I may be in the dog house but there are no hairs on me
21 April 2017
I had assumed my next blog would be about the Greek hospitality we had experienced by going to church 3 times in one week, being sprinkled with incense, feasting (a loose term) on liver and offal soup, followed by sheeps cheeks for tea at one in the morning, drinking Ouzo and Sprite for breakfast and intestines BBQd on a spit in the afternoon. These experiences seem so insignificant now in comparison to what happens next. Is there any wonder my insides were feeling a little delicate to say the least and that combined with rough seas and strong winds compounded my delicate state by making me feel a little sea sick.
After a sleepless night with the boat being bashed against the quay wall and Mike doing his best to fend it off with lines and fenders there was no other option than to depart our mooring in Poros and head round to Agy Efimena. We knew the wind and swell would not be in our favour so the earlier we could get off the better. As daylight began to break Mike woke me, "come on time to go". Daylight may be breaking but it still looked dark to me, I made my way to the toilet, the boat was bouncing about on its mooring and the traffic kept flying past the making their way to the ferry. Conscious of all the traffic about I decided not to put a light on and would use the toilet in the dark, like us ladies can. As I flushed the "electric" toilet I heard a tinkle on the bowl, no definitely not my tinkle. I could hear the macerator trying to make iron filings of what I could only assume was my tweezers that I had left laid by the sink, this is a toilet that you can't even put paper down. I quickly stopped the pump, the toilet door flew open, Mike had heard my industrial production line "what the hell was that?" "I think it was my tweezers". Both of us peering into either a half full (me being positive) or a half empty (Mike being negative) toilet bowl of dirty water. It was not possible to see the bottom of the toilet so I felt obliged to put my hand in and see if I could feel anything, yes they were there in one piece but unable to get them back up the small gap. With a small bowl I bailed out the toilet, Mike with his magnet on a rod was able to manipulate them around the gap and retrieve them. With a flush the toilet duly filled up, with a second flush it merely spun the water around the bowl and made a very strange noise. "Great, no toilet for 4 weeks, bloody electric toilets, we will be buggered if the pump has gone"
The electric toilet has always been an issue on the boat, it was my desire, my purchase and my earache whenever there is a problem. "Bloody electric toilets, manual ones are so much easier to sort" Well guess I was going to have to cross my legs for a while, our priority was to move before the weather got any worse. I quietly weathered the storm and took my turn at the helm.
Now for all you ladies, you know that moment when your husband buys you a present that he is highly delighted with and expects that you will feel the same! Instead it is a source of disappointment to you because it isn't a precious metal item or studded with precious jewels. Seeing my disappointment at the time of being given it Mike quickly stated "it is the deluxe model" like this made a difference, what is it I asked, examining the strangely shaped plastic tubing. A "shewee, I bought it because when the boat is out the water, you don't have to get up, get dressed and walk across the yard to the toilet in the night, you will need to stand in the shower and practice though so you don't drip". I never did practice but I did throw it in my bag to bring back to the boat. This implement means that a woman can like a man stand and wee in a bottle. Now I could appreciate the thoughtfulness of his gift.
After a quick sleep it was time to start dismantling the toilet, despite Mike saying there was little I could do I felt I had stand by his side and at least give him moral support, that way I wouldn't feel as bad even though it was an accident. There is a plus to my moral support, I, not being practically minded will read the instruction manuals, so when Mike says "How do you get to the motor?" I can explain what it suggests in the manual and fails to show you on utube.
Bit by bit the toilet was taken apart, I like a dutiful wife kept mopping up dirty water as it leaked onto the floor out of the tubes. The top and bottom of it was that the drive belt had torn. Time for a coffee and research on the internet about a replacement part. This resulted in me being back in the dog house when it appeared that you had to buy the whole unit at €359 just to replace the belt, the toilet only cost £400. Those immortal words "I am going to write a letter to Jabsco". We managed to find a temporary solution to the problem and with a bit of swearing managed to reassemble it. Screwed back into position Mike flicked the flush and said "oh darling" as water spilled out over his feet, he quickly realised he had not connected the pipes. Pipes connected he flushed it again, the bowl filled up, now for the test will it empty?, the second flush and the water whirled around the bowl but went nowhere, oh no, the seacock was closed, so third time lucky it worked, albeit a temporary fix. Think I may stick with my shewee wherever possible or visit a local tavern for a glass of wine to avail them of their toilet.
