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.
New season in Corryvreckan
Left home just after 19:00 with car fully loaded (mostly with Helen's clothes and shoes!) Arrived at the Shuttle terminal and have managed to board a train two hours before our planned departure. Need to buy a first aid kit, required in Austria. The three that I have are all on the boat. No sooner had we got off the heavens opened up.
First request for tea.... less than 50 miles into the journey. At this rate we will consume about 17 cups en route. Rain abated until we got into Germany and it returned. Lovely scenery passing through Austria and Slovenia. Mist rolling off the tops of the mountains, lakes dotted here and there with the odd castle atop of the hillside. Arrived at our hotel in Ljubljana just after 17:00. Time for a shower before the beer.
Up early(ish) for breakfast, cooked for a change and then ordered a taxi for a walk around town. Up the funicular to visit the castle, then a stroll through the market to meet up with one of my previous crew members, Thomas, for a drink. A visit to the cathedral, crossed several bridges, a visit to the park before lunch. Back to the hotel to collect the car to head off for Trieste. The port was not well sign posted which meant we had a good look around Trieste and several surrounding towns. Finally found the port and now sitting, waiting to check in and board. Only another two hours to go before check in opens!
Ferry left Trieste at 06:00, only 1.5hrs late. I think they've upgraded us to the state room. I say that because that's the condition the cabin is in. A beer before bed! A stroll up on the deck, very windy, but that could be the apparent wind playing games. A number of merchant ships around but nothing sailing. Should be calling in to Ancona shortly. Departed Ancona, now 2hrs late. Slept for most of the day, making up for lost time from the previous three days.
Finally arrived in Patras and departed the boat at 15:30, now 2.5hrs late. The new motorway connecting Patras to Athens was 'open' so we decided to take it. 100 miles of restricted speed of 60kmph.....or so they recommend! Arrived in Kilada just as it started to throw it down. Sheltering under the hills of yachts whilst getting luggage out of the car and onto the boat took some skill. Needless to say I got soaked. Biscuits and beer for supper before bed.
Up and showered before 09:00, it was time to get the boat sorted out. Despite giving her a good clean on departure it also required one on arrival. New hose put to use, Bimini and storm cover put on, one wheel and new cover fitted, jib sail hoisted, tender inflated and countless other jobs completed the day was nearly over. Thoughts how to erect the wind generator mast will take up this evenings time along with a couple of beers and some light reading.
Up even earlier today as the electrician said he'd be here for 09:00. (make the 10:00+ Greek time). Solar panels placed on new gantry. Holes not lining up so hunt the drill. Andreas arrived after 10 but got straight to work. Cables concealed within the frame and taken to the batteries. All wired up by 13:00 at a cost of 148€. Job well done. Panels all attached now and will provide some backup when off shore power. Haven't set up the wind generator yet as still thinking as to its position. Vagelis, the builder of the solar panel gantry came round for payment. What was initially quoted as 5000€ + VAT at 24% in the end cost 4500€. A bargain. Gas locker put back and next job glueing on some new row locks for the tender. Temp is currently 28'.
Just few final jobs to do before boat goes in the water tomorrow. Download and update latest Garmin software and calibrate autopilot. Shop for some rope and pulleys to set up system for hoisting tender on the new solar panel gantry off the stern. Sort out boom bag and run halyards back to the cockpit. Attach flag staff, ensign and Greek flag ready for when the boat goes on the water. Eat and drink. Noisy night. Greek wedding with live music. Not the best, bring back Lou Read to cheer things up!
Up at seven. That blessed noise went on to gone three in the morning! Last minute check and boat gets lifted at 09:00. Okay, so it wasn't 09:00 but 10:00. No sooner had the boat hit the water, engine started and we were off. Initial thoughts of heading for Porto Heili were altered and we went straight round to Poros. Wind got up to around 12 knots but it didn't last long. Arrived in Poros just after 19:00 and all the usual mooring spots were taken. Who'd have thought it would be busy this time of the season? Found a spot alongside the wall on a pontoon...... but no easy way of getting off it. Had to make use of a local fishing boat moored just at the right place, and everyone else were doing the same, just to get the beers in.
