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.
April to June 2017
Set off this morning with the car crammed full of boating bits and pieces - new tender, anchor winch, Garmin AIS and wind direction indicator and sensor, sheets, guys, blocks and shackles, cockpit cushions, assorted covers, blankets and towels, bags of clothes - mainly Helen's, a twin tub washing machine, cool box, more bags and my laptop. Oh I forgot, a couple of bottles of red and two cases of beer. Not sure how long the last two items will last, certainly not the three months we're out in Greece! Drove down to the Shuttle, a few minutes queuing before boarding. Filled up with diesel in Calais and headed off for Stuttgart, via France, Belgium, Holland. A few stops en route for tea and lunch before arriving at our hotel just after 17:00. A room upgrade just to round off the first day.
Started the day with a cooked breakfast and planned the route from Stuttgart to Ancona - should have been Venice but 'scheduled' maintenance brought about this changed departure point. Adds an extra two hours travelling time but an extra night before boarding the ferry. No accommodation booked yet so time to search the internet before departure. Have just booked the 4* Diplomat Palace hotel in Rimini for 40 Euro, including breakfast! Not sure what it's going to be like for this price but we shall see. A quick blast down the autostrada to arrive in Rimini just before 20:00. They welcomed us with a local warm drink and some nibbles, allowed me to park the car outside the front of the hotel so they could keep an eye on it rather than have me unload everything out it and then off to the room. Just about adequate for the night.
Breakfast was not the full works and warm at best. I shouldn't really complain considering the price. A ninety minute drive to Ancona to connect with the ferry. The change of departure wasn't told to everyone as many had made their way to Venice only to be told that they would have to get to Ancona. Anyway, it's 13:15, the departure is at 14:00 - although it probably won't leave on time and.... Helen is asleep. Left Ancona nearly an hour late, only to be expected. Not much entertainment on this cruise ship so having to break into the last bottle of wine!
About a couple of hours away from Patras. Had to vacate our cabin. Never did see the butler! As we are now in Greece the Kindle is out and I've started to read Homer's Odyssey. Another 88% to go. Got into Patras about 13:30. No tannoy message for drivers to return to their cars so unfortunately I held up a few behind me. Arrived in Kilada just after 17:00 to an absolute mess on board the boat. Deep clean once again begins tomorrow. An early night!
List of jobs to do as long as my arm, beginning with cleaning the outside of the boat. Decided to use the new mast ladder purchased prior to leaving as need to replace the wind direction and sensor. Unfortunately the wrong sail slides have been fitted so on to the next task. Replaced the anchor windlass, wired up and ready for Andreas to check as he's fitting a remote device to operate from the cockpit. Was going to fit the AIS but the wires that came with it are too short for where I intended placing it and no space elsewhere. Will leave that to the experts. More bits and pieces brought up from the car and replaced by some from the boat which are no longer required on board. Paid for a VPN subscription to enable us to watch the sport but the wifi signal is very poor. A couple of cold beers and an early night.
Just tinkering around doing minor tasks today. Flag staff, life horseshoe and throwing line, get the new tender out of the car and on board. Get all the fenders out of the stern cabin and prepare with new fender flutes. Sort out the pulley system so the tender can be lifted out of the water when under way. Expecting Andreas to turn up this evening as he has a couple of jobs to finish off before we go in the water on Wednesday. Knowing Andreas he probably won't be here tonight!!!
We'll Andreas didn't turn up last night so had to give him a call. He came about 20 minutes after and, as we were having tea decided that he would leave us in peace and come back a couple of hours later. We shall see. Christian, the sail maker should have arrived at 11:00 but I received an email (at 11:55!) to say he had been delayed and rescheduled for 15:00 - 16:00. New outboard engine mounting bracket bought and fitted. Lots of bills paid so far but still more to come in. Okay, so we had all the trades come together, Andreas wiring up the wind generator and anchor remote at the cockpit and Christian and Neil sorting out the spinnaker halyard. They also replaced the wind direction pointer and sensor and re-connected the lines for the main sail pacamain which broke at the end of our last trip. Glad they offered to do this as Helen would not be able to winch me up the mast as the mast ladder was still not serviceable! After Christian left I began to sort out the sails. We had no main and when I put up the head sail the UV strip they had stitched on was on the wrong side!! I called him to let him know of the fault and he said he'd sort it out the following day. Just to add to the problems when I attached the final wire on the new anchor windlass I shorted it and blew the fuse. Andreas will get me a replacement for tomorrow. What a day.
Week 2 of many.
A trip into Ermioni to buy the Dekpa. First called into the bank to pay my 50 Euro and then to the port police. Initially went to the port authority by mistake but eventually got to the right building. Three hours later I came out with my official recreational yachting permit. During my time in there a queue had built up. I hope they had brought a packed lunch with them as it's not a quick process, despite leaflets to the contrary! A bit of shopping before meeting up with Christian back at the boat in order to sort out the headsail. A temporary fix but will be sorted when I return in June. More clearing of clutter before hoisting Helen's twin tub on board. Finally rigging the main sail. Glad I made a sketch of the setup otherwise I was in deep do do's.
Up bright and early as the boat gets launched at around 08:00 (Greek time). Car parked up for the next three months with a solar panel trickle charger plugged in to save the battery. Keys left in the office and the spare boat keys collected. Phone calls to Dimitris and Andreas so that they could give the engine and new electric heads a once over before setting off. Left Kilada at 10:00 heading for Ermioni. Course set, auto pilot switched on and after an hour or so I decided to pick up the Kindle and continue reading Homer. All of a sudden there was a crunching sound and the boat rocked. I leapt up, switched the auto pilot off, looked around and then checked the chart plotter. We had gone through a shallow section of waters, 3m deep, and obviously had hit some rock. The boat has a draught of 1.9m so there ought not to have been a problem. No further reading when should be navigating!!! Arrived in Ermioni just around 15:00, main sail taken in and all set to 'med moor' on the quay. The owner of the bar / restaurant was out to greet up and assist with our mooring lines. Once sorted it was time for tea and maybe something stronger. Called into the Millennium cafe for a drink (or two of Mythos) and the kind man that helped with our mooring lines (owner of the cafe/restaurant) brought over some very tasty nibbles to sample. Excellent and went down with another cool beer. A bit later I tried one of their pizzas and this was just as good. A definite place to visit again.
