Leaving Rome to go back to Greece, Sept 2014
Having made the decision to relocate the yacht back to Greece Helen and I came out to Rome for a last trip accompanied by her sister, Bridget and son, Matthew ( or one of them!) so...
Left home and rushed down to the shuttle just getting there before boarding was closed. A quick trip through the tunnel and we were heading for Como, Italy via France and Switzerland. Too many tea stops meant that we didn't arrive until gone 21:00, but managed to get a beer, wine and a pizza in before retiring.
Off to Rome to meet my brother, pick up some wine and spirits before going to the marina. Got to Franks just after 15:00 but didn't stop for tea. What a surprise, Helen didn't want a cuppa!
Marco and his brother turned up at the boat just to confirm that I was happy with the additional work they had completed installing the autopilot. The work was not fine and I was not happy at paying an additional €300 for it to be completed. Poor quality workmanship but I had no option but to pay. Thankfully it was by credit card so I got in contact with the credit card company and told them I was disputing the charge.
Intentions of heading for the Pontine islands. Fuel tanks filled, oil and water checked. All mooring lines sorted with additional slip lines ready for the off. Fuel switched on, ignition on, heater plugs given a blast for 20 seconds and then hit the start button. Trouble is, it didn't. A second third and fourth attempt but to no avail. Checked the lift pump, fuel getting there and to the fuel filter but not to the injectors. Nothing for it but to call in at the office and get someone out to look at it. They came 1/2 hr later, looked at a few things before saying they'd return at 15:00. True to their word they did, played with the pump and injectors before remove and taking them off to check on the bench. Not before leaving with a €300 deposit.
Informed that the work would not be completed until Thursday so off to Anzio, as that was going to be one of our stopping points to the Pontine Islands. Also went to Nettuno but never stopped here.
Trip into Rome to meet up with my brother at his workplace, the UN! Shown around the building, lunch and then into Rome. Parked up along the Tiber as Matthew wanted to visit the Vatican. I went back to the car as I had been there many times before and wanted to make sure that I could feed the meter just in case they didn't get back in time before the parking time expired. En route back to the marina I was called by Frank. Being good, as I was driving, I didn't answer it until I was in the marina and parked up. His voicemail was to the effect that the engineer had called home and was leaving at 17:25. It was, you guessed it 17:25. A run to Marco's office. Good news, work all completed, bad news at a cost of €850! It had to be done and I had to pay up. I ran back to the yacht to get my cards to withdraw money gap from the ATM, but borrowed it from Bridget, well €300 anyway. Back to Marco's, money paid and the engineer called with my keys. Back to the yacht, engine started. Three new injectors and a pump fitted.
An early departure from the marina at 0610 to head off to Ponza. Weather fine and helping to begin with but then after about 4 hours the wind dropped. We were not going to get there in daylight so a decision had to be made. We could make Nettuna easily and still head for Ponza the following day.route changed, got to Nettuna by midday and called up the marina for a visitors berth. One given, right at the furthest distance from everything and to make matters worse, the key given for the showers only worked for that day! Oh and they wanted me to moor up alongside the jetty between two boats! I managed this but more by luck rather than judgement! The cost for the night €70. Very steep for the end of September.
As I said earlier, showers closed so waste of time getting up early. Everything prepared for an 08:00 departure. Thankfully one of the boats had already left so leaving the jetty was much easier. We actually left at 07:50. For the first couple of hours we managed to extract 5.5knots out of what little wind there was but for the next five hours this had gone down to 4.5 to 5 knots, with the engine running. Got to Ponza just before 15:00 and then anchored up in the bay one up from Cala Inferno. Anchor set, bearings taken and then in for a swim. Tender inflated and new outboard engine attached and a spin round the bay. By the time the sun had gone down the bay was all to ourselves. No wind, a slight rocking and the waves breaking on the beach. What bliss. Oh dear, spoke too soon!
