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Barry's Blog # 42 - We're going to Greece

Sail boats are a hazardous place to be. In our short time on board A B Sea we have collectively had two broken toes, four blackened nails, one puncture wound, one crush injury, several cuts and grazes and more bruises than Mike Tyson had in his whole boxing career. The bruises are the most mysterious as they appear the next day and then you have to try to remember what you hit that hard to get a bruise that big. I'm hoping in time we'll become more sure footed and will be able to navigate our vulnerable toes and fingers around all of A B Sea's nooks, crannies and sticky out bits.

With all that being said, living on board a sail boat is also good for the soul. We spend almost all day working in our shaded cockpit enjoying the cooling breeze and breathing in the fresh air. When we're at anchor the pool is always open for a quick dip off the back end if it gets too hot. The many people we pass by or encounter are friendly and happy to be out on the water. Admittedly this is all happening during the summer months here in the northern hemisphere and it will be interesting to see how things change when we begin encountering winter temperatures and weather patterns. I'm also interested to see how quiet the normally busy spots will be during winter.

I bring this subject up now because on board A B Sea we're already planning ahead and after reading this excellent off season travel guide to Greece ( we're really looking forward to exploring the Greek islands during the far less crowded winter months. I have mentioned previously how it's taken us a while to adjust to the vast numbers of people we see on beaches and boats here in the Mediterranean compared to Australia, so it will be nice to 'have the place to ourselves' so to speak.


Our first official stop in Greece will be Argostolion on the island of Kefalonia, where we will check in and complete formalities including getting our Greek DEPKA which is a document that costs 50 Euros (AU$80) and it will allow A B Sea to travel in Greek waters. The following documents are required to obtain a DEPKA, boat insurance document (in Greek), Small Ships Registry document (if a UK registered boat), International Certificate of Competence (boat drivers licence) and the passports of all on board.

With the formalities completed we will then sail slightly south to Svoronata, also on the island of Kefalonia, where we will catch up with my good friend and fellow DJ Pete Forsyth. Last time we met in person was close to 30 years ago so we'll have a lot of catching up to do. Pete has his own radio show called Tamla Soul Train that goes out on the internet and he is planning to broadcast live from A B Sea with me as a guest. What could possibly go wrong?

Pete has also arranged with his friend Peter Lee who lives in Kefalonia, to have us as guests on his radio show to share the details of our journey so far. That's pencilled in for either the 21st or 24th of September, we'll put out an update on our Sailing A B Sea face book page when we know for sure.

How are we getting to Greece?

Sailing from Marina de las Salinas on the northern tip of the Mar Menor in Spain to Kefallonia in Greece is a distance of roughly 1,136 nautical miles, if we go the short route. Depending on how much the wind gods favour us, it's expected to take 8 to 12 days. That would be a long hard slog for just Aannsha and I to undertake alone, so we've called in expert help in the form of Mike Jones. Mike and I also go back about 30 years and the last time we saw him was in October 2000 at our son Luke's 2nd birthday party in Australia.

To Greece

Mike lives on his yacht in Turkey, delivers vessels all over the Mediterranean and is a 20 year veteran RYA Yachtmaster Offshore so we reckon we'll be in good hands and we'll get to learn a heap of practical yacht stuff along the way. Mike's girlfriend Elaine will be joining us too, so we'll have plenty of crew for watch shifts.

Back to where it began

When we left Marina de las Salinas some four weeks ago we knew that we'd have to return here to have our new standing rigging re-tensioned; luckily the re-tensioning was a quick 1 hour job to get sorted. But during our time away a few other small maintenance jobs cropped up which meant that we'd be staying in the marina until they were sorted out.

In no particular order we had to address the following. The aft day head toilet seals began leaking again, we had the head pulled out and the seals replaced during our first fit out, so I'm not sure why they are leaking again. Jose ordered in a repair kit and Fernando had it all sorted in a couple of hours.

A new VHF radio antenna has been attached to the top of the mast and while that was getting done the wind direction indicator was also replaced since the original had been broken by the old VHF antenna swinging wildly around the top of the mast for two weeks before it eventually succumbed to gravity and fell to the deck.

Manolo, the local navigation electronics guy, came to have a look at our autopilot issue and after much looking in very small spaces and testing with a volt meter he announced that the rudder indicator sensor was broken. A part was ordered, it arrived the following day and was fitted in about 45 minutes. We now have a new and helpful crew member in the form of our autopilot and it's going to be very helpful on our passage to Greece. We are hoping this will also fix the slightly annoying glitch in which the little boat icon on our chart plotter shows us to be moving through the water at an odd angle. We'll check once we're out on the water. It's not dangerous or causing issues apart from the fact that it just looks odd.

The windlass, which is the electric motor that raises the anchor, was constantly showing a small oil leak at the oil filling hole. This was one of the simpler fixes, we just replaced the rubber washer and hey presto it's all good. We also bought a litre of gearbox oil, because it's good to have spare oil for everything onboard.

After the main sheet block exploded on us as we unfurled the mainsail on day one out of the marina, I took some time to inspect all the other running rigging blocks and I wasn't surprised to find that several needed replacing because they had significant cracks in their plastic parts. So I've replaced three main sheet blocks, a main sail block, a kicker block and a small block at the bow which feeds the genoa furling sheet back to the cockpit. I now have a lot more confidence for our passage.

Wash day for A B Sea

While we had access to unlimited fresh water at the marina we also took the opportunity to clean A B Sea inside and out before our guests Mike and Elaine arrived. All three shower drains were flushed through and their filters cleaned. The bilge was hosed out and it's disgustingly filthy filter was cleaned. And I cleaned the fresh water filter too.

So while our expected short stay back at Marina de las Salinas turned out to be a little longer than we hoped, we now feel that A B Sea is as prepared as she can be for our trip to Greece.

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