Had to wait until Andreas turned up to sort out the leak in the heads so I went off to do some shopping. On return the port authority had dropped off a polite request that I visit their office and pay for my stay. 6.56euro for the night. I cannot grumble at that. Everything sorted it was time to leave. Mooring lines taken in the anchor was raised but got stuck. A bit of persuading it freed itself but as it got up on the the anchor roller it managed to jump off and came crashing down, hitting the bow and damaging the gel coat. Another repair job to do. Course plotted we headed for Poros. The main sail was hoisted and we were making good progress. However the wind began to gust (up to 17kts) and Helen was not liking the way the boat heeled over. So a bit of corrective course management was put it place to reduce this. Arrived in Poros just after 15:00 and found a mooring spot between a boat from Norway and one from Greece. Last October a storm hit Poros and caused severe damage to a number of yachts. As a consequence the back wall, where most yachts moor, is out of commission. This is going to affect the trade in Poros with significantly fewer yachts turning up.
It appears that my Kindle has given up the ghost. I thought it was the battery that needed charging but there is nothing appearing on the screen. Oh dear, Homer's Odyssey will have to wait until I return home, and I've no further books of mine to read. Might have to check Helen's paper copy books! Busier here this morning that in Ermioni. Quite a large number of yachts here, both sailing and motor, moored up to the quay. Shopping and washing lined for today as we're staying here a second night. Two trips to the chandlers, both a wasted journey, as the first time closed and second time they didn't have the items in stock. In the afternoon we invited Rolf and Iris, owners of the boat moored next to ours to come on board, have a look over the yacht and have some drinks and nibbles. They also own a Bavaria and we're intrigued by the new design. In the evening there was a procession through the village by the town folk, led by the local priests, altar boys (and girls?), the choir and band, to celebrate Good Friday.
An earlier start as we had a six hour journey ahead of us. Breakfast before departure, electric cables taken in, we said our goodbyes to Rolf and Iris and set sail for Chapel Cove on mainland Greece. A delightful quiet anchorage and relatively secure from winds from most directions- if only there was some! Arrived in Chapel Cove just after 15:30 to anchor in the bay for the night. One other yacht has arrived and picked up a mooring buoy. Other than that it is very quite. Had a swim round the yacht to check the keel after the incident on the first day. Everything appears to be okay.
Easter Sunday 16.04.17.
Up early, and as there were no electric cables, mooring lines or passerelle to deal with, it was simply a case of raising the anchor and off we go, leaving the bay at 08:45, heading for Kythnos, a distance of 31nm. No wind again, it's going to be a slow journey! However, the wind did pick up and we had a good run in to Merikas. Along the way we saw about four dolphins swimming close to our boat. Three other yachts in the marina so plenty of room to moor. Once all tied up and paid the harbour master, (20 Euro- bit pricey for one night) it was time for the entertainment. A couple of charter yachts came in and it would appear that this was the first time of 'med mooring' for them. A hour or so later both were up against the quay but one of the yachts had tightened up the anchor chain so much he has actually brought up the anchor!! They were then directed to go out again but this time to go alongside the wall, which they managed.
Not a very comfortable night. Obviously the wind was not in the right direction as there was a lot of rocking from all directions. One night was plenty so we now planned to go to Serifos, about 23nm away. Wind and waves against, another slow journey. Helen was not impressed as the further we got into our route the higher the wind strength got (30+ kts) and the more the boat heeled over! That's sailing for you. It was a cold day, one could imagine we were back in the UK, Bank Holiday, sailing in the English Channel, cold, windy, miserable and no tea made for most of the journey which took nearly eight hours to complete. Once in Serifos we found plenty of space and went alongside the wall. Much better for a good quiet nights sleep. As Helen had a snooze I go off in search of an internet connection and a Mythos (or two). It's now just after 20:00 and we've had thunder and lightning. It is a typical bank holiday Monday.
A bar in Kilada, just chilling out before going off tomorrow.
The washing machine, put to use for the first time. Proved to be an excellent buy for the three months we've been out on the yacht.
Week 3 of many.
After the thunder and lightning had died away it was a very peaceful night. No loud music blasting away, no jerking of the boat due to wind or swell. Bliss. Checked the forecast as Helen was concerned that we might have more of yesterday's weather. Very different today. Little wind, no more than 12kts, wave height minimal and as we were crossing the direction of the waves there might be a small amount of rolling from side to side. We decided to leave Serifos and head for Sifnos, just over 12nm away. Perfect departure, springing off to move the bow away from the quay and we were off. Arrived in Sifnos with no one around to assist with the mooring lines so it was a case of carefully reversing up to the quay and getting just close enough for Helen to jump ashore to secure the yacht to the mooring rings. All done, passerelle in a new position and all we needed was our friendly electricity man to come along to provide shore power. For the first few hours we were the only yacht here but another three arrived by nightfall.
A very early wake up call as the winds had built up over night and we were being pushed sideways. A bit of anchor taken in and a further mooring line attached to the bow cleat brought us back to where we should be, square to the quay, but we will need to keep an eye on this. One yacht left before 07:00 this morning and two others have since. Not going to do a great deal today other than get the washing machine out and do the laundry. Have managed to get the VPN working with Sky now so Helen can watch the Monte Carlo tennis. Murray plays today.
A much quieter night as the wind had dropped to a tolerable level. We had decided that the weather was fine (for Helen) to cross over to Milos. The French people in the catamaran moored next to us provided us with a bottle of rum as they only had one more days charter before heading home. All springs removed, power cable and passerelle sorted, marina fees paid, goodbyes said to all around we moved off the quay and headed for Milos. On the crossing we had the company of a dolphin for a time. Oh dear, having checked the weather forecast for the day it would appear that someone got it wrong. Should have been F3/4 not F7 for several hours. Bashing against wind and waves added an hour or so to the journey time, and it meant fun and games trying to 'med moor' with wind on the beam! Didn't try so went alongside instead. Informed the marina and told them that I would change once the wind dropped. A bit of shopping, a bit of tennis watching and a glass or two of beer before bed.
