Dazed Kipper in Greece

24 September 2008
Copied from Yotblog
Friday April 18: Arrived Athens early evening, caught Metro into town, found hotel, lugged bags up to room on 4th floor. See kids, Mum can travel on her own!

Saturday April 19: Got hold of street map, and walked my legs off -hotel-parliament-Acropolis (aka Greek Atomium) - Plaka etc

Sunday April 20: Metro out to Piraeus, ferry to Aegina. Lunch on a terrace by the beach, then off to the appointed bar for the sailing school meet-up. Fellow students are Roar, Norwegian and fairly Viking, and Dmitri, an atypical Russian. Instructor is Mark, ex Navy, catamaran racing champion. Dinner in town, and first night on the good ship Valentine. All three cabins have en-suite heads, but the gentlemen let me have the forecabin, which even has its own desk. Cabin bigger then the bedroom I had as a kid.

Monday April 21: long briefing in the morning, lunch on board, then off to Epidavros. Roar "need for speed" had first go at the helm, and was so pleased when we exceeded 9 knots, well heeled. Dinner in the village, followed by a bad night, barking dogs, weird dreams. Want to go home.

Tuesday April 22: I got to do our passage plan to Poros - first time I've done one for real, with chart and plotter, and no GPS (There was one on board, but we managed to knacker it).Got it checked over by Dmitri, who used to be navigator in the Russian merchant navy. I was at the helm to leave Epidavros. Apparently should have gone faster to get more steerage. Neighbours looked nervous, but were helpful. I continued to drive out of the channel, then on the planned course, which I found quite difficult. Helm passed first to Dmitri, then to George the AP, then back to me for arrival and anchorage for lunch at Russian Bay. After lunch, I helmed under sail, not easy, and was still driving for my first Med moor in Poros. Not the most brilliant manoeuvre, but have seen a lot worse.

Wednesday April 23: Instructor and crew presented me with a surprise birthday cake, complete with question mark candle! Had thought to let the day go past unnoticed, but forgot the sailing school had details on file. MOB practice on way to Ermioni.

Thursday April 24: Was volunteered to helm us out of Ermioni, and was still there when Mark decided to spring a surprise MOB. OK, the fender didn't drown, but how would I have reacted if it had been Popeye? Continued to helm under sail with 14 knots of breeze. 3 hours at the helm - an absolute record! Back to Poros for a quick pit stop before setting off for our round-the island-night sail at 20:00. Or trying to set off - Mark and the boys struggled for over an hour with a crossed anchor (me helming calmly), before giving up, night sail abandoned. Secretly relieved - both entrances to Poros are hairy enough in daylight!

Friday April 25: Long upwind sail back to Aegina, where we were awarded our certificates (DS for Roar and me, Comp crew for Dmitri, who's doing his DS the week after).Ferry back to Athens to meet up with Popeye, flying in that evening.

Very pleased I decided to do it, and very pleased with the sailing school. A great boost to my confidence, although I still can't imagine myself in charge of a boat and crew

Shirley Valentine - Granny leaves her comfort zone

17 April 2008
Copied from Yotblog
Bags packed, domestics sorted, off to Greece tomorrow to do dazed kipper, aboard the good ship Valentine.Popeye and friends coming out the weekend after for 2 weeks in the Cyclades (or maybe elsewhere, if I'm more dazed than kipper, Cyclades reported to be "challenging").

Colleagues, family + friends think I'm more than a little mad, and I tend to agree!

Watch this space....

Sardinia in "spring"

12 April 2008
Copied from Yotblog
This year's plan were laid in October last year - Cyclades in May, then Corfu at the end of August, but somewhere between Christmas and New Year, our friend Raph tabled the idea of a week "somewhere warm" during the Easter holidays, so that his teacher SWMBO could be initiated into the joys of cruising. So by early January we'd sorted the boat, the flights and the crew.

Crew : Popeye and Olive (of course), Raph (veteran of Turkey 2007) and his partner Isa, Guy (former porfessional skipper), Manon, Guy's 14 year old daughter, and Diego, 11 yr old son of Guy's business partner

Boat : Tommy, 5 year old 3 cabin Bav 38

Saturday March 29 Belgium-Portisco

Crew meets up at 08:00, Cologne airport. Only 2 hours drive from home, year-round cheap flights to Olbia, 8 days parking only 32 Euro. Hats off to TUIfly, Ryanair, eat your heart out! Good flight to Olbia, where pre-ordered minibus awaits us, in cool sunshine. On arrival at the marina discovered that early season is out of season, supermarket won't open till mid-June, so shopping party of 4 taxis back to Olbia outskirts to do the provisions. Marina restaurant also closed, so dinner on board.

