The grey water drain switch is used to empty the grey water tank after using the sink or during the use of the shower. Grey water is used water from the sink/shower whereas black water is from the toilet.
All boats have pumps to pump the grey and black water out of the boat and into the sea. Some boats are fitted with holding tanks so the grey and black water can be stored; if the boat is in a marina for example, and then pumped off the boat when far enough out to sea.
Grey water switches often have an ‘On’ and an ‘Off’ position. Our particular switch has a plastic cover over the switch – presumably to remove the risk of an electric shock.
For over four months our grey water drain switch in the forward head worked in an intermitted fashion
If you pressed the switch to ‘On’ and then ever so slightly depressed the ‘Off’ side it would work okay. The issue with doing so is that you couldn’t simply press the switch ‘On’ and do other things while the drain/tank emptied – you had to stand near the switch and hold it in the right position for it to work.
As you can imagine, showering was a difficulty!
Trying to wash your hair, hold the switch and keep the shower water from spraying across the sink and toilet was a challenging task. In the end, we had to shower and then afterwards hang out in the head as we held the drain switch to pump the water out.
The ideal scenario would be to turn the switch to ‘On’ and it simply stayed ‘On’
Month after month I looked at the switch panel with fear. I noted the six screws that held the panel on and the various components that filled the panel – a black water tank indicator, the drain switch, a toilet fill and drain switch and a flush button.
My fear kept me from taking the screws off and looking behind the scenes
I thought, ‘what if I don’t know what to do?’ and ‘what if I electrocute myself?’ Isn’t fear totally debilitating? It causes you to live with situations that are completely unnecessary!
Anyway, one sunny day while talking to Andy, the owner of a sailboat services company, I mentioned my drain switch issue. To my amazement, Andy opened the skink cupboard, put his hand behind the panel and popped the switch out the front (see below).
He pulled the switch off – it was simply plugged in with standard electrical connectors – and told me to try plugging in a new switch
I looked at him and said, ‘OMG – Are you serious?!’ I felt like such a moron – if only I knew how easy it was to pop the switch out, I could have done it months ago. I didn’t need to unscrew the whole panel. I didn’t need to fear being electrocuted!
Lucky for me I had recently discovered a box of spare switches under the port cabin bed. With a giddy feeling, I pulled off the bed mattress, quickly removed the boards and started digging in the switch box.
‘Come on…come on…I know you’re in here!’ (I kept murmuring)
My desire to find a spare drain switch was massive. Knowing that I had the ability to fix something so annoying brought an immense shot of happiness my way. If only I could find a spare.
“Aha! Here one is…here’s a spare drain switch,” I screamed out with Joy
I jumped across the hall to the forward head, away from the mess I created, and started to examine the current switch. Knowing that I might get fuddled as to what wire connects to what connection, I took a photo.
Afterwards, I disconnected the suspected faulty drain switch and then connected the spare drain switch. It was almost as simple as putting a plug into an outlet.
I pushed the unit back into the switch board, looked up to heaven and mumbled, ‘Please let this work!’
I slowly depressed the switch to the ‘On’ position expecting it to go on for a few seconds and ‘Off’ when I removed my finger. To my delight, the drain pump went on and stayed on.
Yes, it’s a very tiny victory, but it’s a victory no less
Afterwards while cleaning up the mess I made ravaging through the spare switch box, I discovered a spare cabin light. Still feeling high, I grabbed a Philips head screwdriver and started unscrewing a completely corroded cabin light. I took a picture of the connections, removed the wires connecting the light and inserted the new wires from the new light.
Before screwing the light back to the wall, I tested out the light and it failed to turn on. I felt deflated for a bit but then I decided to check the light bulb. I swapped the current bulb for one that I knew that worked and once again, to my utter delight, the light turned on!
No…I’m not fiddling around behind the main circuit panel nor am I ready to rewire the boat!
I’ll save that for next month! I am, however, ready to face many of my fears rather than bury my head in the sand. I am ready to open things up and at least take a look.
When someone knowledgeable about boats is around ask them about your latest frustration. Chances are that it’s a very easy fix if you get a tip or two.
If something isn’t working, take it apart and look behind the scenes. If I took the drain panel off I would have easily spotted the ‘plug and play’ type switch and would have known that I had the ability to swap it for a new on.
Feel the fear and do it anyway!
So, perhaps you don’t need to know how to change a simple grey water drain switch in the head. But maybe there’s something small niggling you but you’ve put your head in the sand rather than investigating.
Go investigate! If I can do it, you certainly can 🙂
After a spending a few days in Kos Marina with another ‘kid boat’, we all decided to sail to the Greek Island of Simi. But before hitting Simi we stopped off at Knidos at the far western end of the Datca peninsula in Turkey. (If you look at the map below you can find Kos and then look to the right and below Turkey to find Simi.)
Just for clarification purposes, ‘kid boats’ are boats that have children on them
When you have a child or children you’re a ‘kid boat,’ and while sailing around you look for other ‘kid boats,’ so that the children can play together.
We met up with the ‘kid boat,’ ‘Why Knot’ several weeks back, kept in touch and then met again near Kos. After finding each other we then sailed around for a couple weeks enjoying each other’s company and allowing the children to play.
Anyway, back to sailing from Greece to Knidos Turkey
When sailing from Greece to Turkey, you are required to close out of Greece and then announce your arrival in Turkey. Each time you exit and enter a country there’s either paperwork to fill out and/or a payment to be made. Depending on where you enter Turkey, the cost to enter can be €20 or €250! Make sure you ask around before you leave Greece and enter Turkey. Different ports of entry require ‘agents’ and you’re often forced to pay them way more money than you would if you simply went to a customs official in another port.
Most people spend as much time as they can in Turkey or Greece and then cross over to the other country when they’re ready to spend a block of time in the other country.
It’s uncommon to see boats sailing back and forth between the two countries as the paperwork and fees cause issues
That being said, when we sailed from Kos to Simi, both Greek Islands noted on the map above, we stopped in Knidos, Turkey without booking ourselves in. This is not recommended – I’m sure there’s a fine associated to doing this if your caught. If asked, we rehearsed the excuse that we were ‘in transit’. I’m not sure if that excuse would work?!
As a side note, I’ve heard of several boaters who have entered Croatia unannounced and have been boarded by the Croatian officials. The officials must find boaters by AIS (tracking system) or radar and seek them out. I don’t think this is the case in Turkey but who knows.
Anyway, feeling a bit nervous, we entered Knidos Bay and my fears quickly subsided when I was blown over by the amazing scenery
The video above doesn’t do it justice but hopefully it gives you an idea as to what you’ll find at Knidos, Turkey. And after I did the video I took the time to look on a map to see exactly where we were 🙂 The video and pictures were taken in September.
The beautifully protected bay was partially surrounded by a mountainside and incredible ruins. Furthermore, there was quite a bit of greenery! The Greek Islands in the area are all very brown and barren so to see a bit of greenery was a treat.
I had to look twice when I noticed an amphitheater in plain view from the boat!
Heck, we’ve taken boats, buses and trains, spending hours traveling, to see an amphitheater so finding one on our doorstep was an absolute delight.