Lazy morning. Waited for a space along the quay became available and we were there. Now we had power as well as water. Laundry taken to the cleaners, to be picked up at 19:00. Need to visit the Port Police to get a 'dekpa', a transit document. No dekpa but obtained a certificate showing that I tried to get one. A bit of reading, a drink and then met Thomas at 17:40. More drinks, eats, chats and finally a nightcap of Corrvreckan. Delicious - that's the single malt!
Another lazy start to the day. As Thomas goes off to complete the purchase of his yacht, and try to sort out crew to move it from Majorca to Sicily, Helen and I prepare the mooring lines for our departure. Heading for a lovely anchorage at Perdika, on the island of Aigina, about three hours away. An update, it was about 5hrs. Sailing, stopping to put the tender on the new gantry, stopping again to readjust the tender lines as one had come adrift and finally to reset the jibsail furling line as it had got snagged around the drum. Got to Perdika, (a very pretty little fishing port) and a few places available to moor. Anchor dropped and reversed onto the quay, only to have the next boat that came in snag our chain and now we only have just over 10m set and the anchor is fouled by another chain. Problems. Will have to get the dive gear on tomorrow morning to free it before we leave!
Well I thought it was going to be an early start so I was up at seven. Waiting do the others to appear I got my dive gear ready to don. Just after 08:00 I was in the water to free my anchor from the discarded chain on the sea bed. Whilst in the water I thought I would check the anchors of the yachts around mine. Two others had their anchor snagged by chain or rope and a third had his anchor chain lodged under a concrete block. All were freed. Back on board, time to leave. Headed for an anchorage in Chapel Cove, Ormos Anavissou. Anchor set, bearing taken, I thought I would dive down to see how good it was holding. It wasn't set properly so up it came and laid again. It appears good.....for the time being. Saw a yacht that looked very familiar, s/y Sankt Anna, arrive in the bay (one of the recipients of this email will also know this yacht).
A lovely peaceful night at anchor. Up just after 07:00, showered and ready to go. We left just after 09:00, heading for the island of Kea (Graham and Derek should be familiar with this island). Excellent sail in 10 - 15 knots of wind and reaching over 7 knots at times. Arrived just before 13:00, no problem finding a spot to moor, and all was sorted within 30 minutes. Time for a beer before heading to the nearest bar for wifi....... and another beer!
Well, that quiet night the previous night was ruined by the noise emanating from the bars into the wee hours of this morning. The yacht moored next to ours had 9 Italians singing the rounds and were pretty good. The stopped around 23:00 and I thought that would be it. But being Friday night the bars started playing very loud 'Greek' music. This went on until 03:30, stopped for a bit and then continued again. When it stopped goodness knows but it certainly was before 07:40 when I got up! And just to make matters worse the scores in the Ryder Cup were disappointing, but at least we (Europe) came back in the afternoon session. Today we leave for the island of Kythnos and will anchor in Sandbar Bay. No bars nearby so a quiet night is expected! Arrived mid afternoon having motored all the way. Anchor dropped, swim platform lowered and time for a dip. Tender lowered and outboard attached. Fuel added and after a couple of attempts it fired up, only for the engine to race at full revs. Oiled the throttle cable and linkage but no improvement. Will take the carb apart tomorrow and see if the float is stuck. Very large ketch (40+m) in the bay plus a number of other boats. Hoping for a quiet night.
Well the Russians were a bit loud but as soon as the head hit the pillow, lights out. Up for an early swim before heading off for Serifos. Checked the Ryder Cup scores and Europe were disappointing. Let's hope they can recover in the singles later this afternoon. Anchor up at 10:15 and a leisurely motor to Serifos. Again, no wind and seas flat calm. Arrived just before 15:00. Plenty of places to chose from so anchor dropped on we reverse in between two Beneteau's. Shopping up first before finding an Internet connection to follow the Ryder Cup. Doesn't look good. McIlroy loses and the bottom half is all red. Probably time to turn in. Just one more bourbon to see if Europe can improve!
