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A Year In The Ionian (2015 Retired, Cruising liveaboard)
Getting ready for a year in the Ionian from 20th March 2012. The company I work for has given me a career break. April 2015, Retired, pensioner and hopefully a full time cruising liveaboard.
Back afloat. Yippeeee
08/05/2015

It's been a few weeks since my last update, and typically there have been the ups and downs of working on a boat.

After eventually removing all the green stripes and glue to my satisfaction, I came to the tricky part of marking up the new ones. I had been playing with a sketch pad and really got carried away with some complicated ideas. Which could have never been duplicated either side and the cost in masking tape alone would have wrecked the budget!! So, I ended up just making the old stripes a touch bigger in the end. Four coats of British Racing Green paint and I was happy. The big let down was the "Professional 14 day, sharp edge" masking tape. After being on the sides of the boat for three days, it really did not want to come away easily, leaving a sticky residue and the edge was not as good as I had expected. I guess it's just 14 days in the UK! Nanjos new racing stripes look okay from 10 feet, which is about as near as most people will ever get. I painted the top hull line to match.
We have had a big problem in the yard since I arrived, No anti-fouling allowed. The solution for me was to get up at 7am and paint one side at a time, before the port police arrived on there rounds. Four early mornings and Nanjo had her two coats of anti fouling done. I've gone for the stuff recommended by the yard, so it will be interesting to see how Nanjo looks when next lifted out.
The Friday before my mate arrived was spent cleaning Nanjos interior and making space to set up a double bed in the saloon. Now, my bow really was a full shed.
I had a nice drive to Athens airport to collect Bonita, even finding a cafe that served the taxi drivers for a cheap meal. Then a nap before her arrival at midnight. It's always great to see her, and she came through the arrivals door smiling as expected. The drive back to Messolonghi was uneventful, except for me missing the turnoff for the bridge! We were back onboard for 4am.

The jobs with Bons help sped up, our first big job was the stanchions, taking down the interior head linings on one side at a time, meant having to shuffle stuff about as expected. The biggest shock came when we went to undo the holding bolts, two were just half inch self tappers, the other two were undersize bolts.Such a major safety item on the boat, and put together so shoddily by the Greek guys I had paid. I'm just so glad that nobody ever fell against them. The pictures say more than I can. After a fair bit of faffing about, we worked out how to put the new bases in place and secure them. Even getting the stanchions out turned out to be a really easy job, I found a welded yacht frame support nearby, and by placing the stanchion in it upside down, and giving it several clouts with a large lump hammer. They came apart easily. The first side took us a day and a half, the next side only half a day. I'm now happy with the result, although the toe rail has a few more holes drilled in it now. New guard wires completed the job.

I had winterized the engine when I brought Nanjo ashore, and had turned her over on a spanner everytime I came out. Now a complete change of filters,new belts and impellor. New diesel in the tank and a bleeding of the system, the big day had arrived to see if she would start. Luckily my Yanmar has decompressors fitted, so a 30 second spin on the starter, showed she turned over ok and had oil pressure. With Bon in the cockpit and me in the engine bay with a bucket of water for the inlet pipe, I'm glad to say she busrt into life after only a few minutes work. A very big sigh of relief as that was another major tick off the work list.

We got on with some small jobs but the last few days before the launch went very quickly, and Nanjo was ready for the water. A poor choice of food on the Saturday night, left me with the worst case of food poisoning I have ever had. I was not safe to be around and spent the whole of Sunday in bed moaning and groaning. Bon had to fend for herself and met some nice people at the marina to keep her company.

Monday the 4th and it's launch day. I had finally shaken off the stomach bug and was up at 7am getting Nanjo ready. Up went the Greek flag, Red ensign on the stern and of course my Pirate flag. Getting fenders and ropes ready didn't take long. We were the second boat to be launched, and it took them no time at all to remove the junk around Nanjo. The big tipper truck has not moved since I arrived, luckily they managed to get the tractor and lift in okay. Within 10 minutes Nanjo was on the move for the first time in over two years, only to then spend the next couple of hours waiting for the crane driver to arrive, who was doing another job in the port. It was a great moment for me seeing her afloat eventually and stepping onboard a moving yacht again. A quick check for leaks and then the engine fired up instantly. We spent 20mins motoring around the harbour before going into the marina. It gave Bon a chance to play on the tiller and me a chance to check things over. The rest of Monday was spent tidying up, changing the engine and gearbox oil and relaxing. The big surprise for me was that Nanjo still floated above her waterline, so maybe there's room for more stuff onboard.