When we arrived, an attendant on the jetty waved us over. We wanted to go side-to the long pier but he motioned for us to go stern-to the end of the pontoon between two other boats. It was a tight squeeze but after a few minutes we were secured and ready to take a dip in the amazingly clean water.
Our friends, ‘Why Knot,’ moored up along the side of the pontoon and waited for us to settle in
After a journey there’s always quite a bit of tidying to do. We cover the sails, tidy the ropes, cover the instruments, clean up any messes made while preparing lunch and run the hoover around to make the living area look presentable.
While hubby and I were cleaning up, our daughter, Sienna, ran off and spent time with the two lovely girls on ‘Why Knot’. As we left the boat we noticed Garth and Elaine, ‘Why Knot’s’ owners teaching Sienna to swim without a life jacket!
We all got together, discussed ideas for dinner and worked out who was cooking what
Older Sienna (aboard ‘Why Knot’) took the time to teach me how to play backgammon and later took me and my Sienna on a rock jumping adventure to find sea snakes.
We all enjoyed great conversation, lovely food and beautiful surroundings
There were children all over fishing and swimming. A tavern/restaurant welcomed boaters in at the base of the jetty and just a hop, skip and jump away were the beautiful ruins.
Feeling a bit guilty and vulnerable for entering Turkey on the quiet, I didn’t put one foot on land. I felt as if touching land would be a big no-no so I decided to save my close-up inspection of the ruins for another day. From what I’ve been told, they’re well worth a visit.
Well, the bay is very secluded and it fills up quickly. I’d get there before 2ish to get a spot on the pontoon or even anchor in the bay. By the time the sun was setting there wasn’t an empty spot anywhere – on the pontoon or in the bay. As far as entering Turkey without telling anyone…I won’t tell the officials if you don’t!
Up until recently I never purchased anything other than skinless chicken breasts. I’m not exactly sure what my issue was. Perhaps I just didn’t know what to do with a full bird? Perhaps I didn’t like all the bones?
And I must admit that the saggy chicken skin freaked me out!
Needless to say, I’ve changed. This past year of sailing around the Mediterranean has really taught me so many things. Learning what to do with a whole chicken is just one of them. If I only understood the value for money and ease of cooking a chicken I would have embraced full-bird-cooking years ago.
Perhaps this is common knowledge to you, but for me, my enlightenment about buying a whole chicken has not only brought tasty meals my way, it’s also been a massive time and money saver. Getting a whole chicken in the Med costs around 3 – 4 euros! And one chicken makes three amazing meals.
So this is what I do to make three meals from one whole chicken
Chicken meal number 1 – Roast Chicken
For the first meal, I roast the chicken (pictured above – I just now pulled it out of the oven). I do this by stuffing it with quartered lemon wedges and thyme (if I have lemons and/or thyme). I then rub the bird with butter and put Britican Galley Chicken Blend (link will open another window at my online store) over the top. I place the chicken over cut up carrots, onions, celery and garlic. I don’t peal or remove the skin on anything as I discard the veggies. They’re just there to make the gravy tastier.
It takes all of 5 minutes to prepare. I cook the chicken for 1 1/2 hours. The herbs and spices make the chicken so yummy. For the gravy I put the bottom goop through a strainer and then return it to the oven on low heat. I add some flour, water, stock cube, and white wine (I add wine to everything!) and stir until I’m happy with the thickness and that’s it.
Chicken meal number 2 – Chicken Salad
With 1/2 of the left over chicken meat I make a mayonnaise based chicken salad. I cut up the chicken, throw in some celery, cranberry raisons (Craisons), red onion, walnuts and sometimes a bit of apple. I season with a touch of the Britican Galley Chicken Blend (link will open another window at my online store) , salt and pepper and then serve in a croissant or over a bed of lettuce. The cranberry raisons really make this dish amazing.
If we’re going for a long sail I make this salad up and store it in the fridge. When lunchtime comes I can quickly whip it out and make a sandwich or add it to a bed of salad leaves. Anything to reduce having to be in the galley and sailing at the same time – yes, I still get seasick!
Chicken meal number 3 – Chicken Soup
With the chicken carcass I put it in a pot, cover it with boiling water and then simmer it for as long as I can. The longer the better. Cooking the carcass breaks down all the amazingly good nutrients in the bones. After it’s been cooking all day, or as long as possible, I put it through a strainer and then return the liquid to the pot.
I then add any left over chicken and then the carrots, celery, zucchini, onions, spinach and any other veggie I can find in the fridge. I season with a couple chicken stock cubes, salt and pepper and 1 TB of the Britican Galley Chicken Blend (link will open another window at my online store) and cook until the veggies are to my liking. Sometimes I add rice or pasta too!
Usually I cook my whole chicken meals when we’re moored up in a marina and I have access to electricity from the jetty. Our oven runs off our generator and I wouldn’t want to run the generator for an hours – it’s annoying. As I write this we’re moored up in a marina in Sicily. It’s stormy, cold and damp. I couldn’t imagine anything better than roast chicken, chicken salad and chicken soup!
So that’s how I do my three meals from one whole chicken
It also lists all the herbs and spices in the Britican Galley Chicken Blend if you want to create the tasty mixture yourself:
On our recent 49 hour non-stop sail from Greece to Sicily, I decided to have a go at making a macromea bracelet. As a kid I remember making them back when I was in school so I thought a little refresher would remind me how to make them. After a quick look at some Pinterest boards on macromea my memory responded and I was on my way.
Interestingly, while making the bracelets I made a massive discovery
To my delight, I discovered that making bracelets kept my sea sickness at bay. I’m not kidding – as long as I was sitting in the cockpit doing my little knots I felt perfectly fine. Once I came to the realisation that I was feeling great I decided to keep making the bracelets! I now have over 25 of these bad boys and even if I have to throw them away the anti-seasickness effect was well worth the effort.
So, here is a step by step picture diagram on how to make a basic macromea bracelet. Once you make a couple of these you can increase the amount of string in the middle to make the bracelets wider and more manly if you so choose.
How to make a macromea bracelet
Before you get going I just want to apologise for the sunscreen drip on some of the pictures. It was so bright out when I took them that I didn’t notice the stain! The backdrop is our cockpit cushions!
Anyway, to start you need a total of four strings hanging from a pencil. I took two very long pieces of string, folded them in half and then looped them around the top of the pencil.
Step 1: Take the furthest string on the left and cross it over the middle two strings. Pick up the furthest string on the right (it needs to be above all the other strings) and…
Step 2: Loop it under the middle two strings and up through the space created by the left string. Essentially, you’re just making a simple knot like you do before you tie a bow.
Step 3: Hold the middle two strings and pull the knot tight. I either used my teeth to hold the middle strings or if it was long enough I sat on them (see top picture).
Step 4: You’ll notice that once you pull the knot tight one side will have a nice round vertical loop. That’s the side where you need to start from on the next knot. In other words, we’re going to do the same thing over but using the furthest right string to start rather than the furthest left string.
Step 5: Take the furthest right string and cross it over the middle two strings.
Step 6: Take the furthest left string go over the right string and then under the middle two strings and then…
Step 7: Pull the string that was on the left up through the middle of the hoop on the right to create yet another simple knot.
