The hard work on preparing the hull is over, with all the masking up done, and by Tuesday the upper plank was in grey and the lower part in white, all left to cure for 48 hours. Next was to prep the underwater area up to the white hull before roller-painting with a Seajet primer. This was given 3 coats, and the final Seajet anti foul will be done in May out in Vliho Bay. We have now painted all hatch interiors with White Danboline glass fibre paint - they look clean and are very durable.
Clara is over 45 years old and you will note that in that era the Gunwale top rail and the small amount of woodwork was all in Teak, and the rails were made in one piece. Later on there was a limit to the amount of Teak being allowed out of Burma, and to cut cost Asian Iroko was introduced and the rails were scarf-jointed. The rails were scrapped back to reveal a near perfect finish which is enhanced with Rustins Danish Oil. This I use on all my hatches etc, not varnish and throughout the summer charter period I keep this finish topped up.
So, we have now started to fit the boat out, starting with the original stern plate by Honnor Marine. There is something very satisfying to take a boat of this age and refit it will present day materials and to add modifications to it. Week 3 will see her having all the spars fully varnished and the interior completed.
Who will be the first lucky group to have Clara in early June 2019 to enjoy at our base apartments at Geni Garden? I now have some really great packages for the June period, so why not give it a go and call me to secure your 2019 ‘Luggering about in the Sun’.
Clara with a hull number of 937 would have been an early 1970 boat and a Mk 1 model, still with the original short Gaff. Despite being a little dirty from some 4 years of being unused and left undercover, her hull gel coat was original, very little damage apart from some scratches. The early Honnor Marine moulds were not good, although they did improve in the mid 1980s. The development of resins were in their infancy and these Luggers were being churned out at a great rate of knots, becoming very popular and a relatively low cost boat, quite basic in design and production, but with a significant good name as a safe Day Boat.
When it comes to refurbishing a Lugger one has to be prepared to do a significant amount of basic initial work. You will find air bubbles in the gel coat, an uneven layer of gel coat exposing the lay up mat beneath and ripples in the gunwale top plank.
From getting her back to my base of Dragon Design, my Cabinetry making company, she had to be totally dismantled, de-greased and power washed to remove all loose paint and debris.
Photograph 1 shows her ready to be primed. I use Automotive 2K paints, spray-applied. This is a professional material which is very hard and holds its colour and, being catalysed, sticks well to good, well prepared surfaces.
Photograph 2 is the hull in primer, a high build material paint which has good filling properties, you will note how she has been rubbed back to remove imperfections, a further coat will then be applied before prepping.
Photograph 3 is the cockpit having been previously primed now in its Manilla colour finish. This is the colour of all the Dragon Drascombe Luggers.
In between preparing and spraying the hull shell I have started to strip the Spars of their old varnish. Years of varying layers of varnish has discoloured the Cedar material of the Spars, and I want to get back to the natural wood. Photographs 4 & 5 highlight the difficulties in removing these layers, so a very powerful corrosive stripper is used, not a pleasant job.
The final pic shows the Mizen Mast having been stripped of its layers of varnish and sanded ready for approximately 10 spray coats of clear high gloss varnish. Visit this site next week to see the spars re-finished and Gunwale rails cleaned and oiled.
So this is Clara, an early 70’s Lugger bought just in the last week or so. She was owned and sailed as a part of a University Marine Studies programme in Cardiff, predominantly in Cardiff bay and the Bristol Channel. She has been lightly used and in a clean condition, requiring now to be stripped out and re sprayed, this will be done this coming week.
With all the fittings removed I will prepare all the hull and cockpit for spray priming, followed by a Manilla colour to the cockpit, white to the lower hull and a light grey top plank. To the under water line I will roller-apply International primer followed by one coat of antifoul, and the finish coat will go on just before launching next May in Vliho Bay.
Follow this refit over the next 4 weeks.
The delightful calm of Vliho Bay with cool mornings and temperatures of sustainable levels are now behind me, having taken the Igeomenitsa to Ancona ferry some 2 weeks ago for the shorter drive back to chilly Wales. With charter groups continuing through to the last week in September it was a very busy period getting the boats cleaned and prepped ready for my arrival next May. I was fortunate to have the help of a good pal who came out to help me for 2 weeks with this work.
As always June was a busy month, with at least 3 Luggers out each week. Weather wise it got better as the month progressed; there was a 3-day period when we had stormy conditions which made it uncomfortable sailing out in the channel, however Vliho Bay was still good for an exciting few hours before retiring to the Gialos for lunch.
I am sure most people will by now have read Dave Craig’s diary on their Island Hopping in July. It was my first use of Airbnb - this phenomenon has suddenly hit the Ionian Islands, making use of log cabins, spare rooms in family villas and living with Greek families in their homes. Dave and Pamela really loved the varied experience of meeting the local people in their natural environment. I am sure this type of Lugger charter will be even more popular next year, being able to be very flexible and move around to different destinations.
