Follow by Email

Friday, November 30, 2012

ENVOY’S END OF SEASON TECHNICAL ISSUES – PART 1


We are home in Auckland, New Zealand, for the northern hemisphere winter, while Envoy is in Greece's Lefkas marina.
There is so much technical activity at the end of a season’s cruising that I’m only going to mention specific problems or items of interest, and not the myriad of routine jobs such as oil and filter changes. Even this is going to require a couple of postings.
The contractor we selected to assist us, Sailand, have a great team and we met four of them – the owner/manager, a diesel mechanic, an electrician, and a general mechanic.

At a meeting aboard Envoy with the manager to discuss the whole work program, and what needed to be done before Envoy was lifted from the water, he made some excellent suggestions including running the two seawater cooled engines (wing and generator) plus all seawater pumps with fresh water and then glycol, when Envoy was on the hard. We’ve not done this before, but we thought removing all the salt from the systems was definitely a good idea. When we did this later, it took about four hours.

Firstly the diesel engineer checked out Envoy’s issue of the main Lugger engine running too hot at high (above 1,800) rpm. After the engineer inspected the whole system we started up the engine and went for a sea trial. The engineer made some adjustments to a bypass valve on the keel cooler, and the engine ran much cooler; in fact I was able to take the rpm up to 2,000 without over-heating, which only started at 2,200 rpm. I’m not sure at this stage how he achieved this, and will check this out further on our return.
To put this issue in perspective, Envoy generally cruises at 1,450 – 1,650 rpm, and has no over-heating issues at those revs, but now we will have a much wider operating rpm window. The engineer wants to make some further adjustments and check the thermostat and adjacent areas. The objective is to be able to run at wide open throttle (WOT) of 2,400 rpm without over-heating, but Envoy has never done that, even with the previous owners, and provided we can run up to 2,000 rpm without over-heating I’ll be happy.

He also checked our starboard forward 860 litre capacity diesel tank that has been ballasted with bottled water since a leak developed early last year. The problem here is lack of accessibility, although there is an inspection hatch on the top of the tank. The engineer plans to use a small remote video camera to inspect the seams. The camera’s image is expanded using a laptop to find any cracks and holes. This sounds very clever, and we hope it works. We don’t need the additional fuel capacity (with 2,900 litres of capacity in the other three tanks) but I do want to get it repaired and back in use to avoid corrosion, and to better control Envoy’s trim.

The electrician checked our non-working Robertson auto pilot. Envoy has two independent autopilots so this failure had not been a problem for us. I had assumed (never assume!) this failure to be an electronics problem, but the engineer quickly found it was a 12 volt motor problem – it’s only running intermittently. So this will be removed and serviced or replaced.

He also removed our 27 foot long SSB whip aerial, which is getting badly frayed, and this will be repaired during winter.
A damaged Garmin GPS antenna was also removed for repair (this was damaged by our boat cover resting on it during last winter).

Next post will cover other technical issues to be dealt with during winter, and “guardianage”.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

LEFKAS MARINA AND GREEK REGULATORY ISSUES

Back home in New Zealand, this posting takes us up to second week October.

