So here we are, to para-phrase The Beatles, Back in the MddR!!!
We are loving the community feel and the gorgeous November weather.
On Saturday, Sheena, a great friend from uni, who lives in Rome, came for a quick weekend visit.
We had a wonderful time catching up with her and phoning Anne, Trish and Clare, our other Brudenell Avenue housemates from 2″1981-84!
Sheen had to leave on Monday and so we cracked on with some cleaning detail!
Laundry; in the new mini washing machine!
Polishing; all shackles, blocks and pulleys.
Oiling; anything that can move.
Taking down; all sails.
Removing lines and ropes; Running mousing lines instead of halyards and sheets.
Scrubbing; the bimini and sail bag.
De-barnacling: the dinghy.
Fixing; De-rusting and cleaning the bikes.
Bilges; cleaning and disinfecting.
Kim has been a model member of crew. She has cracked on with allocated jobs with gusto and been a great giggle to boot. In amongst, we have been to the beach, the market and to have a fabulous burger lunch at Burger Art!
On Wednesday 7th November Kostas and his friends came to pay a visit.
So far we have had happy hours, coffee mornings, rugby internationals, drinks next door, dinner with Di and John, trash Monday beach cleaning, a presentation about sailing in French Polynesia and much more. It’s a very active community here.
Now we have less than a week left to prep the boat for winter, socialise with all our MdR friends and get our heads ready for our winter season in the Sutski chalet.
As soon as Kostas had left, we slipped our lines and set off from Pilos for the 350 mile journey back to Marina di Ragusa. On reflection, perhaps not the best plan, but we were anxious to get on to ensure that we had good weather for the entire crossing. Unfortunately, it was really lumpy at sea and we hadn’t really had chance to get our sea legs; so we all felt a bit grim.
We had a fast sail for the first few hours then during mine and Kim’s watch, on a profoundly dark night, a squall blew in and hit the main sail hard pushing it across and breaking the preventer line on the boom. We managed to drop a reef in and stabalise the boat but it was a little scary for a while.
The next day brought really light winds so we were motoring for the entire day and night. Finally, we were able to sail again from about midnight on the third evening. During our watch on the third night a flock of birds appeared and showed off with a dazzling aerobatics display at the mast head. Two birds stowed away on board to rest up before setting off on their migratory flight again in the morning.
Whilst Ian was on watch, he called me up on deck at 0130h as we had snagged the keel on a thick line attached to some kind of fishing float. In a matter of minutes, the boat had slowed from a respectable 4.5kts down to 2.5kts.
Just as quickly, we began picking up speed again and were confident that the line had slipped away. It was a good thing it was so heavy and that we were sailing, not motoring. We did not want that size of rope around our propeller.
As daylight dawned, we could make out the coast of Sicily.
As we neared MdR, we decided to have a swim.
a) To wash off the accumulated grime from the last four days without showering, and,
b) To double check that there were no ropes around the keel, etc., before we made any strong turns into the marina.
We were soon showered, refreshed and dressed in clean clothes. We looked south and noticed some threatening clouds. Kim said that they looked like Dementors. Within minutes, the wind had whipped up to 35kts and the rain came lashing down. We had just called the marina to announce our arrival but called them back to say that we would stand off and come in once everything had calmed down. We waited for 45 minutes, staying head to wind and bouncing along the waves that had built up from virtually nothing.
A much-needed chocolate boost was distributed and gradually our heart rates and the weather began to calm down.
We made it into the marina and to our berth with no problems. Although, Ian later revealed, the alternator had a final, almost fatal, flurry to add to the frisson of the moment! It stopped working briefly but then rallied and seemed to recover itself!
There was a wonderful welcoming committee on the pontoon.
After pizza and a good night’s sleep we felt much brighter and on Saturday began to winterise the boat, as well as complete the huge list of jobs; cleaning, repairing, and, of course, socialising.
Having decided on the perfect weather window to get us across to Sicily, a further problem with the alternator meant that we missed the chance to leave when we wanted to. We then had to wait for a few more days to be sure of a three day window. Regrettably, this meant that we were not going to be back in MdR in time to see Gaye and Chris. Bloody boat and weather!
