This year we have managed to get out to Greece much earlier than usual – thanks to our staff back in the Alps and the UK taking over a lot of things – and to the fact that Chris is able to work from the boat as needed. We had a few projects to do this year so Ed’s plan was to be there early and have everything ready by the time I arrived.
Ed arrived at Cleopatra Marina in Preveza on 7th April after taking the overnight ferry from Ancona to Igoumenitsa with our motor-home – the Anek Lines “camper deck” is pretty cool – as you stay in your van for the journey and can sleep in your own bed. The plan is to get the boat put back together as quickly as possible – and he was helped this year by one of our maintenance staff, Keiran – who flew out from Geneva to Athens then took the bus to Preveza on 10th April. He’s getting out of doing the close down of our chalets in the Alps at the end of the season – but has the downside of working closely with the boss for a few weeks!!
The first order of the day was the wash and polish the hull and coach roof – which was Keiran’s main task for the few weeks he was in Greece. Ed is very fussy about how this is done – and as a result, Liberation still looks like new from the outside and you can see your face in the GRP! We use 3M Marine Compound first to remove the grime followed by the 3M Scotchguard Marine Liquid Wax to give it the shine and put a protective layer on top. The polishing is done by a Rupes machine, which is small and light enough to be manageable but powerful enough to do a great job. The polishing normally takes Ed solid work of two weeks – and Kieran wasn’t any quicker – but at least it saved Ed’s legs and arms from falling off, as he isn’t getting any younger 🙂
While Keiran was busy with the polishing, Ed set about the jobs we had on our “improvements” list for this year. He serviced the generator and the Volvo engine himself and set about doing software upgrades on the computer systems, such as the new upgraded version of TimeZero on both the PC and the TZT – necessary because of the upgrade last year to Windows 10 which meant I lost my automatic logs as they no longer worked properly!! Grrr.
Keto were coming out this year to repair the damage done by another yacht last year in Samos Marina which has been arranged by our insurance company – but we have also paid them to extend the trip and they will be installing a new lithium battery system. Ed has been busy with Toby from Keto for the whole winter – discussing the requirements, investigating different systems and designing the whole thing – which is far too complicated for me to begin to understand so will leave him to cover that on his technical blog! See “Installing a Lithium Battery System“. This is a new skill for Toby too – as we’re the first he has installed – so a learning curve all round.
We have also turned the generator around (to facilitate easier access for servicing and repairs), relocated the through-hulls for the generator and water maker (which we hope will solve once and for all the issue with air getting in the water maker system). The davits were repaired following the accident last year with our anchor coming loose in Argostoli – this time we used the new stainless steel workshop in Cleopatra Marina and they were pretty good. The davits had to be removed for this and were taken to the workshop – then Ed refitted them, shiny like new. As a result of the issues we had last year with the Jambo, we decided to change it in for a new 33kg Rocna – and this required the bow roller to be extended and modified in order to accommodate the different shape. The guys at Cleopatra did this as well.
The Coppercoat needed some touching up – and the leg and prop needed to be anti-fouled with normal anti-fouling paint and there were also a few minor GRP repairs to do in the cockpit as well as installing the bracket for our new Winchrite.
A few items were replaced on the boat as they had worn out – we have a new gas kettle and a new low wattage electric kettle, as well as a sandwich toastie machine and a new Tassimo coffee maker as since buying a machine for home last year we can’t imagine living without Costa Cappuccino all summer! This is going to be a challenge to source the coffee pods – but we brought enough stock with us for this year as Ed had driven to Greece in the camper. We also replaced the ensign and the courtesy flags, got new sailing gloves, replaced all the mooring lines and replaced the Liberation name decals as they had been damaged last year by the dinghy in strong winds at Serifos. More stainless steel work was done on the swim platform following the damage done in Ios last year when the passerelle ripped out in the swell from the ferry on the town quay. The bimini canvas was washed and re-water proofed – and we did intend to professionally clean all the interior cushions, but didn’t get around to this.
Of course the rigging had to be replaced and the sails put on – and this was done while Toby from Keto was still at the boat. He pointed out to Ed that the sail battens were in the wrong way around …. which could explain why Liberation wasn’t sailing so well last year! The rigging lines were all re-attached – but with bowlines – as the proper halyard knots had to wait until I arrived 🙂
Keiran left Greece on 30th April and we flew him home from Athens to Glasgow with a stopover in Amsterdam for night out with his mates – Toby had left a few days before on 28th and Ed had a few days on his own, before I flew out, to clean and tidy the boat up again.