Although the Russians were a bit loud to begin with they were quieter as the night progressed and as soon as the head hit the pillow, lights out. Up for an early swim before we head off for Serifos. Checked the Ryder Cup scores and Europe were disappointing. Let's hope they can recover in the singles later this afternoon. Anchor up at 10:15 and a leisurely motor to Serifos. Again, no wind and seas flat calm. Arrived just before 15:00. Plenty of places to chose from so anchor dropped on we reverse in between two Beneteau's. Shopping up first before finding an Internet connection to follow the Ryder Cup. Doesn't look good. McIlroy loses and the bottom half is all red. Probably time to turn in. Just one more bourbon to see if Europe can improve!
Bad news, Europe lose the Ryder Cup - quite convincingly. Obviously that extra bourbon didn't help them! A trip to the butchers to see if we could get some meat, but only fish available!! Back on the boat a quick cup of tea before heading off for Sifnos, about 3hrs away. A small amount of wind so the sails were set and these were kept up for the first two hours before the wind died down. Sails down we motored in to Sifnos and our friendly 'water man' was on the quay to greet us and catch our mooring lines. All set by 12:30 we looked forward to a lazy afternoon with a swim later on. Well the swim went out of the window because of the lazy afternoon! A short walk into the town to buy a few provisions and then back to the boat for a few beers and an early night.
Lovely peaceful night despite being surrounded by yachts. The Waterman was around early so forward tank fill and aft topped up. Fees for mooring electric and water....10€, a bargain. We left Sifnos just as the 10:00 ferry was approaching and headed for Milos, about 25 miles away. The forecast was for very light winds but as soon as we got out of the headland we found winds of over 10 knots so sails taken out. It was short lived, the wind dropping back to less than 5 knots so the engine went back on. Arrived in Milos and anchored on the outer wall just after 14:30. A beer, a few crisps and as the heat was building up it was definitely time for a cooling swim. Anchor checked, well set with just under 30m of chain laid, it should hold when the high winds come at the end of the week. The high winds appear to have arrived early. Just after 20:00 the swell was bouncing off the wall at the stern and causing the slopping noise. Thoughts as to whether to move and anchor on the other side of the quay tomorrow.
The wind direction had rotated and was now coming from the opposite direction. No thoughts of moving now as this is the quiet side of the quay. Hired a car and explored the island. Went up to see the ancient theatre and catacombs then off to the chora and a walk to the castle. Stunning views over the island and all the off lying islands. A stroll through the town, a drink (non alcoholic) and then off in search of a beach for a swim. Found several on the north side of the island but all rocky so back to the south side and a lovely sandy beach was found. Later in the evening we dined out in one of the restaurants overlooking the se and sampled the traditional Greek food.
Cleaning day today. Laundrette found and clothes and sheets washed. Hire car taken back. Outboard engine checked over again, slight improvement but throttle still not closing unaided. Need to repair one of the hose pipes that I bought last year as it has sprung a leak. Chrome also needs a good clean. Thomas off back to Munich today at 16:00; catching the ferry to Piraeus, a night in Athens before flying home on Friday. Not much more to do today but will try to get the wifi extender to work. The extender has now got a connection with my PC and can pick up the wifi point about 400m away but a very weak signal so no real improvement.
Up early and today we set off for Sifnos again. Boat given a quick hose down and the aft water tank filled we're ready to depart. Breakfast taken, passerelle and tender stowed, bathing platform raised, route plotted we leave Milos at 09:25 with recorded winds less that 1 knot! Along the bay we spot a pair of dolphins going in the opposite direction. Out in the open sea the winds pick up but to just around the five knots. Oh for a big spinnaker. Arrived in Sifnos just before 14:00. Anchor chain laid and a mooring line picked up. Hopefully either / both will hold us well for the expected high winds that are due over the next couple of days. Later on in the evening as the wind strength increased most of the yachts moored stern to the wall pulled up 10 feet of anchor chain to give a bit more protection from being pushed back onto the wall from the surge, and we all rafted together. As I was the end yacht I had to take a long line to the side wall.