Sunday March 30 Portsico - Cannigione

Call to base manager to get extra blankets - standard equipment was one very thin "pancake" per person, so we'd all shivered the whole night. Marked anchor, briefed crew and left around 11 with a forecast of NW3, to do the 15 miles to Cannigione. Dropped the hook at Liscia Vacca for lunch, not that comfortable. In the windy approach to Cannigione, spotted our sole dolphin of the whole trip. Very windy arrival in the "marina", which was very much work-in progress. 23 Euro for the night, no WC, no showers! Many Sunday tourists in the town, frequenting the plethoric gelaterias. Beginning to despair of finding an open resto for dinner, but finally Isa spotted a pizzeria which had started to heat its oven - excellent meal with drinks and dessert for 100 Euro!

Weather outlook fairly grim SE 7 and rain

Monday March 31 Stuck in Cannigione

Well, we got the rain. Decided to stay put, and quickly exhausted the delights of the town. More valiant crew members got out dinghy, outboard and swimming costumes, between showers. The rest read, dozed, drank.......

Tuesday April 1 Cannigione - La Maddalena

Our wedding anniversary - 19 years (+ 10 years cohabitation before that)

We're all going stir crazy, so decide to head to the island of La Maddalena anyway. Quite a bumpy sail, 3 hours for 8 miles during which we noticed a red flashing light on an uncharted part of the electrical panel. What could that be? Clumsy arrival, marineros on lunch break, so Raph jumps on to the pontoon, others fend us off the neighbouring Rassy, and the boat hook decides to go for a swim (subsequently recovered by Raph, after a brief-but-chilly dive). The marina is right in the middle of town, and we start to feel on holiday at last. Still no WC or showers (closed for winter), but at 16 Euro, much better value than Cannigione. Enjoy the "passagiata", pre-dinner drinks on a terrace owned by a guy from the area we ski every year, pizza in a very "family" restaurant (complete with TV), then after dinner drinks in the same bar.

Wednesday April 2 Maddalena - Bonifacio

Started the day with problem of blocked heads - "no paper" part of briefing had not been fully explained / understood. Raph is accused of having mega kidney stones, to have achieved this result. Guy does his plumbing thing, and all seems to be well.

Wasn't personally over-motivated to do Corsica, Bonifacio strait having something of a nasty reputation, but was out-voted. As it turned out, 5 hours fairly comfortable tacking, breathtaking arrival in the calanque of Bonifacio. Once again, no WC or showers (being rebuilt for forthcoming season), but at least we got 10% reduction on berthing fees because of that. Visit of splendid old town, including Denis the butcher, whose paté is to die for. Hesitated about choosing a resto for dinner before deciding to do spag bol on board, which ended in a bowline competition with leftover spaghetti.

Thursday April 3 Bonifacio -Santa Teresa

Yesterday's plumbing problem returns - blockage now in holding tank, which isn't actually in use, since "out" pipe permanently open (strange Sardinian interpretation of environmental issues). Finally realise what uncharted red light was trying to tell us! Heads need pumping every 5 minutes, just to put the overflow back into the HT.Reluctant to flush the thing out in the marina, so after leaving Bonifacio around 11:00, tried manual pump-out at sea - not successful. Temporary fix by pumping excess out into washbasin (yuk), then heads replaced by bucket. Pleasant 3 hour sail to Sta Teresa, wind up the chuff. Very pretty entrance to another out-of-season marina, but bliss - this time with sanitary facilities! Called the plumber, who dared to do what we didn't, and flushed enough fresh water through the HT to send loads of floaters into the marina (double yuk).According to the pilot book, the town is 10 minutes walk from the marina? What it doesn't say that it takes 20 minutes to walk round the marina. So Sta Teresa remained unvisited, and we had dinner in the first open pizzeria we found.

Friday April 4 Sta Teresa - La Maddalena

A superstition says "never put to sea on a Friday". Well, we didn't have much choice - had to be back in Portisco Saturday. Forecast was NW 5-6, right direction, if a bit strong. Reality turned the 5/6 into 7/8, and the gale warning we picked up an hour after departure brought us rain, hail and gusts of 10/11, which hit us at 11:30.

Reefs in everything, including teatowels. Boat speed over 10 knots. Fortunately, the nasty bit only lasted 10 minutes, and we were more than happy to tie up in La Maddalena at 12:45 for a well deserved lazy lunch, followed by a good nap.

Dined at "Lio" (Lonely planet), followed by a "grolla" at our favourite bar.

