colin on September 13th, 2016

After a pleasant run across the Gulf of Corinth, where we actually managed to get some sailing for awhile, we made it to Corinth. We had intended to stay overnight in Corinth, but upon reading the “Greek Waters Pilot” discovered that the canal is closed Tuesdays for maintenance and dredging. So through we go.

It’s a fairly busy stretch. I called them on the radio about a mile from the entrance and was told to await further instructions at the breakwater. I did so, and about a half hour later, two tour boats came through from the other end, turned around, and I was told to follow them.

Initially I let the boat go on autopilot, sort of cruise control for boats, but the further we got into the canal, the harder time it had finding satellites. At least, that’s what I think the problem was; it started beeping at me, so I turned it off and steered manually. Problem solved.

About half-way through, the canal staff asked me to speed up. (Me of all people. Can you imagine!?). I put some more power on and got to 6.6kts, as fast as we’ve ever been under power alone. Out of respect for the engine that was all I was going to do, and still the tour boats pulled away.

Made it to the other end (3.2nm) and stopped at the canal office…. thank you €150.25. Not cheap, but hey, it chops 150nm off the trip from Patras to Athens.

As I rejoined the boat a freighter went past….. BIG. Not a super tanker or anything, but I could understand why they wanted us to hurry. Busy!

We left the canal and turned the corner into a pleasant bay, Kalamaki, right by the entrance where we had a peaceful night at anchor.

Yeah, yeah. I know. Photos. Videos. Watch this space, coming soon.


colin on September 12th, 2016

I stopped here on a motorhoming trip around Greece 30 years ago. Then again a year ago, I stopped here on another motorhoming trip around Greece. This time, on a sailboat.

An easy trip from Trizonia, and a brief frolic with some dolphins shortly before we made the harbour. Well, we frolicked, they sort of swam around, pretty much enjoying themselves while trying to ignore us.

Not much space, but we managed to back in to the quay and had a peaceful afternoon and night while tied up. Not much else here; did some shopping, bought some delicious grapes from a street vendor, filled up with water & fuel and had a very peaceful night.

Next morning we were away at first light. To our surprise and delight, no-one had crossed anchor chains with us during the last 12 hours. Amazing.

A long day ahead of us to Corinth, before transiting the canal for the Aegean side.


colin on September 11th, 2016

After 9 days of fixing toilets, fixing leaks, and waiting for the thunderstorms to go away, we headed off again, to Trizonia.

At the end of the day we declared both the toilet and leaks problems solved. At least until Apples comes out of the water at the end of the season. So good to feel confident in the boat again.

Trizonia is a little island in the Gulf of Corinth which lies on the northern shore between Navpaktos and Galaxidi. From Messalonghi we went under the Rion-Antirrion bridge (spectacular) and past Navpaktos. We had intended to stop at Navpaktos, but with the delays we wanted to put some miles behind us.

Trizonia is beautiful. I nicknamed it “Treasure Island”, because a treasure it is. With a free harbour, half a dozen good restaurants and isolation from the mainland it has its’ own unique character. I felt like I could tie up at the quay and stay forever.

In the harbour – you’ll see it on Google Earth – is a half-sunk ketch, which they say has been there about five years. Nobody seems to know who owns it. Nobody seems in any hurry to remove it. It just sits there. A shame really, it was probably somebody’s pride and joy once, and now it’s a hulk. Derelict old ships make me so sad.

We discussed swallowing the anchor right here. We asked ourselves “Will we ever find such a lovely place, anywhere in the world?”. Probably not, we decided, but we had other committments and so we moved on.

It’s one of those places, though. We have to come back.


colin on September 7th, 2016

If you didn’t know it already, the head is sailor talk for “toilet”. And nothing will ever give you a headache like a marine head.

Problem is, when you’re at sea, it’s okay to discharge what you ate for dinner last night directly into the sea. It breaks down pretty quickly, so it’s not a problem. But when you’re in port, the idea is to retain the waste in a holding tank until it can be either sucked out (not with a straw), or dumped at sea.

We had been struggling to understand what the head was doing. There’s a bunch of hoses that disappear behind the holding tank and it’s a bit of a guess as to what they’re doing. Basically, you want to be able to pump directly to sea if you’re offshore, and into the holding tank when you’re in port. And then you need to be able to open up a valve from the holding tank to dump the waste when offshore.

We’d already worked out that the tank must be blocked, because the waste was coming out the overflow…. kinda says it’s full right? Went outside and well clear of the harbour and opened the seacock and seemed to be greeted with a big brown cloud of stuff from the boat. Success, yes?

