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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.
Sunshine and Hailstones?
14/02/2013, Messolonghi

Monday 4th Feb
Slept really well, and woke to a gorgeous morning again, with a banging head. My first job was to have a long hot shower, and try and wash some of the smoke off from last night, my clothes stink! Had a large brekkie in the cockpit when I got back, usually involves 4 pieces of toast nowadays, thanks to the toaster being so convienient. Hanging my jacket up outside helped to shift the tobacco smell. Jumped on the bike and into town for some supplies, the large Carrefours always has a few gypsies outside holding out there hands and always with some very young kid as well, looking so scruffy. It's a dilema I face every time, I'm trying to get by on as little as possible at the moment, just so I have enough cash in my bank account for going home. But I always end up giving the scruffiest kid a few euros, I've driven past the shanty towns they live in,and I always think that no matter how much Nanjos windows might leak, I might get bounced about in the strong winds, I will always be 1,000% better of than they are. It does put into perspective the lives most of us lead back in the UK, where we moan about wi fi going down and the cost of petrol? Thats my monthly rant over I guess. I popped into the office to ask about the cradle problem, and it's true they have ran out of cradles but are hoping to find some by Friday? Nanjo is due to be lifted out in two weeks and I'm home soon after that. I would prefer to see her chocked up ashore before I leave. Called round to see Dave and Alwin and ended up spending a few hours with them having a coffee and a chat. It was only when I left that Alwin mentioned going to Colin and Maggies yacht the nexst evening for a drink, to be honest I had forgotten about it, I must have had to much to drink on Sunday? Made a throw together for dinner, and luckily the internet was working, so had radio 4 on all evening, which made the red wine go down nicely.

Tuesday 5th Feb
Slept like the dead, and woke up quite late, so I'm getting back into my routine. Gorgeous morning again, it's great to eat in the coickpit and just have a look around and seeing others doing the same, mind you, they have mostly had there breakfasts hours earlier! I've been having problems renting back in the Uk, and have to contact the agents again, skype has saved me a fourtune in calls. The latest is a copy of my career break docs proving my return to work date,and a big problem, my bank as sent back a duff credit check. Basically stating my monthly income would not cover the rental! Not bad when I've not earned any wages for a year, and am living mostly off my savings while away. A long call to my bank to sort it out, and they agree that there is a note on my account about being away. They agree to contact the agents for me again. It seems that if there is a box to be ticked on somebodies form and they can't tick it, the whole system falls apart. I called into the marina office again and thankfully Mata copied my docs and mailed them to me, so I could mail them to the agent. Frustrating does not even come close to the hassles I'm having. 17:30 and I'm on my way to Colin and Maggies yacht, they are bows in and have a plastic stool on the jetty to help climb onto the bow. I stepped up, and promptly put my foot through the stool, which broke with a loud crack. I'm down to 15 stone now from my last years weight of 19 stone, seems I still have more to loose. To make amends, I went and got the stainless bow ladder of Nanjo for them to use, after a bit of jigging about it fitted pretty good, and Dave ut some bungee around it to keep it in place. Luckily Colin and Maggie thought it was funny, I then got the grand tour of there Oyster 35 center cockpit ketch. She's a lovely yacht, and seems way bigger than her 35ft, there is a cockpit locker you can easily climb down into, and it even has an access door to it from the galley? Down below and it's a tardis, with the largest owners state room in the stern I've seen so far. To call the stern suite a cabin would not be right, Colin did mention they only built 17 of them. She must have been a very expensive yacht when new, and still be now. We ended up staying really late just chatting about everything and drinking there booze. It was a great way to spend the evening and the time really flew by. Back on Nanjo, I made a sarnie and spent an hour on e-bay looking at cheap furniture? You can tell, I'm getting my head around going back now?

Wednesday 6th Feb
Slept great, and didn't really want to get up to be honest, it was only the sunshine coming through and the thought of somebody banging on Nanjo that convinced me in the end. Shower then brekkie in the cockpit, is always a nice way to start the day. I needed some supplies from Lidls so jumped on the bike, then noticed Tom over on Alba Voyager,so popped over and spent an hour having coffee and chatting about sailing and going to Turkey. Tom and Anne are going back there now the Turkish government seem to have sorted out, tourist visas and people living on yachts. From what people have been saying here, most of the marinas in Turkey must have been pretty empty. It was a lovely bike ride to Lidls and typically I went for a couple of items and ended up buying an arm full. After all the horse meat scares in the UK, I wondered just what is in my favourite cheapy meat balls? But, I've eaten horse in France and it was delish, so I've no problem with it. I guess if it was labled horse meat we could at least make a choice? Back on board and I've got an e-mail from the letting agents, more docs to sign. So, I forward them to Mata in the office and say I will pick them up tomorrow, what a palava. Once the sun goes down the temp as taken a very sudden drop, it's been forecast, so I've stuck an extra euro on the meter so I can run my fire longer. Dinner was a very large spag bol, with soya mince (contains no horse?) and the obligatory glass or two of red wine. Dave had lent me a Sidney Bechet cd, who I had never heard before and I really liked it. Crashed out about midnight, after sticking the fire in the back cabin for 30mins to take the chill off.

Thursday 7th Feb
It's blooming cold, inside Nanjo and I can already here the rain falling down. We had some strong winds during the night as well, which even managed to wake me up a couple of times. Brekkie was down below, it wasn't even worth opening the cabin doors as the rain was blowing straight up my stern. The internet was on and off all morning, so it was cd's time. About 11:30 all hell let loose, the sky went really black, a loud crack of thunder and some lightening and then for ten minutes we had the largest hail storm I've ever been in. The noise inside Nanjo was unreal, thousands of chunks of ice hitting the cabin top. I videoed 3 mins of it, through the windows, then took some still pics when it ended. Nanjo had ice everywhere, as I looked around outside, I could see others coming out with cameras as well to take pics, it was pretty unreal. I think the forecast was for a dry but cold day?? The rains kept up all day and evening, I did manage to make a run to the office and see Mata. A quick signature on the docs she had printed for me and then she faxed them to my lap top. Walking back to Nanjo I noticed that Carel and Martha my Dutch neighbours of Atlantic had returned, a quick chat, and it seems they have brought the Dutch weather with them? It's nice to see them back, as they had left just before xmas. It was a case of keep the hatches battened down all day, as the wind and rain kept up. I'm just so happy the windows have not leaked at all, making life below a whole lot better. I spent the evening, cooking a mashed spud throw together, reading my book as the internet just was not reliable enough, and trying to stay warm. The heater was on and off all evening. I figured the warmest place to be was in my bunk, so I put the heater in there fo 40mins to warm it up with the door closed. When I opened it, well, it was like climbing into a blooming sauna, but Oh so nice.

