After winterising Linea (Bavaria 430 Lagoon) and leaving her safely tucked up in the Porto Turistico di Marina di Ragusa, Sicily, for a second safe winter; we set off for Longridge and caught up with June, Ian’s mum, and the rest of his family, which was lovely.
We arrived back in Linton, in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, a few days later, excited to see Keira freshly returned from a job in France; and already living and working at the Fountaine Inn, Linton. We were soon to see Erin, too, as she was to travel up from London the following week.
We hit the ground running with a spate of socials and sessions.
Soon, like everyone else, we were in full swing for Christmas. Inevitably this involved more trips to the Fountaine Inn, Linton; and eating lots of food.
We did manage to fit in a good few walks when the weather was bright (and sometimes when it wasn’t!) It was just lovely to be back in the Dale and experiencing village life again.
Erin had very little time off from her new job as Assistant Manager of the Miller and Carter Steakhouse in Worcester Park London, so she drove up north after her late shift had finished on Christmas Eve and arrived at 0200hrs in the morning! A flying visit as she had to head back down south on Boxing Day morning.
We had a wonderful day on Christmas day culminating in an evening of hilarity at the Vyvyan’s.
We enjoyed a hearty walk and refreshments with the Heanes, Hodgsons and Plumbs in between Christmas and New Year but I was unable to muster the strength (due to being proper poorly) to join them all for the annual Inn at Whitewell walk from Chipping.
As predicted, time was flying on and we still had so much to do and so many people to see.
Happily, we were able to do a little farm, dog and house sitting which made a nice change. Also, Ian was able to catch up and support his beloved Wharfedale Rugby Club.
I enjoyed going to the gym occasionally in a vague attempt to lose some of the weight I had piled on after a summer on the boat eating far too much feta cheese!
All in all, it was the most marvellous visit home, with added poignancy, since we haven’t been back for any length of time for almost two years. We miss ‘The Shire’, our family and friends very much.
Remember, we would LOVE to welcome you to the boat during the summer if you fancy a bit of camping on water! Please just ask and we will try to coordinate.
Engine Hours 319; Total nights at sea – 6 Nights anchored – 92; Nights on a town quay or in a marina – 72
Nights in the boat yard – 9
Number of guests – 21 – Bill, David, Ang, Lizzie, Alice, Ian, Sam, Rory, Bryn, Jill, Louis, (plus the rest of the family for dinner and drinks,) Jane, Alice, Ian, Erin, Josh, Keira, David, Michael, Alice, Ian
We sailed early from Rhinia and arrived in Siros to be hauled out. Since we have a winged keel
which measures 140cm across we need a trailer wide enough to motor onto with a bit of wriggle room.
Stavros from Atlas boat yard has just the right piece of kit and we were hauled out smoothly and professionally.
We trundled across the Lidl carpark and into his boat yard. It is safe to say that Stavros would be world champion caravan manoeuvrer should he be inclined to enter such a competition.
Stamatis and Georgios Gyparis, Volvo Penta engineers in Ermoupolis (father and sons team) quickly appeared and parts were ordered to arrive on Thursday
That gave us five unadulterated days for partial winterising of Linea, removing scruffy lettering and for cleaning her dirty bottom!
We booked into an Air B n B house high on the slopes of the Chora and experienced vertigo from being so far above sea level.
We spent a few very busy days scraping, polishing, sanding, cleaning and dusting. I even fabric-conditioned our lines to make them soft and pliable again – and they smell lovely.
We met Robert Brons in the yard. Robert owns Morning Cloud 4 (a sailing yacht previously owned by Sir Edward Heath who was a world class sailor, as well as being leader of the Tory Party during the 1970s.) Morning Cloud 4 has been stored on the hard in Siros for twenty years. Robert showed me round this amazing vessel: Built for speed and efficiency and able to sleep ten people in various cleverly designed bunks. It has lots of ingenious original features and various improvements, it would be wonderful to see it restored to its former racing glory.