Ummm, No. If you take off the access plug on the deck and shine a light into the holding tank, you can still see the waste, sitting there laughing at me. So, I added some diluted Hydrochloric acid to the tank and allowed it to do it’s thing. Then we tried again to empty the holding tank. Not much. The only conclusion I could come to was that there was an internal blockage which was not allowing the waste to get from the tank to the seacock.

This is not going to be pleasant. Imagine yours truly, stripped to his undies (I don’t want to have to clean my clothes after this) and removing the hose which exits the tank and goes directly to the seacock. Unscrew, unscrew. Carefully remove the hose…. dribble…. not much happening. What if I jam the bucket under the tank and stick my screwdriver up into the holding tank? Perhaps it’s been sitting too long and has become semi-hard?

Stick screwdriver in and…. strike oil. Or something similarly coloured. Not a chance the bucket will hold it all and another bucketful goes all over the bathroom, splashes the walls, and I’m squatting in a big puddle of the stuff. But HEY! The thing’s not blocked any more!

Spent the next hour clearing up the mess, cleaned the shower filter several times to get the stuff out of there (how else do you pump out the stuff on the bottom). Used several buckets full of seawater to wash down the bathroom, several buckets full to wash down me. By this time of course, I’m standing naked on the stern washing myself generously trying to get it off me. (Remember, we’re offshore… no-one around).

Took the hose to the seacock out and cleaned it thoroughly, re-fitted it, flushed the system repeatedly, and it all works.

Continued cleaning up the bathroom including with bleach all over everything. Finally, it’s clean. The head works properly. Even I’m clean, though my language is not. But at least it’s done.

Four hours, and it’s something I hope that I never have to do again, though I bet I will, someday.


colin on September 6th, 2016

While waiting for the weather, we had plenty of time on our hands.

I was still baffled by the stuffing box. While tied up, without the engine running, the leak all but vanished. But after a day or two with overcast conditions, I had to run the engine to charge the batteries.

Hang on…. why is there water coming in? If the problem leak is in the stuffing box, surely that would manifest itself when the gearbox was engaged, not just with the engine running. Now, of course, we’re anchored, and the boat’s not being tossed about, and things are clearer in the engine compartment. So …. where’s that trickle coming from?

I worked backwards from the puddle and into the stern of the boat. The engine uses seawater as part of the cooling system and spits it out from a pipe a little in front of the transom, and above the waterline. Not realising I was capable of getting into such small openings, I was finally able to trace the leak to a split in the rubber exhaust hose, about two inches from where it disgorges the water overboard.

I left the whole lot to dry overnight and next morning did the old Sycoflex + duct tape + cable ties trick around the business end of the exhaust. It’s not under pressure, so all it has to do is stop water from leaking inside the boat.

Later in the day, when the sycoflex had had sufficient time to set, I started the engine…… wait for it ….. drum roll ….. dry as a bone!

The problem wasn’t the stuffing box at all, it was the exhaust.

This boating thing is a serious learning curve!

But wait, there’s more……


colin on September 5th, 2016

We stayed in Messolonghi for over a week. No great trial, I really liked the place. Many of the other places we’ve been are very seasonal, and given over to catering for tourists during the summer. Messolonghi is still happliy Greek, and the people we met there were all friendly, Greek, and happy to help us when they could.

We made friends at the local cafe, the Ala Tiera, where we had several delicious meals and watched the F1 Grand Prix on the Sunday.

We had the local Mr Fixit look at the stuffing box and agree with me that the fix I’d done initially was probably better that the one the Vathy expert had done. He modified the current fix, did a better job and charged only €20…. €10 being for some glue.

The weather was against us and we stayed longer than we expected, but the stay was mostly pleasant. One night, our second in Messolonghi, we were tied up stern-to again, with the anchor well dug in and about 50m of chain out when one of those Greek thunderstorms came along again. My guess is the wind was at least 60kts, and probably more than 70.

We were in about 6m of water and the bottom was thick, sticky mud. The wind attacked us from the side, so if the anchor was ever going to drag, this would be the time. Surprise of surprises, she held, while we watched anxiously. We were of course inside the boat, and had the hatch cover in place. The wind was blowing the rain sideways with great force. Opening the hatch would be an invitation to have the contents of the boat drenched. After about half an hour the storm eased and we started breathing again. She held! Amazing.


colin on September 3rd, 2016

After a beautiful night tied up at Pera Pigadhi (our favourite, Rocky Bay) on Ithaca, we set out at 6:30am for Messolonghi, over on the mainland.

