Monthly Archives: May 2019

  • 262. Top Tips Tuesday - Embarrassment!

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    Last week's blog was entitled 'Things can only get better', I'm composing this latest one sitting in Petrinos taverna in Vathi harbour on the island of Meganisi with an ice cold 'Fix' beer, things are looking up. Perhaps the weather had finally settled down, today started off as the first occasion that I wasn't wearing my Dubarry deck shoes on my feet as with a lack of wind we motored and consequently, as the sun rose higher, I ended up dancing like a cat on a hot tin roof. According to all the taverna owners they have never had a May like this one, lots of rain, low temperatures with cold nights. Last few days we have been slightly blessed; yes sun, no rain which makes a welcome change! However, it's still with a cold wind, in fact eating out at night in the open fronted taverna's it's been a t-shirt, Musto fleece and a Gill Hydrophobe Gilet and still it's not that comfortable, must be all that alcohol consumption diluting the blood!

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    Well we had a cracking sail from Sivota on the island of N. Levkas to Sami on Cephalonia. Last Wednesday it was snubber off, switch on the Quick windlass, lift and stow the Vulcanafter cleaning the chain of some strange looking ribbons of translucent matter (jelly fish or similar we think) using the deck wash pump. We motored to the entrance of the inlet, hoisted the mainsail and bore onto a beam reach and with the engine ticking over in neutral it was a magnificent 1 knot of forward motion, so it was a 'step on the gas moment.' Out went the Selden bowsprit, our code zero hoisted to the mast head after attaching the tack to the base of the Ronstan furler, unfurl and yes, boatspeed built up to 4 knots in 4 knots of windspeed and that was with us towing the dinghy! Two hours later the wind shifted and rose to 15 knots. It was then a case of furl and drop the lightweight headsail and unfurl the 110% jib. A beat to windward, then bear away round the corner of the island and a run down to Sami, headsail furled and asymmetric spinnaker hoisted (it's hard work this cruising lark) was an almost down hill ride with boat speed of 6.5, 7 & 8 knots at times.

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    1/2 a mile from our destination it was engine on, asymmetric snuffed, mainsail lowered, sail ties round the main, fenders on and stern lines at the ready. We motored into the harbour, found a gap between two larger yachts, dropped the Vulcan and with crew member John paying out the chain we went astern and ended up neatly (as I thought at the time) between these two yachts and tied up. Three minutes later, whilst I was adjusting my fenders, the skipper of the starboard hand yacht said, "are you Rob Storrar?" to which I replied, "Yes and you are whom?" to which he replied, "Your business partner for the first twenty years!"

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    Well, I had thought that I had got a good memory for faces but this was a spectacular fail, however in fairness to myself when I messaged the above photo (I am the one with a lack of hair) to our then  mutual circle of friends back home including my wife they didn't recognise Alan either, nor did an ex flat mate of his and let's face it was a long long time ago that the partnership of Storrar & Bax was dissolved! That night we went out for a meal and 'chewing the cud', caught up on how our respective offspring are doing and other things, followed by the polishing off a bottle of Ouzo on board his Dufour! The next night, it was pre dinner G&T's on board the Mystery with me bringing out our cockpit Lagun table to 'hold the drinks and olives' and then again a meal with them, but this time no after dinner drinks onboard!

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    Further embarrassment was to follow when the time came for us to leave, as we motored off the quay a crossed anchor chain courtesy of yours truly, fortunately Alan and his crew had gone sightseeing and were not around to see our predicament. Our trusty grapnel, however, came to the rescue. Dropped it over, lifted his chain slightly and the Vulcanswung free. Off we motored, after leaving instructions with the Greek skipper of the Bavaria moored now next to Alan that he ought to check his anchor on his return, certainly we didn't think there would be an issue! However, if he does happens to read this blog, sorry again for not recognising you and sorry again for crossing your anchor chain!