Friday 8th Feb
The rain and winds kept up all night, but only woke me a couple of times with the noise and rocking about. It was another hard choice to get out of a warm bed, but I dragged myself out at 10:30. A big brekkie down below, I did manage to open the cabin doors for a few minutes, and could see Colin sitting in his cockpit, under his spray hood and rain cover, well protected. It must make a nice change to be able to do that, rather than be trapped below? I was going to chance it and make a run for the shower block, but to be honest, I very quickly decided that a hot water wash out of the galley sink would surfice. I had enough food on board and the rain looked like it was going to last all day, so no need to go ashore apart from the loo? The rain finally stopped in the afternoon for a while, and the sun came out. Despite what I wrote earlier, I fancied getting of Nanjo, so packed my rucksack and cycled to Carrefours, I was only intending to get some beers and coke, and ended up picking up a bargain pack of sausages, no idea what they are made from, (I will be eating them all next week) and stopped at the grocers for some veg on the way back. I made it just before the sky opened and the rain fell, which managed to carry on for the rest of the night. Dinner was sausage,spuds and a fried pepper, absolutely delish. The internet was up and down, so it was a book and some music.

Saturday 9th Feb
I woke up late again, the rains still falling, so no need to rush. Went ashore for a gorgeous shower before all the water went.The rain stopped about 10:30 and I had a visit from Tom, over a coffee he mentioned the rugby was on and he was going to stream it through his laptop onto the tv in the bar. Scotland/Italy. I had to make a quick bike ride into town for some dosh, as I was down to my last 20 euros, and that would probably be needed in the bar? Cycling in and going down some new back streets, I finally found another XJ600 parked up, and the bugger even had the original exhaust fitted. The rest of the bike looked like it did not run, I was sorely tempted to bang on a few doors and ask about the exhaust? Picked up a spinach pie on my way back to Nanjo and scoffed it sitting by the harbour wall. The sky then turned a dark black and I only just made it back to Nanjo before the skies opened up again.16:30 and I met Tom and Colin in the bar, a round of beers and we settled down to the rugby, unfortunately the internet could not keep pace and it froze everynow and again. Then luckily Memi found the rugby on a Greek channel, and we had a much better picture. I'm not a rugby or football fan, but it was a good game and great to see Scotland hammer the Italians. Tom had offered to cook me fish and chips on Alba Voyager, so we went back after the game. She's a lovely yacht and has a great atmosphere below, Tom did the fish and chips in a deep fat fryer out in the cockpit. It was delish, and the first I had had in ages. I mentioned that my laptop would not play dvd's so he told me about XP Codec and I should download it later. We spent the rest of the evening, until after midnight, looking at Toms pictures of the Greek islands between here and Turkey and the bays around Turkey. It's certainly on my list of places to visit once I'm out here full time, and can be mostly done in day hops as well. I left Tom and the marina was in complete darkness apart from the office block. Back on Nanjo, I put the heater in the back cabin, cranked up the lap top and downloaded the XP Codec program. I would try it out in the morning. I ended up watching a film on You Tube and finally ctrashed out at 3am, luckily the heater had only been on the first setting, and my cabin was lovely and warm. It suddenly dawned on me that this time in 3 weeks I will be sleeping in the UK. Doh!!!

Sunday 10th Feb
Obviously, I slept really well, and woke to a cloudy but sunny day. A quick brekkie as I was out of bread, I fired up the laptop, and plugged in a dvd, I'm glad to say that it played perfectly. So, a great result. The suns up now, so after a quick chat with Dave, I'm on my bike and heading for the bread shop, and luckily grab the last loaf on the shelf, along with a pie. On the way back, I notice the fishing boat dock is really busy so cycle over, and look at some of the fish for sale. I've mentioned it before, but they do catch some big fish out here compared to the rest of the Ionion. Scoffed my pie, while watching the bargaining antics of the women buying the fish. It ended up being a busy day, of doing absolutely nothing really. Gave the cabin a good clean up, just where does all that dust come from? Sun down and I cooked a throw together of sausage,mash and onion, all washed down with a glass or two of wine. The internet was down, so I watched "Walking the Line" dvd about Johnny Cash,great movie. Stuck the heater in the back cabin for 40mins before turning in.

Gorgeous weather the Suns back. Yippeeee
04/02/2013, Messolonghi marina

Monday 28th January
Woke to more rain? But luckily it didn't last long, as having brekkie below is not my ideal way of starting the day. The Peters went into town to collect the solar panels, good job for us he has the use of Wems car while they are in Thailand. I made a start on taking the wind gen down, my original idea was to take the fan blades off while in the A frame. That soon proved to be a non starter as they were in really tight,must have been all that spinning in the storms. I had allowed enough spare wire to lift the gen off and place it on the A frame rails,before undoing the chocolate box connection. After attaching a rope to the gen, just in case I drop it, and as we all know it would not fall into the cockpit but the sea?Undoing the two securing bolts and it was soon down and in the cockpit. Down below and on the table, it was a lot easier to remove the blades with a rubber mallet. A wash in hot water and a polish, and then stowed up in the bow cabin for later. Peter arrived with my panels, and I'm glad to say that after a trial fitting, they will be ideal. I just need some brackets to mount them, so will pop into town tomorrow to the chandlers. Being the typical nosey bloke, I had to take the cover of the black box on the underneath of the panel, it just contained the + and - connections and a diode. The panels are fitted with waterproof connectors, and a quick search on the net later, and I found the connector needed to connect two panels together, all the bumf I'd read warned about sloppy connections and the amount of power you can loose even before it gets to the battery. I spent the rest of the day enjoying the warm sun, so nice to see it back again. Dinner was a rather nice mashed spuds/bacon/onion/pepper combo all done in the frying pan, bubble and squeak style. It tasted great straight out of the pan, but with a splash of Chinese sweet chilli dipping sauce, it was superb. I rounded of a busy day, listening to Louis Jordan and a glas or two of wine.