Tuesday we went for a trial sail in the bay just past the safe water bouys. It was gorgeous weather and Trix had handed me a couple of cold beers and some goodies to eat. Bon had her first taste of being at sea on a yacht and I went through the m.o.b procedure with her. The wind started to fill in so it was out with the jib for a sailing lesson, then mainsil and finally both together. Nanjo came alive in the nice breeze and Bon managed a top speed of 6 knots, before we headed back to Messolonghi. For me, it was just perfect holding her tiller again and feeling her come alive, as she just leaned over to the breeze. We were only out for 4 hours, but it made all the work and waiting so worthwhile, She really sails well in my opinion.
Tuesday evening and things were not looking so good for Bon, she was suffering badly with motion sickness, despite wrist bands and feeling okay while sailing. Her condition just got worse as the night went on. She was having trouble focusing and standing up. It's Friday now and she is moving around at last. Our plans to sail to Corfu are on hold at the moment. The plan at the moment is to go out on Saturday for another 4 hour sail and see how she reacts. If it's bad again, then it will be a bus or car to Corfu so she can catch her flight. If she's okay then we could set off on the Monday.
I've been sewing some new mossie screens for the hatches as it's now so hot, closing them at night is not really an option.

Back onboard for a long time hopefully.
24/04/2015, Messolonghi marina

Sailblog update 19th April 2015.

