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Friday, May 27, 2016


Envoy is now anchored at Argostoli, Cephalonia Island.

Sorry it's been nearly three weeks since the last post - I'll make it about weekly from now on.

We finally leave Lefkas Marina on Saturday 30 April with no particular technical issues except that our Robertson autopilot and rudder position indicator is intermittently not working. This is strange as it worked fine when we launched Envoy and later when we did our sea trial with Sailand engineers aboard, but it seems to have settled down since and is working fine now.
It's early in the cruising season with hardly any cruisers around and a lot of tavernas and shops not open yet – but all that will change in the next couple of weeks.

Here is a great poem about going back to sea – a bit of poetic license on our part as Envoy isn't exactly a “bark” but the feeling is the same.

My bounding bark, I fly to thee, I’m wearied of the shore;
I long to hail the swelling sea, And wander free once more:
A sailor’s life of reckless glee, That only is the life for me!
I was not born for fashion’s slave, Or the dull city’s strife;
Be mine the spirit-stirring wave, The roving sailor’s life:
A life of freedom on the sea, That is the only life for me!
I was not born for lighted halls, Or the gay revel’s round;
My music is where Ocean calls, And echoing rocks resound:
The wandering sailor’s life of glee, That is the only life for me!

After a shake-down cruise around some favorite destinations close to Lefkas we set off for Corfu about 65 miles north.
I wasn't keen to test the water maker in the slightly contaminated waters of Lefkas Marina so test it in the crystal clear waters of Lakka Bay at Paxxos island. The procedure is to run the system with no pressure for 10 minutes to clear out the pickling chemicals used at the end of last season to protect the high pressure membrane, and then to run it normally. However the pump supplying sea water to the system wasn't working so we put this on the short list of items to resolve at Gouvia Marina.
We also find a very small sea water leak to the forward bilge, which I think is coming from the aircon's cooling water supply, so we've closed the seacock to see if this stops it.

Easter is celebrated later in Greece than other countries and in the small village of Lakka we're able to see the local people marching to the stirring music of their band parading religious relics through the streets. Greece is still a country with strong traditional family and religious values and this is very apparent to us as we observe this long-practised ritual.

Easter parade at Paxxos Island

View of Envoy in the tranquil waters of Lakka, Paxxos Island

So far we've been towing our larger Nautica RHIB with the 25hp Yamaha and now want to lift it aboard. We recently replaced our stainless steel 3-wire lifting strop with one made using three high tensile polymer lines, and as the RHIB weighs about 250kg we want to test the whole system before lifting it too high out of the water – if one of the two boom winch cables or the lifting strop were to break it could be extremely dangerous. So the test is to lift the RHIB clear of the water and then for Diane and I to stand in it together with about 50 litres of water in two jerrycans providing in total about an additional 190kg. The system successfully handles this additional weight so we proceed to lift the RHIB with confidence and without problems.

In early May we enter Corfu's Gouvia Marina – one of our favorites.
Here we're meeting our friend Chris – our first visitor of the season. Chris is also known as “MacGyver” due to his special technical skills, and he quickly gets stuck into a multitude of jobs which I'll detail in the next posting.

The local people are rather upset that the seamen who man the inter-island ferries are on a three-day strike for higher wages. Not only do the residents of Greece's many islands rely on the ferries for transportation but there is a calamitous effect on the tourist trade which provides a large slice of Greece's income. Even the supermarkets started to run out of some food items.

Engineer Angelos checks the water maker and confirms what we knew - the sea water pump dating from 2002 isn't working. He removes it to his workshop and later reports the pump is too far gone to repair, especially for such an old unit and we opt for a new one at eye-watering expense to be sent down from Athens. After that's installed the water maker works fine.

Angelos with new sea water pump for water maker (no wonder he's smiling)

We also get contractors to clean the guest toilet holding tank's level indicator, which has stopped working. The job entails removing the head as the holding tank is located underneath it. The level indicator has not been checked for at least 10 years and its float switch is found to be still in working order but needing a good clean.
While aboard they also dismantle, service and reassemble the master head, but it still doesn't work correctly when discharging directly overboard. There appears to be a blockage in the discharge hose close to the seacock so we will use it only discharging to its holding tank, which is then emptied using a different through-hull fitting.

Contractors working on our main head

This is work-in-progress and the next step is to insert our portable LED-lit waterproof inspection camera (a gift from our great friend Frank) into the seacock from the outside.

Saturday, May 07, 2016


Envoy has now moved to Gouvia Marina, Corfu.
We enjoyed the process of getting Envoy prepared for cruising having decided not to worry about meeting any time schedule and take each day as it comes – not becoming frustrated when as often happens contractors don't turn up on time or at all. In 2014 preparation took us four weeks and this year just a day over three so we thought we'd done pretty well.
Envoy went into the water nearly two weeks ago on a beautiful sunny day with great excitement on our part. The travel lift operators always give you plenty of time to check for sea water leaks and after half an hour we had none. But when we checked again after docking into our marina berth we had a couple of minor leaks, both of which have been resolved.

