Tag Archives: Dolphins

The Medicane – sound like a drug, but isn’t.

The Medicane as it was formed on Thursday 13th September off the coast of Libya. Pink, mauve, orange, yellow and green are not good!

Looking at the weather forecast, it became clear that a ‘Medicane’ was swirling towards us.  This is a warm air cyclone and measures up as a Category 1 Hurricane.   The size of this twirling depression is massive.  Currently, gathering sand and speed north of the Libyan coast it was due to enter the Aegean and fly between the Peloponnese and Crete.  Initial forecasts predicated that it would follow the north coast of Crete and then head off to the east making landfall around Kos and Turkey.  Kos was probably not the best place to be in a boat.

We decided to leave.  We sailed very fast to Astipaliea, an island between the Cyclades and the Dodecanese.  (We had a couple of dolphins playing on the bow for about thirty minutes as we rounded the southern tip of Kos which was a great bonus.)

Look carefully, there is a dolphin there!

We anchored in an enclosed bay (Vathi Bay) on the NE side of Astipaliea.  The next day,  we re-checked the forecast and the Medicane was now predicted to track more to the north and west of us. We decided to stay put as the bay we are in offers great all round protection.   We expect that we will be whipped by the tail of the depression as it spins past.

 

Vathi Bay on the NE side of Astipaliea. Totally surrounded and sheltered. We hope it will prove to be a good hurricane hole.

So, we prepared for the storm to arrive.   We laid all our anchor chain (85m) and put on a double rope snubber to help absorb shock on the chain. We removed any items that might catch the wind, (bimini, sprayhood, etc.)  and lashed down the sail bag.  The dinghy was placed in the water with its engine removed.  We had plenty of food and water and another four yachts for company.

The only taverna in the tiny hamlet ashore was closed as the owner had to go to a Baptism in Athens.  Since there were no ferries running due to the weather forecast, it seems likely that it will remain closed all weekend.   There was only one other resident as far as we could see.  He seemed unperturbed.

A goat on a boat.

The rest of the place was occupied by goats and even their bells went quiet…did they sense the approaching storm?

 

 

The very rustic little church at the top of the hill overlooking Vathi Bay.

In the mean time we enjoyed a walk up to the church on the hill and a chat with a German tourist.

You can just see our mast poking up behind this billy goat’s horn!

Malta 2018

Setting off and slightly ‘hanging’.

We left the comfort of our winter home base of the Porto Turistico di Marina di Ragusa, sad to say goodbye but pleased to be off adventuring once again.

I can now vouch for the fact that setting sail after a big night out is not the best preparation for a wallowy crossing from Sicily to Malta.

Mind you, we had had the best time!  Thanks to Jacqueline and Peter on Dolce Farr Niente for great chat, nosh and ‘Farr’ too much wine, and to Gwen and Glen on Pardella for a tremendous sing-a-long!   Ian, although tempted to try his own ‘party piece’ rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody, settled for the no less dramatic and perplexing ditty (for the foreigners in the party) of Ilkley Moor Bah T’at!  It was stunning!  You can see how the evening had progressed!  Such fun!

We completed the last minute jobs of charging all electrical items, filling up with water, raising the dinghy on to the davits and changing the lines to slips.  By 0900h we were ready to depart.  We glided out of the Marina just as the daily Marina Radio Net was in full swing and waved to the few of our friends who were up out of their duvets at that time.

We look forward to drinking, chatting and singing with them all again in future.

We had a fairly uneventful crossing although, of course, we did manage to break something.  The block attaching the main sheet from boom to deck came asunder so a quick fix had to be arranged.  It’s only been on for six months so there will be investigations in order.

Later, we were met by a pod of five common dolphins as we approached Gozo.

High up at the citadel in Vittoria.
Colourful fishing boats in Mgarr, Gozo.

We decided that the southern anchorages would be best so we headed for Mgarr and anchored off the breakwater.  It was a bit rolly in there but we were fine.  We were able to leave the boat the next day and go off to Vittoria the capital town on Gozo and see a little more of the island.

The views from the citadel were incredible and the town was bursting with cultural possibilities.  The most intriguing of which (for me) was the showing of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society film.

 

There had been performances of Jesus Christ Superstar earlier in the month a show produced by Hugh Wooldridge, the very same man who produced the Night of 1000 Voices at the Royal Albert Hall, which I was lucky enough to be involved with in 1997.  Small world!  On Malta itself this week there is a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Violin concerto and a recital by a brilliant pianist.