Saturday April 5 La Maddalena - Portisco

Diego, youngest crew member (11) caught a fish! Not a nasty port mullet thingy, maybe a daurade? He was determined to kill it and eat it, but was rapidly convinced to throw it back. Reluctantly left La Maddalena around 10:00 for our last leg. Wind was fickle -out of 5 hours passage time, 2 hours were under motor, and the other 3 under every combination of sail imaginable. We'd been told to refuel at Porto Rotondo, being the only fuel pump open in the area, but when we turned up there, it was "chiuso". Called the Portisco base, who sent someone along to open the Portisco pump. Nasty surprise - 45 litres! Given that we had done 8, 5 engine hours during the week, either something was very wrong with the engine, or the tank wasn't full when we took the boat out - memo to self to check next time.

As soon as we'd tied Tommy up to the pontoon, Diego's patience paid off again, with a respectable specimen -which was also returned to its natural habitat. Supper on board (no option - all's closed), bags packed, early night

Sunday April 6 - back to Belgium

Taxi picked us up at 06:30, back home at 13:00, having encountered snowstorms in Germany and southern Belgium - and we thought Sardinia was chilly!

Would we do Sardinia again? Yes, absolutely! Would we sail again so early in the year? Definitely not!

Turkey 2007 - getting it right at last?

06 November 2007
Copied from Yotblog

Despite our 2006 end-of-season Turkish cruise not being an overwhelming success (at least the second part), we were very taken by the country, the scenery, the people, the food. So we decided to return, but this time starting from Bodrum (which in fact turned out to be Turgutreis) and exploring the Datca and Bozburun peninsulas. Both of these lay roughly W-E, and as plans advanced, it seemed that finding shelter from prevailing northwesterlies might be something of a challenge, at least 50% of the time. Oh well, forewarned is forearmed, as they say.

Saturday, October 13 Brussels-Turgutreis

Not the best start ever to our autumn cruise : 4th member dropped out at the last minute, with a slipped disc, family farewell supper the night before got extended to include a bunch of friends, including one back from Venezuela for a few days, and we had to be up at 3:30 for our flight. The weather, which had been warm and calm all summer and autumn was now threatening storms.

So it was a reduced and knackered crew of three who landed at Bodrum at 10:15. Hair-raising taxi ride to D Marin at Turgutreis, where we took possession of "Apetitus", a 2 year old Bav 38. The check in was done by a very nubile young lady, who was not immune to the charms of our youngest crew member, Raph, brother of our son-in law. Stumbled into the resto nearest the marina, where we were royally ripped off for pasta and a bottle of wine, then after a nap, off to the nearby supermarket for vital provisions (beer, wine and some water), followed by another rip-off meal at a waterside resto. Seems we have "gullible tourist" written on our foreheads.

Realised I'd left my jacket at home, so obliged to splash out on a new one. Actually quite pleased, the new one is much better than the old one, and not even too expensive. Consider it as "insurance", now that I have a good jacket, it won't rain.

Sunday, October 14 Turgutreis-Knidos

Woken at 06:00 by thunderstorm, and the sound of hail pelting the boat. Turned over and slept on until the sun came out. Pottered around in the morning, marked anchor chain, distributed and tested safety equipment.

Slipped at noon, and immediately noticed the speedo was not working, not a big surprise. A nice force 4 reach, on an even keel with just the (small) genoa. Attempts with the mainsail not conclusive, since it took all the wind from the genoa. Debate about goose winging. Decided against. A couple of isolated showers - so much for the "insurance" provided by new jacket. Alongside the pontoon at Knidos by 17:30.

Knidos is magnificent - once a very important city, now in ruins, but one can easily imagine what it must have been like. Dinner at the pontoon resto - once again no printed menu, but no qualms about asking the price of everything, even going as far as having a lobster-type beastie weighed and priced, before declining it.

Monday, October 14 - Knidos

Sail plan gives us a day of R+R in Knidos. Just as well since the forecast is NW 6/7, and I don't do 7. Started off by taming the GPS (winsome young girl had sworn blind that it didn't have charts), removing and cleaning the speedo, followed by a visit of Knidos. Dinner in same resto (the only one in this part of the Datca peninsula): by keeping off the fish and the wine, we got the bill down to reasonable proportions. Raph was adopted by a friendly feline, whom he nicknamed "Aphrodite".(after the much-copied sculpture, originally found here)

Tuesday October 15 Knidos- Dat�a

Forecast NW 5, locally 6. I didn't used to do 6, but Knidos has revealed all its charms, so we leave at 10:00, having had a scary moment with the engine refusing to start - problem with the gear lever, which Popeye diagnosed and fixed. Nice sail, bright sunshine, stern to the quay in Datca at 15:30, anchor dug in at first attempt! Datca is a bit like St Trop 30+ years ago - fishing harbour, the inevitable gulets and a few visiting boats. Dinner at "Maradonna's place"- the owner did indeed look like the footballer. His wife Sylvia is Dutch, and very friendly.