It’s about 30 miles and an all-day sail (or in this case, motor), and it was pretty much uneventful. Except for the leaking stuffing box. Thought I’d forgotten it, didn’t you?

Every hour or so, I had to go below and pump water from beneath and around the engine. In the course of the crossing I must have pumped out about 15 buckets full. Surely, there must be some else wrong here. The leak is mostly fixed and gives, at worst, a steady “drip-drip-drip”. What could be wrong here?

Whatever the problem, we had little confidence in the boat by this stage.


colin on August 31st, 2016

We entered the harbour and anchored where the little man, a sometime “harbour master” indicated we should tie up. I didn’t like where he put us; it was too close to some laid moorings which meant potential trouble.

A nice dinner with Ross & Helen and next day they’re off to the airport, with some tales to tell.

We filled up with water and made to depart. Oops. The anchor has caught a mooring chain. . I’m beginning to feel that, like with flying, if the pilot-in-command doesn’t like where he’s being put, he has the right to say “No, somewhere else, please”. This is what I should have done, and it cost us €50 to have a diver go down and release the anchor from the mooring chain. I have a suspicion the diver and “harbour master” have a little side business going on here.

Moral: next time, if I don’t like it, I’ll just go somewhere else.


colin on August 29th, 2016

Back we went to Fiskardo to get some supplies and we stayed overnight in a little bay next to Fiskardo’s. Again stern-tied, again to experience anxiety next morning when the wind came up too strongly. This time we simply re-anchored in the bay.

It’s not like we’re alone in experiencing this anchoring difficulty; lots of other boats are doing the same. Is it our inexperience? Are they all newbies too? Dunno, but it makes me wonder.

Ross & Helen gave the dinghy a good workout, exploring around the adjacent bays, even going back into Fiskardo. By the time the day was out, Ross was quite the expert. Safe to say he has more time in the dinghy than I have now!

From Fiskardo, we continued to Vathy again, where we had a lovely meal ashore.

Next day, on to Ag Eufimia, where Ross & Helen were to depart for the airport.


colin on August 26th, 2016

Next day we motored around to Kioni, in Ithaca. Kioni is a little harbour tucked between Frikes and Vathy. Remember the “Wall of Death”. Yeah, that’s the place.

Well, Kioni harbour is quite small, and much of the space in it is taken up by a charter fleet. This means that tying up inside the harbour is pretty unlikely.

So we anchored around the corner, only a few hundred metres from the harbour, and with a number of other yachts likewise anchored nearby, including a big (around 80′) and beautiful sailing yacht registered in Delaware. Prestigious company.

Sandra made us a lovely dinner and we had a wonderful time eating, drinking and laughing in the cockpit as the night descended.

It seems that Greek weather can be a trifle unpredictable sometimes. Almost finished dinner, and the wind starts to increase. No problem; the anchor is in about 14m of water and we have a long rope tied ashore from each stern cleat.

Now, I’ve already said that I don’t like being tied ashore in this fashion in case something goes wrong, haven’t I?

The wind increased until it became quite wild, and in a very short time. Yea, verily, it was accompanied by much thunder and lightning, and dare I say it: we were scared. Then, of course, the bow began to move downwind…. the anchor was dragging, and we’re tied to the shore from the stern. Now do you get why I don’t like being tied up in this way?

I started the engine, had Ross cut the lines to the shore (they were so tight, there was simply no untying the knots) and we immediately swung into the wind. Had Sandra keep the nose into the wind as I raised the anchor and we slowly motored away. By this time it was dark and I was navigating with the aid of software on Sandra’s iPad…. couldn’t see the shore properly and we were in a very risky place.

Immediately after we cut loose, the Delaware yacht did the same. Several other boats raised their anchors and moved to reposition themselves in the harbour entrance. Mr Delaware, wisely, decided that such tight confines were not a good place for him to be, and made for the open sea. Right move.

We slowly made our way further towards the harbour and finished up re-anchoring closer in, along with several other yachts.

The wind died down after awhile, and we had a fitful night’s sleep. There’s a lot to learn in this sailing gig.

Next morning, I jumped in the dinghy and rowed around to where we’d left our ropes. Still there, but now shorter than they had been. Also there was the mooring rope dumped by Mr Delaware, but no sign of him. So I’m now the proud owner of three pices of mooring rope where previously I had one, and a seriously good piece of rope left by Mr Delaware. Wish I knew what to do with it!