A hard life on the hard

March 30, 2012

With “Rampage” safely back in the water for another year, we’ve now got time to pause and catch our breath and for me to sit down and pen a blog entry.  I don’t think we’ve mentioned it before but when we arrived here in Messolonghi, I sat down and wrote a long “to do” list for the winter.  It had about 45 lines, each one of which was a job to be done over our time here.

The list has been getting shorter as jobs have either been completed or deleted (mainly because of cost!).  Inevitably, the odd new job has also made its way on to the list, so as we lifted out we went to the extent of hooking up the printer and running off a copy so that we could see where we stood.  It was quite comforting to realise that we’d actually completed the majority of the jobs and only had those things marked down as “Wait until lift out” to do – apart from the one job we have left to finish, but more of that later.

On Monday 19 March, we rose early, as we knew that our next door neighbours, Brenda and Hugh on “Scotia” were also due to be lifted out.  At about 0830, Willem the marine manager appeared, asked Hugh and Brenda to make their way round to the crane and asked us to follow them round in about ½ an hour.  Shaking out the cobwebs from “Rampage’s” engine we moved her for the first time in nearly 6 months round to the crane to be lifted out.  That was at about 0930.  We didn’t actually get out of the water until about midday, a bit irritating as we had a lot to do and couldn’t get on with it.  By the time the crew had pressure washed the hull and got it all propped up it was approaching mid afternoon.

Always a heart stopping moment as the boat comes out of the water - did the riggers put the strops in the right place, will they break????

On inspection, the keel looked as if it had a bad case of chicken pox; all nasty little pustules of red rust poking their way through the paint.  Although I spent some time working on it with a wire brush, it quickly became obvious that we needed to take the whole thing back to bare metal and repaint if we were to banish the rust an at least a temporary basis.

Luckily, Hugh appeared and offered the loan of his angle grinder and sanding attachment, which made the whole thing possible.  I spent most of Wednesday and Thursday grinding away at the keel, making the most indescribable mess and gaining the award for ‘filthiest man in Messolonghi’ 2 days on the run.  Meanwhile, J had a productive time with wet and dry sandpaper taking the top layer off the copper coat on the rest of the hull.  We’d decided to do this so as to expose fresh copper to the sea, which will help slow down marine growth.

The filthiest man in Messilonghi - also pretty tired as well! The pox ridden keel can be seen in the back ground.

I also took time out from grinding to remove the outlet sea cock from the aft head.  The valve had seized in the ½ open position and needed to be replaced.  Quite a simple job but nerve racking as it involved using a cutting disc to cut through the old hull fitting – one slip and I’d need to rebuild the hull round the mistake!  Many thanks to Lee from “Wishbone”, who held spanners and offered helpful advice as the new sea cock was fitted.

Once I’d cleaned all the old paint off the keel, I treated it with rust converter and then applied 2 coats of primer, followed by 2 coats of epoxy paint, then anti foul primer and finally 4 coats of anti foul, which should see us through for a couple of seasons, as there are no plans to lift out again until 2014.  Whilst I was beavering away at this task, J was not idle.  She spent her time bringing out the shine in the hull, polishing it back to a gleam with tins of Brasso; it was a daunting task, working above head height from fairly unstable step ladder.  A scaffolding platform would have been a better proposition but the yard charges a small fortune to use theirs and we are still implementing an austerity programme.

J polishing the hull to bring out the shine!

Now, one of the things that has given us something of a problem is the fact that “Rampage”, like most liveaboards, is somewhat lower in the water than her holiday companions.  This means that there is a constant ‘beard’ of green slime round the water line as the water level is just about the same as the top of the anti foul coating.  To get around this, we decided to extend the anti foul so as to cover the bit of the hull that grows the ‘beard’.  We did this at the same time as applying the anti foul to the keel, giving the waterline a nice 2 tone blue effect.

As we’ve told you before, living on board a boat on the hard is not a lot of fun.  The loos are disabled, only one sink works (hose pipe leads from the hull fitting to a drain) and everything has to go up and down a ladder at the back.  So it was a great relief to us to have invites to eat with friends most nights we were ashore.  Very many thanks to Pam and Roger from “Cap d’Or”, Sheila and Patrick from “Shecat”, Joan and Lee from “Wishbone” and Jane and Clive from “Jane G” for their wonderful hospitality.  It really does make a difference coming to the end of a long day knowing that you only have to have a shower and walk over to someone else’s boat to have your evening meal.  I can only apologise if we weren’t very good company!

