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It’s a hard life

June 24, 2015

Our last blog was written just before we left Gouvia after the Dublin crew had gone home. We were heading for the yard to lift out so I could replace the dead seals in the saildrive. We left Gouvia on 17 June after doing a final shop in the AB supermarket.  This blog comes to you from the hard in Ionion Marine near Preveza.

After a night at anchor off Corfu town, we spent one night in Ormos Valtrou, tucked up away from the wind and two nights in Lakka on Paxos, catching up with friends from the yard and making new ones. We were going to spend a third night in Lakka but a study of the weather forecast and a need to be in Preveza by 11am the following day led to an early departure. A pity in one way as we missed out on supper ashore with John, Margaret, Eelko and Marlese (who’s birthday it was) but we did get a cracking sail and it was much easier being only a few hundred metres away from the yard for our lift out next morning, rather than 40 miles or so.

A flotilla, all neatly following the leader, enters Ormos Valtrou as we leave for Lakka.

A flotilla, all neatly following the leader, enters Ormos Valtrou as we leave for Lakka.

We were delighted to find our new friends Mike and Sandy waiting to meet us as we arrived; we’d had them on board for drinks a couple of nights before, in Lakka.  They come from a village near Falmouth and keep their boat in Mylor – a small world indeed!  We agreed to meet up in Preveza town that evening for a meal.

Out of the water, we found that the keel had some rust patches despite our efforts before launching this year, so I ground out the rust and J then painted four coats of epoxy primer whilst I tackled the Saildrive. There are two seals which stop water getting in and oil getting out; ours had failed and the oil resembled milky chocolate. Getting the thing into its component parts proved to be a tiresome job involving much swearing and improvisation in the absence of special Volvo Penta tools. Then disaster struck! Having cherished a new set of seals carefully for two years in my spares box, in a fit of impatience, I managed to wreck them when I resorted to a hammer and the wrong sized bit of metal as I tried to fit them. Cue much cursing and bad humour which was, however, cured by an excellent meal out with Mike and Sandy and a good night’s sleep.

No,the keel hasn't caught some nasty disease, just patch painting antifoul in the only colour we could get in a hurry.

No,the keel hasn’t caught some nasty disease, just patch painting antifoul in the only colour we could get in a hurry.

As an aside, we’ve had a couple of folks ask “What is a Saildrive?”. Well, it’s the bit that takes the drive from the engine and connects it to the propeller. The traditional way of doing this is to have the engine connected via a gear box (forward and reverse) to a straight shaft which goes through the hull and has the propeller on the end of the shaft. A nice, simple solution but it is relatively expensive to build and takes up more room inside the boat. The Saildrive is a neat little unit which takes the drive from the engine and by means of two right angle turns puts the propeller just the right distance below the hull for it to work properly just in front of the rudder. It is very compact, easy to fit and is therefore much cheaper for builders than the traditional shaft arrangement. Photos show how the shaft and Saildrive look from the outside.

The repaired Saildrive with polished prop back in place.  The engine is all of about a foot  in front of the drive.

The repaired Saildrive with polished prop back in place. The engine is all of about a foot in front of the drive.

Anyway, the following morning I drove to Lefkas, where I purchased new seals and the right sized piece of metal to fit everything back together. I was much impressed by the girl in the Volvo Penta dealer, who not only knew what I was looking for but quoted (from memory!) the part number to me to confirm she was talking about the same bit! Back in the yard, I used the little workshop that is provided for such jobs where the vice pressed things back together in a few minutes with no cursing whatsoever! Lesson learnt: right tools and patience works, hammers and impatience don’t!

A traditional shaft drive propeller.  The engine here is probably two or three feet further forward.

A traditional shaft drive propeller. The engine here is probably two or three feet further forward.

We spent Wednesday 24 June mainly in Preveza, booking our ferry back to Italy on 2 September, doing a monumental Lidl shop and then stowing it all back on board. We’ve also booked our lift out for the winter on 31 August and have generally had a good day sorting things out. All being well,we relaunch tomorrow at 11am. The plan is to spend a couple of days in Vonitsa before heading north to Corfu to meet up with Rob, Katie and Eric the Viking.  We will then head south again, ready to pick up Helen and Mark in mid July.

The other point of interest is watching the Greek financial crisis as it unfolds, both via newspapers and BBC online and by listening to what the locals are talking about. There is no doubt that things are going down to the line: if the EU is taking a soft line, then the IMF are playing tough or vice versa, the Greek government offers something and then it doesn’t…. You couldn’t write a script like this and have anyone believe it. Rumours abound about what is going to happen and when, all completely without foundation. The one thing we’ve come across is from Mike and Sandy, who have had problems with the debit card and have had to resort to the bank counter service for cash rather than the ATM: the banks are all extremely busy with people making withdrawals from their accounts. We shall  be filling up with diesel as we leave tomorrow, keeping a good deal more cash to hand than normal and keeping our fingers crossed that it doesn’t all go horribly wrong.

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One comment

  1. Humm, thanks for the details. I was wondering how you ended up with a couple of dead seals on board. I mean, they are big smelly noisy animals and even dead they would take up a fair bit of space….



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