It's hard to believe that I've already been back living on Nanjo for three weeks, the time is flying by. The list of jobs seems to be getting longer, and even the simple ones are taking 4 times longer than expected. I've honestly only had one day off work, how that came about is a story for later!!
It's been great being back onboard, I can't begin to explain how I feel, knowing that "this is it". After all the years of working and planning on living on a yacht, sailing where I like and having a very simple life, it's all finally come together. I've woken up every morning so far, happy and really without any serious cares. Apart from the price of beer and spinach/fetta pies. Even tackling what have turned out to be laborious crap jobs, has made me smile at the end of them, knowing that each tick off the list is a step nearer to Nanjo being launched, and put back in the environment in which she belongs. Keeping her ashore for two long years, I now know was a mistake. I really should have taken her sailing if even for a week or two each year. A lot of the minor (well so far problems) have been down to her standing ashore.
A charging problem had me scratching my head and digging out wiring manuals and the multi-meter, even with the solar panels and wind gen now up and running, my charge controller had an annoying flashing red light. It turned out in the end to be the start battery failing and dragging the house batteries down, and some corrosion in a couple of wiring joints. A simple fix, new start battery and some emery cloth, but took me most of a day to sort.
My leaking windows, were as expected a bitch of a job. Just trying to remove the air conditioning tin foil I had used to seal them took two days, it just wouldn't come away in bits bigger than a mm, after two years it had done it's job well tho, and Nanjo was dry inside. So, I guess two days work was a small price to pay, they are now sealed with arbosil, which depending on what forum you visit is the best stuff for the job. Needless to say, since I've resealed them, I've had no rain!!
The anchor locker hatch boards that Bonita started for me were a nice job to finish of. Just a bit of sanding, two coats of epoxy, two coats of epoxy undercoat and three coats of white gloss, with one coat of non slip sand added. The job looks pucker, and hopefully should last years. The danger of having a can of white gloss onboard, is it makes anything creamy look dirty! A little test patch on my saloon sides really showed this up, so a job not on the list was added. Three coats later, and I'm really glad that I took the trouble, it's brightened up the interior no end, just need to put up my new curtains now.
Vernon the "white van man" arrived a week after I did, with my boxs from the UK. It was great to see him again, as he had taken out my stuff when I had my years career break. But, by now, Nanjo was pretty full up inside with the stuff I had brought out over the last years. Any guests will be sleeping in the cockpit this year, I really should have made a list of what I had already onboard. I've now got 7 hammers? and enough tools to rebuild Nelsons HMS Victory. Just about everything is triplicated, but, you know what it's like with tools? You can never have enough!!
I tackled what I thought would be a mornings work, putting in my new fridge compressor and vapouriser unit, brought out by Vernon. The vapouriser fitted in my fridge casing after only minor trimming/bending with pliers. The thermostat, went back where the old one had been as well. By now, I'm thinking I'm on a roll, and an early lunch looked on the cards. It wasn't to be, the compressor comes already fitted on a mounting plate with everything partially coupled up. If it went back where the old unit was, it would have been a bitch to couple up, and servicing would have been a nightmare. So, I found a little space for it under the cooker in a locker. Just needed to make up a plywood plinth for it to stand on, fibreglass it in and bolt it down. Luckily I had some spare 3/4 inch ply from the anchor locker job, and enough tools to knock the plinth up. It all went really well, as can be seen in one of the pics, easy to service, easy to wire up as well. Only the two copper pipes to connect and I'll be having a cold beer in the evening! Wrong, the copper couplings were of different sizes!! It's the same manufacturer, why. The frustrating thing is I've had the units in my home for 7 months and never checked them. Luckily a quick e-mail to "Stiff Nipples" in Nidri, and when I sail there he might be able to help. So hopefully a happy ending in a few months time.
I've been working on two or three projects at a time, allowing paint to dry or glue to stick while getting on with something else. Nanjo is a complete mess at the moment. The saloon is littered with tools, paint, white spirit and just about everything needed to reconstruct a yacht. The bow cabin, is more my shed at the moment, all the big items not needed have been put in there "out of sight". I'm expecting her to sit a few inches lower in the water when she's launched on May 4th.
At the moment, my biggest ongoing job is to replace the "go faster stripes" on Nanjos cabin sides with painted on ones. Another job that I've totally underestimated in time to complete. Just taking the old vinyl stickers off was a nightmare, they were another milimetre at a time, even with the aid of my hot air gun. Then the real problem revealed itself, the sodding sticky residue left behind. I've gone over everything four times now, and I'm still not happy. A quick internet search gave me a few ideas on what to use, but only after seeing a video of the proffessionals using a plastic wheel in an angle grinder, did I realise what I was up against. I'm writing this and so far it's been a three day job, I've yet to key the sides, mask up for the new lines and apply the green and cream paint!! My jobs list said "2 days". I'm now constantly revising the jobs to do before launching, and putting the jobs I can do in a bay somewhere list together (it's getting longer).

My day off work came about because the night before, I had been invited to Peter and Trixs yacht for the evening to sample cheese fondue and have a lovely time. As usual, I had a fantastic time, eat far to much and drank way to much. I eventually left at 4am, slightly the worse for wear, but felt great. To get off there yacht, you have to climb over the bow. There is a purpose built ladder and I've done it many a time. This time tho, all I remember is cocking my leg over the rail, and ending up in the sea!! Luckily Peter had been behind me and seen me suddenly dissapear, thankfully for me he was more sober, and between us, I managed to climb onto the jetty. My first thoughts were, the waters warmer than expected! Then "how the fuck did that happen". Peter escorted me back to Nanjo and watched me climb her ladder, if you look at the photos of where she is and all the metal and junk lying around. Falling off her ashore would not be a good idea. I had sobered up enough to notice the blood dripping from my arm, big toe and hand. Mostly done on the barnacles I reckon, but slapping on some savlon after washing the cuts seemed a good idea before going to sleep. Well, when I eventually woke up, half the day had gone, and i felt like I had been knocked down by a bus, even after standing in a gorgeous shower for ten minutes. A quick visit to Peter and Trix to show I was still alive, and we had a chat over a coffee, about the evening and my sudden departure. It could have been a lot worse, it's a concrete jetty, i luckily completely missed it. After a 5min bike ride into town for a spinach pie, I was back onboard and just relaxing. Spent the day and evening avoiding beer completely.

My best bud, Bonita is arriving on the 25th for a months stay and a cruise up to Corfu. But first she will have to work for a week, another top job to do is replace the crap stanchion bases that have been on Nanjo since I bought her. A quick try at getting a stanchion out, has proved what I expected, the alloy stanchion and stainless steel base have corroded together. Looks like an angle grinder will be needed to separate them!! Oh well, there goes another one day job.