By 02:00 I was up and checking that all was still well! The wind had changed direction and the swell was breaking on the beach and coming back and hitting us for six. The boat was crashing up and down, side to side and the noise in the fore cabin was far too loud for any sleeping. I checked the bearings but, being dark could not accurately assess whether we had moved, so I found two new points that I could see in the dark. I removed the bow fender and opened the anchor hatch, thinking that the noise was emanating from here, but it was the pull on the anchor itself and snapping down each time the boat moved that was causing all the noise. Nothing I could do about this. I stayed in the cockpit and took bearings every 30 minutes. One other boat that had anchored up after we had gone to bed decided at 03:00 it was too much for them and went searching for somewhere else to stay. We sat it out until the morning, and when daylight came the original bearings that I had taken when we first dropped anchor had changed by about 10 degrees each! Once the others had got up and tea was had, we lifted our anchor and set off for a bay on the north of the island,where it would be more sheltered. Anchored up in Cala Chiaia di Luna. Lovely bay, not too busy. Tender in the water we set off to go into Ponza. Took the tender on to the beach, found a roman tunnel that led from the south to the north sides of the island and walked through it to Ponza harbour. Found a bar with internet access to check the weather for the following day, deleted about 50 unwanted emails and responded to one other! Back to the tender and the boat. A spot of lunch and then a bit of snorkeling. That night the air was perfectly still and a great nights sleep was had by all.
Up at 04:30 for the 60nm journey back to Ostia. Left the bay at 04:55. Winds very light, favourable sea conditions, we averaged 5knots on the return to Ostia. Once anchored up, a shower was had and a couple of beers before finding a restaurant open for an evening meal. One last beer back on the boat before bed.
Late getting up, the tasks for the day was to give the boat a thorough clean. The diesel tank was filled from the containers, I then had to try and sort out an air lock in one of the galley taps as it was run dry from the aft water tank. Not fixed so will leave this until boat in dry dock in Kilada. Next was the aft heads. Informed that the water was still flowing in after the valve was shut off and the water was not clean! Checking the pump I could see that this was leaking so off to the chandlers and a new one purchased, €60. (Cheaper than the one I replaced in the fore heads bought in Poros). Looks as though this is one job sorted. Need to go out and fill the diesel canisters later today, sort out why the main sail is catching in the mast and still clean the boat. Probably some of this will be done tomorrow.
Freed up the main sail. This will need checking over winter. Chris and Andy, two crew members (Who are helping to move the yacht back to Greece with me) arriving today so need to make sure everything is clean. Picked both up from the airport, but at different times! Had a quick trip in to Rome to drop off my brothers keys that he had lent me over the summer. Oh dear, left my IPad in his apartment. What is it with me and IPads?
Helen off back home today so last bit of shopping before the car goes. Have kept one of the folding bikes as a back up if still need to get additional stuff from town. Safety briefing give to both but not fully attentive and making light of it. I just hope it doesn't backfire.
Gershon, third crew member arrives today. Got to the boat just after 13:00. A quick introduction to all and given a safety briefing before setting off. Everyone had been given specific tasks to do but not all followed them so departure was not great. Some of the team will need to pick things up quickly! Headed for Isola di Procida, a night journey of 101nm.
Not a rough crossing but one of the team was seasick and wasn't able to manage any of his duties. My bow fender worked its way loose and is now in the sea around Zannone, winds not in our favour so sailing off course to get any speed without using the engine, adding an extra 37 nm to the route. This hasn't helped with our arrival time, being after midnight!
Got to Procida and tied up on the pontoon by 00:35. Someone put the kettle on for tea, I had some beer. Gershon offered his 'horseradish vodka'. A small taster was had before getting another beer. I noticed that the lens cover for the steaming light had been flicked off. The lens itself had been lost. A plastic bottle later and a bit of super glue, it was repaired and the night sailing could continue. Last crew member, Kevin, arrived at 13:00. Boat had been cleaned, (the new hosepipe that I recently bought was broken and the aft heads was flooded because someone had failed to follow instructions and close all windows and hatches!), route plotted, safety briefing for Kevin, Chicken Risotto cooked, everything cleared away before fuelling up (76litres) and setting off for Reggio di Calabria at 18:00. No sooner had we left Procida, sails out fully - probably too much sail, when the autopilot failed. A quick check in the owners manual wasn't helpful, couldn't get the Allen key to fit on the fixing bolt as not enough space so we decided to continue on with our route and get it repaired at our next port of call. At least the crew member who was being violently sick has managed to control it!