Tuesday 29th
I'm up supprisingly early, which shocks everybody on my pontoon, as I don't normally put my head outside till 10am. It's a gorgeous morning, so brekkie in the cockpit for starters. My first port of call for the day is the chandlers, and luckily he speaks great English. He knows what I'm looking for, as he as been asked for it before, but he does not know of a supplier in Greece? He shows me an alternative which, everybody ends up using instead. As luck would have it he only as one and I need eight, so they are put on order, should arrive on Wednesday? Next stop the solar panel guy, I downloaded a picture of the connectors I need and even the part number onto my lap top. I showed him the picture, a quick search on his computer with his supplier, and you guessed it, they don't supply it. He then went onto explain that it's not needed and all they do is cut the waterproof connectors fitted, twist the wires together and screw them into a chocolate box? I must be honest that I wasn't suprised, they would use that option. I told both Peters on my return as they are having there panels fitted and wired in by the shop. Next stop was Carrefours for some supplies, then the Chinese shop looking for a plastic chopping board. Roy had shown me how he had used one as insulation for his panels, between the stainless steel A frame and alloy of the panel to stop corrosion, a good idea.I had no luck with the board, but was suprised to see the shop has already removed all the winter clothes and replaced them with light weight summer gear. Maybe thats a sign summers on it's way back? It was a gorgeous day with plenty of hot sun, I'm lounging around in my shorts and t-shirt. I've been trying to sort out somewhere to rent back in the Uk, and having found a place near my depot, my main problem now is trying to get the documents signed and returned. My sister visited the flat tonight and confirmed it will be ideal for me with plenty of storage space (to put the boat gear from E-Bay?) and a garage for the Yam. Typically they want a chat with me, and to see my passport/driving licence, even though they know where I am? Made another superb dinner, rice,tin of meat balls,sweet corn, pepper all blended together and eaten straight out of the saucepan, absolutely delish with fresh crusty bread. I watched Dune on You Tube, a classic film. A very cold night for some reason, so the heater was stuck in the stern cabin for 40mins before I turned in.

Wednesday 30th
Another early start for me, it's another gorgeous morning, a quick brekkie and I'm of to the laundry with my washing. Have a quick chat with Swedish Peter, he is moving his yacht over to the harbour wall, as Kosma is coming to fit the A frame he made for him. he's really excited and, has all his instruments on including his chart plotter. As he says it's his first trip of the year? It's about 500mtrs away. My washings soon done and luckily the post is brought down and my personal cards have arrived from the Uk, ordered from Vista print and sent to my sister,I'm well inpressed by the quality of them. Back on board and the washings soon on the line. A quick bike ride to the chandlers and my fittings are in, next job is to chop my old plastic chopping board. It's pretty tough, but luckily the jig saw soon has it in pieces. Some measuring and I'm drilling the holes for the fittings, a trial run on the A frame and one of the fittings drops off before I can catch it, typically It's one bounce in slow motion on the transom step, then a plop into the water. Oh well, a trip in the morning for a replacement. Feeling I've done enough for the day, and the suns absolutely gorgeous, I have a walk into town to the veg shop, and naturally pick up a spinach pie on the way back. Eaten sitting on my favourite bench, watching the birds and just enjoying life. I'm going to miss these moments. I give the letting agents a ring and they have thankfully agreed to do the paperwork for me, and all I have to do is photograph my passport and e mail them a copy and the flats all mine. It's a big relief to be honest, and strangely I'm looking forward to moving in there, even though it means I'm back at work? It turns out the flat is built on the site of an old lunatic asylum, so I should fit right in I reckon. Peter was back so I went to have a look at his A frame, as expected Kosma had done a great job, and it looks really good, he had even made the brackets for Peters solar panels, so his were a 10min bolt on. The temperature dropped once the sun went down, the good bit now is it's getting later every day. Dinner was a throw together, and was superb, I was glad there was enough for seconds. Spent the evening reading a book Daves lent me about the saxophone and having the odd glass of wine.

Thursday 31st January
Slept really well, just did not want to get out of my warm bunk. But, I dragged myself up at 9am and had a lovely breakfast sitting in the cockpit again, The suns already beaming down and It's a going to be a lovely day again.My first job is to cycle to the chandlers for two more clamps, thought I better get a spare? Back on board and get everything ready,drill,hacksaw,spanners,tape,marker pen,clamps in fact by the time I've got out all the tools I think I'll need the cabins in a mess and the cockpits full of stuff. I place the solar panel down on a towel to protect it, and drill the mounting holes in the alloy frame. It's soon apparent that the U bolts I have are to long, they were the smallest size he had, so it's out with the hacksaw and cut a 1/4 inch of all of them, thats 16 cuts. It took longer than expected as the bolts were stainless, place the first four on the A frame,plastic spacer on top then the solar panel, typically three go in easily. Jiggle the frame a bit and the fourth goes in, only for me to hear a pinging noise as one of the brackets at the other end falls off and joins it's mate from yesterday? This is why I bought 2 this morning. Then I discover a major cock up on my part, I can't get my fingers in to put the nuts on the U bolts? It's pretty fiddly, and theres not much space, and after dropping 2 nuts, which joined the brackets at the bottom of the marina, I threw a few F--ks about and sat down for a re-think. This was meant to be a 10 minute job, but as we all know there is no such thing. Only thing is back to the chandlers and see if he has anything else I can use? Really glad he's only a 5min bike ride away, and he shows me a small bracket, which will be ideal and uses seperate bolts/nuts so should be easier to attach. I need 8 but thinking ahead buy 10, just to be on the safe side. The funny thing is my original U bolts cost 30 euros, he did offer to exchange them when I explained what had happened, but I had already cut 1/4 inch of all of them, so they will stay in my spares box. The better replacements cost 20 euros? Back on Nanjo, and obviously none of the holes match the new brackets. Luckily I had re-charged the drill, 8 holes later and the first panel was ready to go up. It went together beautifully, and I didn't drop anything. A quick few minutes to admire my handiwork and I got the second solar panel out of it's box,at least this one would only have the 8 holes instead of the 16 it's neighbour has. It all went together really quickly, the only heart stopping moment was when I nearly dropped my ratchet spanner doing up one of the nuts, but I reckon the gods were smiling on me and it caught in my elbow. They are mounted solidly now, and should not have to be moved, hopefully? A quick tidy up and putting the tools away, then time for a beer and cheese sarnie and sit back and admire my handiwork. I did a voltage check and got 17 volts out of both panels combined, so somethings happening. They recommended covering the panels before connecting them up, so a couple of towels thrown on top did the job. I reluctently cut the waterproof connectors off and joined everything in the chocolate box connector from the wind gen, some ty raps to make it all look a bit neater and it was job done. I will get the proper connectors in the Uk and wire it all up when I return. Removing the towels gave me a green light on my regulator, so the power was going to my batteries, it would be nice to know how much though, so I might look for a small meter to put in line. A job that took longer than expected, and a bit more for my learning curve as well, so a good day I reckon. I was glad to put the large cardboard box the panels came in, in the bin. For a treat, I made a big throw together for dinner, and have promised myself a giros next time I'm in town. I spent the evening chilling with some of Daves saxophone cd's and his book, and of course a glass of wine.

