The day after Josh and Erin left us the wind was finally at more acceptable levels so we sailed off back to Rhinia, our favourite of the islands round here. We had a good sail round to the west side and anchored in a beautiful cove – Ormos Miso.
We had a lovely couple of days here exploring the island and dodging flying shot gun bullets, as the farmers were constantly out hunting birds.
We managed another impressive beach clean-up here: Collecting something like 200lts of plastic debris. The most unusual finds were, curtain hooks, tile spacers, an intact huge electric light bulb.
Most prolific finds; plastic straws, glow bands, balloons, plastic bottle lids, fisherman’s twine and netting.
Good job done; we sailed across to Syros in yet more fruity winds and parked on the quay with the help of Thannasis, the lovely, stylish, colour-coordinated and helpful harbourmaster.
Further exploration inland revealed a beautiful town, marbled paved square and streets, Venetian style Neo-Classical buildings, bulging wrought iron balconies, tall shuttered windows and a charming elegance we have not seen elsewhere. The bay is huge. At its heart is the newly bankrupt shipyard and dry docks. Once providing employment for 2500 people it has just stopped operating some 5 months ago.
In the south part of the bay is a newish mariner which is not properly managed or maintained since it seems no one can agree who should have the contract. So, it is left un-cared for and defunct before it has even been completed. Boat owners use it regardless…for free but it is a shambles.
Ian carried out his daily engine check and discovered that seawater was getting into the saildrive: Another potentially costly repair.
We organised for an engineer, Stamatis and his son Georgios, to check it and he confirmed what we suspected. We would have to be hauled out for the repairs to the saildrive. We agreed to come back in on Friday morning after having dropped Keira in Mykonos.
We had a lovely few days in Ermoupolis, and had the added bonus of meeting up with a Clipper chum of Ian’s called Mike Stephenson who was out on a charter yacht with his wife Amanda and friends. We had a pleasant evening with them and waved them off in the morning.
We headed back to our favourite place on Rhinia, shocked to see a HUGE rock across the entrance to the cove that we had not spotted on our first stay. We took a bearing on the GPS so that we could add it to our chart.
We enjoyed sunbathing, swimming, back gammoning, eating and watching a couple of films. (A fish called Wanda – helping to complete Keira’s film education) and then, all too soon, it was time to head back to Mykonos to say goodbye to Keira as she heads back to the UK after her year abroad.
We finally waved goodbye to harbourmaster father and son team Nikos and Makos in Naxos. They wryly commented that we should have asked for the monthly mooring fee. We returned to Paros. We anchored in the south west part of the bay of Naoussa and enjoyed a fine afternoon swimming and snorkeling. Erin spotted a beautiful starfish for us all to admire.
After a super calm night, we headed north in great winds to Finikas. Arriving with a flurry of charter yachts, we were hoodwinked into thinking that the quay would be a good place to be overnight, despite forecasts of strong southerly winds in the night. Foolish error!
We were awoken from fitful sleep by the grating noise of the spreaders and stays clashing with those of the neighbouring boat. We managed to pull forward so that the rocking would be safer and went back to bed. Ten minutes later, Erin shouted out, ‘Boat!’ in a tone of great alarm. She had popped her head out of the forward hatch and to her amazement saw a charter yacht pinned across our bow at 0400h in the morning, in the dark!
We all dashed on deck to fend off this yacht. Another departing yacht had tripped its anchor and so they were forced to leave in some haste. On motoring out, they wrapped a rope round the propeller so they had no power. Left to the devices of the strengthening wind, they were blown along the bows of the boats on the quay, stopping at us because they fouled their keel on our anchor chain.
After hours of fending, our anchor finally gave up and their keel was free. They continued to bounce along every single bow along the quay finally stopping about 2 metres from some rocks. Ian helped them to get their anchor down and then they waited for the coastguard to arrive to tow them to safety.
In the meantime, we were all busy on Linea. First, we pulled the anchor as tight as it would go. Then, we kept the engine on in case we need to motor forwards at all. We tried to limit the damage as much as possible whilst this boat was pressing us back against the quay. Tthe swell was lifting us higher than the quay and it is a miracle that the rudder didn’t get damaged. Josh was doing sterling fending off with the popped fender.
Ian eventually came back to the boat and we decided that since it was almost dawn and we were not happy with our anchor we would leave. The boat on our starboard side had to leave first since their anchor chain was lying right over ours. We motored to the anchorage on the other side of the bay.
After a few hours nap we were beginning to see the humorous side of the story. We still couldn’t quite believe all that had happened during the night. We were mightily relieved not to have incurred more damage. The boat next to us had not been nearly so lucky; having its stern constantly smashed into the quay.
We moved on to the practically deserted island west of Mykonos and had a wonderful night in a perfect cove with Delos in the distance. A beautiful place to calm the nerves.
On Wednesday we set off to Mykonos, as Josh and Erin had bought fantastically cheap flights back to Manchester from there. (£38 each) We anchored in the bay south of town and sat out the evening’s strong winds.
There was time for some last minute hair braiding and back gammon championships.