We’re very impressed with Lefkas marina. It’s very sheltered because it’s accessed from the Lefkas canal, so immune from any waves or surge caused by gales and storms.
It has capacity for 620 boats, including up to 45 metres long, but we’ve seen very few boats here above 20 metres, and mostly much less. The hardstand has capacity for 280 boats.
It’s much smaller than Turkey’s Marmaris Yacht Marine marina, and has a great relaxed “feel” about it. For example there are two travel lifts here, but we’ve hardly seen them move; whereas at Marmaris they’re going all day and well into the night. It’s also decidedly cleaner here with less general litter and junk lying around.
The technical facilities seem to be good, and we’re using Sailand, a firm recommended by a local professional British yachtsman and surveyor – so far, so good.
The marina has several bar/cafes and the interesting town of Lefkas, with many shops and restaurants, is only ten minutes walk. There’s also an excellent bus service from Lefkas to Athens and other destinations, as well as an airport at Preveza with flights to many parts of Europe.
Lefkas Marina is slightly dearer than Marmaris, and the cost for us is Euro 480 (about NZ$762) per month including time in the water, time on the hardstand (same cost), lift out, lift in, high pressure wash, propping charge, hire of steel supports, electricity and water and 23% VAT.
We found one other Nordhavn here – a 47, but they have now set off for Gibraltar and an Atlantic crossing.
We met up with A1Yachting’s local representative, Yvonne, who has been a great help. We’ve used A1 in Greece a lot for both regulatory and technical issues, and found them to be excellent. To re-cap the regulations and our situation, under the Schengen Treaty cruising visitors from outside the EU can only stay in Greece for 90 days in any 180 day period. However we were able to circumvent this by clearing into Greece as a professional captain and crew – which gave us a 180 day visa. Nevertheless, because we’ve been in Greece for longer than 90 days we still have to pay a cruising tax calculated on the vessel length – in our case 13.95 metres x Euro 14.67 per metre, plus 23% VAT. For us this comes to Euro 251.72 (about NZ$400) for three months. Although this sounds quite a bit, it’s not bad when you consider that it’s Euro 2.77 (about NZ$4.40) per day to stay in this beautiful area. We think it’s a little unfair that this tax still has to be paid while boats are on the hardstand, but that’s how it is, so no point in fretting about it – Greece needs the money!
Next posting will start to deal with end of season and winter lay-up technical issues.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

ENVOY’S FINAL CRUISING DAYS FOR 2012

This posting takes the Blog up to 7 October.
We spent a wonderful two weeks cruising with Bruce and Lesley, the longest time period we’ve spent cruising in company with others.
All boats have maintenance issues, and Midi’s windlass motor failed due to salt water corrosion. They were able get a new one down from Athens within three days for a total cost of Euro 790 (about NZ$1,250).
Bruce and Lesley were due to carry on back to Marmaris, Turkey, but sadly Bruce’s 92 year-old Mum passed away, and they had to change their plans – leaving Midi in Levkas Marina for a couple of weeks while they made a quick return trip to New Zealand for the funeral.
At this time, early October, there were still large numbers of charter yachts cruising, together with cruising yachts, but all of the large power boats and super yachts had disappeared. Cruising from Ay Eufimia, on Kefalonia, to Lefkas Island, I counted over 50 sails up to the horizon around us.

During this day we saw a large tanker approaching from starboard across Envoy’s course.
We generally alter course to avoid commercial shipping even if we have right of way, but on this occasion the tanker was clearly the stand-on vessel, and we were the give-way vessel. The usual procedure is to activate the radar, and position the electronic bearing line (EBL) on the target, i.e. the tanker. If the target moves well ahead of the radar’s EBL, then it should pass safely in front of us. If the target falls well behind the EBL we should pass in front of it. If the EBL stays on the target there is a potential collision situation, and that was the case here. We reduced speed from six to three knots, and made a clear course alteration of 45 deg to starboard allowing the tanker to pass safely about 200 metres ahead of us. If this had been a night-time situation we would have allowed at least half-a-mile clearance.

Tanker with right-of-way passes about 200 metres ahead of Envoy
 
We spent our final two nights at anchor for 2012 back in Ormos Dessimou, one of our favorite bays, where we again swam in the beautiful grotto we’d enjoyed with Doug and Mary just several weeks before.
 
Ormos Dessimou showing beach and Taverna where we enjoyed a few cold beers (taken from Envoy at anchor)
 
Snorkelling in the clear water just outside the grotto
 
Shrine inside grotto
 
A great little beach we swam and sunbathed at
 
On Sunday 7 October we cruised into Lefkas marina, where Envoy will be wintered. Once again it  was a great feeling to complete a season’s cruise of 1,743 miles without any damage, major
technical problems, accidents or injuries, and to share that time with wonderful family and friends
aboard - Amy, Brooke, Brian and Carol, Doug and Mary, and Graham.
 
