We booked an Air BnB place so that we didn’t subject David and Angela to the horrors of the boatyard ladder in the night. From here we were able to explore a little of the old town and have one or two delicious pitta gyros.
On the morning of Friday 21st September, we completed all the last minute jobs on board.
Linea was put back in the water at 1230pm, having been seven weeks out of action. After a quick check from Kamel that all was well with the sail drive and engine, we set sail for Symi.
Actually, we motored the whole way as the wind was on the nose and we wanted to test the engine. We were able to use David’s vast fishing experience and trolled a line behind us. David’s conviction that we were going to catch a fish was contagious. We had a bite, a big one, but it got away. A few minutes later the line went taut and we actually managed to reel in our first fish! After consultation, we discovered that it was an Atlantic Bonita, a member of the tuna family, of which even adult ones are quite small – 12cm to 35cm apparently. It was duly dispatched and filleted. We anchored in Panormitis Bay just in time to watch the setting sun flit across the impressive monastery edifice and plunge the bay into shade.
Next stop, and a fantastic sail away, was Nisiros: The volcano island. No joy with fishing today. We had a wonderful couple of days there and then set sail for the south coast of Kos to sit out some strong northerlies and to drop off the Heanes
In the morning, we saw a large shoal of pipe fish making murmurations in the shade under our boat. There were several large predators nearby and one came in for the kill, carrying off one of the thin fish broadside across his mouth. We tried in vain to tempt him with our lure from the dinghy but he was not to be fooled.
The windy weather arrived and we decided a long lunch was called for. We headed for shore and to the Sydney bar and had a fantastic meal two days running.
All too soon, it was time to say goodbye to David and Angela. We waved them off as we sailed west for Astipaliea.
Penny, Alison and Keira all headed off on the weekend of the 9th September. We went back to the boat on the hard in dusty Rhodes.
It’s a strange feeling living on a boat balanced three metres up in the air. Although you do get a bird’s eye view of all the comings and goings in the ferry terminal and can see all the cruise ships docking opposite.
Some boatyards don’t allow you to live aboard whilst your boat is on the hard but here it is no problem. There are basic facilities in the yard (with hot water!); as long as you don’t mind shinning up and down a ladder to go to the loo in the night.
We are about twenty minutes’ walk from the old part of Rhodes and shops are near at hand. Mr and Mrs Chalkitis, the owners and Mr Ilias, the boatyard manager, are delightful and we have enjoyed meeting them. We even have our own private beach so have been for a few dips in the sea as long as the boat yard hasn’t been antifouling any boats in the previous few days, as all the waste water drains off into the sea!
Whilst we waited for the spare parts we set about polishing the hull and top sides. Not an easy job in the heat. A thin layer of dust has settled on the boat and all this had to washed off before we could begin to shine her up. We were proud of our efforts and then the yard pressure-washed a boats of its antifoul immediately up wind of us so everything was covered in a thin coating of blue! Grrr!
On Monday 17th September the brand new sail drive arrived fresh from the Volvo factory and it was carefully hoisted in to the boat and fitted by Mr Thomaz Kalligas. (The Best mechanic in the Mediterranean – he reassuringly informed us.)
Ably assisted by Kamel, the new gear box was soon in place, however, the bracket needed to fit the sail drive to the engine was not there. Also the flange that was supposed to be completely compatible with our engine turned out not to be so. After a few adjustments, we had to use the old one instead.
The necessary bracket had to be ordered from Volvo and would be with us in a couple of days. (Why nobody thought to tell us that this was an essential piece of kit for fitting the sail drive, we have still to get to the bottom of.)
The part was flown in on Wednesday and fitted. We were finally ready to go back in the water but the weather had other ideas, as strong winds were forecast to be blowing right into the slips for the next couple of days.
We have finally heard back from our insurance company. Unfortunately, they are unable to uphold our claim for accidental damage saying that the sail drive was broken by corrosion. Therefore, NONE of our expenses have been covered by the insurance policy (except for the initial tow to safety) which is a bitter blow, and will definitely have an impact on our cruising future.
A wonderful silver lining in the cloud that has surrounded Linea recently was the prospect of seeing our friends Bryn and Jill on Fly the Coop, who were sailing to Rhodes to attend a wedding at the end of the month. They very kindly invited us to come and stay on their palatial Fountaine Pajot catamaran. This was an offer that we leapt at, not only because we were delighted to see them but also because the facilities at the yard were somewhat basic!
We sailed with them (7.5Kts) down to lovely Lindos bay and moored stern to the rocks in the middle of the two bays. It was a fabulous spot to keep cool and we had a really fun week, eating, drinking, swimming and messing about on the SUP paddleboard.
After almost a week there, it was time for Fly the Coop’s next set of visitors. For us, Keira was due into Rhodes after her summer of work at the Oxford Summer Courses.
The following day Alison Clements-Hunt (France/UK) and Penny Walker (Perth/Australia) flew in, having rendezvoused in Athens. They are old friends from our Bangkok expat days when we were members of a Mothers and Babies group called BAMBI – still in existence today. We were last all together nineteen years ago and it was so fabulous to see them both and have a great catch up.
