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Barry's Blog #116 - Boat bits, car hire and lots of cash

When sailing through the Mediterranean one of the things that we're always on the lookout for are plastic floats bobbing on the surface. Sometimes they are manufactured floats that you can buy from most chandlers stores, other times they are just repurposed empty plastic containers. The white coloured ones are the hardest to spot if the wind is kicking up whitecaps.

Until recently we thought that every float we saw was marking a spot where a fisherman had dropped a crab pot and we imagined that a length of line went straight down from the float to the trap sitting on the bottom. We were wrong.

Greek fishing boat

Xaris, the Livaditis boat yard owner, is also a fisherman and he asked us if we'd like to join him for the morning on his 9 meter (29 foot) fishing boat. We instantly said yes.

It was a beautiful day to go out on the water. The sun was shining brightly in a cloudless sky and there was little to no wind. It was however the middle of January and snow still blanketed the high peaks, so we rugged up in our warm foul weather jackets.

Xaris explained that he was fishing for langoustines in particular and he had a net with specific sized holes which would ensnare the crustaceans. Of course fish of a similar size would also be caught in the net and he would sell those too, but the prized langoustines brought the best price at market.

We hopped on board the boat at the small harbour in Limni town and deployed our cameras as Xaris and Theo expertly manoeuvred us out of the narrow harbour entrance and headed off in a general south direction.

About 1 kilometre (0.6 mile) out and in 50 meters (164 feet) of water Xaris threw overboard two floats attached to a yellow fishing net. This first 100 meters (328 feet) of net was old net and was used primarily to ensure that the main fishing net deployed correctly in the water.

Attached to the end of the yellow net was a very long length of light blue coloured net. Xaris explained that this main fishing net was 3.5 kilometres (2.2 miles) long and 2 meters (6.5 feet) high. The bottom of the net was weighted to make it sink to the sea floor and at regular intervals along the top of the net there were small floats which made the top of the net rise up. In my head I had a mental image of a super long tennis court net stretched out along the bottom of the sea.

When the blue net was fully deployed, a second length of old yellow net went overboard followed by a couple more floats attached to a long length of rope. And that was it, the net was deployed and it would sit there for 24hours before it was retrieved. Xaris gunned the 125 horse power diesel engine and we headed back to Limni harbour.

The catch

The following day at the boat yard we heard Xaris shouting up to our apartment balcony to come and take a look at his catch. He seemed very pleased as he showed us the langoustines, now separated by size into three polystyrene boxes and the many fish that were still to be processed. It seems that we'd brought him good fortune and a better than normal catch, which his father would now drive down to the main town of Chalkida on Evia island where they had a guy already lined up to buy the haul.

Car hire & shopping

Limni is a great little town which provides our basic needs but there are certain things that are only available in big towns, so we hired a car for a week.

Car hire in north Evia, even in winter, is super expensive. For a small Hyundai i10 it was 210 Euros (AU$343) plus 50 Euros (AU$81) to have the car delivered to and returned from the boat yard. The closest car hire place is in the town of Loutra which is a half hour drive to the north. On top of that there is the super high 24% Greek sales tax, so the total cost for one week of car rental was 322 Euros (AU$527).

By comparison, last winter in Turkey we hired a car for a week and it cost us 560 Turkish Lire (AU$150). Enough said.

Our first mission with the hire car was to drive north to see a guy called Dmitri. We'd made contact with him through the Med Sailing Facebook group when we posted photos of our rusted-through exhaust elbow asking for recommendations about the best place to get a replacement. He'd commented that he custom makes exhaust elbows from stainless steel. We wanted to find out what the price would be.

When we arrived at his boat yard, just a short drive to the west of Oreoi in north Evia, he took one look at our exhaust elbow and declared it cactus (Aussie slang for dead/useless). He also told us that the cost of custom building one would probably be more than the cost of simply buying a genuine Yanmar replacement elbow. Decision made, and a new elbow was ordered.

Courier freight costs from Athens were the same regardless of what was ordered so we included in the order a couple of gaskets for the exhaust elbow and two spare spark plugs for the outboard engine. We also took the opportunity to buy several other boat related items from his chandlery, and I go into full details about those in this week's video. Episode #106.

In next week's blog I'll continue the tales of exploring with the hire car and how we braved some of the more challenging roads on the island.

To watch the video that accompanies this blog click here.

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