The Greek Island of Symi is worth a visit but get there early to get a berth!

Greek Island of Symi

The Greek Island of Symi was named after Poseidon’s wife, Symi and has a history spanning a millennia

After a stay in Kos Marina and before heading west back to Sicily for the winter, my husband, Simon, and I sailed our 56’ sailboat to Symi Island. Aside from our 4-year-old daughter, we also had an 11-year-old guest with us (Tanna pictured below)!



Two weeks previously we ran into sailboat, ‘Why Knot?!’ and cruised around with owners Garth and Elaine, there two lovely girls and their three additional guests. For the full two weeks either our daughter sailed with ‘Why Knot?!’ or the one or both of the two girls sailed with us.

On two occasions Simon and I sailed our boat alone – no child on board!

What an experience. We sat back, soaked up the sun, enjoyed the quiet waves hitting the hull and listened to the wind fill the sails. There was an absence of, ‘Mom, can you get me something to eat,’ ‘Mom, can you play with me,’ ‘Mom, mom, mom!’

Our quiet voyages felt like mini-vacations and we were so thankful to have alone time

Most couples can get a family member or babysitter to look after the children but when you’re living on the sea the chances for alone time don’t come often!

That being said, I missed our daughter and couldn’t wait to hug her when we all finally moored up. Not surprisingly, my daughter didn’t even raise her head when we went by – she was way too busy having fun with the girls.

Sausage Pasta Bake

Sausage Pasta Bake

There were sleepovers and when possible we moored next to each other so the girls could jump back and forth between the boats

Every evening we all met up and enjoyed dinner together. We either went to a restaurant or took turns cooking dishes.

On our lovely sail to Symi, we had Tanna with us. Aside from taking in the amazing sights, Simon decided to race Garth. His excitement over passing ‘Why Knot?!’ was so funny.

What is it about men having to race any other boat in sight?

After our little race (that Garth knew nothing about!) we couldn’t believe our eyes when ‘Why Knot?!’ pulled a tuna out of the water from their fishing line. It was huge! Excitedly we all started to envision tasting sushi and tuna steaks and tuna kebobs.

Eventually, we entered Symi habor

Mooring up in Symi is stressful and you’ll need to arrive around 10 – 11 am to get a place along the hard.

We called the harbormaster who told us to proceed into the harbor. There were boats already in the harbor waiting for instructions and many behind us coming in. Furthermore, there were large and small ferries and pleasure cruisers surrounding us. Top that off with a bunch of charter boats and it makes for an interesting time.



The harbormaster seemed nowhere to be found and people were just coming in and going stern-to to the hard

We eventually dropped our anchor and started to back up to the hard. We felt that if we didn’t grab a spot there wouldn’t be one for long.

As we backed up a local shop attendant took our lines and it didn’t take long to secure the boat. The town was heaving with people. There was a massive ferry along the side and day-trippers by the hundreds were getting off.

We got ourselves settled and then quickly went a couple boats down to see the tuna fish aboard ‘Why Knot?!’

Kos Marina

Kos Marina

After we all got a glimpse Garth and Elaine said that they were going to go around and ask some local restaurants if they’d prepare the fish for us – to gut, clean and cook it.

The girls all went to the end of the road to look at the horse-pulled wagon and Simon and I took our paperwork to the port authority.

Note: if you moor up on the right side of the habor, where we did, you have a good 15-minute walk to the other side to visit the port authority. Let it be known that it’s quite a hike!

In the late afternoon we all met up to discuss dinner plans

Apparently, the restaurants wanted to charge 200 euros to prepare the fish for us. I made the comment that we should just do it ourselves. None of us knew how to clean and gut a tuna but that’s what YouTube is for – isn’t it?

Greek Island of Symi

Greek Island of Symi

Garth watched a YouTube video, I grabbed our massive cutting board and Elaine bought a newspaper to put over the table before we started cleaning the tuna. There were nine of us all huddled around the table on the aft deck of ‘Why Knot?!’ and passers by stopped to take a look.

I must say that Garth did a brilliant job – he cut up the tuna and later that evening we all enjoyed plate after plate of tuna

In the end, the tuna was large enough to provide three meals!

Greek Island of Symi

Greek Island of Symi

The following day, the girls played together and Simon and I walked around a bit

Symi is like no other Greek Island. The town is build on the side of a mountain that meets the sea. There are windmills and a monastery at the top and very colorful homes dotted around the harbor.

There are loads or restaurants, bars, coffee shops, bakeries, grocery stores and tourist shops

There’s a little beach that has a restaurant next to it and of course, there’s a little tourist train to show you the whole area if you’re not up for walking around.

Greek Island of Symi

Greek Island of Symi

Greek Island of Symi

Greek Island of Symi

Greek Island of Symi

Greek Island of Symi

Greek Island of Symi

Greek Island of Symi

During the day the town gets extremely busy. There are loads of day trippers from Rhodes and there’s never an empty space along the hard after noon. Symi fills up quickly.

Being famous for sponges, I asked Simon to grab me a sponge for the shower before we left

I don’t think I ever had a real sponge before. Well, I’m very pleased with Simon’s selection as it’s the best sponge I’ve ever had.

Greek Island of Symi

Greek Island of Symi

Furthermore, the purchase sparked my daughters interest in sponges. We later spent half the day learning about sponges. We both wondered how they ate, if they moved around and Sienna wanted to know where their eye’s were!

I went online and found some early learning materials on sponges and we had a great time coloring them in and labeling the various parts of the sponge.

Sadly, Symi is where Britican had to say goodbye to ‘Why Knot?!’



We all felt teary-eye’d as our friends left Symi to reach their final destination for the summer. ‘Why Knot?!’ was scheduled to get pulled out in Turkey for winter and the family had to go back home to South Africa. (I think Sienna wanted to go with them rather than stay with us!)

Sim, Sienna and I stayed an extra day in Symi waiting for good winds

We went for a walk, got some groceries, went out the eat and soaked up as much of Symi as we could. After spending two weeks with ‘Why Knot?!’ we all felt a bit lost without them. Essentially, we moped around for the day.

So…Symi is a great destination

I highly recommend a visit but make sure to get into the harbor early. I’ve been told that weekdays are not as busy as weekends and if you want a quieter night, try to moor on the right side rather than the left.

Authentic Tiramisu aboard Britican

While being laid up in Preveza, Greece with engine, generator and rigging problems our dynamic life on the sea changed to a slow life on the hard. With no car, only two restaurants and a massive out of water storage marina surrounding us, we didn’t have our usual dose of ancient archeological sites, tourist attractions, or ‘fun days out.’ The picture below is the nice view we had to the right of the boat.

To the left, however, there was a boat crane operating Monday through Saturday all day long

When you watch the Tiramisu video below you’ll hear the ‘beep, beep, beep…’ that I listened to for three weeks!



Thankfully…there was a silver lining as we did have Andrea – the best engineer I’ve ever meet (and I’ve met loads this year)

And not only is he an engineer. Andrea has become our dear friend. After spending all day with my husband in our sailboat bilges and engine rooms, he spent the evenings with us enjoying AMAZING food and drink. Andrea took us to a variety of authentic Greek restaurants, cooked for us (Andrea has owned a couple restaurants in the past too!) and even endured my cooking.

Although the days were tough having to step over engine pieces and parts and be surrounded by a mess, the evenings with Andrea made up for the dust-filled, loud, annoying days of engine reconstruction. And just a note on our engine and generator. Andrea and his team helped us to take apart both of our engines, send away the pieces that needed servicing, put the engines back together and then clean and repaint them.

I am now very PROUD of my engines – take a look at how amazing our generator looks…



Being born on a boat, owning almost 20 boats himself AND having a background in engineering makes Andrea a very special person

Not only does he know his stuff, but he also knows what life on a boat is like. He knows the extreme importance of maintaining good reliable engines! Andrea also is an ex-helicopter pilot too – he’s one of those amazingly talented people that make me feel as if I know nothing – but not in a bad way. If you’re ever in the Ionian near Lefkas Island or Preveza you’d be nuts not to have him look at your engines.