We rented a beautiful house on a hill south of Rhodes and enjoyed a lazy week. We just about mustered the energy to do a little sightseeing in Lindos and Rhodes,
and forced ourselves to go to the beach for a dip and a gyros!
Having been pulled out on to the hard on Monday 20th August we were confident that we would soon be back in the water. I had already spoken to the yard about sourcing a Volvo Penta engineer and I had actually spoken to the man himself. However, the engineer was very busy and couldn’t come until Wednesday to take a look and wasn’t able to remove the sail drive until Thursday.
In the meantime, we had spoken to the insurance company yet again and had been told that if the damage turned out to be accidental then virtually all our expenses would be covered. How fab would that be?
The engineers found some fishing line wrapped within the workings and seemed to be sure that this could have been the cause of the failure.
The insurance company wanted to see for themselves so on the 10th September an English surveyor based in Bodrum came to see what he could suss out.
He looked at the broken sail drive and took lots of pictures. He asked questions and we explained to him when we thought that the damage could have happened.
So, we await his verdict.
Today, Volvo Europe Head office phoned to say that our new sail drive would be with us in Rhodes tomorrow.
With luck the engineers will have the time to fit it and before you know it we will be back in the water! Of course, we will have to satisfy the port police again and pay for an expensive survey but the last few hurdles, of which we are aware, are in sight.
So we found ourselves back in Symi. Luckily, Erin and Josh were able to catch a couple of ferries to take them back to Kos. Soon they were winging their way to Corsica to jobs at a Marc Warner resort for the summer.
Whilst we organised our escape from Symi we were looking forward to a cheer-up visit from Alice and Ian. Once more, Alice and Ian’s visit coincided with engine problems and there was no possibility of them sailing anywhere with us. It was so lovely to see them. We were delighted that they had made the effort. They came at the height of summer temperatures. It was a stifling 40 degrees in the harbour in Symi. The water temperature in the bay was only marginally less hot. The breeze was barely registering on the Beaufort scale.
Desperate to cool off, we had the ingenious idea of buying a bag of ice every night to scatter at our feet in the cockpit. Cold ice bottles pressed to our bodies helped as we sweltered on the boat.
Delicious rhubarb gin and plenty of wine helped to anaesthetise us to the dreadful, loud and repetitive music emanating from the bar opposite the stern of the boat and disturbing the peace and quiet of the night until 0500h EVERY morning!!
We took a couple of bus trips: One over to Pethi bay where we spent a pleasant afternoon swimming and supping beer.
And one down the island to Panormitis Bay where we had lunch and a wander round the beautiful monastery and museums there.
We did get out on the water in the dinghy and to find a suitable spot for a swim and barbecue one evening.
We had a good time catching up with our mates and we are so grateful to them for coming to give us moral support and to cheer us up.
After their departure, Alice managed to track down the Ice Factory in Symi and organised the Ice Man to Cometh! He delivered a very welcome bag of ice each day to the boat at her behest! Thank you very much Alice and Ian.
As the days dragged by, we established a routine.
Up and at ‘em in the morning.
Check the boat is safe against the swell and surge that comes in with the arrival of any of the numerous ferries and cruise ships. The boat is rocked violently and pushed back and forth on her anchor and lines. Mast and spreaders can clatter against the boat next door if not properly aligned. The gang plank must be raised high otherwise it smashes on the quay and wrecks the sprocket to which it is attached on the boat.
Ian would start the day with a visit to Mr Ilias the Harbour Master at the port Police.
On his return he would often have to deploy ThunderBird Two to help charter boats undo their anchor knitting.
I would do a quick clean up inside the boat.
Then, taking a bottle of ice tucked under my arm, my hat on my head, my fan in hand, I would hop ashore to sit in the shade at the Axinos Café and concentrate on trying not to sweat so much.
Here I would sit, nursing an ice cold coffee frappe, and chat to Ioannis (John) who helped out at the café.
Ioannis is in his mid-80’s and has lived in Australia for 50 years. He has a house in Symi and comes back during the summer to see friends and family. He was a charmer and a joy to meet and to talk to. I enjoyed listening to his history and hearing commentary on life in Symi.
Despite being stuck here for nearly three weeks, we were lucky compared to our neighbouring boat that had been impounded for four years. It had been stolen and used to transport 70 refugees to Greece and was in a sorry state. I hope that the refugees had faired better.
Ian would return from the police and we would invariably sit and watch the passengers from the ferries troupe past on the ‘Parade’ until well after 1330h. Occasionally I saw this man on his donkey trotting on by.
Then we would head to the café on the corner and indulge in a Pita Gyros.
The heat saps the energy and so an afternoon nap would be required, followed by a few more jobs and then the early evening entertainment of ‘Charter Boat Cha Cha’. We would sit in the shade with a cold beer and watch them as they tangled anchors and collided with each other.
Some evenings, we took off in the dinghy to a little beach area around the headland for a swim and a cool off. We explored the village, attended a music and dance festival a couple of evenings and, ever hopeful, prepared for departure.
We enjoyed a final meal up at Haritomeni Restaurant high above the bay.
As pretty as Symi is and as kind and friendly the locals are, I don’t think we will return here any time soon, if we can help it!
We finally left Symi thinking that we would be back in the water within a week. How wrong we were!