God bless this winch and anchor
09 April 2017
7th and 8th April 2017
This morning we departed Nydri in the glorious sun heading for Sivota bay, a little anchorage we stayed in once before last year. As we endeavoured to sail with little success Mike made one of those comments that you look back on and think "He really shouldn't have said that, it was a jinx". Anyway the comment was "they say this anchorage is not particularly good holding you know", maybe I am as guilty with my reply when I said well there is no wind forecast and we didn't have any problems last time. Mike had already said "did I want to go on the quay wall or anchor in the middle" and whilst I knew we should really conquer our apprehensions and do a stern to anchor I chose the latter option because the quay wall can be quite dark with the shadows cast by the mountains.
As we headed into Sivota there were a couple of boats that were evidently winterised on the far quay wall and one British boat on anchor in the middle of the bay. We duly chose our position and dropped the good old reliable Rocna, all 25kg of it. We were on the border on needing a 20kg one but Mike at the time of replacement chose to go up to the larger one by way of a peace of mind thing. As the boat settled into position Mike was not happy that we were a little too close to the other boat so it was a case of pulling the beast back up. As she appeared out of the water she was impacted with mud and root like matter. To guarantee we get a good holding I dangled over the side trying to poke off all the mud whilst keeping my balance and trying to avoid falling in. All cleared I dropped the anchor a second time and we settled nicely into position, transit points taken we did the usual jobs. Mike reluctantly agreed to give me a game of scrabble and as we sat deliberating over our letters you could hear the wind whistling around us and rocking the boat, we were swinging backwards and forwards. At one point there was a huge gust and I popped my head up to make sure we were ok, we had swung sideways but all seemed ok. Shortly after whilst I deliberated how I could get my seven letter word out, Mike popped up top and shouted "Jacqui we have dragged the anchor", some people will do anything to stop you getting a 50 point bonus ! Appreciating the urgency of the situation as opposed to saying "oh yeah, right" I shot up the steps to see the other boat was now considerably closer to us than before. I couldn't help but think many a true word spoken in jest, hadn't Mike joked with Donna that we had dragged our anchor. Action stations, Mike started the engine and I turned the anchor power on before running up to the front of the boat. With unusual speed I lifted the anchor, repeatedly clearing the mound of chain that builds up in the anchor locker. The anchor began to emerge from the muddy depths, we had definitely been ploughing the sea bed, it was well and truly impacted and this time trying to clear it was so much harder. Mike kept manoeuvring the boat against the whistling wind whilst I launched at the mud with the boat hook, like a swordsman fighting for his life. Eventually the mud surrendered to my lunge and remise, take that you villain!
The enemy thwarted we now had to make a decision about what to do next, we would not settle for the night if were to drop our anchor again after that and as the wind was not forecast then we had no idea when it would abate. There was nothing for it, we would have to challenge our fears and do a stern to anchor, in strong wind against the quay wall. Quickly I ran around the deck getting the back lines in position before returning as anchor man, "right Jacqui when I say drop em, do it", mm think I have heard that line before and I took no notice then. "Do you want me to free fall her?", a term meaning the anchor falls to the bed and releases with her weight and the movement of the boat. "no, pay her out", this was my instruction to use the remote and winch her out, a much slower process and given the urgency of the situation not the right one in my humble opinion but Captains word and all that. No time to discuss before I was given the instruction 30 meters of chain was quickly laid out, we were still a fair distance from the quay and one not even Greg Rutherford (British Long Jump Athlete) would be happy to do with no space to run from. We needed to get the lines to the quay wall before the wind swung us, fortunately a gentleman out for a drive saw our predicament and pulled over to help. Lines fed through the mooring rings, we needed to pull a bit more chain up too pull us from the wall just in case the anchor dragged with the wind, we didn't want to end up on the wall. "Pull her up a bit love" I pressed the up button and there was a dull and slow wind up of two links before it ground to a halt. The anchor had tripped, quickly downstairs to the circuit breaker and back up to try again, only to repeat the two link wind in. "Try let a bit more out", that works fine, "it must just be the load and strain of the wind causing the problem.
