The winds are coming back and with avengance, we won't be going anywhere few a few days.
Sadly our plans to set sail this week have been thwarted, we are not too stressed though. Leros has everything we need for comfort and warmth, not only do we have our good friends Paul and Lorraine here for company, we are sitting in the marina which gives us electricity, water, good showers and toilets. The shops provide everything we could possibly need, with a few good eatery's pretty close. Of course, we also have a few small but essential tasks to do onboard, which we no longer need to rush through now.
I have decided to re cover our sofa/ salon cushions which meant a day out to Soke town whilst we were back in Turkey. We drove the 30 minutes to Soke with our dear friends Andrew and Helen, calling in for a Starbucks en route back, (obviously!) Managed to pick up 15 meters of lovely material for a whole £65, just got to fit it into our bags in order to lug it across to Leros. Hmmm it could be a squeeze as we also needed to pack a quilt, thick woollies and lots of teabags, well, you cannot expect us Brits to use any other teabags (brought all the way from the UK I might add.)
Now that we managed to get safely across the water to Greece without sinking the ferry, and now that the more messy engine, toilet jobs are complete, I can start the hand sewing marathon. Just before we left Turkey almost two weeks ago, Helen and I spent a week sewing furiously the new cushion covers for their lovely yacht Kouros, therefore our fingertips from pinning were rather tender and even the thought of sewing again have sent my poor digits into panic mode.
One cushion done, ten to go!
Kevin has been busily scrubbing the deck, literally, the dust from a few months of weather changes our teak colour to a dull miserable grey, the difference is incredible.
Otherwise our time here has been rather leisurely, wandering into town for a gyros and shopping as needed, having drinks with our friends and waiting for the weather to change to a more settled state.
Our initial plan was to head north however the winds are coming from exactly where we want to go, meaning we either motor or tack continuously, neither of which are really what we want. The next plan was to head south which is a little disappointing as we have seen all of those islands quite recently, but it wouldn't stop us going. Currently, the winds have changed again to a southerly, this is exciting as we might get north after all. Unfortunately that is not what is actually stopping us leave Leros this week, it is the 45 knot winds begining tomorrow and staying with us until Tuesday which pose the problem. Whilst we are moored securely with good facilities, why move.
Today we decided to go on a good, scenic walk towards the town of Pandeli which also happens to be the capital town in Leros. As we have only ever driven there, we are hoping to take a less known path and see a little wildlife on the way and head around the coast. On most of these islands there is a main route from north to south by road, in order to access the villages around the edges, we first have to get back onto the main road. Leros apparently is no different, as we head into the spring flower filled hedgerows and farmland, we quickly find our lovely path directs us back to the main road. Cars zip past speedily and dogs complain loudly as we ease our way along the narrow roads, poppies and daisies litter the grass banks around us. As we climb towards the next turning the road winds back down towards the cool blue sea, the glistening water is so clear towards the shore. Turquoise edges invite us closer but the chilly wind warns us that is only March, we do not relish the thought of stepping into the sea at this time of year. Steps take us upwards once again where the views are simply stunning, this time into the town of Pandeli. The harbour is predominantly for fishing boats, beautifully painted, in white with blue, yellow and red stripes, these little boats are bustling. Nets are being cleaned and emptied of their days catch, in this gorgeous sunshine it seems the perfect lifestyle. Fishing in the early hours, bringing back the catch to sell to the local restaurants and shops then the afternoon washing the boats and repairing nets. Yet the reality of this life is far from its sweet sunbleached image, freezing winds, rough seas, minimal catches and possibly poor payment for a long days work. Yet these fishermen all appear content with life and its repetition, perhaps we expect a little too much from ours sometimes!
We enjoy lunch from a cafe on the beach, chairs precariously perched on the stoney floor and the view is glorious. What more could we want, warm sun on our skin, good friends for company and a beautiful island to enjoy.
Two cushions done, eight to go!
A few days have passed and we have achieved quite a lot, and if feels great!
Firstly, after the initial engine service we found a water leak from around the impeller housing, a bit disastrous really. A marine repair center on the island quoted €70 for coming out, disassemble and repair without parts! Another friend had the same leak fixed for a whole €20, quite a huge difference in price. Kevin went onto trusty YouTube for an idea of how to check and replace the water seal, which he felt happy to have a go at. Next problem was sourcing the rubber seal. Another Google search found the manufacturers recommended part for the Yanmar engine and luckily the chandler had one in stock....we were ready for the task.
