The good news is that we welcomed Keira, Erin and Josh on board when they arrived on Naxos on the 1st September. Keira and Erin completing their mammoth overland journey from China to Europe with the ferry ride from Athens. Read all about their amazing adventures on www.twigletandnoodletravels.wordpress.com .
After the high pressure pump was analysed, reconditioned and refitted, the engine appeared to be working well. We had tried it in neutral in the marina but had not yet worked the engine under load for the ultimate test. Reluctant to go out and risk engine failure in strong meltemi winds, we persuaded ourselves that we may as well stay in Naxos until the girls arrived. We had a good couple of sociable evenings with Chris and Izzy on Mutch, admiring their new Nauticat that they had just bought in Kos.
The girls arrived on one of the large Hellenic Seaways ferries; one of 28 daily ferries. The wash created by the Fast Sea Cat Champion Jet ferries when they come in and spin round at high speed, sends a series of surge waves which curl and ricochet around the outer wall of the harbour and hit the boats on the pontoon in a domino effect, causing alarming rocking and rolling. We were parked right by a very solid lamp post and our gang plank came up against it and was damaged.
On Saturday, we met up with Stephen and Gillian Hodgson who joined us from Mykonos. Unfortunately, they arrived without their luggage which was somewhere in Manchester airport.
Next day, we set off to the south of Naxos to put the engine to the test. Typically, the wind was blowing from the south so we had to motor all the way. The bad news was, that Ian noticed that there was some diesel leaking out of the engine but couldn’t identify where it was coming from. We motored the whole way (4 hours) to Ormos Kalados at the bottom of Naxos and anchored off. Stephen and Gilly hired a buggy and set of on an adventure down the island to meet us there. They booked a room at Kalados studios. It is a rural and remote spot with sheep regularly strutting up and down the beach and donkeys and horses grazing in the fields. We had been told about a fabulous rustic restaurant above the harbour where you could get barbecued lamb chops and fabulous veggies. We had a fantastic meal there, and, although the wine was rough and cloudy, it didn’t stop us drinking rather too much of it!
We ferried Stephen and Gilly back to their end of the long and deserted beach and crashed out. Unfortunately, even the copious quantities of wine we had consumed couldn’t help us sleep in the swell that crept in during the night on the southerly wind! We were bobbing about badly all night.
Next morning, we decided that we ought to set off back to Naxos town to get the leak looked at. We were pleased that the wind was still southerly. It would be a nice sail back up. As soon as we rounded the headland to take us into the Paros/Naxos Straits, we saw lots of other yachts ahead. They were heading south under head sails only. Strange? How could they also be sailing on a southerly wind? Ah! Wait a moment the wind has changed….we have 14k on the nose, as per usual. So, we motored and the engine seemed to be doing well despite the leak.
We were barely a mile from the marina entrance, just passing between an area of rocks jutting from the headland, literally the most dangerous spot in the entire area, when the engine spluttered and died! OH! GREAT!
We quickly deployed the head sail and sailed away from the danger towards the top of Paros. There was a shocked silence amongst the crew. I guess we were all wondering how we would get back into the marina without an engine.
We sailed and contemplated the situation. After about 30 minutes, when the engine had cooled a little, Ian and Keira went to peer in the engine room. Ian managed to bleed the airlock out and miraculously the engine started again. We all breathed a huge collective sigh of relief! We motored back into the marina. Stratos, the engineer, returned in the morning to further investigate. We have discovered that the fourth fuel injector is slightly corroded. It leaks very slightly and, when the fuel is compressed within, a very fine mist of diesel is ejected, which makes seeing precisely where the leak is coming from particularly difficult. (Although the leak doesn’t affect the performance of the engine when it is running, as soon as the engine is stopped the air can get in and engines do not like air bubbles inside them!)
Stratos sorted the injector and advised replacing it over the winter. Phew! Job done. Beach day, well and truly deserved and drinks with Stephen and Gilly before heading home to cook up a huge curry.
Next day, we left the marina at about noon and had a lovely sail down to the south of Paros to Ormos Aliki. (Which was precisely where Stephen and Gilly had just booked into a hotel for the night, unbeknownst to us!) We were just motoring up to the delightful looking anchorage when the engine stuttered and slowly died – again! Bloody hell!
We put the head sail back out and sailed about whilst deciding what was best to do. Concluding that it would be best to get back to Naxos, we set off at 1515h tacking into the wind. Luckily, the wind was quite strong so we made good progress. We arrived in Naxos bay, rounding the Vrak Fournos rock and wreck in six hours. The plan was to sail directly into the anchorage to the north of the marina. We had actually managed to start the engine again but couldn’t rely on it giving power so we sailed in on a close haul with the boom out ready to drop the main. Once we were behind the breakwater, we dropped the main and used the head sail only to power us further in. Immediately we were in position, we let the headsail flap and put the anchor down as the wind pushed us back. Just for the added challenge we had to do all this in the dark…luckily there was a full moon to light the way!
We were well set! Mightily relieved, we put the boat to bed and had a welcome beer. We soon rustled up some chilli and had an enjoyable dinner down below because it was surprisingly cold on deck.
In the morning, we motored into the marina with Josh motoring beside us in the dinghy as back up in case the engine failed again. Nikos, the Harbourmaster, was joking with us that we should ask him for the annual rate for mooring. Stratos returned once again and pumped out the fuel, filtered it, changed all the fuel pipes and cleaned the tank out. There must have been debris in the tank that stopped the fuel from being delivered to the engine.
He has already found one solidified pellet of liquid gasket (a kind of blue tack used to seal things) and believes there might be more. He has also found other bits of debris in the fuel tank and coating the sides of the fuel pipes.
This does seem to be progress. Stratos assures us that the engine is fine; and now that he has cleaned the fuel there should be no further problems. With each successful outing we gain more confidence that the engine will not let us down. On the plus side; we have learnt such a lot and had our sailing skills further tested.
It has been a bit of a baptism of fire for the girls and Josh and I have been more than a little anxious to have all my eggs in one basket! At the same time, it has been lovely and comforting to have help on board and we are proud to see how well they have coped with all the excitement.