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Barry's Blog #130 - Call in the expert

A bit concerned how this job will go

My trepidation and fear of expensively buggering things up while removing the old cutlass bearing from the P-bracket underneath A B Sea was somewhat under control, so it was time to tackle the job.

My first step was to ask around the other yachties in the yard to see if they had a bearing puller. It was a long shot and it turned out that nobody did. But I did get a tip to try the largest socket from my socket set and with it snug up against the bearing give it a good belting with a big hammer.

With optimism, a large socket and a lump hammer I gave the bearing a good belting and nothing, it didn't even move a millimetre. After we'd turned the cameras off and were standing there pondering our next move, Evangelis walked by and I called him over to have a look at what we needed doing to see if he had any suggestions. He took one look at the bearing, raised an eyebrow and pulled out his phone. A brief conversation took place in Greek and as he ended the call he turned to me and said "The mechanic will be here later." I thanked him and he wandered off.

Because of our budget we try to do as much maintenance work as possible by ourselves but in this instance we didn't have the knowledge or the tools to get the job done, so calling in an expert was really our only solution, but how much was it going to cost?

The mechanic

Later that day I heard a vehicle crunch to a halt on the gravel underneath A B Sea and I went down the ladder to be greeted by an older guy who had the gnarled hands of someone who works with heavy machinery. That was a good sign. We didn't shake hands because of the social distancing rules still in place, so greeted each other with just a "Kalimera." Then our conversation effectively ended as he didn't speak any English and my Greek, apart from hello, thank you and goodbye, is none existent. Luckily another Greek guy working a boat next to us did speak English and he did some translating. The mechanics name was Garifalou and he proceeded to take some measurements, scribbled notes on a scrap of paper and then from the back of his van he pulled out various bits and pieces of metal. One piece I noted was what looked like a small engine block from a scooter.

I watched with great curiosity as he connected all the bits together to create a homemade bearing puller which bore some resemblance to professionally manufactured ones I've seen on the Interwebs. With everything in place he put his back into turning the big ratchet at one end and slowly but surely the old cutlass bearing began to ease out from the P-Bracket. Within 15 minutes the whole thing was completely out and zero damage had been done to A B Sea.

Garifalou packed his tools away into the back of his van and our translator told me the price was 50 Euros (AU$83), which I gladly paid. I was so happy I could've kissed him, but you know, social distancing and all that.

What's the plan?

Back in Australia when I was dreaming up this whole living on a yacht full time and sailing here, there and everywhere, I envisioned being on the water for most of the year and maybe hauling out for a month or two during the peak winter months for maintenance. However the reality over the last two years has been very different.

Winter 2018 - 2019 in Turkey we spent in the town harbour at Kaş and although there were plenty of times we could've slipped the lines and gone out sailing the Turkish coast for a week or two there were a couple of things that held us back.

Firstly we were still very much novice sailors with low confidence and secondly there was always the concern that if we came back into the town harbour there might be no one on the quay to catch our lines as we reversed back into our berth.

Winter 2019 - 2020 when we hauled out in Livaditis boat yard at the end of October our plan was to be back in the water by early March, just 4 months to do maintenance and hide from the worst of the winter storms. Well that date, as I write this blog (8th May 2020), has well and truly gone by.

This winter our maintenance has been hindered by several factors, the cold, wind and rain played a part, as did my fears and trepidation about tackling big jobs that I'd never done before.

Then of course Covid-19 came into the picture and the Greek government restrictions meant we had no choice but to stay put.

Next winter 2020 - 2021 our plan is to be in Kaş marina, Turkey where the winter weather is warmer, there are not so many storms and the fantastic skills of the marina marineros will mean that coming back to our marina berth will be such a simple operation so we'll have no concerns about heading out for a sail whenever we want. But that's still a plan that requires Covid-19 to abate and the Turkish government to lift their border quarantine, so we'll need to wait and see what happens.

Stay safe wherever you are and I'll chat to you in next week's blog about how we had a win on a boat job that seemed daunting at first but actually turned out to be relatively easy.

To watch the video that accompanies this blog click here.

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