Ionian at last
13 August 2016 | Little Vathi, Ithica
We left Taramina Early on the morning of Saturday 2nd July. Initially we had planned to sail just during the daylight hours to Rochella Ionica And then stay there the night before moving on with another day sail to Cretonne before making the big push across the Ionian sea to Crete. However after sailing for 6 hours we had a steady beam reach with winds of about 15knots and were making great progress we reached the headland and decided to 'Just Go For It' so altered course and set sail for the Ionian islands directly we found ourselves surfing with a following sea and 22 knots of wind from behind so with the main we downwind sailed through the night. Jackie was sill getting her sea legs back after 15 months off the boat found the roly motion and felt a little queasy however a dose of sea sickness tablets seemed to do the trick and she was fine.. The conditions stayed the similar for the remainder of the trip and we arrived at the south of Lefkas island on the Monday morning. We dropped the hook in Vasaliki bay with clear blue waters and a sandy bottom for the anchor to dig in. Almost immediate we were over the side swimming and snorkelling to check the anchors holding. The wind rose to a Strong 26 knots in late afternoon and the windsurfers were out in force zooming up and down the bay, but by evening the wind subsided to give us a calm first night in Greece.
Next morning we motored in flat calm seas as if on a lake around the south of lefkas and up the channel between meganisi and Lefkas we found a small sheltered shallow patch, dropped the hook whilst under sail the momentum of the boat digging the anchor in so we could once again swim and relax in the clear water. That evening we slowly motored past Naxos and into Vlycho Bay.
This evening we finished our rear water tank and changed onto the largest central one 'Disaster' no water would come out! We knew the tank was full but once again could not get anything to come out. Clearing filters on the pump didn't fix it neither did trying the blow air down the extraction pipe either. The problem was that whilst we have a inspection hatch on the port side of the tank the pipe drawing water off is located on the deeper central section. Access to this is blocked by a baffle and no inspection hatch covers this central portion. Following a meeting with friends Stuart and Christine who were having a new stainless arch made we managed to persuade 'Stainless Phil', despite his busy schedule, to come out to the boat at anchor and with the generator running cut a new hole in the top of the tank. We had prior to this purchased a plastic inspection hatch to fit once the hole had been cut. Once we gained access we discovered the central section was full of calcium deposits. Thinking this was the cause of the blocked pipe tried to feed a wire up inside it to clear the blockage. At this the pipe disintegrated into Pete's hands aluminium corrosion had obviously taken place over the 26 years since Argonauta had been built and 15months lay up had been the final straw. Withdrawing it, found the whole tube pitted with tiny holes. This gave us a dilemma, the starboard aft tank was leaking water into the engine bay so till we could fix that we had stopped using it, now we had no means of drawing water out of our largest tank, leaving us with only one port aft tank with a capacity of 120 ltrs not really enough for any serious time cruising. The tank was now also occupied with the aluminium swarf left from cutting the inspection hatch. It had to be drained, and then thoroughly cleaned out. Another 220ltrs of fresh water had to be dumped! Not having a suitable outlet pipe or the facilities on board to weld one in place we fashioned a new pipe out of the aluminium tubing we had left over from previous project. Because we did not want to make any more holes in the tank till we could fathom out a permanent solution, we drilled a hole in the plastic inspection hatch lid and epoxied the pipe to that carefully bending a 90 deg bend in the pipe as we only had 20mm clearance at the top of the tank to our cabin floor. The solution appears to work though the epoxy pipe,lid connection is not 100% waterproof. Its on the top of the tank and not under any pressure so will suffice for the summer and allows us to carry 340ltrs of water in two tanks till we can make significant improvements to our water system this winter.
Repairs done we left for Little Vathi on Meganisi with only about 40 liters of water on board. We knew we could fill the tanks there. We tied up to the town quay ' Free mooring' – Great! Only to find that there was no water available. Fortunately later that night one of the other boats managed to open a manhole cover (don't ask how) and by dint of fixing together at least three hose pipes from different boats we managed to get water not only for us but for about 6 other boats on the quay.