30 October, 2009

Malua hauled for winter

For two years we have hauled Malua in Turkey. It was a great experience and the cost was very reasonable. This year we deceided to stay somewhere in the central Mediterranean so that we would not have to travel the long distance from Turkey to Italy next year. We finally deceided on Preveza because of its location and reasonable cost. The people appeared to be helpfull and the yard is not too full. many people have stayed at Cleopatra's Marina but since they built a swish new marina and do not let you work on your boat without permission I deceided to tru the yard next door - Preveza Marina.
We confirmed the haul date and set a time. What a change from Yot Marine where you may wait a whole day to be hauled. Well at exactly 8:00 Malua was in the slings and we were raised out of the water. No problems and no fuss, just a great group of people working together.
We then moved the travel lift down the lines to an open spot where they put Malua on a steel cradle and shored up the sides, bow and stern. It was then up to us to prepare Malua for the winter by removing all the outside gear, lines, hallyards and sails.

12 October, 2009

Malua hauled for winter

Malua was hauled at Preveza for the winter. We have returned to Oz for the southern summer.

23 September, 2009

Malua to be Hauled for Winter

Malua is now in Prevevza ready to be hauled out of the water for the winter as we return to Oz for the Summer. It has again been a long season. Starting at Marmaris in Turkey, traveling through greece and the Corinth Canal to the Ionian then north to Croatia and spending two weeks in Venice. We then sailed south through Croatia, Montenegro and back into Greece. We have spent a few weeks cruising around the islands.
Tomorrow it is up on the hard, off to Athens then back to fly out to London then on to OZ. A great season

19 May, 2009

Cos and sailing north

I arrived in Kos in the old harbour under the castle walls. The summer season has not started because there were only two other yachts and a large German gullet. The fellow had purchased it on the Internet for 15000 euro and then spent 20,000 fixing it up. What a great buy.

Richard and Marita arrived a dawn the following day after a very pleasant ferry ride from Athens. A double cabin, shower and dinner in the restaurant - the order of the day. It was great because they were not tired after their flight from Gatwick which as usual meant that they had to leave home at 4:00 am to get the cheap fares. We went to the local supermarket and stocked up with the essentials they needed and set sail for Kalimnos. We had an easy sail with Marita at the helm. Qualified competent crew in charge. I made a poor attempt to go stern too to the dock because half way in I changed hands on the anchor switch and started to pull it up rather than down. Well the second attempt we came in rather well and secured the lines in the usual spot. Off to the Australian butcher. Well I should say Greek but his father registered him as an Oz when he worked in Darwin so he had to show me his new Oz passport. Very proud to be an Australian. Just like the owner of the local hardware shop. He opened his wife's bag and out came his passport, drivers licence and other papers just to prove to me that he is a proud Australian. If the government ever forced its citizens to pass a English speaking test they would loose half of the population. The half that really want to be Australians.

The next day the the wind was from the south so we set sail north to Lakki on the island of Leros with its Italian art deco buildings. We chose to anchor out and threw out at least 40 m of chain which dug in rather well. The cat next to us dragged their anchor just as the sun set and almost landed up on the rocks. The wind continued to blow all night but the fetch was short so we had a good nights sleep. That evening we visited the local wood fired pitza place and had two great Italian pitzas in the right setting except it was Greece.

The wind was again in the right direction, over the stern but very light indeed so we motor sailed to Patmos the home of the Saracen pirates. St Christadoulos got permission in 1088 to build a monastery to St John the Divine who was banished here in the early BC era and wrote the book of Revelations in a cave just down the hill from the monastery. The rock in the cave is split into three being the holy trinity. It is a great story, the book exists but did he write it here, well we will never know but the tourists and believers come from far and wide. This cruiser has been to the monastery and cave twice. Richard and Marita enjoyed the site and the walk down to the harbour where we spent a few hours sitting on the waterfront with a Mythos in hand. What a way to spent and afternoon. We took a taxi back to the bay in the south of the island and enjoyed the local pork in orange sauce for the evenings meal.

Marita wanted to get some night sailing experience in while in the Med so at sun down the following day we set sail for Naxos in the Cyclades. The trip would take the whole night and we would arrive just as the sun was rising. The wind gods were kind to us with the wind from the north just on the bean at 15 knots. It was a great nights sail with two light houses as our waypoints along the routes. After turning at the northern light of Naxos we sailed south along the coast as the wind increased to over 25 knots and the sea rose to a good Med chop. We had to put a reef in the main an furl the genoa as we approached the red light of the harbour wall of Naxos town. The dawn was just arriving so we entered in the light just as planned. A great sail with only a small incident on route.