He managed to disassemble the part, and replace an obviously damaged seal. To his amazement when starting the engine once again.....We have no leak, what a star he is and all for the cost of the rubber seal €10, bargain.
The toilet developed a leak which was initially cured with a new joker valve or non return valve. However, another leak sprang from the manual flushing handle! Fortunately our good friends on their beautiful Westerly yacht happened to have a spare couple of seals for this repair, thankfully Lorraine and Paul have no use for these extra bits. So, other than us buying a few drinks it cost us nothing brilliant!
I do a pretty good impersonation of a seal, which at the moment I seem to be repeating frequently 😂😂
Additionally my nursing skills have been put to good use this past few days, Kevin loves injuring himself, this week it is fingers. Normally being a carpenter, it is head injuries, he doesn't seem to have any awareness of where his is! With all of these tasks that have been completed, you would assume that his injuries are from chisels, screwdrivers or perhaps a hammer. His current vicious tool happens to be our new bread knife, fabulous piece of equipment, except when it slices sleekly through Kevin's fingers. Talk about a bloodbath! He has since damaged this same injury on a further three three occasions. In one of his regular shower visits without due consideration to said wound, he managed to create what looked like a complete scene from a horror film. Just as well the lovely cleaning lady was not around, she would have keeled over (she is always wherever you are, mopping behind your every step and I thought I had an issue with OCD)
As mentioned, our friends Lorraine and Paul are moored in Lakki, only a 15 minute walk from the marina. They are also carrying out their preseason checks, repairs and servicing, which is very handy for us as it can be a little daunting carrying out new tasks alone. The fact that Paul happens to be amazing with electrics, came in extremely useful when Kevin unboxed his new toy, a digital ammeter and voltage meter. The instructions are beautifully printed on a lovely crisp white sheet of A4 paper, however, just a glimpse at his face when Kevin studied the font, told us that Paul was our emergency response unit. Together they deciphered the foreign language (English for Paul!) A quick trip to the chandlery man (our best buddy since we arrived here) and the electrical parts were splayed over the whole boat. A lesson in connections, voltage and currents was well underway whilst Lorraine and I kept at a safe unfriable distance, lazing in the cockpit.
During this electrical challenge we realised that Monday was a bank holiday, beginning of Lent or translated...Clean Monday. This could pose a slight issue as our plan, should the weather dictate, is to sail on Tuesday. Shopping will be required and as the weekend looms meaning limited shop opening. We soon leap from our semi recumbent position to briskly head into town. Lorraine took me to the most fantastic fruit and veg store I have ever seen in Greece, packed full of every possible item, we were soon laden if not a little overflowing!
Our stagger back to Kejstral with heavy rucksacks weighing us down, took rather longer than our walk earlier. Lunch of various local savoury pastries and baklava soon refueled us all ready for a chilled afternoon/ evening.
Our new dingy arrived into Leros at around the same time as we did, how convenient. The lovely marinero delivered it directly to Kejstral, which was perfect as the box is rather big and heavy, and I broke one nail already this morning.
The new inflatable has its own pump, repair kit and oars, not to mention a few metal connections that we have no idea what to do with!
Our brand new Excel 2.6 Ventura looks brilliant, our previous zodiac tender had experienced quite a rough 10 years with various captains and charter customers prior to our ownership. She had more patches than original material, on each repair our zodiac failed just a little bit more.
So today we have inflated our big, yet lightweight dingy then gently slipped her into the big wet sea for her christening. She floats, which is pretty handy, all we need now is to attach the outboard engine, our year old Tohatsu 3.5 (bought to replace our stolen Yamaha engine) fires up almost immediately, just a little coaxing was required after her four month hibernation. We took a spin across to Lakki town which was great, no leaks or issues at all fortunately, it was only a 5 minute journey there and back!