Wednesday October 17 Dat�a-Ciftlik

Started the day with Sylvia's English breakfast, OK except the sausages and the beans were Turkish, and the price, not cheap at 12 YTL didn't include juice, coffee, toast! Stroll into Datca to get cash, meat for tonight's meal.Left at noon, after a couple of small incidents retrieving the anchor -the chain piles itself up in the locker then jams, and twice the chain jumped off its ratchet, requiring a deftly placed (well shod) foot on the gypsy to avoid paying out 50m of chain. 2 hours motor-sailing later, we anchor in Ciftlik bay at the 3rd attempt. Was fairly wary of going to Ciftlik, same name as the bay near Marmaris where we had such a bad time last year. Lazy afternoon swimming, fishing, putting out the lobster pot, and general farniente. Supper of steak / meatballs/potatoes/salad on board. No restrictions on the vino this time!

Thursday October 18 Ciftlik - Marti Marina

Hauled up the lobster pot - surprise - no lobster, just these horrible centipede-type creatures. Upped anchor at 11:00. Practically no wind so mostly motored to Marti, trying a spot of fishing on the way. Captain Popeye called for nibbles and an apéro at 12:30. Last year we had Tant-Anne on board who takes pleasure in all things domestic. In the absence of an inflatable version packed in our bags, domestic chores fall to me. Beginning to feel like a Harry Potter house elf (boat elf?). In which case, I'm Kreacher the grumpy one. Considered a picnic stop at Bencik, but the bottom seemed to be weed everywhere, so gave up. Arrived Marti 15:45. This was supposed to our ultimate objective last year, the lure of softly lit pool, palm trees, open air lounges was the incentive to get our non-sailing kids on board. Sadly, we didn't make it then, and I felt a bit guilty about being there now. Moored miles away from the sanitaries. Reasonable pizza/pide in the marina restaurant.

Nice enough place, but at 32 EUR a night, wouldn't necessarily make a detour to go back.

Friday October 19 Marti - Dirsek

Left Marti at 11:30, and pottered up to the head of the bay - pretty if somewhat touristy. Hoisted both sails, and noticed a split seam on the genoa's UV strip. Attempt at anchoring off Koca island. Just the time for Kreacher to serve up lunch, then we realised the anchor was dragging. World record picnic stop. Arrived at Dirsek at 15:45, restaurant pontoon with lazy lines. Quite a few other boats already there, seem like regulars - good sign.

The friendly and efficient marinero transformed into head waiter for the evening.

We started off with a mezze buffet at 10YTL each - and what a buffet! My mouth waters even now, just thinking about it. We followed on with lamb and meatballs, and even splashed out on a bottle of wine.

Our best stopover of the whole cruise up to now. Shame for Raph that the population was fairly geriatric.

Saturday October 20 Dirsek-Bozburun

Weather: SSE4 soon locally 5, later 5/6, thunderstorms.
Restaurant staff spend the morning waterproofing their terrace - involves spreading a plastic sheet across the straw roof, and covering that with a Sunsail cruising chute - left over from a shipwreck?

Bought "village bread" cooked that morning in the wood stove outside the resto - delicious. Left (reluctantly) at 11, and mostly motored over to Bozburun, where we anchored stern to the quay, with some difficulty, as the wind was gusting us off our straight line. Definitely a far west feel to the town.

After a fairly ordinary dinner, got back to the boat to realise that the anchor was dragging, and that we were in danger of being blown onto the quay. Panic to disconnect the power supply, remove the gang plank, warn the neighbouring gulet of our intentions to re-anchor. Hectic 15 minutes trying to align Appetitus up between 2 gulets and the neighbouring small boat. Assistance provided by crew from port gulet. Finally secured, and bottle of vino delivered to helpful crew as thanks. Brings back memories of Preveza this spring - minus disco music.

Sunday October 21 Bozburun - Selimiye

Weather: SE6, locally 7, thunderstorms. Outlook: gales and strong gales

So, are we doomed to disaster once again for our second week? Will suggest to Turkish tourist office that they pay me not to go back. The original plan for today was to anchor at Sogut, but the holding is reported as patchy, and the shelter no good for southerlies, so weren't keen on riding out a gale there.

Staying in Bozburun was not appealing either, so after a spot of shopping including Parma ham, we slipped at 11:40 and enjoyed a gentle sail, including fresh attempts at fishing and a beautifully served lunch of melon and ham, en route for Selimiye. The day was only marred by an incident with the furlex, and a close call with a Sunsail boat which crossed our bows without seeing us, only to turn round and wave after!

Having inspected the bay for anchoring possibilities (and bearing in mind the gale warning) we took a lazy line at the Aurora restaurant, where we were welcomed by the very professional Suzannah, half Turkish, half Swedish.