Step 8: Pull tight and then repeat from the top.
As I made quite a few of these macromea bracelets all in one go I realised that it’s best to pull the knot firm but not too firm. Furthermore, you want to keep the strings in the middle flat – otherwise if they roll on top of each other the bracelet won’t lay flat.
Also…to make the bracelets look even better you can attach beads, shells or little pebbles. You can also use different coloured string or thin ribbons. To get some inspiration, do a search for macromea bracelets on Pinterest and you’ll get all sorts of ideas.
So, that’s how to make a macromea bracelet AND if you’re like me, that’s how to ward of sea sickness on long voyages!
Every once in a while you meet someone special. Someone that goes above and beyond all expectations. Someone that fundamentally changes who you are and how you think.
For us, we’ve been privilege to meet several ‘someone specials’ this year. It seems that we’ve been massively rewarded for saying ‘screw it’ to our lives and trading them in for new ones…and perhaps, for going so far out of our comfort zones. Let me explain…
Instead of being the ‘idiot abroad,’ I’d class my husband and I as the ‘idiots on a sailboat.’
Now, I know I shouldn’t be so harsh on my husband and I but what we didn’t know far outstripped the few things we did know.
With very limited knowledge on boats and even sailing, we sold all our possessions, purchased a 56’ Oyster sailboat and embarked on an around the world adventure with our, at the time, 3 year old daughter earlier this year.
Many people thought we were nuts and even the UK newspapers called us terrible parents for taking our daughter out of a ‘normal’ life, but my husband and I wanted to change the way we lived our lives.
We were tired of the rat race, living closed up in a house, eating processed foods and failing to connect with nature and people
Furthermore, we wanted to bond as a family – to truly enjoy our daughters younger years together.
That being said, I’m thankful as to how naïve we were about our decision
I fear that if I knew then what I know now, I would have never said, ‘screw-it, let’s trade our land based life in for one on the sea.’ The learning curve has been overwhelming at times.
Interestingly, however, the universe seems to teach us what we need to know when we need to know it. Whenever our backs have been up against a wall and we didn’t know where to turn, someone steps up and shows us the way.
Throughout the year, whenever we needed help, someone appeared
Whether we needed someone to help translate for us, get our generator working (again!), show us how to trim our sails, take us to see real local life rather than the tourist traps, dive down to secure our mooring line to a more secure ‘anchor,’ or go up our mast to figure out why our main halyard wasn’t working correctly.
This list could go on for page after page. The things that Jim and Carole taught us alone could create a small book. Read: Couple sets off for a 3 year around the world sailing trip – 15 years later they’re still going!
Our first season sailing our boat has now come to an end and it finished on a momentous high
It finished with yet another person that has helped us in priceless ways and has become a new friend – a friend that I hope will be a friend forever.
Our new friend, Andrea, and my hubby, Simon
Let me tell the story as it’s a perfect example of the age-old adage of when you need a teacher, the teacher appears
While sailing around the Ionian Greek Islands, our main halyard broke (the rope that holds the main sail up) and my husband, Simon, found oil in the bilge below the engine.
We anchored in a bay, called a contact that recently helped us on other repairs 300 miles away. Simon asked if he knew anyone in our area that he’d recommend. Within minutes, Simon was arranging for someone to come out the boat.
Not long after the phone calls, hubby went to the shore to collect yet another engineer to look at our engine. Throughout the season our engine and generator had a variety of problems but Simon and I didn’t know where to start. Our plan was to have engineers do a massive service on them at the end of the season.
Little did we know that it wasn’t just another engineer that boarded our boat
Andrea Blasi boarded our boat and within a few minutes of looking at the engine, he started to real off a variety of things that were wrong. He also makes a call to his business partner, Vitorrio so to arrange for a look at our rigging. Please read the following article to really appreciate our ‘chance’ meeting with Andrea and Vittorio: The trials of a new boat owner – a tale of coincidence, corruption and contempt for the marine industry
After a few hours, we all decided that the best thing to do was to slowly sail the boat closer to Andrea and Vittorio’s base only a few miles away in Preveza, mainland Greece. Once there, we could get a firm idea on all the issues and create a plan to sort things out.
The next day, we made our way to Ionian Marina directly across the bay from Preveza, Greece
Andrea hopped aboard with another engineer and they start taking things apart. They quickly diagnosed a problem with our turbo and knew that it needed to be sent away for inspection. They also took off the diesel fuel pump and announced that it’s never been changed and doesn’t work correctly.
After looking at a variety of things, Andrea opened the heat exchanger on the generator and discovered that it was completely solid with salt, sludge and 2 impeller blades. As the duo kept pulling things off, they kept showing us the poor state of things. All of our injectors were completely caked with carbon.
While various pieces and parts were sent off to be serviced or taken back to workshop to be cleaned, Andrea taught us how to clean the engines
Both were covered in black dust, oil and soot. Looking back, they were in such a terrible state. We just didn’t know any better.
Andrea spent a day going through all the electrics showing us how to use a multimeter to test the continuity and fix any wires that weren’t working, burnt or corroded. Andrea demonstrated how to solder and then he’d pull it apart so that we could have a go at it.
He introduced us to new tools, solvents, equipment and techniques that would make our lives easier and help us to maintain our engines. Day after day, for three weeks, Simon and Andrea laid on the floor cleaning and inspecting. Once the engines were clean, Andrea pulled off any corroded parts and showed Simon how to repaint them.
Eventually, once all the parts were back and in place, Andrea and Simon repainted the generator
Before my eyes I saw an amazing transformation
Previous to meeting Andrea our engines looked like they were old, exhausted and ready for decommission. In fact, engineers in Sicily told us that they both had to be replaced! Now, they almost looked brand new. The above picture show shows the before and after images of our generator.
The day finally came when our Westerbeke generator was put back together and ready for testing. We all held our breath as the heat switch was depressed and then the start button was triggered. The sound of the engine was amazing – I know that it sounds silly, but the engine purred.
And the following day it was time to test the main engine – it’s a Perkins. Once again, we held our breath and when the start button was pushed, the engine turned on and we heard even more purring. It was music to our ears.
Image of the engine being put back together
Throughout the repairs, I read a boat maintenance book and kept asking Andrea questions to make sure we knew what needed to be done and where it was. At one point I asked Andrea about our stern gland. I had a niggle that there wasn’t something quite right with it. Read When I thought things couldn’t get any worse, they have – looks like we might have fried our propeller shaft to hear that story. Needless to say, Andrea showed us what was wrong and how to fix it. That’s all sorted now.
As if that wasn’t enough, while checking the electrics, Andrea became upset about the placement of one of the circuit boards
It’s located in the lifejacket locker where it can be nocked. Before I knew what was going on, Andrea was moving the circuit board to a more suitable place and getting a container to cover it so it wasn’t exposed.
Andrea also fixed our broken freezer latch, my Dyson hand-held vacuum (both shown above) that turned on and off intermittently and helped to get a stuck drawer unstuck. This will sound ridiculous, but having my Dyson fixed was better than any present I could ever received! After two years of having it go on and off as I vacuumed it now turned on and stayed on.
