Sunday, February 28, 2016

2015: In the Marina & Loving It (Part 2)

Preveza Marina continued:

Generator Coolant Water Pump.  The generator has a coolant system that you fill with antifreeze and this keeps the insides of the important bits of the engine cool.  Keeping the coolant cool is the job of the raw water that is circulated around the engine and spat out with the exhaust.  Well, this time it was the coolant water pump’s turn to fail.  Shortly after we set off on our trip north for Croatia there was clearly a major leak and gathering in the drip tray was all this coolant.  We returned to Preveza where our new best friend Stefan soon diagnosed the problem as being a failed coolant water pump ie it had corroded through its casing.  I thought that’s what the antifreeze coolant was supposed to stop.   Two weeks later, we had a new spare pump and fitted, at a modest cost that I still grit my teeth over – US parts imported into Europe means BIG money, mostly taxes.
This folks is what caused all the teeth gnashing, many weeks delay
and almost broke the annual cruising budget!!

Masthead Anchor Light.  This was working perfectly when we tested it shortly after we returned to the boat this year.  Once on anchor, however, we found it would not work, or would eventually.  After a trip up the mast to check the fitting and globe, when it seemed to work properly after some fiddling and testing, we then found that it would flash regularly rather than remain constant when turned on.  I still have no idea why it flashes but we just left it – it made it so very easy to identify our boat when returning to the anchorage at night time!  I might add, for all of you that are tut tutting, there are any number of combinations of anchor lights around Europe eg flashing single and multiple red and/or white lights at mastheads, in cockpits, tiny cheap solar lights that you can hardly see (especially when near a town with all their lights showing), and many boats without any anchor light at all.

There'll be a few more folks in town shopping today
Bike Repairs.  Our folding bikes are indispensable.  I’m surprised to see so many cruisers walking to/from/around town when they could be biking it.  Ours needed a service and a local Greek bike shop owner in Preveza did a wonderful job of restoring (read replacing) our fancy Shimano gears and generally fixing the bikes back to almost new.  We also lashed out and purchased some helmets.  The shop was a referral through Aktio.

Outboard Safety/Cut Off Switch.  Our Yamaha switch had given up the ghost some time ago although it would cut off when you pulled the clamp from the ignition.  Eventually it wouldn’t do that so I had to disconnect the switch, let it hang down and then use a coin or copper washer to make the electrical contact that would turn it off.  Tried to get a switch in Greece but not possible apparently.  Will get one in Oz and take it back overseas in 2016.

Ruins always seem conveniently located in Greece.
This is Nikopolis, Augustus's celebratory city just outside Preveza

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

2015: In the Marina & Keeping Busy (Part 1)

Preveza Marina

A view over Preveza Marina.  Yes, another trip up the mast. 
To work out why the mast head light is still flashing...

Preveza in splendid summer colour
Making Life Easy.  In 2014, we'd discovered a neat trick.  Having spent too much time on the hard in boatyards over the years, we experimented with the options Preveza offered.  We'd found & booked space in the Preveza Marina a week prior to haul out.  Aside from its perfect location at the quiet end of the town, we could make most of our "leaving the boat" preparations with quite a few more conveniences.  Haul out was made with only a couple of days (not weeks or months!) on the hard before flying out.  This experience turned out so well, we gave it a shot again at the start of the season - only in reverse.  Splash after a few days then put-put over to the marina.  Perfect.
Generator Would Not Start.  I tried and tried but it started only after a lot of attempts.   I thought this was probably because the generator had been idle for eight months or may be the glow plugs weren’t quite right.  The next day when I tried, the engine would not turn over properly.  I cleaned all the terminals I could access and the engine started but then wouldn’t turn off when I pushed the cut off switch.  Finally, I managed to stop the engine by removing a ‘plug’ on the circuit board.  Time to call in the professionals! 

So, called on Stefan (yet again!) and, after an hour and a half of tracing circuits, looking at wiring diagrams, playing with switches, trying to start the engine without success, we found that the cut off wire goes via a water temperature sensor  on the engine block before it connects with the cut off terminal block.  This wire terminal at the temperature sensor had simply fallen off and so there was an interrupted circuit.  Once Stefan re-joined the wires all was as it should be and everything worked.  I have stated before that while cruising you meet some of the nicest people in the world that work on boats and Stefan is one of those.  He was so mortified that he didn’t find the fault quicker that he made his bill (we thought!) ridiculously cheap. He is also one of those people who is more than happy to explain exactly what he is doing and why, so I always learn heaps from these guys. 