An engine service is next on our list, Kevin happens to be a mechanic, therefore we carry out our own fiddly oily jobs rather than paying out for help. Firstly the filters, an oil and a diesel filter were bought locally, €34 for the two, the impeller we had a new unopened packet on board which saved a few pennies. Replacement oil, 3 litres cost €24. The alternator and impeller belts again we have new ones already, (always handy to have spares of course) The belts are in fact in very good condition and have been checked for damage, wear and adequate tension. The oil when new should look the colour of golden syrup, ours resembled treacle, pretty normal following a year of use. In order to empty the oil a hand pump can be used, but boy is it hard to suck treacle through a straw! Now we have a clean filter and lovely golden oil oozing through our yanmar engine. Next step is the fuel filter, when new the filter is bright orange, once used it gradually changes to a black, muddy appearance. The impeller is a more fiddly task, the plate must be removed, the circular wheel like rubber is then removed before replacing a new, undamaged fitting. Ours looked fairly intact until closer inspection which highlighted wear and tear on the rubber teeth, clearly important to check them thoroughly. This was completed swiftly with what seemed like no major issues, therefore we started the engine. Very quickly we realised that no water came from the cooling system out of the boat. What a nightmare, the most likely cause is the impeller which if damaged will not drag water through the system. In this case that was unlikely unless the new impeller was faulty. Kevin replaced the original impeller, assuming that was the issue, still no water! Gradually we realised that there must be an air leak, therefore no suction to pull water through. The culprit turned out to be our salt water strainer, yet another part of the engine cooling system. Earlier this week Kevin had replaced the hose from the water strainer to the impeller housing, the filter had been damaged on an initial inspection when we purchased Kejstral. This damage has been exacerbated over the last few years each time the hose was reattached as the connecting port had to be heated, enabling the tubing fitment, unfortunately this has completely collapsed the diameter of the connector. This means a new filter, more money! When Kevin checked online the appropriate size was around £97, not what we want but essential for the engine to start. The local chandlery within the marina charged a whole €75 for the filter and some new hose adding in some connectors preventing a repeat issue.
In the meantime our clock barometer and temperature gauge which are all brass required a good old scrub, using auto sol cream, they now sparkle beautifully thanks to a bit of elbow grease. May need a snooze now!
Finally our toilet, well as explained previously the valve needs replacing, we have a constant back flow, additionally there is a suspicious drip from the outlet hose......The job was relatively simple despite a thick layer of crystallisation inside the hose, caused by salt water, urine and possibly lime scale this of course required yet another batch of elbow grease.
Eventually each of our tasks had been ticked off and a walk around to Lakki to stock up on rubber gloves was in order (you never know when you might need them next!) all followed by a beer will definitely complete our day.
Follow our boat on NOFOREIGNLAND: https://www.noforeignland.com/home/map/boat/5655608640405504/
Having been back on-board for a couple of days, we have put together a plan of jobs. Firstly we must enjoy this beautiful weather and warm ourselves in the glorious sunshine, each morning we have walked into town if only for a loaf of crusty fresh bread. Comfy shoes slipped into for the stoney paths and walkways and a warm jumper for the moment that cool breeze catches when rounding the bay from the marina.
Today at least we have a list, I love lists, how can people cope without that crumpled piece of paper in hand which defines our needs and wants. On this list is a mouse, hmm not the furry squeaky brand but the wireless computer requiring variety. .... we left mine at home!
More importantly our list contains the part numbers for the replacement oil and fuel filters essential for an engine service. 3 litres of the appropriate 40/15 oil is required and a new impeller, the two belts which are checked during the service are in fact in good shape. Our life ring buoy light has become waterlogged and consequently damaged. This is the light used should Kevin ditch me into the sea when I irritate him, then he might have a moment of guilt /panic and decides to throw me the life ring.
( The light will glow in darkness in order to locate my bobbing self) Therefore a replacement is additionally neatly documented.
The walk into town is 10 perhaps 15 minutes, depending on how many times I decide to photograph another pretty Greek fishing boat, they are rather beautifully painted! We pass quite a few migrants along the coastal path which can seem a little intimidating, however they all seem polite and smile and cause very little problem to the locals from what we have witnessed so far. They are also mostly young males!
There is a chandlery within the marina, but their prices are higher than the shop in town, which of course is why we use the town also it will leave us a spare few euro in extra for those yummy gyros wraps😊
To our disappointment the chandler's do not stock our filters therefore the marina prices will have to be paid. The bakery does of course have perfectly baked, just lightly crispy rolls for a sandwich to feed the ever hungry Kevin.
We manage to stock up on the usual eggs, milk and bacon (bacon can be difficult to get in our home in Turkey, not to mention the extortionate cost) and cleaning items for a good spring boat clean once the messy jobs are complete.
The mouse, well we find one, now blogging can begin.
We also picked up a joker valve for our toilet, there is absolutely nothing remotely funny when it comes to a toilet onboard! This valve must be replaced as we have a degree of acid reflux, well that is the closest comparison I can make (ever the nurse!)