That aside, this is indeed a Britican Galley post, so without any further ado, let me get on with the show

When Andrea offered to teach me how to make Tirimisu, an Italian classic, I cheekily asked him if I could video the preparation in Britican’s Galley. To my delight, Andrea said yes! Below is my husband, Simon and our good friend, Andrea…

When I edited the Tiramisu video I cut out about 10 minutes of footage

The time it takes to use the blender/mixer is cut short in the video so make sure to spend more time blending. Otherwise, all the ingredients are listed in addition to the steps. Andrea is from Rome, Italy and I think he did a great job speaking English and making an all-time authentic Italian tirimisu…

When we finally sat down to enjoy the Tiramisu, after Andrea made us homemade gnocchi’s, I was once again moooooing like a cow. The flavors were excellent. Next step is for me to give the recipe a go!

Sailing from Greece to Sicily – here’s what happened on our 49-hour journey to do 281 miles

Sailing from Greece to Sicily

Sailing from Greece to Sicily

In the past seven months, we’ve sailed from Gibraltar to Malta. From Malta to Sicily and from Sicily to Greece hitting mainland Italy. We also made a few quiet stops in Turkey too – I say ‘quiet’ because we didn’t notify officials that we where there as our stay was so short.

Apart from our trips from one country to another, we usually make short journeys working our way around the various areas. For example, we spent a month going up the east side of Sicily before hitting mainland Italy and then once we were in Greece, we’d spent five months traveling around the Ionian Sea, through the Corinth Canal and all around the Aegean Sea.

Most of the sailing we do is from one anchorage or mooring to the next within a somewhat close proximity. Some days we’ll sail for a couple hours and other days we’ll sail all day long. And furthermore, we often find a spot we like and stay for a few days or even a week. While moored in Kos Marina on the island of Kos, we stayed a few days on a few occasions due to repairs we had done to the boat.

We also stayed in Rethymno Marina in Rethymno, Crete for nine days while touring Crete by car and waiting for a friend to arrive by airplane. Most recently, we stayed in Preveza, Greece for three weeks due to a completely unexpected engine and generator overhaul.

Our last voyage, which now brings us to our current position, took us from Preveza, Greece to Syracuse, Sicily and it was a two-day non-stop trip.

Sailing from Greece to Sicily

Sailing from Greece to Sicily

To date, we’ve sailed 3,283 nautical miles since setting sail on our around-the-world sailing adventure seven months ago

It’s been one heck of a first sailing season for us with our new 56’ sailboat.

We’ve made some incredible new friends, seen some absolutely amazing sights, enjoyed countless sunrises and sunsets, enjoyed fresh, local incredibly tasty food, gotten to know our boat and have essentially broken ourselves into our new lifestyle on the sea.

The time has now come, however, to find a cozy corner of the Mediterranean to ‘winter’ Britican (The boat is named Britican because hubby is British, I’m American and our daughter is both!)

The Mediterranean is not a nice place to sail during the winter

Furthermore, our boat needs to be hauled out of the water, dried out, antifouled (protects the haul), anodes changed and get a very nice clean and wax! There are quite a few other projects we also have lined up. For example, did you know that you’re suppose to change all the below-water level piping on your boat every 10 years?

Originally, we would have been preparing to cross the Atlantic Ocean next month with Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) crossing; however, early in the season we realized that the boat isn’t ready for such a long trip (3-4 weeks). Furthermore, it’s less expensive and easier to get our boat in shape here rather than in the Caribbean or remote areas of the Pacific.

So, we’ll live aboard our boat here in Sicily waiting for the summer to come when we’ll enjoy another season in the Mediterranean. Next November (2015), we’ll head across the Atlantic and keep on going.

Sailing from Greece to Sicily

Sailing from Greece to Sicily

Our recent journey from Greece to Sicily was very tranquil

The week before our departure, we endured massive thunderstorms, high winds and flash flooding so I was initially concerned about getting a window in the weather to make the crossing.

Moreover, our engine and generator were both completely pulled apart and put back together again. I feared making such a long passage with so many changes made to our systems. Yes, we did engine trials and made sure everything worked, but not at length. Read The trials of a new boat owner – a tale of coincidence, corruption and contempt for the marine industry to hear about our engine issues and the amazing people we met to help us out.

Sailing from Greece to Sicily

Sailing from Greece to Sicily

It’s astounding how close you become to people in such a short period of time

Eventually, however, the time came for us to leave our three-week mooring from Ionian Marine (located across from Preveza, Greece). We said our goodbye to our new friends we made – especially Andrea and his dog, Bonsai (above) – and with tears in our eye’s, we set sail. Poor Sienna cried for 1/2 hour as we sailed away.

Prior to leaving, I spent a day preparing meals for the journey. I made shepherds pie (a ground beef mixture on the bottom with carrots, celery, peppers, onions and Britican Galley Beef Blend covered with garlic filled mashed potatoes and cheese on the top), a hearty chicken soup (with the Britican Galley Chicken Blend – of course!) and chili with very little chili powder. Unfortunately, I purchased Paprika at the local Greek supermarket rather than chili powder – heck, it’s all in Greek…how was I to know.

In Greece the days are still quite hot but the evenings drop quickly in temperature

I thought some nice warm comfort food would make the transit even more enjoyable. Also, I still get slightly seasick so having the knowledge that a good meal is coming up makes me feel better. Essentially, I daydream about food all day long.

Looking back, I could have cooked on our voyage across. We had very little wind and it would have been nice to have something to do, but it’s better to prepare for the worst. By having meals ready, all we had to do is heat them up. In a storm or turbulent seas, it’s almost impossible to cook as my cousin Loryn discovered. She tried to cook fried eggs in a Force 8 and I wasn’t surprised when she got egg on her face. Hehehehe.

By mid afternoon, we motored out of the channel and into the Ionian Sea

There was enough wind to raise the main and genoa so we put our sails up as soon as we could. I sat in the cockpit, looking out at the deep blue sea, and quietly said, ‘Boy, have I missed you!’

Sailing from Greece to Sicily

Sailing from Greece to Sicily

My husband set the navigational instruments and like the dashboard on a car, we could see the estimated time of arrival (ETA) and distance to weigh point in Syracuse, Sicily. Our ETA read 48 hours and our distance was 281 nautical miles. It’s better than the 800+ nautical miles we had to do from Gibraltar to Malta!

That night we enjoyed the shepherds pie with some fresh bread at sea

We all said our good byes to Greece. We’d definitely miss the exceptional food, great new friends and overall feel of Greece. What an incredible country for sailors…It’s probably my number on destination for sailing in terms of variety, value for money, facilities and great people.

Although Greece doesn’t have the funds to maintain many of their marina’s at least they have many harbors, mooring buoys and anchorages dotted all over the place. Further – it often costs nothing to tie off on a town quay. That definitely can’t be said about Italy or the Balearics.

Anyway, around 6pm, we all gathered around the cockpit table and enjoyed the shepherd’s pie that I made. It was so amazingly tasty. I kept saying ‘mmmmmmmm’ over and over again. Usually when I make food myself I don’t enjoy it as much as other people’s cooking, but this night was different.

Sailing from Greece to Sicily

Sailing from Greece to Sicily

After dinner, my husband, Simon, went to the aft cabin to get a bit of rest and chilled out with our daughter, Sienna (age 4). The two of them watched the film, ‘The Croods.’ Our guest, Admiral Stefano, and I kept watch in the cockpit. We watched a massive moon come over the Greek mountains – it was definitely a sight to behold.

We chatted about the stars, constellations, the position of the moon and sun, navigating by the stars in addition to me practicing my Italian. Stefano must be so tired of me saying ‘come sei dichie __________’ or ‘how do you say ________’?

