Tri cruising

Mediterranean and now Atlantic wandering in a Kelsall trimaran

Vessel Name: Aqua Blue
Vessel Make/Model: Kelsall 39 tri
Hailing Port: Originally Brighton UK
Crew: David Bains retired dental surgeon.
About: Family and a few friends.
Extra: Aqua Blue is currently moored at El Rompido SW Spain.
18 November 2017 | Portugal
04 September 2014 | SW Atlantic Spain
25 August 2012 | Ionian Marine, Aktio, Preveza, Greece
28 June 2011 | Nautec, Monfalcone, Italy
23 November 2010 | Adriatic
20 September 2009
30 March 2009 | Adriatic
29 March 2009 | Adriatic
28 March 2009 | Adriatic
27 March 2009 | Ionian/Adriatic
26 March 2009 | Ionian/Aegean
25 March 2009 | Ionian/Adriatic
24 March 2009 | Ionian/Aegean
23 March 2009 | Tyrrhenian/Ionian
22 March 2009 | Tyrrhenian
21 March 2009 | Tyrrhenian/Ionian
18 March 2009
16 March 2009
Recent Blog Posts
18 November 2017 | Portugal

Wild West Coast

I returned to Aqua Blue, wintering again in El Rompido, SW Spain, by late May 2017.

04 September 2014 | SW Atlantic Spain

Pushing through the Pillars.

Aqua Blue has escaped the Med after 25yrs!! Rather delayed this year, I returned to Cartagena on 1st July and worked on Aqua Blue in this attractive city for two weeks until my wife Stella joined me. The morning of the 15th brought a fresh northeasterly, nearly trapping AB in her winter berth, the fouled [...]

24 August 2013

Preveza Greece to Cartagena Spain

This June/July, Aqua Blue left Levkas Greece and crossed to Syracuse Sicily via Crotone. After an OCC meeting in this delightful anchorage and ancient city we rounded Sicily clockwise to Trapani. Then crossed to Cagliari Sardinia for a week.

Tornado Alley 95

23 March 2009 | Tyrrhenian/Ionian
David
TORNADO ALLEY 95

Corsica to Zakynthos

During mid July in Campoloro where Aqua Blue has spent three
winters, I compressed a year's fitting out into a week, with the
help of my parents who were holidaying in Corsica. A long overdue
job for the Med was the cream and white non slip with which we
covered the original grey, under which the deck had been reaching
alarming temperatures in the midday sun.

My crew Matthew arrived in Ajaccio on the 23rd of July so my
father and I crossed over the mountains to collect him. The
return trip in the dark avoiding the locals and their farm
animals was not for the faint hearted. My parents departed at
midnight for the ferry to Marseilles and with Matthew keen to
start sailing we set off in the morning for Greece.

A light sea breeze slowly drew us down the coast to
Solenzara where we tied bows to the wall alongside the Sunsail
fleet, one of which was an Oceanis 440! The club forecast was for
light winds for the next two days. We did have to motorsail down
past the beautiful anchorages on this coast to Pta. de la
Chiappa, before crossing the Straits of Bonifacio in a SE4. We
entered Italian waters as we bore away slightly for the Moneta
Passage between Isola Maddalena and Isola Caprera, and fast
reached down to Porto Garibaldi to anchor off the Club Med, for a
quiet night despite the disco.

We spent the morning hull cleaning using plastic windscreen
scrapers. Matthew even attempted the "dark side" of the offset
centreboard. I installed the log transducer whilst Matthew sealed
the hole from the outside with a kitchen plunger. It does work!
We only now inflated the dinghy although we didn't visit the
Club. The sailing school was very active and we had a couple of
near misses! After lunch we left the shelter of the island and
found a fresh southeasterly outside which surprised me by getting
up to 33kts as we reefed and beat down the East side of Caprera.
In fact I abandoned our original destination of Porto Cervo and
we eased sheets to blast into the Golfe di Arzachena at 10kts
despite carrying our maximum possible load of fuel and water. A
relatively clean bottom makes a big difference! We anchored in
the heat off the quay at Cannigione and the wind died by 7.00pm.
Sea breezes at certain locations in the Med really can be gale
force! Although normally in the Bonifacio Straits the wind is
westerly. Still there is a very good pizza restaurant in
Cannigione and a real ice cream parlour selling "gelati
artigiani". In the small marina there was even a large new
trimaran with alloy beams and high angled floats not unlike Aqua
Blue. I always new Derek Kelsall was ahead of his time.