On our return trip to Kejstral we call into the garage and find the oil we needed, so, we now are virtually ready for that engine service.
Perhaps after our siesta.......
We are back, really does not feel like 4 months since we left a sad, broken Kejstral in the hands of the Greek Marina staff.
Leros looks beautiful lush green foliage and grass, pretty yellow flowers and a stunning blue sky, well that is today! Yesterday was somewhat different, black clouds shrouding the hillsides while deep navy blue seas clatter against the rocky shores. The rain held off, expecting downpours all day, we were very grateful for the minimal showers that actually appeared.
Our journey from Turkey saw us splashing through deep puddles and dark ominous skies hovering heavily above us as our dear friends Helen and Andrew drove us towards Bodrum. The ferry left on time and took just less than an hour to motor relatively smoothly through a swelling sea towards the Greek island of Kos. From here we dragged our mountain of cases and bags around the harbour towards the adjoining ferry into Leros Island. This journey saw the swell increase and the skies lighten with gradually increasing blue patches.
Such a good feeling to touch down in Leros knowing that Kejstral is just ten minutes away in the marina by taxi. Tired, hungry and thirsty, our first stop has to be for lunch, we did have breakfast really early!
Gyros and Mythos, what a perfect combination. A generous helping of pork, tzatziki sauce, salad and chips perfectly wrapped in a toasted pitta, washed down by a traditional Greek beer, just what we needed.
On arrival at Leros marina we head straight for the office, with a little nervousness thrown into the excitement, we collect our keys from the lovely welcoming staff. Kejstral has been through a tough few months, from a bent propeller shaft early into the sailing season, to a rope fouling the propeller on entering the marina at the end of the season. This managed to damage the gear box, break the cutlass bearing and basically cause €4000 worth of damage! Unfortunately we had to abandon Kejstral in Leros within a few days of the damage and leave the repairs in the (hopefully) capable hands of the marina staff, hence our trepidation at seeing her once again.
The winter in Greece has been pretty bad, endless rain and high winds, in fact in some places, freezing cold and snow had been reported. Luckily Leros suffered minimally, as did Kejstral.
To our amazement she looked absolutely fine, dusty and wet from the most recent downpour but great otherwise. The repairs have been completed and with the help of our insurance to cover the cost, we were not out of pocket at all thank goodness (it was not our error which led to the damage)
Opening that hatch for the first time, we expect a damp musty aroma, but nothing! Everything is as clean as we left it, (I am a bit of an OCD sufferer..... apparently) Not a sign of the engine dissection or the mechanics greasy fingerprints. Even the cushions have been placed precisely where they should be after the workmen had finished, shocking but in a good way!
The gas is on, the kettle is boiling furiously as we start to unpack the staggering mountain of baggage we travelled with. It is mid March, over here you never quite know what the weather will surprise you with, therefore jumpers and warm clothing are essential. Warm bedding, waterproofs and sturdy shoes, a fan heater all for the worst days, shorts sun hats and suncream for the others! Today we are in shorts until the sun begins to settle and the heat of the day subsides, 25 degrees today but this evening will be pretty cold.
Having unpacked and stowed as much as we have the energy for, we head off into town. Lakki is the main port and town which is a half mile walk away from the marina, it has plenty of facilities for the sailing community. A well stocked, reasonably priced supermarket, a stuffed full of shiny chrome, ropes and other boaty bits chandlery, as well as a lovely bakery and plenty of snack bars and restaurants.
Our first sleep tonight back on Kejstral, feels fabulous but I have no doubt there will be issues to address, problems to overcome and a few stressful moments before we actually set sail in a week or so!
Day 2 in the marina & we start with a good old English breakfast, minus the mushrooms, baked beans & tomatoes! The wind has now dropped off to almost nothing so we figure it would be a great time to unfurl the main & check it out. It will also give it chance to dry out in case any damp that has found it's way in there! The sheets and furling lines are all in a good state too.
She unfurls beautifully & there are no signs of damp, chafing or damage, so after spraying the out-haul rollers with a lubricating spray we gently re-furl her by hand.
Next it's on to unpacking our brand new tender, a excel Ventura 2.6m with inflatable floor. We figure this will suit us for a while as it's a lot lighter than the old Zodiac, so much easier to haul on & off the deck. Our old dingy took a battering throughout the last 10 years of its life, so much so that we had patches covering patches by the end.
Following this we start Kejstral's Yanmar power house only to find the impeller hose leaking That's a job for tomorrow when we service the engine.