26/04/2015 | Manny and Robyn
You are making great headway! Manny and I read about your compressor installation and the problem with copper couplings and pipe size. Manny works installing marine refrigerators and he thinks he can help you. We can't access your email but if you email us, Manny would like to send you an email with some advice. :)
27/04/2015 | Sheila
Blimey bro, that food looks bloody awful, glad I've sent you some receipe books for cooking on a budget! No wonder the weeks are flying with you working so hard, it'll all be worth it and at least you're working for you now! So envious of the blue sky and temperatures too. Take it easy matey xx
03/05/2015 | Angela & Steve Northey
Love you blog, hope your jobs are getting done and that you are ready for the big lift. May see you around as we are sailing in Greece, will look out for you.
Retired and a pensioner!
26/03/2015

I'm now officially retired from work and a RM pensioner.
Leaving work after nearly 36 years was a lot easier than I expected. I put in a months retirement notice, and before long it was my last night, which was spent saying goodbye to some people I've known for a very long time. I had a great send off and thanks to everybody who attended my farewell do and contributed to my fantastic farewell pressie. I will wear it with pride.
Handing back my great flat was just as easy, and spending a few days giving it a complete and thorough clean, paid dividends when they agreed to return my full deposit. (More for the Mythos fund). I've sold my beloved Beemer to a friend, and to be honest, it will be the one thing I will miss the most.
I'm currently at my sisters, trying to squeeze all the goodies I've bought into three box's for the flight to Athens. Only a couple of days left in the UK, before the big adventure and the start of a new life. Hopefully it will be as a long term cruising liveaboard. I can't wait.

27/03/2015 | Tony
Congratulations on your retirement. I wish you all the best for the future as a live aboard. I shall continue to follow your blog. One day, may meet up in the Ionian.
Jobs to do !!!
06/02/2015

I thought I had better write down the jobs to do before Nanjo gets launched again. Luckily I'm giving myself a month from when I arrive to complete them all, and typically I'm sure, others will crop up as well.

Finish 240volt wiring.
Cut / fit / paint plywood for anchor locker.
Glue / cut to fit lining to lockers.
Re-fit and wash out water tank bags.
Epoxy glue holding tank outlet.
Re-fit wind generator and wire up.
Apply 3 coats of anti-fouling paint.
Re-paint green coach lines on hull.
Make wooden top for cooker.
Fit new top life line.
Attach new mainsail and check fit.
Remove teak strips in cockpit and side benches, fill holes and paint grp. Re-attach with new extra strips.
Re-paint bow anchor and mark chain.
Fit new copper gas pipe and test.

Two person jobs:
Re-seal leaking windows.
Remove old stanchion bases and fit new stronger ones.
Re-seal lifting seams on the Avon dinghy.
Run engine after a full service and filters.

Afloat:
Climb mast and fit NASA wind indicator, new halyard for cruising chute, new bulbs in anchor light and steaming light.

Strewth, and I thought I was going to sit around and relax with a mythos or two!!


10/02/2015 | Mike
Will be interested to hear how you get on with the wind indicator Jim - planning to fit one this year too.
2014 "What a year!!"
Cold and wet.
08/01/2015, Me Northampton, Nanjo Messolonghi

Well, it's been a long time since I've updated this blog. I would be lying if I said that I had been to busy.
The year started out great, plenty of opportunities to get out and about, visit friends and see new places. It was all going so well, what could go wrong!!