We dropped the anchor and let out 40 metres of chain then retired to sleep for a few hours. Unfortunately the chain was over a rock so as the boat moved in the now rising wind there was the ghastly sound of metal on rock. I could not pull in some scope or let it out but after a few hours the wind direction changed and the noise went away. That night the storm that had been brewing all day arrived with very heavy rain and increased wind. While Malua was inside the harbour wall the quay was only 40 meters away so at about 3:00 am I decided that one anchor was just not enough and I would not be able to start the engine before we hit the rocks so I started the engine as a precaution and stood anchor watch until dawn when Richard helped me deploy a second anchor. We both returned to bed to catch up on a few hour sleep. That day was also spent down below although Richard and Marita took a walk around the town. The next day dawned fine and we set up anchors after a bit of back and forth with the second anchor, it would not have moved during the high winds.

Sailed most of the way to Anti Paros and the wide bay in the south that Malua had previously visited. Two other yachts and the restaurant not yet open for the season. The on to Vathi on Sifnos the location of a great meal with Richard and Charlie after their "rescue" . I just had to phone them to find out their location which was in the Ionian. Great to hear they are still well and enjoying the sailing but from the web it sound as if the ex charter yacht is needing some maintenance. We walked all round the bay and high up into the mountains above the few houses, returning just in time for a great meal in the local tavern. A visit to the kitchen to choose what we should eat.

On to Serifos to meet the ferry to Piraeus. We arrived and took the local bus to the top of the town and then a leisurely walk back to the boat just in time to watch a flotilla of British yachts arrive full of excited poms after a good days racing to the next island. An annual event which had some traditions of a good time had by all. Richard and Marita caught the evening ferry to Athens and a day on the Acropolis before flying back to the UK. I was alone again. I had greeted a rather smart and fast looking sopped boat that had come along side the previous evening. A couple who had taken an hour to travel the 65 NM from Athens to Serifos. Now that is fast travel. The following evening the came back to the dock but not with the same speed or style. One of the blades from the second propeller had broken off and cut a hole right through the swim platform. It was unbalanced so the skipper could only use one engine. 5 knots not 50. He had arranged to have a new propeller shipped on the next ferry fro Athens and was going to change it in the water along side the dock. not a good idea and not an easy job. We collected the propeller from the ferry and moved his boat to the beach where we tied it to the lamp post and one of the local mooring buoys. Here we were able to stand on the sand and get some leverage to undo the large bolts that held the propeller to the shaft. They came off easily but pulling the prop off the shaft was another task. just as we were about to use the hammer we both graped the prop, placed our feet against the stern, took a deep breath and pulled for all we where worth. It came off. Great. The new prop fitted with only just a few mm of clearance when we had done up the two nuts and placed the split pin back in a new hole. What I would expect for such a prestigious vessel. The props cost 15,000 euro each just in case you think this was some piece of bronze. They are balanced and each have about eight blades. thankfully the boat is still under warranty so the manufacturer will be picking up the cost. We retired to the waterside restaurant to celebrate the success because they sped off to Athens and work. great couple and an interesting day. I have an invitation to speed across the water at more than 60 knots when I an next in their area. I cant wait.

I the headed off to Serifos as I worked my way north. On route the engine compartment blower fan stopped working so I had to find a replacement. I anchored in the town harbour just in front of the many waterside restaurants. The ferry make quite a swell as they turn to go stern to against the quay. My gangplank got caught under the dock and the ends crushed as Malua surged back on its anchor. Not a great sight but better than fiberglass against concrete. Having the bicycles on board is a great help in covering a lot of ground in search of a spare part. I found a chandler and did not expect them to have a fan but could you believe it the very same fan at a much better price and in Oz. Such a pleasure to fit it. So now I have the hum of the blower as we motor along keeping the engine room cool or more importantly the alternator cool to give out the required amps. That evening for the second time the two yachts with the Swedish family celebrating the fathers birthday came stern too along side again. They were having great fun from the old couple right to a young baby in arms. The British vessel I had met at Serifos can in and invited me to drinks and dinner. Great night but their outlook for the British economy is not good with their prediction of asset values only 40 % of their highs of a few years ago.

I packed up, untied the lines and was heading out of the harbour when from across the water came this holla of Harry, Harry. Who was calling me? As I turned to this distant figure on the dock he took his cap off and I instantly recognised my great Italian friend Francesco and Paula who I had last seen in the Halkadiki. They had just come onto the island and had moored in the marina away from the swell and were walking to the town to get some provisions. We arranged to meet in Mykinos in a few days time. I continues to Delos to see the ruins and the famous lions ( stone that is and not the originals. I anchored under the sign that said no anchoring and took the RIB ashore to walk around the ruins just as the last of the mornings tour group as leaving and an hour before the afternoon group arrived. 16 guided groups from an American cruise liner. Thank goodness I am not rich and have to follow the group.