With another good forecast we motored past Capo Ferro the
most northeasterly point of Sardinia and out into the Tyrrhenian
sea. No visit to the millionaires playground (Porto Cervo) this
time. I wanted to get away from the coast before the "sea breeze"
reached yesterday's strength! Matthew sunbathed on the starboard
float whilst I listened to the UK Maritime Mobile Net on
headphones in the cockpit. I was experimenting with the new Lowe
HF150M which seemed to work well. In fact that morning I listened
to the French VHF 8.45-9.10am, Italian VHF 9.35-10.00am, UKMM Net
10.00-11.00am, and was trying to receive Hamburg weatherfax
11.00-12.15pm and Rome wefax 12.15-13.00pm, followed by the BBC
World Service news 13.00pm onwards. All local time. My real need
is for a crew who will scan
the horizon whilst I scan the airwaves!

By midday the southeasterly had returned at up to 19kts and
we put a reef in the main to lighten the steering as we made good
progress to windward. In the early evening the wind started to
lighten and veer towards the south as the sea went down again. We
opened a large tin of Cous-Cous from the ship's stores and
decided the night watches. The engine came on in the early hours
although it didn't deter a large school of dolphins at 7.00am as
I came on watch. I was unable to start the Loran in the morning
and apparently the system is no longer functioning in the Med.
When the temp reached 90F we stopped for a swim and lunch which
gave us the energy to hoist the flying headsail or "multipurpose
genoa" as Crusader Sails call them. We motorsailed through the
rest of the very hot afternoon and evening and made our
destination of Isla Ponza,to anchor among the visiting fleet just
after dusk.

In the calm early morning I was able to admire alonside the
British flagged "Spirit of Carib", a beautiful wooden ketch with
a long graceful counter. I recovered the anchor and followed a
catamaran out into the morning mist. I had been woken in the
night by a bell operated by the Navtex which told me of a dinghy
missing in Greek waters! This was the last we heared from Kerkyra
till we were south of Corfu. I understand the Italian Navtex
stations will start in '96. They are needed to supplement the
VHF. We motored nearly all day, just raising the MPG for the last
few hours running down to Isla Procida in a NW4, to tie stern to
the outside wall in the pretty little port of Chiaolella. A
quayside restaurant with a view of your own boat at anchor,is I
always find, a pleasant place to spend the evening. We weren't
driven out of our bunks quite so early in the morning since,
unusually, the boat was in the shade of some trees. After our
visit ashore for provisions it was midday before we were motoring
south across the Bay of Naples. A considerable wash was
created by the many Neapolitans heading for Sunday lunch on
Ischia! We arrived off our original destination of Edwardian
Sorrento rather early, so decided to continue on through the
Capri Channel towards Capo Palinuro. The VHF forecast was for
N-NW3 to continue although there had been a fall in pressure from
1019 to 1013mb over the previous 48hrs

A large cat. was rapidly beating into the popply channel as
we started reaching southeast across the Gulf of Salerno in a
light westerly. We listened to Dominic Cork bowling a hat trick
against the West Indies on the World Service as the sun went down
and the horizon was lit briefly by distant thunderclouds. Later
thunderstorms were forecast on the VHF,and indeed were visible
most of the night. We alternately motored and sailed, once in a
brisk easterly, as we passed through them. Capo Palinuro light
was visible in the early hours. At 7.30am a headwind arrived and
we started beating against the 18kt southerly, although a
thunderstorm was overtaking us from the northwest. As it
approached the lightning strikes were so close I unplugged the
radio aerial.

