Saturday, 29 June 2013

Joys of a watermaker - and of Becky and Charlie

On Saturday 15th June we sailed up to Arki and squashed onto the end of the quay. 
It was wonderful to be back. Arki is very peaceful (except when the tripper boats arrive) and the perfect place to chill for a few days, with small coves and sandy beaches. Nikolas and Carolina had recently got back from their winter in Poland with Alexandr and we had delicious lunches and dinners in their taverna, pigging ourselves on Mama’s fantastic cooking. Lin specially loves their octopus.

We sailed back to Lakki on Tuesday 18th to stock up and see Ian and Jo and Claudio and Olga. On Wednesday we went over to Alinda to have lunch with Claudio and Olga at To Steki. 
 We decided to start walking back to Lakki to work off our lunch, past an emaciated cow at Crithoni.
We got hotter and hotter and were glad to hear the hooting of the (unscheduled) bus coming up behind. We went back to Alinda in the evening to have their last dinner with Claudio and Olga in their hotel, before they caught the 4 am ferry to Kos on Thursday. On Thursday we left the town quay to go and anchor off the town beach. 
There was a horrible clanking from the engine – the feet of the bracket holding the watermaker pump on the engine had sheered, so the pump was wobbling around. Luckily we were only going a short way, so as soon as we were anchored we could take it off.
On  Friday we motored round to Xerokampos, where we picked up a mooring buoy 
 and met Jo and Ian for dinner in the taverna.
We left early on Saturday 22nd morning to motor (no wind) down to Kos to pick up Becky and Charlie. On the way Lin noticed that the bilge pump was running – one of the watermaker pipes had split and fresh water was pouring into the bilge. Kos marina was full, so we went on to one of the marina berths in the old harbour as we needed water (Sue later told us that there is water on the free quay, but the marina berths were much more convenient for meeting Becky, who was dumped on the ferry quay). 
Becky and Charlie arrived at about 10 and we all went straight to bed.
About 3.30 we were woken by loud talking followed by a shriek and a splash. Three extremely drunk posh young English women were on the quay, one of whom had fallen (or was pushed) in. She clung on to the back of our boat while the security guards tried but failed to lift her out. Lin could not get our swimming ladder down as it was blocked by the boarding ladder, so the young drunk swam over to the Dutch boat alongside us, who had got their ladder down.  We went back to bed and slept soundly.
On Sunday we motored up to Lakki in a light headwind. Charlie kept watch

and Charlie drove

but he and Becky slept for most of the voyage.

In Lakki we went on the town quay. On Monday morning we did our shopping and Simon tried to find a metal workshop to make new brackets. Takis, the wonderful grocer opposite the taxi rank, told him where to go, but despite cycling to the top of the hill he could not find it. Takis then said that he would sort it all out for us when he delivered our groceries – not the kind of service you get in Tesco. Once stocked up we set off for Lipsi. 
Becky struck her favourite pose.

Again the bilge pump started working – this time the pipe had fallen off because Simon had not tightened it up enough, but fortunately we did not lose too much water. 
In Lipsi we tied up to the town quay and went to the beach, perfect for Charlie because it is gently shelving sand, so the water was warm.  
 Charlie had a great time, swimming,
making a sandcastle
 and, his favourite activity, throwing rocks into the sea and then fetching them back.

We had dinner that night at Manolis 
 – he not only remembered us but even asked us where Kai was. Charlie disappeared into the butcher’s, taking a child’s chair from outside and matching it with a table in the butcher's.

On Tuesday 25th we had a short motor (still no wind) up to Arki.
As we motored along, a ghost came up the ladder to haunt us.

We stayed in Arki for three days, exploring all the sandy beaches, which Charlie loved, chilling and again eating wonderful food at Nikolas’s taverna. Charlie was a big hit with all those who remembered him from last year. He met Alexandros again, but was rather shy at first,
  but soon relaxed when Nikolas brought out Alexandros’s cars.

Charlie didn’t like the fisherman thrashing his octopus.
 We went to the little beach in the harbour,

The big beach past the ferry quay

 And idyllic Tiganaki beach at the south of the island, where we had a private cove
 and Charlie climbed the rocks to be king of the castle.

On Friday 28th we left Arki at 7.30 and motor-sailed to Agathonisi, arriving at 9.45 and anchoring off the beautiful beach of Spilia, just outside town. 
Like everywhere else our friends were worried because it was almost July and was still very quiet, not only fewer yachts than usual but also fewer people staying in rooms. The new apartments are almost finished and are heavily booked from July, which should bring more custom to Maria in her shop and Yanni and Voula in their tavern.