I set off for Mykinos to look at the old harbour. I had to weave my way around the three cruise liners and two large sailing ships anchored in the bay. I put my nose in the new harbour which like many Greek marinas is not finished to again hear a bellow of Harry from the dock side. Francisco had arrived and was moored along side. I came in against the dock and they rafted up o9n the outside. They had two New Zealand guest on board their small boat so my vessel was used a shower room, beauty parlour and dining room. Francesco prepared a great pasta which we enjoyed after passing the pots from one vessel to the next. The following day they set off for Delos while I sailed to the bay Ornos south of the Mikinos town. Again the bicycles came in handy but I took the high road up over the mountain rather than the coastal route to get to Mykinos. Was it hot and a long slog only followed by a short sharp down hill flight to cool off.. This evening we had skate pasta on Francesco's boat with no passing the pots from vessel to vessel. I also saved tome water.

The next day was a day sail to Paradise Beach to see the beautiful people who had obviously not arrived for the summer. Well rather that than the previous visit which was an eye opener. Now off to Tinos and the route north but i fear the wind is coming out of the north and I will have to battle a head wind or wait a few days.

Return to Turkey Preparing Malua for Summer

I arrived with trepidation after the winter storms to find Malua just as I had left her. Nice and dry with a light covering of dust . Down below everything was shipshape. I struggled to get the RIB out through the companionway on my own but I knew it could be done, all I had to do is find the way it came in. At last after some struggle I found the right combination of tilt and angle and it eased its way into the cockpit. There was not much I could have done if it would not fit... get the chain saw is an option. I washed and polished the topsides, applying a new polish. The vessel looks good for a nine year old. I then set about sanding the anti fouling. What a job. Thankfully I have a very good mask to keep the dust out but in the end I was covered in dark blue dust. The showers will not get any weed in their drains after my shower. International anti fouling Micron Extra is expensive in Turkey about Aus $550 for five litres. I would normally apply 10 to 12 litres per session but this year I used a small roller and used only 3 litres for the entire bottom. We will see if it makes any difference. Last year after the trip to Istanbul the bottom was covered which took at least one knot off the cruising speed.

After the few days preparation I was lifted into the water. Last year I was moved at about 7:00 in the evening but got a great place in the water. I went out of my way to be pleasant to the people moving the boats because they have long memories. This year I must have been one of the first to go in the water and again I got a great spot on I pontoon along side some of the liverabords and early arrivals. I only had a few days to provision and get all the sails bent on. I asked Elstrom Sails to restitch the genoa UV cover which had come loose in places. They did a great job and everything fitted back in its place. The main sheet and halyard are showing some ware so I looked at replacing the spectra. The cost is just over the top - about $12 -$15 per meter and I need 75 meters. In the end I settled for some Turkish spectra which looks and feels as good as the OZ product. We will see when I have the time to splice the ends.

Yot Marine is feeling the pain of being so successful. The office has difficulty coping with the number of vessels settling their bills and checking out. It has a lot to do with a new computer system they have recently introduced which seems to be double entry with both side showing on the same page. The girls in the office struggle while the cruisers are still in their home frame of mind and want to do thing quickly and efficiently. You can see them sit in line for their turn and start to boil then storm out to come back the following day to go through the same wait. I am sure they return to their boat just to pick up a book and read! Some efficient American woman suggested that they have a list to which you add your name. First come first served. Great. The management then said only 30 names would be allowed on the list per day. If you are not there when your turn comes put your name on tomorrows list tomorrow. After a few days the whole idea was abandoned and the lady sailed off into the sun set. Try Turkish time. If you want some experience go to Tonga and wait for Tonga time.

Monday came and I had to leave to be in Kos to meet Richard and Marita who were flying into Athens on the Wednesday. Like my car trips the third day is the most dangerous. Sailing into to Symi on a lee shore the wind got up and the sea was very short I felt it was time to furl the genoa so I could motor past the point. I furled the genoa and as I started to put away the sheets I noticed the starboard sheet was over the side, under the boat, trailing in the water. Engine in to neutral and a mad dash to the bow to retrieve the loose sheet. The down side could have been very dangerous but I keep reminding myself that Malua is a sailing boat and I can, like Captain Cooke sail off a lee shore but rather not in 25 knots of wind and a short chop. I was relieved to drop the anchor in they bay with the monastery.