I got Matthew up from his bunk against the chainplates and
as he emerged into the cockpit in his oilies two waterspouts
formed under a nearby very low cloud. We were impressed, although
they didn't last long as they contorted away southeast. But then
quite a large area of this cloud came down to the sea and formed
a really huge waterspout- more like a mini tornado!!! It didn't
seem wise to continue beating towards it so I bore away and
reached northwest at about 8kts. Matthew wanted to photograph
this monster, but I soon realised the bloody thing was moving
north and gaining on us! On went the engine as well and I opened
the throttle despite the sailing speed and got aqua Blue up to
10.5kts. The spout however remained on a constant bearing as the
wind got up further and we had a good view of the revolving wall
of water. We put on harnesses in case we were overtaken. I then
jibed northeast in a brief lull to put the wind on our starboard
beam, to treat it as though it was a tropical revolving storm,
and thankfully the bearing started to change. Soon after the
monster collapsed and I crossed myself for the first time in
thirty years! We were still left in a strong southerly with
torrential rain and frequent lightning on both sides of the boat.
One strike was so close I saw steam rise from the surface! After
about another hour of reaching east and sheltering in the
companionway from the stream of water off the main, the skies
started to clear from the west. Although Matthew was happy to
continue beating south, I decided to continue towards the
mainland and we entered Camerota at 15.00 for some R&R!!

We caught up on sleep after tying to the wall outside the
fishing boats. In the evening we ate ashore and rang home, more
for our benefit than our relatives. An English sailing couple who
were heading north introduced themselves and when I recounted our
day's experience the husband said "don't tell my wife that,
she'll never go to sea again!" He also told us that this
thunderstorm field now extended from the Balearics to Greece and
was not expected to clear for some time. I hit the sack rather
depressed and my mood was not improved by more gigantic
thunderstorms seemingly just outside the harbour wall in the
early hours. We dragged of course and had to rise and lay out
"Big Bertha" the 45lb CQR as well.

The English couple on "Lucky Lady" left in the morning and
it seemed clear enough. There'd even been a slight rise in
pressure. The forecast was SW-W 3 with thunderstorms! We followed
them out and sailed slowly south in an easterly off the land. At
one point in the early afternoon I counted five large
thunderclouds stretching from Capo Palinuro across the Golfo di
Policastro and inland. I now call this area "Tornado Alley"!

Later In the afternoon the wind gradually veered round to
the forecast SW remaining light and we could lay the Messina
Straits on starboard tack. After a chicken curry dinner and just
before dusk we slowly came to a stop with the sails still
pulling. Matthew realised we were towing a long drift net which
was trailing from the centreboard. We quickly dropped the sails
on deck and I jumped in with the boathook and found it quite easy
to push the net off the bottom of the half raised board. As we
rehoisted the MPG two small landbirds circled us several times
but only one them secured a footing on the wet foredeck, from
where he repeatedly called plaintively for his missing mate.

The waxing moon set in the early hours to reveal a most
brilliant night sky, one of the real pleasures of sailing. The
wind continued freeing and lightening and I pointed up somewhat
towards the the light just visible on Strombolichio to keep
sailing. This was the third time in three years Aqua Blue was to
pass through what Rod Heikell calls the "Aeolian Triangle". Later
we had a close encounter with quite a large freighter whose
lights had led me to believe she was travelling west across our
path, when I suddenly realised she was travelling north almost
head on! These experiences certainly maintain your resolve to
keep a good lookout! The sea was very smooth and the MPG was
pulling us along at up to 5kts in only 8 to 9kts of apparent
wind. And I thought Aqua Blue's days of sailing at half wind
speed were over! A good light weather sail really pays for
itself. As I went off watch at 4.00am I could see the occasional
red glow from the summit of Stromboli as well as the lights on
the mainland at Capo Vaticano.

Back on watch just after 7.00am I was listening to the 40mtr
band and heard a guy on holiday near Nice talking to someone in
Brisbane Australia. Despite this he was complaining that the
extensive lightning over the western Med. was causing a lot of
radio interference. And indeed I was having trouble receiving and
printing weatherfax charts, so much so that they were not much
use on this trip. The Italian VHF was occasionally late or weak
and I several times received the first day's forecast from the
UKMM net who were receiving it from Rome themselves!

