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

We had our planned Skyros anchorages marked on the chart plotter, but this new issue of battery banks not getting charged forced us to change our plans. Instead of anchoring we decided to get into the small town harbour and hook into shore power to bring our battery banks back up to 100%.

Our budget usually dictates that we stay away from harbours and marinas and thankfully Skyros, for our vessel size, was only 29 Euros (AU$48), for the night. That included electricity, water for refilling water tanks (but not washing the boat), showers, toilets, coin operated laundry, free WiFi, free book swap and exceptional mooring assistance from the harbour master and his team. They even have lazy lines so there's never any worry of crossing anchors and chains.

The following day after a great night's sleep and with fully recharged batteries and full fresh water tanks we had planned on a 06:00 hrs start because our next hop to the island of Anti Psara was potentially 10 hours away and if we had to change to anchorage B or C it could be a 12 hour sail.

The one thing I didn't take into consideration was that a ferry would come in and stay overnight berthed right next to the fueling dock. It didn't depart until 08:00 hrs.

The Greek ferry services do like to run on time and as it departed we loosed our lines and tied up to take on fuel. We'd estimated we'd used 110 litres and we were quite pleased to see that we managed to top our tank off with 108.7 litres. We departed Skyros at 08:15 hrs.

Aunty Sarah

Leaving Skyros there was no wind and as the morning progressed it slowly built to a steady 15 knots gusting to 20 knots. We made great time to Anti Psara and our planned anchorage A and we timed our coming around the lee of the island perfectly as the wind began picking up to 26 knots.

The anchorage was completely protected from the north and we dropped anchor in 3 metres (9.8 feet) of water. The island is uninhabited, apart from a few goats, but there's still telecom coverage so we were able to get some work done and plan our next move in the race against time with the fizzing anode and the new battery charging issue.

To watch the video that accompanies this blog click here.

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