In June I was crewing for a friend on her narrowboat, I was having a great time. I've got to be honest, I never thought I would take to 4mph, mucky water (you would need a hospital visit if you fell in), and navigation is down to counting bridge numbers! Bonus is, plenty of nice pubs, some great English scenery and the fun of working the locks. I've already put living on a narrowboat down for when I can't sail Nanjo.
We had arrived at Leighton Buzzard, I'm up in the bow, and step off with the bow rope. Not noticing the hole covered with grass, my foot goes in and 17 stone and the momentum keeps me going forward. I'm down like a felled Rhino, instant pain and I'm deathly white! Luckily my friend managed to secure her boat and come to my aid. To cut a very long story short, a trip to my local hospital 24hrs later, confirms two broken bones, torn ligaments, and they discover I have advanced arthritis in the ankle joint. Oh well, I guess if your going to screw up, then do it properly.
The summer was spent wearing an aircast boot, not being able to drive and having physio, luckily I had a lovely girl called Sophie who's been looking after me, and she's done a great job of getting me active again. I'm really fortunate that I work for a large company, that has a brilliant sick scheme. I was on full pay and they never forced me back to work early, allowing my ankle the chance to repair itself. It's taking longer than I expected, age does not help I guess. I've only started to drive trucks again this week. It was my left "clutch" ankle that broke, so changing gears was hard and painful. Luckily I'm now getting back to my old fitness. The arthritis will hopefully get better once I'm back on Nanjo and in the sun.

I've been buying goodies and ticking off my "Nanjo wish list". I'm glad to say that I've now bought everything I need to carry out the upgrades on her. luckily I've had plenty of good buys on e-bay and boat jumbles. As of today, everything is boxed away and ready for collection in February by the white van man.
I visited Nanjo twice in 2014, everything onboard was okay and it was great to catch up with friends on boats and in the town. In October I went out for a week and everything went well, until I passed a bunch of stray dogs in the road. The small ones started yapping as soon as they saw me approaching on my old bike. A large dog just laid down not bothered at all, until I cycled past and the bugger came up behind me and sank his teeth into my calf. Blooming instant pain, and the bugger now chasing me up the street and out of his area. I was well impressed with the speed of my single geared bike and my stamina. A trip to the local pharmacy and they gave me a bottle of iodine for the bite. Luckily it's now three months since it happened and my palms have not got any hairier and full moons have no effect!

2015 is looking great so far. I should get my company pension in February, and all going well, it will mean I can live onboard and sail around full time. It won't be a luxury lifestyle (I don't want one), but I should be able to have the odd mythos and gyros when I like, and maybe hire a scooter every now and then. I've booked a flight out in February to check on Nanjo and take out some gear.
I hand my flat back in March, hand in my notice in at work and have booked a non-return trip to Athens for the end of March. Everything I own will be sold of before I leave, and I can't wait. I'm expecting a month to do the upgrades on Nanjo, then launch in May. A couple of day sails out of Messolonghi just to make sure everything's 100%, and then my first trip down to Trizonia. Every bodies told me it's a great little island to visit. I will spend 2015 sailing around the Ionion again, visiting new harbours and old haunts. Hopefully some friends will come out and join me again, and winter will be back at Messolonghi. This blog will hopefully go back to being updated on a regular basis again.
The clocks ticking now for me, and after nearly two years ashore, it can't tick quick enough!

11/01/2015 | Ruth
Just checking in and say hi!
11/01/2015 | Jim (Nanjo)
Hi Ruth, glad you found my blog okay.
20/01/2015 | Tony
Sorry to hear about your accident, glad your leg is getting better. Looking forward to reading your blog again. Hope to see you somewhere in the Ionian.
22/01/2015 | Mike
Bad news about the ankle Jim, but very good news about retirement. Glad to see you blogging again, and I'll keep an eye out for Nanjo next summer.
02/02/2015 | Andrew Joy and Lucy Brady
Loving the blog! Keep posting so we can see what your getting up to :) get some pictures up too :) looking forward to visiting in September.
15/02/2015 | SV Yofy
Bad news about your ankle. But such good news to hear about your retirement! Yahoo. Back to the boat and living aboard. Look forward to your future posts.
2013 working months?
01/01/2014

Life in the Uk?

This is the bit where I fill in the missing months/weeks away from Nanjo?

