Barry's Blog #144 - Aunty Sarah

Rolly anchorages! Sometimes they sneak up on you in the early hours of the morning.

We were anchored at the southern end of the Greek island of Alonnisos in a bay called Mourtia. When we arrived the wind was blowing from the north and was predicted to stay that way as the prevailing wind of the Aegean Sea, the meltemi, was showing off its strength again.

Our plan was to hide in this southern bay for two days while the meltemi blew itself out and then head further east and south. But the wind gods had different plans and on the second day the meltemi decided to throw in the towel way before it was meant to and that left us with no wind to keep our bow pointed north and we found ourselves side on to the small but persistent swell coming into the bay from the SSW.

We've talked about rolly anchorages many times in previous blogs, but until you've tried to get some sleep while the boat is rolling, you really have no idea how uncomfortable the motion is.

Further north and east along the coast of Alonnisos was Milia Bay and that's where we moved to for our third night. It looked protected from the swell and after a short 40 minute motor/sail we found ourselves dropping anchor into sand at 3 metres (9.8 feet) in a beautiful bay with flat calm water and certainly no swell. This was going to give us a good night's sleep before we set off the next morning on a 7 hour trip to the island of Skyros.

Baby sitting and monitoring

At this point in time it had been 6 days since we departed Limni and began our journey back east towards Kaş in Turkey. During that time I had been monitoring the engine performance, checking for oil leaks, visually checking the coolant levels and generally babysitting the engine compartment every hour or so.

Apart from an extremely small amount of saltwater coming in from somewhere (possibly the stern gland), everything looked and felt great. The only clue that saltwater was getting in was residual salt crystals left behind as the water evaporated by either the general day time heat and/or the heat from the engine. It was certainly nothing to worry about.

The early morning starts had also allowed me to begin monitoring our house batteries. They are charged in two ways when we're not connected to shore power; from our 600 watts of solar panels and from the engine alternator.

The early starts with no wind meant we were using our engine to make some headway before the wind picked up and we could do some sailing. Also at that early hour the sun was not high enough above the horizon to feed enough power through the panels and begin charging the house battery bank. So I began monitoring what was being consumed and what was being fed back in to the house batteries.

With the engine running the alternator is the power generator and it feeds 80 amps of power through a diode battery isolator which splits that off to the starter battery, the bow thruster battery and the house battery bank. Theoretically that's 26.6 amps for each battery bank. I certainly wasn't seeing that being fed into the house battery bank, which is the only bank I can properly monitor.

We either had a faulty alternator or we had a faulty battery isolator. I had no way of testing either of them so we had to get to a location where we could call in an expert.

Time in harbour