Houston, we have a problem!

Last week I was joined by my son Philip, daughter in law Henriette and 10 year old granddaughter Olivia. They flew down from Denmark for a weeks sailing with me here in Greece. 
My home made winch handle
Before they came I had to fix the problem of a missing anchor windlass handle. The original fell and sank in the mud of the sea bed.  With no spare part to be bought anywhere I had to find a usable solution. At the local ironmongers I found a scrap of copper pipe of the right dimension but too long. Copper is of course too weak for the heavy job of winching up the anchor chain. But then I found a bit of a steel tube, too short and wide but the one could fit in the other and after an hour of sawing and filing I got a reasonable result.
The first destination we sailed to was to Vagionia bay where I never had been before. It was a beautiful place and we were completely alone there after the day trippers had gone. With no light pollution ashore the moonless sky unfolded an unbelievably clear view of the stars. I have never seen stars so bright before. With the app "Sky view free" it was possible to put names to the constellations and planets we were seeing so this was the evening entertainment.
During the night there was a very uncomfortable swell or surge even with no wind. The boat rocked violently for several hours making sleep only possible for Olivia who slept like a log. We heard the engines of fishing boats arriving in the dark with no lights on at all. I also became aware of my solar anchor light which went out at 4 in the morning.
Aquarella alone in the bay of Vagionia
Not good, another problem to be fixed.
Olivia's favourite expression is "Houston, we've got a problem" This was used several times on our trip. We had a nice sail to Vathi on the peninsular of Methana. Again we were the only yacht there in the beautiful tiny harbour. Sailing towards Epidavros the next day we told "Houston" there was another problem. The GPS on my ipad was not working so the Navionics chart plotter couldn't find out where we were. Fortunately we didn't have far to go and it was a matter of eyeball navigation. Apart from the fact that we landed in the wrong bay to start with it turned out fine in the end. I still have charts after all. We spent two days in Epidavros, swimming and enjoying the surroundings before it was time to return to the bay of Poros. On the way we had stronger winds and it was exhilarating ploughing through the waves with a considerably higher speed than my 40 year old boat is used too.
A selfie with the gopro camera attached to the boat hook
But then -
"Houston we have a problem" 
Aquarellas 20 year old Philips GPS instrument stopped working. We now had no position, no course, no log, no waypoint, no track for the autopilot. So back to using the compass, paper chart, dividers  and a sharp pencil.
Olivia retrieving the fishing net in Russian Bay
We found our destination Russian Bay easily as I had sailed past it many times. Although my slip hook had to be used to free the anchor from anpther chain (without calling Houston) we could settle down to a lovely evening listening to the crickets while Olivia demonstrated her amazing diving skills and tried her hand at fishing.
Henriette cooking in the cockpit, it was too hot in the cabin.

On return to my rented buoy at Poros the next problem emerged. The dinghy's outboard engine wouldn't start. We couldn't even pull the cord out.  With four people and many kilos of cumbersome luggage to get ashore this was quite a rowing challenge in a tiny dinghy.
Henriette rowed us safely out of the path of an oncoming ferry and afterwards Philip repeated the feat with all the luggage so they got to the ferry to Athens in time.
It was sad to see them go but we had a great week together.
Alone again I faced the problem of rowing against the 2 knot current and increasing wind to get back to my boat.
I thought I'd check the engine's propeller. I couldn't lift the engine up, something was locking it down. Bending precariously over the stern I saw a length of line waving in the water. There was the culprit!  I climbed ashore  to borrow a knife from a nearby restaurant and went about the task of cutting the line under the water. I could then lift the engine into the dinghy to unravel the rest of the line bit by bit. Now I will always carry a knife under the dinghy seat.
The engine then started and ran perfectly.
Back in the boat I screwed off the flush mounted navigator to change the back up battery. That helped, but I still don't know how to solve the problem with the lacking GPS reception in my Ipad.

Houston, sorry to bother you again...


  1. A women has to do what a woman has to do.! You are amazing Elizabeth! Kill all your open apps. Double click on the home button and close every open app. Then restarnyour iPad. It might help.

  2. I like the GoPro on the boat hook to check out the prop. Seemed like a good idea, too bad it didn't work. Have been enjoying your blog, thanks for sharing!