Getting the Wind Up
18 April 2013 | Greece
It had been a cold and wet winter in Wales so I was happy to be returning to Greece aboard an Easyjet flight to Athens. The following morning I caught the early bus for the six hour trip to Preveza and the boatyard where 'Salara' had been laid up for the winter months.
It was the 1 March, St David's Day and the sun was shining as I clambered aboard. I connected up the mains electrical power, refilled the freshwater tanks and made myself a cup of tea. Things were returning to normal.
While in UK I had ordered a complete set of new windows for 'Salara'. They had arrived ahead of me so my first task was to check them out in case of damage. Thankfully they were all OK and I stowed them on board to be fitted later. The priority was to get the yacht ready to be lifted back into the water. After an unfortunate escapade with a reef last season in the Aegean there was some damage to repair on the keel before I could apply the antifouling paint. There were also some scars on the stem to be attended to which had occurred in Crete when the strong Meltemi wind had pushed her against the pontoon.
So I worked hard for the next few days while the weather was favourable, as rain was forecast later in the week. I paid the balance of the marina fees as well as the fee for 'permission to launch' to the Port Police and 'Salara' was launched off the following Friday morning. I was glad to be afloat once more and motored her the short distance to tie up alongside in Preveza Dock and within easy walking distance of the town centre shops and supermarkets.
Some fresh food was very welcome as during my stay at the boatyard I had been forced to exist on tinned food from 'Salara's' stores.
I stayed in Preveza over the weekend and during that time fitted the sails and generally prepared her for sea. This also has the advantage of creating more space within the hull.
On Monday morning I paid my mooring fees and set off for the small harbour at Vonitsa a short distance away. When I arrived I was disappointed to find that a large trimaran and a large catamaran were taking up most of the available space and all the permanent mooring lines.
There was no one on board either and they had obviously been left there over the winter months. So 'Salara' was forced to berth alongside on the extreme west of the quay completely exposed to any north westerly winds.
I stayed for two nights, during which I fussed over the engine having discovered that the raw water pump had started to leak. Why these faults always manifest themselves after the winter lay-up I know not.
I had been monitoring the weather and a vicious system was approaching from the west with gale force south easterlies forecast. As this depression travelled through 'Salara' would become exposed the winds on its back edge. I decided to return to Preveza Dock without delay and arrived there just as the wind started to pick up. I chose a suitable berth and tied up using extra dock lines. The wind then howled for over 24 hours, at times gusting to over 40 knots and creating quite a surge in the harbour until it eventually veered into the northwest. Apart from a chafed dock line 'Salara' was unscathed.
Being once more in Preveza it was be less of a problem to remove the water pump and have new seals fitted as here there are more workshop facilities available. The pump was returned to me within 24 hours and I refitted it the following day pleased that 'Salara' once more had a fully functioning engine.
I did, in fact, change my plans slightly and stayed for some time in Preveza taking the opportunity to order some engine spares from UK and to carry out yet more work on 'Salara' while awaiting them.
'Salara' had been in the dock for about a week while I enjoyed the convenience of the nearby town which boasts two chandleries, numerous hardware shops and the all important ATM's. Yet another gale was forecast and when it arrived it really made it's presence felt, with wind speeds of over 60 knots from the south east which caused a bad surge in the dock. During one tremendous gust the vanes and hub of the Rutland wind charger on top of the mizzen mast just disintegrated. (As you can see above). Later the locals said that a few yachts had been blown over in one of the boatyards and it was the worst storm they had experienced this winter.
The next morning I visited the internet café in the town and ordered a new Rutland 914i wind charger unit. More expense and yet more mooring fees to pay while I waited for it to be delivered.
Some may question the wisdom of again purchasing a Rutland but the old unit had lived on top of the mizzen mast for over ten years surviving all that nature could throw at it and had crossed the Atlantic twice, so I think it was good value for money.
A few days later yet another gale crashed through again delivering gusts of 40 knots and some heavy rain. The ongoing forecast was still predicting strong winds and unsettled weather. I had to await my engine spares and new wind charger to arrive so it was just a case of being philosophical about the situation.
In due course I was contacted to tell me that both packages had arrived at Cleopatra Boatyard and would I collect them. The dinghy was ready and waiting so I endured a wet ride across the water to fetch them. The next morning, straight after breakfast, I climbed the mizzen mast, removed the old windcharger and replaced it with the shiny new one. Once again 'Salara' was back to normal and if it had not been for the fact that yet another gale was forecast I would have left Preveza the next day.