Lefkas marina is sheltered, safe, clean and well-organised
 
TECHNICAL: There will be a lot more technical comment in the next few blog posts as Envoy receives end-of-season maintenance and is prepared for winter storage.
Envoy has two identical 12 volt ShurFlo diaphragm pumps to circulate domestic fresh water to the taps, showers, and heads, and in the event of failure of one pump we can simply switch to the other. On the very last day of our cruise the in-use pump failed and we switched over to the spare. We’ll get this failed pump serviced during the winter.
LOG (FINAL): Up to 7 October had spent 191 days aboard, and cruised 1,743 miles for 336 engine hours.



Saturday, November 03, 2012

KEFALONIA’S FANTASTIC FOKI BAY, AND CAPTAIN CORELLI’S MANDOLIN

While we are back home in Auckland, New Zealand, this posting takes the Blog up to 3 October.

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
From Vasiliki on Lefkas Island we returned to one of our favorite places – Kefalonia, the largest of the Ionian Islands, and where the tragic events took place featured in the great must-see movie, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.
The movie is based on WW11 when 12,000 Italian troops were occupying Kefalonia. After the Italians deposed their fascist dictator, Mussolini, and signed an armistice with the Allies in late 1943, the 2,000 Germans also based on Kefalonia demanded that the Italians surrender their weapons to the Germans. This was to prevent these weapons being used against them. The Germans also brought in Stuka dive bombers, tanks, and landed large numbers of battle-hardened reinforcements. The Italians’ pride didn’t allow them to hand over their weapons, so they resisted the Germans. The Italians were brave but inexperienced in battle, and suffered heavy casualties in subsequent fighting lasting seven days. After the surviving Italians finally surrendered to the Germans about 5,000 of them were shot dead on Hitler’s direct orders. Some German troops strongly objected to carrying out this order, but were themselves threatened with execution if they disobeyed.

Foki BayWe first cruised to Foki Bay – one of the greatest places we’ve ever anchored in, and stayed there for three glorious days. This beautiful cove is surrounded by forest, has clear and clean, water with lots of small fish swimming around (when we swam they seemed to follow us), a beach at the head of the cove and a taverna just a short walk away with views over the bay. But wait there’s more – the bay has an interesting cave that you can go right into using the dinghy or snorkel around, and the atmospheric village of Fiskardo is only 20 minutes walk away. Here we just relaxed, swam, snorkeled, and enjoyed the sun for a few days.

Envoy anchored in Foki Bay

Fish beside Envoy in Foki Bay feeding on bread

Envoy and Bruce and Lesley’s catamaran, Midi, in Foki Bay
 
Envoy is anchored just outside the line of buoys marking the beach's swimming area

Another view of Envoy and Midi - two NZ boats in paradise!
 
This shot of Midi shows the great little beach with taverna behind
 
 Great view as we walked from Foki Bay to Fiskardo

Laurie enjoying a coffee with Lesley and Bruce in Fiskardo, Kefalonia

Fiskardo is a popular destination with quaint shops and tavernas

Leaving Foki Bay we cruised a little south to Ay Eufimia, one of our favorite harbours. Here we anchored in clear water, swam and saw turtles swimming nearby, had an evening drink ashore in one of the many tavernas, and watched the anchoring antics of charter yachts as they arrived and departed.

TECHNICAL:
On our 2.7 metre Valiant RHIB, bought mid-2010, the wooden transom is starting to separate from the starboard pontoon, and will need fixing over the winter. At the same time we’ll get a slow air leak fixed, and covers (known as “chaps”) made for the inflatable pontoons to protect them from U/V and abrasion.
I’ve mentioned bio-diesel on the blog previously as not being ideal for marine use, and now found out that all diesel sold in the EU contains some bio-diesel. So far I’ve not been able to find out the “bio” content in the fuel, but there’s not much we can do about it except to be aware of bio-diesel’s reduced storage time, and increased tendency to collect moisture.

LOG: Up to 3 October had spent 187 days aboard, and cruised 1,702 miles for 329 engine hours.