We have been battling against the winds for months, now is the time we decide to change our tactic and go where the wind says we go.
Instead of going to explore Lesvos and Limnos as we had planned to do, we head west with the wind behind us. It is a beautiful sailing day, the sun is out and the winds are gentle, so this is what they mean by fair winds and following seas. Perfect!
With the spinnaker up (we have an asymmetric spinnaker), we head towards Skiathos and onward towards the Gulf of Volos. What a perfect day. And then the wind changes! We have to get the spinnaker down to reset it or use the Genoa. No problem. We have a good system worked out with both of us hoisting the sails together so we can get them up and down fairly quickly. This works well as long as the auto pilot (Manwell) is willing to work at that moment. Today he did, but we had another problem. One of the spinnaker control ropes had become entangled around the top of the mast and refused to come down. The sail was safely stacked but having the ropes hanging from the top of the mast made it impossible to use the Genoa.
So on our perfect sailing day we had to turn on the engines and motor on. What a shame!
We arrive at our little bay in the Gulf of Volos and prepare to anchor. We see that most of the boats already there were attached to buoys. This can mean a number of things!
- The taverna own the buoys and you can stay there as long as you eat in the Taverna.
- The holding is not good and boats are likely to drag on anchor.
- It is too deep to anchor
- A number of boats stay here for weeks or months and you don’t need to worry or think about picking up a buoy!
For us a buoy is not necessarily an indication of safety. The buoy might not be properly maintained and might well become detached from the ropes or the weights on the seabed if the wind gets up.
With all of this in mind we choose to anchor. Or try to! When you know there are a lot of ropes and blocks on the seabed, anchoring can be hazardous. You don’t know what you are going to get your anchor caught on.
We drop the anchor and begin to go backwards. But there is a problem. Our port engine is not in gear, it is not keeping us straight. The wind is sending us around one way and the starboard engine is sending us around to port! We cannot go backwards to bed the anchor in!
As we are still drifting we decide to tie up to a buoy to investigate the engine issue. It might be just a minor problem that is easily fixable. I lasso the buoy (first attempt …. I spent an hour or so practicing one day last week as I hadn’t been able to successfully lasso all season). We tie up to some very ropey ropes and Paul goes off to investigate the engine. I sit at the helm ready to turn the wheel or do whatever else might be needed.
We soon realise that everything in the engine room is fine and working. So we need to check if something has been caught around the propeller and is stopping it from rotating. Time for a snorkel.
Within seconds Paul is getting out of the water. “Is that it?” “Nothing caught around the propeller” he says. “What is it then?” I reply. “No propeller!” He states. Even I realise this is not so good. He explains to me how, if the bolt was loose, the propeller in forward gear would have kept it in place but the moment we go into reverse the bolt would have shot out and we have lot the whole caboodle!
Ok, we have a problem. No propeller, no low speed manouvring. But we have 2 engines, so the good news it that we can travel forwards quite easily once we are up to 3 or 4 knots of speed the boat will go fairly well in a straight line. The only issue is we can’t do precise movements or back into a quay as the one propeller on the starboard side will just push the boat to the side.
The good news is we have just filled up with food and water. We have rations for 2 weeks. We can locate a new propeller and have it sent to a yard, we can sail and motor with one engine to the yard when the propeller arrives and we can arrange a diver to replace the propeller when we get there.
So we now have to find a safe place to moor up as this buoy is not looking the best.
We attempt to anchor again but cannot get the anchor to pull in so we decide to move on to the next bay and see what we can find. We cannot believe our luck, we find the most perfect bay ever. We anchor in just 3 meters of water and enjoy a lovely night in a quiet, ‘un-touristy’ bay with a perfect fishing pouncing beach for Lilly, internet for working, gentle hills and greenery for our view across the sparkling waters.
We are in Loutro on mainland Greece in the Gulf of Volos.
Tomorrow is a Saturday, a work day for me so Paul will begin the task of locating the parts we need, locating a yard to send them to, locating a diver to help us fit the next parts. Not a problem in the UK, something that would take a couple of days at the most, however, here in Greece we find that locating and transporting parts can be somewhat of a lottery! Let us hope our numbers are still lucky!
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With all of unknown surrounding Brexit, many UK sailors have been exploring all of the different ways in which we might or might not be affected by Brexit. Before we left the UK, we were approached by several doom and gloom merchants who felt that there was already...
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