Summer 2021

Head’s Down

The recent storms have all passed over and we were looking forward to enjoying some lovely sunny weather….or so we thought!

There’s always plenty of maintenance jobs when living on a boat, we had an ever increasing list but nothing too serious and hoped that we could save some of them to do over the winter. However, we found a job to add to the top of the list as this was one that couldn’t wait, the toilet was completely blocked!

Thankfully we do have a second toilet, one that we never use, and the small bathroom has become more of a storage room. We cleared everything out and recommissioned the toilet so at least we had one that worked, although it was a little temperamental and needs a thorough service. (Another job for the winter list)!

Anything related to the toilet is obviously a ‘blue’ job so Paul set to work to try to unblock it. He replaced all of the serviceable parts on the pump, but unfortunately this did not resolve the problem and it became apparent that we needed to remove and replace the pipe work.

The first thing to do was to shut the seacock before starting work on the old pipe. As we know, on a boat one job always leads to another and this was definitely true when the handle of the seacock came off in Paul’s hand!

Although there didn’t appear to be a leak we were concerned that we couldn’t close the seacock and wanted to get it fixed before the winter, so it meant that ZigZag would have to come out of the water. We contacted Ionion Marine where we had previously kept the boat for many years and arranged to be lifted out for a few days, so we headed north through the Lefkas bridge back to Preveza.

As the seacocks haven’t been replaced for a while and some are still original, we decided to make the most of the opportunity and change them all.

In order to have access to the seacocks and hull we needed to take the boat apart. All of the floorboards in the saloon needed to come up which meant that we had to remove the table and the companion way steps.

Some people have suggested that it is possible to change seacocks while in the water by putting a bung in the hole on the outside. However, looking at those holes through the hull, I’m glad we didn’t risk that option. This is a picture of one of the smaller inlets.

Once the new seacocks were in place, we still had to remove the outlet pipe from the toilet which proved to be a difficult job. It runs around the back of the shower, behind the oven (which also had to be removed), behind and under the fitted fridge and finally across the saloon to exit from the other side of the boat. All this went through a small ‘made to measure’ channel with very little access. The old pipe was completely calcified making it rigid and impossible to pull through so we had to keep cutting it out in sections.

This was a horrible job, particularly as it was a lovely sunny day and we were stuck inside with our heads in the bilge trying to re-plumb the boat. We had some friends also in the boatyard so we eventually downed tools and escaped the chaos inside the boat to meet them for dinner in the nearby taverna where we watched a lovely sunset.

Work continued the next day and after hours of pushing and pulling, by 11pm we had finally managed to get the old pipe out and a lovely new flexible pipe in position. Such a relief to have successfully completed the job, we were ready for a celebratory drink and some well deserved sleep.

Sorry for such a long story about toilets but at least you are only reading about it and didn’t have to experience the nastiness of being here and repairing it (I thought this was supposed to be a ‘blue’ job!).

While ZigZag was out of the water we also managed to replace the hull anode and touch up the antifoul with another couple of coats painted around the waterline before we were relaunched. Once afloat again the seacocks were checked and with no leaks coming through we anchored in the bay where we spent the day cleaning and putting the boat back together, refixing the table, oven, steps, floorboards etc.

With only a short time left in Greece to enjoy the lovely weather we headed south again, back through the Lefkas bridge to Meganisi and moored in ‘Little’ Vathi, a pretty fishing village on the north of the island. It was starting to get a lot quieter in the bays and harbours with many liveaboards already in their winter moorings and fewer charter boats around, so there was plenty of space for us on the town quay. We met up with some friends here who have the same boat as us and we had a lovely few days catching up on sailing adventures and comparing boat maintenance issues (we also managed to get through a lot of Metaxa….thanks Chris and Sue!).

With the winter approaching we were keeping a close check on the weather for a favourable wind to make the crossing back to Sicily where we have arranged for ZigZag to be moored for the winter again. The forecast suggested that there would be a good weather window to depart in a few days. We have to check out of Greece before we leave, so headed up to Lefkas and moored in the town so that we would be able to get our documents processed, prepare and provision for our passage.

8 replies on “Head’s Down”

The Metaxa was suitable reward for showing us how to replace our heads pipework which just happens to be top of our jobs list now (yep, ours is now completely blocked too!!) It was great catching up though, thanks for the wonderful meal, glad you had a safe onward journey.

Cheers, Sue and Chris

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Bet the Metaxa tasted good after all that!

Does Roman Abramovich have to do this sort of thing on his boat?

Another great anecdote and sunset pictures to cheer up a grey Friday in Blighty.

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Learning a lot about boats on these notes ! Never heard of seacock nor bilge in nautical terms before this morning. I feel the pain on these ‘blue’ jobs – it’s a reminder of certain tasks I have had to do at the Finnish cottage, especially related to toilets. Safe travels.

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Nice pun Mr Bagshaw, intended or otherwise…
Your blog this week, shows that ‘shit’ happens wherever you are, and as Crowded House sang, you always take the weather with you.
At least now you know the boat is sound for the many a year to come. Lovely sunny pictures as well.
Safe onward crossing to Sicily.

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I’m very impressed with Paul’s DIY skills. That looked like a crap job, but impressed that Paul took the plunge and was flushed with success. Happy sailing.

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