Friday 1st February
Up early again for some reason, must be the sun shining through my back cabin window? It's the first of the month, so time for a shower. Lovely hot water,and 30 cents well spent. back on board I reckon my beard needes a trim. Out with the battery beard trimmer and the blades are a bit corroded, a quick clean with some wd40 and they are spinning happilly again. Set the blades to No 3 position, switch on and straight into the middle of my goatee, and it ploughs a groove to my skin. The well lubricated blade had moved from it's No3 position straight to zero when I applied pressure. Oh well, nothing for it but to have a zero cut all over, I can't remember when I last saw my chin? Luckily it will soon grow back? Had a gorgeous brekkie in the cockpit, and as it's the 1st, had a massive clean up and polish down below. I just don't know how Nanjo accumulates so much dust and rubbish down below, as it's only me on her, I have nobody I can blame. Luckily it's soon done and the smell of pledge fills the saloon. It's still only noon, so I fancy a walk around for a bit. Load my pockets with dog biscuits and go looking foer my two buddies, I can't find Mutley or Fang anywhere, so somebody else must be taking them for a walk. I spend the next 2 hours just walking around town and the surrounding streets, typically I forgot my camera, and spotted a small pick up truck trying to reverse out of a driveway. In it's bed was a complete VW Golf on it's side, with a large chest freezer strapped on top, absolutely amazing,just wish I had my camera. Picked up a couple of bottles of wine and on my way back, popped into the small giros shop for a takeaway, eaten on the way back to Nanjo. The suns beaming down and it's a gorgeous afternoon, so stop at the fish harbour for a sit down and watch the antics of the fishermen. Back on board and my battery monitor is showing 14.4 volts and a nice green light on the regulator, I've disconnected the battery charger now, so will see if the panels can keep up with my electric usage. I've been having problems with my lap top working slowly, so downloaded a free pc tune up program. It's a 24hr trial, but you can use all it's facilities in that time. It found 1580 things wrong, so they were fixed along with all the recommendations it made to speed things up. I must be honest, it took a few hours, as I'm not that computer competant, but I'm well impressed with the results. I've gained a lot more free memory and everythings a lot quicker as well. Just wonder if after the 24hrs it all reverts back to the way it was? Spent the evening doing bangers and mash,reading Daves book and just relaxing.

Saturday 2nd February
Slept like the dead, I must have been over doing things lately? Woke up at 09:30, more my usual time. Bit cloudy out, but still nice enough for brekkie in the cockpit with radio 4 playing in the background. The forecast is for a sunny weekend, so my first job is to cycle to Carrefours for some steaks, two large ones for 3 euros and a tub of potato salad for tomorrows bbq. I'm soon back, and my first job is to oil my bike, it was making a hell of a racket pedaling to the supermarket, spent the rest of the morning sunbathing in the cockpit. Went for a walk in the afternoon, no sign of Mutley and Fang again, I thnk they have had a better offer of dog biscuits/walks? Just wandered around for 90mins, found some run down houses right next to some really well looked after places, it seems the same in the Uk, big difference between those doing ok and those not? Back on Nanjo and it was time to have a sit in the cockpit and relax with a beer, watching the cormorants diving under water. I fryed one of the steaks with an onion for my dinner, delish. Spent the evening reading and listening to some cd's.

Sunday 3rd February.
I was up early again, no idea why? Had a gorgeous hot shower before brekkie, just to liven me up a bit. Breakfast in the cockpit, then a relaxing time before the group barbie at 12:30. It was blowing a fair we moved the tables and chairs behind the loo block, plenty of new faces as well. I met four more Brits,a lovely French couple and Christine who is Dutch. We all spent the time chatting away while waiting for our different meats to cook. One topic that has me worried is, the marina as ran out of cradles to store any more yachts ashore? I'm due to be lifted out in two weeks, so not something I wanted to hear. I will call into the office tomorrow and see whats happening. My steak went down well, along with some of the dishes others had brought, and Trix had brought some delish sweets from a stall out of town, typical Greek and very sweet with plenty of honey on them. Bernard owns a gorgeous gaff rig schooner, that can set an impressive 9 sails in one go, if the conditions are right, and there is only him and his wife. I had a fantastic afternoon, chatting to everybody. Dave had mentioned a group playing at the Avant Garde bar in town, and 5 of us ended up going there at 19:30 The place was packed, so we spent some time standing at the bar, but grabbed a table in the corner asap. We were all drinking beers and getting large plates of tappas to tuck into as well. We noticed a vacant sofa nearer the bar, so Maggie and me got up to grab it and noticed the reserved sign, Oh well. I asked one of the waiters about it, but his English was worse than my Greek? A few minutes later, I had a tap on the shoulder by a young woman, asking me what I would like? Which to be honest threw me completely, I wasn't sure if she was offering to buy me a drink or something else? Luckily she refrased her question after she saw the confused look on my face. She wanted to know what I had asked the waiter? A couple of seconds later and we were sitting on the reserved leather, waiting for the band, we also got a free round of drinks on the house. The band turned up about 23:00 and Oh boy, they were excellant, a three piece Greek blues band. All the songs were in English, and they could all play really well. They got a young guy up from the bar, who played harmonica with them, he was superb as well. It was one of those nights where we didn't know what to expect or how good they would be. They finally finished at 2am, Maggie bought one of there cd's. It was a lovely night for a stagger back to the marina and our yachts, I can't remember when I last had 5 pints of beer? Back on board and the heater was quickly placed in the back cabin, the first thing I noticed though, was just how much I smelt of ciggarette smoke, not nice,believe me. 20mins later and I was in my bunk and well asleep.