The wind had dropped sufficiently for us to change to 'Med mooring' so after breakfast we set about changing. All done it was time to clean the boat. Not sure where all the dirt came from but the top deck is now looking white again. As we are here for a few days some more washing was scheduled and quickly dried in the wind. Temperature is dropping and feels more like the UK than Greece. However, it should pick up again by Wednesday of next week!!
Another cold and windy start to the day. Jobs to do; clean all the chrome on the outside of the yacht, and there's a lot of it, hoover the inside and maybe a bit more laundry. Well, the weather was not good for cleaning the chrome so some items washed, hung on the line to dry but then the rain came. Washing brought in, bagged up and a walk into town to the laundrette to tumble dry them. Left Helen on board so she could watch the tennis!
Finished off cleaning the chrome as the weather has started to improve. At 13:25 Cedric, who we met in Rome three years and sailed to Sardinia with before he started his circumnavigation, was coming in by ferry to stay with us for a couple of weeks. A few drinks and nibbles before going out for a meal and then rounding the evening off with a nightcap of that delightful single malt, Corryvreckan.
Decided to stay for a further night in Milos and explore the island with Cedric as it was his first time here. Hired a car and set off for the catacombs - closed as it was a Monday. Visited the amphitheatre, which was open, before driving up to the Plaka and walking round the castle. Next on to the museum housing the copy of the Venus di Milo - also closed but managed to get a photo of her through the window. A refreshing drink before setting off to visit five bays around the island. Tomorrow we will get to the best of them, Kleftico, by sail and anchor over night.
Week 4 of many.
Time to leave the marina at Adamanas on Milos and head for Kleftiko, the most beautiful bay on Milos. Having filled up the engine with diesel and returned the hire car we prepared for our departure. All mooring lines taken in Helen started to raise the anchor. It was stuck, caught under one of the heavy duty chains that crisscross the marina. Cedric volunteered to go in and release the anchor which he did and we were off. A couple of hours later we were in the bay of Kleftiko, a stunning bay of arches and caves. The tender was lowered into the water, outboard attached and off we went to explore. We managed to find somewhere to tie up the tender and decided to go in for a swim. After the initial shock of the cold water this was quickly forgotten by the stunning beauty of the coastline. It certainly matched the description of the guidebook. We were advised not to anchor overnight here so we set a course to go to Folegandros, an island some 25nm away. We should arrive there just after 22:00 if all goes well. Arrived to a bay that had one other yacht at anchor. The night sky was very dark and it made it extremely difficult to work out exactly where to drop the anchor. I could just make out the steep sides of the rock face that appeared very close! The anchor went down and 40m of chain let out. It held immediately and three bearings taken and checked several times later before settling down to several glasses of red.
Boy was it peaceful during the night, so much so that it was gone 09:00 before we got up. When I stepped into the cockpit and looked around, my, was the bay beautiful. It's a pity we're were leaving otherwise it would have been nice to stay and explore. As it was I plotted our course for Ios, the next island on our travels. Little wind on the crossing but we finally did manage to get the headsail out for about 25 minutes! When we arrived at the marina we had to wait over half an hour for a yacht to sort itself out and get moored up. Then in we went, tied up and picked up the lazy line, all done in under 5 minutes. A brief walk around the area and then back on board for drinks and supper.
Today was hire car day and exploring the island. However, before we left the yacht the skipper of the large catamaran moored next to me nearly rammed the side of my yacht when he caught the lazy line round his prop. He could see that the girl had trouble releasing the line but still carried on. Needless to say he now has to get a diver in to release the line at a cost of 120 Euro. I did offer to do it for fifty but the port authority doesn't let unlicensed divers enter the water. Once on the move we have visited Homer's grave, a stunning beach (with the odd nude sunbather or two), a castle, cheese factory, a monastery, another beach, a theatre and the chora. Plenty of walking and hill climbing, a bit of cheese tasting but no swimming. Time for a drink or two.
Another very peaceful night, we were the only yacht in the marina. Our next island is Thira (Santorini),about 30nm to the south of Ios. Hire car returned, water tank filled, power cable taken in, course plotted, it was a case of dropping the lazy line and slipping away from the quay. On the crossing we saw a couple of dolphins and one other boat, make that two and a ferry!!! Stunning views as we sailed through the caldera, the white washed houses precariously perched at the top of the sheer sides of the walls of the volcano. Just before our arrival in Vlikhada I contacted the harbour master to check the depth into the marina. The response was if my draught was 1.8m or less I could go in. My yacht draws 1.95m so no go. Oh dear, maybe some other time but now we are routed for Anafi, the next island east of Thira, a further 13nm on. Arrived just after 17:00. No other yachts in the bay and so peaceful. Anchor dropped in 2.7m of water, bathing platform dropped, trunks on and in for a swim. Anchor checked and bedded in well. It's going to be a lovely night on the hook.
Legend has it that Apollo raised the island from the sea to provide Jason and the Argonauts protection from a storm. It certainly provided us with an excellent night and everyone was up early, just after 07:00. We decided to leave straight away as there was not a great deal to do in the bay and it looked like the only taverna was still closed. The next island is Astipalaia, 33nm east of Anafi. Very little wind so it's motor all the way. Arrived at Astipalaia just after 14:00. One other yacht moored up so plenty of space. Went for a walk to check out the wifi, a good excuse for a beer. A bit of shopping and then out with Helen and Cedric for an evening meal. Met up with Sawa, a photographer travelling round the world and in his fifth year abroad.
A lovely start to the day began with a rather expensive coffee, 3 Euro and then a cooked breakfast, well it is the weekend. We hired a car to explore the island and started off visiting the chora. Beautiful place with a number of windmills and a castle. Having walked round the castle we returned to one of the windmills which had now been converted into a library. The librarian kindly gave us a 'Short history of the Dodecanese', in English of course, and a copy of Sophocles. The ice cream bar was closed so back to the car to cover the rest of the island, all two roads of it!!! Tomorrow we head off for Kos.
