Tag Archives: yacht

Rounding Ak Maleas – The second most southerly cape in mainland Europe.

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!

Kalamata and Sparta

We had a few very unsettled days of weather in Kalamata with torrential downpours in the afternoon so we got cracking early one morning to set off on a drive.

On the advice of a fellow yachtie and Marina di Ragusa winter live-a-board, we decided that whilst  Linea was in Kalamata marina we could do the spectacular drive from there to Sparta.  Apparently, this road twists through limestone gorges and is one of the Top 10 drives in Europe.

It did not disappoint.

Seeing the rugged mountains, verdant vegetation, brightly coloured flowers, birds and views was a great tonic when you live life at sea level with water all around.  (I am NOT complaining!)

See for yourselves…

Oh, and the scents wafting in through the windows….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes I wonder why…

I am approaching my 8000th nautical mile and I am finally beginning to feel a little more relaxed on the boat. (Some of the time!)

Recently, we met some new friends, Bridget and Steve on Waxwing of Dartmouth, and inevitably the talk turned to traumatic times we have had to suffer.  It was then that Steve posed a taxing question.

‘Given the stresses and traumas experienced when sailing in the Mediterranean, what is it that we enjoy and what makes us want to continue with this adventure?’ he asked.

Hmmmm, I had to confess that I do sometimes wonder.

First and foremost, we have enjoyed learning massive amount along the way.

We have learnt:

  • To shut the seacocks in the bathrooms if we are sailing on a close haul or beam reach.   (Otherwise the water siphons up and floods the bathroom!)
  • That the wind is either blowing too hard, not at all or on the nose!
  • To wear shoes on board so that we don’t stub our toes.
  • To keep everything stowed properly whatever the weather.
  • To invest in head phones so we can communicate without yelling at each other, especially in stressful situations.
  • To put up the sun awning up when anchored or moored to try to keep cool.
  • To tie the anchor firmly to the bow when not in use.
  • To remember that the rising crescent moon looks very like a fast approaching sailing vessel.
  • To continue to be stunned by the awe-inspiring sight of the star filled sky.
  • To keep checking the weather forecasts.
  • To practise anchoring technique.
  • To investigate strange noises immediately To check the engine daily according to the RYA ‘wobble’ mnemonic.
  • To fill up with water, gas and diesel whenever possible.
  • To use technology,  (AIS – Automatic Identification of Ships, Radar or electronic charts) as an aid to navigation and sailing, but not the be all and end all!
  • To trust our instincts.
  • That sighting dolphins, turtles and starfish always lifts our mood.
DCIM119GOPRO

Since there is mostly just the two of us; and not to get schmaltzy; we have had to rely on each other when things get tough.  We have had to ‘man-up’ on occasions and are improving at staying calm under pressure.   We have had to think in different ways to solve numerous boat problems.

We have had to cook when leaning at a rakish angle.  We are constantly having to fix stuff.  Especially  toilets – often!  Generally something breaks every day.

 

 

 

 

Sometimes it is a simple fix, sometimes it is much more involved.  (As in; the Starboard shroud started to twist and break the other day so I had to carry 19.7kg of new ones back to the boat. )  We have had to use our initiative and think quickly or change plans rapidly to fit a new situation and make things safer.  For the most part, we have succeeded and that, in itself, brings a certain satisfaction.

It’s true, that you really don’t know what the day is going to throw at you when you wake up (Thanks are due to Sue and Malcolm on Sukama for their insight, which I think is bob on. ) and we are better at reacting and adapting our plans accordingly.  We have experienced  violent peaks and troughs of adrenaline during the course of our travels which  is oddly addictive.  Even if the peaks do make me awfully thirsty!

I am pleased to have had time to read,  to practise my Italian learning, and to play endless games of calming Scrabble.

I have been gratified to notice that people are making increasing efforts to limit plastic pollution in the seas (although still more can be done everywhere to reduce the amount of single use plastic being produced, used, bought and, ultimately, making its way to the sea).

We have been lucky enough to meet some really interesting and fun people.  The other day we were with a group of Greek,  French, Brit and Lebanese nationals which was really special.

