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Seemingly stuck in Symi

 

Fishing vessel Panormitis, our rescue boat.

After a lovely two weeks in Turkey we left Bozborun, slightly perturbed by a loud knocking sound as the anchor came up.  We quickly attributed it to the dinghy hitting the bow as it swung forwards and happily set sail for Symi, Greece.  We had the sails up the whole way.

Back through the gap.

After completing the paperwork formalities, we set off to deliver Josh and Erin the 50 miles to Kos, as the winds were forecast to be favourable.   After a fairly slow and hot start out of Symi bay, we were soon tonking along in strong winds at 7.5kts.  Almost as soon as the wind appeared, it died and came only in fits and starts.  On starting the engine there was a terrible noise and on further investigation black oil and sea water were gushing into the engine bilge.  On selecting forward or reverse gears there were awful grinding and grating noises.  The engine would not help us.  The swell was too great to deploy the dinghy.   Oh, bugger!

The swell was rapidly pushing us closer to the rocks.   Finally, we were resigned to the fact that we would need an emergency tow.

Whilst the option to call for help is well-organised and the coastguard response prompt and professional, the consequences of calling them out can be far-reaching, as we were soon to discover.

Arriving back into Symi bay being towed by Panormitis

Once you have called them, their obligation is to organise a tow to the nearest safe harbour.  In our case this was to be Symi, a harbour where we knew we would not be able to be repaired as there are no haul out facilities for yachts.  Once in the harbour, they impound your boat and take your documents until such a time as you have had the problem fixed.

Soon we were in an endless cycle of;

Port Authority:   “You cannot leave until you have the engine fixed.”

Us:   “We cannot get the engine fixed here and we must go to Kos or Rhodes.”

Port Authority:   “You cannot go until you have the engine fixed.”

We already had an offer from the fishing boat that brought us back to Symi, to tow us to Rhodes.  But the paperwork involved in issuing a Towing Certificate is significant.  It transpired that the fishing boat did not have sufficient horse power on its papers to comply with the Ministry of Port Police regulations.

Another boat that was willing to tow us was found and negotiations ensued AND he had the required horsepower, too.  But no, this was still not adequate.  The Port Police were now insisting that we use a professional tug boat company from Rhodes.  The quote for this service was 750 Euros an hour plus VAT for a job that will probably take about ten hours.  A quick calculation gives a total fee of around E10000!

We tried every possible tack.  Wonderful friends and neighbours from our winter mooring base in Sicily offered messages of support and suggestions as to how we should proceed.

So, we tried to make a temporary repair guided by clear instructions and diagrams from Allan and Bruce.   Ian dived under the boat to fill the hole in the sail drive with epoxy putty and cover it with self-amalgamating tape.   We pumped out burnt oil and sea water from the gear box and replaced it with bio-degradable vegetable oil.  Now we had two methods of propulsion and a working mast and sails but the necessary certification could not be granted even to let us go to Rhodes for proper repairs.

Inevitably we toyed with the idea of absconding to Turkey about 10 miles away but the harbour here in Symi is small and everyone knows our predicament due to effective jungle drums.  The port police and the coastguard have offices on either side of the entrance to the harbour.  The harbour is at the head of a huge bay, the sheer size of which would hamper our chances of a rapid departure without being seen.

We did not want to be arrested!

So we continued with discussions and negotiations about a tug boat.

We managed to whittle the price down a bit but it was still a massive amount.   We had no option but to agree to the charge being held to ransom, as it were.

The port police added in hurdles every time we spoke.  We were told that the first towing certificate we received from our surveyor had expired so he would need to issue a new one.

Next, we are told that the Captain of the tug boat would only be given permission to leave Rhodes once the Port Police had viewed the latest weather report and agreed that it was safe to tow us and that  the whole operation must be completed within a twelve hour time frame.

Additionally, we are not allowed to have our boat papers back until this permission has been given and the Captain of the tug boat had signed some paperwork and been fully rubber-stamped in the Port Police office here in Symi.  A process that was bound to take time, for which we would be paying!

Pipinos Tug Boat looking small next to the huge cruise ship!

To add to the irony of the situation, the tug boat was HUGE.  It was 31m long, 11m wide and weighs 400T.  It had 4500HP engines.  It was so big that it couldn’t even enter the harbour in Symi to pick us up.  So, we had to manoeuvre out in to the bay using our temporarily fixed engine, to the precise point from which we could easily sail!  Hmmm?  When we arrived in Rhodes we would be dropped near the boat yard and would have to motor in to the slips.  Talk about a sledgehammer to crack a nut.  The rigid following of procedures and rules to the letter, with no logical thought about the type of boat and the individual circumstances, has been incredibly frustrating and stressful.

Tug boat 50m ahead and pulling our carefully rigged bridle.