What a night! Wind howling and gusting, ropes creaking each time the boat was pushed back or to the side. Thankfully no damage to anything apart from a lack of sleep. Wind has dropped but still quite high. The surge will last for sometime though. What a difference six hours make. The mist covering the mountain tops has all gone, the wind has subsided and the swell is all but gone . Three yachts that we were rafted up to have ventured off, two to Paros, not sure where the third was heading and one has come in. The heads tap, which was leaking, has been replaced and so far, appears to be leak free. Next job, clean all the chrome again. Had been putting it off for days now, and as the weather is not 'too hot' it seems an ideal time. Only one other vessel, a motor boat, has come in today. Either the earlier high winds have deterred people or it's because it Saturday, changeover day.
With the winds subsided it was decided to head NW for Serifos. We would wait until the 09:45 ferry departs so that we had a clear passage along the channel. Springs taken in, lazy line dropped, fenders stored,tender re-attached off the stern and course plotted we set off just after 10:00. Once passed the headland the headsail was set and we gently made our way to Serifos. Just on our approach we were met by the ferry also heading in. We let her pass and moor up before we entered the new marina. Lazy line picked up so no need to drop our anchor, we were all tied up by 12:30, just in time for beer (and tea for Helen). Over the course of the next few hours yachts of all sizes and nationalities arrived and we helped them moor up. The last one to arrive, crewed by Ukrainians and Israelis, came in after the sun had gone down. All on board were novices, including the skipper. There were no laid mooring lines left so they had to drop their anchor. This they did but probably less than 10m of chain laid. This was never going to hold, and when they tried to throw the mooring lines these were not attached to their boat. Oh dear, a quick lesson was given on setting mooring lines and as the anchor wasn't holding I suggested they come alongside the wall. It was easier for me to pull them back rather than the skipper manoeuvring the yacht in. Once alongside we also advised on setting springs which they did. Quite entertaining for the best part of an hour! I had also received reports from a number of sources that the high winds of Friday night / Saturday morning had sunk a number of yachts and many were damaged in Nafplio, Poros, Porto Heli and Lavrio. We were fortunate in Sifnos.
A lovely quiet night. Breakfast had, time to hire the scooter from just over the road. Laundry taken to the local restaurant (!), rubbish disposed off, swimming costume packed we headed off for the Chora up in the hills. Stunning views from up high. Back on the bike to view the rest of the island. Some nice beaches, best accessed from sea, so back to the marina and a cup of tea. We shall go back out later today for that swim. As one of the many yachts makes its way into the inner marina I set off to help with their mooring lines. Once tied one of the French crew asks if I have a barbecue, pointing out and showing me that he had caught a 10kg tuna, and wanted it cooked. Oh I wish I had, but I suggested taking it to the fish restaurant where they'd be only too pleased to cook it for them. (Wish I was on commission!) This they did and I'm sure they had a lovely meal from it.
Once the birthday celebrations of the previous night had quietened down it was another blissful sleep. Up just after 07:00 to check the weather forecast. Light winds today and Wednesday but developing towards the weekend and very high at the start of next week, although this could change. We're heading for Loutra on Kithnos. A small amount of rain just before departure (09:50) and the same again during the crossing but other than that quite uneventful. The dark skies try to brighten up but the sunshine doesn't want to play. Arrived at Loutra just after 14:00. Plenty of space on the inner harbour, anchor dropped with 35m of chain and moored between a lovely Lagoon 45 catamaran and someone's aged pride and joy motor cruiser. A cup of tea and then a visit to the hot springs pool and a swim. Whilst there we got chatting to some Swiss and Australian yachties and was given a can of beer. That's friendship. Back on the boat to intermittent wifi connection so the football will be given a miss, but then too will most of England's shots on goal (if they have any)!
What a start to the day. That aged pride and joy of a motor cruiser decided to leave very early. I thought I was on a building site when the engine started. After about 10 minutes it was back to peace and quiet. The winds had got up and was going to play havoc today. The first yacht to leave picked up at least one anchor chain and caused two others to slew sideways. After 40+ minutes and many onlookers it finally got free and off into the sun it went. One of the yachts affected by the first also tried to reset his anchor. It too got caught up with a further three yachts and had problems getting away. Another 30+ minutes and it was free but rafted up alongside a fishing boat to inspect the damage. Later, one skipper took up his chain whilst still attached to the wall so that he could have a quick departure and didn't affect any other yachts. The second took a different approach. Slipped mooring lines, full throttle and formed out of the harbour dragging his chain behind him! Not recommended. After that it quietened down, as has the wind, so now it's chill out time. Spoke too soon. By early afternoon the winds had returned followed by an armada of yachts. Once the inner harbour had filled it was then the outer wall next to the harbour, followed by another outer wall further away and finally rafting. Mooring lines were thrown (badly), the international yachting language turned to shouting as bows, sterns and all other parts of arriving yachts clattered in to those already moored. Never a dull moment, and this continued way past the hours of darkness.