Little wind, calm seas and hardly any traffic around. Did see a turtle, Stromboli came into sight around 17:00 and by 20:00 you could just begin to see the volcano glow. Nothing else to report - a tasty pasta bolognese was cooked for all by Kevin!
Just passing Stromboli around midnight. Not long before Sicily comes into sight and approaching the straits of Messina. Hopefully calculations correct and we catch the current flowing south at the right time! Timing perfect. Entered the straits at just before 09:00 and got carried through on the southbound current. Hairy moment when arrived close to Messina. Boat speed shot up to 8.5knots and hit the whirlpool. Felt the backend go but didn't turn full circle. Moored up in Reggio di Calabria marina at 11:35. Boat cleaned, Chris and Andy off to the shops for restocking the fridge, which had stopped working. Fixed by replacing the fuse and holder. Excellent salad supper with beer and wine.
Slept in the cockpit as no room inside. Pleasant night, not cold. Woken at 07:00 by Chris who decided that enough was enough. Not too sure whether it was his sea sickness, the fear of crossing the Ionian Sea or something else. Anyway, it did mean that there was more room to move around the boat. Engineer can to fix the autopilot. Didn't exactly know what the fault was but replaced the drive unit. That done, pizza's for lunch we set off at 14:00 after refuelling. As we passed Mt Etna it appeared as though it had erupted. Smoke was coming out ot the crater and the area for miles in both directions looked very dark, but not rain cloud dark! Several hours into the journey a fast motor boat drew up alongside us. It was the Guardia Costeria. Lights flashed over the boat. I tried to contact them on Ch 16 but they did not respond. After several minutes they sped off. We were not illegal aliens then? Not making much progress as wind on the nose.
Still wind against, just hitting an average of 4 knots. Have been out of sight of land for many hours and will remain like this for another day. Dolphins swimming alongside the boat and you can actually see them under the water, swimming parallel to us. Amazing. Later that day a robin rested on its flight. Stayed for several minutes before flying off. 25 litres of fuel put in the tank as I didn't want to top it up in the dark and the weather might change for the worse. Nothing else to report.
A couple of fishing trawlers working during the night but nothing else. Kevin felt quite poorly with a stomach condition so I sent him off to bed to see if that would bring any relief. Thankfully it did. Up at 08:00 to find the chart plotter had given up. Actually the brightness of the screen had been altered so you couldn't see anything. Not sure how to correct this properly so disconnected it several times, pressed it on and off many more times and after two hours we had it back on. Have just received two messages from Wind and Vodafone welcoming me to Greece (10:24). Just before 15:00 Cephalonia came into sight, but it's going to be at least another six hours before we are moored up. One sailing yacht seen on my starboard side heading somewhere else, one on my port side apparently heading in the same vicinity as us. Nothing else seen during the day! Finally moored up in the marina at 23:45 (local time) just in time for a couple of beers, some red wine, courtesy of Savario, from Reggio di Calabria, and some cheese and biscuits.
Woke up at 08:00 to find out that Gershon had been interviewed by the local police last night. He was trying to find some open wifi, sitting by the road when he was questioned as to who he was what was he doing there, etc, etc. I found one of the seat cushions had mysteriously disappeared, presumably overboard during the crossing from Reggio di Calabria. Now down to three of each type. Another item to put on my Christmas wish list! That morning I went to the port police with all the paperwork for the boat and checked in. All in order, I returned to the boat to prepare lunch before departing - shepherds pie. Everything cleared away, we waited for the ferry to leave before we left, to head up the gulf of Patras for Corinth at 15:00. Little wind, it was going to be a slow journey! Passed a couple of tankers at anchor, no anchor ball displayed, and nothing much of note to report.
Finally got into the Gulf of Patras in the early hours of the morning and went under the Rion / Andirrion suspension bridge just after 07:00. (Too busy taking photographs and forgot to do the log!) little helping wind in the gulf, it's going to be a long slog to get to Corinth Marina much before midnight. Very quiet along the gulf, only a handful of boats on the water. Arrived at Corinth Yacht marina just after 22:00. Moored along the wall, no water or electricity. Beers, cheese and red wine broken out, along with some crackers and olives. When these were gone it was time for bed.