30 March, 2009

Man Over Board

Man over board - The cry that every sailor hopes he never hears. Well it came on Saturday when I was sailing in a race in Batemans Bay on a racing yacht. I am the pit man controlling the halyards and lines as well as the sheets for the genoa. We have a large fellow on the foredeck who invited along two young fellows for a trial sail. In the marina we fitted the inflatable life jackets and instructed then on their use and why even young fellows should wear them for the duration of the race.
After a good start, a beat to the windward mark, a run down wind. We did have an unexpected jibe rounding the mark but nothing serious happened. We set off for the windward mark again and rounded that in third spot ahead of most of the fleet. The waves had risen and the wind increased to slightly more than 20 knots. Up went the spinnaker with out problems and the crew took up their positions. One youngster was asked to sit on the boom to hold it out!
With little warning we were running by the lee and the boat came over to weather with the boom jibing across the boat. The fellow had nowhere to go but follow the boom. He was projected into the water with a smart hit on the head as a passing shot. The bowman and myself got the spinnaker down and started to sort out the spinnaker pole. We were sailing away from our crew in the water. The skipper was flapping about with the mainsheet trimmer to get the boarding ladder out of an underfloor locker while the youngster inflated his life jacket and started to wave at us.
After a bit of shouting to steer the boat towards the crew and leave the ladder we tacked and started to sail towards the fellow in the water. By this time another yacht was in the vicinity.
We threw the youngster a line and with one mighty heave his friend and I lifted him out of the water, over the lifelines and into the cabin top. A Saturn rocket would have been proud of his trajectory. A relieved crewman found the situation funny rather than serious and we continued on with the race finishing third - not dropping a single place as a result of the incident.
There were many lessons learnt from that situation - the most important is that the skipper should continue to steer the vessel to the overboard crew and not worry about unnecessary things that other on the boat are capable of handling.
My worry over the incident is that I don't have total recall of every second of the event. I have snapshots of sections but I can not run through in my mind the exact sequence of events in any clear detail. Many things just happened and I am sure I was concentrating on doing those that were important to me but to review the whole incident is difficult. I am sure adrenalin has something to do with it. Age may also play a part.
We live to sail again and hopefully a little wiser and much more careful.

25 March, 2009

Servicing the Mooring

Camrod Marine has a commercial mooring in Batemans Bay located to the south west of Square Head. It is the mooring from which Malua came loose the fateful day it landed up on the rocks. The mooring is located in a position that people believe they can use without my knowledge. Large vessels routinely used the mooring. I failed to check the mooring the night i secured Malua to it. When we left Malua on the mooring that night in preparation to sail to the Sydney to Hobart race the mooring parted and Malua drifted on to the shore. When I showed the mooring line to an experienced mariner he suggested it had been cut with a knife. This has been confirmed by other people who have examined the line. The evidence is so strong but I do not wish to think that someone would cut the mooring through spite. I do know that many people within the Bay would figuratively put a knife in my back but cut my mooring...well. I now service the mooring every year. Yesterday was the annual survey.
Stephen and I took his Catalina across the bar and out to the mooring. The mooring is in five meters of water. It has a large block with three chain links attached. To this we have shackled four meters of large link chain which is then shackled to a large swivel. Spliced to the top of the swivel through a galvanised thimble is a 25mm nylon line within a plastic tube. The mooring bouy is at the end of this 5 meter line. The tube is protection against abrasion and to make it easier to remove the marine growth that inevitably grows onto the line beneath the mooring bouy.
This morning the tide was about to run out so we either had to service it early at the top of the tide or hang around for the low tine. The weather was beautiful and the water was crystal clear so we started early. I scraped off the marine growth along the length of the mooring line as I pulled more of it into the dingy which we had towed behind the Catalina. After doing this for more than an hour the swivel was just below the surface and I had to don scuba gear and inspect the two swivels and the state of the chain and shackles. They where all in very good order. The lower shackle was buried in sand with no corrosion or wear. The upper shackle's stainless steel securing wire on the bolt had corroded so I replaced that with three strands. The nylon line was in almost perfect condition. The concrete block had not sunk into the sand as far as I would have liked so next season I will assist it into a hole with the use of a air lift pump to remove the sand at its base. I repainted the notice on the red mooring bouy – Not Safe – Do not use. So any person picking up my mooring will be well informed that they are not permitted and do so at their own risk.
Having completed the work we took Tegwin for a sail south towards Pretty Point where Denny has stationed herself with the camera. She took some lovely shots as we ran down wind then turned to sail back to the Bay. A great day.

