Following a busy Easter weekend and taking advantage of our very sensible evening with minimal alcohol consumption, we finally started running again. We (i.e. Mark) decided on a gradual build-up, so our first run was 3 miles to a lovely sandy beach in the next bay. Hudson was happy as no more fireworks and he runs well on the lead now – he has to stay on the lead because there are food droppings everywhere, and we all know Hudson!!
Following our energetic start, today is shopping day as we have hired a car. Elounda is our first stop, about 8 kilometres away. Elounda began life as a fishing village and still clings to some remnants of this past, but with its fine sandy beaches, tourism with the usual tavernas and bars, is obviously now the main preoccupation. It is also a major anchorage for those boats with no marina to go to, wanting to shelter from any nasty winds which can be quite prevalent in this area, especially the dreaded Meltemi in July and August. It is also home to the best chandler (come DIY, paint shop, and dog food store) in the area, the primary reason for our trek to this part of the coastline – I think Mark was getting withdrawal symptoms, not having bought anything for the boat in the last week!!
And finally off to A&B, our local supermarket for the final food and water supplies. As always, I am not sure I will find a home for all the new stuff on our very full Hapatoni, but as usual space magically appears and everything eventually stows away somewhere – the real trick is remembering where you put it.
In the afternoon, we helped Spirit 3 and Shiraz move from their winter home on pontoon C. The gap between the facing rows of bows is a ridiculous 10 metres, so getting in and out of this alleyway lined with pointy anchors is precarious and painfully slow…. and impossible if there is any sort of wind, which fortunately there was not a lot off at the time. They moved to the outside fuel pontoon to wait for their window to leave, they are doing an over-night to Astipalea which is about 14 hours and don’t want to arrive in the dark. The wind has also started to misbehave, coming from the north rather than the south where it was predicted to be from. There are a few nerves as this is the first outing of the season and the weather is not being entirely cooperative but at 5pm all seems as good as it is going to get, so with goodbyes and hugs, Shiraz and Spirit 3 head off.
The three of us then go in search of a cafe with good internet and a cold beer before we retire for supper on the boat.
The focus now is to complete preparations on the boat and hopefully find time to do a bit of sight seeing, we want to visit Santorini (or as the Greeks call it Thira) for a day or two and do an afternoon trip to Spinalonga the old leper colony island about an hour away. Our tasks are slowly ticked off … well I say ours, it is like the royal “we”, unfortunately for Mark the majority are on his to do list. On Wednesday, I washed all the boat mats, however I stupidly left them to dry on the pontoon, and it was windy …. so two of the four mats got a permanent wash and a nice new home 5 metres down. I was so annoyed at myself as you can not get these non-slip mats here.
The rest of the week passed in a busy blur, with everything going to schedule, planning our departure for after the weekend, on the Tuesday or Wednesday. But it was not to be, we have obviously not spent enough money on the boat this winter, as we found a small leak around the stuffing box – (for non-boatys – this is the seal around the propshaft that stops you from sinking). We had originally planned to do a quick lift to power wash off the winters growth of plant life on Hapatoni’s bottom, costing 360 Euros, but now would have to do an extended stay on shore costing 680 Euros plus parts and labour, etc, etc …. that is why they say when you own a boat, its like filling a very big bucket full of cash and constantly chucking it over the side into the water.
Luckily the part came quickly from Athens, but the challenge was to get the local engineer to commit to a time and day to fix it as he works on “Greek time”. So we sat on the hard on Wednesday waiting for him to arrive, originally expected at 9am, which then moved to between 1 and 2pm which then moved to between 5 and 6pm …. or maybe tomorrow. We could not get a time out of him, he just shrugged his shoulders, and belligerently says he is doing us a favour, not a good response to Mark who by now was fuming and decided to do the job himself…. and remarkably didn’t tell the engineer his thoughts of him **@!*@??. I am very impressed with my husband, how he puts his hand to all tasks. This was not an easy job as the space he has to work in was tiny.
So with the change in plans, we had to cancel our sight seeing trips. We finished Wednesday night with a lovely meal in Basilico, our favourite Italian restaurant on the beach overlooking the marina. We invited Ralph the Belgium to join us and a pleasant and chatty evening was had by all with fantastic food. Thursday began with a long walk around Ayios Nikolaos in search of a hardware store that stocked a specific tool needed to remove the stuffing box. Finally an hour and a half and quite a few miles later, the tool was found. So, with the stuffing box replaced, well done Mark (or so we thought at the time), we decided to have a Gyros platter for our final night in Ayios Nikaloas, a quiet night in preparation for our big sail tomorrow evening.
We were lifted back into the water about mid-day and after checking we had no leaks … YEEHAH… we moored up on the petrol pontoon for the afternoon ready to set sail at 5pm, following in the footsteps of Spirit III and Shiraz, 90 miles north to Astipalea. We left on time, pleased to have finally completed the boat preparation and be on our way for 2017. We had selected a calm night; the sea was a pancake and the wind minimal, although Mark did try a few times to get the sails up, but just not enough wind.The evening went well until we noticed an uncomfortable vibration coming from the prop shaft – so maybe not as successful a stuffing box replacement as we thought. I took the first night shift at 10.30pm till 2pm, with Mark taking over until 6am, I think he got the worst end of the deal as his shift was cold and very damp. We arrived at Astipalea at 8.30am to find we were the only visiting yacht, secured ourselves and then had a few hours shut eye, as night sails do make you weary. Exploration of Astipalea to follow.