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Koinonia Sailing
My first overnight passage
11 May 2012
My First Overnight Passage: Montenegro to Greece

The day had arrived when it was time to make the overnight passage to Greece. This was my first overnight passage. Up to this point, my sailing experience had been purposefully limited to a day's travel, with overnight anchorages between destinations. When a trip called for anything more, (like the days of going from Florida to the Bahamas) my captain/husband would take the boat over, while I traveled with the sky captain, and flew!

The trip from Montenegro to Greece did not have any options for ducking into a nice anchorage after a long day, and flying to Greece was not an option either. The trip required thirty hours at sea. With prayers said, a favorable weather window, and tanks full of fuel and water, we left the quaint protected bays of Montenegro for the headed for the open sea.

We expected the temperature to turn cold during the evening, so we installed the cockpit enclosure panels. The addition provided protection from both sides and helped to minimize the coldness of the night air. The seas were a bit bumpy, but I had already been acclimated to a less than comfortable sea state during the previous two weeks. The wind was not favorable for sailing, so we motor sailed most of the way. With the sun setting, I dreaded the darkness and being at sea overnight. Darkness fell around 9:30 P.M., but it was not completely dark. The lighting from our running lights and the glow emitting from the navigation screen provided just enough light to keep us out of complete darkness when we were in the cockpit. The half moon appeared in the sky around 1:00 A.M. The moon's glow reflected beautifully across our path in the water.

The seas continued to build and were rolling in at our starboard stern. The boat rose and gently fell with each frequent swell. At one point during the evening, we were able to turn off the engine and sail without the assistance of the engine. I must admit, the sound of water rushing around the boat and the sight of the moonlight dancing on the water was very peaceful.

Don and I took turns taking cat naps, while the other slept. During my watch, two dangerous targets appeared on AIS, which is the Automated Identity System used to electronically identify ships which are within a preset distance of our boat. The data indicated that the vessels were large ferries approximately seven miles away, coming from the same direction. One of the ferries was projected to pass about a half mile in front of us within the next thirty minutes and the other vessel was projected to pass about a mile behind. I decided this was a good enough reason to interrupt Don's much needed sleep and request his assistance. Don came topside to the helm and we watched the vessels on the screen, as well as saw them in the distance. The vessels continued on the same course and apparently could not see us. AIS data provided the name of target, so Don hailed the vessel and informed them Koinonia was dead ahead. The fast ferry acknowledged seeing us and she altered her course to go behind us. The slower moving ferry altered her course as well. We watched both ferries pass at a comfortable distance. I was grateful to have this technology on board. At one point during the evening, both the GPS and AIS. briefly went out of service. We were relieved when both systems were functioning again.

I imagined how glorious it would be to see the sunrise after a long night at sea. Don was at the helm and I remained in the cockpit to keep him company and wait for the sunrise. A hint of the impending sunrise began to emerge on the horizon around 4:30 A.M., but my fatigue was greater than my ability to stay wake long enough to see the sunrise. After one last cat nap, I awoke to the sun shining, the start of a new day on the sea, and on target for our arrival in the Greek Islands. The passage went very well. Koinonia II and my captain did a great job!

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