Anyway, the day of the tow was selected and the tug duly arrived.  Once we had directed the crew of the tug boat as to how they should rig their substantial towing line to our bridle and what distance to leave between our two vessels the tow went very smoothly.  ( See our blog on How to rig a bridle when your yacht is to be towed.)

The weather was kind to us and the swell was a minimal 60cm, even in the Rhodes Channel.  We arrived within four hours and the tug was able to drop us very close to the slips.

In Rhodes, in the slips of Nereus Boatyard. Huge cruise ship on the far side of the bay.

The yard stayed open a little later than normal and we were soon in the cradle and lifted out on the hard.

Twenty days after breaking down we had arrived in Rhodes.

In the cradle, on the hoist. Wise lifts are made in Cullingworth near Bradford!

Time in Turkey

From Symi , Greece to Turkey is only 10 miles.  We had to go to Datca first to check in and complete all the formalities.

We spent a glorious two weeks sailing with Erin and Josh along the Datca peninsula east towards Marmaris.  The anchorages are wonderful, the waters crystal clear and the coastal areas wooded and attractive.  Turkish people have been kind and welcoming.

We feel that we must return to Turkey to properly see it in all its splendour.

Messing about with Ian’s swing mechanism.
In goes Erin.
The island in Keci Buku.
The sand bar at the head of the bay , covered with paddling people.
Eclipse of the moon.
Swanning about!
Bozburun.
Erin driving the boat.

 

Heading Further East

July 2018

With Keira back on board it was time to start heading east to pick up Erin and Josh from Kos.

Levitha mooring buoys.

Even the Meltemi wind had gone on holiday, so we had delightful and stress free sailing and stops in Schinousa, Amorgos, Levitha and finally Kos Marina.

An inexplicable large metal ‘pod’ near the only restaurant on Levitha

Kos Marina gave us a convenient spot close to the shower block and laundry. Were they trying to tell us something?

carved stones embedded in the wall of the fort in Kos.

The next day, with Erin and Josh too, we departed for a jaunt to Nisos Pserimos, just north of Kos, for an overnight anchorage prior to returning to sit out the next meltemi winds.   The anchorage was fantastic although there was a lot of debris on the beach including three knackered old RIBS.

View north over the fields of Kos to the coast.
Church and cemetery.

We had a great sail back to the old harbour in Kos Town.  The Town Quay is in use despite a shocking  6.7 Richter scale earthquake last year.  The quake has created quite a severe kinks and cracks in the concrete but the bollards are still in place.  We took a road trip in a hire car round the island and were pleasantly surprised at how leafy and green it was in places.

Birthday meal out.

We had a lovely few days in Kos town (Trash Tuesday turned into ‘Trash Every Day of the Week’ as we collected loads of plastic from within the harbour!)  We celebrated my birthday with a meal out and rigging up my new fishing rod!  All too soon it was time to say TTFN to Keira who was going back to the UK to work at Oxford Summer School.

Ian, Jacqueline, me and Peter.

We met up with Jacqueline and Peter from SY Dolce Farr Niente, M D R Friends, and it was great to compare notes with them despite the distractions of Wimbledon and World Cup finals on TV.

The lights surrounding Kos Old Harbour.

As soon as the wind calmed to a brisk 18kts we decided to leave Kos for an anchorage to the south of the island.  Kamares Bay is well-protected, experiences little swell and has facilities ashore, so was perfect for us.  We stayed for a couple of nights and then had a lovely downwind sail straight to Nisos Nisiros.

Gorgeous blue shutters on Nisiros.

What a pretty village and pleasant harbour.

Bell tower.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The view from the hill. Wow!!

We hired a car here to explore the caldera, villages and black sand beaches of this incredible volcano island.  The smell of sulphur wafting from the caldera was almost overpowering.

On the crust of the caldera and hoping it won’t crack, or erupt!

It was truly amazing.

Feta tin. Now that’s a lot of cheese!

 

 

Our first ‘catch’ with the new rod and reel.
The gap between Symi and the island to the north. Only 3m deep in parts.
The anchor chain straight ahead of us through the crystal clear waters of Ay Marina, Symi.
I want one of these!! But would it get up Grassington hill

Our next sail was a thirty-five miler east to Symi.  This island is tucked in under the Datca peninsula.  We anchored in Ay Marina just north of Pethi and enjoyed the crystal clear waters.  The wind was a fruity 28kts gusting in here but we were safe. Two nights here, and then we headed to Symi town to check out of Greece.

Symi town.