Up at 06:30, a quick wash and last nights glasses and plates cleaned, the rest of the crew were called to get up just after 07:00. We found a tap to top up the tank with water but the 'cheap' expanding hose broke (again). A French yachtsman lent me his and the aft tank was filled to 75%. A cup of tea later it was time to go. 08:30 Corinth canal authorities called for permission to go through the canal. Told to wait, then at 09:15 we went through in convoy, lead by the pilot boat. Captain, "maximum speed" were the instructions given to all sailing through. 30 minutes and 3.5km later it was time to pay. €179 for the pleasure of cutting off 150nm from my journey! 10:00 heading towards Epidavros. Should get there about 14:30, an early finish for the day! Arrived and all moored up by 14:45. Gershon and Andy went for a shower, Kevin and I for a beer (or two). Later that evening we celebrated Kevin's birthday with a nice typical Greek meal.
Left Epidavros at 10:00 and went round to the next bay to look for the 'sunken city'. Tender inflated we row to find it, some 200+m from the boat. Back to the boat, outboard put on the tender, dive gear too, we went back to the site. Just as we got the the engine conked out. Thinking it was fuel I row back to Electron, got the petrol out and filled up the tank - with a cup full! Not sure why it stopped but back to the site, dive gear on to view a building. Not so much a city then? We left at 13:00 and headed for Poros, arriving at 18:00. I had been here in April. I can't remember it being so smelly, and the shore power was no longer available. I won't return here in a hurry. We dined out that night on a kebab and beer. (Andy's choice of meal)
We couldn't leave Poros quick enough. Croissant and tea for breakfast we left at 09:00 for Hydra. No wind again, we motored all the way, arriving at 12:00. I think we've actually anchored up in the water taxi rank, but nobody has said anything (yet!). Spoke too soon.a lady police officer came along and asked me and the boat moored next to me to move - on the red line. I said that I wished she had said something sooner as boat had been leaving and I could have taken their spot. Anyway, there was a gap, not a very big one between the boat on my port side and the super yacht next to her. Could I squeeze in? The yacht said yes, the super yacht said NO! Nothing else for it but to squeeze in. Anchor dropped, reversed in very slowly keeping as far away from this mega expensive super yacht, I managed to get Electron in, with inches to spare on both sides without touching either!!! Once in, I needed a drink so we all trooped off to the bar.
Not an early start. No need as we were only heading off for Ermioni which was about 11nm away. Anchor up by 09:44 and a gentle sail across the water to our next destination. Wind extremely light and only getting around 3 knots but then it picked up to 5 only to drop back down again. Anyway we were there and anchored up inside the marina by 13:00. A hot afternoon called for a beer so off we went to the nearest bar. One drink and back to the boat. A quick snooze, a bit of a clean and off to the shops to buy provisions for the evening meal, a sausage casserole. A bottle of local red, a further beer and bed.
Up just after 07:00. Little to do and a short hop to Spetses so no need to rush around. Left Ermioni just before 09:30 and once out of the bay both sails out. Yet again, little wind but we managed to squeeze nearly 6 knots out of her. Managed to find an anchorage in Old Spetses and then went into town for a beer. Later that afternoon / early evening the wind started to pick up, as forecast. The boat at right angles to us started to drag its anchor and was pushed back against the pier. We tried to place fenders on the stern to prevent any damage to her but I'm not sure how long they will remain in place. Another motor launch arrived and dropped her chain across two others. Thankfully neither was snagged but as she was also being pushed on to the pier she decided to leave, not before fouling her prop on the lazy line of a rib moored next to her. I think it's going to be an eventful night? I was going to treat the crew to a meal but not sure whether it's safe to leave the boat! Oh dear, the boat was beginning to get closer to the wall and, looking at the chart it appeared that maybe the new harbour mole might give some better protection. When Andy and Kevin came back I told them my thoughts. Unfortunately they allowed me to persuade them that we should move. Getting there against wind and waves was fun(!) and then trying to moor side against the wall with wind blowing us away from it was a nightmare and best forgotten. Next decision was to go back to the old harbour to see if there was a space still available that Kevin thought he had seen earlier. No problem getting back, difficult to pick things out in the dark and no, the space was gone. Last option, go side on to the wall where we were originally! We did this, plenty of fenders out ready, mooring lines prepared and headed for the mooring spot. Thankfully the wind was assisting and blew us on to the wall. Kevin and Gershon stepped off at mid ships and secured the lines. Fenders readjusted for the height of the wall, springs for bow and stern secured. Andy cooking pizzas, we were all done by 21:30 and drinking another fine 2 litre bottle of red plonk costing less than 5€! An early night needed as we need to be in Kilada by 10:00 and it's a 20nm journey.