19 March, 2009

Endless Summer

The southern summer is coming to an end and I fly north to again enjoy a summer in the norther hemisphere. This year the time at Batemans bay has been interesting if not challenging. I have joined the crew of a racing yacht. It is a light displacement with all the right gear. The skipper loves the boat and tries so hard but the crew and he just dont seem to have the skills to make it go fast. It is not always happy on board but I love the time on the water and enjoy the camaraderie of racing. I hope one day it will all drop into place and we will get the result the owner and crew deserve.

The Coastal Patrol has again sunk into the depths of factionalism and the control by the cronies. It seems to repeat itself every few years. It got so bad the local head quit and walked away from the position. I was asked to make a submission on the issues and way forward but as with all consultant reports they will only acknowledge what they want to hear. I wonder what will happen with the new organisation? Has all this impacted the rescue services is a moot point for we will never know because we have not been tested. There have been no real rescues for six months which is a good thing.

The marina, sailing club and rescue organisation has such characters it could be the subject of a crime novel - corruption, money and goods passing hands, court orders, boats adrift in the night, threats, lockouts, censorship, power plays and weak characters willing to go to any end to achieve their goals.......wow all we need is murder.

I cant wait to get back to the quit life of cruising in the Mediterranean.

05 February, 2009

Current Cruise - 13 Back to Turkey

Richard and Marita packed up and we waved goodbye as they boarded the local bus for the trip to Thessaloniki. The bus arrived late and they were on the edge of their seats to get to the airport in time for their flight back to the UK. Fortunately the trip was uneventful and they transferred by taxi to the Departure gate with more than a few minutes to spare.

We packed up Malua and made her ready to put to sea. We had to rush south to get to Turkey before our visa ran out. It would be tight and depended on getting a ferry from Turkey to Greece and then back again to Turkey with our new visa. We left Nea Marmaris with out the anchor getting snagged and motored in a direct line to the West Sparades Islands. The distance was more than 50 nautical miles. As usual the wind was from the south in the Halkidiki but after a few hours started to go round to the North East as predicted by the forcast. We soon had the main and genoa up and were sailing along on a flat sea at almost 6 knots. Our destination was Panagia which is a small island with a very narrow entrance to a well protected bay. We had to arrive before dark because of the entrance. The wind dropped off as the sun started to go down and we were able to motor through the 100 meter wide entrance with only 8 meters of water. I would not like to go through that if a sea was running into the bay. We started early just as it was getting light so I could see the entrance however the sea had come up and there was a swell running so the trip between the island was not very pleasant. Once we were away from the land the wind settled down and started to increase to over 20 knots, at time reaching almost 30. We had it on our beam and were reaching down wind at times up to 8 knots. It was great at last to have the wind behind us, the sun shining and little swell. The miles just rolled under the keel. We had set our destination as the Island of Chios which was 120 miles away - quite a long sail in one day. I knew that the moon was full and would be up when we had to reach our intended night anchorage. As is always the case with the Meltemi in norther Greece it started to drop as the sun set. We were still more than 50 miles from the northern passage between Chios and Inousssa. At about midnight the wind dropped away altogether and the sea started to flatten as we motored along the norther coast of Chios heading for the passage on the NW tip of the island. We were about 10 miles from the passage when the moon set turning the night into total darkness. Fortunately the cape at the entrance to the passage had a good light and the radar was working very well indeed. As I entered the passage which is only 650 meters wide I was confronted by a mass of lights on the port side of the channel. It did not appear to be moving and was about one mile off. I could not distinguish any navigation lights but the radar indicated that it was fast approaching but not on a collision course. It turned out to be a large ferry with all its lights on! It passed port to port and I settled down to navigate using the radar and the chartplotter. I had selected a bay on the south coast of Inoussa. It was unlit but from the chart looked bug enough and shallow enough to give us a good nights sleep. I motored into the crescent of the bay using the chart plotter and when the depth sounder indicated 6 meters under the keel we dropped the anchor. Our searchlight picked up the one headland but the rest were out of its range. We turned in to sleep. The following morning revealed we had anchored in the middle of a beautiful bay with more than adequate swing room and a great muddy bottom.

We sailed along the eastern coast of Chios and then across the channel to Cesme where we entered the marina. It was almost empty because a new owner had just taken it over and was busy moving the floating docks. We went into the town an booked our ferry trip for the next day to Chios. Luckily this time we did not have to spend the night away. The ferry left at 9:30 and within a hour we were again in Greece after officially leaving Turkey after 88 days. On arrival we got a Greek stamp and set about looking around the island. Unfortunately we should have been here yesterday because the summer tour had just ended. We decided to take a municipal bus into the southern part of the island to see the house decorations at Pirgi. We had just one hour to walk around the town before we had to get back on the bus for the harbour and then a quick walk to the ferry for the return journey. We arrived and cleared customs along with about 50 other people and we entered Turkey again with a 90 day visa - more than enough time to sail to Marmaris and pack the boat away.