Envoy going back into the water

We've not had good results with various propeller antifouls over the years so took them back to gleaming bare metal and coated them with lanolin to see how that goes.

Envoy's propellers

The weather here has been great with light winds and temps in the low-mid 20s.
During the first days here we visited Vodafone to sort out both phone and internet connections and always find them incredibly helpful. Using our Mobile Broadband Device we can connect using our iPad and laptops simultaneously. Di's laptop wouldn't start up so she took it to a local repair shop who not only fixed it but upgraded it to Windows 7 – all for 30 Euros (about NZ$50). Now it's working great and much faster.
Although there are no obvious signs of economic issues here, locals tell us that unemployment is a real issue particularly in the big cities, and that many young people are leaving to get jobs overseas. While people are stoic about the situation they don't see it getting better any time soon.

Di's on-board herb garden

We had to spend about three hours with our agent – A1 Yachting visiting the Port Police, Customs and regular Police to get our documentation sorted out for cruising here. Although in Greece it's possible to do this without using an agent, we've found A1's assistance over the years to be invaluable, saving a lot of time, hassle, heartache and cost - especially this year as some new laws come into effect on 1 May and nobody is totally clear on how they will work.

The day of our sea trial in the Lefkas canal was stunning and not much of a test for our stabilisers

There's been some progress on items mentioned in our last Envoy blog:
1.The domestic fresh water heater's water leak is fixed and it's feeding hot water to all the right places. The mechanic who removed and reconditioned the unit hadn't connected it back correctly, but now all good.
2.Our large RHIB and Yamaha 25hp outboard has been finished and sea-trialed. The sounder is working well and a wiring fault which caused the auxiliary power supply (to sounder and vhf) to shut down has been fixed. Here in the EU there is a requirement that fuels must have 10% ethanol content for so-called environmental reasons. While the environmental grounds for doing this are very dubious the practical result is very negative for the boating community because ethanol is hygroscopic and the Yamaha mechanic told us many of the problems he resolves are directly related to this – particularly moisture and “sugar-like” deposits in fuel systems. It's not so bad in cars because the fuel is used more quickly and doesn't have time to attract moisture, but outboard motor fuel for example is often kept for many months or even carried from one season to the next. The advice now is not to keep petrol more than a few months, never from one season to the next and to add fuel conditioner – we are now using a “Wurth” product. It's also an issue in diesel and we are now using Stanadyne as recommended by Lugger and several industry gurus.
3.The boom winch which I reported as not operating is actually fine – I'd just forgotten how to operate it correctly.
4.Two new Deka bow thruster batteries have been installed along with a new circuit breaker as the previous one failed (after doing its job) when the short circuit occurred that caused the battery problem.
5.The Naiad stabiliser's hydraulic rams have had new seal kits installed and are working well. The 12 volt pump providing sea water for cooling the hydraulic oil didn't work so we've replaced that with our onboard spare. We also changed the hydraulic fluid filter and I had wanted to change the fluid as recommended by Naiad to do every two years, but the mechanics talked me out of this as the current fluid, has only been used for a few hundred hours, is filtered, looks perfect and – as they said “heavy hydraulic equipment is frequently operated nearly every day for many years without the need for fluid changes”.

Most equipment has now been tested and working OK but I still have to test the watermaker – I didn't want to do that while in the marina with dubious water quality.
Other issues which have arisen are:
The Yanmar wing engine wouldn't start and following analysis by Sailand's mechanic a new fuel lift pump was installed and all now OK. The Genset wasn't starting easily so the electrician tested the glow plug and found there was no current reaching it. A new relay fixed that.
The Lugger engine wasn't starting easily so Sailand's electrician measured the voltage at the starter finding it to be very low. He suggested making and installing a heavy duty earth cable between the engine and the battery bank's negative earth busbar. This has been done and starting is now excellent. At the same time he checked the battery bank's parallel switch for emergency starting and considered it to be too light for the amps involved, so sourced and fitted a new one for us.
The Lugger's throttle cable jammed just as we were manoeuvring out of the marina for a sea trial - which was disconcerting to say the least, so Sailand recommended fitting a new control unit and throttle and gear cables (none of which had been replaced in at least 10 years). This installation took most of a day as the lengthy cables travel between decks and it's very hard to access some of these spaces and then feed the cables through.

Laurie with old throttle and gear cables

The only job Sailand ran out of time to do was to machine polish the superstructure gelcoat so this is one that Diane and I will have to roll up our sleeves and do ourselves.

Rust never sleeps! Throughout Envoy are many dozens or possibly a few hundred hose clips. Any rusted ones need to be replaced. They should always be installed with the tightening bolt on the top side of the clamp so that any drips of water don't contribute to rust. This one was installed bolt down on a bilge pump hose.

Our “To Do List” always looks pretty daunting to begin with and I must say it's very satisfying to look at our list and see 79 items ticked off with only a few non-urgent ones remaining.