Heavy rain and strong winds!
28/01/2013, Messolonghi marina

Monday: Gorgeous day, popped into town for some supplies. Spent the rest of the day lounging around and relaxing.

Tuesday: Went into town with Peter (Swiss) and Peter (Swedish) visiting solar panel shops, to sort out a bulk buying deal. None of them had the same prices or even the same panel sizes, and when it came to buying mono or poly fillament, they all agreed that what they were selling was the best? After 2 hours, they decided to visit a different shop, so the Peters are driving to Preveza tomorrow, to see Sune and Ulla and check out another solar panel shop. I'm happy with the 2x65 watt panels at 290 euros, I was quoted, I was going to buy from the UK and have them posted, but the risk of receiving them damaged as put me of that idea. Made a large veggie throw together for dinner.

Wednesday: Followed Dave into town who knew of a cheap gas bottle shop, got a re-fill for only 6 euros. Instead of the 8 i paid earlier. Good result. Decided to buy a cheap Carrefour toaster as recommended by others here and 10euros, my toast is using up my gas pretty quickly, so this will help? Stopped at my bread shop on the way back for a spinach/fetta pie, which was scoffed sitting on a bench overlooking the harbour, magic place for lunch. I decided that I should finally take the fridge compressor out and have a look at it. It came out easily enough, but as expected nothing I could do to fix it. A surf of the internet later gave me some ideas on what I could do though, and a guy on You Tube as cut the lid of one and shows it's inside and running, which as helped. Spuds and tinned toms for dinner, delish.

Thursday: Woken at 3am with Nanjo bouncing all over the place and the wind howling through the rigging. Popped my head out of the hatch and it's a crystal clear night and millions of stars, no idea where the wind was coming from? Met up with the Peters and of to town to order our panels at 10:30, it's hammering down,but luckily Peter managed to park nearby. The boss was out,so we went for a coffee and agreed to meet again at 1pm. It's heavy rain and it's really dark as well. Back into town at 1pm and we park outsde the shop. We then spend the next 90mins negotiating a price, if you ever want to get a good deal, my advice is take a Swiss with you. We were buying 8 panels of different sizes and controllers, the guys first discount was good, compared to the price he originally quoted. Me and Swedish Peter were happy. Swiss Peter asked him to do better, more paperwork and numbers, we got some more knocked off the price. We then worked out what we each owed, Swiss Peters came to an odd amount, so he asked to round it down? I'm beginning to feel sorry for the guy in the shop by now. Eventually he's happy with the deal,so we all are now. Peter saved me 30 euros on my deal and more for himself and Swedish Peter who were spending considerably more money than me. Result. They should arrive on Tuesday, my plan is to fit the panels to my A frame,use the wiring from the wind gen and take the wind gen off and store it below. My 2x 65 watt panels will easily keep my batteries charged while I'm in the UK, and when I'm back out I can run the extra wiring through the frame and to the regulator. To celebrate we all went for a beer. Back on board and the rains pouring down, forecast is for worse tomorrow. It rained all night and with very strong winds/thunder and lightning. I made a throw together for dinner,caulli,broccali,chopped onion and spag bol sauce. It might sound crap,but was great. Probably the large glass of red wine helped?

Friday: Woke at 8am and it's still bucketing down, so brekkie below. Rain and wind all day, only went ashore to the loo and to top up my electric on the meter. To fill the time, I went through all the suggestions on fixing my fridge I got of the internet. All to no success,as expected. Some of the yacht forums were recomending fitting a small household fridge and running it from an inverter,certainly a cheaper option and food for thought? Lunch was the remains of the potato salad,crusty bread and an orange. Spent the afternoon reading and listening to plays on radio 4. Even found time for an afternoon nap,after stickig the heater in the back cabin for 40mins to take the chill off, Slept till 8pm,then made mash,onion and the remains of the spag bol sauce. I've been listening to a five part 15min drama play on radio 4 "Tomorrow the Catwalk",really good, and the last episode was worth the wait.

Saturday: The heavy rain kept up all night, and into the early morning. A quick dash to the shower/loo block and back again was in order. A quick trip to Carrefours and the bread shop for supplies in one of the periods without rain, then back on board and relax. The marinas pretty flooded and to get ashore is a trip up the down ramp, I took some pics in the afternoon in another dry session. But there were plenty of evil looking clouds about. The evening was spent watching a film on You Tube "The Nun" horror movie, not bad and filled 90mins.Rounded the evening of with the cheese pie I bought earlier and a glass of vino. Hard to imagine that I'm flying back to the UK in only 5 weeks.

Sunday: Well it was meant to be a dry and overcast day? It was still raining when I woke, but the day ended up with small showers and dry periods. I needed to stretch my legs, so loaded my pockets with dog biscuits and went ashore. Mutley and Fang soon found me, and after giving them a biscuit each, we set of for a lovely walk. No destination in mind, just a stretch my legs jobby. I stopped for a sit down and left Mutley and Fang trying to chase cormorants, those birds can shift a lot quicker than you would think when a dogs after them. On the way back we all scoffed the remainder of my biscuits.I made it back on board just in time as the rain fell down again. To make me feel better, I cooked a large UK style fry up with a mug of tea. Proper comfort food I reckon? The sun finally made an appearence at 16:20, about an hour before it's due to sink below the horizon. The forecast is for a dry week next week, my fingers are x already. Spent the evening watching the full length film "Dune" on You Tube,great film and I've not seen it in years.