Oh look!  Our new neighbour is another Hunter

Anti-Siphon Valve Broken.  Well, not quite.  I had retightened the hose clamp near the engine water inlet pump, several times, but it still leaked from there, or so I thought.  When we stopped in a marina we pulled the cover off the engine and, after starting the engine, it was soon plainly obvious that the water leak was coming from the siphon break, which sits a couple of feet above the raw water inlet hose.  One of the plastic fittings of the anti-siphon valve had sheared and it was slowly but constantly dripping water down on to the raw water inlet hose and then running along the bottom of the hose to the water pump.  Duh!  But what a coincidence – it never occurred to me that it could be anything but the newly fitted water hose.  Anyway, the broken siphon valve was easily replaced and all works without any water leak.  I might add that Stefan assisted with this discovery and repair too.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

2015: In the Yard & Keeping Busy

Preveza, Greece

Welcome to 2015.......

In the Yard
(The plan this year was to do a loop of the Adriatic ending back in Preveza.  Given all the work we'd done on WJ3, we figured on an "easy" prep time in the yard...  Of course you'd never believe that just didn't happen.  Our plans were delayed - big time - and we had to cut short the route.  Still, I'm probably not telling boat owners anything new.

All's quiet at Aktio

A view from on high
Engine Raw water inlet Hose.  Last year the hose started to leak and I taped it up (with you-beaut very stretchy silicone tape) so it no longer leaked.  Nevertheless, the hose was clearly failing so this year I replaced it, this time with clear stainless steel reinforced hose.  It runs cold water only as it is between the inlet raw water filter/strainer and the raw water engine pump.  This hose was different to the ‘black’ hose I threw out (which was also looking decidedly worse for wear and likely to leak in one or two other spots) but advice was that this clear hose was quite adequate for the job and, besides, you can observe the water in the hose.  So, as soon as it was fitted, would you believe, there was another water leak – water could be observed/felt dripping from the (new) inlet hose near the water pump.  See up-coming post for the result under Siphon Valve Broken.
Sewing.  The dodger, bimini and the dinghy boat cover needed extensive resewing of most seams plus some repairs to rips in the bimini.  Stitching has been the first to go on these coverings, unlike the acrylic which seems to last forever, and the more I repaired the more I found it needed work. 

It’s quite simple really, just pull on the area around a seam and, if the sewing comes apart easily, then it needs to be resewn.  I reckon I did most of the bimini and dodger.   Same for much of the dinghy cover. 

The (summer) awning also needed repairs and I discovered that ‘shade cloth aint shade cloth, Sol’.  Our shade cloth is easily chafed so I will replace it next year even though it’s only a few years old.  Many boats use shade cloth and they are not well supported on the boom etc and flap around madly, unlike our awning which was made to measure and is well secured to stays etc.  Nevertheless, they don’t seem to damage as readily as ours has done.
Baby donkey had grown quite during our absence

Standing Rig Check.  Our insurers, Pantaenius, asked for a rig check as the rigging was now eight years old.  A local rigging company in Preveza duly obliged and the rig was thoroughly inspected over the space of an hour, no problems found and passed by insurance.  The riggers were a couple of local guys, as helpful as could be with all sorts of advice and just thoroughly nice blokes.  Their shop is located at Cleopatra Marina.
Chandlery.  We'd discovered Cleopatra Marina/Boatyard's well stocked chandlery and obliging staff on arrival in 2014.  And made very good use of it too!

Another view over Preveza taken whilst servicing the mast

Friday, February 12, 2016

Lessons in Anchoring & Pest Control

Preveza, Greece

(Temporarily) Lost Anchor.  I’m saving the best until last!  On our visit to check out boatyards in Preveza we anchored off Aktio Marina, in about 25’ depth of water.  We were then asked to go in and tie up alongside one of Aktio’s groins to drop off our mainsail and outboard for repairs.  We could stay there too until repairs were completed - bonus!  The crew duly raised the anchor and when she turned to me, as she does, to tell me that the anchor was raised so that I can then power away, she advised (somewhat hesitatingly) that there was NO anchor.  I questioned this unwelcome news but it was repeated, more forcefully this time.  Sure enough, no anchor was what I found when I strode purposefully forward to confirm said crew’s statement. 
On instruction,  she dropped all our chain hoping that would slow any drift.   I then quickly dropped another anchor we had on rope and there we sat.  Luckily there was little tidal movement at that time but we had moved a bit.  I donned snorkelling gear and searched in murkyish waters, no luck.  GS then surveyed where she thought we had been when we pulled the anchor up and directed me accordingly.  First dive down and there was our much loved Rocna anchor sitting nicely, with the pin lying neatly next to it.  It must be that woman cave thing!  We recovered anchor and chain, joined them together again and recovered the second anchor.  Much discussion followed. 

The anchor is where?  Out there - somewhere!

What we did was enough as it turned out but if it happens again I would hit the Man Overboard button on the chart program almost immediately then do what we did.  Luckily we were in reasonably shallow water.  Why wasn’t the pin moused down?  Well, you can’t with these new stainless steel swivels that have a pin that sits countersunk and is done up using an allen key.  You need to screw them in as firmly as you can and observe "often" for any subsequent movement.  Also check them regularly which we now do religiously.  I would also consider lock tight on the thread and will research this a bit more.  Yes, you can also utilize a tripping line and buoy but they have their disadvantages too and we haven’t gone down that route.

