Follow by Email

Thursday, August 31, 2017

CRUISING IN THE IONIAN SEA

Envoy is now cruising around Zakynthos Island with our daughter Amy aboard.

Before Frank and Marie left us we saw this stunning Maltese cruise ship

When we started our water maker for the first time this season it ran fine but the second time it had some problems. The salinity was high, the fresh water produced seemed warmer than usual and the pump rpm varied by about plus or minus 5 bar. I don't know what it is about water makers but lots of cruisers seem to have issues with them. While in Mandraki Marina technician Angelos made a few checks and cleaned the intake water seacock but it made little difference. We met him a few days later and he installed a new high pressure membrane. This also made no improvement so he removed the main pump to check in his workshop. We're awaiting the result of this and meanwhile having no problems finding plenty of free fresh water from the shore.

Angelos installing a new high pressure membrane

The water maker's main pump

After Frank and Marie departed at Mandraki we cruised down to Igoumenitsa Creek for a couple of nights and met up with our friends Bruce and Lesley aboard their catamaran, Midi. Also aboard were their friends Nick and Robyn who know other friends of ours from home – Christine Eden and Karl Koller. A small world as they say.

Igoumenitsa Creek is a great protected anchorage

Washing day aboard Midi

Bruce and Lesley had wintered Midi at Turkey's Albatross Marina near normally busy Marmaris and they confirmed what we'd heard - that it's all very quiet there now as cruisers and charter operators have left in droves. This is due to a combination of recent terrorist activities, a perception of political change and instability and negative changes to cruising regulations. We've had wonderful times cruising in Turkey and it's very sad to hear that conditions are now less favourable.

Spending a night anchored off Mourtos was not so enjoyable usual because of large numbers of local tripper boats traveling at high speed close-by and putting up large wakes. Home in NZ you're not allowed to exceed 5 knots within 200 metres of the shore or within 50 metres of a swimmer or another vessel, but no such regulations seem to exist here and we saw tripper boats at high speed within a few metres of people in kayaks and small dinghys.
Lots of people do bow riding here - a practice which is illegal in New Zealand due to horrific injuries and deaths when people fall in and the propeller hits them

Highly dangerous bow riding

Amy joined us on 1 August in Corfu for a six week stay. She has now finished living in London and will move back to Auckland later this year.
We normally swim at least three times daily in the beautiful 26 to 28dC water but our “swim” normally consists of a leisurely paddle around the boat. Amy had an excellent idea that she and I start some long distance swimming and this has been great with us now achieving swims of several hundred metres.
We headed south with Amy calling at favorite places like Petriti, Mourtos, Gaios, Loggos and Parga and spending the days strolling ashore, swimming and cruising the short distances. 

Beautiful garden bar at Petriti

They sell a selection of hand painted olive oil jars for just five Euros each

Below the bar is this awesome swimming cove

Most everywhere has been light winds and seas so calm that we didn't use our stabilisers for days. But that changed when we cruised 32 miles in five hours from Parga to Preveza. We had winds over 25 knots and breaking, closely spaced two to three metre seas on our starboard beam. The stabilisers had trouble coping with these waves and several times we had to “tack” to take the seas at more of an angle to the beam. At times the autopilot also had trouble coping with the vicious movements and I had to steer by hand for a few short periods. Normally Envoy is so stable that it would be rare to spill a coffee – but on this trip the cups sure were sliding!

Close-by to Preveza we found a bay called Panayaia that we'd never visited previously. It's well sheltered with a nice uncrowded beach and a rustic beach bar playing a good selection of music from blues to jazz to reggae. It's owned by friendly 30 year old Manioti born in Melbourne to Greek parents who came back to live in Greece and we enjoyed meeting him for a chat over a few cold beers.

Manioti's beach bar

Envoy at anchor viewed from bar

Manioti with Amy and Laurie

Laurie and Amy enjoy a cold beer

From there we headed through the canal that makes Lefkas an island and into the marina to get a temporary Plexiglas window fitted as so far we've not been able to locate a supplier for a new Triplex glass one. While maneuvering into the marina we jammed the tail end of our RHIB's painter in the bow thruster's propeller and couldn't use it, making for an interesting time berthing in the confined marina spaces. Next day a diver tried unsuccessfully to free the painter so we had to lift Envoy out of the water and were then able to free it quite quickly. Unfortunately the bow thruster's sudden stop caused some damage to the 24V motor so it's been removed and is currently ashore getting repaired while we carried on. We've since heard that it's successfully fixed.

Rope jammed behind bow thruster propeller




Saturday, August 19, 2017

CRUISING NEAR CORFU WITH FRANK AND MARIE

Envoy is now cruising around the Ionian Sea with our daughter Amy aboard for a six week stay.
Sorry this post is a bit overdue as my friend Lionel has pointed out.