Now tied up we stood around and debated our situation and what preventatives we may need to do just in case. There was a risk if the wind picked up we could swing to our starboard and squash the little nicely painted wooden fishing boat moored further along the quay wall. "I would feel happier if we could take a mid-ship line to the quay wall to prevent the possibility, but how do we get off? By now the village was deserted again, the Passarelle wasn't long enough to reach the quay so the only solution was to paddle board with the lines. That all done we felt we could relax and oh the wind had died now, bloody typical. A quick text to Donna to tell her of our traumas got the response "I'm not falling for that one again", what no offer of soup !!, I best set to and cook tea then.
Mike was convinced that the anchor would lift in the morning once the boat motored forward and the load was taken off the chain. Mike released the lines and began to engine forward but pressing the up button on the remote did nothing, after several failed attempts there was nothing for it other than for Mike to pull her up by hand and me control the boat. Despite the anchor being a beast she came up relatively easy and fortunately clear of mud, all those visits to the gym have paid off.
Our next destination was to Ay Eufimia a busy little place with quay moorings, last time we visited it was extremely busy and it was a stern to anchor mooring. We hoped that this early in the season it would be quiet and we would be able to tie up alongside and check the anchor out. Fortunately there was only one other boat so the quay wall was a welcoming sight. After several hours of stripping the winch the problem appears to have been rectified, we hope.
I think it is safe to say that God was looking down on us that evening, things could have been so much worse. This morning with no repairs or jobs to do Mike sat playing his guitar in the sun whilst I typed up this blog. Hearing a male voice I stopped to listen to the broken English conversation he was having with the gentleman on the quay. "A gift, a gift from God" had he heard about our predicament ? no he was talking about Mikes musical interlude but perhaps the real reason for stopping and listening was to hand Mike The Watchtower magazine, you even get visited by the Jehovah's Witnesses in Greece on a yacht.
05 April 2017
31st March 2017
Woke up this morning to find some thieving bugger had pinched the paddleboard and left us with a swim float that would not have impressed Mitch in Baywatch albeit red. Mike seemed quite accepting of this saying "it will be covered by insurance" Feeling thoroughly pissed off, I picked the paddle up off the deck, Donna shouted over "what date is it Jacqui?" "31st March" "Oh bugger thought it was April Fools"
Board retrieved we headed off to Monastery Bay, as we left the Iggy Creek Mike spotted two Dolphins in the water. After numerous attempts to follow them and get them to swim on our bow it became apparent food was their priority not playing with us idiots. Oh well nice to see them all the same. We dropped our anchor in a place called Monastery Bay, blue water, and empty hotels on the hill in front of us.
1st and 2nd April 2017
That morning Mike was on the ball sending Donna a text telling her that that night we had dragged our anchor, ended up on the beach, had no sleep and now he was going to dive in to inspect if there was any damage to the bottom of the boat. Surprisingly Donna fell for it "hook line and sinker" saying she had half a tank of spare air and they could come round to help and bring soup!, how sweet. Mike said not to worry as there had been a beach party going all night and we had joined them and had a blast, at which point she twigged Mike had got his revenge, only it was the 1st April.
The weather forecast indicated that there was to be some bad weather coming in on the 3rd April so we needed to head for a marina before then, so we were up and off again. The forecast suggested that both the wind and swell would be from an unusual direction for the area, therefore we needed to find a suitable anchorage just in case it came through early. As we sailed down the coast heading for Two Rock Bay, Mike decided to check out O Fanari. The pilot book said you could either anchor off the beach or go up a River to the side but that it is wise to check depths before doing so, we decided to give this a miss as the water off the beach looked quite calm and we were sure would suffice us for the evening. Making our approach Mike said I'll make sure I get us in nice and close to the beach, when instructed I dropped the anchor. Having got us in nice and close he was now concerned that if we swung towards the beach there may not be enough water. Now that would be ironic having joked with Donna earlier about ending up on the beach. I offered to lift the anchor and re position to a spot further out but having played with the boat to see what it would do Mike said he was happy if we did swing that way there would be enough water under us.