The temperatures in July and August this year were not excessive, peaking at about 36, which was good for Bengy. He always managed to find the shade and a breeze around our Lugger base area.
In late August good friends from north of the border visited again for the 5th consecutive time and had their first week with Peter at Frikes Bay Suite on Ithica, returning to Geni Garden for the second week. They had Heulwen with the Batten Roached Mainsail; you must read what Neil has to say about this new rig.
So with over 50 boat weeks this summer, an increase of eight, it's satisfying to see steady progress and people returning to sample this unique experience in the Southern Ionian. For 2019 I will be looking for an enthusiastic assistant to help me with the day-to-day running and looking after charter groups, someone who is mature and has an interest in boats and is able to assist with the general maintenance etc, possibly someone who has just left University and is preparing to have a gap year. Who knows, you might know of just the person in your family or sailing club.
In line with my Dragon Drascombe plan, I have acquired another Lugger ready for refitting locally in South Wales, and work has just started. Why not follow its progress and see how a ‘sad old boat’ can be transformed into a pristine Drascombe Lugger. This one, now named Clara has a number of 937, which puts it at an early 1970 boat.
To all that have travelled and joined me this summer to ‘Lugger about in the sun’, my many thanks and so looking forward to meeting up again.
Nidri, The Greek Ionian.
It’s a sad day for Bengy today, he does not know it yet but the boat he uses for a day time shelter is being moved, I will have to make him another shelter out of a Lugger winter cover - with temperatures at around 33 he has to have shade and plenty of airflow.
July has been an interesting month in many respects, re-registering the Luggers from the UK SSR certificate to a Blue book Greek registration and forming a business in Greece for taxation purposes. These are all changes Greece has to make to comply with the 10 years of EU bailout finances imposed on them, this August seeing the end of financial support from both the IMF and the Euro-zone.
On 2nd July Dave and Pamela Craig arrived from Arizona, USA for a 3 week Island Hopping adventure. Dave is a teacher at an outdoor centre on the Gulf of Mexico and they have several Drascombe Longboats which they use as a part of their outdoor programmes with children and young adults.
It was not a good start to their visit, they missed a connecting flight and got stuck in Chicago and arrived 10 hours late at Preveza, late in the evening, only to find that their luggage was not on the same flight! They only had the clothes that they wore for the trip, not even a toothbrush. Hey ho, that's not good. The baggage handling company could not trace these bags immediately and it was not until the next morning that we discovered that one bag was still in Heathrow, and Dave’s bag was not traced! With 2018 technology it is frightening to think a bag can go missing and not be traceable. So it was a shopping trip to Lefkas for Pamela to buy some basic clothes, whilst Ionian Air got their act together and made the transfer of the one bag via Athens to Preveza which finally happened 3 days later.
In the hope that Dave’s bag would appear, they set off from the apartment at Poros to catch up with their itinerary of pre-booked overnight B&B’s, the first being on the island of Ithica in the beautiful village of Kioni. They had a 5-night booking at an Air B&B room called Theo Filos House, you must read Dave’s diary!
Alas, by the Sunday, just under a week after their arrival I had delivery at my base in Nidri of Dave’s travel dry bag. This was strapped up with a docking line, I added a spare fuel container and put it onto the car deck of the evening Frikes ferry, for his collection at the other end. This is a typical Greek way of transporting things around the Islands - a baker in the morning will arrive on his scooter at the ferry port and add his 10 trays of spinach pies and numerous bags of loaves of bread, all to be collected at the other end by the Taverna or hotel which they are meant for, no payment and no hassle. It works, this is the Greek Islands. Being American, Dave was amazed that this could happen ‘what if there was a bomb in that bag of mine?’ he exclaimed with incredulity!
So, now with all their worldly belongings they were finally set for their adventure around the islands of Lefkada, Ithica, Cephalonia, Kastos and lastly Kalamos in Heulwen my 2017 Lugger. There have always been small boarding houses or lodgings available, but it has been mainly hotels and apartments were you stayed for the entire duration, but just this year the new phenomena of Air B&B has hit Greece and the Islands from mainland Europe in a dramatic way, with usually booking for a minimum of 3 nights and room prices around €70. Some were 45 and the most expensive 90, but still great value. Read more in Dave’s diary which is to follow.
For the End of Season's Diary I will have done more research on more Lodgings, rooms and places that have flexible booking periods for you all to look at and maybe plan your 2019 Island Hopping Lugger adventure.
Arriving on 10th July for the week were the ‘Family Foster’, Simon, Louise and 11 year old Matthew, known as ‘Matty’, all total beginners to sailing, although Matty had done a little with his school. This was my first group of Family Sailing for Beginners, a feature I intend to push for future years.
