Sail away with Paul Chopin.
A blog highlighting the steps taken to purchase a yacht, getting out to sail her and the adventures, not to mention the cost(!) in putting her to sea.
1st. trip out in 2014 (April 1st - April 19th.)
Flight to Athens were good and arrived on time. Meet and greet with Advance Car Rental very poor. Don't book with Atlas Car hire. Journey to Kilada went without a problem. Got on Electron and found her to be very dirty, despite giving it a thorough clean before we left. Started to get things clean and tidy.
Terry, one of the crew, contacted us - ferry strike so cannot get to us. In the end he caught a taxi 150€. Started to get the mast erected for the Rutland wind generator. Moved it, repositioned it again and again, eventually deciding to move the outboard to the other side of the pushpit and put it there in its place. Let Evangelos know the boat would be put in the water on Friday now.
Finally bought all the cabling and bits and bobs needed to wire in the generator and got that working. Met Dimitris, engineer, Andreas, Electrician, and Christian, standing rigging surveyor, all who had worked on my boat. Noticed that all water from rear tank had gone, 100l+! Checked bilges. That's where it had got to. Think there must be a leak when the stop cock or water direction flow handle is used?
Boat ready to be put in the water. Pay my 5€ to the Port Authority. Yiannis met me once the boat was in the water to go through the newly installed holding tanks. Problems with one of the newly fitted sea cocks, leaking. Had to be replaced. Boat in the water and head for Spetsai. No problem mooring this time, the place is empty of all tourist boats. Tried to fix fore Heads and couldn't. Need to get replacement seals for the Jabsco toilet. Noticed basin leaking too! What is it with me and water? Lovely evening meal, do recommend Mourayo, a family restaurant in the Old Port of Spetses.
Woke up with a sore throat. Went to Chandlers to get spare
parts. No joy. Plotted course for Hdhra (pronounce Eedyra!),
next port of call. Visited Poseidonion hotel as best viewing
point to see the Vintage Rally cars. Back to Mourayo restaurant.
Sore throat still. Left Spetses around 09:40, heading for Hydra. No sign of any boats
enroute other than water taxis. Arrived (16 nm) and found a mooring spot between two
other yachts, med berthing still. Must be getting better, with teamwork, straight in, although
did have help with throwing rope to another captain on shore. Down hill marathon concluding.
A lazy day in Hydra. Tried finding a chandler but no joy so spent the rest of the day just pottering
around the boat giving it a general tidying up and the walking around the town, up and down the
narrow alleys. A pretty place to visit. Tuesday. Had initially decided to spend another night here
but the weather forecast did not sound too promising and the swell in the bay can be uncomfortable
if it materialises so the boat next to ours suggested we go in a convoy to Poros. Reading the almanac
getting through the channel could be tricky with shallow depths so I agreed. A local fisherman tried to
get his two metre wide boat between my boat and the one moored next to me, into a gap of 1.5 metres.
Needless to say he came crashing into mine and put a dent in the toe rail. He denied it so that wasn't
the best way to leave Hydra. A fourth boat joined the convoy and we motored to Poros. Wind against, the
weather didn't turn up, so we settled in and moored up on the quay, next to the chap we were moored next
to the previous day. A small sailing community! Hooked up to electricity but had to buy an adaptor. I thought
the boats previous owner had left one but couldn't find it. Spent the night in a local bar watching Spurs hit
Sunderland for 5! Excellent result.
Decided to spent a second night here so called into the chandlers to get a replacement pump for the heads. Expensive. 95€ compared to £62 back in the UK. First attempt fitting, it leaked, but got it right the second time. Went for a walk and met up with a young lady who had started up a speed boat business on the island. Found the red tape horrendous and the Greeks unwilling to be supportive to new start-ups. An early night.
Set off for Aigina. Thought the wind would be in our favour but only half way through the trip. Hardly anything on the water save for a couple of fishing trawlers - until we got close to the island and then the ferries were darting in and out. Got the sail down in plenty of time before entering the harbour. Did a couple if circuits before selecting a point to moor up. Backed up virtually to the wall but was concerned insufficient depth so pulled away again. Decided to have another go but this time the wind began to push us towards a boat to our starboard. With help by this captain we avoided hitting her but my crew on the transom needs to work much faster with the ropes! It gets worse, Helen and I go off to find the supermarket. We return to hear that the yacht just mooring up two boats down had picked up my anchor and had dropped it, crossing the chain of the boat next to mine. Need to check this carefully when we leave in a couple of days. I had to take up the slack so we didn't have too much chain laid but thankfully it appears to be holding.
Leisurely breakfast on deck before visiting the supermarket. Offered to cook the crew a hot meal as he has gone off salads! Can't understand why, we've only had them every night bar two so far. Took a walk up to the museum. €3 entry but as it had just started raining we decided to go in. Just as we'll because the heavens opened up with thunder and lightening. €3 well spent. Paid €14.18 for two nights mooring. First lot if fees ever paid, save for €6 electricity for 2days in Poros. Electricity here is on the meter so you pay by consumption, after getting a key for the machine. Tomorrow off to Epidhavros
Paid up the electricity bill, all of €2.65. Not sure whether this is down to the wind generator and solar panel or
the meter is not reading correctly. As we left the mooring we had to take care not to lift the chain of the boat next
us as the kind gentleman from Croatia had dropped our chain over this when he tried his med mooring a couple
of nights earlier. Hardly any wind, we had the head sail out for minutes before rolling it in again. The water was
like a millpond, hardly a ripple over the surface. Finally got in to Epidhavros about 13:00 and moored up very quickly
on the end of the pontoon, only to be told the area was for fishing boats. Anchor lifted we went on to the quay without
any problems and hooked up with electricity, courtesy of being lent an adapter by the owner of Posidon Hotel. Very
welcoming. After a cup of tea we got a cab and went up to the amphitheatre in Old Epidhavros. €40 for the taxi fare
and €6 for the entry to the site, a visit worth the money. However, make sure you allow for at least two hours (or more)
when you get there as there is a lot to see. Tomorrow it's a return visit to Poros, heading home.