The alarm was set for 07:00 as we had a 38nm journey ahead of us. Two other yachts had already set off, one I know was also heading for Kos. Water tank filled, power cable taken in, we left the marina at 08:15. There was a bit of a swell during the crossing but still very little wind. As we approached Kos a number of cargo ships were seen,one catamaran motoring in the opposite direction and some dolphins. We arrived at Kamara's, Kos just before 15:00 and decided to go on the outer wall, to keep us away from the wall as the wind was blowing from the North West, but on closer inspection, there was also a line of rusty spikes just waiting to scratch/puncture the hull if we get blown on to the wall. Later this evening we shall move ourselves further away as a precaution. All sailing concluded it was beer time followed by a delightful dessert wine called 'Vinsanto' from Santorini.
Week 5 of many.
Another very restful night. The problems with being pushed back on to the quay by the wind didn't materialise. All we had to do to leave the quay was to undo one rope on the shore and slip the two stern lines. Luckily the solo German sailor was up and on the shore so he kindly did it and threw on board some german tea as he could see that we were drinking it (again)! As we retrieved the anchor it had caught the line of a fisherman who had cast out over our chain. He was not pleased when we had to cut it to free up the anchor. (That's the Greek economy dropped another couple of points as a result). Yet again, not a great deal on the water and hardly any wind. Helen is enjoying this part of the 'sailing '. Contacted the marina by VHF radio just prior to our arrival and given instructions once inside the old harbour. Met by the harbour master and directed to our mooring bay. Once all sorted out, paid the office for six days (146 euro) and then went off to explore the town. A drink in a bar to pick up wifi and then back to the yacht for supper and further drinks.
The wall of Kos castle as my backdrop.
Cedric up very early this morning as he is catching a boat for Rhodes. Helen and I will do some washing and cleaning before exploring the island beyond the town. Off to the new marina for a shower and afterwards a nice cup of coffee/ hot chocolate in one of the water front cafes. A bit of shopping then back on board to take in the washing. (Helen's Christmas present is certainly getting a lot of use). Having bought the parasailor it was time to fit the rigging to enable me to use it - if ever we are heading where the wind is astern! Sheets and guys blocks are in place, sheets have shackles attached but the barber hauler system is yet to be configured as I've run out of large enough shackles to fit over the mid cleats. Need to find a decent chandler. Managed to download 'Calibre' on to my laptop and have also copied all of my kindle books to the laptop. Am now able to resume reading Homer but only when in the saloon of the yacht as it's too bright to read in the cockpit. A bit more shopping, for Helen's birthday and that's been it for the day.
The '500 year old' Plane tree where Hippocrates is supposed to have sat underneath and gave lectures.
A noisy start to the day as the catamarans have decided to leave, letting all those around know! Another walk to the new marina for the daily shower, more reading and very little else is planned to do. Just after midday we decided to go out to the shops and on our return called into a restaurant for a spot of lunch, a very late lunch as it's now 16:47 and we have only just finished! Cedric returns from Rhodes so some wine and single malt will be sampled.
Another amphitheatre visited in Kos.
Bodrum, Turkey, as seen from Kos.
Helen's birthday. The day began with our walk to the new marina for a shower followed by coffee/hot chocolate. After finishing these we went in search of a hire car to explore the island. One VW Up later we called into the super market to buy items for a picnic. Our first visit was to the ancient site is Asklepion where we had our picnic. Then on to the lovely village of Zia, up in the mountains before making our way to the north coast and a paddle in the sea. Back to the yacht before heading off to a restaurant for supper. Back to the boat we celebrated Helen's birthday with a few glasses of wine - well Cedric and I did!
Off to the marina for a shower and then take the south road along the coastline to find a beach with thermal springs. A bit of a walk down from the main road to the beach but worth it. A large enclosed pool fed by the very hot sulphurous thermal springs was very relaxing, although the smell of 'bad eggs' wafted through now and then. A trek back up to the car before driving off in search of a castle at Palio Pyli up in the mountains. The site was easy to find but the route to the top of the castle was badly signed, meaning instead of going to the castle we went to a cafe. A lovely view across the valley to the top of the castle was seen from this point. Needless to say we didn't venture any further to reach the castle. Back to the car and we headed to Antimachia to visit the 14th. century fortress, and extremely large complex which, although in a state of disrepair, was worth the trip. Time to head back to the yacht for supper and drinks.
Up early today as Cedric heads home to South Africa via Athens and Cairo. A drive to the airport to drop him off and then on to Plaka forest. No forest seen or found other than a few trees here and there!!! We had to return the rental car but before that we visited the new marina for a shower. Back on the boat we had a day of cleaning and washing as we were off to Nisiros tomorrow.
Went to the new marina for an update on the weather forecast (and a shower). Not a great deal of difference from yesterday's, slightly higher winds but the same direction. We still intended to go to Nisiros, about 20nm in a south westerly direction. Had to wait until the office opened to return the meter key and get my 30euro deposit refunded. The lady arrived about 10:15 so it was shortly after this that we set off. With the lazy line dropped we drifted away from the boat moored to the side of us as we had to make sure we didn't catch the keel on his lines. Oh dear, Helen won't like this. No sooner had we got to the exit of the harbour we were greeted by wind against and rough seas. Oh, and the fenders weren't brought back on board! Helen took the helm and I retrieved the fenders. It was decided to make for the new marina, about 1nm away. I contacted them by VHF radio and we were met by the pilot boat just inside the entrance. Directed to pontoon B, on the north side. Quite a narrow channel I decided best to spin the boat around and reverse in, avoiding the lazy lines. All in all it went to plan and we are now safely moored up. Only problem is, as we are on the north side of the pontoon and the wind is blowing from the south, we have no protection from it. At least we don't have to walk too far to have our shower each morning. We shall be here for two nights as the wind doesn't change until Wednesday.
Week 6 of many.
High winds, high seas and low spirits, especially the bottle type as 'Corryvreckan' is running out! Having picked up today's weather forecast the wind is set to reduce tomorrow but we will need to see if the seas calm down as well. This weather front is affecting all of the Aegean and Turkey. The only part that seems to have settled weather is the north coastline of Crete. If we get favourable conditions then we will go to Nisiros tomorrow, otherwise we will have to spend another two days here. Weather not good for sailing so we are spending two days in Kos (new) marina waiting for a weather break. A walk into town to get an internet connection to check the weather forecast for the next three days.... and a beer.