There was an element of swell coming into the bay but the wind was keeping our nose into it so it was not uncomfortable. It might be a different story when the wind drops later. I decided to go to the beach on the paddleboard and see if there were any bins around for us to put our rubbish in. I went for a leisurely stroll along the water's edge and came across a turtle in the water, I watched it with interest as its' little head moved from left to right repeatedly as if it were watching a game of tennis, I then realised it was actually dead and the tide was creating the movement. Mike wanted to go and retrieve it to make a bowl out the shell but I would tell him where I had found it.
As dusk fell the wind continued to blow, Mike looking out the windows spotted another boat coming in, excited at the fact we would have company on anchor. His heart sank when he saw it making its way up the river. "We should have gone up there", "do you want to?" "no we will stay here". The wind did drop and the boat swung round to take the swell on the side, not a motion Mike likes very much. We laid in bed both tired after all the fresh air, Mike was already asleep and as I laid taking note of the gentle rocking from side to side until the boat suddenly did a larger than normal role from port to starboard. Mike was launched out of bed, not by the movement of the boat but in sheer panic as he was woken suddenly from his sleep with the movement. "it's alright love" I said reassuring him that I had not been asleep and I believed it was something passing by outside the bay at speed which caused it and all would settle down soon. I can't quite recall the exact words but it was something like this "Settle down, settle down, it will be doing this all night, we will have to do watches, I won't sleep". I tried again to suggest this was a one off motion and all would be relatively calm again like being gently rocked in your pram. "Oh you go to sleep, I am going to sit up in the front cabin", "OK, I will". Not being one to say I told you so it was fortunately a one off motion and Mike fell asleep in the front cabin on watch, he ventured back into bed when he started to feel the cold. Feeling a little fruity once warmed up I pointed out we best not rock the boat "Smart Alec"
It might have been the cold that sent Mike back to bed but there was a distinct frost in the air this morning and I am not talking about the weather now. With precise efficiency we lifted the anchor and headed for Preveza Marina. The wind was stronger than had been forecast but yes you guessed it in the wrong direction. We had the main sail out and as we sailed into the wind Mike noticed one of the batons was coming out, I knew I should have shoved it in till his eyes watered. The remainder of the journey was pretty uneventful. We arrived at the marina which was half empty and the buildings around the marina still being constructed but at least we were safely tied up for the weather and had water and electric at hand.
3rd April 2017
When you sail in Greek waters you are expected to pay for a Dekpa each year, however this is never straight forward. Whilst in Gouvia Mike had caught a taxi to Corfu to sort this out, however the Tax office is closed in the afternoon so he had returned to the boat with a €28 taxi bill and no Dekpa. Now in Preveza he decided to try again, so up early and straight to the port police for the form. The police advised Mike that he then needed to go pay €50 at the bank and then return with the form for stamping but not today as the lady who deals with Dekpas only works Tuesdays. Mike then made his way to the bank to pay his €50, having negotiated the secure door system he was in the bank, this operated on a ticket system a bit like the cheese counter in Asda. Mike collected his ticket number 364, number 85 had just been called, this was going to be a long wait especially with the addition of the people who just pushed in and were allowed to stay at the counters because "they were being seen now". Two and a half hours later Mike had paid his money, lets hope the return visit to the Port Police is straight forward tomorrow but we are in Greece.