28/01/2013 | ooi
Hi there, very nice to read your blog...
You said that the solar panel will charge the battery when you back at UK??
How long will you be away? is it OK just leave the battery to solar changing without much attention?
29/01/2013 | Jim Andrews
Hi. They should be ok. I will be charging a bank of 3 sealed batteries, total 360 amps and the solar power will be going through a regulator which only allows power when the batteries need it. There is also an inline fuse fitted in case the regulator fails. I will be leaving my navtex and clock wired up, so there will always be a small drain on the batteries as well. I'm away for 12mths, but expect to be out here twice during that time. Glad you like the blog.
31/01/2013 | John Devine
Great blog .. Great reading what the weather is like while we are over here in Australia sweating it out :)
04/02/2013 | Jim Andrews
Hi john, glad you like my blog, and your enjoying the sunshine where you are. If you have any spare can you send it to Greece please>
Storms and Sunshine
21/01/2013, Messolonghi marina

Monday 14th to Sunday 20th January

It's been a really rough week weather wise as expected, strong winds,torrential rain and thunder/lightning. The big consolation is we have had no frost or snow like the UK. Monday was ok, so I got motivated and gave the bike a really good wash to get all the mud of from the weekend. A service as well revealed several loose bolts, pedal cranks and steering stem, so nothing important? It must be all the vibrations from the pot holes, I will check them more often now. A trip to my favourite bakers, for bread and a pie, and I was given a free small brown loaf to try out. The bakers trying a new idea? I had to give feedback when I next went in, to be honest it was a bit solid and not ideal for toast and jam? Of to Carrefours then and I'm in luck, the lovely cheap red wine I like is back in stock, so obviously loaded the bike with a few.

Tuesday and the winds and rain started, woke up and went for a shower and no water at all. I popped into the office and the girls said this side of town was out, and they hoped to have it fixed by tomorrow? Really glad I'm on a yacht and not in town.It was out all day, Oh well, just have to have a shower on board, strange how you get out of the habbit of doing things?

Wednesday and it's been a rough night on board, Nanjo was getting thrown about a fair bit in the wind. I'm really glad that I'm here and not out at sea, Sune and Ulla should have made it to Tranquill Bay by now, so should be ok at anchor. Tried to go ashore and was greeted by the shore gang welding the jetty on/off ramp back together, the chains holding it in place had broke, due to our pontoon bouncing up and down so much? It didn't take them long to resecure it all though. The waters back on as well, so I enjoyed spending 30 cents in the hot water. That was the extent of my going ashore for the day, I spent a bumpy night on board.

Thursday night and the winds and rain had picked up, I woke at 10am, and it was still very dark outside. It was to stay grey and miserable all day, with strong winds and rain. The windows are not leaking now, so I'm well pleased. I only got of Nanjo to use the loo and top up the electric meter, and typically my water tanks ran dry as well. So, I waited for a dry spell to fill them up again. It's trying to keep myself ammused and busy below when It's bad outside, that stretches the imagination. I finally got round to scraping the duct tape residue of the inside of the port side windows, a job that I've been putting of for ages. Luckily I had picked up a small bottle of chewing gum/glue remover and with a bit of cloth and a plastic scraper made from an old jam jar top, it only took me 90mins? The evening was spent, reading and trying to get an internet connection,cooking a large UK style fry up for dinner made me feel a lot better, and of course running the electric fire made the cabin nice and cosy as well.

Friday,and that wind and rain kept up most of the night, luckily I sleep through most of it now. It's only the strange noises that wake me up.amazing how I pick them up, even though I'm sure I'm in a deep sleep? The rain stopped for a bit and luckily for me as I had ran out of bread, I fancied a walk to the bakers,and as luck would have it so did Mutley and Fang. I suppose they have not seen many people about the last few days. They are really great dogs and we had a lovely time on our walk. funny how they would stick close to me when other dogs approached. Not sure if they were protecting me or I was meant to protect them? I noticed my barrometer today, and it's reached it's lowest since I'be been out here at 1005mb, beating the previous best low from the storm at Sami. The strong winds kept up all day, and chatting to Trix later, they had seen 52knots on there wind gauge. Had a chill out afternoon,with some music and a book. My budget took a bit of a bashing last month, so I'm on a real economy mode at the moment. Madeline had mentioned a bunch were going into town for a meal and a Greek night, I had to decline unfortunately. I'm living on 20 to 30 euros a week at the moment, and I could easily spend that in one night ashore. It's amazing just how much it's going to cost me to go back to the UK and start working life again, currently about 5 months living costs out here?

Saturday, and I woke up late and to a gorgeous blue sky and no wind. The whole marina takes on a different feel as people are sitting in there cockpits again having breakfast and chatting. I was soon doing the same on Nanjo, followed by a luxurious shower and clean clothes,the simple things in life are the best. Did a shop at Carrefours and picked up some veg at the market as well,looks like bbq weather for Sunday so bought a large chop at the butchers. It turned out to be a gorgeous afternoon as well, so rather than sit around I decided to go for a walk and took Mutley and Fang with me. I was just walking up and down the small side streets in the general direction of the town and taking photographs. The dogs were glad I had filled my pockets with dog biscuits,which we all shared? I passed a small giros shop in one of the streets, and I have to be honest the smell coming from it was just to tempting, so I blew 1e90c on a pitta giros, my first for some time. I sat on the wall overlooking the lagoon and enjoyed the view and giros immensley. I'm sorry to say that Mutley and Fang did not get any, despite the pleading looks I was getting from them. Back on board, and the suns just so warm, it's time for an Alpha beer and a lounge in the cockpit. I'm going to miss this simple and easy life? Dinner later was Garys spuds (delish) and a couple of glases of red wine. I went to sleep early after setting my alarm for 8am, want to get to the laundry first thing.

Sunday,and I was up just before the alarm went off. A round of toast and jam then of to the laundry,the sky did not look to good though. 50mins later and the washings on the line, the suns coming out and Dave as called round to confirm the barbie is on. Nothing for me to do except sit in the cockpit and have a read until 12:30. There were 10 of us for a great barbie in a gorgeous sunny afternoon, temp hitting 20 degs, and we are in t-shirts. My pork chop was just delish,all washed down with some red wine. We all spent the afternoon chatting and discussing where we had been and where we were going to. I'm the only one going back to work, the others will be sailing to new harbours and countries. It was great to talk with so many who have lived the life I want for so long, and find out what works and what does not when your living onboard 24/7. Some of my ideas I've now changed, and discovered better alternatives or given up on them altogether as a waste of funds. Madeline had made a gorgeous Bonoffee pie, something I had not tasted in ages and it was superb. Back on Nanjo and the washing had all dried and was soon folded away. It was soon time to close all the hatches as the sun went down and the temperature dropped. I spent another lazy evening,looking at property to rent and reading my book.

