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Saturday, April 29, 2017

ENVOY'S NEAR DISASTER

We are now staying in a hotel at Lefkas Marina, Greece.

On the way to Lefkas we spend ten great but cold days at Scotland's Orkney Islands, famous for their scenic beauty, wildlife and history including Neolithic and Viking settlement and the Royal Navy's Scapa Flow base which saw extensive action during both World Wars. A future Blog posting will describe the Orkneys.
In the cruising life you have mostly great days and some not so great, but this one would end up one of our worst.

We arrive at Lefkas by five hour bus trip from Athens on a beautiful sunny Tuesday late afternoon. After checking into the marina hotel we wander over to check Envoy on the hardstand, approaching from her port side. We're firstly surprised to see Envoy's location surrounded by wide red “crime scene” style tape. As we get closer we see marina staff standing watch over the area, then closer still we smell a bitter aroma in the air and see the burnt-out remains of a large motor boat at right angles to Envoy with her stern about four metres away from Envoy's mid starboard beam.

Burnt vessel to left of Envoy with debris from fire on the ground

The marina staff initially advise we can't enter the area until they realise we're Envoy's owners.
The burnt out wreck and debris littering the ground is so much in our faces that we don't initially notice any damage to Envoy except that her starboard side's rigging and white topsides are badly stained by smoke and soot. Very soon though we notice a large area about 7 x 2 metres of heat blistering on her hull's gelcoat, heat blistering and peeled gelcoat on a white outboard facing topsides area about 3 x 2 metres, two cracked portholes and four cracked windows.

Looking down from Envoy on Dorset Urchins 

While we're still in a slightly dazed state the marina staff explain that a British motor boat named Dorset Urchins had only been taken out of the water that morning and positioned next to Envoy.
The fire started with nobody aboard during lunchtime and although the marina staff and Fire Brigade (located a few hundred metres across the road) were on scene quickly Dorset Urchins was badly damaged and most likely an insurance write-off. Envoy was close to and downwind from Dorset Urchins and the damage is not from flames but heat and smoke.
Fortunately nobody was injured and there was certainly plenty of potential for injury from lpg bottles, diesel and petrol for outboards.
We stay around the boat for an on-site meeting with the marina's manager who explains Dorset Urchins is fully insured and assures us the marina will do everything possible to help us. He explains they didn't phone us as they knew we're arriving today. By now it's about 7.30pm so it's off to the marina bar for a calming drink!

That evening we contact our insurers – Pantaenius, who respond quickly and next day they advise that Nikolas will be our surveyor and will visit Thursday.
During that night's dinner we ponder how we'd planned to commence cruising in week of 8 May and wonder how long repairs to Envoy will take. This is now a busy time for all contractors with more cruisers arriving daily and wanting to start their journeys so it may be difficult to get work done.
On the bright side the fire could have taken hold on Envoy and caused irreparable damage.

In the meantime during Wednesday we're not allowed back on the site as it's under investigation by Fire Brigade inspectors and other local authorities.

Thursday comes and we meet Nikolas who immediately impresses us with his professional and cautious attitude plus his knowledge gained as a naval architect and marine engineer. Together we inspect Envoy outside and inside to find apart from above mentioned damage:
-damaged starboard navigation light and vhf aerial
-paint damage to aluminium radar housing
-several rigging blocks, stainless steel wires and rope lines damaged and/or discoloured
-starboard side teak coaming and teak Envoy name sign's varnish damaged

Close up of Envoy's blistered gelcoat

He examines the hull gelcoat blisters and gives an initial opinion that while the blisters are mostly in the paint, the gelcoat will need to be stripped off damaged areas and new gelcoat applied. When the area is laid bare it will also be inspected in case of structural damage.
Fortunately there is no damage whatsoever inside, not even a smoke smell.

Envoy's smoke and heat damaged rigging

Nikolas decides the first priority is to get Envoy's exterior professionally cleaned to get rid of damaging soot and be able to better assess the damage. As this is insurance work quotes have to be obtained and approved by the insurers, but we now have a quote awaiting approval and the contractor can do the clean-up mid next week (Monday being a local holiday). Then he is able to start the gelcoat repairs the following week.
We also have a contractor who will quote for the repairs to rigging late next week after the clean-up and he can start the work within a few days of acceptance.

The other major issue is windows and portholes. Nordhavn advise they don't supply these as they're normally sourced from local glass contractors. Sailand have inspected them and confirm local supply should be possible. There is one exception – a curved window in the pilot house and we'll have to find a specialised glass provider to supply this one. Fortunately the crack in this window is only about 70mm and virtually out of sight so we could go cruising with the crack and have the window replaced on our return.

While all this is happening we still need to complete quite a bit of regular work in parallel not connected to the fire. In fact Sailand haven't completed as much of this during winter as we'd expected.
Best guess now for the start of cruising is mid June, but we'll have a more accurate assessment about mid May.
Meanwhile we're looking for somewhere to stay as we can't stay aboard Envoy with the dust, fumes and noise from GRP repairs.
People tell us we seem very calm considering the situation, but we're thankful nobody was hurt and that damage to Envoy is superficial and easily repairable. A yacht alongside Dorset Urchins is much more seriously damaged.
Look for our update in about a week.


Thursday, April 06, 2017

ENVOY'S 2017 CRUISING PLANS

Envoy is in Lefkas Marina for the northern hemisphere winter while we're home for the New Zealand summer, returning in just a few days.

We have exciting plans for this year's cruising!
After a brief shakedown cruise to ensure Envoy is performing well in the vicinity of our Lefkas home base, around mid-May we'll head north to Corfu and then north-east to Albania. From there we head west across to the north-east coast of Italy and south down the Italian Boot to Sicily, where we'll spend the bulk of our time, with two side trips to Malta , a destination we haven't visited before about 50 miles offshore from Sicily. We'll also visit the Aeolian Islands off north-east Sicily and while leaving Envoy in a marina take the hydrofoil to Stromboli Island.
Then around early September we'll start a leisurely northwards cruise back to the northern Ionian area to go into Lefkas Marina second week of October. Yes we're having a slightly shorter cruising season this year, being away for only a bit over six months rather than the usual seven plus.

When we get back to Envoy we'll have been absent for nearly seven months so there'll be quite a bit to do, although hopefully Sailand and other contractors will have completed most of the 25 or so maintenance issues we asked them to tackle during winter ranging through replacing zips on vinyl covers, repairing a sea water leak on our smaller RHIB, checking the windlass motor and several preventative maintenance jobs on each of our three engines.
It's always fun getting Envoy cruise-ready as we see her come back to life around us and are enthusiastic about getting cruising, but it's quite a logistical exercise involving not only Diane and I but contractors involved in marine engineering, electrical, upholstery, RHIB repair, outboard maintenance, hull polishing and anti fouling, Naiad stabilisers (to replace the seals on the fins) and HRO water maker (to repair a leak).
Envoy will be pulled out of the water before we return so that some of the out-of-water jobs can be started, particularly anti-fouling and hull polishing.

Over many cruising years we've met a huge number of owners and some rely almost completely on contractors, doing virtually nothing themselves. At the other extreme some owners do nearly everything themselves, and I say nearly because it would be virtually impossible for any owner to have the skills and specialist knowledge to tackle everything. We're probably about in the middle of the range, doing as much as we can ourselves but relying on contractors for technically demanding work like reconditioning alternators, rebuilding water pumps etc as well as physically demanding work like anti-fouling. Apart from these factors, without help from contractors it would probably take us about an additional three or four weeks to get cruising.

We'll update progress after our arrival.