There is now a 1 million euro road building programme on Agathonisi, funded by the EU. A strange priority since they are remaking the road to Spilia and installing solar powered lights, but nobody lives in Spilia, there is just a sandy beach, and the old road was a perfectly good dirt road. They are also remaking the road to Catholiko, a tiny village at the other end of the island, but this will provide better access to the archaeological site, where they are going to build a small museum. Everything that brings more visitors to Agathonisi is a good thing for the locals, but not so good for those of us who love it for its peace and quiet, as well as its friendliness. 
On Saturday morning we moved round from Spilia to tie up to the town quay, which is a bit tricky, especially in a strong wind, because it is too shallow for us right up to the quay, so we have to use the dinghy to get across to the quay. Charlie spent the morning playing on the town beach.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Escape from Turkey

In view of the increasingly militant demonstrations across Turkey the customs finally relented and allowed us to leave. We turned up at the Customs Quay at 9.30 on Monday, as requested. I went to ask the customs officer when the "expert" would come and he first said "today or tomorrow". In response to my cursing he went to ask his boss and they eventually reported that the "expert" was on the way from Mugla and would arrive about 11. I asked Derya, the agent, if the customs officer was looking for a bribe, but he replied that if I offered him a bribe we would never leave Turkey.
The "expert" had clearly not seen a yacht engine before - he climbed gingerly aboard, looked around and asked where the engine was. We showed him the engine room and the photo of the old engine and he agreed that the one on the quay was the same one. For this expert assessment we had to pay 200 euros!
Once we had finally collected all the stamps and bits of paper required we fled at full speed, glad to see the back of Marmaris.
We motor-sailed down the coast at increasing speed in increasing wind. After a couple of hours, as the wind hit 30 knots, the engine spluttered and died. Our escape from Turkey was clearly not to be. We phoned Burak and we agreed that someone would meet us at Sogut next morning, the nearest place to us that was accessible by road from Marmaris. We got the engine started again, but just as we turned the corner the wind died completely and the engine failed. On one side the waves and current were pushing us onto the rocks, on the other side the Symi-Rhodes ferry was bearing down on us. I quickly launched the dinghy and then struggled to lower and fit the outboard as the boat was pitching viciously. I got the dinghy tied alongside and got the boat moving at 2 knots to get us off the rocks and on our way, clinging on for dear life as the dinghy pitched and rolled. After an hour we had made a couple of miles and the wind filled in. The task then was to get the dinghy back up and empty all the water out. Lin managed to control the speed with the genoa so that I could get the dinghy in and get the water out. With some relief we got round the corner and set sail for Sogut.
We arrived at Sogut about 9, as it was getting dark. There was no space on the quay, but we were told to pick up one of their moorings. Two guys came out in their dinghy, leaped aboard and within two minutes had us secured fore and aft. Ten minutes later we were in their restaurant.
Ismail and Erhan arrived at 12 on Tuesday. Ismail thought the problem would not be the fuel pump since it was very unlikely that the pump would fail and then start again. The fuel filter/separator was clean so he reckoned that the problem was bits of plastic from the tank blocking the fuel line. He was right first time. The feed back was blocked with little plastic shavings at the elbow, where it came out of the tank. It turned out that they had not removed the debris from drilling etc when they made the tank and I had not thought to open it up and clean it out when I installed it. So now we will have to empty the tank and clean it when we have run the fuel down.
We left for Symi at 2. We did not want to go into Symi town, where we were due to meet Simon and Christiana,  because we had not cleared out when we left Greece so we did not want to meet the fearsome Symi port police. Instead we anchored in Pethi, a deep bay off a small village over the hill from Symi.

We got the bus into town and had a great evening with Simon and Christiana before getting the 11 o'clock bus back to Pethi.
We left Pethi at 7, motoring with no wind but heavy clouds, passing the Blue Star ferry as we motored past Symi town.

We had a long motor to Kos, where we anchored off the town beach while Simon went ashore to do a bit of shopping and get a new SIM for our internet dongle, only to find that the Wind shop was closed. We set off again and arrived in Pserimos, where we anchored in the bay and had an uncomfortable night. There was no wind, but a chop that had us rolling all night. We woke at 5 and decided to get up and go, again having to motor because there was no wind, arriving in Lakki at mid-day, where we tied up on the town quay.
Claudio and Olga came over from Alinda, where by chance they were on holiday, to spend the afternoon with us and we met them for dinner in an excellent restaurant, Mylos, in Crithoni, which we had not been to before.
It was wonderful to be back in Lakki! It felt like coming home. We met up with old friends. Jo and Ian came for tea after their early morning walk and we saw Philipe and Concesao, a Belgian/Portugues couple, with Scuba, their Portuguese water dog. Shopping was a joy, being greeted like old friends in every shop we went to. In the afternoon Simon cycled up the hill to the Wind shop in Planatos, which was hard work since he only had top gear. He got the SIM and a new cable for the gear lever, so now the bike has gears. We had dinner at To Petrino with Ian and Jo and got late to bed.
This morning, Saturday, we set off at 8 to go to Arki, before the strong winds set in this afternoon. We are now beating up into a force 4-5 wind hoping to get to Arki before lunch. We plan to spend three days in Arki before going back to Lakki on Tuesday to see Claudio and Olga before they go home.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Trapped in Turkey