Cinema and Drag Racing
Gorgeous sunshine and cold nights
15/01/2013, Messolonghi marina

It's been a pretty good week here in Messolonghi weather wise. I managed to go for a long walk on Monday, and finally got to go round the Hereos Garden at the top of town. I really wished I knew more about the place and who the many statues were of. Hopefully when I come back in the summer there might be a guide around to tell me. But, it's certainly a peaceful place to spend a while walking amongst the palm trees.Monday night and five of us went to the local cinema and watched a Woody Allen movie "Midnight in Paris" spoken in English with Greek subtitles. It was in the old train sheds, which have been beautifully restored and now house in one part a small cinema. The movie was shown from a dvd through a projector, and we even had a stop for refreshments half way through. It was a lovely ending to a gorgeous day here.
Tuesday and Wednesday were very cold during the day and night, the heater was working overtime in my cabin. It's amazing just how much electric you can get through, with a 2kw heater, but I thought worth every euro, just to be comfortable? The main event for me was the upcoming Drag races at the local airfield on the weekend. My days until then were filled with small jobs onboard and the odd trip to town for bread and supplies.
Wednesday and I heard from my mate Pete at work, that I will be returning to my old depot to work, which was a great relief to be honest. They could have sent me anywhere within a 45 mile radious. It's not certain I will be driving the trucks yet, but they will be paying me truck driving wages, so I should think they will want to get there monies worth? I would be more than happy, to stay on a less stressfull job though inside,pushing yorks around as I was before I came away.
Sat morning and it had been raining during the night, and we had some rain in the morning as well. I cycled to the local airfield in about 25mins through the water logged roads and mud. Passing a gypsy site and the local dump on the way. It wa only 10 euros for the whole weekend, which seemed a fair price to me. Cycling up to the airfield, I noticed the old fighter jets in the field, so naturally had to have a good look, as you can see in the pics I took. It's the first time I've been this close to jets, as normally they are in museums and behind barriers. First thing that struck me was, just how small they are, certainly no room inside for Fat pilots? My brother as supplied the info on the jets, as I have no idea what make they were at all. I managed to take some cockpit pics just by holding my camera up above my head. Apparently they have been just sitting there and rotting since 2008 at least.
The pits were full of really nice Pro Stock scooters, all with 125cc engines and some running nitrous oxide, but they had to maintain the main frame tube and headstock, along with the original engine mounts. As you can see in the pics, some had wheelie bars fitted, and they needed them. These little rockets hit 200kph (124mph) down the strip, with the riders fighting them all the way on there skinny tyres. Great fun to watch and I'm sure a cheap way to go racing? Most of the cars were driven to the track, and mainly souped up Mitsubishi Evos,BMW's and Pug 205's. I was suprised to see an old Ford XR3i there, with plenty of carbon fibre and a huge set of slicks on the front. He certainly went fast enough. Another old Ford was the Sierra Cosworth I took the picture of his engine bay, and the enourmous turbo stands out in it. He was another, giving the more modern cars a run for there money. Saturday and there were probably about 300 there, as it was pretty cold and damp. The guy in the pics with the "Leaf Blower" had a full time job, keeping the track clear. But on Sunday, the sun came out and it was a gorgeous day. I knew it would be busy, when i started to see cars parked along the road about a half a mile from the airfield. There must have been a couple of thousand spectators in the end, both side of the strip were lined. I went to the top end for a change, and was really suprised to find no barriers or even ropes up there. Just a poor harrased marshall with a whistle, shouting at people to stand back when a car/bike was coming. I stood there with them, and the site of a Hyabusa bike doing about 180mph coming straight at me was amazing. I only stayed for the one though, then moved onto the grass. I guess the Greek health and safety is a lot different to ours. I reckon that if any body had got hit, then it's pretty well your fault for being there, as the dangers were pretty obvious to all? No need for "Injury Lawyers For You" to get involved. I think that we are really getting to be a "Nanny" state now, and nobody is prepared to take responsibility for there own actions. It's one of the things I'm not looking forward to going back to the UK for,as the company I work for, is just so far up it's arse with Health and Safety it's unbelievable, I hate to think what new rules have been brought in, in the year I've been away?
The drag racing all went smoothly, I only saw one car blow it's engine up, and one bike fail to stop at the far end and ended up in the ditch. They dragged him and his bike out and he looked ok? I had missed the bbq by the time I had gotten back to the marina. From what Dave told me later, everybody had a great time in the sunshine.
On Sunday morning Sune and Ulla, left early on the first part of there trip to the Aktio yard at Preveza, where they will be lifted out. I was still fast asleep when they left, but luckily managed to say goodbye to them both on the Saturday night. They are a fantastic couple who helped me and gave me plenty of good advice. The dock looks empty now there Ellan 36 as gone.
My evenings were spent as before, catching up on the net, when it was working or reading my book. I kept my meals all simple and cheap, as I'm trying to save as much as I can, now I know how much rental properties will cost me. Next week and we have strong winds and rain forecast to look forward to??

Happy New Year
Gorgeous sunshine
08/01/2013, Messolonghi Marina

A very Happy New Year to everybody who reads this blog. I hope that all your dreams and wishes come true for you in 2013.

