We booked an Air BnB place so that we didn’t subject David and Angela to the horrors of the boatyard ladder in the night. From here we were able to explore a little of the old town and have one or two delicious pitta gyros.
On the morning of Friday 21st September, we completed all the last minute jobs on board.
Linea was put back in the water at 1230pm, having been seven weeks out of action. After a quick check from Kamel that all was well with the sail drive and engine, we set sail for Symi.
Actually, we motored the whole way as the wind was on the nose and we wanted to test the engine. We were able to use David’s vast fishing experience and trolled a line behind us. David’s conviction that we were going to catch a fish was contagious. We had a bite, a big one, but it got away. A few minutes later the line went taut and we actually managed to reel in our first fish! After consultation, we discovered that it was an Atlantic Bonita, a member of the tuna family, of which even adult ones are quite small – 12cm to 35cm apparently. It was duly dispatched and filleted. We anchored in Panormitis Bay just in time to watch the setting sun flit across the impressive monastery edifice and plunge the bay into shade.
Next stop, and a fantastic sail away, was Nisiros: The volcano island. No joy with fishing today. We had a wonderful couple of days there and then set sail for the south coast of Kos to sit out some strong northerlies and to drop off the Heanes
In the morning, we saw a large shoal of pipe fish making murmurations in the shade under our boat. There were several large predators nearby and one came in for the kill, carrying off one of the thin fish broadside across his mouth. We tried in vain to tempt him with our lure from the dinghy but he was not to be fooled.
The windy weather arrived and we decided a long lunch was called for. We headed for shore and to the Sydney bar and had a fantastic meal two days running.
All too soon, it was time to say goodbye to David and Angela. We waved them off as we sailed west for Astipaliea.
Penny, Alison and Keira all headed off on the weekend of the 9th September. We went back to the boat on the hard in dusty Rhodes.
It’s a strange feeling living on a boat balanced three metres up in the air. Although you do get a bird’s eye view of all the comings and goings in the ferry terminal and can see all the cruise ships docking opposite.
Some boatyards don’t allow you to live aboard whilst your boat is on the hard but here it is no problem. There are basic facilities in the yard (with hot water!); as long as you don’t mind shinning up and down a ladder to go to the loo in the night.
We are about twenty minutes’ walk from the old part of Rhodes and shops are near at hand. Mr and Mrs Chalkitis, the owners and Mr Ilias, the boatyard manager, are delightful and we have enjoyed meeting them. We even have our own private beach so have been for a few dips in the sea as long as the boat yard hasn’t been antifouling any boats in the previous few days, as all the waste water drains off into the sea!
Whilst we waited for the spare parts we set about polishing the hull and top sides. Not an easy job in the heat. A thin layer of dust has settled on the boat and all this had to washed off before we could begin to shine her up. We were proud of our efforts and then the yard pressure-washed a boats of its antifoul immediately up wind of us so everything was covered in a thin coating of blue! Grrr!
On Monday 17th September the brand new sail drive arrived fresh from the Volvo factory and it was carefully hoisted in to the boat and fitted by Mr Thomaz Kalligas. (The Best mechanic in the Mediterranean – he reassuringly informed us.)
Ably assisted by Kamel, the new gear box was soon in place, however, the bracket needed to fit the sail drive to the engine was not there. Also the flange that was supposed to be completely compatible with our engine turned out not to be so. After a few adjustments, we had to use the old one instead.
The necessary bracket had to be ordered from Volvo and would be with us in a couple of days. (Why nobody thought to tell us that this was an essential piece of kit for fitting the sail drive, we have still to get to the bottom of.)
The part was flown in on Wednesday and fitted. We were finally ready to go back in the water but the weather had other ideas, as strong winds were forecast to be blowing right into the slips for the next couple of days.
We have finally heard back from our insurance company. Unfortunately, they are unable to uphold our claim for accidental damage saying that the sail drive was broken by corrosion. Therefore, NONE of our expenses have been covered by the insurance policy (except for the initial tow to safety) which is a bitter blow, and will definitely have an impact on our cruising future.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
With Keira back on board it was time to start heading east to pick up Erin and Josh from Kos.
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.
Kos Marina gave us a convenient spot close to the shower block and laundry. Were they trying to tell us something?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What a pretty village and pleasant harbour.
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.
It was truly amazing.
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 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!)