Stefano and I were meant to keep watch until midnight when Simon would take over for three hours. I was doing very well until 10:30 when I fell fast asleep! I’m definitely not good when it comes to lack of sleep. Stefano didn’t wake me up. Around midnight I jumped out of my sleeping position and yelled out, ‘we need to write down a log.’ A log is a record of where you are, where you’re going and general information about the sea state, cloud coverage, distance to weigh point and course!

With a grin, Stefano explained, ‘I did the log at 11pm.’ I then realized that I had been asleep for quite a while. Oppps.

Sailing from Greece to Sicily

Sailing from Greece to Sicily

Not long after, my husband, Simon, (pictured above) was in the cockpit until 3am and Stefano took over from 3am to 6am. Once again, Simon took over. After midnight I went to my bedroom and cuddled up with Sienna. We allow her sleep in our bed during night sails so she looks forward to them rather than not. She see’s it as a treat to sleep with her mom and it gets her focus away from nighttime rolling, noises and disturbances.

Saying that, Sienna could sleep through an air raid if it occurred

The following day, the wind started to die so we got our jennaker out. It’s a very thin sail that can be used with winds blowing between 10 and 15 knots. Using our heavy genoa, the sail would flap and fail to fill up with wind whereas our jennaker fills up perfectly and let’s us gracefully sail in light winds.

We have around five additional sails on board and that’s on top of our main and genoa (front sail). The jennaker is kept in our forward berth (bedroom). To get the jennaker out, we simply pull it up through the forward hatch and then attach it to the various points, unfurl (unroll) it and trim as appropriate.

Our jennaker is blue and white and adds a bit of color to our journey. With the jennaker and the light winds I felt as if we were in a fairytale. As far as the eye could see there was no one and no thing – no another boat and no land.

Unbelievably, however, 120 nautical miles out from Greece, with no land in sight a rather large bird started to swoon us

First of all, I was surprised to see a bird at all. Second, I darn near died when Simon yelled out, ‘It’s an owl!’

What the heck is an owl doing during the middle of the day circling us – a boat in the middle of nowhere? In my usual moron fashion, I started to yell out ‘whoooo, whoooo,’ to let the owl know that he or she was welcome to rest on our boat. We often get birds stopping on Britican for a while to regain their strength to carry on.

On our trip from Malta to Sicily a homing pigeon actually landed on the boat and then got on top of my back while I was trying to take a nap on the aft deck! Read Sailing from Malta to Sicily including an amazing sunrise, two stow-aways, seasickness starting with Force 2 winds rising to Force 8!

Sailing from Greece to Sicily

Sailing from Greece to Sicily

Needless to say, the owl didn’t stop, however we did have two finches rest on our safety lines and one robin stopped by a few times to say hello

We put out breadcrumbs and a little dish of water. Either the birds were migrating or they, perhaps, were on a tanker or cruise ship and found themselves stuck out at sea? I’m not sure. We’re always happy to accommodate new guests – as long as it’s not a giant squid – the one that my mother warned me about after watching a National Geographic special.

Sailing from Greece to Sicily

Sailing from Greece to Sicily

Aside from our flying friends, we also watched three pods of dolphins go by

They all seemed to be feeding so they didn’t sail along the bow like the usual do. One pod did come over to say ‘hi’ but quickly carried on. I tried my best to get a picture but they all seemed to be swimming very fast!

We also spotted a couple massive turtles just floating along. Every time I see them I feel as if they’re just ‘going with the flow.’ It doesn’t look like they have the ability to navigate very well – they just flow by looking unconcerned about anything. Furthermore, I always see them alone. I wonder if turtles get lonely?

Sailing from Greece to Sicily

Sailing from Greece to Sicily

Half way through our trip the wind died completely

The Ionian Sea was a millpond. Admiral Stefano said that in the 40 years of being on this sea he’s never seen it so calm. The forecast called for very little wind, but there was nothing. Not even a breathe of air coming from any direction.

Sadly, the decision was made to turn the engine on after 23 hours of sailing. We all discussed that it would be a good thing to give the engine a good running-in and ensure that all the fixes were, in deed, fixed.

Sailing from Greece to Sicily

Sailing from Greece to Sicily

Sailing from Greece to Sicily

Sailing from Greece to Sicily

Sailing from Greece to Sicily

Sailing from Greece to Sicily

The engine went on and we motored along across the flat calm Ionian Sea

For lunch we had a lovely potato salad that I pre-prepared and a tossed salad. When I made the shepherds pie, I just added more potatoes than needed and used the extra for a potato salad. And of course, we had bread with olive oil and salt. Stefano has turned us all into Italians!

During the course of the day we chatted, read books, watched some cartoons or did some watercolor paintings (with my daughter) and I gave myself a pedicure. I also decided to do my daily audio meditation on the forward deck – I listen to these great meditations on ‘going with the flow,’ ‘being a playful parent,’ or ‘radiating unconditional love’ – I love a dose of woo woo stuff every day.

Sailing from Greece to Sicily

Sailing from Greece to Sicily


Heck, it was flat calm – I could have done one-legged yoga balancing poses if I wanted to but that would have been far to ambitious!

When dinner approached I heated up the chicken soup and made some garlic bread cubes – I suppose they’re homemade crotons. You toast bread and then rub fresh garlic across both sides and then cut into cubes. Another excellent addition to my culinary skills from Stefano.

I was exhausted from doing nothing all day so around 9ish Sienna and I cuddled into bed and drifted off to sleep. Simon and Stefano did their three hours on and three hours off. Throughout the night I’d wake up and go check to see if the person on watch wanted a coffee or something to eat.

Sailing from Greece to Sicily

Sailing from Greece to Sicily

Around 4pm the following day and after two failed attempts to reel in a big fish, we made it safely to Syracuse, Sicily

Just as we anchored the wind started to blow and would you believe that it was too windy to leave the boat? We had over 24 hours of no wind and then the time when you want it to be calm, the wind decides to blow!

Sailing from Greece to Sicily

Sailing from Greece to Sicily

Our intention was to get off the boat and go to a birthday party for Stefano’s 4-year-old nephew

Further, we wanted to get off and get ourselves a big bowl of pasta and a cannoli or two. Instead, the three adults enjoyed some cheese and crackers along with a beer/wine. Stefano and I went to bed at 8pm and Simon put Sienna to bed later. Sailing definitely makes me sleepy.

Sailing from Greece to Sicily

Sailing from Greece to Sicily

In the end, we were all pleased to see that the engine ran like new

I was also impressed with my food preparations. Up until this trip, my cousin cooked and prepared meals for long-ish journeys. I felt proud of myself for cooking – in my previous land-based life, the kitchen was not a room I frequented.

The plan is to now head to Marina diRagusa along the southeast cost of Sicily where we’ll stay put for the winter amongst several other live-aboards. I’ve been told that there’s quite a nice community there and I look forward to discovering yet another new chapter of our amazing around the world adventure.

Go to Santorini Island in Greece but leave your sailboat somewhere else!

Santorini Island Greece

Santorini Island Greece

I’ve lost track of how many Greek Islands I’ve been to this year – maybe 25 or 30. Earlier this year my husband, Simon, daughter, Sienna (age 4) and I sailed around the Ionian Islands, through the Corinth Canal to Athens and then all around the Aegean Sea on our 56’ sailboat.

Sailing through Greece over the summer was a dream come true

In the Aegean we hit the Sporades, Northeast Aegean, Cyclades, Dodecanese, Crete and Argo-Saronic Islands. We were also fortunate to visit several places along the Peloponnese and mainland Greece.

Santorini Island Greece

Santorini Island Greece

That being said, the most beautiful Greek destination I laid eye’s on was Santorini

Unfortunately, however, anchoring or finding a mooring in Santorini is near impossible. If you have a skipper or crew able to take command of your boat, you can take a dinghy to the small fishing port below the town.

There are four large mooring pillars outside the fishing port, as noted in the pilot book, however they’re for very large vessels. You have to tie yourself to the pillar and then run a very, very long line to the shore ensuring that you don’t spin. More than one vessel can use the mooring pillars and it’s not advised that you leave the vessel once tied on.

