Archive | September, 2017

Outboards

17 Sep

Are outboards ​the bain of every liveaboard’s lifestyle? Certainly, I’ve read several blog posts bemoaning them and they all too frequently become the subject of cockpit discussions​. The dinghy is such an essential part of our boating existence, the car of the dirt dweller but with a far less reliable engine. Not only that, the engine has to be heaved on and off the boat, a task that is either back breaking or involves some sort of, often precarious, pulley system.

We thought we’d cracked it though. When we bought Desi a lovely little dinghy was included along with its outboard which happened to be electric. We’d never actually seen an electric outboard before and had certainly not considered buying one. A little wary at first, we were rapidly converted. Light to handle and with more than enough power, it also had the advantage of being rechargeable via either the mains electricity in the marinar or using the solar panels – free power! No more reliance on smelly petrol or carrying/storing noxious containers. Win, win. Until now.

Our little beauty has developed an aversion to water. You might well say that, of course, electricity and water don’t mix. But this is an outboard motor, engineered by those clever Germans, and designed to be in water as the basic function of its being. Now ours doesn’t like a bit of dew. Connections have duly been cleaned and sprayed with the German equivalent of WD-40. But a few days at anchor and we’ve had to resort to rowing ashore. And back.

Damingly, it always seems to start on testing, even happily taking us for a night out. Sorted, we thought. But no. Ironically, just as we were returning to the dinghy we got chatting to another owner, only the second we’d met, singing the praises of the motor. As we both inserted the magnetic key his started immediately. Ours – nothing. The other guy, who happened to be German himself, volunteered​ to give us a tow, saying that he felt a responsibility for his country’s engineering. We were very happy to take him up on the offer, our rowing not being the most efficient at the best of times let alone after a big meal and several drinks.

At the time of writing, cleaned and sprayed yet again, it seems to be working. Until we come to use it again?

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A Day Out  

9 Sep

My bout of D&V kept us in the marina for a couple of days, venturing out only on land. Then just as we were making the boat ready to head out Neil developed symptoms and naturally wanted to remain in reach of a flushing toilet! I didn’t need any persuading; I’m always anxious when we set off regardless of conditions or destination.

With some very unstable conditions forecast for the weekend we eventually grabbed the chance to have at least the day at anchor​. We didn’t want to waste time doing anything as boring as sailing, of course, so just motored to the nearest bay. We nearly motored right out again when a little speed boat towing a paraglider shot out without bothering to look right in front of us and we were seriously worried the poor paying customer was going to end up wrapped around our mast!

Having moored as far away as we could get it was surprisingly peaceful considering the busy tourist resort close by and much cooler than in the marina. Unfortunately we’d picked the spot one of the many tripper boats used to disgorge its load of the American version of Club 18-30 into the sea. With shrieks of delight and amplified music the scantily clad beautiful bodies variously climbed, bombed or performed athletic dives into the water. Were we ever that young?

As is usual with these trips they didn’t stay long, though, and I was surprisingly sorry to see them go. They’d been hugely entertaining to watch and even the music had been good.

End of August 

2 Sep

After the indignity that is Manchester Airport – herded through “shopping opportunities”, terrible food and drink at even worse prices, insufficient, uncomfortable seating in too small areas with neither heating or ventilation and constant trudging up and down stairs (OK, moan over and you knew all that anyway, of course) – arriving in Corfu felt like coming home. Not that I’m praising the airport but it is on a more human scale.

Two months away, for me, made the return to the boat both welcome and yet strangely disorientating. I knew the routine, knew how everything worked but found it difficult to remember where specific things were kept. Acclimatising to the heat was an initial struggle, too. Normally I’d take temperatures in the low 30’s in my stride but I was actually grateful for the clouds and odd light shower the next day. A couple of days stocking up and a few maintenance jobs and we were ready to head out to our first anchorage.

We’re not planning on going far this autumn so the short sail, well motor, to the bays in the north of Corfu beckoned. Nosing into Agni proved an unattractive mooring prospect with the shallow areas swallowed up by bouys and small boats so Kalami it was. What a surprise! There were only two other boats in the bay and one of them was already heading out. We’ve previously remarked on how quiet the last week in August usually is but with the general increase in numbers we had though this year would be different. Late into the evening we were still expecting far more to arrive.

Kalami stays quite deep until very close to the shore so you either have to choose to anchor close to the beach or be prepared to put out a lot of chain and accept a large swinging circle which can be a bit anti-social. As we are unapologetic people-watchers we chose to be close to the sun loungers and not get upset when we, in turn, became an​ object of fascination. Feeding time at the zoo springs to mind. We weren’t even too troubled by the swell from the big cruise liners, ferries and cargo ships that all have to make their way up and down the narrow stretch of water between the island and Albania.

Our happy existence of lounging around in the shade and reading, enjoying the sea breeze and cool, salty swims came to an abrupt end after only two nights when I woke up with a stomach bug. I’ll not go into detail but suffice it to say it seemed like a good idea to head back to the marina ASAP. Some weather sites have been predicting thunderstorms​ for tonight so being tucked up against a pontoon had other attractions anyway. I’m glad to be back – for the time being​.