I am taking small comfort in the fact that we were right and Catana were wrong. I can thank too much wind for proving we were right, being right can be of cold comfort.
It was a week ago when we opted to go through the Corinth Canal, on this day there was wind for sailing. Problem was for the days entirety there was “too much wind”and although we were fast it was a pretty uncomfortable ride. The NW wind remained constant in the mid 30 knot range and gusted up to 40 knots with a swell from the opposite direction.This weather pattern stayed with us for the 14 hours we travelled, this included waiting for the Canal to open at our end. It was late afternoon we were both tired so decided not to proceed to Athens as planned. We decided to pull into the first safe harbour out of the Canal which is the port and island of Salamina or Salamis.
Based on the Imray pilot book we didn’t have high hopes for Salamina, our introduction to our first island of the Aegean Sea.
“An arid rocky island devoid of any vegetation. It is much indented, there are few anchorages available to yachts because of the extensive navel installations around the coast near which anchoring is prohibited. This is no great loss as the water is very polluted (a dirty brown colour with all sorts of objectionable flotsam) and the nearby coast is an industrial wasteland.”
There Was Gold In Those Hills
If I ever get to meet our pilot author Rod Heikell, I am going to tell him rather than wasteland on this island we struck it RICH.
Our first little honey pot was being met on the dock by Vassilis. Vassilis is one of the world’s straight up and down people. A strong handshake, sharp clear eyes and a quick no nonsense wit that is backed up with a wealth of marine, sailing and life in general know how. Vassilis is a fix it man. Every question and task we needed doing he told us how to do it, who to talk to and then more often than not would pick up his phone and make it happen on our behalf. Vassilis is a man who is kind to animals, suffers fools lightly and whilst saying he doesn’t give a damm, his life is one of service to local community, making the port a better place.
If it was a school yard pick, I would pick Vassilis first, you want Vassilis on your team.
Gold Strike Two
Location and Being Greek
Salamina is a large town with everything a girl could want, plus an easy ferry ride to Athens to the big end of town without huge mooring prices. We had a list of small and larger items we needed before we arrived in Mykonos to meet our friends, inadvertently we had found the perfect shopping launch pad. Added to the location was the willingness to assist by members of the local community. Dimitrius (2) who took Captain Gaz shopping in Athens one morning, explained to us that Greeks see a moral obligation to assist strangers. I don’t know the truth of this theory, however the proof is so far in this Greek pudding.
Every day in Greece we are humbled by small to large overwhelming acts of kindness.
Dimitris (1) in Galaxidi went out of his way to find us and take us on a guided tour of the region including a trip to Delphi. I should mention that he speaks no English yet a fleeting encounter in a neighbouring port lead to extraordinary kindness. Yiannis, father of triplet teenage girls, engineer turned teacher and boat neighbour whose enthusiastic joy for life is infectious, is also a recent member of team Miss Catana. Tom with his advice on sailing, George who sails cats fast, brought us home grown apricots with a flavour that was sensational, the internet guy who came aboard and fixed my Badboy WiFi log for free on his coffee break. Final mention goes to Andrew from the market who shook my hand, a stranger who made me feel as though I was a long lost friend returned. I mention Andrew yet there are so many nameless strangers who connect with us and make us feel better for being here.
The Greeks might have economic woes but they should be proud of the way they welcome strangers, tourists and sailors to their shores. Golden and Priceless.
Gold Gold Gold
We always planned to do repairs in Greece, additional extras and a couple of jobs that technically Catana should have fixed, or said they had fixed but we don’t believe them.
Regulars to our site will know we have never been happy with our invertor, I have long ago given up on Catana believing us that all was not right inside the box behind the grey cushions. Our invertor is meant to run items of higher value, yet far less than 1000 amps will trip the safety fuse. Tripping the fuse inside the invertor means you must pull off all the lounge cushions, unscrew the panel so you can access and flick the switch. A total pain in the arse that takes time and sucks joy out of the room.
We have always maintained that our Victron invertor was a “shit of a thing” and I wouldn’t recommend one to an enemy.
Sorry Victron I was wrong, we just didn’t realise that Victron was as much a victim of the situation as we were . Catana YOU FAILED
We discovered our invertor had been installed and set up incorrectly. We know this because our third piece of gold was Greece Victron service agent and marine electrician extraordinaire Michael Kanaris. Prior to meeting Michael everybody said this guy was the best. The trick is to get him onto your boat because everybody in Greece knows he is the best, so he is busy. We were told as well as being a solutions man he is honest, hard working and likeable, just hard to pin down. One of our classic moments in Salamina was when the guy selling the fans asked who was going to install them, I said Michael, he laughed as if to say “you wish”
We can be patient.
So We Waited For The Best
We waited almost the full week we had available before racing off to Mykonos. Michael and team of two turned up to do the work required, this is where the story gets interesting. Any French union official reading this may wish to look away now.
Enter Michael and crew, it just happened that it was 10 pm on a Wednesday night. When they departed at 4.30 am with absolutely every issue old and new fixed, the Captain and I looked at each other and said did that gold really just happen to us? Included on the to do list besides fix the invertor (Catana you can thank me next time you see me), installation of 4 12v/220 fans, a new 12 volt plug for a portable freezer and other minor jobs. (New freezer so we can turn our power greedy leaking 5000 euro freezer off. NOT NICE.
Michael knew we had a new boat and was saddened and disappointed on our behalf, the huge expense paid for the boat it should have been in tip top condition. Much of his work is fixing new boat problems that boat manufacturers choose to ignore, or issues are bandaged temporarily to only occur when owners are many miles away. Catana is not alone, the other brands are all guilty to varying degrees of failing the after sales test.
Regarding our incorrectly installed inverter no excuse is worthy. No reason can be given when the professionals do the wrong thing and the client highlights the issues only to be patted on the head, and told this is not a problem and I am being unreasonable. Not good enough on a world class, rolls royce cruiser. I mean seriously.
Boat companies live and die on their reputation and we have fixed this but we bloody shouldn’t have to.
Our next issue on the list is a freezer that never turns off and is leaking water into my linen cupboard. Catana after care are yet to respond to emails and told us before we left France it was fine. Now the invertor is fixed all eyes turn to the freezer issue and this Miss is in a hunt “em down kind of mood. (Said in my best LA Cripps gangster voice)
Am I being harsh on Catana?
Am I wrong about the freezer always running. Please, please tell me.
PS Vassilis’ other claim to fame is he has introduced the Captain to some water looking drink that is served with lots of ice and a dash of water. It puts a warm glow in your belly, similar to cognac, it’s drinking smooth fire water. You buy in local stores in water bottles, so care must be taken to grab the correct bottle when thirsty. As to the name of this devil’s drink it’s still Greek to me.