The next day we purchased some fresh food and set sail towards the Greek island along the Turkish coast. Unfortunately the wind started to blow from the south so we changed direction and dropped anchor in a small bay on the south east coast of Chios called Kamari. The water was crystal clear. I set a stern anchor to keep up into the swell and not to swing too much within the small bay.As usual we took the RIB ashore and had a walk to the next bay to take some photos.

We pulled up the anchor as the sun rose and set off to sail south through the Greek islands. As predicted by the forecast the wind was light and from the wrong direction - south.

Here are some pictures of our Back to Turkey

Current Cruise - 12 Friends Visit in Halkidiki

We had arrived a bit early in the Halkidiki so we had to spend the time in this lovely cruising ground. For once we could go day sailing without a destination in mind, so if the wind blew from the north we sailed south. Then if the wind came up from the east we sailed west. It was a great experience. Fortunatly there are innumerable place to stay. The wind drops away in the evening so we motor to a new bay each night and drop anchor.

Richard and Marita arrived in Nea Marmaris after the inevitable rush to catch a 5 am charter flight out of Gatwick. They arrived on a very hot day without wind. They took a greek taxi to the bus station then boarded the local bus to Nea Marmaris. It arrived early so we were not at the bus stop as promised and there was some confusion when they had to get off. After a frantic phone call they jumped off in the centre of the town and we met them on the waterfront. A cold Mythos beer soon set then on the track to the cruising lifestyle. We had lunch and set about getting Malua ship shape in the Bristol style for four people. That evening we had dinner at a waterfront restuarant after setting about knocking a hole into the 20 liters of Limnos wine we had purchased for the occasion. Every Thursday in Nea Marmaris there is a good local market with fruit, veg, meat and fish on sale by the local vendors. In addition there are the sellers of everything one does not need but can afford "for a very good price" We stocked up on the essentials while Marita splashed out on the little extras in life that make it fun.

We then let go the aft lines and started to pull up the anchor amonst the many other anchors and mooring blocks of the local harbour. The wind was of couse right in our face blowing us back onto the dock and the other vessels. The anchor winch kept cutting out at the trip switch which should have been an indication that something was wrong, and wrong it was. The chain was under a Greek boat's anchor so we had to pull that to the surface put a line round it and unhook it before we could make any progress away from the bows of the other yachts. We came to the 15 meter mark and our anchor was still in 10 meters of water and not going to come up. It was firmly hooked under a chain attached to a large concrete mooring block. I quickly put on my mask and with a line from the boat dived down the 10 meter to attach a trip line to the anchor. with this attached I let the anchor chain loose and the tripping line pulled the head of the anchor from under the mooring block chain and we where free. Quite a bit of exitement to start a cruising holiday. It was then off to Porto Koufo for a quite evening on board.

The next day again dawned cloudless and unfortunatly windless so we motored round the point and north up the rugged coast to the great bay of Sikios. The anchor would not take after 6 tries so we deceided to go stern to the little wharf along side the fishing boats. Francesco was on his mooring so we could not use that. The snorkelling in the bay proved that the Greeks had fished out the seabed years ago but the fish in the restaurant made up for it. Francesco joined us for a great night of seafood, laughts and Italian stories. A quiet night, beautiful sunrise but again no wind so we motored north to a beautiful set of island around Nisis Dhiaporos. That evening we paddled through the northern passage in the kyaks and a paddle ski which we found floating alone way out to sea. A braai on the stern of Malua with the local sausage reminded everybody of the good time we all had in South Africa, Richard and I going back more than 50 years!

We has planned to take a cruise on a "pirate ship" to the south of the Akti peninsular to see the Monasteries of Athos. Malua was left at anchor in the Panayia bay. We arrived early and secured a great seat on the top deck before the bus loads of greek and other tourest decended on the vessel. It was quite different motoring across the sea in a large vessel not worrying about the wind and the waves especially around the notoriously rough Aki Pinnes at the base of the high Mount Athos. The description of the monasteries was factual but could not possible answer the question "why do people become monks and hermits never to return to the real world off the peninsula?" We cruised past eight of the sites keeping more than 500meters off the land because womem may not go any nearer to the land in case they excited the monks! We stoped at Ouranopolis for lunch along with the 400 other people on the cruise ships and then returned to cross the head of the bay and be back for the buses to be filled and leave us in the quite of the bay to have a evening meal at a waterside restaurant. On returning to Malua there was a minor panic when I discovered that I had droped my keys in the sand at the restaurant table. We were fortunate to be able to unloaked the companionway with the spare key hidden for just such an event. (we found the keys the next day in the sand)

The following day we went to the fish market on the wharf and purchase mussels and fresh sardines which we fried in olive oil along with paella rice Marita put together. The following evening we had the mussels in an Italian inspiered pasta dish which Denny created. We eat and drink well on Malua.