What a difference in 24 hours. Wind is virtually non existent, crew are enjoying a leisurely breakfast on board their yachts and a few boats have already left - without the problems of the previous day. We will take advantage as well and head for the other side of Sand Bar bay on the NW side of Kithnos, about 10nm. Water tank filled, electric disconnected, mooring lines ready to take in, nothing else to do except raise the anchor and leave. 30€ for two nights, electric and water. Can't complain. Just over two hours later we arrive at our destination. Three other yachts in the bay, all have arrived from Loutra this morning. Not sure if all will stay the night. We shall see. A lovely swim to check if anchor is bedded in, and it is. At 17:00 there are now seven yachts in the bay, make that eight so am assuming that all will stay the night.
A lovely quiet night at anchor. Up with the larks and a very leisurely start. Very little to do and no real rush as the next port of call, Merikas, is only a couple of nm around the bay. Departed around 11:00, recalibrated the water speed sensor to try and correlate the GPS and water distance odometers. Not sure if it has! We have a new fault with the Garmin equipment. The true and apparent wind sensor is no longer working. Another problem for Barry at Garmin to sort out, but one that needs to be resolved quickly. The (very) high winds are due to return late Sunday evening and are expected, on current forecasts to stay until Thursday pm. We had hoped to stay here and leave Monday so that we could meet up with some friends but we have a 50nm dash towards our home port and I don't want to get caught out. Unless the forecasts change, and I've been comparing four, and they all say roughly the same thing, then we'll leave first thing Sunday morning.
Another quiet night although the yacht was bobbing around a bit due to the wind coming in from the rear quarter. Of the seven yachts that stayed here the night there are only two of us left. Still looking sat the weather forecasts and Sunday still looks the best day to make our way back. Also checked out the wind sensor at the top of the mast. The anemometer looks to have gone astray in the high winds when we were in Loutra harbour. Have contacted Garmin to see about a replacement. As its still under guarantee hopefully they will replace it free. The restaurants and bars are very quiet, it is the end of the season, and the town itself has very little going on. Nothing else to do, I'd better do some washing! Washing dry, I think I'll leave the ironing for another time! One other yacht has come in this afternoon, must have left the base marina very quickly to have made it here. Wind has slackened off but we still have the occasional gust. Weather forecast hasn't changed significantly to delay departure so it will be an early start tomorrow and a charted distance of 55nm.
Got up really early (05:30) to check the weather forecast. Little difference to previous days so today is the best day to leave before we get held here for a further three days at least. Course already plotted for Ermioni, 55.4nm. Wind should be on our beam from the north until mid afternoon and then it turns eastwards and will push the stern. Starts off at 15knots and then drops through the day. Left Merikas at 07:30 and raised the main with one reef put in and most of the headsail. Started to make good progress but every now and again a wave would hit us midship and the boat would start rolling. Helen was not too impressed. However, as forecast, the seas flattened as did the wind. Shame, our new arrival time is an hour later. By afternoon the wind had changed. Not from the east as predicted but from the west, just off our heading! By 15:00 we were approaching the island of Hydra and just before 18:00 we were entering the bay on the south side of Ermioni. Mooring spot selected, anchor dropped we reversed in to our spot, only to find the anchor not holding so off we set again. Started reversing but I hadn't sorted out the mooring lines from previous use so a third attempt was made. This time successfully. Time for a beer. As we weren't able to meet up with Henry and Pia I toasted their absence with a lovely single malt, Corryvreckan. Recommended.