I flew from Gatwick to Preveza with Monarch on Wednesday 3rd May – a VERY early morning flight which wasn’t the easiest for me. This was a full month earlier than I had been able to fly last year which meant a bit of stress at the UK end to get everything done, and I still have to finish a lot of stuff on the boat – but at least I’m working in a much nicer environment. Liberation was launched the following day on 4th May – of course no issues with the professionalism of Cleopatra Marina, and we went onto the marina mooring on Pier A. If you’re looking for a professional marina to look after your yacht, check our YouTube channel and you’ll see first hand how it’s done at Cleopatra.
Never again! Pier A faces stern directly to the western opening of the bay of Preveza and is a floating pontoon. In the afternoon, the mooring is almost untenable as the wind and waves come up and the pontoon moves along with the boats. I wish I’d taken some video footage of how it is here in the afternoon, as it really is pretty bad and I would avoid mooring on Pier A at all costs another time. The boat was surging massively – the pontoon it was tied to was surging at the same time, in the opposite direction. The day we went out to provision the boat, I was carrying a couple of heavy shopping bags down the companionway steps and the surge caught the boat, yanking me off the steps with shopping in hand which caused something to rip in my lower abdomen …. lots of pain and I can’t lift anything now. I’m just praying I haven’t done any serious damage to the operation I had last year.
Ed decided immediately we were going to buy some anti-surge mooring springs which we’d seen in other marinas but never used ourselves. They come in a couple of sizes and are basically a stainless steel spring which acts as a shock absorber on the mooring – you connect one side with chain to the pontoon and the other side to your mooring lines. This worked well in principle – but the pressure of the surge was so big that the first ones we bought completely broke the first days. We took them back to the chandlery in Lefkas, and he very kindly exchanged them for the larger size and we just paid the difference …. however, one of the large size ALSO stretched the spring, even though the size seems to be ridiculous for our size of boat! It was also necessary for us to rig up a second mooring line – we used our brand new lines which were far higher specification than was theoretically needed for our boat. These lines were connected to the pontoon, in addition to the moorings springs/lines as a backup – just in case the spring gave way completely. In fact, it was the other way around – one of the mooring lines just snapped one afternoon. In all the harbours and marinas we have been in, we have never known anything like it – so we had to go out and replace the mooring lines again.
When I flew from the UK, my luggage was full of all the new gadgets which had arrived after Ed had left for Greece – this included the new Intense PC iPC3 which needed to be installed as the second PC for office applications with the original Intense PC being reserved just for navigation. This also meant a switching system had to be set up with HDMI switch boxes to share the monitor, keyboard and mouse between the two machines and also to configure the screen output to go to the TV screens in the saloon and the cabin. This was so we could watch the anchor alarm when laying on anchor in heavy weather on the TV screen, while I could continue to work on the PC monitor – and Ed could theoretically be watching a film in the cabin. In the process of setting all this up, the PC speakers stopped working – these speakers are the most important part of our anchor alarm system as without them, we can’t hear the alarm! On the advice of the guys in the marina, Ed ordered some new speakers online at e-shop.gr who have a drop off point in Preveza and supposedly could deliver the next day. Of course, it took a lot longer than that and we eventually left the marina before they arrived.
There were more developments with the electronics with setting up an old iPad purely as a navigation device for me to be able to see sailing data at the companionway for the purposes of sail trim. We had purchased an water-proof iPad case, with bracket to hold it at the companionway – and Ed had donated his old iPad for the purpose, which had to be set up. We used the iKommunikate Gateway from Digital Yacht, which we had purchased last year as part of their Kickstarter scheme – this sends out NMEA2000 data in HTML format (SignalK) so the iPad can easily pick up all this data rather than using specific navigation instruments.
Finally, of course, we have our new drone! After some time trying to work out how to put all the pieces together, setting up an iPhone for the remote controller and charging everything up we ventured back onto the marina yard to learn to fly it. This is going to be our fun toy for this season, and the question is whether Ed will get good enough at takeoff and landing to be able to fly it from the boat – and will I manage to get my head around the editing, which I’m doing using Adobe Premiere Elements. Our first drone flight is on our YouTube channel – and the first conclusion is that it takes an hour to shoot the footage, and at least TWELVE hours to edit it 🙂
Ed had intended to varnish all the teak woodwork again this year – but we took much longer than we planned to be ready, and we decided to skip it for another year as we didn’t want to spend the whole summer in Preveza (or the Ionian for that matter!). We had arrived early with the intention of getting into the Aegean before the meltemi season, and we were getting close for that now already.
Although there were still a few odd jobs on the list, we left Cleopatra Marina on 4th June – but we couldn’t leave the area as we’re still waiting for alarm speakers. We are planning to hang around the area until the come in – but at least it will be more pleasant laying at anchor than in the marina.
So …. finally we’re off!