After breakfast we were overtaken by another small
thunderstorm and I called Matthew to lower the MPG which refused
to roll up at the crucial moment. The wind did not exceed 22kts
and there were only two nearby lightning strikes, a mere toy of a
storm! At midday we approached Capo Peloro in thunder and rain but
little wind, to enter the Straits and motorsail over popply
Charybdis. As we approached Reggio Calabria dodging the many
ferries the sun came out and brouht with it a freshening
northeasterly, so that we had a fast reach right round the toe of
Italy to enter Saline Joniche. This industrial harbour now has a
"marina" consisting of a pontoon cantilevered out from the sea
wall.

With the wind behind us I was glad of the powerful reverse
gear
to hold the bows off, whilst Matthew struggled with the laid
lines. They are always awkward to pass round the floats of a
trimaran, and the skipper invariably wants it done quickly to
save the paintwork! However there's no point in putting your
blood pressure up, it's easy enough to apply some paint and
filler in the winter. As George White of the Westell tri
"Swingalong" told me years ago "Buy plenty of fenders and develop
a sense of humour". And we had to contain our mirth when the next
yacht in firmly rammed the pontoon bending their pulpit.
Fortunately the foredeck crew had the sense to stop fending
off,and hang on at the last moment. In August 95 this harbour had
almost no facilities. The water is undrinkable -contaminated with
some chemical, although we took a few gallons on board for
showering. The fuel pumps were not yet connected but there is a
shower block and a phone, which we used with the staff's help to
order some pizzas. The attendant was helpful but charged us
double for a multi. It's still better than dirty Reggio Calabria
harbour and no doubt there'll be a summer restaurant soon.

We were back outside the harbour at 8.30am the next morning
to find a light southeasterly again. We started motor sailing
northeast along the coast in company with a German Dehler 30, and
rounded Capo Spartivento (yet another one) the most southerly
point of mainland Italy.. We kept pace with each other all
through the hot sunny day until in the evening they pulled in
towards Rocella Ionica. We continued since I knew that a nightime
northerly regularly blew out of Golfo di Squillace and at 11.20pm
it arrived suddenly. By 00.30am I had reefed the main and we were
soon half way across the gulf in up to 20kts of wind, and we
reached Capo Colonne at dawn. I had sailed above the rhumb line
to Corfu so we had the option of entering Crotone if we needed
fuel, but the fresh northerly returned after a brief lull so we
continued across the Golfo di Taranto.

I called Crotone on the VHF to enquire about the late
weather forecast to be told it had not yet arrived from Rome.
Shortly after I was receiving the Ionian forecast from G4FRN in
Surrey on 14303 KHz. We rocked along all morning with the seas
running about six feet with the long fetch out of the Gulf, and
after a very simple lunch, instead of unreefing the main I raised
the little used staysail in the slot since we were on a close
reach. The ride immediately became a lot less wild and the
Autohelm was coping much better. We were still maintaing up to
8kts in 18kts of wind over quite a bumpy sea. There was no shade
in the very hot cockpit during the afternoon with the stern
facing west and the solar panel on the rear cabin was pushing
over two amps into the instrument battery. I sheltered below and
kept watch through the slightly open forehatch. Matthew was
unconcious- I wish I could sleep like him. In fact he had to move
to the lee berth since the seas were quite steep. As the sun
gradually pulled round I found a bit of shade under the mast and
sat there for an hour watching the lee float bow. As the main
hull drops down the back of a wave it pulls the float's fine bow
right through the crest. As the float drives into the next sea
the CLR moves forward and the weather helm increases. The
staysail instead of the unreefed main keeps the centre of sail
effort further forward and helps to counteract this tendency to
point up,making life easier for the Autohelm. The staysail
also causes less heeling than the full main, and the cutter rig
seems to be a lot easier to balance than the modern higher rigs
with their big roach mains.