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  • 261. Top Tips Tuesday - Things can only get better

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    I was lead to believe that once we moved our yacht down to the Ionian from the North East coast we would be blessed with flat sea, warm winds and loads of sunshine. Well on our sail from Platarias to Lakka on the island of Paxos we certainly did have a fabulous beam reach, flat seas and sunshine, clocking over seven knots at times, however, it was accompanied with a cold wind, a bit like a 'warm' North Sea breeze in the middle of summer! Having said that it was considerably better than the week before where we 'enjoyed' an awful lot of rain so must not complain! However, my woes weren't finished. They started late last year with the grey waste tank emptying its contents into the bilge (only discovered the morning of the day we were catching the ferry that  departed  Corfu at  6pm).

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    After much sucking of cheeks and muttering under our breath we discovered earlier this week that a non-return valve had been factory assembled the wrong way round. I had never checked it out when installing and as a result it wasn't doing the job it was supposed to do!  The last time I had spent 'quality' time in the lazzarete was some six years ago when I was a little bit more supple. Thank goodness for my Freebag, it made an uncomfortable job a lot more bearable. Am not sure if Jenny would be impressed with my use of the Freebag in that environment (I did clean the surface it was being used against first).

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    They are, of course, a superb way of getting comfortable when leaning against halyard bags or other immovable objects when it's time to relax after a bout of housework or when reading up about our next destination using Rod Heikell's Greek Water pilot and its companion publication the Ionian. We spent yesterday at anchor in Tranquil Bay opposite the town of Nidri. Rod, in his excellent book Ionian, does write 'the bottom is good holding once your anchor is properly dug in, but it may take several attempts before it is holding to your satisfaction'. Interesting to read what Alex Blackwell, co author of Happy Hooking - the art of anchoring has written:

    "In fact, we're so convinced that we are intending to help re-write many of the cruising guides. Where anchorages are rated as having poor holding, we believe they may have been rated with inferior anchors, as we have often found the holding to be good. So if your anchor is not holding as well as you might like, consider your options. The insurance of having a good modern anchor may just let you sleep peacefully through the night secure in your chosen anchorage".

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    Our Vulcan anchor, designed by Peter Smith designer of the Rocna set first time in Tranquil, and of course held well last year in Vliho (just round the corner) when the Medicane blew through!

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    Anchoring in Tranquil Bay gave us the opportunity to lift the floorboards, check the grey waste tank was performing as it should do and investigate why the shower drain pump was not functioning. We discovered that yes the filter needed cleaning, should have done it more frequently, but even after cleaning this the circuit breaker on the switch panel kept tripping when operating the switch. 'Dismantle the Flojet' was the order given. First we checked out the 'diaphram end,' no blockage or sign of failure, then it was a case of let's take the back end off and as we started to remove the casing rusty water started to trickle out. So casing off, peered inside and the conclusion drawn... It's terminal. Local chandler had a Chinese copy of the Flojet at a similar cost to the discounted price Andy sells them for back in the UK. I think it's a UPS from Andy then to the Vliho yacht club for collection back end of this week. Today we up anchor and set off for Sivota. Will be interesting to hear what crew member John's thoughts are on the village as it was some twelve years ago when he had his first experience of a Mediterranean charter! I've just signed the blog off, the sun has broken through, we are about to haul the anchor and yes things can only get better'. Let's hope our grey water issue of last year is now finally over!

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  • 260. Top Tips Tuesday - Sun? sailing and a soaking

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    Well, after enduring snow and a ferry strike on our drive down from the UK to Greece, I was hoping for some pleasant sailing conditions once we had got the boatyard 'business' out of the way. Yes it was great to get Hindsight back in the water however now we have moved on we do miss the fish taverna across the road from the Corfu boatyard. One starter of anchovies, Greek salad both shared, two main course of sardines and four beers.

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    After that feast, which we didn't finish, (doggie bag requested) John my driving companion/crew went looking for the Liverpool/Barcelona football match. I went back to the boat being more of a rugby person but next morning he advised me that whilst looking for a taverna to view the match he stumbled across, in a backstreet opposite the Corfu ferry port, an establishment that cooked on the charcoal grill meat that you personally selected. As we were both 'fished out' next day John advised me that it would be a meat night, eat and then watch the Tottenham/Ajax match on the screen. So that evening off we trotted to a night of food and footie. Interesting place, at first I thought (if it were not for a few tables) we were in a butchers shop as the counter had probably at least six different cuts of beef on display in the chilled counter display, pork, lamb, chicken etc. Two very very large meals, one Greek salad and four beers between the two of us all for 30 euros. Our only complaint... no sound whilst watching Tottenham Hotspur sorting out Ajax on the screen!

