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Barry's Blog #112 - Birthday, Maintenance, Christmas

Baz's birthday

There's a bit of time travel in this week's video so to make things less complicated I'll talk about the events in the order they appear in the episode.

We open on my birthday, December 18th 2019, exactly 2 years to the day that we said goodbye to our son Luke when he dropped us and our worldly possessions off at Brisbane airport in Australia ready for our flights to Spain.

It seems such a long time and also such a short time and I personally don't feel that we've actually travelled very far as sailors. On reflection I think a lot of that stems from the fact that we spent 3 months looking for the boat, 5 months fitting her out before sailing to Turkey, where we spent 5 more months waiting out winter weather and now after only 6 months of summer sailing we are once again waiting out winter weather in Greece for another 4 or 5 months. Hardier and more experienced sailors will tell you that you can spend almost the whole year sailing in the Mediterranean and in a way they're right. If we were going to do that, we'd have to go back east to Turkey and then south to Cyprus. However we have a general travel direction of west so going east and south to hide from the worst of the winter storms would be going backwards and then we'd have to spend the next summer going west again. We'd be forever chasing our tail and never make any progress.

Another thing that's always been niggling in the back of our minds has been Brexit. When/if that finally takes effect, then the rules will change for us (and many others) meaning that as a UK registered vessel and travelling on our UK passports we will then be subject to the 90 days in 180 days Schengen rule.

Without going into too much detail it means we will only be able stay for 3 months in any 6 months within the Schengen zone. Inside the Mediterranean the only none Schengen and safe countries, with an easily accessible coastline we can dash to, are Albania, Croatia, Tunisia, Morocco and Gibraltar.

Winter storm at Kas Turkey

The biggest drawback to needing to dash from one part of the Med to another is that we'd have to be super mindful about not getting caught out in bad weather and try to be in a position to make a passage of up to 3 nights with just the two of us on board.

Let me elaborate on what 'just the two of us on board' really means. That's 72 hours of being awake for 3 hours and sleeping for 3 hours. Non-stop. You can't pull over to stretch your legs, take a break and grab a McDonald's. You pick up the anchor at one country then just go until you reach your destination.

We don't want that kind of pressure, so since Brexit came into the picture we've had our eye on the goal of getting to the Strait of Gibraltar and saying goodbye to the Mediterranean, which is a shame because it means we will miss so many beautiful places that we would've liked to visit.

Once again I've gone off on a tangent, but in a way that's what these blogs are about. As there's only so much we can film and share in a video, these blogs allow us to also share feelings and thoughts to a much deeper level.

Birthday Boy

The day of my 2019 birthday was overcast and a bit chilly and we decided to wear our wet weather gear in case it rained but mostly to fend off the wind chill factor as we drove the general loan boat yard scooter into Limni town.

Limni is a quaint town with narrow winding streets, a mixture of old and new architecture and a seafront road and pedestrian area that offers wide open views across the Evia channel to mainland Greece.

As you would expect it is along this road that most of the bars, coffee shops and restaurants are located and as we'd only previously stopped for a beer and coffee at one place it was going to be pot luck where we would stop to have a birthday lunch.

We spotted an obviously local guy eating a tasty looking fish dish at a table outside one of the restaurants and decided that if the locals ate there it must be good. Stepping inside, because of the cold breeze blowing along the sea front, we were greeted by a young woman who gestured us to choose from the many empty tables. I would guess that it would be very busy in the summer months but we were now getting towards the end of December and once again we found ourselves the only tourists in town.

Flicking through the multi language menu, Aannsha chose the grilled chicken and I defaulted to my favourite meat of pork. We also ordered a side dish of lightly battered and shallow fried courgettes, all washed down with a half litre of local red wine. Simple fare, but very tasty and inexpensive.

Over lunch we discussed what we should do to celebrate Christmas. Aannsha loves the whole tradition thing and cooking way too much food, whereas I'm a take it or leave it kind of guy.

Last year in Kaş, Turkey, we were spoilt for choice with so many options for dining out in Kaş town and wonderful invitations from our many friends we made since our arrival there. This year it was going to be just the two of us. We both enjoy a perfectly cooked steak every once in a while and we made a plan to buy a couple of nice cuts from the local butcher to be washed down with a good bottle of red wine.

After lunch we went back to the relative 'warmth' of the boat yard studio.

Maintenance begins

Since we'd arrived at the boat yard in late October we'd been focusing on getting our weekly video and blogs published while giving Aannsha's damaged foot as much rest as possible. So we started our winter maintenance around the middle of November with a couple of simple jobs.

The first easy thing at ground level was to winterise the dinghy outboard. This meant an oil change, spark plug change, draining the petrol out of the carburettor and a general overall clean.

There are a couple of amusing little 'shock' moments as we go about these tasks, but I'll let you chuckle at them when you watch the video.

The next easy job was to lower the anchor to the ground and pile the anchor chain onto a wooden pallet so we could rinse all the salt water off it. If we'd left it inside the locker there's a good chance that saltwater corrosion would have eaten into some of the chain links. We also have a plan to end for end the anchor chain before we put it back into the locker next spring, so that it's not always the same end of chain that's in the salt water whenever we're anchored.

We've also received some very good tips and suggestions from our viewers regarding shackle attachments and I'll explain all about those when we get to that part of the maintenance.

Christmas Day

On Christmas Eve while enjoying dinner at a local restaurant, with the other yachties who are staying at the boat yard, we'd all been invited to Stephan's apartment for Christmas day to sample the red wine that he makes from his organically grown grapes. It was super tasty and as you will see in the video I obviously enjoyed it way too much before Aannsha and I returned to our apartment to begin cooking our very late afternoon Christmas day lunch.

As is the generally accepted form, Aannsha prefers me to cook the steak because I have an uncanny way of just knowing when it's cooked to perfection. Aannsha likes hers medium and I like mine rare. Aannsha is of course in charge of the vegies, especially the roasted ones which she in turn cooks to perfection with just the right amount of seasoning. We make a good team.

After (late) lunch was declared a winner, we cleaned up and relaxed into watching a couple of movies before having a relatively early night. That was Christmas 2019 spent in Evia, Greece. We don't know where we'll be spending Christmas 2020, that all depends upon Brexit, the weather and wind gods and how prepared we feel to tackle the Atlantic Ocean.

To watch the video that accompanies this blog click here.

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