Life is busy on Malta.

Ian firing up our latest purchase, a Lotus barbecue. Cooking up a storm.

We spent a nice couple of days in anchorages on Comino Island and had a lovely time exploring the caves and arches nearby.

We even had our first barbecue.

 

We said a quick ‘Hello’ to friends from MDR, Karen, Patrick, AJ and Esme on Laurin and gave a jaunty wave to Lynita and family on Dizzie. I am sure that we will meet up with more of our fellow live-aboards as the season continues.

Phone box in Vittoria, Gozo.

So, we are heading into the marina near Valetta, Msida Marina, for a few nights so that we can pick up crew (David Heane and Chris Plumb) and get organised for a long crossing to Cephalonia.  This is likely to take place on Monday as that seems to be when there is the best weather window.

2017 – The Stats

Total nautical Miles 2488

Sailed miles 1212 –  49%;  Engine miles 1276   – 51%

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

Our final crew, David and Michael.
Most frequent flyers!

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

 

Litres of wine consumed – Gallons!

Yacht A – 340million Euros to build. The masts are 90m tall.

Number of Super Yachts seen – 1 – to beat all

Days of sunshine – 168  Days of rain – 12

Deepest water  – 3600m;  Highest waves – 4m;   Strongest wind – 38kn

Hottest temp – 36;  Lowest temp – 24

Fish caught – NONE;  Dolphins seen – Lots;  Turtles seen – 2;  Star fish seen – 1

Pitta Gyros consumed – Far too many!!

Times up the mast – Ian Masta-Climbing;  me pulling!  11

Genaker out – 15

Number of boat mechanics met – 10 plus the crane driver

Our Yorkshire Flag after a season in the windy Cyclades!

Number of flags and pennants shredded – FOUR –  Greek flag, Cruising Association Pennant, British Ensign, Yorkshire Flag.

A memorable year!

 

 

 

 

Hauled out

We sailed early from Rhinia and arrived in Siros to be hauled out.  Since we have a winged keel

Great shot of our winged keel on the trailer – 20cm to spare!

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.

Having a Greek lesson from my new friend.

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.

Robert and Ian discussing boats.

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.

Ian with the ‘wild dogs’!

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.

Georios, Stamatis and Vangelis Gyparis. The Volvo Penta Team in Ermoupolis, Siros.

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.

Thanasis the most stylish and handsome harbourmaster in Greece!

Continuing the engine saga!

 

The good news is that we welcomed Keira, Erin and Josh on board when they arrived on Naxos on the 1st September.  Keira and Erin completing their mammoth overland journey from China to Europe with the ferry ride from Athens.  Read all about their amazing adventures on www.twigletandnoodletravels.wordpress.com .

After the high pressure pump was analysed,  reconditioned and refitted, the engine appeared to be working well.  We had tried it in neutral in the marina but had not yet worked the engine under load for the ultimate test.  Reluctant to go out and risk engine failure in strong meltemi winds, we persuaded ourselves that we may as well stay in Naxos until the girls arrived.  We had a good couple of sociable evenings with Chris and Izzy on Mutch, admiring their new Nauticat that they had just bought in Kos.

The girls arrived on one of the large Hellenic Seaways ferries; one of 28 daily ferries.  The wash created by the Fast Sea Cat Champion Jet ferries when they come in and spin round at high speed, sends a series of surge waves which curl and ricochet around the outer wall of the harbour and hit the boats on the pontoon in a domino effect, causing alarming rocking and rolling.  We were parked right by a very solid lamp post and our gang plank came up against it and was damaged.

On Saturday, we met up with Stephen and Gillian Hodgson who joined us from Mykonos.  Unfortunately, they arrived without their luggage which was somewhere in Manchester airport.

We had a very pleasant evening out with them on the roof top at Oniro restaurant up in the Hora. 

Next day, we set off to the south of Naxos to put the engine to the test.  Typically, the wind was blowing from the south so we had to motor all the way.  The bad news was, that Ian noticed that there was some diesel leaking out of the engine but couldn’t identify where it was coming from.   We motored the whole way (4 hours)  to Ormos Kalados at the bottom of Naxos and anchored off.  Stephen and Gilly hired a buggy and set of on an adventure down the island to meet us there.  They booked a room at Kalados studios.  It is a rural and remote spot with sheep regularly strutting up and down the beach and donkeys and horses grazing in the fields.  We had been told about a fabulous rustic restaurant above the harbour where you could get barbecued lamb chops and fabulous veggies.  We had a fantastic meal there, and, although the wine was rough and cloudy, it didn’t stop us drinking rather too much of it!

