Tag Archives: Life on Board

Up North 

2 Jul

With the Ionian getting into full swing for the peak holiday season it seemed time to head north through the Lefkas Canal again. The wind gods were kind enough not to throw anything unpleasant at us on our return journey and we chose to break up the trip, anchoring in a quiet bay for a night to brace ourselves for manic Parga the next day.
Despite the noise and constant bashing from the wake of speedboats dragging assorted inflatables and anything else they can think of around any boat willing to anchor and thus provide the required obstacle course, Parga has its attractions. It must have been absolutely stunning before mass tourism took off but enough remains of the original harbour with its narrow streets leading up to the castle to preserve a bit of character. One night is enough, though.

Lakka, on the other hand, called for a bit of lingering and redeemed itself after the “unpleasantness” in May. However, after some eight weeks of beetling about, the lure of a few days in our marina berth on Corfu complete with shore power and the civilising influence of showers with unlimited hot water, was inevitable.

Not so good, though, is that our visit coincided with the first of the stupidly hot weather. Life on board trying to cope with 40 degrees in the shade is no picnic when even what breeze there is almost makes it worse. You know it’s hot when you’re just as sweaty after a shower as before. I tried cooking a quick pasta dish yesterday. Mistake! It put up the temperature of the interior to literally unbearable levels and it was 3am before venturing to sleep below deck became feasible.

So here I sit in the nearest bar making a soft drink last as long as possible. Thankfully the direction of the wind is slowly changing. The downside is that it’s also increasing, enough to keep us in the marina for a few more days. Even I can get a bit bored of it. I know – there’s just no pleasing some people.


The One About Poo

1 Jul


We’ve just left a marina. Marina stops were only meant to be for bad weather as they charge the proverbial arm and leg. As always with a boat, though, things rarely go to plan and we needed an engineer. But let’s start at the beginning.

Following a disturbed night (idiots who decided to come to the quiet bay of Port Atheni to party all night on deck because what they wanted to do on holiday was more important than  anybody else), we were having a lazy day. Our only plans were to snooze, read a bit and have a cooling dip in the sea. What could be nicer? Of course, the body has other demands apart from sleep, one of which involves the use of a holding tank.


Diagram from http://www.sailboat-cruising.com

Now, for those of you who might be unfamiliar with the basics of boat life, I’ll explain. To be able to achieve the said bodily function hygienically on board, a marine toilet and holding tank is required. You do the business, carefully filing the paperwork in the bin (you can only put something into a marine toilet if you’ve eaten it first). Then start pumping the handle on the side up and down, flicking a switch to add seawater as and when you need a bit of flushing and to rinse the pipes out afterwards. Rather than discarding the contents straight into the water you’re planning on swimming in, they go into a holding tank, the capacity of which isn’t huge. The idea is that you use them for a few days before emptying in deep water. Some areas insist on them being pumped out for professional disposal but Greece isn’t one of them. 

So when the holding tank doesn’t empty you’re in deep doo doo, fairly literally. We had been routinely opening the stop cock but hadn’t realised nothing was happening. With a light warning that we had very little space left, the policy of “Bucket and Chuck It” was invoked with only “solids” going into the holding tank. Never, ever, ever, think living on board a boat is somehow glamorous.

A phone call to the nearest marina had us booked in for the following day with a promise that an engineer would be available. Not knowing how dependable this promise would be and not wanting to spend any longer in a marina that absolutely necessary, Neil, being the hero he is, pumped out the majority of the contents manually, bringing a whole new meaning to Bucket and Chuck It. I cannot tell you how gross this was. I mean, I will not tell you. Use your imagination.

Now, I quite like marinas and this small one in Vathi on Meganissi was really very pleasant. Plentiful water and shore power, a few shops and tavernas and, eventually, an engineer. This man was magnificent. Unsuccessful inside the boat, we launched the dinghy so he could reach the exit under the water. Performing nothing short of acrobatics, his head almost in the water, he physically unblocked the the pipe. After some two hours of work –  success! I have never been so pleased to see poo in my life.