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    Before we battened down the hatches last October I serviced the engine (using the Yanmar service kit package) plus a replacement Delphi primary filter. The oil change is so easy these days using a vacuum extractor. I am using a Pela which was kindly given to me by an old friend, took pity on me when my grey water tank overflowed, due to my cock up. It was perfect for getting the waste water out of the Mystery's deep bilge! As for the engine oil change, easy peasy with no chance of an oil spill. For those on a limited budget the Seago vacuum oil extractor works well and is excellent value for money.

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    As you can imagine after six months on the hard standing, the cockpit and deck gets a little grubby, and by the time I have replaced bedding, brought on board provisions etc it's even dirtier! Starbrite deck cleaner gets the nod from me. Have tried a few others (purely for research of course) but always come back to this one. The Shurhold telescopic brush handle complete with the interchangeable brush gives me the option to use a soft, med or hard head. Or if I want to clean the topsides whilst on deck a head is available with a different angle. You can also adjust the length of the handle if necessary.

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    I was disappointed to find water in one of the cockpit lockers, had thought it fairly watertight! The cover for the folding bucket was stained with mildew however an application of Yachticom's mould and mildew remover soon put paid to that! Same treatment was successful on the various ropes stored in the locker over the winter! Don't forget, however, to wash thoroughly with fresh water once desired effect had been achieved.

  • 259. Top Tips Tuesday - Searching for the sunshine (and some sailing)

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    As was mentioned in last week’s ‘I have failed’ blog, being too busy clearing the sail-loft floor to contemplate putting pen to paper before my search for sun and some sailing out of Corfu. Leaving behind a cold North East we embarked on the Newcastle to Ijmuiden ferry, our estate car loaded to the gunwales with antifouling, roller trays, Shurhold Orbital Polisher, Yanmar engine and gear box oil etc etc along with a Gul Cross inflatable SUP for a customer of ours who keeps his yacht in Gouvia.

    It was looking promising weather wise once we had disembarked on Saturday morning. However as we drove thru Holland then Germany the outside temperature kept falling and by the time we entered the Swiss road system we were greeted with sleet and snow and zero degrees! With darkness came poor driving conditions, the glare of the unlit road surface from the headlights and to boot no cats eyes to keep us on the straight and narrow! Just before we pulled over in Italy for a few hours shut-eye we observed the outside temperature climb from zero to fifteen degrees in a matter of twenty minutes! Arriving in Ancona ferry port Sunday morning we were greeted with a spectacular lightning display and torrential rain which left the terminal car park flooded. Methinks the English registered camper van with the lifebuoy on its stern knew what we were about to receive!

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    Booked in only to be told that the ferry which runs from Ancona in Italy to Igoumenitsa in Greece was running 4 hours late! Then learnt  that when we arrived at Igoumenitsa the ferries that run from there to Corfu would be on strike tomorrow! Looks like our proposed launch day of next Saturday may have to be put back till Monday!

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    As I mentioned above we are transporting a Gul Cross SUP (inflatable stand up paddle board) for one of Andy’s mail order customers; wish they had been available when I bought mine some two years ago, as it’s much better value for money, and of a superior construction!  They are great for exploring the various inlets/coastline and they do give both Jenny and I a chance to keep slightly fitter!

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    I use a 12volt high speed inflator to inflate/deflate it, also my trusty dinghy, the one I have sadly has been discontinued however the new SUP 12v Air Pump does the business.

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    Jenny worries that when I disappear on one of my paddle board explorations that I am not wearing a life jacket, however this year I have purchased a couple of the new Spinlock Alto life jackets. Worn as a belt they are perfect for paddle board safety and if we are going ashore in the dinghy at night, much more convenient than a life jacket as you wear them round your middle like a ‘bum bag’ so no more worries of facing lifejackets pinched from the Avon!

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