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.