Next day, we caught a bus to explore the lanes, whitewashed churches and bijoux shops in town. We walked round to meet up with Stephen and Gilly for a swift beer and to catch up on their island-hopping adventures.
It was a pleasant wander round Little Venice, past the windmills and up and down the steps on the hill. The town was thronged with doddering cruise ship passengers.
During the very wet journey back to the boat to collect bags, we saw yet another inflatable toy somersaulting across the bay. We managed to catch it and the girls were very happy with their swan (Susan). All too soon, it was time to bid a fond farewell to Erin and Josh. They headed to the airport and we went back for another windy night in Ormos Ornos.
During the last few days, we have switched the engine on and off a total of eight times and all seems to be well. We are gradually gaining more confidence that the fuel is clean and the pipes are clear. Phew!
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.
We had a very pleasant evening out with them on the roof top at Oniro restaurant up in the Hora.
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.
Being rescued last week spurred thoughts of Thunderbird style rescues that we have been involved with since embarking on our adventures; those in which we have been on the giving rather than the receiving end!
The first occasion was in Mallorca in Cala Portal Vells when, in the middle of the night, there was an urgent knocking on Linea’s hull. We were roused from a deep sleep and adrenaline ensured that we were rapidly on deck. We leaned over the side to see a very frightened man in the water. He kept saying, ‘Boat tip!’ and in the dim light from the moon we could just about make out the silhouette of a small yacht far to close to the beach and leaning over at an alarming angle.
Ian deployed the dinghy whilst the man swam back to the boat to his friend. Initially, Ian tried pulling the boat forward off the sand but that didn’t work. Next, they pulled the boat over with a halyard to an even greater angle in an attempt to lift the keel out of the sand. This together with their engine and the dinghy eventually allowed the boat to move out of the shallow water.
They anchored again and kept a watch and left early the next morning to head back to Palma. It was their first trip out in the boat and we hope that they weren’t put off and that they have invested in a more substantial anchor. Thunderbirds were, ‘go’!
In Sardinia, we had gone ashore in the dinghy to do some shopping and came back to the beach just as another family of six was climbing into their dinghy. Unfortunately, they started their engine in a froth of seaweed and the engine gave up. In my faltering Italian, I asked them to jump in our dinghy so that we could take them back to their yacht. We towed theirs behind us. It was fairly slow progress with eight of us in the dinghy but we made it safely back and they were most grateful. Eat your heart out Virgil.
In Ormos Panormou on Skopelos, Ian whizzed off in the dinghy to help a crew member from another yacht secure the long lines to the shore. They were really struggling to attach the heavy lines and then bring them back to the boat. Puppets on a string!
In Porto Koufo this year, we were watching the rapid approach of a thunder-storm one evening when ahead of us across the huge bay I saw two people on a lilo kicking their way across to the opposite headland; snorkels poking up and face masks clamped to their heads. As the rain began to bounce down on us like bullets and the wind whipped up the water, I was concerned about the safety of these snorkelers.
Ian shot off in the dinghy and reached them whilst they were still in the sunshine. He asked if they were ok and they assured him that they were. He pointed out the looming storm and they shrugged nonchalantly. They refused a lift back to the shore and again said that they were fine. What more could he do? We watched them anxiously as they paddled back soon after; clearly they had realised their folly and were heading back to the safety of the shore. Safely back to Tracy Island.
In Limnos this year Ian disappeared off the front of the boat to help a couple whose anchor was fouled on another boat’s chain. He helped them disentangle the knitting and reset the anchor. Lady Penelope would be proud.
Recently, when we were anchored in Aggias Annas trying to fix our own engine, we realised that we needed more diesel and a full tank of petrol for the outboard. Just about at dusk, Ian set off across the bay towards the quay. He walked up to the petrol station and replenished our dwindling supplies. On the way back in the dark he was approached by another yachtie on the quay, asking if he could help him. He had run out of petrol for his outboard, too. Could he use some of ours to get him back to his boat? Ian obliged and Dimitri and his crew were very happy that he had turned up just when he did. International Rescue whilst rescuing us! A chip off the Gordon Tracy block!
The other day a couple came down the pontoon looking very tense and anxious. They had anchored in the bay and brought people ashore but now their dinghy had died on them and they couldn’t paddle all the way back. I offered them the use of ours.
Just yesterday, we were watching as a huge motor yacht pull out of the town quay here in Naxos. Their anchor was fouled on the bottom and then the port propeller was fouled on a mooring line. They were pinned in. Ian attended in the dinghy and with the assistance of other yachts nearby managed to secure the boat before it bashed into others boats moored on the wall. He freed the anchor and the harbourmaster dived into the water to free the mooring line. Job done!
This morning a yacht beside us that was pulling out and had his anchor trapped under the chain of a boat that arrived after him. With help from Thunderbird 2 and the harbourmaster’s Dad, (AKA Jeff Tracy!) Ian managed to free the anchor and the yacht was soon on its way. Another rescue completed.