We appreciate being part of a community of wonderful fellow sailors and live-a-boards who are always happy to share their spare parts, their experience, their assistance and useful advice on all sorts of boaty things.

We have met friendly, kind and accommodating local people almost everywhere.  We have eaten some amazing food and cheeses from local producers.  We have drunk some world-class wines, some mediocre wines and, occasionally, the truly awful – but it has all been fun!

We have visited some interesting places and seen lots of piles of old stones and enough amphora to sink a ship!

Keira and her friend Sammy.

We have had great times making memories with new friends, visiting  old friends and faaaaamily.

All of these factors combined have helped to make life enjoyable and to make the stressful times worth coping with.

 

 

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!

Reasons to be cheerful (in Greece)

Well, Greece IS the word.

Not only is the food fantastic, fresh and delicious;  the countryside and nature varied and beautiful but the Greek people are amazing!

Everyone we have met so far has been the epitome (Greek word, I believe!) of helpfulness and friendliness.

I am not intending any hyperbole (Greek word!) when I say that all of the people we have met have been a delight.

I can site at least three examples.

First new spreader in place.

First, was with the delightful and verbose Stavros of Manitsas Marine, who was arranging for the replacement of our mast spreaders.  We took advantage of his address and ordered some essential boat items from our marine suppliers in Germany – an order that would take a maximum of nine days.  We waited patiently but by the 27th July we were resigned to leaving it behind.  DHL could still not give a firm idea of when it would be delivered, even though it was apparently in Kavala some 20km away. We needed to depart as the winds were favourable and we had a long way to go.

We set off for Thassos Island about 20miles away after a very productive beach clean, up operation (200 litres of rubbish plus about 20 polystyrene boxes).   We arrived at Limenaria where we discovered a huge marina development was still underway.  We counted 14 trucks, diggers, steam rollers, etc., standing idle on the half-finished quay.  Anyway I digress.  In the morning we planned to leave early so Ian was up at 0530h to do his engine checks.  He discovered a bilge full of water and coolant.  Not good.

We called our friend Stavros at Manitsas Marine.  He gave us the number of a mechanic in Kavala.  He put us in touch with a mechanic on the island.  An hour later, Georgio arrived.  He contacted a friend who came to the boat on Saturday and spent four hours fixing new core plugs to the engine block.  He charged us 60 Euros.  All of this involved numerous calls to Theo the mechanic in Kavala who acted as translator.  What a star.

Second, Stavros was concerned because we asked him if he had any of the core plugs we needed. He didn’t have any in stock but said he would go into Kavala and buy some for us and not only that he would bring them to Thassos as he was coming that afternoon by boat with his family.  He also said that our parcel had arrived and he would bring that too – which he did at 2030h at night.  How incredibly kind!

Thirdly, we were keen to go to the Nestos gorge to do the river trip but car hire was very expensive in Kavala so we decided we would have to go by bus.  We found it difficult to suss out where the buses stopped and how we would get to the little village where the tour started.  We rang Helen at www.riverland.gr  and she offered to call the various bus companies to find out the score.  She rang us back in 20 minutes with all the details we needed to know.  Not only that, she agreed that they would drive down to the main road and pick us up at the bus stop and drop us back there after the trip.

Once again, above and beyond!!

Commonwealth War graves commission cemetery on Limnos. A very beautiful and moving place to spend the afternoon.
Windmills on Limnos

I met a lovely lady in Limnos who was down at the quay to drum up business for her laundry service.  (Vicky at FAME laundry 6936815902 2254024727 10 Euros for a 6KG load.)

She was handing out cards to boat owners and chatting.  Just as she was talking to some people about when to pick up their laundry she accidently dropped her car key, house keys and business keys into the sea!  Nightmare!  But she responded to this problem by saying, ‘If that is the bad thing that is supposed to happen to me today then I will accept it.  It is certainly not the worst that could happen!’

Such a positive and optimistic attitude.  I liked her immediately and quickly offered Ian’s services to dive down and retrieve the keys.  She said that wasn’t necessary as her brother is a diver and would come to find them and her husband was already on his way with spare keys!

So, plenty of reasons to be cheerful in Greece.