We were passing the heel of Italy, still going like a train,
during the evening. I opened a rather old tin of canneloni and
livened it up with garlic and cracked pepper. It was too bumpy to
sleep properly and as we emerged into the entrance to the
Adriatic we were met by a British warship who was interrogating
passing merchantmen as to the nature of their cargoes! The wind
veered and increased somewhat and was pushing us south of the
desired track for a while. I had fitted a new Lewmar 30ST on
the mast and was able to tighten the staysail halyard enough to
carry the cutter rig hard on the wind for the first time. A
bright orange moon which had been lying on it's side over the
western horizon set, and it seemed very dark as we rushed towards
the rocky plateau to the northwest of Corfu. As the wind freed
again but increased further, we were really bouncing over the
seas and I eventually called Mathew and we lowered the main
completely, to cut our speed whilst I concentrated on navigating
through the hazards between Othoni and Corfu. I used the GPS to
hit the previously selected waypoint between the islands after
exactly 200mls. Crosschecked with a running fix on the single
light on Othoni of course!

In the early hours we emerged on the east side of Othoni and
avoided the unlit Mathraki, again using the small GPS plotter.
The wind did not pick up again as we cleared the islands' lee and
the engine had to come on after all the excitement. I watched a
fantastic red/orange orb rise out of the Albanian mountains at
dawn, and shortly afterwards went to sleep standing up and banged
my neck on the coachroof. Matthew and I had to change watch every
hour during the early morning so we could catch up on sleep. At
10.00am we were motoring past the little port of Kassiopi on a
calm sea towards Nisos Peristerai or the "Albanian Battleship" as
we call it from our previous trip. Just 50hrs from Saline Joniche
I was giving Il Serpa reef a good berth and Matthew was already
packing, as we pulled into the anchorage of Ay Stephanos. "Moody
Magic" was waiting for us and as we tied alongside, Matthew's
mother Carolyn came out to meet us and reassure herself he was
still alive. Danny and Sue on Moody Magic made me very welcome
and it was rewarding to see them all again in the sun to the
sound of Cicadas.
I swam, ate and slept.

Aqua Blue spent six days in this pleasant spot. I collected
Stella and our daughter Louise from Corfu airport and they
settled in on board. A day by the pool at Peter and Carolyn's
villa washed the salt away. One night there were ten yachts in
this anchorage including the British Catalac "Pond Skater".

On Friday 11th August we left the Goodmans to continue their
civilised holiday and the three of us headed south. In Gouvia Bay
was the British aicraft carrier RD5 with Harriers parked on deck.
By early evening we were anchored off the beach at Petriti, a
quiet resort although it is the base for a flotilla. Louise
enjoyed an hour on the sandy beach before clouds formed over the
island and the wind increased. It came to nothing, although I did
read up the entrance to Igoumenitsa "just in case". It seemed to
be change over night for the flotilla crews, several of them
Australian. The local taverna's had adapted and one offered "turf
and surf". I tried it once in Queensland and couldn't eat it.
Back on board after dinner the rival Tavernas were playing
different versions of "Zorba the Greek". The lyric begins " One
day my son, the tourists will come, and pay £30 for two slices
off the back end of a swordfish". Louise was unconcious and indeed
always sleeps better on board than back at home in Brighton.

We were back ashore shopping in the hot morning sunlight. It
still surprises me how easy it is to ring home from a bar phone.
I motored away from Petriti with the sun awning and the windscoop
rigged, most unseamanlike. In the Corfu channel there was a light
westerly so we unrolled the genoa and sailed gradually down the
mainland coast to Parga. The hook went down at the western end of
Ormos Valtou along with the other yachts. There's a good beach
here and a few restaurants, although most crews use the water
taxis in the evening to go round to Parga town. I had been
intrigued by a couple of Italian yachts dissappearing around the
Venetian castle, so in the morning we followed them. And indeed
it is possible to anchor either side of the ferry mole in
Ay.Athanasiou. The east side is shallower and a multi could spend
the night here on a short scope. We went ashore for an hour's
sightseeing in this busy little resort. The anchorage is shown to
good effect on the dust jacket of Paul Theroux's "The Pillars of
Hercules".

