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Aannsha’s Blog #143 – Sporades and the anode

Karavomilos is north of Evia island on the Greek mainland. The bay is large and there is a small town on shore. Still getting into the chill vibes, Baz and I decided not to go through the rigmarole of lowering the dinghy to go ashore. So we relaxed on deck before turning in for the night. We had a great night’s sleep at our first anchorage since leaving the boatyard.

The following day we upped anchor – which had a huge blob of mud/sand/fine pebbles attached to it – showing that this anchorage has good holding. I scraped it off with my dedicated ex-broom handle and we were on our way east along the Evia channel. This route would take us out into the Aegean and our first island stop on our journey to Turkey was going to be Skiathos, in the Sporades islands group.

There was little wind in the morning so we motored, passing a large tanker along the way that was anchored offshore, close to what looked like a quarry processing factory. As we headed towards the end of the channel, the wind picked up (on the nose) and we had a slightly bumpy ride through the open sea towards Skiathos. Anchorage A was the little bay just west of Skiathos town, which would be quieter than the main bay where the ferries docked. If the wind proved too strong, then we had a couple of choices (Anchorages B and C) in the entrance to Volos Bay. We’d left early enough in the morning that if we did have to turn back to Volos, we would still have plenty of time to drop the anchor during daylight hours.

Seafood dinner treat at Skiathos

We arrived at Skiathos without incident though, and after we’d anchored in sand, we got dolled up, dropped the dinghy and headed for Skiathos town. Heather and John Drummond aka The Old Travel Bums had sent us a very generous donation to put towards a good meal at our first anchorage. As Skiathos is such a pretty place – and a large tourist town with many restaurants to choose from – we’d decided we’d eat here rather than Karavomilos.

Sadly the pandemic has meant that the usually large amount of summer tourists were lacking and many of the restaurants, which were setting up for dinner, were empty. We wandered through the quaint harbour and picture pretty streets, finding Mouragio seafood restaurant on the harbour front where the waiter enticed us in with promises of crispy fried anchovies.

Our waiter, Dimitris, was very attentive and friendly. We ordered those as a starter along with a Greek salad, and followed that with a seafood platter for two, washed down with good Greek wine. It was all delicious and we left stuffed and very contented with our first night ashore on a Sporades island. We were treated to a beautiful sunset of pinks and purples as we arrived back on board A B Sea.

Costs of living at Livaditis boatyard over winter

A few subscribers have asked us for a breakdown of costs of living on the hard at Livaditis boat yard in Sipiada on Limni Island. Baz took some time to break the costs down and if you’re interested, you can get the details in this week’s video.

Anchor chain jumped off the gypsy

After another great night’s sleep, we upped anchor and had a lovely sail as we headed east for Alonnisos Island. When the anchor came up, the last few metres of chain were quite twisted but there wasn’t anything I could do about it at the time.

Arriving and trying to anchor at the bay at Alonnisos, I had a problem. The twisted chain couldn’t get proper purchase on the gypsy and jumped completely off the windlass! I felt helpless to do anything and couldn’t hear Baz (because of the chain noise and wind) shouting at me to jump into the anchor locker and stand on the chain. I knew if I tried to catch the chain, even wearing gloves, that it would do me major damage as that chain is heavy and it was plummeting towards the seabed at a rate of knots.

I tried to stop the windlass by pressing the Up button, (which had worked once before when it had happened in a very minor way), but by this point the chain was totally out of control, dancing on that windlass like a gypsy at a wedding.

I knew that once the 50m of heavy chain was on the seabed, that the 50m of lightweight thick white rope (rode) that is attached to the chain, would be much easier to grab and control, so once I saw the rode, I grabbed it. I was then able to haul the rope then the chain up far enough that I could reattach the chain onto the gypsy and bring up the anchor again.

Anchor chain jumped off gypsy

That was very nerve wracking, but despite Baz being a tad frustrated that I’d not jumped onto the chain (because I hadn’t heard him), I was glad to have worked out a solution myself. (I’m not very good at thinking on my feet in an emergency as my mind usually goes blank with stress). After we’d finally anchored, we debriefed and I now know that if that happens again, that I must jump onto the chain in the locker and my weight will stop it.

Where's the sacrificial anode?

After Baz had backed down onto the chain to test that the anchor was set, I dived the anchor to ensure it was dug into the sand properly (it was). On my way back to A B Sea, I noticed that the sacrificial anode that was normally attached to the prop shaft, was missing. That couldn’t be good.

Sacrificial anodes protect the metal of the boat from stray electrical currents that can occur, given that the sea water can create one giant battery between differing metals. If there is a stray current from the engine, running along the prop shaft for example, that can cause the prop shaft metal to disintegrate from galvanic corrosion. To ensure that this doesn’t happen large metal parts of the boat have anodes zinc attached (prop, prop shaft, bow thruster and keel). If there is a current then the weakest metal (the zinc) will give up its ions first, thus safeguarding the metals of the boat (which also include all the through hulls).

I told Baz about the missing anode and he looked concerned. He got a replacement anode from storage (we always carry spares of important boat items) and got his diving gear on and set about replacing it. Of course, this isn’t an easy task given he’s hanging onto the prop shaft, the boat is swinging in the water, and the anodes, nuts and bolts are small and fiddly to hold with hands that are becoming colder in the water by the minute.

He managed the task however – well done Baz – and I hoped that would solve the issue. But no. As soon as the new anode was in place, it began fizzing, like an alka seltzer in water. That was a huge concern, because if we couldn’t keep up the replacement of anodes, then the prop shaft and prop would be the next metals to be corroded. And they are expensive pieces of kit.

Race against time

The happy go lucky sense of adventure that we’d been recapturing since setting sail from Limni a few days before began to seep out of us as we realised the enormity of our situation. Galvanic corrosion is both serious and fast. It can eat away at metals extremely quickly.

We now had to get to Turkey before we ran out of spare anodes. Would we make it before the prop or prop shaft sustained damage?

Until next week, I wish you a very pleasant week and that you get a little closer to your dreams and aspirations.

Sunset at Skiathos

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