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.
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.
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!!
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!
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.
Nanjo visit in October 2013.
I was getting excited as the date to fly out to Nanjo was getting nearer slowly day by day. Having not seen her since May, I was suffering from withdrawal. I had planned to travel out with a friend to help me do the work I wanted to do on board, namely remove the main windows and re-seal them all. At the last minute he was unfortunately unable to come. Luckily a great friend of mine agreed to step in at short notice. I had promised Bonita a weeks holiday in the sun, in exchange for her working on Nanjo during the day and helping me get through my list of jobs. It was also to help me carry out another ton of stuff I had picked up on e-bay again. I had been busy buying and had picked up a very nice cruising chute and snuffer, some plastic coated gas pipe, 40 mtrs of static line climbing rope (for my mast climber) and a whole load of smaller bits and pieces.
The flight out with Bon went really well, as this time I had splashed out on easy jets extra leg room seats and speedy boarding. I've never bothered before, but at 6ft 2in and 16 stone, sitting in the usual cramped seats was always uncomfortable, even for the short flight to Athens. For the small extra price on the ticket, I will always take the extra legroom seats now. I had booked the car with the same company, and was well pleased with the car and price. It was Bon's first time in Greece, and after all my bragging of how well I know the route to Messolonghi now. I quickly got us lost and of the motorway heading into Athens town, luckily it was dark and she couldn't see the embarrassed look on my face? After driving non-stop we arrived at Messolonghi just after midnight and headed straight to the bar for a well earned cold mythos. I had warned Bon about how small Nanjo was, and that she will be in a bit of a mess after all the work Marco had done for me. I'm really glad to say, she wasn't at all, even the slight smell of fiberglass was not enough to cause concern. Marco had done a great job of the repairs and trying to keep the dust down to a very low level. We quickly sorted out the cabins and Bon had the large double in the main cabin, as I climbed back into my snug skippers cabin. It was great to be back onboard again, oh, how I miss sleeping on Nanjo.
We were up early the next morning, as the sun was beaming down. It was shorts weather for sure. Marco had done a fantastic job with the repairs, it must have been a nightmare of a job, especially in the confined spaces. I had trouble bending my body down to check out his work in the back cabin, he came to see me later that day. And we agreed a very good price, I should think Marco's repairs will outlast the rest of Nanjo easily. Dave paid me a visit and mentioned the afternoon bbq, I had contacted them earlier to say I would be out, and they had picked up some meat for me and Bon. To be honest, he did seem very surprised when he first saw Bon, as I had only said I would be coming with a friend? By the time we had given Nanjo a wash down and clean up inside it was time for the barbie, it was great to sit in the sun with old friends and plenty of new ones as well. It's a great melting pot, sitting under a large cat with different nationalities in the sun. Bon, was a big hit with everyone, and I could see her thinking she could easily enjoy this lifestyle?
It was lovely to see my dogs again, and they were just as excited to see me as well. Mutley had lost a fair bit of weight though, must have been on a summer diet? I met up with Peter and Trix again, and we agreed to go out for a meal. They had been through a hectic summer season, and none of it as they had planned when I last saw them in May. Bon was finding her way around the marina and Nanjo quickly enough, and was enjoying herself. She is never happier than when she as some kind of tool in her hand and doing diy. My main job of the week was to be the leaking windows, we made a start on the worst one of them. I had researched on line how to remove the frames and which mastic to buy to re-bed everything. Typically, in the real world, nothing went as planned. With Bon inside holding the screws and me on the outside, the double ended screws all came out a hell of a lot easier than expected. I was expecting a few to break, but none. With Bon attacking the inside frame and me on the outside, trying to get them pried of the hull was not going to plan. Small scrapers, stanley knife blades and anything else we could think of using to get between the alloy and fiberglass worked in the end. The windows had been fitted with what seemed to be a black tar like mastic, it was horrendous to remove, white spirit, acetone scouring pad hardly touched it. It was a long job of gently scraping it of the frame and fiberglass in the end. Separating the frame to remove the perspex was even harder, as this black stuff had been piled into the gaps. We had worked all the second day, and only removed one window, and partially cleaned the frame up. A plastic bag was taped in place for the night as we both packed it in for the day. A gorgeous hot shower and a promise of good food with Peter and Trix in town later, made us both feel better. I could tell then, that doing six windows in the time we had might be pushing things. I had also wanted to climb the mast and run an extra line for my new cruising chute, get Bon to make new anchor locker lids and a whole list of smaller jobs. We had a fantastic dinner and hearing of Peter and Trix's year made me realize that with all the planning and maintenance we do on our yachts, it doesn't take much for it all to go wrong. They had nearly lost there yacht, and had spent the entire summer ashore in Vlicho having essential repairs carried out. They had only managed to sail for a week after I last saw them in May, they both admitted they had a lucky escape.