We motored out and soon met a rising SSW wind. I had to put
a reef in the main and tack down the coast which surprised me.
Stella and Louise retired in the afternoon, leaving me to once
again experiment with the staysail whilst listening to jazz on
the world service. Two yachts passed us motoring north in a good
following wind. It makes you wonder why they don't buy
motorboats. Later we passed an unmarked wreck at N39.05 E20.38.
The mast was sticking out of the water at an angle and from a
distance it looks like a yacht beating towards you. Slowly the
wind veered and we bore away towards the buoyed channel into
Preveza. We were being chased in by a huge Freydis 52 cat "Vol au
Vent" and both of us anchored off Preveza Marine on the Aktion
shoreline.

In the morning I introduced myself to George Tsiligiris the
owner of Preveza Marine, with whom I had been communicating by
fax in the spring. He kindly came out in the dinghy and reassured
me that his hydraulic trailer could lift Aqua Blue in two weeks
time. There aren't that many places in the Med where a multihull
exceeding 7mtrs beam can be easily lifted. Many yards with 8mtrs
travelhoists still only have 7mtrs docks. After lunch we ran down
to the Levkas canal entrance in an hour and anchored on a short
scope off Sta.Maura fort to await the hourly opening of the swing
bridge. We passed by Levkas Town and it took an hour to motor
through the canal with the wind and current against us. The wash
created by some of the large Italian powerboats is positively
dangerous as they overtake with only feet to spare. They don't
care of course despite our rude Anglo Saxon gestures. By 8.00pm
we were motoring past Nidri and found "Felix" a Crowther cat
anchored in Tranquil Bay. We pressed on through the bottleneck
into Vliho to anchor off the restaurants on the East side.
"Byzance" a Lagoon cat last seen in Menorca was here, and also
the Iroquois "Cheshire Cat" and the Allegro tri "Windrose", bows
to the restaurant patios. We had a good cheap meal in Dimitris
Taverna which like the others has a cluster of dinghys alongside.
The Navtex had come back to life despite Vliho behing surrounded
by mountains and there was a thundery low over southern Italy, no
doubt explaining the southwesterlies of the previous few days

We awoke to thunder and lightning and torrential rain. After
some shopping in the few stores in Vliho we motored over to
Skorpios the Onassis island where I snoozed on the beach whilst
Louise played. The return of the northwesterly breeze woke me up
as Aqua Blue swung towards the shore, and we returned to anchor
off Nidri this time,to save the long row from Tranquil Bay which
is also pretty crowded in season. However the smell of the town
sewer seems to attract the mosquitoes here.

Jim on "Felix" the Crowther Spindrift recognised us from
Alghero in Sardinia the year before, and we exchanged greetings
before heading south again. We motored down the Meganisi Channel
and found a beach for Louise to swim off, before running down to
Vathi on Ithaca at good speed in a fresh westerly. As we entered
a Swiss Fountaine Pajot cat "Blue 11" was leaving. The wind blew
into the harbour till well past dusk making our trip ashore
slightly awkward and no sooner had we hauled the dinghy onto the
pavement there was a power failure,so we returned to the boat
before long. I think it's best to spend the night in the
northeast corner of the harbour where there are a couple of
tavernas. I was up at 2.00am for another spectacular
thunderstorm.

After visiting the bank and shops we motored round to
Skoinos bay for lunch and swimming and it's a very pleasant spot
up till mid afternoon, being completely open to the northwest.
However the day we were there it remained flat calm and we
eventually had to motor all the way down to Poros on Cephalonia.
I managed a ten point turn in the tiny harbour and backed up to
the quay which is open to the north. Fortunately the wind
remained a light southerly all night. We walked up to the
controlled tourist development north of the little port, and I
was pleasantly surprised by the relaxed atmosphere. The complete
abscence of lager louts makes such a difference!