We had a good trip home - doctors, dentists, hospital, haircuts, family - and even the weather was good.We went to London for a couple of days to see our families and go to the Pompei and Herculaneum exhibition at the BM, which was interesting but not astounding. The day we had booked to go to the exhibition the BM was on strike - dilemma! Fortunately for consciences there was no picket and the museum was operating more or less as normal. Sad, but good for us.
Simon warmed up for the trivets (a 100 mile bike ride for the over-50s) with a 92 mile practice ride the Sunday we got home. He got left behind by  the others, but chaperoned Bob Fine, who had terrible cramp, back to Leamington. On the real thing, the following Sunday, he rode as a backmarker to make sure that nobody got left behind. Unfortunately, to his great shame and embarrassment, he took his charges on an extra 10 mile detour when he went the wrong way after we found a road closed. The result was that he cycled 126.6 miles, including the ride from and to home, with 6100 feet of ascent. He was knackered!
We flew back to Dalaman on Tuesday, 4 June, arriving at 8.30 pm to find no trace of the taxi we had booked and no record of our booking at the United Blue kiosk, so we had to get an airport taxi at double the price. It was good to get back to the boat to find that the new rigging had been fitted, but it had not yet been tuned, and the new lights had not yet been fitted to the mast. This was a bit frustrating because we had hoped to be able to get straight off.
The riggers did not arrive to finish the job till about 4 on Wednesday afternoon. They tightened up the rigging and one went up the mast to fit the masthead light, but came down to say that there was an electrical problem - only 5 volts at the tricolour connection - and we would have to get an electrician. Jess Holman, our surveyor and supreme Mr Fix it, fixed for the electricians he works with to come next day, Thursday, as soon as they had finished a previous job. They arrived about 4 and fixed the masthead light - it was only a corroded wire end - and decklight. It suddenly looked as though we would be able to get away on Friday morning, so Simon raced into town to pay the riggers and do some shopping, then raced back to arrange with the agent to check out on Friday 7 June. We had to be at the customs quay at 9am, with our old engine to show the customs, which Marlin arranged to bring in their van.
We got to the customs quay at 9 and went through the checking out routine. All was fine until a young customs officer came to inspect our old engine. He did not believe that this was the engine that had come out of our boat because the tag with the maker, Thornycroft, and serial number had long ago detached from the engine.He went scratching away at the paint to find serial numbers and makers' names, but of course the only names were those of the engine maker, Ford, and the maker of the heat exchanger. The head of Marlin came over to try to explain that Thornycroft just put a few bits onto a Ford engine. More and more officials came over until at one time there were 6 customs officers inspecting the engine. They then told us that we would have to crane the engine onto our deck and take it with us, though God know how that would solve their problem. We showed them photos of the old engine in place, but still they did not believe the evidence of their eyes. Finally we were told that they would have to get an expert who would inspect our boat and determine whether or not the engine had indeed come from our boat. The only problem was that their expert was not in Marmaris that day and they refused to consider any other expert, even the Lloyds representative. We sat around on the customs quay until 3, when they came to tell us that the expert would not be here until Monday morning so our exit stamps had been cancelled and we should come back on Monday morning. To add insult to injury we had to pay 62 euros for the six hours we had been on the customs quay!
Marmaris customs quay

 We motored over to Pupa Yat, a beautiful and peaceful bay by the marina where the cows like to come for a swim in the afternoon.
It was peaceful until the German boat near us started to play loud music - not the done thing in a quiet anchorage, and acrooner started singing in the evening at the Imperial Hotel nearby. We avoided it by going into town for an Indian meal at the Taj Mahal. And it rained (OK, only a few drops).
Today, Saturday, Simon finished installing the watermaker and of course ended up with a major leak that took hours to fix. Lin went on cleaning and tidying and broadening her mind.

We just hope that we can get away on Monday - God knows what happens if the "expert" decides that the engine is not ours. We will probably have to stay here forever.