We were up early to attack the window frame again, finally getting it all cleaned and ready to re-assemble. A dry fit, Bon's idea showed up some serious problems straight away. The alloy frame fitted nowhere in the cut out, in fact three of the window frame screws were just biting into the mastic. There was a 3/4in gap in one corner, no wonder the window leaked? The perspex was undersized and really just held in with the large amount of black mastic that had been applied. It was immediately apparent the frame was either wrong or over Nanjo's lifetime she had been bodged time and time again, the fiberglass had been cut back. After a quick chat with several liveaboads, they suggested options on what to do. These ranged from, just bodge it back again with new mastic?, rebuild the fiberglass to match the alloy frames, buy new windows to match the cutouts or go for frame less windows with the perspex bolted direct to the cabin top? A quick look around the marina looking at the no frame option showed some well fitted windows. I've put some pictures of what I was looking at, the ones fitted to the Feeling yacht appeal. I like the painted silver frame idea, and luckily Nanjos cabin sides are pretty straight. Since coming home, I've found a UK company who will cut me new tinted perspex, drilled and polished and supply gasket and new hardware to mount them at a reasonable price. It's an unexpected expense, but will be well worth it in the long run I hope. Once I had made up my mind on what to do, Bon and me applied mastic to every part of the old frame in large amounts. Bolted it back in place, and covered it back up in a plastic bag and silver foil tape. It's a bodge for now until they are all replaced. We had spent 2 days on just the one window, inspection of the others revealed the same bodging technique with the black tar. I guess that's one of the joys of buying a yacht cheaply and one that had been in charter all it's life with various companies, gradually getting less and less maintenance?
The rest of the week was spent enjoying the sunshine and showing Bon around town. I had promised her a day of work, so we took the car to Sivota on Lefkas one day. We stopped on the way several times, I had not been to Vonitsa for ages and was amazed to see just how much the town is being tarted up. Vlicho was still busy with yachts and even Nidri sea front was still up and running. It was hard to imagine that I was here in October last year myself. Sivota was busy and the Neilson fleet was in, all heading back to Vlicho to be lifted out. We had a sandwich lunch, then drove round to the other side of the harbour for a swim and snorkel. The water was cold for the first few minutes, but we both soon didn't want to get out. Stopping at Lefkada for dinner on the way back to Messolonghi was perfect, oh how I wish Nanjo was afloat now.
I never managed to climb up the mast, but Bon did make a start on the anchor locker lids. She was very happy to play with my battery powered circular and jig saws, until they ran flat. The week was soon over, and it was time to say goodbye to friends and head back to Athens. We had probably done 20% 0f the jobs on my list, but had a great time. I nearly convinced Bon to stay onboard and carry on doing the jobs, she was seriously tempted.
On the way back, we got the ferry across to Patra rather than take the bridge, I nice way to travel and a lot cheaper if you have the time. I took Bon to the Korinth canal as well. It's one of those sights you just have to see, and always looks impressive. Hopefully I will travel through it myself one day? The flight back home was uneventful, apart from one major disaster. Bon had been taking plenty of photos all week as it was her first time, her camera must have fallen out of her bag in the overhead locker, and we never noticed it. It was only when back at my flat she checked her bag and it was missing. It was notified straight away to Easy jet, but as of now, it's still not been handed in? Luckily I had taken a few pictures myself for her to have.
01/01/2014, Duston, Northampton
January 1st 2014
Finally an update on my blog?
I would be telling a lie if I said that I was so busy that I couldn't find time to update my blog as originally planned. It's the typical excuse of just not getting round to it. To be honest, today's the first time I've actually logged onto my sailblog site in 6 months. Just to see what I last wrote and what photos I had put on. Thanks to everybody who made comments, and who might have looked at the blog in 2013.
Well where do I begin, my last entry was me getting ready to travel out in May for my first look at Nanjo ashore and to spend a week on board. So that's where I will start I guess.