We sailed south with a light wind behind us and again entered the Sikios bay. This time we picked up Francesco's mooring. Dinner on board with lots of conversation before heading off the next day south round the cape Arki Psevdhokavas and back into the lovley protected bay of Porto Koufo. This time we anchored off the beach in the south next to the lagoon. No wind during the night or the next morning.

We stopped in at a lovely secluded bay just south of Porto Carras Marina for lunch and a swim before motoring back into Nea Marmaris harbour. We were able to squeeze into a spot on the floating jetty. That evening Richard took us out to a fantastic fish restaurant on a platform over the sea. While we eat squid, octopus and fish the fish below in the water were well fed from out left overs and the local bread. A great night to celebrate the end of a wonderful cruising time with our friends. Thanks R & M

The following day be uped anchor without any problems and set sail the 400nm south across the Agean back to Turkey. Fortunatly the wind was behind us and we raced off at 7 knots, quite a change from the previous four weeks. Here are some pictures of our friends visit

The next stage of the expidition was the sail south to get our visas and then south again to Turkey and finally to Marmaris to haul out for the winter.Back to Turkey

Current Cruise - 11 Sinthonia Peninsula

We sailed round the Akti Penisula with all the Monasteries right into a strong wind from the north. We where just able to beat into the wind and make our couse for Nisis Ammouliani however he had to negotiate the straits which had very shollow water. We slowed to a snails pace and watched the depth souder go down 20, 15, 10 ,5 ,2 then 1 and stay there for some time. Well, we came through with out touching bottem then tried to anchor off Nisis Ammouliani but after three attempts we could not get any holding in the thick weed. We sailed round to the Village just as two other boats were attempting to go astern too the wharf. We watched then and deceided to find another location.....charter vessels are a danger to wharf and yacht.

We sailed to a long beach and found a sand spot in the faiding light. It was a great spot opposite a small housing development. The next day we were off to Tripiti to see how Xerxes had dug a canal through the norrowest part of the penisula. Unfortunatly it is now all filled in but it did save him the sail south round the Akti penisula. From there we sailed to the Islands of Dhiaporos. On the inside next to the mainland the water is very shallow and you have to anchor out and take the RIB to shore but we found a deep inlet in the main island of Dhiaporos. Not much swing room but the holding is good. We watched as a thunder storm developed to the north of us. We let out some more chain and waited. Well the wind came first - a good sign. Then the rain. At the height of the storm the other boat in the anchorage was swing close to the shore and deceided to move, we quickly followed and dropped the anchor further up the inlet. The anchor went down first attempt and held. We then sat in the cockpit and watched the lightrning, thunder and rain. Everything got a good wash. Within an hour the sky had cleared and we had dinner.

We stayed a few days in the islands moving from anchorage to anchorage. It is so relaxing knowing that your next anchorage is only 6nm away. One day I set off on the bicycle to find a wifi internet hot spot. There was nothing in the local town and nothing at Ayios Nikolaos about 5kn away but I did stop off at a butcher to get some meat and some very tasty sausage which was very much like borewors. We had a braai on the stern of Malua that evening just as we had in the Southern Hemisphere.

We deceided to explore the Sinthonia Penisula on the eastern side. There are not many safe anchorages due to the prevailing wind comming from the SE. The wind during July and August is very mild so we were able to find places to stay. the most pleasant was Sarti where we again met Francesco and Paula - italians who live in New Zealand and have a boat in the Med and in North Island - What a live..endless summers sailing. The penisula is the holiday ground of the Greeks. They seem to stay in "rooms to let" or bring their own caravans which are located on any flat spot as close to the water as possible. Many have inflatables tied up on the beach in front. Only in the Med would you be able to do this.

The wind comes up to about 15 knots at 11;00 and the drops away in the afternoon. Some days it will blow from the NW but most days from the SE. The sailing is consequently wonderful. We had the big spinnaker up most of one morning as we sailed south to reach Poto Koufo. It helps to reach your destination in the early afternoon before the holiday charter boats come in. You can then settle back and watch their anticks as they either anchor on top of each other or go astern to the wharf.