I nipped ashore for bread, ice and some Cephalonia wine.
Stella then recovered the anchor on her own whilst I manoeuvered
past the rocks on the end of the inner breakwater. As we were
motorsailing south again in a light southerly off Ak Kapri the
British cat "Chill Factor" gave us a wave,before I pointed up a
bit to clear Kakova shoal off the southeasterly tip of
Cephalonia. The water was so clear I had to keep checking the
depth sounder to convince myself we really had 20ft clearance.
The MPG slowly pulled us across to Zakynthos through another
brief thunderstorm, and we entered the huge harbour and anchored
with plenty of swinging room in it's shallow southern half not
far from some broad steps. We mounted these after dinner and had
to disagree with Lawrence Durrell's poor opinion of the town's
reconstruction.

We pottered round to Pelouzo island and spent a few hours on
it's tiny beach which had white flowers growing in the sand.
Later we continued past Marathonisi island and anchored outside
the small shallow harbour at Keri where the road from Lagana
resort ends. To Louise's chagrin we saw no turtles, but a piglet
on a spit in one of the tavernas soon attracted her attention. I
ordered some and the chef took a machete to the carcass and
served the pieces with some tired chips. There was only one other
yacht in this quiet spot but we had no trouble ringing home from
one of the mini-markets. In the overcast morning we motored back
and stopped for a swim at Porto Roma. Whilst we were on the beach
we saw people on Aqua Blue so returned to the boat but they were
only using the starboard float as a diving platform. A sudden
squall then came through so we had to hurriedly recover the
anchor and beat back to Zakynthos harbour where the wind promptly
dropped again. Louise was becoming very keen on the Orthodox
churches and there is a very old one near the root of the
breakwater, from where we also took her on a pony and trap ride.
An small open boat with a square sail came in and her very fit
German owner fitted a cover for sleeping and settled down for the
night. I was impressed enough to take several photos of the
smallest cruiser I have ever seen.

We made an early start to our trip north since it's a fair
distance back from Zante. However we motored all day and it was
so hot in the cockpit even under the awning,that I rigged another
over the foredeck where we sat in our deckchairs away from the
noise of the diesel. By 3.00pm we were off Poros again and I was
watching a huge thundercloud over the mainland, when I noticed a
white squall line ahead of us. We just had time to remove both
awnings and were hit by an instantaneous F6 on the nose. I reefed
the main and we then spent a rather laborious 4hrs beating into
the Ithaca channel and on up to Ay Eufemia on Cephalonia. Of
course the sea was fairly flat but about 1ml out of the port we
endured a gust of 38kts which had Aqua Blue seeming to squat in
the water and slowly round up as I wound furiously on the roller
to further reduce sail. I hove to off the entrance and got out
the 45lber, before slowly motoring to the head of the harbour so
Stella could drop it on a patch of sand. A long 12hr sail and I
could see why the flotilla skippers tell their charges not to go
down to Zante! This is the windiest part of the Ionian, and in
retrospect I could have stopped in Ormos Ay Andreas on the
southern tip of Ithaca or even Poros again.

We relaxed on the town beach in the morning after I had
swapped waterspout stories with one of the skippers ashore. After
lunch we spent the afternoon tacking up the Ithaca channel to
Fiskardo where we anchored on the north side of the harbour. It
takes some time to row lines ashore but it's a very pleasant
spot. We had a good meal in restaurant Tassia, and Louise enjoyed
the clean water. We left Cephalonia in the morning and
motorsailed over to Vassiliki on Levkas to anchor off the beach
outside the harbour for Louise' benefit. As the afternoon
northwesterly got up literally hundreds of sailboards appeared
and streaked up and down in the katabatic wind off the westerly
headland like so many gaudy butterflies. When the wind drops
about 7.30pm you can moor stern to in the outer harbour as the
British yacht "Jonban" did. Ashore were the sailboarders and every
restaurant was full. When I was here in '83 it was still pretty,
but quiet but with many fewer facilities.

