If it wasn't for the huge amounts of frustration, the unbelievably small working spaces and cuts and bruises, I reckon that I could quite happily be a yacht maintenance guy after everything I've learned this winter in Greece.
Although we are working on various things the boat jobs list is not getting any smaller just yet and this is mainly due to the fact that we're waiting on the courier to deliver the new cutlass bearing. Plus many of the jobs we've started just led us to more jobs which need to be completed first before the original job can be finished. It's a vicious circle.
The Greek lock down also means that the hardware stores are closed, so even if we could go out we couldn't get what we need anyway.
Our heads (toilets) can be flushed straight to the sea or to a black water holding tank and there are many official regulations in each country and many unwritten social rules about where and when to choose which flushing option. If you're really interested then you can look it all up on the Interwebs so I won't go into too many details here.
Turkey is very strict about always flushing to a holding tank and then pumping out at a designated station. So when we were sailing Turkish waters in 2018/2019 Aannsha would often mention that she could detect a faint odour of poo whenever the heads were used and the waste entered the holding tank which is located in the forward sail locker just behind the anchor chain locker.
One of the fun jobs this week was to remove the holding tank and inspect the welded seams for signs of a leak.
Remove 3 hoses
There are 3 hoses attached to the top of the holding tank and with the double hose clamps on each hose loosened off you'd imagine that the hoses would come off fairly easily, but no.
We're dealing with hoses that have been there for the 25 year lifespan of the boat and with the confined working space getting any leverage to pull them off was proving difficult.
With a lot of twisting, pulling, swearing and applied heat I eventually managed to get two hoses off, the third was sacrificed to a very sharp knife blade and a replacement would be ordered in from Athens.
With just the bottom outlet hose still attached it was time to unbolt the tank from the bulkhead and using the weight of the tank as leverage it was quite easy to detach it from the bottom hose. That's a win.
We lowered the tank over the side of the bow and climbed down the ladder to inspect it. It was obvious that Aannsha's nose had not been hallucinating when it detected the odour of poo as there were several obvious places along the tank seams where they had rusted through enough to allow a trickle of black water to escape. There was some hardcore cleaning that would need doing in the sail locker.
There's an old Greek guy, called Manolis, who does the metal work in the boat yard and I carted the holding tank off to the workshop to get his opinion on what could be done to fix it.
Turns out that he was off sick and would be back in a day or two. Oh well plenty of other boat jobs to be getting along with.
A day later and Evangelis came by A B Sea to tell me that Manolis was back at the workshop. I wandered over there and a bizarre conversation took place which involved Greek, German, English and lots of sign language and the outcome was that they didn't have the necessary tools to make repairs to the stainless steel tank, it could only be done in the city of Chalkida an hour and a half's drive to the south.
Not having a car and reluctant to hire one after the eye watering cost of renting one for a week before Christmas, it was agreed that the tank and I would accompany Evangelis on his next trip to Chalkida to sell the fish and langoustines that his son Xaris catches every other day.
A couple of days later at 5pm I got the shout from Evangelis that the trip was on. We arrived in Chalkida 90 minutes later and I was pleasantly surprised when we rocked up at the steel works warehouse and they were happy to get straight onto the job. Less than an hour later the rusted holes had all been patched up and all for just 30 Euros (AU$ 53).
We have done some reading and the general consensus is that once you have one part of a seam that rusts through, other parts are not far behind so the fix is just temporary until we get to Turkey and have a new tank made. It's much cheaper to do that in Turkey.
The holding tank is currently sitting on the fore deck waiting to be refitted and the reason for the delay is that when the thorough clean of the sail locker took place we discovered that the bow thruster battery was dead. The battery has been replaced with a good one but we've discovered that it's not receiving any charge from the shore power battery charging system, so until we figure out where that problem is we can't refit the tank.
Like I said at the beginning of this blog, it's a vicious circle.
To watch the video that accompanies this blog click here.