Rats Onboard.  We subsequently stayed on the groin for several days and were able to use the marina’s facilities while there – very nice.  One visitor however, was not welcome.  A foraging rat decided to join us late one night though thankfully did not get inside before being given a karate chop incentive, through an open hatch in the galley, to move on.  Ratus Sparticus learned to fly that night.  Next morning we gathered & cut a crate of plastic soft drink bottles to assemble our rat defences.  We never saw him, or any of his mates, again.  It goes to show that you can never be too careful when tied up in a marina or at a dock.

Despite these shared experiences, Aktio is highly recommended for a haul out yard. 

WJ3 looking somewhat bohemian in her plastic "rat discouragers"

Thursday, February 4, 2016

2014: Repairs Underway (Preveza, Greece)

Ionian Greece

Preveza Marina - getting ready for haul out

Companionway Step.  I managed to break the side lip on the bottom step of my companionway ladder while standing on it; replaced it with the top step and in turn had that replaced with a flat piece of timber (bamboo actually – a cutting board).  The original steps curl up at the edges and so they are particularly important on the bottom step as there is nothing else to stop one’s foot sliding sideways.  The other five above all have stainless railing to support your foot and prevent it sliding.  The companionway steps are one of our most loved parts of this boat ie a gentle rise, rather than a steep one like many other boats, and at rest it is quite easy/safe to carry a drink in each hand while ascending, without spilling anything.  I actually now prefer my new top step/cutting board as it is bigger than the original.  It’s fine at sea too.
Light Connections.  Located and repaired electric connections (that had come loose over time) for a bunch of cabin lights over the galley and in the store room. 

Floating through the Corinth Canal
Leaking Fresh Water Tank.   For several seasons I had always wondered as to why there was water pumped from the bilge whenever we refilled the water tanks.  It only occurred a few of times then it would stop altogether.  To cut a long story short this year I heard a strange sound while refilling the water tanks and lifted some of the flooring access plates.  I could hear a hissing gurgling sound and sure enough one of the (five) plastic water tanks had a small slit at its top.  I could feel it but not see it as most of the water tanks are hidden from view under furniture.  As it is, I can’t get to it to repair it and would have to lift some flooring and may be some of the galley furniture (which is not removable as far as I can see) to be able to do so.  I believe that you can repair these tanks with plastic welding but you need to be able to get to the damaged part relatively easily.  It looks easy on You Tube.  So, I’ve had to leave it and I use this tank first off whenever I refill tanks.  Fortunately all tanks can be isolated from each other using the ball valves for each tank located near the fresh water pump.

Starter Battery Died.  At the island of Meganissi, on the Ionian Sea and not very far south of Preveza, the starter battery died.  Working fine one day, not the next.  Fortunately, Meganissi was only a 20 minute fast dinghy hike in Bruce to a decent chandlery on Lefkadha and I was back on the boat in an hour and a half with a brand new battery.  No further problems.  I did try to use jumper leads from the storage batteries to the starter battery but it was not enough to turn the engine over.  I’m sure there must be another solution and will let you know when I find it out.  What if one were far away from civilization and the starter battery died?

At the marina, we had time for side trips
Maintaining Stainless Steel.  This year I made a startling discovery.  To keep the stainless clean and shiny, with minimum rust marks, clean it with fresh water.  It gets very salt encrusted as you cruise around and builds up rust stains but, rather than leave it until the end of the season or on visits to marinas where there is plenty of fresh water to hose them off, just wipe them with a wet rag of fresh water every now and again.  We carry four jerry cans of spare fresh water but you really don’t need to use much anyway.  A bucket half full will easily cover all the (considerable) stainless railing around the boat.  Anyway, just remarkable, no need for polishing all the time (which I rarely do although I always feel guilty for not doing it).  I suppose everyone else out there knows this simple technique but I had never read about it.  I just discovered it by accident. 

Generator Raw Water Develops Galloping Diarrhoea.   About a week or so before we reached our port of storage at the end of the season (Preveza), the generator shat itself and the drip tray was full of dirty brown water.  The raw water pump bearing had died again (last time seven years ago) and so it was leaking lots of water from the engine cooling system.  No other damage resulted as water was still being circulated around the engine but the generator could no longer be used.  We had it repaired once we were on the hard by a very helpful German mechanic, Stefan, arranged for by the yard – Aktio Marina.  This was to be the beginning of a growing but unwelcome relationship - only because of too many boat bits needing TLC!  Our relationship continued on in 2015.  The Other Woman is loving the attention....

2014 - an Interesting year for repairs!

Aktio Boatyard, Preveza - Haul Out