Our 56’ sailboat was too small to even consider tying onto the mooring pillar

Santorini Island Greece

Santorini Island Greece

On a few occasions Simon and I discussed sailing to Santorini in the hopes that we’d be able to find a place to anchor. One day we actually set sail for the island but diverted to Crete due to more favorable winds and the guarantee of a place to stay for the night!

Once we were in Crete I thought all hope was lost

I was never going to visit the famous Greek island of Santorini. I thought, ‘oh well – perhaps next year!’

As fate would have it, a friend of ours, Admiral Stefano (shown below), flew into Crete to join us for a while. We started to discuss our passage back towards Italy and I just happened to mention that I was disappointed to miss Santorini.

Santorini Island Greece

Santorini Island Greece

And that’s when Stefano said, ‘let’s go to Santorini and then we’ll make our way west towards the Peloponnese and then over to Italy. The winds are perfect for us to go North and then West.’

The smile on my face was massive

We set sail from Crete in the afternoon estimating that we’d arrive in Santorini the following day. Fortunately, Stefano and Simon took the night shift and Sienna and I slept most of the way to our destination.

When I awoke we were on the South side of Santorini heading to the North side to find a place to drop us off. Stefano offered to drive the boat around for a few hours while Sim, Sienna and I explored the town. Stefano made a visit to the island several years ago so he was happy to let us experience the island for ourselves.

Santorini Island Greece

Santorini Island Greece

We lowered our dinghy, motored over the extremely small fishing port and climbed up onto land

A big sign said, ‘Donkeys,’ so we followed the signs. Above us was a massive cliff with a winding path to the top.

When we arrived at the donkey station there were a bunch of old Greek men that looked as if they’ve lived outdoors their entire lives. We motioned to the donkeys and it didn’t take long for all three of us to be sitting on one. Simon took Sienna and I had a donkey all to myself.

Santorini Island Greece

Santorini Island Greece

I assumed that someone would lead the donkey up the hill but we were left to our own devices!

There wasn’t even a rein. You just sat on the donkey and hoped it went forward. We made it a few steps around the first turn and Simon’s donkey stopped. We both tried to lightly kick the donkey, like you do with a horse, but nothing worked.

After a few minutes some other people with donkeys came up behind us and ours started to move again.

A snail could have climbed the hill faster than we did!

That being said, it was the best 5 euros we’ve ever spent. Trying to get the donkeys to go forward and then ‘racing’ others was hysterical. I had a smile the entire time. And the view…Oh-my-gosh…the view as we climbed the hill was breathtaking.

We could see the gorgeous blue sea, the crater of the volcano, cruise ships, and loads of sailboats. I was in heaven.

Santorini Island Greece

Santorini Island Greece

Once at the top, I felt the pressure to see everything quickly as we only had a few hours

I also felt tired, hungry and thirsty. None of us slept very well – I never sleep good when we sail overnight. And I needed a hit of caffeine.

We stopped at the first restaurant overlooking the sea and ordered a few crepes and coffees. My eye’s were smiling just as much as my stomach was. The views were out of this world. I kept thinking, ‘I’m so freaking grateful to have had the opportunity to see such lovely sights.’

We then walked around looking at the shops, exploring the views from different vantage points and soaking up the atmosphere.

Santorini is such a remarkable place

Santorini Island Greece

Santorini Island Greece

Yes, it’s massively touristy

Yes, it’s expensive – our 3 crepes 2 coffees and a juice cost 40 euros. And yes, it’s full of foreigners. HOWEVER, it’s like no other Greek island. It’s like no other place that I’ve ever been to. Santorini truly is a special place.

While enjoying our meal we watched our boat motoring around the central volcanic crater

Santorini Island Greece

Santorini Island Greece

My husband and I reflected back to where we were the same time last year. If someone told us that we’d be in Santorini while a retired Admiral circled around waiting for us in our own 56’ Oyster yacht, we would have said, ‘no freaking way!’

This time last year we hadn’t yet sold our house and possessions nor had we purchased our around-the-world-sailing vessel.

In fact, we had no idea that we’d be signing up to such an adventure

Santorini Island Greece

Santorini Island Greece

Anyway, after walking around and seeing all that we could see, we found a bakery so to get Stefano bread. He’s Italian and feels out of place if there isn’t at least one loaf of bread laying around!

Santorini Island Greece

Santorini Island Greece

We grabbed some lovely fresh bread and then took the gondola from the top of the cliff to the bottom

The ride down was just as exciting as the donkey ride up however much quicker.

Santorini Island Greece

Santorini Island Greece

Our whirlwind viewing of Santorini was for 4 hours only but it was an exceptional four hours

My family and I are so grateful that Stefano motored the boat around while we took in the sights. And I’m over the moon that I was able to see the most spectacular Greek island ever.

Santorini Island Greece

Santorini Island Greece

Do I recommend that you visit Santorini – YES!

As a side note, Simon and I sailed to Crete with the intention of taking a ferry to Santorini. We assumed it wouldn’t cost much as the islands aren’t that far away. To our surprise, for a day trip it cost over 120 euros each person and that included four hours on a ferry. Knowing we could sail there for free caused us to decline the day trip option.

There might be other islands with secure anchorages that have a ferry service to Santorini – perhaps Kos? If you want to see the island, make sure to plan ahead as it is definitely worth sorting something out.

The trials of a new boat owner – a tale of coincidence, corruption and contempt for the marine industry

My mind feels all jumbled up. There’s so much I want to say but I’m not sure if I can take the jumble and detangle it. The events of my life over the past few months as a new boat owner seem to be guided. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think that there’s an angel looking out for my family and I. Something has somehow prevented us from serious engine failure. More on that to come…

Every day we wake up not knowing what the day will bring us and to our on-going surprise, the most bemusing situations befall us.

A coincidence here and there is one thing – coincidences every day is another

If our recent plan came to fruition, we’d be sailing up the east coast of Italy on our Oyster 56′ sailboat for a visit to Venice. And after a quick tour of mainland Italy, hubby, my 4 year old daughter and I planned to lay the boat up in Sicily to get necessary repairs done over the winter.

Generally speaking, however, our plans never play out the way we think they will – I’m begining to realize that that’s the sailors way

In my short 6 months of being a new boat owner live-aboard sailor I’ve quickly learned the skill of flexibility and flow. To be a happy sailor, you must drop your need for achievement. And in this context, I mean getting to a destination or having a plan come to fruition.

Try as you might to get to destination A – if the winds, weather or engine gremlins get in your way, you’ll surely end up in destination B – if you get to any destination at all!

Furthermore, things change all the time

We often think we’ll stay in once place for 2 days and it extends to 9 days. Once we stayed 2 weeks longer in a particular area because we ran into good friends and couldn’t pull ourselves away from them.

On another occasion, hubby and I tried several times to sail to Santorini, the one ‘must do’ island on my Aegean bucket list, but the winds wouldn’t allow us to go. Incidentally, however, we did eventually get the island when the weather was perfect AND we had a crewmember on board to man the ship while we toured the island. Everything worked out perfect and had I become upset that we missed Santorini it would have been wasted energy.

I no longer even speculate about where we might be in 2 days time – thinking about it is futile

So instead of sailing up the coast of Italy, I’m now moored up along a hard in mainland Preveza, Greece watching all sorts of engine and generator pieces and parts leave our sailboat. An example is below…

New Boat Owner

New Boat Owner

Totally unexpected, we’re having a complete overhaul of our engines in addition to serious fixes made to our rigging

To put things bluntly, our generator and engine have not been property serviced since the boat was built 11 years ago. The injectors have never been taken out and looked at. The heat exchangers have never been cleaned. Some of the anodes have never been changed. The diesel pump has never been opened. And that’s just naming a few of the issues.

When taking the heat exchanger off the generator, our engineers found almost a kilo of salt in the tubes and 2 impeller blades

The whole unit was completely clogged up and the anode crumbled like a cookie.