Robert was currently living on his yacht Saquila which he had sailed from Italy. We spent a couple of evenings swapping stories with him and really enjoyed his company. We were so impressed that he still had the enthusiasm and vigour for sailing at his age – 78 years young. He cycled around town, sorted out his yacht and shinnied up and down the high ladder to Morning Cloud with the nimbleness of someone a lot younger. He is often on the look-out for crew to help him sail his new yacht, so if any of our sailor friends might be interested please get in touch for more information.
One of the best things about being somewhere for a few days is that you really get to explore and find out more about the place. During our stay Siros was hosting the All Greek volleyball championships and an international animated film exhibition and competition held in the beautiful Apollon Theatre that is modeled on La Scala.
We discovered a free shuttle bus that ran all day between the town centre and the sports centre, going right past the boat yards and Lidl – perfect! And we explored the two hills of Siros; one topped by an enormous Greek Orthodox church and one topped with a huge Catholic church. We wandered around the Choras and marvelled at the breath-taking scenes around every corner; the colours, the quaint doorways and the twisted bougainvillea blossoms like an umbrella of fluttering, bright butterflies.
We really enjoyed finding new routes to walk to and fro the boat yard and every day we were rewarded by some new and interesting sight. I particularly loved the completely intact old (but functioning) pharmacy on the main street, which still has all the original mahogany cabinets, shelving, canisters, jars and enamel labels from when it first opened in 1837. (The first pharmacy in Greece.)
We also enjoyed the Industrial Museum which houses an interesting collection of items that reflect Siros’ manufacturing, glass-making, lace-making, printing and shipping past.
After strong winds had passed it was time to be put back into the water. We said thanks and farewell to Stavros, and the Gyparis family who have done such a great job on our sail drive, stainless steel and helm repairs.
Stamatis joined us for the ride across the bay to check that all was well with the engine and the gears. It was all good. We were making 7.5k across the bay because of our gleaming hull, so that made Ian very happy. We parked on the town quay again and were, once again, warmly greeted by the lovely Thanasis.
The day after Josh and Erin left us the wind was finally at more acceptable levels so we sailed off back to Rhinia, our favourite of the islands round here. We had a good sail round to the west side and anchored in a beautiful cove – Ormos Miso.
We had a lovely couple of days here exploring the island and dodging flying shot gun bullets, as the farmers were constantly out hunting birds.
We managed another impressive beach clean-up here: Collecting something like 200lts of plastic debris. The most unusual finds were, curtain hooks, tile spacers, an intact huge electric light bulb.
Most prolific finds; plastic straws, glow bands, balloons, plastic bottle lids, fisherman’s twine and netting.
Good job done; we sailed across to Syros in yet more fruity winds and parked on the quay with the help of Thannasis, the lovely, stylish, colour-coordinated and helpful harbourmaster.
Further exploration inland revealed a beautiful town, marbled paved square and streets, Venetian style Neo-Classical buildings, bulging wrought iron balconies, tall shuttered windows and a charming elegance we have not seen elsewhere. The bay is huge. At its heart is the newly bankrupt shipyard and dry docks. Once providing employment for 2500 people it has just stopped operating some 5 months ago.
In the south part of the bay is a newish mariner which is not properly managed or maintained since it seems no one can agree who should have the contract. So, it is left un-cared for and defunct before it has even been completed. Boat owners use it regardless…for free but it is a shambles.
Ian carried out his daily engine check and discovered that seawater was getting into the saildrive: Another potentially costly repair.
We organised for an engineer, Stamatis and his son Georgios, to check it and he confirmed what we suspected. We would have to be hauled out for the repairs to the saildrive. We agreed to come back in on Friday morning after having dropped Keira in Mykonos.
We had a lovely few days in Ermoupolis, and had the added bonus of meeting up with a Clipper chum of Ian’s called Mike Stephenson who was out on a charter yacht with his wife Amanda and friends. We had a pleasant evening with them and waved them off in the morning.
We headed back to our favourite place on Rhinia, shocked to see a HUGE rock across the entrance to the cove that we had not spotted on our first stay. We took a bearing on the GPS so that we could add it to our chart.
We enjoyed sunbathing, swimming, back gammoning, eating and watching a couple of films. (A fish called Wanda – helping to complete Keira’s film education) and then, all too soon, it was time to head back to Mykonos to say goodbye to Keira as she heads back to the UK after her year abroad.
