A Timeless Odyssey

Allures 45 (a thing of great practical beauty)

Ionian 2020 Blog 4 (27 October 2020)

Back at the Hotel Iris/Sailing Holidays pontoon, all was quiet and the First Mate was happy. The pool and bar and the friendly Archie adding some Greek cheer to the evenings. The holding tank guy showed up in the morning with our custom-made holding tank. We have said goodbye to the aft heads bathroom cupboard and I have the frame out and the door off. The tank looks ominously big (both good and bad) but Les’s measurements are good and it fits in the hole with millimetres to spare. Getting the fittings on is going to be a challenge. We used to have this fancy piece of kit, an Electroscan, that masticated waste and applied a current to an electrode to split the NaCl (salt) into sodium and chlorine. The chlorine then nuked the bacteria in the brown stuff and pumped it. Sounds great but it had these exposed CAT5 cables that went from the controller in the bilge, to an LED display situated around the back of the toilet. This system in a marine environment, and being in the shower room proved to not be a good idea! The LED display had interesting features like counting the number of shits that it had nuked. Very useful information for a sailor? To cut a long story short for the past 3 years this fancy piece of kit has been working intermittently and this year it was totally kaput. Incredibly the original owners did not fit a holding tank at all. A combination of the following led us to a decision to scrap it; 1) the fact that countries look for holding tanks and explaining this Electroscan to any over zealous official was probably going to be totally lost in translation exercise (and it would not be on their tick list anyway), 2) if we fixed this one, it would likely end up going down the same electronics corrosion failure path a second time and 3) It was going to cost $2000 to fix with complicated shipping to the US. The job ahead was to tear out all of this piping, much of which was below the waterline and hence if the main seacock failed during the operation (low risk) we could sink the boat. The second part was avoiding spilling any residual sewerage into the bilge. It took all day, and the spanner monkey had to endure quite a lot of profanity and squeeze her hands into gaps that mine would not fit into. In the end we got it done and amazingly all the fitting sealed with no leaks on start up. Bruised forearms and scraped and bleeding fingers healed quickly. I guess we shall have to count our own shits from now on.

We stayed a second day on the pontoon. Lucky that there was just enough room for the Sailing Holidays flotilla and so it allowed us to chill from our mission the day before.

We then spent two days over on Meganisi on the quay at Kapnigio with Alex and Zeus. Georgios, their baby, had grown and is now walking. We also met up with Morag and Kevin, the Surf Africans from Durban. They had come out in early March and had been stuck there for 7 months due to the Covid-19 travel restrictions. Alex and Zeus were open but not serving meals like they usually do. It was great to catch up with all and we just chilled and cycled into Vathi to shop and eat at the Tavernas.

From here we headed for Kastos and had a cracking sail until we rounded the NE corner of Kalamos. As we edged around the end of the 700m high island the wind was in a rotor and we struggled in waves of dead calm alternating with gusts of 20 knots. The first mate was trying to make tea and wasn’t impressed. We dropped the main and motor sailed to Kastos harbour. It was late in the season and we were lucky to find two Tavernas still open. The weather was sublime and we spent two days tied alongside the stub mole on the far side of the harbour. We went for a long walk along the roughly hewn track towards the SW tip of the island, discovering some beautiful basic holiday dwellings that were tastefully blended into the harsh rocky limestone and ancient olive trees. Kastos has a population of about 25 in winter, it is one of my favourite places in the Ionian south of the Lefkas canal.

The clock was running down on the haul out scheduled for 24 October and we needed to line a few things up to be done over winter as well as collect a staysail that had been repaired. We went to Lefkas town and were lucky to find a place on the town quay, which was jam packed with charter boats being de-rigged for the end of the season. We got Waypoint to come and give a quote for a second downwind pole and measure up for a replacement of the standing rigging which is nearly 10 years old. The advice is that if we are going to go around the world, we should probably do it before we leave. We also did a little modification on our plumbing on the new holding tank, essentially taking some bends out of the pipe so we can stick the wire spring thingy up from underwater if there is, heaven forbid, a blockage.

We had been to Lefkas twice before but somehow had been busy with other things. The town Quay is bordered by the busy main road that provides the only access on and off of the island. Thus we thought it a bit of a dump. This time though we ventured deeper into the town and were pleasantly surprised to find a labyrinth of quaint alleys, squares and old churches. It had redeemed itself, or perhaps we had redeemed ourselves from our too quick to assume and too lazy to explore?

We needed to get on with the “tear down”, so we again found ourselves on Preveza town quay, where we managed to take down all the sails and unnecessary canvas and set about spring cleaning the boat and getting laundry dealt with. We were blessed with fine weather for it but it was getting late in the year and the mornings had a certain chill and heavy dew. It was however still not cold enough to need the duvet itself, although we were now sleeping under a sheet and the duvet cover, without the duvet. I don’t think the duvet has seen action for four summers now.

We hauled out on Saturday 24 October and were thankful for the cooler weather while in the dusty yard. We hired a car and decamped to a little, make that tiny, studio apartment on the outskirts. On the Sunday we got the winter cover on the boat and the mainsail down below. On Monday we sorted out the contract with the yard, caught a bus up to Ignoumenitsa, 100km north and then took the Ferry over to Corfu. The whole trip cost us €20 each. I had not caught a bus in Greece since 1985, and somehow the deck-class passenger piece as the sun set over Corfu was very reminiscent of that 1985 trip but that 35 years separated the two.

There were deals going and Veronica checked us into the Royal Grand Hotel, with grandiose swimming pool and bar. It was on a hill looking down on the threshold of the main Corfu airport runway. We whiled away 2 days, going for walks, lounging around the pool, etc. On the second day we hired a car, for €20 and drove up north, visiting the bay that had almost claimed the boat and going to the only harbour on the west coast. A beautiful place with a 1000m high mountain behind it. It was very interesting seeing the island from a car rather than from a boat. As I type this we are on our flight back to Bristol and sadly another season has come to an end. Until next year………