Alarm went off at 04:00. Wind blowing too strongly to set off as planned at 05:00. Decision made to delay departure. Andy up at 05:00 and questioned why we weren't leaving so I asked Kevin to get up. As an experienced Day Skipper his opinion was useful. He came to the same conclusion as me, we sit tight until wind subsides. It did around 09:00 so we left to go to the ferry port to drop off Gershon. A case of reversing on to the mole and him stepping off without the need to moor up. Gershon off we headed for Kilada, Basimakopouloi boatyard. A slight amount of wind helping but still needed engine to get over 4 knots. I had contacted Evangelos to say that we wouldn't make the lift out time today and to put it back to Monday. Got to the box just before 13:00 and moored up next to another Brit doing exactly the same thing. Sails dropped and ready for collection, there was little else to do other than seek out the laundrette. Washing handed over to collect Monday 18:00. Next, take Andy and Kevin out for a meal at the Greek taverna. At least a dozen sharing dishes, one meat and chips for Andy and beer and wine. A couple of night caps to round off the evening.
The winds had picked up during the night and a catamaran just outside the 'box' had lost one of its lines and needed securing up. Yiannis, the boat yard owner came along to do this, and at the same time I managed to get his gate / shower block key off him. Andy and I left to go and have a shower. No sooner had we got to the gates when a blue Toyota pick up truck came hurtling along and hit three dogs that ran into the road. One of dogs was seriously injured but the driver, although he might not have been able to avoid the collision even at a slower speed did not stop. Andy comforted the dog, others tried to contact a vet but unfortunately it died from the injuries. The driver, Kostas, registered number of his car APK 1849, you are an absolute B*****d. Andy was very distraught and did very little for most of the remaining day. Kevin and I cleaned the bright work and top deck. Supermarket shut, another Kebab, chips and wine.
Up at 07:00, boat due to be lifted out some time after 08:30 so an early shower. Boat out of the water at 09:05 but took some time to find the correct size cradle. Boat moved to top yard - not the most pleasant of places but thankfully only one day left on board. Last bits of cleaning and storing of all lines. Wheel removed and binnacle covered. Anchor dropped and chain flaked on pallet. Hull pressure washed - not too pleased with work done on copper coating. Barnacle growth and keel not correctly prepped before anti fouling done. Only tasks left for tomorrow will be to thoroughly clean the inside from now to stern.
I had booked a hire car so waited for this to arrive. Once I had got it I then went off to the petrol station to fill up the fuel cannisters with diesel to top up the yachts fuel tank. Three trips later and all was done. Sails dropped and handed over to FRANKS to have them cleaned and the main sail repaired. Also the Bimini cover given to have a se through cover added in order to allow the top of the mast to be viewed with the bimini in place. Anchor dropped, all sea cocks plugged, the car was loaded up and we headed off for the airport
Picture of Bridget, Matthew and Helen overlooking the harbour of Ponza from the nice cafe / bar with free wifi.
North side of Ponza, where the weatherwas nice and calm - unlike the south side the night before!
Setting sun of the first night on our return to Kilada, Greece. Very calm seas so can't understand why anyone could get seasick from this - but one did!
Just as we were passing Messina, the speed of the boat went up to 8.5knots and we entered whirlpool. Felt the stern begin to twist around, but thankfully it never got more than that.
Joined on the crossing from Italy to Greece by a bird - remained with us just slightly longer than one of the crew!!!
Gulf of Patras and the Rion / Andirrion suspension bridge.
Passing through the Corinth Canal - being left behind or holding up the boats astern of Electron. Despite being told ' maximum speed' I wasnt' going to push her more than 5knots.
Ermioni by night. Lovely little place - where Pop's Car rental office is based.