Being rescued last week spurred thoughts of Thunderbird style rescues that we have been involved with since embarking on our adventures; those in which we have been on the giving rather than the receiving end!
The first occasion was in Mallorca in Cala Portal Vells when, in the middle of the night, there was an urgent knocking on Linea’s hull. We were roused from a deep sleep and adrenaline ensured that we were rapidly on deck. We leaned over the side to see a very frightened man in the water. He kept saying, ‘Boat tip!’ and in the dim light from the moon we could just about make out the silhouette of a small yacht far to close to the beach and leaning over at an alarming angle.
Ian deployed the dinghy whilst the man swam back to the boat to his friend. Initially, Ian tried pulling the boat forward off the sand but that didn’t work. Next, they pulled the boat over with a halyard to an even greater angle in an attempt to lift the keel out of the sand. This together with their engine and the dinghy eventually allowed the boat to move out of the shallow water.
They anchored again and kept a watch and left early the next morning to head back to Palma. It was their first trip out in the boat and we hope that they weren’t put off and that they have invested in a more substantial anchor. Thunderbirds were, ‘go’!
In Sardinia, we had gone ashore in the dinghy to do some shopping and came back to the beach just as another family of six was climbing into their dinghy. Unfortunately, they started their engine in a froth of seaweed and the engine gave up. In my faltering Italian, I asked them to jump in our dinghy so that we could take them back to their yacht. We towed theirs behind us. It was fairly slow progress with eight of us in the dinghy but we made it safely back and they were most grateful. Eat your heart out Virgil.
In Ormos Panormou on Skopelos, Ian whizzed off in the dinghy to help a crew member from another yacht secure the long lines to the shore. They were really struggling to attach the heavy lines and then bring them back to the boat. Puppets on a string!
In Porto Koufo this year, we were watching the rapid approach of a thunder-storm one evening when ahead of us across the huge bay I saw two people on a lilo kicking their way across to the opposite headland; snorkels poking up and face masks clamped to their heads. As the rain began to bounce down on us like bullets and the wind whipped up the water, I was concerned about the safety of these snorkelers.
Ian shot off in the dinghy and reached them whilst they were still in the sunshine. He asked if they were ok and they assured him that they were. He pointed out the looming storm and they shrugged nonchalantly. They refused a lift back to the shore and again said that they were fine. What more could he do? We watched them anxiously as they paddled back soon after; clearly they had realised their folly and were heading back to the safety of the shore. Safely back to Tracy Island.
In Limnos this year Ian disappeared off the front of the boat to help a couple whose anchor was fouled on another boat’s chain. He helped them disentangle the knitting and reset the anchor. Lady Penelope would be proud.
Recently, when we were anchored in Aggias Annas trying to fix our own engine, we realised that we needed more diesel and a full tank of petrol for the outboard. Just about at dusk, Ian set off across the bay towards the quay. He walked up to the petrol station and replenished our dwindling supplies. On the way back in the dark he was approached by another yachtie on the quay, asking if he could help him. He had run out of petrol for his outboard, too. Could he use some of ours to get him back to his boat? Ian obliged and Dimitri and his crew were very happy that he had turned up just when he did. International Rescue whilst rescuing us! A chip off the Gordon Tracy block!
The other day a couple came down the pontoon looking very tense and anxious. They had anchored in the bay and brought people ashore but now their dinghy had died on them and they couldn’t paddle all the way back. I offered them the use of ours.
Just yesterday, we were watching as a huge motor yacht pull out of the town quay here in Naxos. Their anchor was fouled on the bottom and then the port propeller was fouled on a mooring line. They were pinned in. Ian attended in the dinghy and with the assistance of other yachts nearby managed to secure the boat before it bashed into others boats moored on the wall. He freed the anchor and the harbourmaster dived into the water to free the mooring line. Job done!
This morning a yacht beside us that was pulling out and had his anchor trapped under the chain of a boat that arrived after him. With help from Thunderbird 2 and the harbourmaster’s Dad, (AKA Jeff Tracy!) Ian managed to free the anchor and the yacht was soon on its way. Another rescue completed.