Up early, the sun was shining, the wind had dropped and the seas were calmer. A strong possibility for leaving today. A walk to the administration to pick up the latest forecast and back to the boat. Checked with Helen, good to go. Tank topped up with water, electric cable taken in and the yacht moved across to give me a better turning angle on leaving. Notified the office that we were set to go and off we went. All lines and fenders brought back on board whilst we were still in sheltered waters before setting our course for Nisiros. The head sail was set, and the brought in again as the wind direction had changed, again. This happened several times on the crossing but we eventually got there just after 14:00. Anchored in a quaint fishing harbour with tavernas on the other side of the road. A drink, a walk and then another drink, - all in search of an internet connection of course, before back to the yacht for supper and further refreshment - read into that what you wish. Tomorrow we shall hire a scooter, explore the island and visit the volcanoes crater.
A relaxing start to the day, no rush as the island is no bigger than a postage stamp. Called in to the 'Captains House' to rent a quad bike. No paperwork completed so you can guess what type of bike this is going to be! We set off for Mandraki, the biggest town of the island. Within 100m of leaving I had my doubts over this bike. The offside front tyre was in need of some tread and as I rode on the bike was weaving from side to side. Not the best of starts. Anyway, we get to Mandraki and visited a church which was beautifully decorated inside. Then a long walk up to visit the 4th.C BC castle with stunning views over the land and sea. Back to the bike and off to view the volcanoes crater. After about 10 minutes (of slow riding) the bike started to lose power and backfire. I decided I had had enough of this bike so returned it for a scooter. We set off again for the volcano, paid our 3 Euro entrance fee and walked down into the crater. The smell of sulphur was evident but not overpowering. Photos taken, back on the scooter to the next stopping point, a medieval village. Not a great deal to see here, especially the cats as I unfortunately trod on one as I was looking up and admiring the top of a church! The scooter was returned after we had seen all that there was to see and I was refunded 5 Euro for the change of bikes. Never have I ever been so concerned when riding that quad bike, the proverbial death trap!!!!!
Had a very lovely (and large) meal in the Taverna Salonikios before assisting a late comer to the harbour with his mooring lines. Unfortunately the approach he took to reverse to the quay has meant his anchor chain has crossed ours. We will have to wait until he leaves or resets his when we are ready to go.
The beautifully painted interior of a church at Mandraki, Nisiros.
The crater at Nisiros. Still active, at least with the smell of sulphur!
Up with the larks, another fine start to the day. Have informed the Germans of our intention to leave at 10:00. We shall see if they are also prepared to go. The Germans, true to their word, set off at 09:30 and we left shortly afterwards, heading for Tilos, a small island with very little to do there. But it's a steppingstone for Simi, our next port of call. Arrived at Tilos harbour just before 13:00 and decided that we would moor up against the wall. All lines and fenders prepared we entered the small harbour and were greeted by a French couple who assisted with our lines. A chat about the facilities in the harbour and it's one place where they haven't got someone in position to collect the fees for mooring, electric or water. A bonus and, if the weather is turning poor at the weekend we could say here for several nights. Went for a walk around the village and had a chat and a beer with a couple from Newcastle. Continued on the walk and then stopped off at the Roof Restaurant for our supper, another beer and wifi connection. Another British pair came into the restaurant. We also chatted with them and they are here on holiday in Tilos for a week.
Livadhia harbour, Tilos.
Supper in a taverna, Livardhia, Tilos. You can't beat a Greek salad.
It's surprising how noisy this little sleepy fishing harbour becomes at night time, but once the ferry had left (22:00+) it was all quite again. The German boat astern of us has gone, left before 08:00 and so has the Swiss family (Robinson?) yacht. We are probably going to be here for at less three days, weather excellent (for Helen) at the moment - no wind, but will blow up over the weekend and into Monday. So there will be little to say during this period, next report Monday (?)
As expected the winds have arrived along with several yachts trying to take shelter. The last few days has been just chilling out and doing very little, other than the washing and cleaning which is now done on a regular basis as Helen has her washing machine on board and the seagulls take delight in leaving messages on the deck for me!!! At the present moment there are seven sailing yachts and one motor launch in the harbour, a great big Turkish gullet (trip boat) outside on the harbour wall and a further yacht at anchor in the bay. Of these four are British and we are all alongside the inner harbour wall. Well we Brits do have to stick together.
Week 7 of many.
After a windy night and the mooring lines creaking all night long the morning began a lot calmer. A swim around the harbour and a shower from the bathing platform was the perfect start. A number of yachts have moved on and others have taken their place. This evening Helen and I have invited the remaining two British boat owners to come on board for drinks and nibbles. A delightful evening with Richard, solo sailor from Dartmoor and Ray and Val from Warwickshire. Richard prefers the Greek sailing area, the other pair love Turkey and all it offers. However, they have had to come out of Turkey due to the rules relating to how long they can remain in a non EU country.
We had intended leaving this morning to sail to Simi. The winds were still blowing quite strongly and pushing us against the wall. Being the middle yacht with very little room ahead of me, springing the stern out was going to be quite difficult. Having spoken to Richard who reported that a 'storm' was on its way I decided that we would stay another night. This would mean a one night stop in Simi at in the south west corner of the island in Panormitis and then on Friday heading directly to Rhodes to beat the high winds expected at / around 12:00. If we want to go to Simi town we'll probably get there by ferry! This evening we were invited onto Ray and Val's yacht for drinks and nibbles. A lovely evening. It's surprising what you find out about fellow yachts persons. Both were high powered persons, either running their own company or directors of a large company. In addition, both held high voluntary posts in charitable companies and were down to earth as to what they do to support the people involved in each charity.