May 2013 Nanjo visit:
I had been buying plenty of bits of e-bay and down at my local B&Q, as seen in the picture of the box strapped to my Yamaha. Luckily my sister took me to the airport, and brought me back later. I had purchased my easyjet ticket back in December, so it was pretty cheap. Luckily my company allowed to let me have the week off work, after I had explained about the pre bought ticket ( I originally bought it to go back out for good?). I found a very good web site to pre-book a car for the week from Athens airport before I went out. A weeks hire was 80 euros, and included the basic insurance needed and unlimited mileage.
Everything went well for the trip, and I even managed to arrive at Messolonghi just after midnight and get a mythos at the bar. The temperature difference was startling after leaving the UK on a cold May day. I was greeted by thye dogs and a couple of liveaboard friends I had met over the winter. Climbing on Nanjo after being away for so long was a great feeling, I had spent every day and night on her for a year. Tom and Anne had done a great job of stowing bits below for me and making sure she was put in the yard cradle correctly and put to bed, after I had left in March. I'm very glad to say Nanjo was a dry boat below, the plastic bags over the leaking windows had done there job. Climbing back into my skippers cabin and just curling up on the bunk, was superb. I knew that I had come home and would always feel happy and contented on board Nanjo. I slept like the dead, only waking up when the sun was beaming down into the cabin and friends were knocking on my hull. I don't think they were at all surprised to see me the last person to wake up in the marina again, something I constantly did during the winter months.
The week on board went really quickly, I had a long list of jobs I wanted to do. Typically, some got done, new ones were added to the list and even more didn't get done? I partly fitted a 240 volt system to Nanjo, it was never very cleaver having the power lead coming in through the heads porthole and hooked up to an extension lead. Every time we had rain, I expected to see blue sparks flying around the cable. The pictures I've posted are as the system is now, I've now realized that it's not really that safe?? I will fit an rcd where the power first come on board, and I'm going to fit a galvanic isolator as well. Maybe a bit more research on my part before I left would have pointed the correct way to go?
I've posted some pictures of where the fiberglass was coming detached inside, some of the internal fitting bulkheads were no longer attached? It was all found out in my initial survey, but not cause for concern as Nanjo as an internal molding for the fitout. I spent a very dusty, and not pleasant time having a go at cutting out some of the old fiberglass. I had picked up a used dremel on e-bay with a flexi shaft and it was ideal with it's cutting wheel. Having a go at re-glassing, was not as easy as the books had suggested. Purely down to my lack of experience with the stuff, I should have practiced in the UK really. The smell on board after the first day, quickly convinced me that trying to sleep below even with the hatches open, might not be good for my health? Luckily after chatting to Peter and Trix of my problem, they put me in touch with Marco who lives on his yacht in the marina, and is renowned for his glass fibre repairs. A quick chat with him and showing what needed doing, it was more than I expected, after I had removed the two water tanks. He agreed to take on the job, and do it for me before my next trip out in October, he could then work onboard and vent Nanjo when he had the spare time. Result.
Nanjo is ashore in a great location, near the showers and loo block and a power lead just at the back of her. It was also the perfect spot to sit in the cockpit and watch the yachts and motorboats being launched. I was impressed just how quickly and organised the shore team were, and watching every yacht being a hell of a lot larger than Nanjo, meant I need not worry when it's her time to go back in. I've included some pictures of a yacht that was being launched, you can see what a beautiful condition her owner had her in. But tragedy was not far away, he motored out into the harbor and from what i heard had anchored. There was an explosion and very fierce fire onboard soon after. I heard the fire engines around the port area but had seen nothing as I was working down below. The pictures of her in the trailer burnt out, show what condition she was in just a few hours after her launch. The smell of burnt fiberglass hung over the marina all the time I was there. I never found out how the fire started, chatting to several other yachties and the theories were, gas leak or a diesel leak and the fuel catching fire on a hot engine/exhaust? A sobering sight for all of us there.
I had some lovely evenings ashore catching up with friends I had made in the winter, and of course chatting to liveaboards who were still to leave on there summers sailing expeditions.
The week went way to quickly for me and before I knew it, I was back in the hire car and driving back to Athens airport. The flight home went well, and the pilot even made us all laugh when he mentioned we would be landing at 22:30 and only 5 degrees. What a difference after leaving Greece in the constant high 20's. I had flown back with my banjo, it had only been out of it's case three times last year and was easier to sell in the UK than Greece. I'm trying to play the guitar now I'm home, to be honest, it's not going that well?