Furthermore, all the safety components to shut the engines down were decommissioned

For example, instead of our generator turning off if it overheats, the sensor was disabled so it would carry on running.

Previous to buying the boat, we were given the receipts for the services and a log of previous maintenance.

Either the receipts were fake or the previous owner paid a lot of money for nothing

The receipts we have are from a marine servicing shop in Palma de Mallorca and one of the listed items is: “Drain cooling water, dismantle heat exchanger, pressure test in workshop, clean, assemble and fit to generator.” That was clearly not done last year.

We did the right things – or at least we thought we did. We had a marine surveyor spend around 12 hours looking over our boat with a fine toothcomb. He told us there were issues but nothing out of the ordinary.

Is it only me that thinks it’s strange that a marine surveyor didn’t realize the engines were in such a bad state?

When taking various bolts off the engine/generator (holding the injectors, water cooling system, etc.) the paint chipped off indicating that the bolts have never been loosened!

In the course of 6 months, we’ve had over ten ‘engineers’ look at our engines due to leaks, failures or malfunctions.  A few of them suggested we simply needed new engines…that “they are worn out”. If any of the engineers took the time to look deeper into the engines they would have realized why there were issues.

The whole reason we purchased an Oyster was due to the quality, craftsmanship and reputation of the boat

Having a child with us, safety is number one on our priority list and an Oyster is known to be one of the safest (and heaviest) boats there is. And a Perkins engine is one of the best engines there is – if maintained correctly, it will go forever.

I find it so hard to believe that someone (the previous owner) would have paid so much for a boat and then failed to take care of it. Then again, we’ve been sailing around for 6 months assuming everything was up-to-date but it was far from it. Ultimately, we are like the previous owner – ignorant to the state of our equipment.

To say that I feel stupid, vulnerable and inexperienced is an understatement

How could this happen? How could we get so far without knowing/realizing that our home was cracking underneath us? How could such an expensive sailboat be mishandled so badly and for so long? How could so many engineers look at our engines and fail to express the dangerous state it was in?

Perhaps the majority of the marine world is full of sharks?

Engineers can create a quick fix; send you one your way and they know that the next time it breaks you’ll be far, far away. I’d really hate to believe that the bulk of the industry is that disingenuous.

But our current engineer that we serendipitously met, took ten minutes looking at our engines and riffled off all the problems immediately

He explained that the reason the others didn’t mention various things could have been because the jobs are very time-consuming, dirty and there is very little space to work. He said it’s easier to tell you to get a new engine – they make more money and don’t have to do any of the messy stuff.

In fact, I’ve discovered that it’s common practice for marine engineers to tell you that you need a new engine, pull it out, fix and sell it on and then sell you a new engine. The engineer makes profit on the old engine and the new.

Before meeting our new engineer hubby and I were trying to figure out how we could afford new engines

Heck, we’re going to sail around the world! We need engines that are going to work for us. The cost of what we needed would reduce our travel budget by at least one year. In other words, we’d have to come home one year earlier to pay for the new engines.

But something in me kept thinking, ‘that can’t be right.’ Our engines cannot be that bad. Diesel engines are supposed to last forever.

We naively thought that we’d get a boat, learn how to sail it and maintain it – we’d make sure everything was working well and then once we were confident, we’d leave our backyard (the Mediterranean) and head out around the world.

Through all our various minor problems, the confidence in our engines reduced by the day

We’ve always been willing to stop for a while, sort out the problems properly and then get going again, but until now every engineer failed to come up with a solution or take the time to actually look at the engines properly.

In Palma we had engineers look at the engine to make sure we’d be good to go for our trip to Gibraltar. From Girbraltar we paid engineers to look at our engines before our trip to Malta (850 miles). How is it that neither of these places looked at the fuel and water-cooling systems? HOW?!?! I’ve learned that it’s not even hard to look. Yes, it’s hard to repair/fix but to look is relatively easy.

Be forewarned about Palma and Gibraltar marine engineers

When taking our Diesel Marine Engine course our teacher told us that we needed to watch engineers work. He showed us how long it takes to clean a water cooler/heat exchanger unit and stressed that we needed to make sure they do it properly. He mentioned that most engineers run pipe cleaners down the tubes (if that!) pushing the gunk to the end rather than taking the unit off, soaking in acid and removing the gunk from the circuit.

Now I realize that our teacher wasn’t kidding

When our generator water cooler was taken off today, it was filled with a solid mass of gunk. Our injectors are all covered in carbon. The list goes on.

New Boat Owner

New Boat Owner

To keep myself from crying, I mentioned to our current engineer that we must have one hell of an engine and generator for them both to still be going! He agreed with me and confirmed that we do, indeed, have angels looking after us.

What was the sequence of events that brought us to this new engineer in Preveza, Greece?

In June, our hot water heater developed a small leak and then turned into Niagara Falls. A reader of my blog, and a 56’ Oyster owner also, gave me the name of a contact in England that helps Oyster owners source parts – a great guy named Andy Willett from Willett Marine.

After emailing Andy in a panic over the weekend, not only did he help us find a replacement but he talked us through rerouting our fresh water supplies so we could use our taps.

Furthermore, Andy helped us to find someone in Greece that could help us install the new boiler

After a couple months, we eventually arrived in Kos Marina, Greece where Andy’s contact, Pierre, was waiting for us with our new boiler. Pierre not only helped to install our new boiler, but he changed a broken areal, installed new waterproof speakers, taught us how to grout the teak, changed a water tap, put a new water pump in, demonstrated how to clean the chrome and what supplies to use. The list goes on…

Throughout our time with Pierre he was so helpful and genuine. In his French accent he would say, ‘That is shit,’ if he thought so. I painted the windows as there was a rust issue and hubby got the wrong paint – gloss. Pierre let me know that he didn’t think it was good and told me what to do instead. I liked his attitude about things – he told us how he saw things. Furthermore never did we feel like we were paying too much. His prices were reasonable – they were normal.

Keep in mind I’m still talking about a sequence of events here

So fast-forward to September when we pick up a friend in Crete – Stefano Luezzi, a retired Italian Naval Admiral and ex helicopter pilot. We met Stefano while sailing in Sicily in April where he became our Italian angel. He helped us with so many things I can’t even list them on one page. If he wasn’t helping us with translations, he was teaching us to sail or cook spaghetti. He took us on road tours (Mount Etna for one) and sailing through the Aeolian Islands, north of Sicily. Stefano helped us sail to Stromboli volcano at 3am so we could see an eruption!

We’ve adopted Admiral Stefano as part of our family, so having him on board was a real honor

We sailed to Santorini, along the Peloponnese and eventually to the Ionian Islands. While sailing to Leftkas Island our main halyard broke and my husband, Simon, spots oil in the bilge.

WTF is all we can say

WTF, WTF, WTF!?!?! (Grandma, if you’re reading this, WTF means ‘what the freak’”) Why are these things happening to us?!

Simon thinks about whom he can call and tries Pierre in Kos first. Perhaps he knows someone in the area? Wouldn’t you know it – Pierre has a great contact near Leftkas. Simon makes the phone call and within a couple hours, a new engineer is on board while we’re moored up in the middle of Spinola bay.

Interestingly, the new engineer is Italian and an ex-helicoptor pilot, amongst many other talents

As you can imagine, Stefano was happy to meet up with someone with so many things in common.

Simon explained our issues to the engineer, Andrea, who inspected the engine and made a phone call about our rigging. All the while, I was down below making videos with my daughter. She was a Hello Kitty newscaster reading the news.

New Boat Owner

New Boat Owner

Next thing I know, there’s three new Italian people on our boat

Two going up the mast, one looking at the engine. I thought, ‘where did all these people come from – we’re in the middle of a bay!’ I also thought, ‘keep speaking Italian, it sounds so amazingly lovely!’