Woken up at 06:00 to the delightful melody of raindrops bouncing off the top deck. Our cabin window was open so that had to be closed. Rain was expected but we haven't had the storm that Richard was expecting, and this is the first bit of rain that we had seen in the last six weeks. We are leaving this morning for Simi and will leave early tomorrow morning for Rhodes. As we were the middle yacht I had organised all of the mooring lines so I could spring off the bow and push the stern out before reversing. However Richard, solo sailing, showed how easy it was by releasing all of his lines on his own and left unaided. I waited for the ferry to leave and then put my plan into action. With a bit of forward and reversing we were off the wall and on our way. Four hours later we arrived in Panormitis, a sheltered harbour with one restaurant and a monastery. Beautiful. Seven yachts at anchor in the bay and three charter boat stern to the wall. The ferry has come and gone so should be a peaceful night.
The 'monastery' in Panormitis, Simi.
Up very early as we planned to leave by 07:00 to get to Rhodes before the high winds set in. We left at 06:55 and all was well to begin with. Then Helen noticed a flash of lightning over Rhodes. As long as it stayed there then it wouldn't be a problem. About an hour later the flashes of lightning were then seen over Turkey and with it claps of thunder. Shortly after the temperature dropped significantly and the winds picked up followed by rain. I then noticed that all the atmospheric data was gone, no wind speed or direction, temperature or barometric pressure. The anemometer was still attached - which was the issue last year when the wind data disappeared. I could only think that maybe the electrical connectors had separated. For the next couple of hours we had to do without. We arrived in the marina and were all moored up by 11:45. The only other thing of interest on the crossing was seeing a seal on the surface of the water eating a fish! A walk into the old town and around the walls before returning to the yacht and a cold one. Weather has warmed up significantly, 26*C in town, but with the sunshine has come the expected winds. Back on the boat and have checked the wind sensor. It is operational again. Strange!!!
Rhodes medieval old town from the sea.
The headsail cover on the yacht next to us was flapping all night in the wind. Needless to say I got up early. Shower, shopping, sleeping and supping are the order of the day. Again, as we shall be here seven nights I won't post on a daily basis unless there is something of significance to add.
My son's birthday today. Tried calling him. No response so left a voicemail message and a text message. Went and hired a car for five days. Visited Helen's sister and partner in their hotel in Kalithea, about 10 minutes by car from the marina. Spent a bit of time with them before we all came back to the boat for a spot of lunch.
Weather not looking too bright. Rain is due and there have been claps of thunder and lightning. Off to visit another castle, Kritinia castle on the west coast of Rhodes.
Built in 1472 by the Knights of St. John as a means of protection against the invading Ottoman Turks. Next stop, a quaint little village, Empona, where some shopping and sampling of local foods was done. We drove through another lovely village, Plantania (gets its name from the many plane trees grown here) and as we were passing through we spotted a very large old building in the centre just left in ruins. It was obviously a building of note in its time with large wrought iron balconies and painted in pastel colours. The building was a sanatorium of St. Eleousa, used an hospital for those suffering from tuberculosis between 1947 and 1970. Our final stop was at Epta Piges, the source of seven springs which are supposed to flow all year round but it didn't look as though they were today!
Epta Piges. Seven springs!!! Possibly three at most.
Week 8 of many.
Another good day. Drove down to Kalithea to pick up Bridget and Paul before heading to Rhodes old town. Here's the history lesson. In 1309 the island of Rhodes was sold to the Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. The Knights then built strong fortifications around the city to fend off any possible attacks by their deadly enemies, the Ottoman Turks. In 1480 the Turks besieged the island without success. They returned in 1522 with a force of over 100 000 men against 650 Knights and 1200 supporters. After five months the Grand Master capitulated but Suleiman 1 allowed the Knight's to leave the island and they headed off to Malta. After roaming through the old town we headed to Mandraki harbour, believed to be the site where the Colossus of Rhodes stood. Time for a refreshing drink (of water) before getting back into the car and driving to Kalithea Springs, a delightful private bay for a walk around the spa buildings and a spot of lunch.
Mandraki harbour entrance where it is
said the Colossus of Rhodes once stood.
The castle walled city, seen from Mandraki harbour.
Another walk around the old town before heading off to visit the acropolis, consisting of a stadium, an amphitheatre and a partial monument. The Greeks would have had stunning views from here looking out to sea. Back to the old town and a refreshing drink before returning to the boat.
The stadium at the acropolis, Rhodes.
Amboise Gate. One of the many entrances to the walled town of Old Rhodes.
A lazy / relaxing day today before beginning our homeward voyage tomorrow. Checked the weather forecasts and still undecided whether to travel north or south of the island. Further checks to be made as both will involve a long second or third leg. Drove to Bridget's hotel and spent the day on their beach, snorkelling, swimming and sunbathing. Back to the boat, topped the tanks up with diesel and will put in water before setting off.
Well we begin our return journey today, heading back to Kilada by the 16th. June. Not as many islands to visit and a fair part of it will be coastline hopping along northern Crete. Decision made, we would go on the south side of Rhodes, bypass Lindos and head straight for an anchorage at the south western point of Rhodes. A longer journey today but it means the leg to Karpathos will be shorter tomorrow. The weather forecast for the next three days is of light winds from a west south westerly direction. A good start with both sails up. Passed close to Bridget's hotel so hopefully so good photos taken of the yacht. As we got further into our journey the skies began to darken and thunder and lightning was in the air. Thankfully it was to the west of us and shouldn't be a problem. However, had we taken the northern route then it may well have been. 17:00, anchored in Limeniskos Plimmyri, a very small fishing harbour with a taverna ashore. Tender all folded up so don't think I'll be visiting it.
Oh what a day - and night! We were the only one at anchor in the bay, but come 22:00 the thumping music started. I can only assume the taverna on the shore was packed out with locals as there was certainly no others who would be there. Or maybe the noise was a way of attracting people? Who knows, needless to say the sleeping suffered! Up (very) early and preparations made for a fast departure. Left at 06:55 and the journey was relatively uneventful, save for a few flashes of lightning over Rhodes. We arrived at Karpathos and found we were the only sailing yacht in the marina. Nobody around to help with the mooring lines, we made do with the two of us. Anchor laid, two stern lines attached and the passerelle in place. No sooner had we got inside the yacht when the heavens opened up. Thunder, lightning, hail stones and high winds, causing the yacht to slew to one side and pushed back on to the wall. The passerelle twisted and knocked the electric box over. I had to unclip the passerelle and leave this on shore, disconnect the power line and bring this back on board, start the engine and engaged gear to move us away from the wall whilst adjusting the mooring lines! By the end of this I was soaked through from head to foot. Once the storm abated I managed to dry myself down, put some dry clothes on before assisting a Dutch couple with their mooring lines. Whilst standing waiting for them to drop their anchor and reverse to the wall the heavens opened up again. Another change of clothing required! It is now 17:30 and the sun is shining. Who would have thought the weather could change so quickly?