Not only did Andrea, and his dog Bonsai, spend time with us ever day for over 3 weeks but we also enjoyed dinner with him every night
Andrea took us to authentic Greek restaurants, cooked meals for us or joined us aboard Britican for meals. One night he made us homemade gnocchi’s – the BEST homemade gnocchi’s I’ve ever had (sorry mom!)
When Andrea offered to make us Tiramasu, I quickly asked, ‘Do you mind if I film it in Britican’s Galley?’ Andrea agreed and so you can learn how to make it too if you want! Watch the video here: Authentic Tiramisu aboard Britican
Andrea also took us grocery shopping, to chandleries and around the area to source items we needed for the boat.
After 3 weeks and a lot of chats, I felt as if I had known Andrea for my whole life. I came to realize that he doesn’t help people because he needs a job or money. He helps genuine people that genuinely want to take the time to learn about boats, boat engines and maintenance. He wants to pass on his many years of experience. Furthermore, my daughter, Sienna fell in love with him. We all truly felt as if we found a new member of our family. (Pictured above is our guest, Admiral Stefano, Sienna and Andrea all playing games around the table).
In the beginning of this article I started off by stating Andrea changed who I am and how I think…Let me expand on this:
How has Andrea changed who I am?
Where do I start? My husband and I are no longer idiots on a sailboat for starters. We’re no longer afraid of our engines. Andrea has given us more confidence and instead of fishing for us, he’s taught us how to fish. We now know exactly what we have to do and when we need to do it. Furthermore, if there is a problem we no longer fear touching our engines. Our heads have been pulled out of the sand.
I am no longer a silly girl that will ask an engineer to service our engines without me watching and knowing what should be done. If I get an invoice that my heat exchanger has been cleaned and I don’t see it removed from the engine, I pity the engineer that has to endure the wrath of Kim.
I am now a true believer that when the student asks for a teacher, the universe will deliver the teacher. Simon and I were desperate for help but we didn’t know what kind of help would be best. We needed someone to take the time to show us how to do things. Furthermore, we needed someone that didn’t require oodles of money.
How has Andrea changed how I think?
I no longer think that the generator cupboard or engine room is scary. I no longer think that the foundation of our ‘home’ is on shaky ground. I think our engines are in top condition and I know that between my husband and I we can work together to keep them in top shape.
I also think that the best people to help you work on our boat are people that live on a boat themselves. Did I mention that Andrea not only lives on a boat but he was actually born on a boat!? Boaties know the dangers involved with poorly serviced engines. They understand what it’s like to be in a Force 10 storm relying on their systems. Furthermore, they know how everything works together as a whole system.
Just a bit on Andrea as he’s an amazing person
He was born on a boat (pictured above) in 1955 outside of Gibraltar coming from Brazil with both parents being from Italian decent. His father was an architect and decided to build a one-off sailboat.
Andrea went to school in Italy, worked on fishing boats and started tinkering with marine engines at the age of 16. After a long stint in the Forces as an engineer amongst other things, he ‘retired,’ and over the last eleven years he started 3 restaurants, one near Rome in a shipyard, another one in Leros Island in the Aegean sea and one in Leftkas, the Ionian Sea…all of which he built up and sold.
Andrea enjoys the simple life – he loves mostly to clean a dirty engine
Throughout his whole life he’s owned over 15 boats to maintain, service and enjoy.
Currently, Andrea spends the summers on his 19th boat, African Queen. You’ll find her moored up across from Preveza.
So…if you ever find yourself sailing around the Ionian Islands and want to take some time learning and ensuring your engines are in top-notch condition, I urge you to contact Andrea. He’ll only offer to help out if you genuinely want to learn, so if you’re in hurry or think you have all the answers he’s not for you.
Furthermore, working in conjunction with Andrea is Vittorio Manlingri, Vendee Globe racer and ex boat builder amongst many other things
Andrea put us in touch with Vittorio and his son Nico to help us with our rigging. Not only did they finally sort out a 3 times reoccurring issue, but they fixed some very low cost but highly sensitive issues we had on our rigging.
Nico sewing a cover around our shroud
What was great is that Vittorio took the time to explain what was wrong, why it was wrong and how we can make sure to keep up the maintenance. Did you know that you’re supposed to go to the top of your mast every couple weeks? Do you know what to look for when you do? These key things Vittorio and his son taught us.
And Nico spent days up our mast repairing all our sail protectors on our shrouds
He spent hours with our guest, Admiral Stefano, making templates, sewing the protectors and then being hauled up the mast to fit them.
Starting from the left – Sienna, Me, Vittorio, Andrea, Nico and Stefano
Fortunate for us, we enjoyed an amazing meal of lentils made on Vittorio’s boat in addition to a few meals out at various restaurants.
Listening to Vittorio’s stories about leaving Italy with his family to sail around the world at the age of 16, racing in the Vendee Globe, capsizing a catamaran going over 50 knots/hour, boat design and his future plans were enthralling. Both Andrea and Vittorio have these amazing personalities where you just want to sit and listen to them talk forever.
What I’ve discovered is this…
There are marine engineers that are engineers because that is the career choice they made. And then there are marine engineers that are engineers because, for them, there’s nothing better in the world to do.
Andrea, Vittorio and their support team are serving people in the boating world because they love the boating world…and couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
If you can’t get these guys to help you out, my suggestion would be to find others that are similar. Find people that live on a boat and ask them for assistance before reaching out to those that live on land and only work on boats for an income.
Andrea, Vittorio and their full team work out of Preveza, Greece. To get in touch with them, your best bet is to email Andrea at: email@example.com or email me and I’ll send you their phone numbers.
And just one last note if you’re wondering about costs
For all the work we had done – the parts serviced and/or replaced in addition to the labor hours and all the extras that Andrea, Vitorrio and their team did for us we spent less than 1/2 of what a new generator would have cost us.
Come next year, if we didn’t meet these guys we would have wasted 10’s of 1000’s of euros on buying engines we did not need. As I’ve already mentioned, not only did they teach us to fish rather than fish for us but they gave us priceless confidence, a new friendship and saved us money.
Andrea’s Top Advice
When you buy a boat get to know the boat intimately. Understand how it works. If you don’t want to go in and tinker yourself…find someone that can walk you through it.
When you know there’s a problem do it now not tomorrow – don’t put your head in the sand
People that want to live aboard must be confident with mechanical things…You can do lots of things yourself so just get started. Pull things apart in a safe place and call for help only if you can’t find a solution.
Totally aside…I have a theory as to why we keep having these incredible life experiences
Back when we lived on land everything was predictable. We knew what our lives were going to be like. Now that we are out of our comfort zones, we’ve been forced to open up to whatever the universe presents. Furthermore, we no longer ‘know it all,’ and we have to ask for help. By doing so, our lives seem to have entered the magical world of coincidences and serendipity. Looking back I can’t come close to accurately describing how amazing our lives have become by getting out of our ‘normal’ routines. I truly believe that life rewards those that say ‘screw it, I’m going to go for it!’
Jess Kapp, pictured above, nominated me to do a blog tour!
Here’s something different – I usually write about sailing destinations, Britican galley recipes, how-to articles and the trials and tribulations of being a full-time boatie but today I’d like to share something different with you.
