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Barry's Blog #95 - It's just after the hill he said…

I've said it before and no doubt I'll be saying it again, on a boat one job always leads to another.

The job in question was to replace the furling line for our head sail. We'd first noticed that the outer sheath of the line, at the cockpit end of things, was beginning to fray when we were at the Greek island of Amorgos. We planned on buying a replacement line as soon as we got to an island with a half decent chandlers shop.

The strength of a braided line lies in the inner core, the outer sheath is there to protect the core and make the line look pretty, so in the beginning the fraying wasn't too big an issue. However a couple of islands later as we were coming around the northern part of Ios with our head sail fully out and the wind was beginning to pick up from 20 knots to 30 knots I made the call for the head sail to be reefed and that was when the fraying rope became an issue. You can read the full details of what happened and how we fixed it in my blog #93.

Waiting for a no wind day

Having bought the replacement line in Ios we were now anchored in Milos and waiting for a no wind day so that we could do the job without the front end of A B Sea bouncing around too much. Luckily changing out the head sail furling line can be done without needing to drop the sail. So after a quick read of the Furlex installation manual, which wasn't all that helpful and digging up a few hazy memories from watching Mike remove the line when we had first arrived in Turkey, we set to the task.

It was a little daunting because we were working at the pointy end, where the space is small and awkward and we just hoped that we didn't lose anything overboard, especially the nuts, bolts and screws that we were about to undo.

To my surprise an hour later the job was successfully completed with no losses and when we tested bringing out and putting away the sail, it all worked perfectly. A big sigh of relief all round.

How's the autopilot saga going?

You may recall that our autopilot died again while we were anchored at Ios and we hatched a plan that Jim, on his boat Acheron, would take it with him back to Marmaris in Turkey for repairs.

Well it turns out that when Nail the technician hooked it up in his workshop it worked perfectly, which is good news. The bad news is that means there's something wrong with the wiring at the helm position which we'll need to troubleshoot once we get the autopilot back on board A B Sea.

Getting parcels from Turkey to a random Greek island can prove both difficult and lengthy so by the time we do get our autopilot back it will be one of the most well travelled autopilots out there. From Turkey Jim is sending it back to the UK after his son visits him in a few weeks. It will then be couriered from Jim's business in Scotland to our son Luke's address in Queensland, Australia so that he can bring it with him when he comes to visit us in Greece.

Meanwhile we're still growing our hand steering experience and knowledge.

One job leads to another

While running the newly installed furling line back to the cockpit through various blocks I noticed that the nylon bearings were visible on one small cheek (or foot) block. It was a Harken brand block that had been originally fitted when A B Sea was born in 1995 and the marine environment had caused the plastic to become brittle and break away.

I removed the block from the deck and asked at the local chandlers shop if they had a replacement. They said there was nothing like that available on the island. A check online showed that they were available from the US but they were extremely expensive.

There is an identical block on the starboard side that is unused which I thought I could relocate to the port side, even if it is the same age as the broken one. But when I took the ceiling liner down from the forward head to get access to the nuts attached to the bolts going through the deck there was no access at all. So that issue is still a work in progress and we'll see how the new line looks, feels and runs once we start sailing again.

Baz gets gas

We have two 3-kilo gas cylinders on board for cooking purposes and one ran dry. I hopefully thought I could get it swapped out at the chandlers store just 200 metres away from where we were anchored in Adamas port. However the man in the store shook his head and told me I needed to go to the petrol station as he pointed in a vague direction along the shoreline.

I felt confident that the 'gas mission' was going to be easy to complete because we could see the petrol station from our boat. Tying the dinghy to a small jetty about 30 seconds walk from the petrol station I wandered in, smiled at the two guys and held up the gas cylinder. They both shook their heads and the older guys said "Not this petrol station. You must go to the one on the road to Pollonia."

"How far?" I asked fearing the worst.

To my surprise he said "It's only 2 kilometres."

Easy I thought, I can do a 4 kilometre (2.5 miles) round trip. As I thanked him and turned to leave he said "You'll see it. It's just after the hill." That was the part I really should've taken notice of.

The well sign posted road to Pollonia was a 2 minute walk from the petrol station and I easily followed the small twists and turns until eventually rounding a corner I did indeed spot a hill. It didn't look too daunting at all. It was 9.45am and the sun likes to get hot really early in Greece and I soon broke into a sweat as I trudged uphill.

Looking ahead it looked like the hill crested just around the next corner. That wasn't too bad I thought to myself. However looks can be deceiving. Rounding the corner the next bit of the hill came into view and it was twice as steep as the first bit. I pushed on and sweated some more.

Eventually the hill came to an end and just as the petrol station guy had said, I could plainly see the gas storage facility right next door to a new looking petrol station. Handing in the empty cylinder plus 15 Euros I was presented with a nice shiny green full gas cylinder which I placed in my backpack and turned to begin the trip back to the boat. At least it was going to be all downhill from here.

Time to cool off

In next week's blog we party like a couple of 21 year olds for Aannsha's birthday, pay another 3 months of the Greek cruising tax and have another Internet win!

To watch the video that accompanies this blog click here.

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