A lie in this morning, but first task, send Thomas a text message congratulating him on his new acquisition, Plan B, a Hanse 400 yacht. Next, shopping for provisions and more beer as I had run out. On board again I gave the yacht a good clean on deck as she needed it. Back to the shops again to purchase a couple of tarpaulins to cover the boat up over the winter. Not sure how well they will last. Took a look at the yachts on the north side. Glad I'm on the south side! Attached springs to the stern to reduce the snapping motion as even on this side a bit of swell is coming in. Forecast for the area is for winds to be around 15 knots until Thursday. We shall see.
Thought it was going to be a noisy night last night as one of the crew in an adjacent yacht was celebrating his birthday. That was fine. However, the swell had built up during the night and the yacht was swinging in all directions. Glad I put the springs on. Decided to leave and head for Porto Heli. Set off at 12:00 but unfortunately the yacht next to us had laid his chain over ours and we started to drag it. Worse still, either the batteries were discharged or the anchor windlass has broken, as I could not lift the chain back on board. Had to call the offending yacht out to move his chain, which he did, and then manually retrieve my chain. Back breaking work when you've 30m of chain dangling in the water with a 35kg anchor attached to it. Finally got it on board and by 13:00 left Ermioni for Porto Heli. A couple of hours later we were in the channel leading up to the quay at Porto Heli. Thought I'd test if the windlass worked before getting there. Test failed. Still no windlass. Plan B (one for Thomas) - continue on to Kilada and then see what options are there. Arrived just after 17:00. A possibility of getting alongside on the wall but first test the anchor windlass. Still not working - can't be the batteries. Could either pick up a mooring buoy or go into the box and see if the boatyard would haul is out first thing on Wednesday, four days early. Went into the box as it was clear, moored up and then went to the office to explain the problem. No worries, will be taken out first thing in the morning. Not much else to do now except shower, cook and drink, in that order.
Up early as the yacht is likely to be lifted out of the water about 08:30. Sure enough the boys were here at that time. Boat lifted very quickly but quite a bit of time was spent deciding on which cradle to use. The first was too short as the stern started to lift but the second was fine. Now ensconced in the boat yard, close to the showers but some distance from the services. Two cables required to connect to power and will have to borrow next doors hose pipe to clean the boat. Tender washed and stored, sails washed and bagged up and that's about it for the day.
Overcast start to the day with a bit of rain in the air. Expecting Andreas, my electrician to come today at 09:30, but that's very unlikely to happen. Decided to move the life raft from the stern to the port side as I want to purchase a proper passerelle and have that fitted to the stern. Removing the cradle and life raft not a problem. Much more difficult putting the cradle back on the guard rails. Finally got it there, minus two bolts which just would not fit. The life raft will have to be put in the cradle when the boat goes in the water next April. Andreas turned up, after I called him, at 13:00 (!) to test the anchor windlass which packed up on Tuesday. It appears the motor is defective. Contacted Lewmar and Clipper Marine as its still under warranty. Need to remove it, bring it back home and then get it to Port Solent where it will sent to Lewmar for repair or replacement. Meet up with Christian, from Franks Yacht Station, to get the sails stored over winter, get a sacrificial strip put on the head sail, a small pin prick in the main sail checked, a new zip or zip puller put on the mainsail cover and to fit a second spinnaker halyard for the parasailor sail I want to buy. Last job of the day was the removal of the anchor windlass. Backs killing me now so time to rest with a cold one.
More cleaning today. All the chrome and stainless steel, of which there is a lot now that I've got the solar panel roll bar fitted! Diesel tank to be filled. Need to get some more fuel as I've emptied all the containers I have on board. Most of the halyards taken from the cockpit up to the mast and put in the bag that Helen made. The top of the hull given a polish, to get rid of the stains around the exhaust and waste outlets.
A day of doing virtually nothing. Weather poor, with rain on its way. Clothes washing done and hung out - only to get even wetter when it begins to rain! In between the storms some shopping has been done with car fuelled up and some extra diesel
for the yacht. The solar panel gantry engineer has arrived to views my requirements for wind generator assembly. He's taken away my Marlec 914i wind generator and will fabricate a mast to attach the generator to the gantry. All this extra free power will be welcome indeed.