Last week a friend asked me to participate in a blog tour
A blog what?! I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into but it works like this:
Someone nominates you to answer a set of questions about your blog/website
You answer the questions
At the end, you nominate two more people to answer questions and the tour continues
Great idea – isn’t it?
Previous to answering the questions I didn’t really reflect on why I write what I do. Furthermore, I didn’t realize how precious my writing is to me.
That being said, the person that nominated me for the blog tour is a very special person. When I was four years old my family moved from the city into a suburb. On the first day of kindergarten I befriended a girl named Jessica who became one of my best friends. Jess is pictured above 🙂
We rode our bicycles together, had sleepovers, both played the clarinet (and entered competitions together) and progressed through childhood together. During our high school years we went separate ways but thanks to the power of Facebook we’ve been able to once again reconnect. Please read Jess Kapp’s excellent blog about ‘Inspiring Women To Journey Beyond Their Comfort Zone.’
My writer’s blog tour interview (Kim Brown)
What am I currently working on?
Last year I said screw it to my life and decided to trade it in for a new one. After quitting our jobs, my husband and I sold all our possessions including our house and car. Hubby and I then purchased a 56’ sailboat so to take ourselves and our, at the time, 3 year old daughter on an adventure of a lifetime. The plan was and still is to circumnavigate the world.
We were fed up with working long hours to pay for a large house so we could collapse in exhaustion in front of the TV eating fast food every evening. Hubby and I craved freedom, healthy food, a deeper connection to nature and time to create memories with our lovely daughter.
That being noted, my writing reflects various angles related to our lifestyle change, our massive learning curve and the incredible people we’re meeting along the journey. I write about our lives highlighting the good and the bad – the challenges, difficulties, epiphanies and successes. And I also write about practical things like how to change a faulty accumulator tank (a pressurized water system component), easy recipes for a sailboat galley or whether a particular marina has nice showers or not.
How does my work differ from others in my genre?
There are very few others in my genre so in some respects it’s difficult to compare and contrast. The sailing world has traditionally been a very male dominated area so there are few women with a voice in the industry.
There are several yachting sportswomen like Ellen McArthur, that have a huge voice, but the genre I operate in comes under the heading of lifestyle rather than sport.
On the web there are many ‘sailing blogs,’ written by women but most of them are a personal journal rather than a lifestyle publication. My aim is to create educational and entertaining information that covers the whole spectrum of being a full-time cruiser. The information includes what it’s like to live aboard a boat through to recipes for the galley, travel reviews and ‘how to’ articles on servicing and maintaining a floating home.
What’s great about this genre is that I’m super passionate about it. I’m writing freely about how I feel and what I think. For the first time in my life, there’s no ulterior motive or financial objective to my writing. Previously, my copy was aimed towards promoting one of my companies or commissioned by a publication. Now…I’ve combined my passion for sailing with my love for writing and I’m hoping that the blend will allow a creative outlet that far surpasses anything I’ve done in the past.
Why do I write what I do?
As a child and throughout my school years I enjoyed writing. In fact, I wanted to be a writer from a young age but was told to try something else. My teachers continuously reminded me that I couldn’t spell and I had no hope with grammar.
I also wanted to be an artist but my family told me that artists never make any money. After forcing myself through University I ended up with a degree in Business.
Year after year I climbed the ranks of business success and eventually started my own companies. A major benefit to starting a company was the fact that I could write whatever I wanted. I wrote the website, all the sales literature and then I branched out into writing educational information in the effort of becoming a ‘thought leader’ in my niche. One thing let to another and before I knew it, I was being published all over the world.
Looking back, I seriously took a very detoured route to enjoy my passion for writing. I thoroughly enjoyed growing my various companies but in the end I became burnt out. My passion was in writing yet when you own a company, your attention needs to be focused on HR, Legal’s, Finance, Operations and so forth.
Now, at the age of 40, I’ve finally given myself the love and respect I failed to give myself in the past. I’ve finally decided to listen to what I want and what I love rather than allow others to influence my decisions.
So, ‘why do I write what I do?’
Because I love to write and I love the new lifestyle. By combining the two I’m so much more fulfilled that I ever have been.
How does my writing process work?
My writing process is magical. I often sit down to type an article on a particular theme and something totally different comes out. I actually visualize a team of angels that sit above me and pass ideas, sentences and even a bit of humor into my writing. If you’re near me while I’m typing away, you might overhear me say, ‘yes – that’s a good one!’ or ‘thank you – I needed that!’
Ideas for articles easily present themselves throughout the day. Something will happen or I’ll be in a new place and I’ll think, ‘wow – others could benefit from this knowledge,’ or ‘holy smokes – this place is amazing…I must let others know about it.’
I have a very strong need to give and serve people.
Sometimes I create ‘how to’ articles yet other times I discuss the journey I’m on and hopefully impart the transformation I’m living through. Regardless of what I write my objective is to always leave the reader in a better place than when they started – perhaps I help the reader to do a task, feel better about themselves or question their life in a way that propels them in a more positive direction?
Furthermore, I know that there are many people out there that are similar to me. Their passions were squashed early in life and they’re less than fulfilled with their profession, lifestyle or both. Hopefully, my decision to say screw it to my old life and change it for a new one will empower others to do the same.
Continuing the tour…
I nominate Behan Gifford and Jana Korpova – two very incredible women.
Behan chronicles the cruising experiences of their family of five. She is my hero! The family sailed away from their homeport of Bainbridge Island in 2008 (children aged 4,6 and 9 at the time) and have been going strong ever since. Similar to my husband and I, the Gifford’s became fed up with a ‘normal’ rat-race lifestyle and decided to trade it in for something much more fulfilling.
As Behan notes on her website, “We wanted to build memories with our children that involved more than flyby dinners and fleeting weekends. Already, fulfillment and joy as a family came from our days on the water together, ghosting around Puget Sound. We wanted to live minimally, and shed things that we didn’t really need. We wanted to live close to nature, sourcing power through the sun and wind, and raise our children in tune with the environment.”
Check out Behan’s chronicles on her SailingTotem website.
Jana is an interesting woman, to say the least. We both worked at the same company and enjoyed a variety of experiences together. Jana left her home country of Slovakia to find work in England. Being a foreigner she started at the very bottom doing extremely low paid work, long hours and worked in poor conditions.
Jana worked and worked and over the years she’s become more and more successful. Currently she has a very high position in a finance company and I’m sure that’s just a stepping stone to even greater success. More recently, Jana has developed an interest in lifting weights. Yes – lifting weights! Whatever Jana does, she does with great vigour. Her story is amazing, inspirational and enlightening. Check out Jana’s blog at I’m a girl and I life heavy.
As we approach our seventh month of living full-time aboard a sailboat, I find myself living with yet another set of circumstances, in new surroundings, with yet another ‘routine’ to figure out.
We’ve decided to winter ourselves and the boat in Marina di Ragusa, Sicily
That means that we’ll stay in the marina all winter waiting for the summer season to start so we can get out sailing once again. Our original plan was to sail across the Atlantic and spend the winter sailing amongst the Caribbean islands but neither the boat nor my hubby, Simon, and I were ready for the crossing.