Monday 31st December to Sunday 6th January 2013

We had agreed to meet up on New Years Eve and go into town to celebrate the New Year, Roy had already booked a table and luckily managed to get Peter, Trix and myself added to it. It was at a gorgeous restaurant I had never been to before, it's known as the "tablecloth" restaurant, and I could see why when we entered. Certainly a lot more upmarket than the paper table cloths I'm used to. A really lovely atmosphere and a very good group playing as well. It was a great evening, I had no idea what the time was, when the band stopped and the lights went out. It was the Greeks midnight and New Year, so hugs all round. The good news for us is, we managed to celebrate the Swiss New Year an hour later, then the UK new year after that. Certainly better having 3 celebrations than the usual 1. It was a beautiful night as we walked back to the marina and our boats, Peter was pointing out various star constellations, which to be honest up until then I've never understood.
The weather on New Years day was just gorgeous and it's stayed that way all week. The nights are a different matter though, and the temperature really drops once that sun goes down. I spent the week doing some of the jobs on my list all outside as the weather was so good. The Avon dinghy has been sitting in the cradle on my cabin top since I left Vlicho. So, I pumped it up and gave it a reaslly good fresh water wash and let it dry in the sun. Then rolled it up and put it away in the cockpit locker. I scrubbed the heads/shower compartment out completely, as it's not used anymore. I was amazed at just how much hair/junk there was around the shower outlet hose. I've put a filter on my list of things to buy? I got both the sails up and hosed them down as best I could, they soon dried in the gorgeous sun, and I was walking around in just my shorts as well. Much to the amusement of the marina staff? The jib was taken down and folded away, a quick look at the stitching and I could see no problems, although the sun sacrificial strip needs replacing on the edge. The mainsail came down next, and thats really showing signs of quite a bit of stitching coming undone. Dave came over for a chat and gave me a hand to fold it back up on the pontoon. They have both been stowed below in the bow cabin now. Tracy had brought me out some cold yellow dye, and I'm going to have a go at re-dyeing the sail cover one day while I'm here. Nanjo looks a lot more naked without her sails on now, I was hoping to have the odd day sail when I first arrived here, but it's never happened and as I've only two months before I fly home, I thought it best to make a start on de-commishoning Nanjo.
I ran the engine for an hour this week, the first time since I arrived here on Dec 1st. being plugged into the electric and not moving I've forgotten about it. I'm glad to say she started 2nd push of the start button and ran beautifully, ahead and astern with her usual steady thump/thump. I will be changing the oils and stripping her down once I'm ashore, and getting her ready for a year on the hard. Another small job was to wash all the ropes that are not being used in fresh water with a bit of fabric conditioner, after a day in the bucket they all regained there suppleness again. They are now all dried and stowed away as well. Dave recommended a wood yard just out past Lidls, so I peddaled out there one day. A really large yard and the two guys there spoke good English as well. I was after some 10mm marine ply for the anchor locker hatch, as mines rotten and collapsing. They had marine ply but it would have cost 80euros, they suggested outdoor ply, which all the fishermen use for cabins. As I intended to cover the ply with epoxy and fibre glass anyway, they reckoned it should last at least 10 years as the fishermen just paint the wood and it lasts 5? Total cost was 20 euros, and they cut it roughly to size for me as well. It was fun cycling back with the two planks under my arm, but I soon mastered it, luckily the cars and buses gave me a wide berth. I reckoned that when I can do it with a plank under each arm, a coffee in my hand and at least two kids on the bike, then I can apply for Greek citizenship? The sunny days were magic, and the views from Nanjo with the snow on the mountains are really a great thing to wake up to.
Saturday and I finally woke up in time to get to the local market before it closed. It's mostly veg and some clothes stalls. I was on a mission to buy some fresh spinach, my first hurddle on looking at the stalls, was, I had no idea what it looked like in it's natural state? Luckily I bumped into Roy and Madeline and she pointed out what I should look for. I soon found a stall with a large box of it, and luckily the guy spoke a little English. He asked how much I wanted, I had no idea so said half a kilo? He then got a plastic bag and commenced to fill it up, honestly he just kept piling it into the bag, and I'm thinking I will have enough for the year? So, I told him to stop, I was amazed to see his scales and I was nowhere near the half kilo. Total cost 80cents. Feeling a bit guilty I bought a gorgeous broccalli, cauliflower,peppers and a couple of chillis, which bumped it up to 4 euros, and left me with a bike full of veg for the week. I'm planning on cooking a deluxe bubble and squeak one night?
Saturday night I was invited for dinner on Peter and Trix's yacht a Vagabond 42, along with Roy and Madeline. Peter has another gorgeous yacht, she was built in Thailand and the interior wooden fit out is just superb, they have a large owners state room aft, with a queen size bed. If money was no object, she's another yacht I would love to own. They have a diesel heater system, and inside was just so warm, with the heater running on a thermostat. I've put one on my wish list of things to buy. As they said, once I'm out here full time, I won't have to use shore side electric to keep me warm, and the diesel heater running costs are a lot less than my plug in fan heater. They are £1,300 new in the UK, so I have a year to find a used one on E-Bay i reckon? Trix is a great cook and she made a dish with rice,prawns,curry powder,some veg and cheese, it was absolutely delish and I've asked for the receipe. She even reckons I can cook it under my grill. It was another great evening in marvelous company.
Sunday morning and I get a knock on my hull, it's Trix and they have noticed a large crowd gathered over in the harbour. We are soon on our bikes and going for a look, it turns out to be a religious ceremony. There are hundreds of people there, and the town band arrives and lead by some peiests all dressed up. At the waters edge they sing a bit and a group of youngsters gathers in the swim gear. Then the priest throws a small cross in and the lads dive after it, that water must have been blooming cold. I'm glad to see a tubby guy I noticed earlier had the cross in his hand. I reckon he let all the skinnies jump in first then jumped in on top of them all? I've heard he gets the pick of the towns virgins, shame he only has the year to find one? I think he really gets blessed by the priest, and has not got to put any money in the collection box for the year?
Sunday afternoon was a group bbq, Dave had seen me on Saturday and mentioned it. So a quick trip into town for some meat at the butchers. Two large steaks cut from the bone, I had a look around and there were some very small skinned animals, who's shape I did not recognise and prefered not to ask about as well. The steaks were only 3e50c a real bargain. I picked up a carton of potato salad as well. There were 10 of us and we all had a great time basking in the sunshine, eating and drinking and swapping stories. I just could not imagine anybody doing this back in the UK?
Peter had mentioned they were showing Woody Allens "Midnight in Paris" at the local cinema and would I like to go. It sounded a great idea to me, so we got in his car and drove there for 7pm, it's the old engine sheds re-furbished and the place does look great from the outside and inside as well. A small cinema and all the seats covered in red draylon just like the old days. The film was being shown from a dvd and through a projector, they even stopped the film half way through so people could get a snack. We were lucky as it was in English with Greek subtitles, it was a lovely way to end Sunday and I would certainly go again. Back on board and the heater was switched on and my cabin soon nice and warm. I spent the evening as usual, wrapped in my love blanket on the settee, watching a film on You Tube or reading my book. I'm going to miss this simple life when I'm back in the UK for sure?

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