No charge was made for the pontoon (which had electricity, water and hot showers), and the restaurant came out at a very reasonable 110 YTL, which included delicious mezze, main course and wine. A certain Swedish influence was detectable in the décor- sort of Turkish Ikea style.

Woken at 1:30 by rustling from the galley - a black and white cat is stealing the remainder of Popeye's salami. Another cat spends the night with Raph.

Monday October 22 - Selimiye

Weather: SSE 8, locally 9 - eeek!
So we wisely decide to stay put. Explored the village a bit and generally pottered around. Raph finally caught his fish - well, when diving, he found a fishing lure on the seabed. Excitement when the dinghy, which was attached on the foredeck, but at a 45° angle, made a bid for freedom. Wind increasing all the time - this is "sheltered"? Suzannah squeezes in two more boats, pontoon now full, and has everyone attach bowlines, across the whole raft. Around 17:30, 3 Sunsailers arrive with badly furled genoas, mainsails not quite contained in lazy jacks, towing dinghies which leap all over the place, overturn.Suzannah suggests, over the loudhailer, that they might be better off in Marti marina, some 6 miles away. Suggestion not accepted, since we later saw them rafted in the gulet area. Off to dinner with the wind still blowing hard, but by the time we left at 21:00, had completely dropped.

Treated to a spectacular electric storm behind the mountains - wouldn't like to be in Marmaris tonight.

Tuesday October 23 Selimiye - Dat�a

Weather: SSW 5, locally 6
Reluctant to leave, but have to be back in Turgutreis by Saturday. Are waved off by Hussein, ringing a hand bell and wishing us Merry Christmas! When we first met him, thought he'd been at the raki, but no, he's just a bit of a personality!

Once out of Selimiye bay, we put most of the canvas to work, and soon reach 6, 5 knots, close hauled and heeling enough for me to go pale. The men thought it was a cracking sail. Even after reefing down to 1/2 genoa and main, were still doing over 6. Further problems with the furlex. Some logistical problems when Popeye needed to pee, and could not entrust the helm to anyone else in those conditions. Luckily, we always keep a stock of empty water bottles, useful for funnels, candle holders, anti-rat device on warps. Hacked one about and filed the rough edges to produce a urinal. Could earn me a Girl Guide badge. Kreacher also managed to produce cheese sandwiches and a glass of wine for the guys, not an easy feat in a lateral galley, heeled.

After 6 hours, we arrive in what's left of Dat�a. The previous day's storm ripped out much of the wooden quay, leaving only a reduced stone quay, already quite full. One Russian boat had put springs all over the place, effectively taking 3 mooring spaces. Lost count of the attempts to anchor and go stern-to. The anchor didn't set, we didn't have enough chain, we picked up someone else's chain, the wind was gusting hard. And then after another aborted attempt, I wind the anchor in, and find it hooked onto a mighty bit of rope, belonging to one of the gulets using half a dozen anchors. Call back to Raph to give a hand. No help forthcoming. Call again, muttering about mutiny. Then I understand why he didn't hear - we'd also picked up the same or similar around the prop, so Popeye had ordered Raph to dive and free it! When he'd finished with that, he calmly swam round to the bow, and freed the anchor. Finally happy about the anchor towards 17:00. Raph dives again to check it, and gives us the OK. Greatly impresses statuesque German neighbour (ageing) who gives him a "wunderbar".

Neighbours have doubts about anchors - some are nearly on the quay. Brisk business for local divers who set extra anchors on several boats.

Call to base manager re furlex - they promise to send an engineer out from Marmaris tomorrow. Quote from base manager "So you need a man for a screw"!!!!

Dinner on board, no desire to visit destroyed Dat�a.

Wednesday October 24 Dat�a - Knidos

Didn't really intend to revisit places, but the distances and the southerlies don't give us much choice. Consider and reject Palamut, and opt for Knidos Long wait for engineer. Finally ascertain at 11:20 that first service car had had an accident, and that second car had just set off. No desire to hang around here, so appointment made for Knidos after 16:00.

Drew a "grumpy" in the log book for today, so it was not one of my favourites. Seemed we spent lots of time unfurling / furling the main, which became more recalcitrant as the day wore on. Finally resorted to harnesses and winching at the mast. Arrived at fairly full Knidos at 16:30, and rafted up to Fair Lady. The pontoon has already been winterised - T pontoon dismantled, water and electricity out of action. Yet they still charged 25YTL for a pontoon berth (same as before, with facilities), and 10 for us, rafted up! Besides yesterday's Russians, there were two Russian catamarans and a Russian gin palace. Worst restaurant experience yet - slow, surly, no more calamari, noisy Russians. At least the engineer turned up and fixed the furlex.