This was the very 1st day we took command of the boat in Palma, Mallorca – we were excited but scared to death!
What has our first season with our new boat been like?
The first few months were spent feeling a bit bewildered, numb, delighted and scared. We simply didn’t know what we didn’t know and boy, we didn’t know anything. And that’s not to say that we know a lot now…we just know much more now.
After the newness wore off a bit, things like plotting our next destination, mooring in a marina and anchoring become easier and less intimidating. I remember when we first started off…I puked 3 times after we left a marina as I was so nervous about taking the boat out without a professional skipper. Now I know longer feel any anxiety about arriving or leaving berths.
By the time we hit month five we realized that there was a massive amount of servicing required to get our boat up to spec
We discovered that our engines were highly neglected and in need of a pull apart and rebuild. We came to the conclusion that our genoa and main sail needed replacing. And we also realized that our rigging was going to have to be replaced before we set off around the world.
We knew that our sails and rigging would need replacing but we didn’t think that everything needed to be done before we set off across the Atlantic. Sure…we can wait until our kit dies but chances are that we’ll be somewhere where the work can’t be done or the quality of work won’t be of a high standard. Heck – even in the Mediterranean it’s potluck if you get good service or not so the idea of being in the Pacific looking for quality craftspeople seems daunting.
Fortunately, we met an amazing guy – Andrea – who helped my husband take apart both our generator and engine, service all the parts and then put it back together. The guys spent 3 weeks in the bilge’s cleaning, repainting and fixing every issue they could find. The picture above is a before and after picture of our generator.
Our time spent with Andrea gave us the confidence that we were lacking. He explained that it’s crazy to be afraid of our systems – we need to learn about them, understand a schedule to service them and then stick to it.
I’m proud to say that we have the nicest, cleanest, smoothest running engines in the Med and they’re going to stay that way
During our sixth month of cruising we started to come to the realization that our summer season was about to end. Both hubby and I wanted to continue sailing but the Mediterranean is not a kind sea to sail in over the winter months. Furthermore, nothing is open. Facilities and tourism shuts down so even if we wanted to sail, we’d be going it alone.
After looking around at the various wintering spots, Simon and I choose Marina di Ragusa (Mdr) in Sicily over marinas in Turkey, Greece, Malta, Italy and Spain. One of our main contacts that helped us through the summer, Willett Marine (soon to be renamed Stella Maris), had a presence at MdR and the marina wintering prices seemed reasonable in relation to the other areas.
As we sailed into MdR I had a lump in my throat and felt deflated
After spending six to seven months getting into the groove of sailing we had to stop. I felt as if things were really starting to flow for us and a six-month break was rain on my parade.
We’ve been at MdR for two weeks now. I recently wrote an article about Living aboard a boat in the Mediterranean during the winter – what’s the scoop? Read that for more information on wintering and MdR.
The marina staff and its residence (60% live on board over the winter) are amazingly kind, generous, knowledgeable and helpful.
The surrounding area is gorgeous. We have beaches, a lovely boardwalk leading the town center and all the important shops close by. The grocery store, hardware store, bakery, butcher and all the restaurants are in walking distance.
The weather has been great and I’m told that throughout the winter we’ll experience quite a bit of sun and good temperatures.
Furthermore, we’ve been able to get our daughter into a local Italian pre-school. My husband and I thought it would be an excellent opportunity for her to learn a new language, integrate with local children and give us a bit of space to work on the boat.
Sounds like paradise – doesn’t it?
And it is. MdR is amazing. On our first few days I walked around dazed thinking, ‘wow – we’ve landed on our feet.’
But after the initial introduction to our new ‘home’ I felt a bit gloomy. Living full-time aboard a sailboat has it’s challenges…
What’s been difficult for me is the change in routine (again)! I felt as if I finally had a handle on how my day would play out. If we were sailing, I had a set plan. If we were anchored, I had yet another plan. I felt comfortable with the flow of my life.
Since getting to MdR that’s been shot out the window
Part of me wanted to curl up into a ball and just hibernate. It’s hard to change so often and upon arrival I felt overwhelmed by not only the change in my daily routine but all the new stuff I had to learn. I felt like I wanted to yell at the universe to just stop for a few days so I could equalize.
Our walk into town from the Marina
Thankfully, however, we’re now going onto our third week and I’m feeling comfortable once again. We have a basic routine that removes my fear of waking up to a day full of unknowns.
For example, when I wake up I know that Simon’s going to make the coffee and I can read for a bit. I know that we’ll get our daughter, Sienna (age 4), ready for school and Simon will take her. I then have the morning to do my writing. Simon and I will enjoy lunch together and then I pick Sienna up from school. My daughter and I then enjoy an ice cream, play at the playground or go to the beach and then Simon takes over in the later afternoon playing a bit more with Sienna. We all eat dinner together and either watch a movie or go out to one of the many social functions around the marina.
On the weekends we’ll plan various activities
Last weekend, we rented a car, went bicycle shopping and met our good friends in a city close by. We had a great time.
And it helps that I now know the surrounding area. I know where all the supermarkets are and the various opening hours. I’ve made friends with several boaties and locals that have been amazingly helpful. And I’ve seen my daughter embrace her new school with much enthusiasm.
The lesson I’ve learned is that it’s okay to feel scared, overwhelmed and deflated when new life circumstances present themselves
The key is to keep in mind, as always, that it’s only temporary.
As it stands now, not only do I feel like I’m in paradise but I’m enjoying it too ☺
Recently Look Insurance emailed me asking what’s the world’s most exotic sailing destination is. LOOK offers marine insurance so they’re interested in hearing the opinions of sailing enthusiasts as part of their research.
Getting back to the question at hand…
When I heard the word ‘exotic,’ images of white sandy beaches, turquoise water, rain forests and strange colorful fruits came to mind.
Considering that our sailing adventure has only taken us around the Mediterranean, I had to respond to LOOK’s question with the following honest response:
“I have no idea what the world’s most exotic sailing destination is! I haven’t found it yet!”
That being noted, LOOK’s question made me think about my favourite sailing destination thus far. We’ve sailed from Palma, Mallorca to Gibraltar. Then we made an 850+ mile journey to Malta getting stormbound in Algeria. After that, we sailed to Sicily, up to Italy, over to the Greek Ionian Islands, through the Corinth Canal hitting mainland Greece. Followed with loads of island hopping in the Aegean with a couple visits to Turkey.
Sailing outside Fiscardo, Cephalonia, Greece
Bearing in mind our sailing log thus far, there are a few places that I disliked – Athens being the worst
The famous city sits under a veil of yellow smog and the Olympic Marina we stayed in was surrounded by abandoned parking lots and burnt out buildings. We also stay in a bay in the Aegean where loads of rubbish seemed to pool – it was disgusting. I was so annoyed with the dirty anchorage that I failed to note where I was!
But aside from a few dirty places, overall our experience of the Mediterranean has been absolutely amazing. Some bays are quiet allowing for days filled with sporadic swims, exploration adventures on land and amazing sunsets. Other anchorages are less quiet offering water sports; character filled restaurants and new sailing neighbors to meet.
