Boat Launch and Therapy Floating on the Ionian

Boat Launch and Therapy Floating on the Ionian

Two months after we began our gruesome refit at the boatyard we were finally getting ready to launch our boat s/y Aina. What an exciting moment – would she float with her fancy new epoxy bottom and seacocks?

The boatyard men lifted Aina up on the trailer before lunchtime, giving us a few hours in which to complete the bottom: antifoul the patches under the props, and to epoxy coat the bottom of the keel. The props had been moved once during our painting project, so the epoxy layers were seamless, apart from the spots under the keel that had been sitting on blocks of wood. Using wet-on-wet method we managed to paint five layers of epoxy and one antifoul.

Late in the afternoon the tractor driver came, and our boat travelled gracefully, albeit backwards, to the boat ramp. Jorma rode along, so he would be ready to check under the floors for leaks, as soon as the boat was afloat. I stood on the pontoon, listening to him rummage inside the boat, opening and closing floor hatches to check all of the ten new seacocks, the hoses, the propeller shaft. Finally I saw his head in the companionway and heard the lovely words: No water inside!

The engine started right away, and Aina slipped into her element. Didn’t she look happy and beautiful! On the first evening, we motored one cable length and dropped the anchor opposite the boatyard in the Vlicho Bay. It was a good place to contemplate our next move – the landscape was very familiar to us after we had spent two months looking at it, yet it seemed completely different when viewed from the deck of our boat. The boat was still a mess, and it took a few days to clear the remnants of the refit from the deck and inside the boat. 

Aina floats!
The familiar Vlicho Bay looks different from this perspective!

When we were finally ready to leave, the anchor windlass was absolutely silent. We figured it must be the same problem we had with the windlass in Sicily last summer – a relay switch box that the Italian electrician had fixed a year ago had finally given up the ghost. Fortunately, we were still in Nidri, and knew that the local chandler, George’s, would likely have a replacement. It’s a place that stocks up just about everything, and if not, you can get it within a day or two. And George didn’t let us down this time, either. Accompanied with some huffing and puffing, sweating and swearing we had it installed the next morning, and so we were finally ready to leave for our very first sail in two months!

We were exhausted after weeks of toil, and wanted nothing more than to rest for a while. Swimming, snorkeling, tanning ourselves in the sun, barbecue dinners, maybe a little hop from one anchorage to the next every few days – no adventures or exploration until we would start feeling like it. So we headed to the island of Meganisi, where we had already stopped for a few days in late May on our way to the boatyard, and where we knew we would find sheltered anchoring spots, clear water and a few tavernas and little villages, should we feel like visiting one of those.

Some days later our British friends from our winter marina joined us, and we anchored side by side in a small cove along the Atherinos Bay. In August there were considerably more boats around compared to June, and no more room for free anchoring. We tied long stern lines to tree trunks on the shore, and that way there was room for a bunch of boats in the cove. The four of us spent the evening barbecuing on our boat. Next evening it was our turn to visit our friends, but suddenly we were surrounded by dark clouds, and the wind started to blow.

Nobody wants to leave their boat before a potential thunderstorm, particularly if they are anchored close to the shore with stern lines attached. Should the anchor fail, the only thing to do would be to ditch the lines, start the engine and head out to open water – and come back for the lines after the storm has settled. We happen to have an excellent anchor, and despite a fresh wind and some choppy water, there was nothing to worry about. Some had problems with their anchors, though, because we saw a few boats drive up and down the bay until the squall subsided. Thunderstorms should be taken seriously in the Mediterranean, because sometimes they can be violent – the massive thunderstorm that caught us mid sea between Sicily and Greece last summer is still fresh in our memories. That was frightening! This time the little squall was over in an hour, and as a bonus, we got to admire a very pretty sunset.

After floating around Meganisi for a week, we felt like our muscles and joints had recovered somewhat from the hard work at the boatyard, our minds had rested, and the idea of seeing new places and landscapes was starting to feel good again. We headed back to Nidri for food and other supplies, to fill our water tanks and to ready ourselves for some travelling. Next time I’ll tell you which way we are headed!

Aina back in her element in a Meganisi anchorage

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