On the plus side though, it did mean that we could ask if Kim wanted to help with the crossing. She said, ‘Yes’, and within 36 hours was travelling to Athens and on to Pilos. We also met Carol and Paul on Swallow and Claire and Pete on Blue Vigil and had good times with them.
We were surrounded by ‘dead’ yachts that had been abandoned in Pilos. What a waste!
Ian was taken off by the port police because they thought he had been trying to remove some of the equipment on board one of the abandoned boats – as if!
On Monday 29th October, we explored a little more of the town with Kim and had our last ever gyros.
We provisioned up for the trip across to Sicily and then spent the afternoon cooking and getting ready to go.
We did not fancy these though!
The next morning we were up at 0530hrs and preparing to drop the lines. Ian started the engine as he had every morning since we had the alternator fixed. It wasn’t working properly AGAIN!
We rang Kostas who came out for a third time, to have another look and try to fix the problem once and for all.
He took the offending alternator away to repair it in Kalamata. Kindly, he offered Ian a lift to Messini as we decided to purchase a generator in case the alternator should pack up during our return to Sicily. This was our back up plan.
Kostas soon had the alternator repaired and was happy with everything. He is going to Sicily on holiday next week so we have arranged to meet up.
Having waved off Alice and Ian we awaited a suitable slightly less windy day to shoot across to the mainland. Meanwhile, I revisited the very interesting Milos Mining Museum to find out more about the rocks and geology of the island.
The mainland is a fair distance from Milos at 80nm; but the winds were favourable and we just hoped that the sea wouldn’t be too lumpy after the last ten days of strong winds.
We set off in the dark on Sunday morning (14th October 2018) and discovered that the boat next to us had laid his anchor chain over ours. We managed to resolve the problem quickly and, luckily, they were awake so we could tell them.
Off we set and had a fantastic sail across making such consistently good speeds that we arrived at our anchorage in the last remnants of day light. Not before being suprised by 40knot gusts off the forbidding Ak Maleas!
Next morning, we set off round to Limeni bay where we anchored and had a peaceful night.
The next hop was to be round to Methoni on the western most ‘finger’ of the Peleponnese but in the morning when we started the engine we noticed that the alternator didn’t seem to be charging the batteries.
Luckily, we were fairly close to Kalamata where most boat repairs can be undertaken so we started sailing north. We had a fantastic sail for about an hour and then the wind died down and since it was a beautiful sunny day we enjoyed pottering along.
Deciding it was time to crack on we tried to start the engine.
After I had come round from a COMPLETE melt down, we lowered the dinghy and attached it to the starboard side of the boat, put the engine on and pushed ourselves along at a 3 knots using the outboard motor.
Only 12nm to go… we made it… just as dusk approached.
It was relatively straightforward to steer into the marina, although we decided to go in bow first. On the way there, we had phoned repair people and tee-ed up appointments for first thing in the morning.
Vincent next door supplied a much needed glass of wine and we were beginning to relax. The next day, we celebrated Ian’s birthday with some new friends.
Soon, repairs were underway. Ioannis replaced the dead engine battery. Kostos took away the alternator and fettled it with new diodes. Ian had climbed the mast three more times to fix on a new tri-colour and anchor light and by Monday evening (22nd October 2018) we were all set.
We bade farewell to new friends on Fai da Te, Owl and the Pussy Cat, Lyra and Vincent, and sailed round in the cloud, mist and rain to Pylos and the brighter weather further west.
On arriving, we were dismayed to see that the alternator was still not performing as it should. A quick call to Kostos and he agreed to come the following day to see what the problem was. He soon had it sussed and we are now prepped and ready to make the big jump across to Sicily.
On Friday 26th at 0154h there was an earthquake measuring 6.4 – magnitude, 30 miles south of Zakinthos. I actually felt the tremors on the boat at 0158h four minutes later! It was a weird feeling being bounced up and down without the force of waves. Luckily no one was hurt and only minor damage occured.
Kim will arrive on Sunday 28th Oct to give us a hand and put her newly acquired Day Skipper Skills into good practice. Yeah!
We are really looking forward to getting back to our winter berth even though we will only have a couple of weeks to put the boat to bed before we set off to the UK.