04/05/2011, Alimos Marina, Athens
Well we're here in Athens, we arrived Friday lunch time and after dropping 92kg of luggage into our hotel went straight to meet with the broker, Panos. Our yacht was stored on the hard (out of the water on land). It was fantastic to finally see it in person and know that it is what we paid for (despite being covered in dust)!
Conveniently we'd ordered some folding bikes online and over the weekend they've been great. It took some time getting used to the "Urban Lite", not quite the high performance kit I'm used to which led me to rename them "Urban Shite" but they've since been forgiven. We've been riding around loads, to and from the hotel, supermarkets, restaurants, the brokers office and the yacht. On Saturday we rode into Piraeus and along the coast which was great. Every few hundred meters there would be another marina full of huge yachts and interesting things to look at.
Monday the boat was launched into the water, it was a bit tense watching our boat swinging around like a toy but we were grinning from ear to ear.
Now we're happily afloat in the marina, the boat is all cleaned up and absolutely brilliant. Last night was our first sleep aboard and despite it being very cold we were thrilled. The boat is in almost perfect condition. We're most impressed with the interior right now (to cold to be on deck), it has very cool lighting and is quite luxurious. There are a multitude of systems onboard, it's quite daunting at times but we'll be on top of it all soon enough. Amazing to think this is going to be home for the next 20 months.
Despite all this excitement there is some bad news... we can't leave the marina, not even for a quick sail! Although we're busy not being able to use the boat is like torture. Basically we're waiting for a document confirming our yacht has been deleted from the Greek shipping register, without this we can't get our Australian registration and without our Australian registration we can't get a Greek transit log, no Greek transit log means no sailing. We're hoping to have the deletion document by the end of this week but who knows, as Panos said... welcome to Greece.
It's amazing how a few simple words can change your life as they did for us on the 28th April 2010 at 1.14pm, when Hugh had the foresight to send an email with the subject Long term goal 3-7 years asking:
Think I'd like to take a year off and sail around the world, will you come with me?
Eleven months later we are only a week out from starting our adventure. I'd be lying if I didn't say we're a little excited. Planning for the trip has been great fun. We exhausted multiple spreadsheets, budgets and on/off moments until we knew around Christmas that the financials might actually work.
While the adventure will be priceless, for fun or for the challenge, we plan to do the trip cost neutral. Ask us in two years if that transpired.
We have been busy doing courses, selling belongings and buying equipment with parcels arriving both in Athens and Potts Point every other day. Items include folding bikes, remote controlled autopilot (uninterrupted sun baking on the foredeck while boats pass by) and even a washing machine.
Why wait 3-7 years when we can have much more fun now. Goodbye friends, family and Australia - we will miss you.
After looking at what feels like hundreds of yachts online and some examples here in Sydney over the last six months... we've done it.
Meet "Alithia" a 2009 Beneteau Oceanis 46!
Click on the link to our gallery to see some photos in the album "Alithia".
The contracts are exchanged, a deposit paid and a settlement date estimated to be mid March.
We had a fairly good idea of what we wanted and when we came across this yacht online it seamed too good to be true, all the ducks aligned. We'd found a very young boat with loads of kit and an owner willing to negotiate. Our currency was strong and the timing perfect.
We had it surveyed more just because we couldn't be there in person but the results show it's in excellent condition - understandably as it's less than two years old.
We choose an Oceanis 46 because it is a very popular boat and established cruiser, we'll have loads of room onboard and it should be a very comfortable passage-maker.
We plan to rename Alithia, Whippersnapper.
Now the fun task of the fit out begins. Alithia already has a great inventory including some big ticket items like, teak decks, a diesel generator and air-con. We plan to add a few extras including a water-maker, an SSB radio, sat phone, more sails, and numerous bits of safety equipment. We've spreadsheets of all the extra equipment we'll need and I'm having a field day finding all the best prices online.
Well it's really going to happen! After months and months of research, numerous courses, and long distance negotiations we've bought a yacht in Athens and we are planning to fly out early April.
The full plan in case we haven't told you already...
Starting in the Eastern Med we're going to sail all the way home to Sydney in a continuous westerly direction (the trade routes), it will take us approximately 20 months all up. It's a little like a circumnavigation without the Indian Ocean.
It's going to be a huge adventure and a massive lifestyle change, we can't wait.
The basic itinerary (almost certain to change) is;
April 2011 Greece > Turkey
May 2011 Turkey
June 2011 Turkey > Greece > Croatia
July 2011 Croatia
August 2011 Italy > Sardinia, Corsica
September 2011 Balearic Islands (Spain)
October 2011 Costa del Sol (Spain) > Gibraltar,
November 2011 Canary Islands > Atlantic Crossing
December 2011 Atlantic Crossing > St Lucia
January 2012 Caribbean Windward Islands
February 2012 Caribbean Leeward Islands
March 2012 Caribbean Sea, Columbia, Panama
April 2012 Panama Canal transit > Galapagos Islands
May 2012 Pacific Crossing
June 2012 French Polynesia
July 2012 Society Islands > Tahiti
August 2012 Cook Islands > Tonga
September 2012 Fiji > Vanuatu
October 2012 New Caledonia
November 2012 Sydney
For the Atlantic crossing we'll be taking part in the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) which is organised by the World Cruising Club (http://www.worldcruising.com/arc/).
We hope to make this blog a place where you can come to catch up on our adventures and check out some photos. There will also be maps on which you can follow our progress.
Below are two blogs of yachts who have just completed a similar journey. We've been emailing the crew of both for some time now. Brad and Kat on Ghost and the Dransfield family on Nika have all helped enormously in the inspiration and planning of our trip.