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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

ENVOY HEADS SOUTH IN THE IONIAN SEA

Envoy is currently in Lefkas marina for the Med winter.
With our washing machine working well we finally leave Gouvia Marina and spend six days cruising south, stopping at some of our favourite anchorages – Mourtos on the mainland, Lakka on Paxoi Island, Ormos Vlikho and Sivota on Lefkas Island and Fiskardho on Cephalonia.
We’ve started including more maps on the Blog as we think boating people would like to see what type of shelter is offered by some of the places we mention. These anchorages are far more protected than we found in Sicily.

Map of Lakka

Sivota is a great bay with excellent shelter


Map of Sivota

Map of Fiskhardo

Then we get another bad forecast – heavy rain, thunderstorms and winds to 30 knots, so head into Ormos Vlikho to sit this out. Ormos Vlikho is a perfectly sheltered bay, a little under a mile wide, about seven metres deep with good holding and no swell. But it’s surrounded by high hills and subject to katabatic gusts – it is here that a 12 metre catamaran was capsized at anchor by strong winds several years ago. So we sit out three days of rain, thunderstorms and winds up to 34 knots.

Map of Ormos Vlikho

In the NW corner of Ormos Vlikho several wrecks are grounded - note heavy cloud cover

Our last couple of days spent anchored first in Port Atheni and next close to the mainland town of Palairos are stunning with sunny skies as we enjoy our last swims of the season.

Mainland village of Palairos

TECHNICAL Every morning I do various checks in the engine room including the level of water in the bilges. Normally the bilges are virtually dry so any water present indicates some sort of problem. While anchored in Sivota I find some water present in the aft bilge. Next check – is it fresh water, seawater or engine coolant? It’s seawater. Next check – is it coming forward from the lazarette? No – a towel placed over the lazarette drain to the engine room is still dry. Next check – remove the generator front insulation panel to expose the engine and inspect the seawater circulation pump. Yep that’s it – water leaking. As we only have a few days before we go into the marina for winter we can leave it until then, and meantime the generator should run OK with a slight water leak.
Our Toshiba laptop used solely for navigation isn’t always switching on correctly – it powers up OK and sometimes the screen illuminates immediately, while sometimes I have to try a few times for the screen to come on. Checking on the Internet I see it could possibly require a new inverter board or a new screen. I email a computer repair specialist back in Auckland, and they think it’s repairable so I’ll bring it back home. Toilet problems again - the guest head holding tank’s high level indicator light is not working again and the main head works fine if discharging into its holding tank, but won’t discharge directly overboard when its diverting valve is moved. Both of these issues we’ll resolve in Gouvia early next year.
While investigating the main head issue I find that the holding tank’s air vent tube has kinked, effectively blocking air from the holding tank. Any fuel tank, water tank or holding tank needs an air vent so that air can be displaced from the tank as it’s filled or sucked in as it’s emptied. To fix this requires the section of kinked tube to be cut out and replaced with an elbow fitting – a Lefkas marina winter job.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

DIANE DELIGHTED AS ENVOY'S WASHING MACHINE FINALLY GETS FIXED

Envoy is currently in Lefkas marina for the Med winter.
The Miele washing machine servicemen now decide to order a new pump from the US, so while waiting for that to arrive we head out again, this time anchoring in Avalaki, a bay on Corfu’s northern coast very close to the delightful village of Kassiopi.

Envoy anchored off Avalaki

Avalaki has a great beach, even though a bit stony

Kassiopi is overlooked by castle ruins

Enjoying breakfast in a taverna overlooking Kassiopi
These complete breakfasts only cost 5 Euros (NZ$8) - about half the typical price in NZ
 
We have a couple of past-use-by-date Walter Kidde USA A/B/C 1 kg fire extinguishers and decide to discharge these ashore for some practice. Although they’re in excellent condition and the contents gauges indicate they’re OK, this type of extinguisher with a plastic nozzle thread can’t be serviced and re-certified. As we know they’re at least 10 years old, for safety’s sake we’ve replaced them with new larger 2 kg extinguishers of a type that can be re-certified. The Kidde extinguishers are rated for a discharge time of 8-12 seconds, and although they last close to 12 seconds we’re surprised how short this time seems. We’re also surprised how much white “smoke” they discharge, and even in the open air this takes some time to dissipate – an interesting exercise.

These extinguishers with plastic nozzles can’t be tested and re-certified
Even though the gauge indicates they are OK, they needed replacement

Our fire extinguisher test

While anchored at Avalaki we finally we hear that our new washing machine pump has arrived and head back to Gouvia marina.

TECHNICAL
Back in the marina we get a sail maker, Qantum, to patch up some worn and damaged covers; every year some of our many covers need some maintenance. Qantum do a great job with a fast two day service.
Since our washing machine was removed it has been sitting in Envoy’s cockpit, and the Miele servicemen arrive to install the new pump.
Greek engineers are generally clever and forward thinking, and make a modification so that in future the pump can be removed just by pulling the machine forward in its space, without complete removal. In the new pump goes, then it takes three of us to maneuver the heavy machine down the stairs into its position, on goes the power and water and … it doesn’t work. But the good news is now we only need to pull the machine forward to remove the pump, which the engineers take back to the workshop.

