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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Travelling home to New Zealand

We are currently en route back to New Zealand, so will continue the blog from where we left off this coming weekend.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

ENVOY CONTINUES CRUISING THE IONIAN ISLANDS

Envoy is currently wintering in Lefkas Marina, Greece.
Temporary problem loading images so text only this posting.
In early October it was starting to get cooler, and in Gouvia Marina we had some heavy rainfalls and needed to dig out our jeans and sweatshirts again - it was now getting too cold to sit outside after dark. It looked like our long summer had ended.
From Gouvia we cruised 22 miles down the east coast of Corfu in perfect conditions, being in the lee of a moderate westerly wind. We were heading back to Lakka Bay on Paxos Island, about seven miles south of Corfu. But this seven miles is highly exposed to 150 miles of fetch all the way to the Italian coast, and with a 20 knot westerly wind directly on our starboard beam we took a bit of a hammering from breaking two to three metre seas, spaced so closely together that our hydraulic stabilisers had trouble coping and our inclinometer showed Envoy rolling up to 20 degrees each side. Normally we don’t need to re-stow things like ornaments and fruit bowls under way as there is negligible movement, but this time the roll was sufficient to require Diane to do a quick re-stow.

You encounter some unusual sea conditions in the Med where the “roughness” of the sea seems out of proportion to both the wind speed and the size of waves, and this was one of those times.
After one night in Lakka we cruised 46 miles to Ormos Vlikho on Lefkas Island, to re-join our Kiwi friends, Bruce and Lesley, aboard their Catamaran, Midi.
Conditions in the Med are mostly great, but not always and we stayed in the well-sheltered Ormos Vlikho for five nights waiting for a front to pass over, during which we had gloomy grey skies, regular showers, mild thunder storms, but only light winds. Here the jellyfish-infested water is a bit grubby for swimming as well. We wondered if we’d done the right thing booking our return to New Zealand in six weeks time, but blue skies finally appeared again and temperatures went back into the low-mid 20s.

Anchored in Ithica Island’s Ormos Vathi we awoke to a thunderstorm, lightning, heavy rain and 25 knot squalls. The forecast was for a Force 6 SE wind, changing later to a Force 7-8 NW wind with thunderstorms and very rough seas. I discussed the situation with Bruce (from Midi) and we both decided to head to Kefalonia’s Ay Eufimia harbour (which opens to the east) and moor alongside the quay.
I have commented before about the surprising speed difference that different wind and sea conditions make to a heavy-displacement motor vessel and during this trip I made some interesting observations. Aficionados read on!
With a 20 knot wind on the port bow and 1.5 metre breaking seas we averaged 4.7 knots (range 4.4 to 5.0) at 1,475 rpm. The speed was taken from GPS so is speed made good. - In the same conditions with wind and seas just aft of the port beam rpm increased to 1,488 and we averaged 5.6 knots (range 5.2 to 6.0). - In the same conditions with wind and sea on our port quarter to almost astern rpm again increased to 1,494 (with the same throttle setting) and we averaged 5.9 knots (range 5.5 to 6.3). Conclusion – the wind and sea conditions affect Envoy’s speed at the same rpm by an astonishing 25%.
TECHNICAL – nothing to report
ENVOY LOG as at 16 October, 183 days spend aboard and 1,780 miles cruised for 347 engine hours.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

AUTUMN CRUISING WITH AMY IN THE IONIAN SEA

Envoy is currently anchored at spectacular Meganisi Island where we’re enjoying the last day of our 2013 cruise before going into the marina for the winter.

Laurie aboard Envoy in Paxos Island’s sheltered Lakki Bay (Amy photo)

We anchored in northern Cephalonia’s idyllic Foki Bay for a couple of days, from where it’s a short walk to stunning Fiskardho.
In Foki Bay there’s a lone taverna ashore, and while enjoying an evening drink there we heard the faint ring of a goat bell that shortly turned into a cacophony as a huge herd of goats passed close-by.