New Boat Owner

New Boat Owner

What happened was Andrea called a rigging specialist – no, he’s not a rigging specialist…he’s a world famous sailor, who happened to be sailing by teaching a group of 8 people about advanced skippering. Have you heard of Vittorio Malingri? If you haven’t, he’s one of the most respected sailors in the world. One of his accolades is sailing single handed around the world in the Vendèe Globe race. (The above picture is Vittorio and his amazing son, Nico)

My husband later relayed to me that Vittorio came into the busy harbor under sail and actually anchored without turning the engine on. I think when he left, he did so under the same conditions.

The guy is amazing

Anyway, Vittorio is friends with Andrea and even though he was teaching a course, he took a detour as we needed serious help. After a couple hours of going up and down the mast, a temporary solution was created HOWEVER, the work we had done on the mast in Malta and later in Catania, Sicily was inadequate.

It seems like we had ‘experts’ repair something that works for aluminum masts rather than carbon fiber masts…apparently, there’s a big difference. Carbon fiber is a rather new material in the sailing world so let this be a lesson if you have it – you need to find someone that knows about carbon fiber.

After Vittorio looked at the problem, he could see an easy solution and it wasn’t expensive

Vittorio explained however that the small thing could cause massive issues and even damage the rigging beyond repair. Apparently, we were very lucky to catch the issue now.

As you can imagine, I was now thinking WTF, WTF, WTF in a different manor

I was thinking, how the heck did we end up in this particular bay at this particular time to get access to the people we need that will help us most?!

Later, I discovered that Andrea is quite a busy person. He has seven boats lined up to do now, manages 70+ boats already and took us on simply because we knew Pierre. Apparently, Andrea gets flown all over the world by his clients because he actually does the right thing!

So, we’re now moored up next to Andrea in Preveza, Greece

New Boat Owner

New Boat Owner

For the past couple days another engineer comes and helps him take pieces and parts off

From what I’ve been told bits of our engine are in Athens now – I think our turbo is there being looked over. Other bits are being cleaned in some kind of solution. For all I know, our engine and generator are all over Greece.

And each day, Andrea teaches us how to take things off, what to do to service various items

He says, ‘Engines are very easy to look after. The main things to maintain are the fuel and water systems. If you keep on top of maintenance, engines will run forever.’ The picture below is Andrea teaching my husband how to solder some lose wires.

New Boat Owner

New Boat Owner

Yesterday, after a ½ hour of our Andrea ‘yelling’ at me for allowing our engines to be in such a bad state, he explained that he’s cleaned the generator – the outside. And that he’s going to clean the engine and repaint them. He then explained, ‘I will only clean your engines once. If you come back to me and they’re dirty, I will not help you!’ YIKES…

I swore up and down that hubby and I wouldn’t let him down.

What have I learned from all this and what advice can I pass to you?

  1. If you haven’t purchased a boat yet, find a marine engineer, above and beyond a surveyor, and pay them to tell you what condition the engine is. Get one through recommendations and let them know that they won’t be the engineer fixing the engine. Perhaps by saying so, they’ll have no ulterior motive. (Look how cynical I am?) Better yet, if you can find a marine engineer that lives on a boat (like Andrea), get them to look at your engine or engines!
  2. If you have a boat now and you’re not sure about the state of your engine, I urge you to pay for a recommended engineer to spend a week taking things off the engine (or engines) and looking at them. Learn how to check the water-cooling system. Know where the anodes are and how often to check/replace them. Learn how to take the injectors out and determine if they’re okay or not. All of these things are very simple now that I’ve been shown how to do it.
  3. If you pay for servicing, I recommend that you watch everything the engineers do. If the water-cooling/heat exchanger system does not come off the engine, there is a problem – it cannot be serviced while still attached! When I’m more knowledgeable about all the things that should be covered I’ll write a more comprehensive list for you. As it stands now, I’m only part way through my training.
  4. Above and beyond all the stuff about the engine, I think the largest lesson I’ve learned is to trust in the flow of life. I know that probably sounds corny, but by not having set plans, everything seems to sort itself out. My husband and I knew that we needed to sort our engines out but we didn’t know how. Amazingly, life had a way of bringing us to the best place at the best time!

Every day we wake up and have no idea what will unfold…and by doing so the most amazing experiences take place

I’m 100% confident that we’re getting the best job for our engines for the most amazing price possible. The universe seemed to deliver us here and we didn’t put obstacles in its way.

When we leave our mooring hubby and I will know the exact state our engines. We’ll have a calendar of all the maintenance checks and we’ll have confidence that our engines will see us around the world.

I have so much more to say about the amazing service that we’ve received thus far but I’ll dedicate that to another article. If you’re ever anywhere near the Ionian Islands and need amazing help with your rigging and/or engines, I cannot recommend enough Andrea, Vittorio and their team of engineers.

Methoni in the Greek Peloponnese is a spectacular anchorage

Methoni Greece

Methoni Greece was a last-minute recommendation by my friend, Michalis, and I’m so pleased he gave me the heads-up. Let me back up a bit…

After we enjoyed the sights of the Greek Island, Santorini, our intention was to sail towards the southern Peloponnese, go around the bottom and head towards the Greek Ionian islands. Time permitting, the plan is to head up the Adriatic and hit Venice along with several other stops along the east coast of mainland Italy.

Eventually, we’ll return to Sicily where our boat will be placed in a marina over the winter for necessary repairs. We have a variety of problems with our generator and main engine, so before we even think of crossing the Atlantic they need to be looked at.

Anyway, my husband, our esteemed friend, Admiral Stefano, and I discussed places we could visit on our way along the Peloponnese. Fortunate for us, my friend Michalis sent an email telling us to check out Elefonisis and Methoni, so after a couple days in Monemvasia we headed for Elefonisis where we stopped for dinner in a lovely picturesque bay. I wanted to get out and explore but the boys explained that the winds were good for a night sail.

As Stefano says with his thick Italian accent, ‘when the winds blow we sail and when it doesn’t, we smoke a cigarette.’

The funny thing is that he doesn’t smoke! Perhaps it’s one of those ancient sayings that salty sea dogs like to give voice to? I find myself saying it to people now and they probably think I’m a moron.

Not long after eating the sausage pasta bake (click to get recipe) I created, the anchor was pulled up and we sailed through the night to Methoni. During most night sails, I go to bed with our daughter, Sienna, so that I can make sure she feels safe.

She loves night sails as it’s the only time she’s allowed to sleep in bed with me

I suppose it get’s her excited about sailing at night rather than annoyed. Lucky for her, she sleeps through the winch noises and the engine going on and off. For me, even the tiny noise of the auto helm can keep me awake!

Methoni Greece

Methoni Greece

Methoni Greece was a sight for tired eyes

My eye’s were delighted with the views of an ancient Venetian castle, a beautiful sandy beach and a very small quiet town. There were various patches of sand throughout the water making the sea look magical with varying degrees of blue’s and greens. Like so many places we visit, it was a little slice of paradise.

My husband lowered the dinghy and we all got on board to find a jetty to tie onto and go exploring

The plan was to check out the fortress and then find a place to enjoy lunch.

As we walked towards the Venetian ruin and rounded a corner I was in awe by the sight of such a grand structure. The walls were incredibly tall and the entrance was intimidating.

Methoni Greece

Methoni Greece

Methoni Greece

Methoni Greece

Once we entered the fortress, there was a very wide walkway taking us towards the sea

We entered the old market area and found an interesting column made from granite – a stone that is very foreign to the area. Apparently, the column was taken from a shipwreck! The history of the column itself must have been quite dynamic.

Methoni Greece

Methoni Greece

We walked toward the sea to find the structure that could seen from the boat

It is thought that it might be an old Turkish prison. As my husband is and ex prison officer, his curiosity was high.

Methoni Greece

Methoni Greece

Methoni Greece

Methoni Greece

Methoni Greece

Methoni Greece

2014-09-12 13.03.30 copy

2014-09-12 13.03.30 copy

The picture directly above was taken by Stefano – he managed to get our boat, Britican, in with me, Sienna and Simon. I think it’s a great shot!