Neighbours inform us they will be leaving "at first light".

Thursday October 25 Knidos - Kormen

Up at 7:00 - no sign of neighbours, but evidence of a good party - empty bottles + cans! Off at 8:20, after another fright with the motor - maybe it doesn't like Knidos? Seems to lack compression.

Original plan was to sail 35 m to Amazon Creek, but after 3 hours, and only 10 miles behind us, we decided that Kormen by day would be preferable to Amazon Creek by night. This would also shorten the passage tomorrow.

Arrived Kormen 12:30, got the anchor to set at the second go. Kormen is the ultimate no-horse town - a small car ferry, which runs a couple of times a week, a few fishing boats and a taverna. Oh, and a stone breakwater inhabited by 35 cats.
The water was the cleanest I've seen in a port, so Raph and I swam, and Raph caught an octpus
He considered selling it to the restaurant, but having played together, he put it back in the water.
Dinner at the resto - once again good mezze. Will buy some to take out for lunch tomorrow.

Friday October 26 Kormen - Bodrum

Weather: NW 4/5 soon 5/6 - and the direction we were going was...NNW!
Splendid morning, rattling along close-hauled at 5 knots, on a long tack, barely having to touch the sails or the helm, Raph sunbathing on the foredeck.
Popeye had originally suggested going to Orak island, but not very sheltered from northerlies, and rumoured to have big bold rats. We also thought of End Bay on Karaada, but when we looked in it was full of tripper boats. What clinched it was the critical state of the liquid assets. So called Bodrum marina to reserve a place, and at 16:00, were escorted to a tight-ish place alongside which Popeye got us into with all the skill of a skipper who appreciates being called "sir" by the plentiful marina staff. Raph and I are now obliged to address him as "Sir Popeye". Berth is right in front of showers and marina office. Bit expensive at 71 YTL (gulp!), but this is only the second marina in 2 weeks after all. Excursion into town to buy vino and ingredients for supper, quiet evening on board, in charming feline company.
Around 22:00, there was a big band concert in the yacht club - quite appreciated by the men, but I had already crashed (with cat). Woken in the small hours by the very same disco tune heard in Preveza in May - fortunately further away this time.

Saturday October 27 Bodrum - Turgutreis

Adopted small bold cat thanks me for the hospitality by peeing in a corner of the cockpit. At least she had the decency to try to cover it, but not much luck with GRP and teak. Bucket of sea water got rid of the pee and the cat.

Just a quick hop round the corner today, first SW then N. Weather N + NW 4/6. The SW bit was magic - genoa, fishing lines, drinks, nibbles, sunbathing, jokes.Around 11:00 the wind dropped away to nothing, then came in with a vengeance. Away with the fishing tackle, on with the harnesses, and soon we're cracking on at 7, 5 knots! A couple of reefs, and then we're close hauled, tacking like a race crew, and still making 6 knots. Sir Popeye is extremely happy! Two hours of this until our arrival at Turgutreis. This is the first time I've come close to enjoying "sport" sailing - progress at last. Quick stop at the fuel pontoon - the good news that we've only used 1, 56 litres per hour (27 hours motor), the bad news is that fuel is 1, 39 EUR / lit - then tied up at the pontoon by 14:15.

Cursory check out of the boat (nubile young lady tried to charge us for the worn out genoa!) then the men remember they haven't had lunch, so Kreacher legs it to the supermarket for bread and stuff, while Raph reveals a closely guarded secret - he makes a mean tuna salad. And it's after 2 weeks that I find out! Intended to visit the weekly market this afternoon, but too knackered.

Order pizza to be delivered to the boat and drink far too much wine.

Sunday October 28

Hired a "car" (well it had four wheels and an engine) for the day, with drop off at airport, costing less than the taxi from the airport to the marina. Visited the underwater city of Myndos at Gumusluk (well Raph visited the underwater part). Felt strange to be earthlings again, mixing with Turkish families out for a stroll on the beach, and a sea side lunch.

Went the long way round to a shopping centre in Bodrum (needed a few presents for home), which was extremely disappointing. So drove back out to Turgutreis, where we found a bazaar selling all we needed, and more. Supper in a non-seafront restaurant costing less than half the price we paid on day one. They even offered full English breakfast (with juice etc) for 4 YTL, compared to 12 we paid in Datca. Another lesson learned.

At airport for 21:00, flight at 23:00, packed with the kind of package holiday tourist that does Turkey. Memo to self - fly Captain Cook, not Thomas Cook in future. Son n° 2 waiting for us at airport at 02:00, bless him.


Turkey: been there, done that, don't have the T shirt. Nice place, great people, but the non-availability of salami is a problem for Popeye, and the price of wine, over 6 EUR a litre for rough stuff, prices it out of the market compared to Greece.