I forgot to mention in our last posting that due to our delayed departure from Lefkas we were able to meet up with long-time friends Kevin and Diane O'Sullivan and family, who were starting a week-long yacht charter from Lefkas. We had a great dinner and, as I've often mentioned, the taverna owners nearly always give you something for free – in this case dessert. After we paid the bill and walked back about a kilometre to the marina the taverna owner came up to us on his motor scooter; “my friends ... I'm so sorry ... I forgot to give you this gift.” He handed over free bottle of wine and one of olive oil. NZ restaurateurs could learn from this!

Our first night out anchored at Two Rock Bay we had a problem. I normally check the condition of Envoy's start battery bank at the beginning of each season and this becomes increasingly important as the batteries age. Checking the voltage isn't sufficient – it's necessary to use a load tester, a device which most marine electricians have that places a significant load on the battery and monitors the result. When we ran Envoy's Lugger engine for the first time in June after seven months of non-use it started instantly and I assumed the battery bank must be OK. I had asked an electrician to load test the batteries but despite repeated calls he never showed and as our cruising had already been delayed by two months we really wanted to get cruising so I decided to forget the test - big mistake! The second time I ran the engine it was a slow start. The third time I had our generator running powering our Freedom Combi inverter/battery charger. This charger is an older unit dating from 2002 and doesn't have all the safety systems that a more recent unit would have. Because the start battery bank was down in capacity the start process drew too much load from the charger blowing a relay and causing some internal printed circuit board damage. Damn it!
We went on to Corfu's Gouvia marina where Leonardo, an electrician we know well, did a load test and found our battery bank down to 60 per cent capacity. He also pointed out that since our batteries were six years old this was not surprising. So the result of not doing the battery test was we damaged our inverter/charger and had to spend a couple of cruising days sourcing and installing new start batteries - all because we broke our own rules.
The new battery bank consisting of two Optima 975A batteries is performing well and Leonardo installed our spare Xantrex 3Kw inverter (which doesn't have a charger) while we try to get the Freedom Combi repaired in Athens. He's also fitted an automatic transfer relay so that if the generator is started while the inverter is running AC power is only sourced from the generator. Meanwhile for battery charging with the generator we're using our AC-powered Charles 60 amp charger that we normally use only on shore power.

Once these issues were sorted we spent a few great days cruising around bays close to Corfu. At Kalami we met Kiwi sailors Alistair and Nichola plus their dog Tiny aboard Bavaria 47 Tiny Nical.
On 12 July Frank and Marie Curulli joined us at Corfu for their third Envoy cruise. We were originally going to meet them in Malta but Envoy's fire damage spoiled those plans so Frank and Marie went by themselves to Malta, Sicily and Stromboli, where Frank's Dad came from.
Unfortunately Marie's luggage didn't arrive but never mind – this was a perfect excuse for Marie and Di to hit the Corfu shops. Her luggage showed up two days later.
Frank and I go back a long way as we met as 15 year-old surf lifesavers and since then have enjoyed with our families numerous great boating, diving, camping and four-wheel driving holidays and adventures. This was another one with two weeks going all too quickly in perfect sunny and calm conditions. We visited some places that we've been to previously – Kalami, O Ay Stefanos, Petriti, Sivota, Parga and Gaios but also two new places.
The first was Loggos on Paxxos Island where it's often too uncomfortable to anchor. This is a small but stunning village with several great quirky shops and very friendly locals. 

Envoy anchored off Loggos

Outer waterfront bars at Loggos

The picturesque main harbour

The boys enjoy an ice-cold Mythos

In the evening after an excellent meal ashore we visited an art exhibition set among the old machinery in a disused former olive oil soap factory.

The second was Corfu's village of Levkimmi reached by using our RHIB to navigate a shallow two kilometre canal from the sea. We only stayed here a couple of hours but were very impressed by the canal-side atmosphere and tranquility – not to mention great cakes from the bakery!

Frank and Marie as we head up the canal

The village of Levkimmi lines the canal

As we came out of the canal a huge dredging barge was moored right across the exit and we had to lift up and pass underneath their mooring line to get back out to sea.


For Frank and Marie's last night we went into Corfu's Mandraki Marina for the first time (as Gouvia was full). This is a small but highly atmospheric marina right below the Corfu Castle's north side. For the first time ever we were asked to berth bow first and this meant we could only disembark using the RHIB as our bow was too high up to use a plank to step down onto the jetty. The marina wall is only about a metre above sea level so waves regularly break over it and we understand the marina is untenable in strong northerlies – a yacht being wrecked there just last year. 

Looking across Envoy's bow as waves break against the marina wall 

Looking down on Envoy in Mandraki marina

Above the marina behind the castle's imposing walls is the Ionian University School of Music and were able to listen to some practice sessions as well as a full-blown concert.

Corfu fortress and school of music

It's hard to imagine better night views than these from your boat's stern


So after two great weeks Frank and Marie left us here on 26/7.