We ferried Stephen and Gilly back to their end of the long and deserted beach and crashed out. Unfortunately, even the copious quantities of wine we had consumed couldn’t help us sleep in the swell that crept in during the night on the southerly wind!  We were bobbing about badly all night.

Next morning, we decided that we ought to set off back to Naxos town to get the leak looked at.  We were pleased that the wind was still southerly.  It would be a nice sail back up.  As soon as we rounded the headland to take us into the Paros/Naxos Straits, we saw lots of other yachts ahead. They were heading south under head sails only.  Strange? How could they also be sailing on a southerly wind?  Ah!  Wait a moment the wind has changed….we have 14k on the nose, as per usual.  So, we motored and the engine seemed to be doing well despite the leak.

We were barely a mile from the marina entrance, just passing between an area of rocks jutting from the headland, literally the most dangerous spot in the entire area, when the engine spluttered and died!  OH! GREAT!

We quickly deployed the head sail and sailed away from the danger towards the top of Paros.  There was a shocked silence amongst the crew.   I guess we were all wondering how we would get back into the marina without an engine.

We sailed and contemplated the situation.  After about 30 minutes, when the engine had cooled a little, Ian and Keira went to peer in the engine room.  Ian managed to bleed the airlock out and miraculously the engine started again.  We all breathed a huge collective sigh of relief!  We motored back into the marina.  Stratos, the engineer, returned in the morning to further investigate.  We have discovered that the fourth fuel injector is slightly corroded.  It leaks very slightly and,  when the fuel is compressed within, a very fine mist of diesel is ejected, which makes seeing precisely where the leak is coming from particularly difficult.  (Although the leak doesn’t affect the performance of the engine when it is running, as soon as the engine is stopped the air can get in and engines do not like air bubbles inside them!)

Stratos sorted the injector and advised replacing it over the winter.  Phew!  Job done.  Beach day, well and truly deserved and drinks with Stephen and Gilly before heading home to cook up a huge curry.

Next day, we left the marina at about noon and had a lovely sail down to the south of Paros to Ormos Aliki.  (Which was precisely where Stephen and Gilly had just booked into a hotel for the night, unbeknownst to us!)  We were just motoring up to the delightful looking anchorage when the engine stuttered and slowly died – again!  Bloody hell!

We put the head sail back out and sailed about whilst deciding what was best to do.  Concluding that it would be best to get back to Naxos, we set off at 1515h tacking into the wind.  Luckily, the wind was quite strong so we made good progress.  We arrived in Naxos bay, rounding the Vrak Fournos rock and wreck in six hours.  The plan was to sail directly into the anchorage to the north of the marina.  We had actually managed to start the engine again but couldn’t rely on it giving power so we sailed in on a close haul with the boom out ready to drop the main.  Once we were behind the breakwater, we dropped the main and used the head sail only to power us further in.  Immediately we were in position, we let the headsail flap and put the anchor down as the wind pushed us back.  Just for the added challenge we had to do all this in the dark…luckily there was a full moon to light the way!

We were well set!  Mightily relieved, we put the boat to bed and had a welcome beer.  We soon rustled up some chilli and had an enjoyable dinner down below because it was surprisingly cold on deck.

In the morning, we motored into the marina with Josh motoring beside us in the dinghy as back up in case the engine failed again.  Nikos, the Harbourmaster, was joking with us that we should ask him for the annual rate for mooring.   Stratos returned once again and pumped out the fuel, filtered it, changed all the fuel pipes and cleaned the tank out.  There must have been debris in the tank that stopped the fuel from being delivered to the engine.

He has already found one solidified pellet of liquid gasket (a kind of blue tack used to seal things) and believes there might be more.  He has also found other bits of debris in the fuel tank and coating the sides of the fuel pipes.

This does seem to be progress.  Stratos assures us that the engine is fine; and now that he has cleaned the fuel there should be no further problems.  With each successful outing we gain more confidence that the engine will not let us down. On the plus side; we have learnt such a lot and had our sailing skills further tested.

It has been a bit of a baptism of fire for the girls and Josh and I have been more than a little anxious to have all my eggs in one basket!  At the same time, it has been lovely and comforting to have help on board and we are proud to see how well they have coped with all the excitement.