The four of us walked through an entrance that had a portcullis – you could see where the gate would have been

We curved around a corner to see a walkway out onto a tiny island holding the prison. The stone work was incredible. I think back to the time when it’s inhabitants had no electricity, no machinery – just manual labor and it astounds me.

Methoni Greece

Methoni Greece

The views from the prison castle took my breath away

From every direction there was something beautiful to behold.

After taking in the sights from every corner possible, we started to make our way back to the little town. Everyone, including me, was getting very thirsty and hungry. The sun was hot and the air was dry.

Methoni Greece

Methoni Greece

Avoiding the more tourist looking restaurants, we settled on a Greek Taverna called ‘Rex’

The food was outstanding. It was simple, yet so fresh. I ordered cannelloni as I thought my daughter would share with me. Additionally, Stefano ordered a green and potato salad to share. And of course, there was loads of bread to share about. We all moo’d like cows with delight. Stefano ordered stuffed tomatoes for his main and after finishing, tried to order one more as he couldn’t get enough. Unfortunately, they didn’t have another one.

I couldn’t understand why everything tasted so amazing

At first I thought perhaps I just needed food to recover from the night sail, but later when I went in search of the bathrooms I discovered a large garden. I think many of the ingredients used were from the garden! Nothing is better than fresh vegetables.

When leaving, we asked the restaurant owner to direct us to the Bakery

Unfortunately, it didn’t open until 5pm and we were going to leave the area. The owner went into the kitchen and grabbed a loaf of bread for us. He wouldn’t take any money for it. We did, however, hear his wife yelling that he wasn’t allowed to give out any more.

This type of kindness has been shown to us everywhere we go!

Methoni Greece

Methoni Greece

On our way back we took a tour of the area in the dingy and Stefano jumped off part way to swim back to the boat. I wonder if he would have started swimming sooner had he eaten another stuffed tomato?

Overall, Methoni is a wonderful stop if your travelling along the southern Peloponnese

We enjoyed the sights, the food and getting a bit of exercise after such a long sail.

Victor’s Green Bean Salad Recipe

Victor Tranello

Victor Tranello

Both my mom and step-father (pictured above), Victor, are great cooks. Whenever I visit home there are a few family specialities that I always ask for.

One of those special dishes is Victor’s green bean salad recipe

For the past 25 years I’ve relied on Victor to make the salad. Never did I consider doing it myself…that is until today! We’ve been in Greece for 5 months and I’ve had my share of tomatoes, cucumber, red onion and green pepper! The selection of vegetables is very limited in Greece, however whatever you can get tastes amazing.

While shopping yesterday I noticed some good looking beans

Usually I don’t buy the long wide beans as I prefer string beans…but beggars can’t be choosers. I grabbed the beans and thought, ‘I’m going to have a go at Victor’s green bean salad!’

Below is the video where I explain how to make the amazing dish and following that is the recipe. If I only knew how easy it was to make all these years I would have made it all the time! Victor always seemed to spend so long on it but I think it’s because he had to make sure the garlic was cut in perfect microscopic squares.

Further, the Britican Galley Italian Blend (a link to my online shop will open if you want to buy the blend) really shines in this recipe. It’s a perfect mix of herbs!

Email me at for the recipe 🙂

If you try this green bean salad recipe out, please remember to come back and let me know what you think!

When I thought things couldn’t get any worse, they have – looks like we might have fried our propeller shaft

Stern Gland

I didn’t pay enough attention during my Diesel Marine Engine Course and I didn’t research the most important things to know before taking over a second hand boat.

Yes, we had a 35’ Moody sailboat for a couple years but the systems contained within where simple. In fact, everything was relatively easy. We did the standard maintenance ourselves and then paid someone to give the engine a look over every year.

Furthermore, we never ‘wintered’ the boat as we used it year round. We simply took good care of her and she took good care of us. We’d bring her out of the water, do the antifouling, change the anodes and so forth. Furthermore, when we received our boat, she was old but in good shape.

Our small thirty year old 35’ sailboat was a walk in the park compared to our eleven year old 56’ Oyster

Looking back and using hindsight, we should have found our own marine engineer, skilled in the electrical and mechanical aspects of diesel engines, and flown him or her out to the boat to inspect before purchasing. We should have done that in addition to getting the $2000 marine survey we paid for… but then again, we needed our money to buy the boat.

And then, in addition to that, we should have connected with some full time live-aboard cruisers and if money was no object paid someone to fly out to the boat and look over the whole thing – to go up the mast and look at the rigging, to check out the steering and propulsion systems, to go through the inventory and make sure that all the rigging was on the boat, to look at the expensive things to ensure they’re in good working order.

Unfortunately, for us, money is an object and we have a limited supply of it

We would have still purchased the boat, as we are totally in love with her, but at least we would have known what needed to be done to maintain the integrity of the systems.

Instead, we’ve been sailing and motoring around all summer with seriously congested engines, dangerous rigging and something so terrible that’ I’m embarrassed to admit it…

We’ve been sailing around the Mediterranean all summer with our stern gland packing box locked closed (I’ll explain what this is in a moment).

I can just hear all the captains of the world snickering thinking, ‘what a bunch of idiots. They know nothing. They’re going to sink that boat…’

Fortunately for you, I’m okay with having the sailing world laugh at me.

If I don’t write down our mistakes, what’s the sense of me writing anything?

Yes, most of our experiences are amazing and those are great to share, but it’s the massive errors that need to be shared. If we all share our good AND bad times, perhaps we can help others to avoid feeling like I feel right now! (I feel like the biggest idiot in the world)

Let me tell you about the stern gland on a boat

If you have an inboard motor that turns a shaft attached to an external propeller, that shaft will pass through a stuffing box, or stern gland. It is used to cool and lubricate the shaft while preventing water from coming into the boat.

On our boat the stuffing box doesn’t look anything like a box, but rather a set of round shaped clamps around the shaft (see top picture). Inside the ‘box’ is a thing called packing that really looks like wide waxy rope (see below picture). In our stuffing box, we have three lengths of wide rope set in a circle to be packed along the shaft.

Stern Gland

Stern Gland

The way it works is that you compress the stuffing box, and packing, so that enough water from the outside comes in to lubricate and cool the shaft, but not so much to sink the boat!

Depending on where you get your information, I’ve read that the drip rate should be 1 drop every minute to 1 drop every hour while the shaft is in operation and it shouldn’t drip when the engine is off.

Yes, the water does drip into the boat and it’s designed to do so

Stern gland

Stern gland

Aside from the stuffing box there’s also a grease aspect. On our boat, we manually turn a handle to force grease into the stern gland (see above). You’re supposed to do it every day if running the engine heavily or once a week with moderate use. You turn the handle until you feel pressure.

Faithfully, we’ve been doing this job but in our ignorance we didn’t witness the water drips. In our Oyster manual, it says that we need to see it drip once an hour. Can you imagine putting your head in the hull as you’re motoring along waiting for that one drip?

Needless to say, our stern gland was not dripping but we didn’t realize the implications

Previous to getting our boat, someone must have closed the packing box tight to eliminate the possibility of water entering the boat. If you’re going to leave your boat for a long time or when you winter your boat, you’ll want to tighten the box.


When we picked up the boat in Palma, Mallorca with our professional skipper, our broker asked if we had questions. We spent a few hours figuring out the mammoth electronic breaker board, finding the grey and black water tanks and outlets, pulling out all the safety equipment and so forth. Our heads were a mess.

Both hubby and I were excited and terrified at the same moment. Just looking under the floor boards in the saloon, we found 9 truck sized batteries running all sorts of things. We had a generator, engine, inverters, battery chargers, heating system, fridge and freezer systems and have you noticed I haven’t even mentioned the whole ‘how to sail the boat’ aspect?

I’ve come to realize that sailing the boat is the easy part!

Anyway, no one thought to check the stuffing box.

Yes, we turned the greaser like it said for us to do and we did this faithfully. I’d often look for a drip or water in the bilge and I think I did see it…but I didn’t understand what I was greasing or why water needed to drip.