Monemvasia in the Greek Peloponnese
Each anchorage seemed to offer something different from the one before
Either the scenery was different or overall feel of the area changed. Furthermore, as a new sailor, I noticed that I felt inclined to cycle through areas of peacefulness through to anchorages with more life and then repeat.
After a few days tied onto a busy town quay or time spent in a marina, the crew (my family) and I would all vote for our next destination to be quiet, unpopulated and sheltered. Eventually the quiet bay would feel too quiet and we’d decide on a more exciting anchorage. And so the cycle continued all summer long.
Sunset while anchored in Turkey
The worlds most exotic sailing destination? The Mediterranean’s best anchorage?
Coming back to LOOK’s question – not only am I unable to name the world’s most exotic sailing destination…I’m not even able to choose the Mediterranean’s best anchorage.
Almost every day my eyes are greeted with beautiful views, my stomach is filled with local, healthy, tasty foods and I meet the most incredible people. For me, as a whole, everything is the best and it just keeps getting better and better.
Imagine enjoying a nice book while curled up on the saloon sofa and having to hear brrrrrrrrrrrip every twenty minutes? Consider what it’s like when you finally start to drift off to sleep and the low murmur of brrrrrrrrrip echos through the boat?
For several months I’ve been enduring the annoying sound of brrrrrrrrrip throughout the day and night. When the problem first started we assumed that a tap was running or there was a small leak somewhere along our fresh water supply.
We spent hours looking for leaks and inspecting our water outlets
In the full spectrum of things, our intermittent fresh water pump was regarded as ‘annoying’ rather than ‘critical.’ We’ve had other fires to put out recently – mainly getting our Perkins engine and Westerbeake generator pulled apart, serviced and put back together.
The water pump was added to the long list of things we wanted to figure out or fix…eventually.
When the time finally came to discuss our epidemic brrrrrrrrrrip sound with a marine services chap can you believe that he discovered the solution in a matter of three minutes.
Yes – we lived with a massive annoyance that took one person three minutes to diagnose!
Now that the problem has been eradicated I can still hear echo’s of the brrrrrrrrrip in my mind. Our 56’ sailboat is too quiet now. (Yes…I am joking!)
Hopefully you’ll read this article and learn from our lessons rather than have to endure an annoying sound for days or even months.
The whole issue was created from a broken accumulator tank
That’s what I said when our lovely friend, Andy Willett, from Stella Maris services, announced our problem.
Fortunate for me, Andy has a lot of patience and took the time to show me the accumulator tank, and explain how to verify that, indeed, the tank was faulty.
A accumulator tank is a part of any pressurized water system that includes a pressure-controlled pump
Many boats have them. The tank acts as a pressure buffer ensuring a smooth flow of water from all the outlets.
Inside the tank is a rubber membrane that expands and contracts ensuring that pressure stays the same if you’re, say, taking a shower and someone runs a tap. The tank also keeps pressure up so that you can run the tap quickly and the pump doesn’t go on. In fact, if your pump does go on every time you use the tap, that’s another indication that the accumulator could be faulty.
If the membrane becomes damaged the result is a sporadic fresh water pump activation – the not-so-sweet sound of brrrrrrrrrip
To diagnose the fault, all you need to do is find the accumulator tank – it will be near the discharge port of the pressurized water pump. Ours is a big red tank. On top there is a large screw top. Once you unscrew the top you’ll find something that looks like the air intake on a bicycle tire.
Accumulator fault-finding process
Place your thumbnail on the intake allowing air to escape. If water comes out you know your rubber membrane is busted and it’s time to exchange your accumulator.
So…fast-forward two days after our diagnosis and Andy arranged for a new accumulator tank to be delivered to us. We’re a very ‘hands-on’ boat – we need to learn how to fix things ourselves considering that a world circumnavigation is on the cards.
That being said, hubby rose to the challenge and started swapping the accumulators while Andy was still in our area. If we had a problem, we could at least yell, ‘help.’
We’re currently in Marina di Ragusa in Sicily. Andy and his team are based in the UK, but fly to the marina often to help their club members. (I highly recommend becoming a club member – these guys are always a phone call away and have already offered us priceless phone and personal support).
The steps to swapping a broken accumulator tank for a new one
Skill level: Basic (If we can do it – anyone can) Tools: Flathead screw driver, adjustable wrench and a tire pump
1. Turn off the fresh water pump on the circuit board.
2. Open a tap to run the water out.
(I’m sure you don’t need a picture for that task)
3. Remove the accumulator tank.
We had to remove two jubilee clips and then twist the tank off the pipe it was attached to. Also, I think that hubby took the accumulator off with a part of the pipework still attached to it. He removed that pipework and then attached it to the new accumulator. Note that it will be heavy as it’s full of water!
4. Grab the new accumulator tank and read the instructions!
Our instructions said that we had to let enough gas out to reduce the psi (whatever that is!) from 35 psi to 2 – 3 psi below the cut-in pressure. I think we worked it out that we needed to reduce to 7psi. We borrowed someone’s bicycle tire pump to do this.
5. Put some sealant tape around the connection
6. Screw the new accumulator tank into the pipework and secure using whatever was there before
In our case, we had two metal bands with jubilee clips holding the tank fastened.
7. Turn the pump back on and listen…
When we turned our pump back on we heard the sweet sound of…..nothing. Fantastic!
The crazy thing about being a boatie or a ‘live aboard’ is that we’ll probably never have to change another accumulator tank. My hope is that by sharing this information I’m leveraging our learning experiences to help more than just us! That’s the hope 🙂 Also – a big thanks to Andy from Willett Marine (being renamed Stella Maris) for teaching us to fish rather than fishing for us!!!
Previous to our decision to sell all our possessions, buy a 56’ sailboat and sail around the world I had no idea that there are thousands of people that winter their boat and themselves in the Mediterranean.
READ FIRST: For information about sailing in the Mediterranean rather than wintering, read this instead: Sailing in the Mediterranean.
I assumed that people either sailed around the Mediterranean all winter or left their boats there and flew home
I’ve come to realize that there are those that live on land during the winter and only use their boat in the Mediterranean for holidays or during the summer. I’ve met quite a few consultants that work during the winter and save up so they can sail during the summer months.
And there are loads of retired couples that spend the full summer island hopping and then head back to land over the cooler months. These seasonal sailors almost always have their boat pulled out of the water and stored on the hard over the winter season.
And then there are the ‘live aboards’ or ‘liveaboards’
These people live on their boat full time. Most of the live aboards that I’ve met do not have homes in their native land. They’ve taken to the sea full time and live a somewhat nomadic life moving slowly or quickly from one destination to another. Some travel far – perhaps around the world and some have spent 15 years just sailing in the same area.
In the Mediterranean, most live aboards find a ‘home’ marina to live in over the winter months. The weather becomes treacherous with high winds, torrential rainfall, cold temperatures and turbulent seas. Furthermore all the areas that cater to sailors shut up for the winter. Even if you wanted to sail around there’d be a lack of facilities and services.