4th April 2017
As planned Mike went off with his receipt to present it at the Port Police in exchange for the Dekpa, did I say this should be quick, I was wrong. Having handed over his payment slip he was asked to sit with another gentleman off a British boat and wait for the form. People came and went, some lost their tempers and were calmed by senior staff or female officers. Had the antics in the office not being so entertaining then Mike may have ended up loosing his temper, 2 hours later he was given the form. A total of 5 hours was spent in getting this form and that is not counting the time taken to get one in Corfu but at least we were legal now.
Flood, Famine and Fire
30 March 2017 | Gouvia
25- 29th March 2017- Corfu Boat Yard to Gouvia.
Best laid plans and all that. We left home, me with the usual heavy heart and Mike with the heavy bags, flying through the night and into Corfu for the Saturday morning ready for our re-launch in the water.
We had chosen the boat yard all be it a little rough on the basis they would polish and anti-foul the boat ready for our return. Because nobody does it quite like you would, we did all the preparation work before we left, scraped all the barnacles off the bottom, painted the leading lines etc so the job was easy for them. When our flight from Athens was delayed Mike telephoned Vagelis to explain we may hold up proceedings, “no problems, it is a bank holiday, so you will be lifted in on Monday”. Great, 2 days on a boat, in a yard, how boring, how wrong.
We arrived at the boat tired after our 24 hour journey, hungry and in need of sleep, until we saw her that was. Polished, which bit? this was Greek style. She was filthy and certainly the polish was not what we had hoped for. Once unlocked we found we had suffered multiple leaks, apparently this had been the worst winter for rain they had ever known. The clothes were damp and had the beginning of mildew and would all need washing. This was the first year we had not been able to leave the dehumidifier going and you could tell the difference. “Can I sit on the floor and cry please?” That wasn’t an option as the wet areas needed to be dried, the clothes needed washing and the boat needed polishing. One blessing was the yard had a free washing machine, otherwise we would have been paying €8 a load.
All this work makes you hungry, trouble is it is a Bank Holiday and there are no shops open and no food on board. Fortunately there was a road side kiosk and Mike managed to get milk, a sandwich and a bag of crisps, what a feast. The following day, Sunday, I set off on foot to find the one shop that would be open according to a local, mmm, I didn’t find it and returned after two hours walking with a block of Edam, a cheese sandwich and a tin of chopped tomatoes, I don’t even like cheese. We spent the day polishing the hull, me applying it and Mike taking it off. Feeling very tired and in need of some proper food we decided to blow the budget and head out for a meal to the restaurant across the road, we had earnt it and it was Mothers Day after all. Exhausted and after a hearty meal we fell into bed at 20:00hr.
The following morning everything seemed to be going to plan, we were moved into position, it was like a game of Rubik’s cube, a strict order of who was to be moved first etc. Once in the water Mike went to start the engine and nothing happened, he tried again and nothing other than all the lights turned on. They regardless, were casting us adrift, they had our money and we were now back in the water. Franticly “When this happened last time love, what was wrong?” “Have you turned the Isolator on?”, “I thought I had”, “Obviously not” as the engine roared with the turn of the key. We were off, a short motor to Gouvia marina to put the sails up, get our new canopy fitted etc. Donna and Ricky who we hadn’t seen since Portugal, 18 months ago were stood waiting to greet us. An early celebratory drink had to be had before they departed the following day.
The canopy was fitted and we were really pleased with it, windows we could once again see out of. Time to put the main sail up, Mike retrieved the sail bag and secured the top of the sail and I started to winch it up. As the sail raised we started to scratch our heads, where are the pockets that the batons feed into? we were both sure there should have been some at this point. A little more winching and Mike says “oh bugger”, “what ?” I’ve got the original sail out, not the one we use, hence no pockets”. I know somewhere I could shove the batons ! Down it came and after rolling about on the pontoon like a female wrestling team we managed to get the sail back into its bag, time to start again with the right sail. All up and we were ready to plan our first trip on Wednesday.
Prior to leaving the boat whilst she was out the water, we had fitted all new pipes to the toilet however once back in we noticed they were weeping over the toilet floor. There’s always a job to be done but this is definitely one for the captain. After all that practice rolling around on the pontoon he can now roll around in the toilet compartment in yellow coloured waste.