A much quieter night than the previous one. Up and out to check the weather forecast. It appears that whatever day we leave, getting to Crete will be against the wind so we have decided to stay here another night. Washing done as I was running out of clothes due to yesterday's storm. In the cafe last night we overheard an English woman saying that her hotel had been hit by lightning and had lost all power and that the TVs and video recorders had been damaged . Just as well we were in the harbour and all the navigation equipment was off. This afternoon managed to find a bar that not only sold beer but also had the F1 on. How lucky was that!!! Port police arrived and asked all the yacht owners to take their documents to their office. Just a formality.
Today we leave Karpathos and head for a small bay in the south west corner of Kasos. We shall be on anchor there so no access to the internet until we get to Crete the following day, weather permitting. Therefore I'm posting this a day early. Happy Bank Holiday Monday.
Week 9 of many.
An interesting day yesterday. Left Karpathos bathed in sunshine after some early morning rain and thunder. Got part way to Kasos when Helen foolishly said "Not a white horse in site". Shorty afterwards the skies darkened, the winds picked up, as did the waves, and we were nose to nose against both when the rain began. Oh dear, sometimes it pays not to say anything. Needless to say our speed dropped and our ETA gained a couple of hours. Arrived at our anchorage, a bay set between two very high cliffs and a beach looking out to sea. There was a road leading to the beach but nothing else in sight.
Today we left the anchorage at 07:00 for Sitia on Crete, some 40nm away. Bashing against wind and waves and a small amount of rain we arrived in Sitia just before 16:00. No space in the inner harbour, those allocated for yachts were taken up by local fishing boats, so we went alongside the wall of the outer harbour, behind two rusty fishing trawlers. A walk round the town, a spot of provisioning, a beer and back to the boat for the night.
A peaceful night interspersed with the occasional dog bark. Phoned the local fuel station for a delivery of diesel and once fuelled we set of for Elounda, a lovely bay along the north coast of Crete. An easy passage of 23nm, flat calm seas and some wind to assist. The entrance to the lagoon is protected by an old fort, converted into a leper colony but now abandoned and a sand bar with sufficient depths to clear the entrance. Once in we found a convenient place to anchor and the rest of the day was spent chilling out, getting burnt by the sun and swimming.
The former leper colony and fort guarding the entrance to Spinnalonga lagoon.
A lovely anchorage, pity we have to move on, but we do. We are making the 36nm passage to Iraklion to visit Knossos, one of the palaces of the Minoans on Crete. It is said that the eruption of Thira probably destroyed Knossos and the Minoan civilisation. Arrived just before 15:00 and moored up outside the entrance to the Venetian harbour. Lovely views inside the harbour, where we are, not quite so good. Also, under the flight path of departing planes from the airport, a couple of miles away! Here for two nights, oh dear. Have been informed to move the yacht away from the quay as the wash from the catamaran ferries can be quite excessive. Not sure how many arrive each day and at what times but that could be a problem if we want to visit Knossos tomorrow.
Old Venetian fort at the entrance to the Venetian harbour in Iraklion.
Seen (or even scene) painted on wall of building close to ferry port, depicting Icarus and Daedalus. History lesson 2: They escaped from the labyrinth that Daedalus had built for King Minos in Crete. Icarus flew too close to the sun and fell into the sea, just off Samos, and Daedalus continued to Sicily, legend has it.
Hopped on to the city tour bus to visit the Palace of Knossos and spent a couple of hours wandering around the site, most of which had been reconstructed by Sir Arthur Evans and his team. A cold (lemonade) drink later and we were back on the bus, this time to visit the museum in the centre of Iraklion. Most of the artefacts from Knossos were on display. On return to the harbour the fees were paid for our stay, three days charged for but we will have been here less than 48 hours. I know they are short of funds but that's taking it a bit too far!!!
Leaving the polluted harbour of Iraklion and now heading west for Rethimnon, some 36nm along the north coast. The wash from the catamaran ferries and the flight path from the airport will not be missed! Another Venetian harbour with a fort on the hillside entrance. Not as stunning as Iraklion but it makes up for it by not having the planes, the ferries or the flotsam! But best of all, the marina office doesn't open until Monday and we are leaving tomorrow. Free mooring and electric. A bonus. A walk around the town to buy provisions and gain access to the internet before heading back to the yacht. The day ended with a display by a paraglide in the marina.
The day began with the delightful sounds of 'party music'! aargh. Doesn't anyone sleep on this island or go to church? Much prettier here than in Iraklion and a pleasant place to spend more time. Pity we have to move on but we do. Further west long the north coast is Chania, a passage of 36nm. Wind and waves against for most of the crossing, but then what's new? A truly beautiful place greeted our arrival. The harbour is lined with bars / restaurants, just further back from these are a warren of side streets fanning out in every direction, and all of a sudden we stumble across a square. A place definitely worth returning to. At the current moment in time no one has bothered us for any mooring fees or electricity. Could this be a bonus two days in succession?
One of the many cobbled back streets just away from the harbour in Chania.
Tomorrow we head for Anti Kithera and will be at anchor, weather permitting, and the same goes for Tuesday when we shall be at anchor on Kithera. As I will have no internet access until Wednesday I shall post this early.
Week 10 of many.