The entrance of Marina di Ragusa, Sicily
Taking the boat out for a sail here and there is fine but overall, most live aboards in the Mediterranean dock up for the duration of the winter
Many marinas offer a special deal from October to April. Thus far Greece and Turkey seem to be the least expensive at around €2,500, Sicily comes in at €3,200, Spain is around the €5,000 and we were quoted €9,000 for Malta. These prices are for a 56’, include the full six months but do not include water and electricity. Smaller boats pay a lot less as the price is based on the length of the boat.
I have also met quite a few Americans that winter in Algeria or Tunisa because they EU won’t let them enjoy Europe for more than 3 – 6 months at a time
And during my recent stay in Rethymno Marina, Crete I discovered that our neighbors winter their boat and themselves in Egypt!
Every time I talk with live aboards the world seems to open up more and more. My first question is always, ‘is it safe to winter in Northern Africa?’ ‘Is it safe to winter in Egypt?’. The answers are always the same – ‘yes, it’s very safe.’
Apparently, in a marina you’re not really part of the country you’re in. Your surrounded by other Brits, Americans, Kiwi’s, etc and the host country want you there as you’re spending money to keep the local livelihoods going. It’s a win-win for everyone.
It’s s special situation when you think of it. Foreigners and locals mixing at the sea to live amongst each other for six months
My daughter, Sienna, with our new marina door fob and marina hat
We’ve only been ‘wintering’ for one week but already I can feel an amazing vibe in our location. We’re calling Marina di Ragusa, Sicily, ‘home’ this winter and I think we made the right choice! Read my review: Marina di Ragusa Sicily Marina Review Winter Season. to find out the full scoop on the actual marina.
Every day we fall more and more in love with the people and our surroundings
There’s one live aboard that invites others to do Tai chi on the beach. Not only do other live aboards join in but so do the locals!
And when I took my 4 year old daughter to see if I could get her into a pre-school I found success. Although I couldn’t speak Italian, I sputtered out ‘Barca’ (boat) and did my six fingers for months added with a ‘Auito’ (help). I was received with a welcome smile, a bit of English and an iPhone translation app where the teacher and I discussed options.
Welcoming children into local schools from the marina is a normal occurrence
As a side note, and to describe the amazing people we’re surrounded by, after hubby and I dropped off my daughter on her first day we stopped by the marina office. Everyone around the marina speaks perfect English so we asked a staff member to call the pre-school. We wanted to ensure our daughter was okay and that we understood everything correctly.
Not only did the staff member give us a great report but the marina office offered to become a point of contact if there were any issues.
Later that day the marina rang me to request my email address. A few minutes later, I received photos that the pre-school sent to the marina and then the marina forwarded to me! The photos were of my daughter, Sienna, having fun, smiling and laughing.
Let me get back to the world of live aboards
Generally, live aboards keep their boat in the water for the majority of the winter only to have it hauled out for necessary out-of-water work. On a yearly basis the haul needs new antifouling painted on, anodes need to be changed and a good check of the shaft, rudder and prop areas needs to be actioned. During out-of-water work a boater might fly off to see relatives, find a hotel or remain on the boat using a ladder to get aboard.
Two members of the Stella Maris team helping us prepare for winter – taking sails off
Within the first couple weeks of arriving in their designated marina, live aboards prepare their boat for the winter
Instead of winterizing, or shutting down the boat, they shut down bits of it and do a variety of tasks to ensure the winter is as comfortable as possible. For example, most boats remove their sails, halyards and sheets (all the ropes). By removing your sails, you reduce the amount of resistance to wind that you get so the boat won’t blow around as much. You also protect the sails from the damaging UV rays.
Furthermore, the ropes all need a very good wash with fresh water and to be stowed away for next season. Small ropes, called mousing lines, are used to replace the ropes that go up the mast and through all the fittings. When the next season starts, you simple tie the halyard or sheet (ropes) onto the mousing lines and pull them back into place.
As far as winterizing goes, we ‘wintered’ our water maker as we’ll have no use for it for the six months. With a nice supply of water from the jetty we’ll fill up our tanks with a hose whenever we need it.
We have also tackled our biggest issues – repairing leaks, changing faulty pumps/switches and starting to plan the long list of to-do’s that we have
Fortunately for us, we were introduced to an amazing boating services company called Willett Marine, soon to be renamed Stella Maris – latin for ‘Star of the Sea.’ Back when our boiler broke outside the Corinth Canal, the owner Andy talked us through re-plumbing our water supply, sourced a new boiler and found someone reputable to install it for us – all from England. Because of our great experience (and testimonials from other yacht owners), we decided to winter in the marina where Stella Maris service their Mediterranean clients. Both my husband and I cannot recommend the Stella Maris team enough. I’ll write more about them later and include some of the amazing new skills that they’ve taught us.
If you’ve read my blog for a while you’ll know that hubby and I have been through hell with BAD marine industry service people
When you find a company as professional, dedicated, kind, knowledgeable, efficient and fair on prices us boaties need to spread the word and therefore that’s what I’m doing now. I definitely know bad service when I get it and now I know the opposite. Stella Maris is top-notch.
Moving on…after all the preparation tasks are taken care of, it’s then time to create a weekly/bi-weekly/monthly routine to ensure that the boat stays in good condition. For example, every pump needs to run on a weekly basis. That means that it’s important to run your air conditioning and freezer even if you’re not using it. Pumps cease up if they’re not used regularly.
Me unravelling the knots holding the reefing lines to the boom
Furthermore, it’s absolutely imperative to run the engine. You need to do this in neutral. Also have the engine tick over in forward to make sure the shaft moves. This moves the salt water through the engine and gets the oil to splash around a bit. It also moves the grease along the shaft and propulsion unit. The generator also needs to be turned on and loaded up (turn lots of things on) for a few minutes.
So…we’re paying around €533/month to live in paradise
That’s how I feel thus far about ‘wintering’ in the Mediterranean. We have our home with us, access to excellent facilities and much more. There’s a beach to the east that stretches as far as the eye can see. It’s October and still in the 90’s F/High 30’s C. We’re spoiled for choice with a range of excellent restaurants. We have three grocery stores, a butcher, a few bakeries and quite a few little shops.
My daughter has a pre-school to go to and there’s even a child drop-off indoor play gym! We’re surrounded by a group of about 50 other boaties that are likeminded and spending the winter here too. Furthermore, the locals are amazingly kind and eager to get to know us.
Another one of me – this time enjoying the views!
There are boats with other children too!
As we walk to and from the boat, we’re always met with smiles and something to discuss. This morning I had a lovely conversation with a Dutch couple about the best brand of slow cooker. They even invited me over to their berth to enjoy a demonstration!
Additionally, in this particular marina, every morning at 9am there are announcements about excursions. Additionally, they talk about goods for sale or wanted items, any medical issues, lost and found and upcoming social events. Every Tuesday and Friday the boaties meet at one of two bar/restaurants for a drink and nibbles. And today I received an email from a boatie working on a once a month dinner event.
I almost feel like I did when I went to summer camp!
There’s loads to do, many great new people to meet. I honestly couldn’t imagine ever going back to the way I use to live my life. I’m truly a nomad and loving it.
If you want the full scoop about what it was like to live in Marina di Ragusa, Sicily for the winter, read my review next.