We have spent the last few weeks in the most wonderful summer location yet.
The Gulf of Volos is in North East Greece on the mainland. We haven’t had a lot of wind, in fact hardly any wind at all, we have found lots of beautiful anchorages with hardly any people and even fewer boats.
With trees covering the land it is a green haven. The inlets provide perfect bays that more often than not you have to yourself, even in midsummer. We found we could top up with water in the village and there was even room for us to tie up along side. There was not a lot of choice in the small mini markets but enough for us to make basic meals, Paul is getting really creative with his salads now.
We were even surprised to see some bays with holiday homes with no electricity. Our favourite bay had five or six little houses with no road. There were quite a few boats moored up so realised this was their main form of transport. I noticed a water pipe coming along a little track around the bay but apart from that it seemed to be self sufficient. There were a few solar panels and mini wind generators, it was an amazing bay to stay in because there was no road noise, we didn’t hear generator motors at all, there were a few light in the evening and the sound of a few dinghies coming and going. The road was actually less than a mile away with other houses with electric and services so it was nice to see that they had resisted the temptation to bring the services over the hill.
Around the bay there was a whole apartment complex that was not in use and on the island opposite an old monastery which had been abandoned. To live in this area would mean quite a trek around from the main city of Volos which doesn’t have an airport but there are daily ferries in and out of the town. So this little area of Greece seems to have been forgotten in the rush for tourists to visit the islands and not the mainland. For us, in the summer this is a beautiful spot and we shall certainly return.
We have been waiting for a new drive shaft for the port Saildrive to arrive so that we could fit our new propellor. We had taken a gamble! When we realised that the old propellor had fallen off because the old drive shaft had sheared off, we needed to order parts without seeing the issues. The reason for this is the last thing you want to do when living on a boat is be hauled out of the water and have to sit on land for 2 or 3 weeks in August whilst waiting for parts. Paul did his best to anticipate what we would need and order it. When it arrived we arranged to be hauled out by the little yard in Volos.
Gregory was extremely helpful but we were a trifle nervous. They were going to haul us out using a trailer under the whole boat. Paul would have to drive onto the trailer with only one engine. We prepared by putting long ropes onto the bows so that hopefully I could throw a rope to people helping to guide the boat onto the trailer. Unfortunately there was no-one close enough to throw a rope too. The access was narrow but there were rocks just under the water. I need to practice throwing a rope a lot further than I had needed before. As it happened Paul did an incredible job lining us up, we seemed to be sitting on the trailer for only a second when they began pulling the trailer up the slipway.
There was a margin of one foot either side of the boat through the boats blocked up either side. Wow, it was nerve wracking. When we were hauled out in Leros in February it took three and a half hours …. This time we we out and blocked in less than half a hour. There was no messing about … thank goodness it all went to plan.
Within 20 minutes an engineer was on site ready to start work with the parts. He was needed because he has the right equipment that is needed to change lip seals, bearings and to tighten everything. We had bought an extra propellor for the starboard side and we would have both of the sail drives serviced again and oil changes on the engines as we had done over 200 hours since February.
The engineer took everything apart and made a list of the oils and bearings needed and planned to return the following day to complete the job! So far so good!
We had decided to get TopCat cleaned and anti fouled again. We would usually have this done once a year, having it done again now would mean we wouldn’t have to come out of the water during the winter and hopefully she will last until next winter before needing to come out again. We had done a good job of antifouling in February and she wasn’t to dirty but to save having to lift her again we decided it might be worth it. I didn’t fancy the job because it was hot when we did it in February so doing it in August would be stifling! The yard came back with a great price to do it for us so we agreed and stuck into the other minor jobs that we needed to do. Well to be fair, Paul stuck into the jobs and I worked on the computer.
Being out of the water in the summer is not fun. They had warned us not to let Lilly down into the yard as there were stray dogs roaming who regularly fought. So Lilly and I were marooned on our desert boat surrounded by vicious wild animals while the boys did the work!
Paul had a little repair job to do on the starboard aft end of the boat which had had a rope get caught around it last March. It was a bar which we didn’t need, so he removed it and repaired the damage in the fibreglass.
Two days later we were ready to launch. This was as swift as the out lift and we were one happy family to be back on the sparkling seas once more. Time for a swim and a cool down!
All in all, it couldn’t have gone better. The yard were very helpful, Paul was spot on with his ordering of parts, timing was quick and as efficient as possible … and now we have two working engines again.
We have loved staying in the Gulf of Volos, it has been very kind to us. A bit like a holiday really!
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