch box.  Again having a store of wire, crimps and clampers on board helps to make the job easy.  I had luckely left the engine battery wire on the board so connecting the new switch was only a question of running the new wires to the right places and getting the connections right.  After a few minutes the dead was done and the the time was right to throw the switch. 

Engine started first go and went into charge mode for the engine battery bank. Great.  Move the switch from 1 to both and the second house bank receives a charge.  You can now use the windlass and the alternator will take the load.  Then when that is completed either leave the switch to both on move to 2 to dedicate the current to the second bank.  I f the first bank need charging just change the main battery switches to both and the both get the amps.  Hopefully giving me more amps than I will need.

03 May, 2010

Replumb the Fridge water

Having launched Malua in Preveza and sailing north to visit some of the Greek island it is now time to look at the Todo list and cross a few of the tasks off.
All the task to get the boat ready for the water have been completed....antifoul, polish topsides, rerig the lines and halyards, bend on the sails, put the bimini canvas back on.  The fridge was regassed but I need to replace the water pump used to cool the compressor.  I purchased the closest replacement from Defender in America during their presummer sale and had it Fedexed to Greece.  Getting that through customs is another story which will have to wait.  On investigation I found that while it would fit it was not in the optinum position being too far from the sea water inlet.  I had to locate it in the water section of Malua.  That is under the port settee seat along with the other pumps and pipes.  Not a hard job but it ment that I had to disconnect a number of other pipes and place the pump close to the water inlet plus add a valve to shut off the flow if that is required.
Every thing went smoothly.  It always helps to have a store cupboard full of fittings, clamps and short pieces of hose.  Within an hour the new pump was attached to the bulkhead, connected to the seawater inlet filter and the fridge with the outlet passing through an existing above water through hull.  Well all that is required now is to turn on the fridge and wait for it to cool.  Cold beer will soon be in our hands.

01 May, 2010

Summer has started

Iain and I arrived in Athens after an easy flight with Emirates from Sydney, Bangkok, Dubai and finally into Athens. Having once used the Greek Metro it seems second nature and checking into the same hotel in the Plaka made all the difference. Unfortunately the winter timetable applied at the Acropolis so everybody had to be out of the site by 14:30. One can see why the Greek economy is in such need of money but the connection between work and income has not been made so while people were asking to get in to the gates the guards were determined to knock-off at the designated 15:00.

The Acropolis Museum made up for the actual site and the National Museum has some lovely pieces which Iain enjoyed. Saturday saw us arrive at the bus station early to get a seat on a quarter full bus to Preveza. Six hours but an easy run.

On arrival at Preveza Marina the power was switched on and a ladder was ready for us to climb aboard. We did not have much time before the sun set but we did wash the boat down. Inside everything was spick and span with not a drop or water and no visible mould or damage. The cover for the cockpit really does work.

The next day Iain washed and polished the top sides. I must say with my saw arm I would not have been able to reach up to do that task. Malua looks great. The next day was below the waterline. Dressed up in overalls and a well fitting mask Iain sanded the antifouling. Not a hard job but dirty and quite tiring on the arms. We washed the residue off and set about applying the Micron Extra antifouling I purchased in Venice the previous years. As usual it went on well but we seemed to use a little more than previously 3.5 l for the underside. I then set about sanding the Autoprop furling propeller to get it as smooth as possible. After a wash and greasing the bearing it was time to apply the Australian lanolin to the blades. I also applied heat from the heat gun to get a nice smooth finish. This form of protection has been very good. Much better than long life antifouling. Last year we got not a single barnacles on a blade. After three days of intensive work we were both ready for an early night.

Launch day. Only the sails to bend on and we are ready to go in the water. I walked to the office to settle the final account to find that they owed me some money. What a surprise! We had agreed to launch at 12:0 noon. Having experienced Marmaris launch fiasco I was ready to settle down for an afternoons wait when there was a knock on the hull, "Are you ready?" Yes it is exactly noon. With great efficiency the low loader was manoeuvred into place, the struts removed and we were moving towards the water. The travel lift was then positioned over Malua and the belts tightens and we were moving towards the launch dock. Malua was gently lowered into the water and we were free all in less than a hour. What joy and lack of stress. If only Marmaris could learn from this. The difference is that here they launch six boats a day while in Turkey they launch 20 boats before lunch.

Start the engine, turn on the instruments and the summer has started. What joy.

We came alongside at Preveza town and set about adding to the provisions. The major outstanding is to have the fridge gassed. I have contacted the fellow who said he would drop round tomorrow with the 134a gas and fill the fridge workings. It sounds easy so we will have to wait and see.