Sailing: only once did I think that buying Sirius was not a good idea, and only once did I consider cancelling my dazed skipper course next spring. And I actually enjoyed the energetic sailing on the last day.

The crew: Popeye has a bit of a reputation for mixing up tone and decibels, and does tend to bark at his crew. This can sometimes upset new crew. Raph, whose dad can be rather grumpy at times, was not at all fazed, and showed the best promise of any novice crew we've ever had on board. In the Popeye ranking of crew / passenger / cargo / dangerous cargo, Raph was quickly promoted to crew. My role this time was more galley slave, but then someone had to do it.

Popeye heading for Biscay

18 July 2007
Copied from Yotblog
Back in May, spotted a crew call for a delivery Narbonne - Glasson. It caught my eye cos I was raised just up the river from Glasson Dock, and Popeye was sorely in need of "a project", to get his bum off the couch (Roland Garros, Wimbledon, Tour de France, and other pensioner traps..) Popeye went "why not", so we put together his sailing CV, and contacted the skipper.Who turns out to be another Lancastrian expat, married to a 'furriner"! A couple of phone calls, e-mails and a visit later; everything was sorted, and Popeye flew out to Carcassonne on Friday the 13 ( superstitious, us?)

The good ship Escape ii left Gruissan on the evening of the 14th and arrived in Soller, Mallorca at 02:00 on the 17th, having tacked most of the way, with occasionally 30 knts on the nose .Rather him than me!

Quick pit stop at Soller, just the time for Popeye to meet up with an old mate, then off in the evening for Formentera, where they arrived at 18:00 today (or nearly, Formentera was full, so they're anchored off an adjacent islet).

Seems like morale on board is good -no wind today, so "Nestor le motor" did all the work while the 3 mariners did justice to the skipper's wife's cooking. Forgot to say that they live in an extremely gastronomic part of SW France, and the boat is well stocked with home made conserves. And I'd hoped that Popeye might come back a shadow of his former self.... Ah well, he has been drinking lots of water, so he says (but maybe with lots of Pastis?)

After Formentera, San Jose, Gib, Portugal, Biscay, Irish Sea. Sounds like the shipping forecast!

So here I am , home alone... sniff. Not quite - son n° 2 is still at home, and has just added a new kitten to the feline establishment of 2 matrons. Little Gus is worse than a baby, cries when he's alone, hence when I was on kitten sitting duty yesterday, had to sleep on the couch in the sitting room. At least I didn't need a lee cloth.

Ionian May 2007 - the Odysseus cruise

24 May 2007
Copied from Yotblog
First trip as "owners", first time in Greece, which we found amazingly cheap, very friendly, but maybe a bit dodgy on the ecology front.

Friday April 27 Brussels - Gouvia

Left Brussels heat wave for cold, grey, drizzly Corfu. Arrived at Gouvia to board Roisin Dubh, a bit bigger and considerably older than our Sirius which was still there but due out in 2 days. But RD was in a good overall state - just enough things for Popeye to twiddle / fix to keep him occupied. Was somewhat gobsmacked to learn that the holding tank had been rendered inoperational "because clients forget to empty it" - so all goes direct to the sea!

Also small problem with electrickery - although the boat has shore power, no cable is provided, the reason offered being that all the power outlets have different connectors, and that we only have to ask for a cable on the quay / in the marina. Reality was somewhat different - we never tracked down a power cable / connector, so spent 3 weeks keeping the fridge cold with ice bought in supermarkets, or via the engine each time it was on.

Saturday April 28 Gouvia - Agni

Sorted out a few probs with bilges / cockpit lockers / furlex and left Gouvia just as a bus load of noisy Dutch flotilla crews arrived. Headed up the coast to Kalami bay, much too built up, so about turn to Agni bay, on the pontoon of Taverna Nikolas, preparing to open for the season the next day. Popped in for a beer, and went away with a freebie bottle of wine, since we were the first customers of the season! Fixed the autopilot which had inverted wiring. Wash from passing ferries made for an uncomfortable night, with a bit of "fender watch".

Sunday April 29 Agni - Kassiopi

Shared a "full English" at the taverna, Popeye eating the bacon and sausage, me the eggs and beans - the forecast said "light winds"? Continued up the coast for a lunch stop and anchor practice near Psaromitsa. This was the first time we were only 2 on board, and wanted to do the anchor thing in private, before having to "Med moor" in front of an audience. Got it OK at second try. Peaceful for 2 hours until the wind turned, strengthened and whitecaps invaded the bay. Continued on up to Kassiopi, fishing port with room for 3 yachts -we were the third. First was a cool German, second was a raving loony Brit, who'd not sailed for 14 years, had bought a floating dustbin in Preveza, and was attempting to sail it to Malta in a 10 day time frame, with 2 novices as crew, the wrong way round Corfu! Much effing and blinding heard from neighbours, one threatening to jump ship, skipper trying to engage Popeye as delivery skipper.... Suggested they visit "liveaboard corner"in Gouvia - saw them there 2 days later!

