All posts by Ian

Now here’s a thought

Sarah has been away for ten days so I am taking up the blog writing baton.

I am moored up on Zakinthos town quay awaiting the arrival of Sarah and Keira. It’s a lovely place and as I sat watching the sun set this evening with a glass of wine in hand I contemplated my surroundings.

On my port side there is a beautiful looking yacht, it’s about 18m long and well equipped. On-board are a delightful couple, I am guessing they are late 60’s and obviously enjoying the rewards of their working life. They have just gone ashore to eat. They have unpronounceable Dutch names so let’s call them the Port Siders.

On my starboard side is a much smaller boat, about 9m in length, she looks very sea worthy and is probably quite exciting to sail, but she is a mature lady. On-board are a young family with two little girls, maybe 6 and 4. They are in Greece for the whole summer. At the moment dad and daughters are fishing off the back of the boat (a pointless exercise), all are obviously having fun. I can hear food being prepared, I hope they aren’t depending on the fish. Let’s call them the Starboard siders.

To buy and more importantly run an 18m yacht requires a lot of Euro’s. The winches on this boat will have cost more than we paid for Linea.  I am making some assumptions but the Port Siders must have worked extremely hard and been successful at accumulating cash. In my experience this requires a few sacrifices along the way, perhaps risking the family house to invest in the business, being a grumpy, tired git, long working days, business trips eating into week-ends, and, as I see often, a lengthy conference call or two whilst on holiday with the family.

Again making a few assumptions but I am guessing the Starboard siders have made a life choice to live for now. Taking the summer off to sail your old boat around Greece having fun with your kids doesn’t tend to go hand in hand with climbing the corporate ladder or accumulating lots of cash.

What nobody tells you when your children are 6 and 4 is how brief their childhood will be, how quickly they will become young adults and not be too enthusiastic to spend the entire summer with their parents.

I am wondering is a turn to port or starboard the better life?

Trevor the Turtle

We don’t see a lot of sea life in the Aegean so it was a treat to see this fella swim past the boat.

A waiting game

You would have thought our life style had very few time pressures, but if we want to meet up with friends and family from the real world, and we do, we have to be in certain places at certain times.

For several months we have had a crack in one of our spreaders (crucial bits for keeping the mast up) and have been trying to find an opportunity to solve the problem in a way that didn’t stop our summer sailing for too long. After several trips up the mast with the tape measure we ordered replacements from EuroSpars in Plymouth to arrive in Kavala as we dropped off Sam and Rory. The boat yard, rigger, and crane were all booked.

First spreader removed

UPS decided things were going too well and contrived to send our parcel via the scenic route to Kavala. After a weeks delay our new spreaders arrived. Stavros at Manitsas Marine orchestrated the troops in between telling us what was wrong with the Greek economy, government, port authority, and tax office, Adonnis sorted out the rigging assisted by “the fat man” skillfully maneuvering the crane. By 1600 hrs we were back at anchor, invoice paid and ready for the first of several hops south to meet-up with Sarah’s brother, Paddy, who had already arrived in the Cyclades. We were hoping another parcel of supplies would have arrived by now but DHL made UPS look efficient. Our parcel had left Germany 17 days earlier, DHL had no idea where it was and were only able to give us vague promises of delivery. We decided to abandon this parcel, it only contained spares for our VHF radio, who needs a radio?

Friday 28 July looked to be perfect for the start of our journey south, a 50 mile leg to Limnos.

The Meltemi is coming

We had a weather window to get south before the next Meltemi kicked in. The forecast showed wind in the right direction, not too much, not too little, clear skies, and 26 degrees. Mary Poppins, “Practically Perfect in Every Way”. We were up at 0530 to get the best of the day’s conditions. As I made Sarah’s tea I started my engine checks (multi-tasking), odd, the coolant header tank is empty. I opened up the bilges to find them awash with seven litres of coolant, not good. That’s the end of today’s sailing plans.

It’s definitely leaking

So we are once more waiting, this time for engine parts. Even this life style has its stresses.

Video – Corinth canal transit

We are aiming to spend much of the summer in the Aegean cruising the Greek coast and islands. To get there we decided to be extravagant and transit the Corinth canal rather than sail around the Peloponnese. The canal transit is the most expensive per mile in the world, luckily it’s only 3.2 miles long.

We had a great sail down the Gulf of Patras and Gulf of Corinth, passing under the Rion-Andirrion suspension bridge, at 2.2 kms long this is the longest cable-stayed in the world. After a stop in in the wonderful town of Galaxidhi and a trip to Delphi we arrived in Corinth to transit the canal.

In ancient times ships were dragged across the isthmus, which must have been a challenge as the canal cuts through a large hill. On the 13th May we were up early and ready to transit with about a dozen other yachts. The video below gives you a feel for the amazing engineering achievement that the canal is.