Our washing machine pulled out of its cavity in Envoy's stairwell leading from the pilothouse to forward cabin

Next day they’re back again and tell me that although the new pump states that it’s 120 volt, it is in fact only for 24 volt and will have to be sent back. My face drops as we’ve already been waiting three weeks. But they go on to say that using the plumbing parts from a new Miele pump and the 120 volt motor from our old pump they’ve built a perfectly good pump. That goes in and tests fine, and it’s still fine after several washes.
Our electrician, Leon, is able to source a replacement hand held infra-red thermometer. This is useful to record the normal operating temperatures of engine room equipment such as oil filters, alternators, vee-belts, hydraulic and electric pumps, gearbox, propeller shaft housing etc so that I know their normal operating temperature range. Then during engine room checks I’m able to determine if anything appears to be running too hot – often an early warning sign of future problems.
Our Maxwell windlass works extremely well except that the anchor has never free-fallen correctly. It’s useful to free-fall an anchor (in a controlled way) to get it on the bottom quickly, especially in deep water. This also saves wear on the windlass motor. It’s over a year since I’d last dismantled and greased the above deck components of the windlass (eh Frank), and this time I’m far more liberal with grease on the clutch cones than previously. In addition I remove the pulpit anchor roller from its stainless steel shaft and grease that too. Now the anchor free-falls very easily, while after tightening the clutch it raises without any problems too. So the trick is – more grease required.
 

Monday, November 03, 2014

AUTUMN CRUISING AROUND CORFU

Envoy is currently in Lefkas marina for the Med winter and this week we fly home to New Zealand - but the blog will continue as it's a few weeks behind current time ...
Having spent nine days in Gouvia Marina we now qualified for the monthly rate of 598 Euros (NZ$934) equating to a very reasonable 20 Euros (NZ$31) per night. This is great as we’ll need to return when our washing machine pump (hopefully) has been serviced, and the marina will be at no extra charge.

Corfu's Gouvia marina is well sheltered, although northerly storms can cause damage

Meanwhile we’ve been long enough in the marina so spend a few more days at nearby Ormos Kalami. This is a stunning bay, open only to the east through south, surrounded by olive tree covered hills and with several atmospheric tavernas on the beach. The only problem is some very large wakes from cruise liners passing through the narrow Corfu Channel, but our flopper-stoppers reduce their effect.

Exiting Gouvia we spot this wonderful traditional vessel

Map showing Corfu Channel, Corfu's great bays on left, Albania 1 mile on right

Ormos Kalami viewed from the hills above. Albania behind

Envoy in Ormos Kalami with the Durell’s White House in the background

The holiday season is now over so there are few boats around and the anchorages have plenty of room. But the area is popular with British land-based tourists who prefer to holiday in the cooler months, and many come back here year after year.
Nearby Ormos Agni and Ormos Stafanos are also great sheltered bays and all of these bays have tracks joining them, so we enjoy some great walks taking in the coast on one side and olive groves on the other. 

Ormos Stefanos is a great sheltered bay as the wind is mostly from the north

Gnarly old olive tree in a grove - the net below the tree will be spread out to harvest the olives

Many older houses here have really interesting colours as one coat of paint peels to reveal another

Nearby Kouloura’s boat harbour is too small for Envoy

Just south of Ormos Kalami is the huge Rothschild family’s Corfu estate beautifully situated on a headland

We love the typical quaint local fishing boats like this one - their design not much changed in hundreds of years

After a week of idyllic weather the forecast shows southerly winds gusting to 50 knots with heavy rain so we head back to the security (of the now free) Gouvia marina, before heading out again. We don’t get anything like 50 knots but do have three days of heavy rain, thunderstorms and 20-30 knot winds and were glad to be safely in the marina.

TECHNICAL
We use some of our time at anchor to re-varnish the teak foredeck cap rails. We’re not too pedantic about this and don’t strip the teak back to bare wood, but give it a light wet sand and apply seven coats of Epiphanes varnish, which doesn’t need sanding between coats. This lasts one to two seasons, and if it eventually gets too bad we’ll strip the varnish off and let it go back to natural teak which still looks great and is a lot less hassle.
Back in the marina we get a sail maker to patch up some worn or damaged covers; every year some of our many covers need some maintenance.
Still no sign of our washing machine parts – Diane is not happy, and it’s expensive using laundries ashore – 12 Euros (NZ$19.30) per washing machine load.
In Gouvia our electrician, Leon is able to replace our failed hand-held infra red thermometer. This is useful to record the normal operating temperatures of engine room equipment such as oil filters, alternators, vee-belts, hydraulic and electric pumps, gearbox, propeller shaft housing etc so that I know what is the normal operating temperature range. Then during engine room checks I’m able to determine if anything appears to be running too hot – often an early warning sign of future problems.
Our Maxwell windlass works extremely well except that the anchor never has free-fallen correctly. It’s useful to be able to free-fall the anchor to get it on the bottom quickly, especially in deep water. This also saves wear on the windlass motor. It’s over a year since I’d last dismantled and greased the above deck components of the windlass, so I do this being far more liberal with grease on the clutch cones and faces than previously. In addition I remove the pulpit anchor roller from its stainless steel shaft and grease that too. Now the anchor free-falls very easily, while after tightening the clutch it raises without any problems too. So the trick is – more grease required.

ENVOY LOG - As at 3/10/14, we’d spent 178 days aboard and cruised 1,746 miles for 311 engine hours.