Herd of goats cross road outside Foki Bay taverna

Going back to places we always find something different to see, and in Fiskardho visited the ruins of a Venetian lighthouse and a 6th century Christian basilica. Amy and Di also found some new shops!

Ruined Venetian lighthouse
 
 On close scrutiny the “new” lighthouse didn’t seem much better than the old as it had broken windows and crumbling stonework.

6th century Christian basilica – not bad after more than 1,400 years

Having complained about wasps in Croatia, to be fair we must say there were many wasps in Fiskardho, making it difficult to enjoy this stunning village to the full if eating or drinking. Locals said that previously the nearby countryside had been sprayed with insecticide, but this year there were no funds to do this – most taverna and shop owners told us that business this year is down on last. Tourist numbers are similar, but they’re not spending as much.
In Foki Bay we again met our great Kiwi friends Bruce and Lesley from catamaran Midi, and next day Amy joined Midi for a sail to Sivota Bay.

Laurie, Bruce, Lesley and Amy at Stavros taverna in Sivota Bay

Sivota Bay’s Stavros taverna has a great atmosphere, and provides free water to visiting cruisers.
Envoy anchored in Sivota, Midi is to the left

We needed to start heading north to Corfu again for Amy’s flight to London, and stopped off at Preveza, Gaios and Mourtos along the way.

We bought some olive oil from this dusty shop in Gaios where you taste the oil and they decant it into plastic bottles from huge barrels for 7 Euro (about NZ$12) per litre

Great photo of Mourtos anchorage taken from Envoy by Amy

Back in Greece we’re again pleasantly surprised by the very reasonable taverna prices. Here is a typical offering: coffees from 1.5 Euros (NZ$2.45), full English breakfast 7.5 Euros (NZ$12.30), omelet 4.50 Euros (NZ$7.40), 1arge beer 3 Euro (NZ$4.90), 1 litre of house wine 8 Euro (NZ$13.10), bottles of wine ranging from 14 Euros (NZ$23), Greek salad 5.5 Euros (NZ$9), main courses 7 to 9 Euros (NZ$11.50 to NZ$14.75). Then they nearly always provide free dessert, so we generally end up paying roughly half what we pay in New Zealand for a meal out.
We had a fantastic two weeks with Amy aboard, and no sad farewells as we’ll be all be meeting up in Auckland in December.
After Amy’s departure we returned to nearby Gouvia Marina to have a problem with our generator checked, and stayed there several days at the reasonable off-season rate of 28 Euros (NZ$46) per night.
TECHNICAL Shortly after Amy joined us we encountered a similar generator problem to the one we had in May. If we applied a load of more than about 10 amps the generator dropped rpm and started smoking from the exhaust and emitting lumps of carbon. We had decided to leave fixing this until after Amy’s visit, and during that time because we wouldn’t be able to use the water maker (which needs the generator to power it) took on water from shore.
At Gouvia marina Leo and Theodore are very competent guys who’ve worked on Envoy before. They said it would be best to first address the issue of the failing bearing in the AC power unit. They explained the tolerances are very fine and maybe with the worn bearing the stator is getting too close to the rotor. The bearing was removed and found to be badly worn. Leo advised this is common and these bearings need to be checked and replaced every few thousand hours. The housing that seats the bearing had to be machined and shimmed to hold the new bearing dead-centre, and this was done within a couple of days.

View of the genset showing AC power unit

Close-up of AC power unit

This housing had to be modified to hold the new bearing dead-centre

Although the genset now sounded better without the rattly bearing, the basic problem wasn’t solved. So next was a full check of the exhaust system, and the exhaust elbow was found to be badly clogged with carbon. These elbows are prone to carbonizing as this is where hot exhaust gases meet up with cold seawater before going out of the exhaust. In fact the Manual advises checking this every 600 hours and it was 1,050hours since the last check – I’d been planing to check it this winter. As soon as the elbow was cleaned the genset ran fine once again.
Also had a minor issue with the Seapower generator powered by the Lugger. One day it didn’t power up until we were about an hour into our passage. I don’t know why, and there’s more on this issue to follow.