We motored out of the calm bay in the morning towing the
dinghy with the seagull on the transom, something I rarely do.
The seagull seemed to be responding to regular use and liberal
doses of WD40. It's an ancient rusty thing since it lives in the
starboard float and I've several times threatened it with a
watery grave. However it's enjoying a new lease of life since
it's points were replaced by an electronic chip. We joined a few
other yachts just off the southeasterly point of Thilia island
for lunch, where one of the flotilla boats firmly ran aground.
Clearing the Meganisi channel we made a brief tour of Spartahori
before returning to the shallow spot off the restaurants in
Vliho. 2000 mls came up on a log I had only fitted at the
beginning of the previous season and it undereads!

A southerly forecast sent us to Ormos Kapali on the north
side of Meganisi for a few hours, before running up to the Levkas
canal with the roller genoa and the MPG wing and wing, a proper
trade wind rig, and much easier to control for a short handed
family crew than a large spinnaker. In fact we ran most of the
length of the canal under sail before anchoring and laying stern
to the causeway immediately east of Levkas town. After a good
meal ashore and two churches we were back on board for a
relatively early night again. However I sipped a whisky in the
cockpit and watched yet another large thunderstorm to the north
till my eyes drooped. At 11.00pm I was roused from my bunk by
torrential rain which quickly became horizontal and fiercely
driving, so that we had to screw down every hatch and window. The
rigging then started to really howl and Stella and I stood below
with our eyes fixed on the anemometer which climbed and climbed
only peaking at a staggering 61kts!!! I was waiting for the two
10ml lines holding our stern to the wall to snap and was mentally
calculating how far Aqua Blue would travel across the harbour
before our anchor hopefully snagged on some immovable object.
When the blast subsided I went on deck and recovered the dinghy
from where it was hanging off the forward beam. We had been lucky
that the wind direction had kept us off the wall but I was wary
of another blast from a different direction. So I hauled the
45lber out of the focsle and rowed it out to the southeast, a
fortunate choice since at 1.00am we had 30kts this time from the
east,with more thunder and lightning and the starboard float was
only inches from the wall. In these situations I bring back both
anchor warps to cockpit winches so I can adjust them from the
shelter of the cockpit. At 3.00am I was again awoken by the
American owner of very large gin palace revving up his dinghy
engine whilst trying to release more scope on one of his anchor
chains. It seemed to be jammed and while I watched incredulously
he put his arm up the hawse pipe whilst his skipper operated the
anchor winch. I had barely described their idiocy to Stella
before the owner started screaming his arm was caught and the
skipper was hanging over the bow asking whether he wanted more or
less chain to release him. His arm came out with a lot of chain
that almost sank his dinghy.

After breakfast I glanced out of the forehatch to see the
towering bows of the gin palace right in front of Aqua Blue. They
had recovered both their anchors and despite my Anglo Saxon
protestations they proceeded to relay them quite deliberately
over both our anchor chains. The skipper claimed the boat was
worth four million dollars and he "couldn't take any chances". On
returning from our trip ashore it took Stella and I an hour to
winch both our chains from under theirs, whilst their crew
watched and ignored my request for them to create some slack.
After we'd cleaned the smelly Levkas mud from the foredeck we
proceeded down to the canal bridge, but the operator could only
open the narrow lifting section and waved us away. We tied to the
crumbling wall in the heat and I strolled down to the bridge to
learn that a lightning strike the night before had reduced the
power supply. I paced out the lifting section and estimated 29ft
max. against our 25ft beam,although the hydraulic rams reduced
this figure only a few feet above waterline on one side. We put
all our fenders out to protect both sides and waited for the next
hourly opening. After a flotilla had first passed through from
north to south (and the leader had wagered we wouldn't make it),
I gunned for the gap and just scraped through as Stella hurriedly
removed the seagull from it's collision course with the rams!

Escape from Levkas being accomplished, we sailed north over
a swell left over from the night before and soon ran down the
buoyed channel to anchor again of Preveza Marine, where Danny and
Sue were waiting for us on the shore.
Comments
Aqua Blue's Photos - Main
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Created 19 November 2017
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3 Photos | 1 Sub-Album
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