An early start? Not likely. Had to get one of the crew out of the local cafe, having ordered his eggs and bacon breakfast he got it in a take-away container and ate it on board. Left at 09:45 with hardly a breeze in the air. No chance of getting the sails up on a 21 mile trip to Poros. We did try, firstly with the head sail and then the main sail, but most of the journey was covered under power. Arrived in Poros at 14:15 and went straight on to the quay, hooked up with power and having a cup of tea all within 30 minutes of our arrival. Later on that evening on the quay there were the presentations of cups to the winners of the Pireaus to Poros yacht race. Very hospitable with free nibbles and wine. In fact a very good night. We met up with a couple of the competitors, one bringing the rear up and one a previous Olympic champion. Just as well it wasn't going to be an early start in the morning.
We were waiting for the return of the crew of the yacht moored next to us as they had dropped their chain right over ours. They did say they would return for 11:00 but they hadn't so I decided to move on for Hydra. Fortunately we were able to clear our chain of theirs so a careful course through the Poros channel was made before heading to Hydra. Tried getting the head sail out but to little effect so it was motoring all the way there. Found a gap on the quay, just as a large cat had vacated it after seeing that they would not fit in there, and went straight on. Moored up we went for a wander up the hills of Hydra and took a couple of pictures looking down onto the harbour. A stray seal(?) entered the harbour and swam around before making an exit. Didn't think we would see them this far south? Little that evening a very large super cruiser entered the harbour and tried to moor on the end wall of the harbour. The authorities were not going to have it but kindly agreed to let them moor up where the ferry would dock once they had stopped running for the night, so they went out of the harbour and anchored just outside for a couple of hours before returning.
An interesting start to the day. This super cruiser had to leave the ferry quay and then tried to squeeze into a space
left by a small rib. Not sure how he did it but with a bit of gentle persuasion by pushing the boats either side of him
out of the way he got in. Now for my departure for Spetses. As we had no shore power the anchor windlas was very
slow pulling up the chain. Consequently I got blown on to the chains of another yacht as I was informed we had
snagged on the chain of the boat next to us. Eventually freed we headed for Spetses and, with both sails out we were
making good speed. However, the wind dropped and it was back to motoring. We were passed by two other boats both
heading for Spetses so it didn't look good for the limited mooring spaces. It wasn't. I arrived to find the Old Port pontoon
nearly full, and having been here last year and finding the depth very shallow for the rudder, decided to head on for Porto
Chelio. In Porto Kheli I found plenty of space on the wall. Once moored up I then asked my crew what the writing on the
ground was. RESERVED FOR FLYING DOLPHIN. Oh dear, up anchor and find another place. This time the med mooring
was not great. Being blown away from my intended spot it took at least four attempts before we managed it. Oh well, still
learning, so the start and finish to anchoring was not brilliant. Went out to a newly established wine bar and got chatting
to the owner. Very friendly and as the drinks began to flow I thought an early night was called for.
Leaving Porto Kheli we began to head for a quire anchorage in one of the bays on the mainland. As we were heading for this, with both sails out, I spotted a pair of dolphins swimming alongside a yacht heading in the opposite direction. A pleasant surprise. The wind started to pick up, as it does from 2ish, and before long I thought it best to take both sails in and just motor. That evening, as we anchored up in the bay, it blew an almighty gale. It then died down so we took the tender to shore for a drink, just one, but it picked up again just after our return. We had taken four bearings earlier on our arrival and took them again. Nearly identical but I decided to drop an anchor off the stern. At 02:00 I woke up to the sounds of chain dragging, shackles banging on the stern of the yacht from the tender, and other strange noises so I got up. Retook the bearing for the next hour, every 30 minutes and decided that it was holding. Back to bed but up again at 03:45 to more noises. More bearings checked and back to bed once more.
Up at 08:00. Although there had been a slight difference in our first set of bearings, all was good and holding firm. Stern anchor hauled and put back in the cockpit locker. Whilst the crew slept I made a start on trying to tidy the boat ready for taking out of the water later that afternoon. There wasn't a great deal I could do without making too much noise so I had to be content just pottering around picking things up and then putting them down again. Not much progress then! The wind was still blowing strongly so there was little point in going out of the bay just for the sake of getting in the last sail of the trip. The afternoon arrived and we raised the anchor to get the boat lifted out of the water. But before she was lifted the work team came on board to sort out a problem with the pump and holding tank in the forward heads. All repaired, Electron was lifted, put onto her cradle and returned to the yard. A lot of cleaning, drying out all of the bilge areas, painting the keel and rudder with the leftovers of the Coppercoat, the boat was all ready to leave until the next time - 20th. May! Can't wait.