We reached Nea Marmaris - that is the place there the Greeks from Marmaris in Turkey where transported in 1920 when the resettlement took place. No Turkish influence now just a small holiday town with an average public harbour. The locals with boats have established their place on the pontoon and guard their spots and those of their friend with every excuse. It doesnt wash with an Italian or an Ozzie. Fancesco and I both found a place on the pontoon. The following day I took a bus in to Thessaloniki to get some bearings for the windlass which had taken a beating with the new anchor and the difficulty in finding good holding. The SKF distributer had all the bearings and seals so the next day I was able to replace all the parts. I must say the designof the Muir windlass leaves much to be desired. I have had to put a wood support to the motor because it is only held by four 6 mm bolts to stop it from turning. Put a 12 ton boat at the end of that and the bolts break out of the cast aluminium housing. I believe the engineers have never sailed a boat in their lives - the mix of metals and the size of the bolts and housings is just inadequate. Well the windlass is now better than new and we can pull the new 30kg anchor up without fear.

We stayed a few days in Nea Marmaris restocking the boat then set sail for Porto Koufo but the wind was not helping so we changed destinations to a bay in the south of the Kassandra penisula. We flew the reacher all the way across the bay. That is the advantage of the Med there is always an anchorage down wind. Here are some pictures of Sinthonia Peninsula

Current Cruise - 10 Akti Peninsula

We left Limnos very early one morning and motored north towards the Halkidiki. There was no wind for the next 60nm. We arrived late in the evening after traveling north up the most eastern finger of the Halkidiki. This is where the monstries are. No female is to set foot on the penisular. Well we dropped anchor in a norther bay a long way from civilisation and spent the next few days swimming and collecting flotsum from the beaches. We then moved north to Nea Rodha whwre we anchored out. From there we moved east to a fishing harbour of Ierisssos. The first night there was a violent thunderstorm which washed the decks but also burst one of our fenders. Comes for going into a harbour. The local boat builder got some work when a fishing boat hit the harbour wall full speed ahead. They dragged the boat out of the water on a sled. Simple and effective. They have been doing it for centuries only now diesel in place of oxen. We sailed round the peninsular where all the monasteries are located. This is an indepedent state governed by the monks. Here are some pictures of Akti Peninsula

The next few pages is the account of the trip through Northern Greece.

Current Cruise 9 - Limnos

The exit from Turkey was fast, rough and with a lots of wind. We arrived after a down wind sail to Limnos and motored north into a large bay to throw the anchor for a well deserved rest. We then visited the land site for the Gillopolie invasion. This bay was where the ships gathered prior to the invasion of Turkey. It was also the place that the Generals stayed away from the fighting and where the injured soldiers and sailors were brought to be hospitalised. Many died and were buried on the Island. We visited the Commonwealth War Cematary at the end of Anzac Road. A rather desolate place. We were the only vessel in Ormos Moudhrou, a change from the day before the invasion when there were a hugh flotilla of battleships and troop carriers.

We sailed into Ormos Kondia for a night then on to the main harbour at Mirina which is the port of Entry for Greece. We had switched our colours and were now flying the British ensign. The greeks find non-EU boat a trouble. The clearance in while long was not difficult or expensive. My passport is still cleaan while Denny's has and entry right below her last entry - work that out. As usual we anchored in the bay just opposite the town wharf. Just before sunset a fisherman came out in his boat to warn us of an impending storm and to advise us to tie up to the dock. Taking local advice we droped 70m of chain and went stern to the wharf and secured ourselves to some large rings in the wall. An Ozie boat from Qld had done the same. Well at 11:00 the wind came in from the NW with gust over 30knots. The boats were bouncing around all over the place. We had a smaller boat on the starboard side but nothing on the port so I was able to rig a line from the bow to the dock to hold us against the wind. Having secured Malua I retired to sleep the sleep of the landlubber. By morning the wind had gone and no one was the wiser. We had to move off the dock to make way for the ferry but the next day We found a spot along side the Ozie boat.

The town is a typical Greek island village with a few extra shops for the local Greek tourists. Few foriegners visit this place. It is famous for its wine which we sampled along with the excelent pork. The following day we purchased big in the area of wine - a total of 60 litres in the form of a number of ten litre boxes. Stowable in the bilge for maturing. We stocked up with provisions and ste sail at dawn for the Halkidiki. Again no wind so we motored the 63nm. The next page will give you the detail. Here are a few photos of Limnos The next few pages documents the trip through Greece.

Leaving Turkey

What an exit out of the Dardanelles. The wind came up out of the North East and as we put our nose round the southern point of the Galipolli Peninsula we were hit by very strong wind and a very confused sea. The strong current did not help. Malua was tossed around in no uncertain terms. It took us a few minutes to put two reefs in the main and to furl the genoa. Of course things did not go to plan and we had to struggle to get it right. After a few minutes we had the wind aft of the beam and we were reaching at 9 knots touching 11 at times towards Greece. Limnos was our port of entry.