16 June 2022
Leros, Lipsi, Marathos, Leros, Marathos Ikaria!!!
Life Is Not Just a Bowl of Cherries!
We left Leros marina with John and Peter waving us off and did a run up and down the bay to check that everything was working before dropping the anchor and waiting for Jack to arrive. I made a huge Spag Bol as I guessed he would be hungry.
With all the mayhem at the airports that we have been reading and hearing about, we were deeply concerned that he might not make it. He did. Albeit his flight from Gatwick was delayed by one and a half hours he still had enough wiggle room to get his connection from Athens to Leros. Andreas picked him up from the dock in Dubsy the dinghy and we got him on board.
Next morning we headed for Nisos Lipsi. A sporty sail to start the 20 mile passage but later the wind died and we finished on the engine. We anchored in our favourite bay and went ashore for a walk about and supper and showed Jack around.
Preparing to leave the next day, Andreas started the engine but I had absolutely no power at the windlass (the big chunky motor on the bow that gets the anchor up). This windlass is just a few months old so I was shocked to think it was faulty. To our horror, Andreas could not turn the engine off! Now we were getting worried and independently all sorts of thoughts were whizzing around our heads. Andreas went down below and turned No.1 battery off (this battery starts the engine and powers the windlass) and the engine stopped. He then turned it back on again and our battery monitor very begrudgingly crept up to 12.7 volts and he started the engine and the windlass worked perfectly. And the clue is in the word "begrudgingly" and we wrongly assumed that the problem was with the No.1 switch and that turning it off and then on again had fixed it. We all know about taking the plug out of a socket, blowing on it, and putting it back in again don't we?????
With the anchor up we set off but motored the 7 miles to Marathos as there was no wind . Jack successfully picked up a mooring buoy, we secured the boat and went for a swim finishing the day with a meal in the Pirate Taverna. Michalis (aka The Pirate) was noticeably absent and we learnt that he was in hospital in Thessaloniki. We have no other information but wish him well.
Very strong winds were forecast for the next day so we decided to stay put as they were coming from the North West and would be bang on our nose with the added bonus of a horrid sea state. So we went ashore, did some walking, took photos and Jacks' opinion of the views was "awesome ".
Next day was a much better day, lighter winds and a flat sea state but again we had no power and could not start the engine. Fiddling with No.1 switch did nothing at all. After a team talk, the decision was made to return to Leros as there we could easily sort the problem, unlike here on Marathos where there are just 3 tavernas on the beach and a herd of goats. No shops, cars and absolutely no mechanics. The only thing we could do was to sail off our mooring and continue under sail back to Leros. If I hadn't been so busy instructing Jack on how to let our mooring line go, and getting the main sail up, I would have videoed it all. Classic text book stuff. The wind took our bow round, Jack let the mooring line go and we sailed off our mooring. Absolute perfection.
We called the marina, explained our predicament and they said that once we got back into the bay, they would come and tow us into the marina.
The wind was kind to us and we sailed all the way to the entrance ( 20 miles) where we had to do a left turn. At this point it died. Zilch. Sooooo frustrating!!! Bloomin heck. Now what??? Well, as pure luck would have it, behind us was a solitary yacht and they were dropping their sails in readiness to go into the bay. Their yacht name, Tao3, was written very visibly on the boom so I went up to the bow, cupped my hands, hailed their name to get their attention and did the distress signal of waving and crossing my arms. They came over, I explained our situation, they said they would throw us a line and tow us into the bay. And that's exactly what we did. When we arrived close to the marina, Sebastian and Yianni (John) came out in the marina rib, I let the tow line go, thanked Tao3 a million times over, and the marina guys pushed us onto the loading bay where we tied up alongside.
Our dear friend John (Brown Bear) was there to help take our lines and he came aboard and between him and Andreas, established that our problem was down purely to our starter battery. It had a broken down cell, and although showed us on our battery monitor as being 12.7 volts, as soon as it was put under load it collapsed. It needed to be replaced.
Mike, another yachtie, currently in the yard and who had a rental scooter, kindly offered to take our knackered battery to the local gas station and returned with a Duracell top of the range one. Once connected, Andreas started the engine. BINGO!!! Job done.
Our ENORMOUS thanks go to Tao3, Sebastian and Yianni and John.
Getting back to the word "begrudgingly" - our starter battery was quite clearly telling us that all was not well when it took time to reach 12.7 volts. Unfortunately, we were not in the right place, on either occasion to fix it. So , with clear thinking, experience and team talking we got ourselves out of gaol easily without any major histrionics. Despite the few stressy moments, we did good. Real good.
Unfortunately, after several discussions since his arrival, Jack shared that he was not in the right state of mind for this trip due to issues with his home life and work. In this instance, I am not going into detail. Suffice to say, after just 4 days we had another team talk and he decided that he would leave us on Leros and go home.
We said goodbye to him early next morning and we then slipped from the loading bay and motored on very flat water back to Marathos where we picked up a mooring buoy- the feeling of de ja vous was very strong, and we ate ashore.
Next morning we had a fabulous sail for 14 miles before having to quit and put the engine on because the wind became very fickle and the remaining 7 miles was on horrid, horrid water. Very rock and roll which we both hate as does Alice our autohelm. Eventually we got into Agios Kirikos, Ikaria. The marina was packed and we ended up rafting off a German sail boat. But we were here. Time to chill, catch up with our friends, renew our boat tax , file our annual Greek tax return and catch our breath before moving on.
Muse for this post: If you only knew how many amazing days are still ahead of you. Keep going and I promise you some of the best days of your life haven't even happened yet.