Having decided on the perfect weather window to get us across to Sicily, a further problem with the alternator meant that we missed the chance to leave when we wanted to. We then had to wait for a few more days to be sure of a three day window. Regrettably, this meant that we were not going to be back in MdR in time to see Gaye and Chris. Bloody boat and weather!
On the plus side though, it did mean that we could ask if Kim wanted to help with the crossing. She said, ‘Yes’, and within 36 hours was travelling to Athens and on to Pilos. We also met Carol and Paul on Swallow and Claire and Pete on Blue Vigil and had good times with them.
We were surrounded by ‘dead’ yachts that had been abandoned in Pilos. What a waste!
Ian was taken off by the port police because they thought he had been trying to remove some of the equipment on board one of the abandoned boats – as if!
On Monday 29th October, we explored a little more of the town with Kim and had our last ever gyros.
We provisioned up for the trip across to Sicily and then spent the afternoon cooking and getting ready to go.
We did not fancy these though!
The next morning we were up at 0530hrs and preparing to drop the lines. Ian started the engine as he had every morning since we had the alternator fixed. It wasn’t working properly AGAIN!
We rang Kostas who came out for a third time, to have another look and try to fix the problem once and for all.
He took the offending alternator away to repair it in Kalamata. Kindly, he offered Ian a lift to Messini as we decided to purchase a generator in case the alternator should pack up during our return to Sicily. This was our back up plan.
Kostas soon had the alternator repaired and was happy with everything. He is going to Sicily on holiday next week so we have arranged to meet up.
Having waved off Alice and Ian we awaited a suitable slightly less windy day to shoot across to the mainland. Meanwhile, I revisited the very interesting Milos Mining Museum to find out more about the rocks and geology of the island.
The mainland is a fair distance from Milos at 80nm; but the winds were favourable and we just hoped that the sea wouldn’t be too lumpy after the last ten days of strong winds.
We set off in the dark on Sunday morning (14th October 2018) and discovered that the boat next to us had laid his anchor chain over ours. We managed to resolve the problem quickly and, luckily, they were awake so we could tell them.
Off we set and had a fantastic sail across making such consistently good speeds that we arrived at our anchorage in the last remnants of day light. Not before being suprised by 40knot gusts off the forbidding Ak Maleas!
Next morning, we set off round to Limeni bay where we anchored and had a peaceful night.
The next hop was to be round to Methoni on the western most ‘finger’ of the Peleponnese but in the morning when we started the engine we noticed that the alternator didn’t seem to be charging the batteries.
Luckily, we were fairly close to Kalamata where most boat repairs can be undertaken so we started sailing north. We had a fantastic sail for about an hour and then the wind died down and since it was a beautiful sunny day we enjoyed pottering along.
Deciding it was time to crack on we tried to start the engine.
After I had come round from a COMPLETE melt down, we lowered the dinghy and attached it to the starboard side of the boat, put the engine on and pushed ourselves along at a 3 knots using the outboard motor.
Only 12nm to go… we made it… just as dusk approached.
It was relatively straightforward to steer into the marina, although we decided to go in bow first. On the way there, we had phoned repair people and tee-ed up appointments for first thing in the morning.
Vincent next door supplied a much needed glass of wine and we were beginning to relax. The next day, we celebrated Ian’s birthday with some new friends.
Soon, repairs were underway. Ioannis replaced the dead engine battery. Kostos took away the alternator and fettled it with new diodes. Ian had climbed the mast three more times to fix on a new tri-colour and anchor light and by Monday evening (22nd October 2018) we were all set.
We bade farewell to new friends on Fai da Te, Owl and the Pussy Cat, Lyra and Vincent, and sailed round in the cloud, mist and rain to Pylos and the brighter weather further west.
On arriving, we were dismayed to see that the alternator was still not performing as it should. A quick call to Kostos and he agreed to come the following day to see what the problem was. He soon had it sussed and we are now prepped and ready to make the big jump across to Sicily.
On Friday 26th at 0154h there was an earthquake measuring 6.4 – magnitude, 30 miles south of Zakinthos. I actually felt the tremors on the boat at 0158h four minutes later! It was a weird feeling being bounced up and down without the force of waves. Luckily no one was hurt and only minor damage occured.
Kim will arrive on Sunday 28th Oct to give us a hand and put her newly acquired Day Skipper Skills into good practice. Yeah!
We are really looking forward to getting back to our winter berth even though we will only have a couple of weeks to put the boat to bed before we set off to the UK.
When the pilot guide states that the second most southerly cape on mainland Europe has ‘a fearsome reputation’, there is nothing more guaranteed to put the wind up two recreational sailors!
To add to the angst, there are no weather buoys in the vicinity so we had no guide to potential weather or wind on the cape.
Rod Heikell, the writer of the guides, tells of various scenarios on leaving his safe anchorage on Nisos Elafonisos. On one occasion he had left in no wind and then was met by 40kt gusts off the cape. So bad was it that he returned to the island. On another occasion, he had left in strong winds, with two reefs in his main sail and a pocket handkerchief of a jib, and then had to motor round the cape.
Our experience this morning was mixed.
We set off with light winds. We put up the main for stability in the swell. We began to turn more to the east and the wind freshened behind us. We put out the head sail too. We approached a steep bluff towards the tip of the peninsula and the wind picked up to 25kts in the blink of an eye.
We eased the main to spill the wind, rounded up a little and reeled in the headsail in. Being stuck between the busy shipping lane and the coast we had little room to manoeuvre.
The AIS alarm alerted us to a ship approaching from around the corner which as yet we could not see. We were on a collision course in approx 19 minutes, when it would be precisely 89m away.
But, we needed to keep our course!
As we gained some distance from the peninsula the wind calmed a little and we were able to put a reef in. The cargo ship sidled past steering well clear. Then the wind died completely…so I decided it was time for a coffee.
I heard the engine start. All was calm. Coffee making was almost complete and then I heard a shout.
‘We need to put another reef in!’
I brought the coffee up on deck and set it down so that if it did spill it wouldn’t be a disaster.
We set about bringing the sail down a bit. Just as we were pulling in the reefing line when the block holding the line on to the sail broke with a dull but meaningful thud. Ian replaced it whilst I held the boat to wind.
All was fine, and so we decided some headsail was appropriate but not all of it. However, the wind had other ideas and whipped out all the sail and we were flying along in 18kts of wind.
We were leaning over at such an angle that my cushion was sliding off the seat in the cockpit and was glad that I had shut the seacocks in our bathroom. (We were subsequently to discover that the solar shower bag had silently slid off deck and into a watery death at this time, too.)
Within minutes there was a bang, followed by disconcerting flapping at the front of the boat. The shackle holding the headsail up had sheared in half and the halyard was no longer holding the sail in place. Ian went to the front to haul down the sail and lash it to the deck.
Whilst he was doing this he noticed that the anchor had bounced off its place on the bow. He pulled it back and tied it securely to the roller.
After all this we looked down to see that half our coffee had slopped out over the floor and it was less than hot. On top of that, Ian had somehow found time to scoff all the remaining biscuits.
We had an interesting day…and it was still only 1230h!