After the core plug incident, which was fixed up in Thassos, the next blip in the engine department came as we left Paros after a lovely few days with my brother and his family. We had a fantastic sail back across to Naxos. Just as we were entering the bay at Agia Annas we put the engine on in preparation to drop the mainsail and anchor in our preferred spot. As I was going forward to sort out the anchor Ian announced that we had no power. The engine was on but would not deliver any revs.
We put the anchor down in 12m of water and were holding well. The forecast for the next few days was for stronger and stronger winds up to 40knts some days. We put more chain out and tried to fix the problem until the small hours of the morning.
Ian changed the fuel filters and consulted our Cruising Association friends online. Having primed the engine and tried to eradicate the air inside he was still having no luck getting it going. I had to go ashore the next day to drop my friend Jane so that she could return to France. I also needed to buy some Calor gas. I returned to the quay and intending to give the engineers a lift to the boat but the wind was too strong for it to be safe for me to return across the bay and the engineers didn’t fancy it either.
Ian, meanwhile was sitting on the boat on his own and listening to the wind whistle in the rigging and the sea slap the sides of the boat. He was staring at the rocks behind, all the time growing more and more anxious about what might happen if the anchor slipped in the ever increasing winds. He decided that the best thing was to call the coastguard rather than suffer another 48 hours of strong winds at anchor.
This he duly did and within minutes the coast guard had despatched a small ferry (Kerras Cruises) to come to our rescue. They brought him in at 6kts strapped to the side of their boat, having patiently assisted Ian to lift 100m of anchor chain. They deposited Linea on the rough concrete jetty at Agia Annas and we were all mightily relieved. It took us a further six hours to sort out fenders, lines, springs, fender boards and anchors ‘til we were happy that we were secure and safe on this, the windward side of the quay.
We slept very well that night despite the squeaking up and down against the tyre on the quay.
Next day, the engineers came and were gasping at how much we were being charged by the ferry company for the rescue. (As were we; but we just glad that we and Linea were safe! – Euros 1500 – ouch!) They had a look at the engine and got it going quite quickly, saying it was air trapped in the engine, ‘like in jail!’
We had to be signed off by a port police surveyor, who arrived in the afternoon two days later, before Ian could claim his papers back. We were up early on Saturday 19th August in the calm of dawn and cast off from the quay without incident, even though we had the tricky manoeuvres of removing two anchors at 90 degrees to the boat. We drove across the bay to anchor again and tidy up. After a quick engine check we smelt diesel again and rang the engineers to ask them to come back to look once more.
They rapidly arrived and came out in the tender. After a quick look they tightened a few nuts and headed off again. We motored all the way to Naxos Town with no problems.
That afternoon, Alice and Ian arrived. We had a lovely evening wandering the alleyways of old town Naxos and ate at Onino restaurant, which was very nice.
Next morning, we prepared for a trip across to Siros in favourable winds. After an hours’ motoring, the engine conked out and so we turned around and sailed back to Naxos Town.
The engineers made their third visit but couldn’t diagnose any problems because, perversely, the engine started and was running ok!
So, what to do, now????
We all felt that a day on the island was a good distraction from these disturbing engine issues.
We hired a car and set off for an adventure across Naxos. We stopped in the mountain village of Koronos and had a late lunch of home-cooked traditional fare at Dalas Taverna, which was delicious.
On arriving back at the car, we saw a stream of oil pouring across the road coming from the sump. We called the car hire company and the owner arrived in another car after an hour.
We had travelled just about half way back when the second car gave up the ghost. The fuel pump had gone!
The hire car owner came to fetch us and we all squashed into the car with the damaged sump and drove back to Naxos. (Cost – Euros 180 since damage to the underside of the car is not covered by insurance – obviously!)
This morning, back on Linea, we were just about to set off again when Ian did his routine engine checks to find coolant all over the engine and in the bilges.
NOT GOOD! The two Ian’s sussed the problem and then walked all over Naxos town trying to find a radiator cap.
All these problems in quick succession have led to a loss in faith and confidence in the engine. Even sailing boats need reliable engines. My strong feeling was that we needed to find someone who could look at all parts of the engine and do a proper service – investigating, thoroughly, the cause of the engine stalling.
We rang the surveyor and he recommended Stratos Karoulis. For Stratos to come to us we needed to be in the marina so I made nineteen calls to the harbour master and finally we decided to just motor in. Sails at the ready, we drove into the marina. We were allocated a place and within half an hour Stratos had arrived and was stripping down the engine.
He removed the high pressure fuel pump and sent it off to Athens to be diagnosed.
So, here we are, in Naxos marina in a meltemi wind.
Today, Alice and Ian left us, having sailed all of 9 miles! We have been so glad of their support during the last few days.
With all these engine issues in both car and boat we just hope we are not jinxed!!
Post script; A week later, Stratos returned with the reconditioned Fuel Pump and replaced it. He checked all the other pipes and tubes and declared that as far as he could see all was well. We need to check the engine under load and for that we will have to motor out for at least an hour to just wait and see how it performs. So we will head south to an anchorage still on Naxos in case we need the services of Stratos again!