Wednesday morning came and I set off to the supermarket to make sure we had enough food for being on anchor for a few days. Upon my return Mike said “ you know when to disappear, I’ve had a fire on board” Mike had been busy working in the cockpit when he smelt burning, looking down into the cabin he saw it was full of smoke. Turned out it was the battery charger that had burnt out, he was not impressed at having to buy a new one at €350.
Our departure was somewhat delayed as a result of the events but by 13:00 we were on our way to our first anchorage, Iggy Creek. The sun was out and the winds were light, but enough to get the sail out. As we approached our destination we saw a familiar yacht, “Patience” with Donna and Ricky on and heading in the same direction. Think that’s another excuse for a social drink then.
It has been the usual eventful start to our sailing year flood, famine and fire what lies ahead.
Time to go home
08 November 2016
Well it’s that time of year again when we need to put the boat to bed, in readiness for those winter months ahead. The Yorkshire Flag has been ceremoniously lowered (thank you Helen & Simon). The thought of leaving is always a sad time, but don’t get me wrong I at least look forward to going home, Mike on the other hand…… This is also the time of year you reflect on the places you have been, the things you have seen and done, not forgetting the laughs and the tears along the way.
We left Hull for our second year of sailing on the 11th March 2016, last year for us would be a tough one to beat purely because it was our first year following our dreams. So what about the second year? Since leaving La Linea we have clocked up 2,146 Miles (approx), visited 98 different places by boat (not counting our trips on public transport) and used 996 Litres of fuel. The latter being significantly more than last year because “the wind is always on the bloody nose”, this has become Mikes’ catch phrase.
We have been to so many wonderful places such as Ibiza, Barcelona, St Tropez, Cannes, Monaco, Rome, Pisa the list goes on. On our journey we have met people who have made our memories even more special, being cooked pancakes for breakfast after our night sail by Nick and Karen off Pilgrim. Marliese and Peter cooking us a meal on anchor and rowing across to pick us up. Terry and Ellie driving us around Corfu for a couple of days and showing us some beautiful places to see and eat at (photo above). We have also had the pleasure of spending quality time with friends from home and enjoyed a week with Amy and Richard in Barcelona.
Our arrival in Greece was like coming home but to a place that has never been home, the people are so warm and welcoming and having Aunty Jill and Uncle Dave greeting us on the quay in Argostoli and including us in their Greek family life made our time here even more special.
So thoughts now go to next year, we are still undecided about the direction we will head in, maybe north to Croatia and Venice or east towards Athens and the Aegean. What is certain however we will certainly see lots of interesting and exciting places as well as seeing old and new friends.
Arriving in Greece.
07 October 2016
We departed Rocella Ionica, Italy, on the 29th September at 10:00. With 200 miles ahead of us and very little wind neither of us were looking forward to the journey, an estimated 40+ hours. The first day we managed to get 6 hours sleep each through the night so felt reasonably fresh the second day. The only excitement we had was a flying fish landing on the decks. Due to the problems we were having with our batteries not charging we felt unable to put the auto pilot on the second night resulting in us only getting 2 hours off watch at a time. By the time we reached Cephalonia my hands were sore with the wheel. It was still dark as we arrived and we aimed for the dark patch between the hills that were all lit up. At last we had a phone signal so I send Uncle Dave a text saying we would be arriving at 08:00, as we pulled into Argostoli there he was with Aunty Jill waving us in, what a welcome. The next few days were spent with both of them, showing us the Island, swimming in blue water, seeing the water turtles and going out for meals . The first night we went out for a meal with a group of their Greek friends including Stathi and Iranni a lovely couple who we spent time with most days. They invited us back to their home which was on the site where some Italian officers were murdered by the Germans at the end of the war, as a result they often find strangers on their door step wanting to see the exact location their relatives were killed. The time we have spent with Jill and Dave and Stathi and Iranni has been a lovely welcome to Greece and one that fills us with the feeling we will have many happy times in this country, but not this year. For now our plan is to head up to Corfu and make our plans for leaving the boat for winter