Symi Town is soooo lovely.  The buildings encircle the bay and creep up the steep slopes around.  They are all designed as if by a child, each with symmetrical windows, central door, red tiled rooves, colourful doors and window shutters.  The clock tower was just like the miniature wooden ones that come in a toy farm set.  Heikell describes it as ‘an exotic flower in a desert’, but it’s too cute for that. Certainly, it is a surprising and endearing place.  (More of that in a later blog!)

The Datca peninsula and S.ymi with Kos to the north

Next Stop Turkey.

Our 40th Island in Greece and 39 years since I was first here!

The cathedrals and churches of the Chora above and the pretty coloured houses of Klima on the shore of Nisos Milos.

We left Milos after an informative morning at the Mining Museum and headed to an anchorage about 15 miles east.  We anchored over incredible sand and enjoyed some snorkelling.  We saw a wide variety of fish and even an octopus.

The jagged pyroclasticfloe rocks of Nios Poliagos.

Next day, we headed to Ios in the southern Cyclades and arrived bang on our ETA.

We anchored in Milapotas Bay over white sand and clear waters.  We discovered that Keira and her group of hen party friends were staying very close to the bay so we met up for a beer in the evening.

It was so great to see them all.

The view through the arched door of Port Ios

The following day Ian and I took a bus to Ios port and I tried in vain to orientate myself with my 39 years old memories.  It all seemed to have changed quite a bit.  There are certainly lots more buildings in the bay to the north and the dirt road as was, is now a proper road.

Church of Port Ios headland.
One of about 7 seven old windmills at the top of the CHora

We walked up to the Chora (litter picking the plastic debris on route as it is Trash Tuesday again) and had a wander round.  It wasn’t quite as charming as I remembered although there were some pretty bougainvillea shrouded squares, bonny churches and old windmills.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Me and Steph in Crete 2011

Of course, we had a pitta gyros and toasted my best friend, Stephanie Minto, with whom I shared a good few gyros during that summer of ’79.

 

 

Meanwhile, there was lots of communication back and forth between us and Erin as her plans for her plans for Grandma’s 80th birthday trip to Wimbledon came to a head.  Her source for tickets didn’t work out; then Grandma missed her train.

But it all worked out alright in the end and they are about to crack a bottle of wine on Henman Hill !

It was a massive amount of organisation for Erin to do whilst working many hours at the restaurant too.  She sorted travel, accommodation, transport to Wimbledon, parking, tickets, picnic and even strawberries and cream.

What a fantastic memory making day!

Sun shining through the pretty church tower.

 

 

Storm bound in Monemvasia

The Gibraltar of the East. The rock of Monemvasia.

Having arrived in the sweltering heat it soon became apparent that Monemvasia didn’t want us to leave.  The wind changed to a strong Westerly, grew up into a boisterous teenager and went through full blown adolescence in the course of the following few days.

All our fenders deployed in fending us off the quay.
The eastern breakwater. Well protected but right up on the quay.

And so here we were.  Pinned against the harbour breakwater with gusts of up to 50 knots rocking us over and slamming the cutlery drawer open and shut in the throes of a proper teenage temper tantrum.  Thunder and lightning overhead have caused some yachts to lay chain from boat to sea bed to provide a possibility of earthing any strikes.  All of us have put our electronic items in the oven!

One night we all watched anxiously as two charter boats with a large group of Russians aboard demonstrated a Charter boat cha-cha in the middle of the night.  Poor things.  They ended up side-to the very end of the pontoon in howling winds after some impressive midnight maneuverings. 

 

 

 

The up side has been that we have met a great bunch of people.  Some waiting to head south, some, like us, to head east.

Trash Tuesday.

There have been; Brits, French, German, Dutch, Polish.  We have completed a Trash Tuesdays harbour plastic pick with everybody (Four large bags of plastic most of it in minuscule pieces, about 15kg in all) and had coffee and drinks on various boats.  There was a breakwater party one evening and a barbecue the next.  We have all been out for a meal to the T’Akrogiali taverna run by Tsakis, who is a delight, and whose Mama does all the cooking.

In between fending ourselves off the quay, we have had the chance to walk around the very pretty village of old Monemvasia (It is like a smaller and more rustic Dubrovnic) and do a circular walk around the jagged rock.  We have restocked our provisions, gas and water supplies.

 

We have seen the giant loggerhead turtles that frequent the bay daily.  They have distinct markings so we know it is the same two that return.  They gracefully swim around and pop up from time to time for a breath.  I was cutting Ian’s hair the other day whilst sitting on the back of the boat and one of them swam right under his toes. 

 

Tomorrow the wind will have died down a little which means that:

 

A) We can actually get off the quay

B) We can sail most of the way to Milos, due east of here.

Of course, we will have to come back this way in order to sail back to MdR in Sicily.  So far this year, despite the best laid plans, because of unfavourable winds, we have still seen very little of the Peloponnese, the Argolic gulf or the Saronic gulf.