Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Another post at last!

Sorry about the long silence! We have had PC and connection problems, all sorted at last.
We left you on 22 May waiting for Panayotis, the electrician. After some persistence I was told the next day that the alternator was knackered and we needed a new one, at vast expense. Panayotis eventually arrived to fit the new alternator, but it needed a new bracket made because it was bigger than the old one (125 amps). The metal worker made the bracket, the alternator was fitted, but the engine struggled to start - no power was getting to the pre-heaters. On Friday Panayotis turned up with a new relay, which he fitted, and the preheaters got power, but we still struggled to start. However, time was passing (almost two weeks), so we decided to launch and sort things out on the water. We had booked to launch on Saturday, but were then told they were too busy, so it would have to be Monday. Despite the frustrations we had had a good time in the yard, made some good friends and had a chance to explore Leros a bit more in our hire car. Not only is Leros not a touristic island, they seem to have no interest in attracting tourists, they just want to get on living their lives the way they want to.
On Monday morning we heard that the crane driver George had walked out. I went in to the office and asked what time we would launch and there was obvious consternation, but we were eventually promised a launch in the afternoon. It turned out that they had persuaded an old crane driver to come back and to train a replacement, so we were to be launched by a learner driver! The crane arrived and moved the Italian boat that was blocking our way out, but still couldn't get back to us so they had to move a second boat before we were finally lifted and launched.

The engine eventually started and we were away, picking up a mooring buoy alongside Sue and Steve in their Nauticat, Unda who had launched on Friday but decided to stick around Partheni.

We motored off next morning,

 to go down to the town quay in Lakki, where we would try to get the engine finally fixed.
Simon decided that he needed to rethread the holes for the bolts which attach the pump for the cooling seawater, which had worked loose and destroyed the old pump. He took off the pump, drilled out and tapped the three weakest threads and inserted helicoil thread replacements (thanks to Kevin for the suggestion). The problem then was that it been impossible to keep the tapper straight, so two of the new threads were at a slight angle. When Simon tried to refit the pump he could only get three of the four bolts in. Having slept on it Steve was summoned over from Unda, by now anchored in Lakki bay, to help. We took the pump off again, decided that the fourth hole also needed retapping, which we managed to do and refitted the pump. Three bolts went in OK and tightened up rock hard, but the fourth would not pick up the thread, instead stripping the thread off the end of the bolt, so we decided that three would be enough to hold it (especially as the pump that attaches to the bracket has only two bolts). That night we celebrated with a gyros night out with Sue and Steve.
On Thursday 31st we set off to Lipsi, still with engine starting problems. On the way we were buzzed by the Dodekanese Pride catamaran, which looked as though it was going to hit us, but is so fast that it passed safely in front of us.

In Lipsi on the quay we had more work to do on the boat. The bow navlight, which Pete had fixed for us back in the UK, would not work. The light was fine so the problem was obviously in the wiring. Simon traced the problem to the stretch of wire that goes from a small inspection hatch in the forepeak, up through the deck and then inside the rails of the pulpit. The problem was to replace this wire. After a few hours of fiddling and stretching and fishing around in dark corners we managed to get the new wire up from the forepeak to the deck, before deciding that it was time for our dinner of baked pork with apples and potatoes.
With a couple of hours work next morning we managed to pull a piece of string through with the old wire, then pull the new wire back and wire up the nav lights. So now we can move in the dark in (relative) safety.
Then it was time for the engine. Simon cleaned the contacts for the glow plugs, but still it would not start. Then he removed the plugs, tested then one by one and it turned out that two of them were not heating. Fortunately we had only replaced the plugs a couple of years ago and had kept the old ones, so we replaced the dud plugs with two old ones that worked and, low and behold, the engine started first time at last. Time for a celebration dinner at Manoli's Tastes - may not be the best restaurant on Lipsi, but it is the best value.

We filled up with water and set off next morning for Arki, where we moored stern to the quay, planning to stay for a few days.

The first day we walked over to the east of the island, past the sheep sheltering from the sun in the only shade they could find,
to swim in a tiny deserted cove.

That lunchtime we ate in our friend Nikolas's taverna.

Nikolas had spent the winter in Poland with his Polish wife Karolina, where their son Alexandros was born in December, but Alexandros had already gone to bed so we had to wait till next morning, Sunday, to meet him.

After lunch we walked to the southeast tip of the island with its turquoise water and beautiful deserted beach.
Just behind the beach is an abandoned villa development. An investor from Athens had spent a fortune building a huge dry stone wall, installing two underground cisterns for water and had started building the villas,

then he died of cancer, aged only 35, and of course nobody else has been mad enough to take the project over, so it is becoming overgrown and in time will all fall down.
On Monday Simon set off to walk to the north end of the island, along goat tracks. On the way he met a column of dozens of goats, all making their way to a hole in the wall which led to paradise.
He also met what looked like a small herd of wild ponies, though Nikolas later assured us that there are Lakki donkies, which are larger and look more like horses than normal donkies.

After passing an abandoned farm
 he reached the remains of an Italian fort on the headland at the north of the island.
Amazingly, in such a remote spot on such a tiny island, he still had mobile reception and was able to text Lin that he would be three hours, rather than the one hour promised, although he managed to take a short cut on the way back, through a farmyard, thanks to a friendly farmer.
On Tuesday we walked the last bit of road that we had not been up, to the church on top of the hill, where Lin encouraged Simon to take an arty photo of the boat, which did not really come out.

On Wednesday we set off for Agathonisi, which we had put off until the wind went round from the south (Agathonisis is open to the south). We went alongside the town quay, and were all nicely tied up when the port police and advised us politely that we should move because the navy was coming and needed the whole quay.

So we moved and anchored off the fisherman's quay, with a line ashore. In the evening we walked up to micro hora, where we had never been before, to find a fertile cultivated valley to one side, and a fine view down to the harbour on the other (we are the boat nearest the camera).
Next morning, Thursday, we went back to Lipsi to get water and charge the batteries. We had planned to go to Arkhangeli on Friday, but the wind was quite strong and swinging around so we decided it would not be very comfortable anchoring there and we came down to Lakki to anchor off a beach for the night before going on to Xerocampos on Saturday.
On Sunday 10th we came back to Lakki, onto the town quay, to potter about dong odd jobs (and for Lin to do lots of polishing) before we come home. On Monday night we took Maria and Vassili and their children out to dinner and to say goodby, because Maria and the kids are going back to Tasmania on Thursday, with Vassili to follow when his contract ends at the end of the season., so we missed England's tedious draw with France. Today we are waiting for the man to come from the garage in town to fit a new cam belt to the engine, which we hope will go smoothly, and tomorrow, Wednesday, night we take the ferry to Piraeus, then across to Aegina to see Hilary and Rosa, before we fly back to London on Friday night and home on Saturday.
So that's it folks!