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Aannsha’s Blog #112 – Gandalf the Merry, boat work and Barry’s birthday

My Gandalf stick

Is it my grey hair, or hobbling with a beach-finds walking stick, or a penchant for all things magical that earned me the name, Gandalf the Merry? Well, Baz called me Gandalf and I added the ‘Merry’ part, preferring to highlight that aspect of my personality rather than my aging looks leading to the obvious handle of ‘Gandalf the Grey’.

Oh it’s all a barrel of laughs here at A B Sea!

When we’re not chuckling at my stick-shuffle, we’re rolling our eyes at the temperature gauge falling to almost sub-zero conditions which is unanticipated for Baz who hates the cold and hadn’t researched winter weather in Greece - apart from checking that Limni is a very sheltered place to haul out A B Sea for winter. Which it is.

Barry’s birthday

We had a good chuckle at Barry’s birthday lunch in Limni though.

On the way to Baz's birthday lunch

Just general merriment that came from enjoying a well-cooked simple meal in the local restaurant. With only a handful of locals sitting outside, seemingly unphased by the cool 15 degrees Celcius but enjoying what looked to be very tasty fish with chips, Baz and I chose to sit inside “O Platanos” taverna for his birthday treat. We ordered our meal: pork steak for Baz and grilled chicken for me, with a side of traditional Greek Kolokythakia Tiganita: Batter-Fried Zucchini. We washed that down with half a litre of red wine and I hailed “Happy birthday to Baz” for the second time.

I’d already sung the full version to him just before getting on the free-loan scooter that’s provided by the boat yard. I did have a good laugh to myself as I edited that part of Saturday’s video which goes with this blog, because I found a recording of some pub singers slurring out “Happy birthday” in YouTube’s audio library, that was perfect sound to accompany Barry’s birthday section of the video! Just the right amount of goodwill, pub atmosphere, out of key honky-tonk piano music and slightly boozy singers. Perfect! It’s a sound that I’d cringe at if I was listening to it live in a pub, but it was just the best sound track for this.

More giggles and surprises when we did some boat work

Baz’s decline of my hopeful ‘blokey’ suggestion that he use a hammer to help unlock the rusty padlock on the dinghy’s outboard engine, received a Tube Buddy audio library sound effect recording of a crowd gasping when I edited that section. I simply couldn’t believe a male would turn down a chance to use a hammer to fix a problem! The second surprise came when Baz actually read the instruction manual for guidance on draining the oil from the outboard engine. Will he be shunned by All Things Male from now on?

I smiled a grateful smile several times as I watched Baz run up and down the ladder, what, four times?

  1. To get a funnel to drain the oil …

And “I can’t believe I didn’t get replacement spark plugs,” says a bemused Baz after checking the Nav station to search for the outboard’s replacement spark plugs,

  1. Once …

  2. Twice …

  3. Three times, when we discovered they were very sooty.

Do count when you watch the video. That was one time I was actually glad to be wearing my moon boot.

Did Baz find the replacements? All I can say is, it’s a good thing I know how to clean spark plugs, because that freed him up to replace the dinghy’s engine oil.

Although I was hindered by the moon boot in the walking department, I still felt useful. There were things I could do to assist Baz and I could also film, so you get some decent close-up footage of Baz servicing the dinghy's outboard. He changed the oil, we cleaned the spark plugs, we drained the carburettor of petrol and he also flushed fresh water through the engine to wash away any salt water. You’ve got to love bunny ears for that job. Bunny what? Watch the video lol.

Cleaning the anchor and chain

After the outboard motor had received a goodly amount of TLC and Baz had taken his cardio workout up and down the ladder, we turned to the pointy end of A B Sea.

Baz got into the anchor locker and let down the anchor and 50 metres of chain and I laid it out neatly on the pallet that the boat yard had provided. The pallet keeps it off the ground and prevents rusting. I thoroughly hosed off the salt and then Baz lowered the 50 metres of rope so I could rinse that.

What do we do about the seizing wire wearing out on the shackle pin that connects the anchor to the chain? Baz asks this important question and we very much look forward to your advice in the comment section below Saturday’s video. Thank you in advance.

Welcome New Patrons

A big thank you as well to our four new Patrons – Peter and Fran Hofman, and Pete and Sheelagh Forsyth. Welcome aboard!

Christmas lunch

As I mentioned last week, we had a lovely surprise outing for Christmas Eve dinner to a local restaurant with new sailor friends who also have their boats on the hard at Livaditis boat yard in Limni. We met up early the next afternoon – Christmas Day – and enjoyed sampling Stephan’s homemade red wine from his organically grown grapes.

Returning to our studio, Baz and I got stuck into preparing Christmas lunch. Baz was in charge of cooking the massive steaks that we’d purchased from a local butcher. He cooks steak so much better than I do. I was in charge of the accompaniments. Which is probably a good thing because Baz was a tad sozzled after our pre-lunch wine tasting and a few beers lol. I carefully cut up spuds (potatoes) to make oven chips, lovingly cooked sliced mushrooms in garlic butter, gently caramelised some onions - and put together mixed veggies for myself. As it was Christmas, Baz was able to get his Christmas wish of “no green things on my plate, thank you very much”. Strange man.

The late lunch all came together spectacularly and we ate with everything balanced precariously on top of everything else on plates that were rather too small for the amount of food we’d prepared. I’d set the table. I’d used the laminated one from the balcony and stuck our tiny tree with the earring baubles on it for decoration. Mostly matching cutlery, our plastic salt shaker and supermarket pepper grinder with an unceremoniously plonked jar of Dijon mustard graced the centre of the table. And let’s not mention the paper towel napkins. Oh how my former self would be horrified at the reckless lack of presentation. (She's standing by the Christmas tree on the right, below this paragraph).

All in the confines of laptop and camera laden tables in our office space to one side, and (oh my gawd I can’t believe I didn’t think to make them before filming) beds on the other side. The view out of the sliding doors however more than made up for my lack of table glamour. Pink sunset sky softening fluffy pale grey clouds, highlighted an almost Christmas card scene as the Greek sun began setting around 4.30pm.

Christmas lunch view

Great steaks and gratitude abound

We washed down our big fat juicy – and well cooked, thank you Baz – steaks with some very good red wine and sat in gratitude for our new friends, freely available food, relatively warm studio (in the 6 degree Celcius setting) and our good fortune to be able to travel the world on our beloved A B Sea. A phone call earlier that morning had been the icing on the cake when our son Luke rang us and we had a great talk on Christmas morning.


What’s next?

Now that my foot is better, we’ll be able to get stuck into boat maintenance proper, once the festive season has hurrahed its way into the New Year. We’ll be keeping an eye on the Brexit situation which will impact on us if and when it goes through, meaning we’ll be forced to comply with only being allowed to stay in the Schengen (most of the Mediterranean) zone for 90 days in every 180 days. That will make a big difference to our sailing plans that are very much still up in the air. Will we tootle around Greece for a while longer once the sailing season starts? Will we be stopping at any countries of interest along the way – think Italy, France, Spain? Or will we be hightailing it to the Straits of Gibraltar as fast as we can? And if we do that, will we stay over winter there or grow some big kahunas and make our way out into the Atlantic?

So much is undecided. But one step at a time. Fix the boat. Go for walks on the beach. Look at different sailing options.

But first of all, we’ve got our Amazon Wish List presents to open. And we’ll do that next week. You can see the video that comes out this Saturday and accompanies this blog. Just click here.

Snow covered hills just south of our studio

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