Duncan polishes the bits J can't quite reach.

Monday 26 March was when we planned to return “Rampage” to her natural element, so J and I rose early in the hope of an early launch.  Willem told us that he planned to return boats to the water in the order in which they were parked ashore, which would have seen us back in the water second or third.  We were therefore somewhat put out when our neighbours to were launched before us and even more so when the crane moved away from its usual location to lift out a catamaran.  On telling Willem what was going on he was, to put it mildly, a bit upset.  It seems that the chain of command has not yet been nailed down and Yannis, the Greek marina manager, had changed Willem’s careful plan and told the crew to lift the catamaran without lifting us back in.  Suffice it to say that Willem appeared with the boat lift trailer about 10 minutes later, lifted us off the cradle and supervised our relaunch.

After a quick check to make sure that the new sea cock wasn’t leaking and everything was OK, we motored the short distance back round to our old berth and started getting “Rampage” sorted out after her week ashore.  Whilst everything below the deck level was sparkling clean and polished, the deck, cockpit and sugar scoop were indescribable – covered in dirt and bits of stuff.  We though that it would be a simple matter to get the decks cleaned up with the pressure washer but it turned out that there was a thin gray/black film all over the topsides.  Thinking about it, this was the residue of the keel grinding, which had then been soaked in a thunderstorm, turning it into a nasty stain on the fibreglass.  The pressure washer wouldn’t touch it, scrubbing with Cif did shift it but only with a lot of effort so I tried using a rust removing acid; that did the trick!  Not very environmentally friendly but the topsides are now reasonably clean!

A gleaming propeller - note the nice shiny new anode at the centre.

Once we’d finished the cleaning, we started in on the last winter project to be tackled before we set off again: reupholstering the saloon.  With fabric brought out from UK and foam supplied by an English lady with an upholstery business in Nidri, we were all set.  I say we but it’s really J doing the work, as I’m not really much good on a sewing machine.  So the saloon is gradually getting new cushions with lovely blue fabric covers; we’ve decided to stay for an extra week so as to complete the work alongside with the benefit of mains electricity and a stable boat!

And that’s about that.  We continue to have a fairly busy social life – yesterday for example stopped at 4pm when Joan and Lee came round bearing a bottle of local wine made by the family of the hairdresser used by J and Joan.  They’d been given it that morning with the instruction to share it with us.  Well, I suspect that I managed to have a little more than my fair share, as I retired to bed the worse for wear by about 8.30……

Local visitors to "Rampage": J's Greek teacher Yannis (centre), Kyria Dasia who is learning English (left) and Yannis' wife (right).

Before I sign off and get this posted I think its worth doing a quick recap on our plans for the year.  We leave here next week and we’re going to head into the southern Ionian area, visiting places we didn’t get to last year.  From there, we’ll go to Corfu to book out of Greece before heading to Italy and the Aeolian Islands (just off the north coast of Sicily).  From there the plan is to head to Sardinia and on to Mallorca, aiming to arrive on or about 4 June to meet Naomi, Ken and the grandchildren who will be staying on the island for a holiday.  After that, we’ll  bimble round the Balearics, northern Spain and the French coast before heading south to Cartagena for the winter.

J surrounded by foam and fabric as she makes yet another cushion cover. We now know why upholsterers charge so much for their services!

Now, if any of you feel like coming to visit us, it couldn’t be simpler.  As you can see the plan, we’ll be in the vicinity of north Spain and the Balearics for most of the summer.  Because the distances aren’t great, if you’d like to visit, drop us an email and say which airport you’re thinking of flying into and when; we can respond with a ‘go ahead’ or ‘think again’ message before you book your flights.  Airports that make sense to us include: Gerona (northern Spain), any of the Balearic islands, Barcelona, Reus and at a push, Valencia.  Later in the year, say mid September onwards, we’ll be heading south so adjust your airport accordingly!  You’re welcome to arrive at one airport and fly home from another joining “Rampage” for the intervening voyage – just give us your ideas and we’ll let you know if it’s feasible!

Right, that’s it for this post.  I’m being called to fit yet another new cover on to yet another new cushion!


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