As delightful as Chania is, the Cretans obviously do not sleep, go to church on Sunday or work on Monday as the party music continued until gone 03:00 this morning. Up at 05:00 as we have a long journey ahead. Leaving Crete and heading north west to Anti Kithera, the island where the first analog computer, known as the Astrolabe was discovered. Sponge divers found the machine in 1900 and it is inscribed with the year 200BC. Currently housed in the museum in Athens. Having arrived at the bay and ventured to the head of it there was no way I was going to anchor here. In 8m of water we were too close to the cliff walls, and with it being open to the wind it would have been bumpy night. Next island Kithera, some 20nm further on. When we arrived we thought we could get alongside the wall as there was space, only to be told that the ferry was due and we'd have to anchor. No problem, lovely large bay and it would give me the opportunity to go snorkelling.
Up half the night as the winds had got up and the anchor sounded as though it was dragging. New bearings taken as the original fixes, other than the lighthouse were not visible. In the morning when I switched on the chart plotter our position from the previous evening had moved 80m. At least the winds were pushing us away from land! Set off at 08:20 for Monemvasia, on the Peloponnesus, a passage of 42nm. During the crossing the odometer decided to stop recording the distance covered! Now need to contact Garmin once again. Arrived in Monemvasia just after 16:00, a small fishing harbour with room for a few sailing yachts. Anchored in 2.5m of water, very shallow, and stern to the quay. Found that there is electric so plugged in. A walk round the village and then time for a meal, beer and wifi, not necessarily in that order. Will stay here at least another day as we can then explore the walled 16th. century city.
A lazy start to the day as we wanted to explore the walled city of Monemvasia. Caught the bus to the outskirts and then wandered around for the next few hours fascinated by the reconstruction that had been carried out between 2012 and 2015 to bring the city back to life. Originally an island, now joined by a causeway, records date it from the 6th. century. From then it was occupied twice by both the Venetians and the Ottomans, and the Knights of Malta also chanced their arm at one time. Over 40 churches were built but sadly only a few remain in tact. As we got back to the yacht we saw a yacht coming in that looked very familiar. After assisting with their mooring lines I asked the owner if they had recently purchased the yacht in Poros. It transpires that the new owners of 'Tiitu' bought it from friends of ours, Terttu and Heikki. Terttu and Heikki, they love the yacht and will have as many years pleasure from her as you did.
The restored church, Agia Sofia, in the upper town.
A mosque, built by the Ottomans. The niche next to
the window points to Mecca.
One of the original wood and metal faced gates to
the walled city.
The walled city seen from above. Looking at the roof
tops you could imagine being in Tuscany.
(The Venetian influence).
Turtles seen swimming in the harbour at
Voting day. Unfortunately T May called the snap election whilst we were out in Greece and for the second election running I lose out on voting.
It was a noisy night again last night. No, the music wasn't the problem, it was the thunder and lightning. Not forecast but it arrived and played its way around the harbour for a few hours. We had intended leaving at 08:00 but waited until 09:30 till the worst of it had passed. An uneventful journey to Leonidhion; a bit bumpy to begin with, a few sail boats passing by and sails taken in and put out several times as the wind dropped and rose. Arrived just after 16:00. Directed to moor at a particular spot and anchor dropped and we reversed in. All was well until the winds came and we were pushed back on the wall. Time to set the anchor again. Trouble was, it had to be done in the rain! This time the anchor was dropped further out, so hopefully, all should be well.
Oh dear, a disastrous result for T May and not good for the country. Anchor held well overnight so that was a good result for me! Weather sunny and light / no wind so we are staying here for another day. Little to do here so it's going to be a lazy chill out day, just sun bathing and swimming. Lourenco / Nonnu, the bottle of 'Old Friends' has just waved goodbye. A lovely tipple, thank you very much. Nothing else to report, see you tomorrow!!!
Another lovely peaceful night, no music, wind or waves crashing against the hull of the yacht. This morning we left Leonidhion for a small bay in the north east corner of Spetses, a journey of 12.8nm. On arrival the anchor was set, bathing platform lowered, swimming costume donned and in the water for a refreshing swim. An hour or so later the anchor was raised and we headed off for Porto Cheili, which will be our home for the next two days. Anchored stern to the wall, pretty close to where the Flying Dolphin ferry berths. Should be okay though. Currently the wind is hitting the starboard side and extra mooring lines have been attached just in case! Quite a bit of slop bouncing along the wall but not uncomfortable. A few hours later we are joined by four other yachts, the biggest at 34m, Bagheera, a super yacht flagged in Madeira.
The winds have all died down as has the swell, but expected to return later this afternoon. Another relaxing day today, might stroll round to the beach and have a swim. Later this evening will try to find a bar that shows the Canadian F1, and I know just the one which also sells Mythos!!! Weather has been poor today, raining on and off with intermittent thunder and lightning, so swimming has been cancelled! Time now is 19:45 and the rain is still coming in. Found the bar with the F1 on but no Mythos. What's going on?
A dry but windy start to the day. Today we head for our home port of Kilada, about 12nm north of here. Once there we shall either find a place on the quay - it's only a small one so this might not be possible, or stay in the bay on anchor. If we do this then the tender will need to be inflated if we wish to go ashore. Arrived in Kilada just before 15:00. No room on the wall so anchored in the bay. Surprisingly busy. Not sure if some are using this as a stepping stone or if they are getting hauled out. Have tried contacting the boat yard by VHF but no response so have sent an email requesting haul out tomorrow.
Heard last night that we will have to wait until Wednesday to get hauled out so have decided to leave the bay at Kilada and find another bay to anchor in for a change of scenery and to do some snorkelling.
So today we get hauled out and the end of the vacation is in sight, mores the pity. Never mind we are back in September, this time moving up to the Ionian to explore new ground and to meet up with some old colleagues, family and relatives of Helen.
So on this trek around the Greek isles we have;
Touched mainland Greece six times.
Visited 19 different islands, 12 of them new to our travels.
Spent 10 nights at anchor in a bay, the strangest being in Kasos and the latest arrival time at Folegandros at 22:05.
Stayed more than one night at 15 places.
Furthest north: 37* 42.678'
Furthest south: 35* 12.633'
Furthest east: 28* 14.354'
Furthest west: 22* 53.627'
Oh, and not forgetting one nudist beach at Chapel Cove!!
As the next week will be taken up cleaning Corryvreckan this will be the 'last post'.