It's been a great time back at work in all honesty. I'm very lucky to have walked back into my job, but better still a better duty and for me better hours. I'm now a spare driver and work a 4 x 10hr split week night shift. My week at work goes very quickly, with the split shift, I'm making enough money to avoid having to do extra overtime, which is great. And being a spare driver means I get to go to places I've never seen before. My work mates are all a laugh and I'm lucky to be in a very stable job, perhaps to stable as I was hoping to get voluntary redundancy?
My flat is just perfect for me, reasonably cheap to run and just a haven to chill out in and relax. My sister did me proud finding it for me. It's really because of the above that my plans have changed again regarding going back sailing full time. The new plan is to work now until March 2015, then hopefully apply for another year career break? I have no plans to launch Nanjo in 2014, just going out a couple of times for some work and checking on her. I thought very carefully about this, and had intended to try and get a month of work to launch and do some sailing. But when I really thought about it, it just didn't make sense. It would be a week getting her ready for launch and then stripping down again. In the remaining three weeks I would probably just visit places I sailed to already? So, a no brainer really. I've now applied for my leave in six individual weeks, and spread them through the year. At the moment I'm looking at 2 weeks out to Nanjo, a week in Devon/Cornwall touring around, and three separate weeks visiting friends. After all, once I'm out for good in March 2015, I won't have any plans to return home hopefully. So friends will have to come out and see me?

I managed to sell my old banjo on e-bay for a silly amount of money, and it allowed me to buy a Seyvlor inflatable canoe. I had seen several while travelling around, and they looked ideal to have on board for exploring. I've had a load of fun with it so far, my plans are to try and canoe the River Nene this year bit by bit. Everybody I've taken out in it so far has a great time. A good buy for future use in Greece.
I'm constantly checking e-bay and other sites for bits for Nanjo. I've now bought all the small items I think I need/want? It's the big ticket items I now have to buy, and intend getting them new. Because of this, I won't buy them until the month before I leave the UK. Purely for the guarantee they give and storage. My list so far includes the following items: fridge compressor/evaporator plate kit, calorifier, hand held vhf, new perspex windows, mainsail (UK/Greece depending on price?), inverter and a few other bits. I'm hoping to get my white van man to ship it out for me when I leave. Think Nanjo will need the waterline moving up?

I've spent 2013, trying to learn to play the guitar. I bought a small travel acoustic, but it's hard work. A chance viewing of the for saleboard in my local Sainsbury and I picked up an electric guitar with amp for £50. I can make a lot more noise with that for sure? I've not even played my teach yourself Greek cd's, so no surprise there then. I did manage to tick of one of my bucket list items recently. My first opera, Aida was playing for one night locally to me so I booked a great seat. To be honest, it was superb, I loved the voices and over the top acting. The male tenor and baritone were amazing, along with the female lead soprano. I will try and see another one for sure.
I've managed to get out and about on the old Yamaha, to several bike race meetings. I picked up a cheap semi serious camera a Fuji Finepix and have been enjoying taking hundreds of photos just trying to get the hang of it. I was never really happy with the pics I took while on Nanjo, fingers crossed this will make them better?
I've been having a great time meeting up with old and new friends, and even now I'm busy recruiting new crew for when I return. And meeting new people all the time.

I managed to stay healthy in 2013, not one days sick leave? But as expected, my weights started to creep back up again. Sitting in a truck most of the night does not help, even though I've still managed to avoid munching excessive amounts of Yorky bars. But, I'm not back to my old weight yet luckily. My hair has not been touched, by that I mean trimmed. It's not growing anywhere as fast as I hoped, and I think the Gandalf look I want might be a long time coming?

I guess my one extravagance as been buying a car, I know that I said I wouldn't and managed to do that until late October. It was the onset of the wetter/colder weather on the Yamaha that started me looking. Plus the fact my savings are earning absolutely no interest in the bank. After some looking and trying cars, I stumbled across the one I've bought. It will probably be my last car, so I fancied a convertible for fun, having had an old Triumph Spitfire years ago, and loved every minute with the roof down. I picked up a gorgeous old Z3, and it's just so much fun. Bit like a 4 wheel Yamaha, it's now on my bucket list to take it to the Nurburgring in 2014, so fingers X.

Hopefully 2014 will be spent, as 2013. Being healthy and in employment, having fun on my own and with friends. Roll on March 2015 and my return to long term sailing.

01/02/2014 | Stella & Stuart Bale
Hi There, good update....funny how plans always change - good to hear your still planning on living on board - maybe if we ever make greece we will meet up. We are in the UK still, working, topping up the cruising fund. We will be back out in Corsica/Sardinia in May. Keep in touch. Cheers

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