Having this unique geographical position of Vliho Bay, some 3 km long, it is south of Nidri, with north and south prevailing winds, light in the morning with freshening winds later on; it is a superb ‘large pond’ to learn to sail on. In the past Lugger groups when faced with blustery conditions out in the Meganissi channel have used the bay as an alternative, being quite sheltered for half-day sessions and pulling in for lunch at the Gialos Taverna. Why be uncomfortable when you can have a few hours of gentle sailing and then lunch on the waters edge. You simply cannot beat it.
The Family Foster had specifically come to Dragon Drascombe to learn to sail as a family, and what better boat to have to learn to sail in. I go back to my sail training times of working as an instructor for the Outward Bound Trust, Wales sailing school at Aberdovey, Merionethshire, in the early 1970s
So where to start and what will be the objective? A plan is needed and I set out with the following
We started by getting the Lugger moving under engine, picking up fenders that were thrown overboard, promoting manoeuvrability skill, coming alongside and very important being able to get back onto Geni Garden pontoon, bow to with lazy line safely. The days were split into AM and PM sessions with an important break at lunch time at the Gialos Taverna for a much needed Meza and Mythos beer, all except Matty who was stuck on Fanta. It was good to have this break and run through how the session had gone and we found that after the break the PM period went much better - not sure if the Mythos had anything to do with it?
From my position in the tender, observing the family group, they were learning a great deal from each other. Matty soon became very proficient on the outboard tiller, being excellent at coming onto a lazy line and judging distance and speed. He was quick to show his mum how to do things, whilst Simon his dad, once over the ‘hurdle ‘ of understanding the effect the wind has on sail and the various sail positions, became the boat Skipper.
What a successful week! Matty was presented with the Dragon Drascombe T shirt on the final evening in recognition of his outstanding progress. Well done to The Family Foster. I thoroughly enjoyed the week and their company.
Thanks to everyone so far this summer for making Dragon Drascombe very successful and enjoyable.
2018 is not finished yet, there are still good package deals on offer for late August at the Villa Eleanor, one week amazing deals for the last week in September and first week of October at both Geni Garden and the Gialos Taverna. Take an early winter break with me for the few vacancies left for the first and second weeks in October. Don't delay, call to discuss on
+44 7812 562579
From my stunning summer office / home on the water's-edge overlooking Vliho Bay, I can watch as boats enter and leave. My Luggers and workshop are close by, so in between introducing groups to Lugger sailing I am on hand to clean and maintain the boats before launching. All the boats were cleaned last October before being covered and left in winter storage, but to maintain the high standard of the woodwork it requires constant attention. On average each boat will be on the water for 60 days each season, a lot more use than ones own boat in the UK.
I am now into the beginning of the 4th week of charters and 7 groups have visited. The weather has been mixed, a hot start in early June with sunshine and showers since, however, it has not stopped groups from getting out in the Luggers to swim and snorkel in bays. The bimini’s again have come in for praise, a must when anchored for lunch and even when under engine they can be used.
Group members constantly ask how I manage to get all the Lugger kit and spares back and fore from the UK and Bengy my dog. Yes, it's the drive overland in my newly completed Camper. For the past 12 years I have dropped down onto the eastern Adriatic coast to Ancona and got the overnight ferry to Igeomenitsa. For a change this year I took the route via Austria, Slovenia, into Croatia, having campsite stops overnight, staying near Dubrovnik for 2 nights. I continued then into Montenegro, briefly through Bosnia Herzegovina and into Albania; this is the Greek northern crossing point near Ioannina, and from there Lefkada is only 3 hours drive.
The first couple arrived at the beginning of June, arriving on a flight from Bristol to Corfu. From Corfu port they had the delightful ferry across to Igeomenitsa, where I was waiting to take them for the 2 hour drive down to Lefkada. Richard and Cheri Crosley were the next to arrive, again landing in Corfu. You will note from Cheri’s testimonial that they had a great time.
Gordon and Francis MacDonald then arrived, again via Corfu, having departed from Heathrow. Corfu is becoming a very popular point of entry to Greece; there are flights from so many regional airports and they are far less expensive compared with the flights into Preveza, so it's a good idea for those interested to look at the Corfu point of entry into Greece.
Melvyn and Jane Walker leave tomorrow on the Easy Jet flight into Gatwick. They have been here for 10 day, making it a nice break. For the past 3 days they hired a quad bike and set off to explore the mountainous region of central Lefkada. There will be some photographs to follow of their adventure.
Last week I received the newly made Baton Roached Mainsail from Dick at R& J sails. Due to his illness this winter it was late being made, however, it was worth waiting for as all his work is to a very high standard. This sail will be rigged within days ready for David and Pamela from Prescott Arizona in the US. They will have it on Ellie for their 3 week expedition, taking in the eastern Ionian Sea towards Patras, heading south to Ithica and the Cephalonia area before returning to Lefkada. It will be a very flexible itinerary for their stay. This will be documented in the Mid-Season Blog in early August
For now its goodbye to all, there are still available dates and Special offers to grab and seriously look at coming to the Ionian via Corfu.