So…all summer we’ve been overheating our propeller shaft

It’s a miracle we didn’t burn the boat up or completely destroy the shaft. When we pulled out our packing, it came out black – it’s burnt to a crisp. As I write this I’m still not entirely sure if our shaft is okay. We’re having it sorted out today (I think)! Thankfully, we have some amazing engineers helping us out 🙂

If you have issues with your stuffing box, the results could be catastrophic. We’re talking about a broken shaft or even massive amounts of water entering the boat.

All that being said, I’m not the only idiot out there…

As a side note, while researching information for this article, I discovered that I’m not the only person in the world that didn’t understand the existence or importance of a stern gland. Apparently, it has a very bad reputation for be an inferior piece of kit but that’s because the majority of boat owners don’t know how to properly service it.

Many boat owners keep pumping the sterngland with grease and completely fail to realize the importance of tightening the unit (supposedly 3 times/year) and repacking the stuffing (or rope).

Apparently, old packing material is the number one cause of problem leaking, and shaft wear and damage, as noted by Bears Marine Development (boating hardware specialists).

If you don’t spend the $20 on new packing the result could be $1,000’s on a new propeller shaft

It’s recommended to change the packing in the stuffing box every 2 years or sooner if there’s excessive leaking. Don’t just tighten the packing box!

So…come on – are there any brave souls out there that want to admit that they haven’t changed their packing in a while?

Sailing around the world isn’t fun when you’re not sailing around the world!

Sailing isn't fun when you're not sailing

Sailing isn't fun when you're not sailing

The other day someone put a post on Facebook saying that everyone shares the good and not the bad in their life. I think we’ve all been trained to present a version of ourselves to the world that shows we’re strong, successful and living life large.

And on the flip side, it’s implied to keep quiet about the version or ourselves that gets angry, feels rage or has a crap day.

Well…today and perhaps this past week I’ve been angry, often filled with rage and enduring crap days

I keep reminding myself that we’re in a temporary situation and it will all be over soon but just the same I still have to live through the 24 hours each day.

We’re on an adventure of a lifetime – we’re sailing around the world, however, we’re NOT SAILING RIGHT NOW! We’re laid up across from the town of Preveza, Greece with engine troubles.

Our generator, engine and even our outboard on the dinghy is out of commission

I can see Preveza but can’t get to it – the town is across the water from us. We’re actually stuck in a marina with two restaurants and a shop that sells 10 items.

There’s no place to walk to and there’s nothing to do

While on the boat, we have to listen to a massive crane haul boats out all day long. The crane drives up within 2 feed of the boat, blows exhaust and dirt all over us and makes a loud noise. Once a boat is hauled out, the attendants spray wash the hull and all you can smell is yucky fish smell. And look at the picture above – would you want to live in that mess?!?!

Alternatively, we can go hang out at the marina restaurant but the waitress there is the most miserable person I’ve seen in months. Perhaps she is a reflection of how I feel or even what I look like?

Things wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t have a 4 year old to entertain

We’ve been stuck for about 10 days and have perhaps 5 more days before we can leave. So far, my daughter, Sienna, has been great. Fortunately, I got over to Preveza one day and we found a playground (with other kids) and toy store. And for a couple days she had a friend to play with at the marina.

But to say that it’s been easy to come up with ideas on how to entertain my daughter, I’d be lying. We’ve done every paper craft for kids that you can find on Pinterest. We created a TV set and I recorded Sienna doing ‘Hello Kitty News’ – 15 times! We’ve played on the toddler playground (a tiny plastic play area behind the marina) as long as I can stand it. And now whenever I hear Sienna say ‘mom, can you play with me?’ I shutter.

The whole entertainment task starts at 8am and ends around 10pm. By the time the day is over there’s no time left for me to just be by myself. And I must say that Sienna does play by herself – sometimes for hours! And when forced, my husband will take her out for a while. But I think it’s the fact that I’m constantly ‘on call’ that I’m struggling with.

To have a whole day to myself would feel like absolute bliss.

This probably sounds ridiculously petty but it’s how I feel

As far as hubby is concerned, I often find him playing a game on the Ipad and feel enraged. The boat is a mess, there are loads of things to do and learn. And when someone isn’t directing him on what to do, he plays on the Ipad. My daughter never calls hubby to play…He talks to people walking by the boat, grabs a coffee with the guys or gets to focus his attention on learning about all the repairs we’re having done.

And if I don’t make anything for lunch, we simply won’t eat

We have one guest and my husband on board and if I don’t make anything for lunch, no one else does it. And when it comes to dinner, if I don’t make anything (or source the food and recipe for hubby to cook) we go out to eat.

Man…can I get any more bitchy?

Of course, there’s the cleaning aspect but in all honesty, I actually like to clean right now. It’s the only thing I can do where I’m alone. If Sienna wants to play, I have a valid reason for saying ‘no.’

“Sorry honey, I’m in the middle of picking up dust particles on the floorboards with my tweezers…It’s going to be at least an hour before I’m done!”

I suppose I could lock myself in my bedroom and say I’m cleaning and read a book instead but overall I feel like there’s so much to do that I can’t really relax. And when I do sit down and open a book, I hear, ‘Kim – can you get that black tape?’ I just want to yell, ‘Get it yourself,’ but I don’t.

And then there’s my writing and updating my blog, doing my emails, looking at Facebook and Twitter. When people see me on the computer, they quietly say, ‘she works too much.’ It drives me nuts because getting to do my website is my version of playing an Ipad game. I like to ‘work’ and yet I get criticized about it.

Then there is the guilt that comes in

Right now we are getting the most amazing service, making new friends and sorting out our fundamental boat systems once and for all. I should be grateful and feel full of happiness.

I am grateful. VERY GRATEFUL. But I’m not happy living through it. Originally, our engine work was going to be carried out when we made it to Sicily. I have arranged for Sienna to be around other kids, we’d have a car and places to go. We just happen to bump into some amazing people that are helping is in innumerable and invaluable ways. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity. So…I’m on an adventure of a lifetime.

I’m very grateful for the amazing help we’re receiving AND I feel like crap

Sometimes I like to write articles like this to demonstrate that everything is not perfect…and it helps me to let off some steam. Thank you for listening to my rant. I’m sure I’ll feel better tomorrow.

Our first fishing story – from the Ionian Sea to our dinner table

Our first fishing story

(make sure to scroll down to see our first fishing story video below)

Everyone started to look around. We were quietly sailing along Lefkas Island in the Ionian Sea doing around 6 knots. The sun was hot, the air was salty and the humidity heavy.

Our guest, Admiral Stefano, was helming. My husband was laying in the cockpit. My daughter was down below playing on the iPad and I was up on deck reading a book.

We kept hearing an odd sound every ten minutes or so. It sounded like a little kid screaming but we were too far away from land to hear people making noises.

“There it goes again….what is that?!?!?” I yelled out.

After scanning the environment I noticed that our fishing pole had a line out and something was on the end of the line! Earlier that day, Stefano put a lure on in the hopes that we might catch dinner. It was the third time we had a line in the water. None of us knew what it sounded like with a fish at the end of our line!

Suddenly, all us adults rushed to the back of the boat and the two guys took turns reeling in the line

Was it a tuna or perhaps just a plastic bag?

After a good ten minutes or so, the prize was landed – it was a Dolphin Fish (not to be confused with a dolphin!).

Stefano got the fish on board, quickly killed, gutted and cleaned it. I secretly thought, ‘Thank God I didn’t have to do that!” When I was younger I had no issue killing and cleaning a fish but now I have troubles killing a fly. The only thing that doesn’t bother me is terminating the life of a mosquito. Bloody mosquitos – I hate them.

The below video shows footage from the catch through to enjoying the incredible meal that followed

Admiral Stefano caught, killed, cleaned, cooked and served  fish to us aboard Britican! Can my life get any more magical? I hope you enjoy the ‘movie’ I created so you can experience our first fish story.

For all our Britican Galley recipes and videos, check out Britican Galley Archives.