Monday April 30 Kassiopi - Corfu town

Visit doctor / pharmacy - Popeye's old diabetic foot wound playing up. Doctor asks "Where are you staying?" We say "boat", doc goes pale. Whatever, in for 3 weeks of intensive foot care. Strange Brit neighbour fell off boat night before, popped his shoulder, and "wasn't even p1ssed" - must've been on something else then. Back down the coast to Corfu town yacht club. First public go at 2 handed Med mooring - scored 8/10 - high praise from Popeye.Only 5 min walk from town centre, but 20 EUR for the use of 2 showers / 2 WCs on the other side of the harbour seemed a bit steep. Evening visit of Corfu town. Not overly impressed. Very mediocre pizza. Dolphins in Corfu bay - real, or robots planted by tourist office?

Tuesday May 1 Corfu town- Gouvia

Walked to airport to pick up Patsy, Popeye's sister, taxi back. She brought rain with her - tons of it! During brief weather window, sailed back up to Gouvia, went to take the mooring line - covered in the stuff which should have been in the holding tank. Brave little sailor that I am, made the boat fast, retched later.

Wednesday May 2 Gouvia - Mourtos

Today we set off for the trip south. At this time of year, dominant wind is NW, so the S trip is OK, the return is a bit of a beat. So what did we have today? SW!!! But WTF, we're here to sail, so sail we did, tacking gaily to and fro, putting reefs in almost everything, apart me underwear. Still not too happy with this heeling business, Popeye promises to start out with less canvas in the future, "for the comfort of novice crew" as read in sailing press.

Arrived Mourtos, Sivota islands around 17:00, just before the Dutch flotilla we'd fled 2 days before! Mourtos charming -town quay with water and elec, free if you take neither, and good tavernas. Recommend Georgio�s family.

Thursday May 3 Mourtos - Paxos

Although we have 2 GPS giving speed, the boat speedo was KO, and Popeye required SOG, so hairy few minutes where he pulled something out of the forecabin bilge, while I had to instantly put another thingy in, else we would sink. He twiddles / blows on first thingy, and then we repeat the process, thankfully only taking on a very small amount of sea, left to me to mop up, of course! Short motorsail over to Gaios on Paxos, speedo now working. Another free town quay (water only by lorry, no elec), very charming place , shame about the road works and sledge hammers. Foray into the village for mooring lines (the ones provided were fit for cargo boats, and too much for my spaghetti arms) - measured by height from shopkeepers' feet to - willy? navel? and sold by the kilo, not by the meter!

Friday May 4 Paxos - Preveza

Cold grey morning, forecast wind SE! Longish day today, over to Preveza on Greek mainland. Tried the sails whenever possible, but a lot of crew energy expended, and not much fuel saved. Maybe this is the time to mention that although we are 3 aboard, Patsy is terrified about heights, empty spaces..and the only place she can go above decks is the cockpit, so the roles were distributed very evenly - she galley slave, me deck crew. Anyways, got into Preveza around 17:00, tried the "marina" - dead zone. Why do Greeks start to build marinas and then abandon them? So, tied up to (free) town quay, smack in the middle of (smelly) town. Watched life go by, interesting game of he/she? due to quantity of transvestites passing by.Weather forecast 19:00 not good -SSE 7. Had to remind Popeye of prior agreement that 4/5 is OK, 6 is to be discussed, but that we don't do 7.He didn't take it too kindly, and had to be reminded that we were very short handed, and that if he wanted to do 7, it would be single-handed. Good and very cheap meal in town, then back to the boat for - a night of hell .At 23:00, boat gets close to quay, pushed by strengthening wind. Fender watch, bit of motor to keep us off the quay, bit of sleep. Weather at 01:00
"gales over Ionian" go back to bed.

Saturday May 5 stuck in Preveza

Weather at 9:00 still saying SSE 7, at 13:00 6/7, decreasing later. Decide to stay put. Popeye not happy. Amusing antics of other boats coming in out of the bad weather, including one Sunsail, 11 attempts to anchor! Another afternoon of gusts towards the quay, bursts of motor, neighbour asks if our anchor might be dragging.Good question.Anchor watch till 1:30, then again from 5:45. Never want to see Preveza ever again.

Sunday May 6 (skipper's birthday) Preveza - Meganisi

Forecast ESE 6/7, but going stir crazy in Preveza, so cast off at 10:20, bound for the Levkas canal and Meganisi island. Scary approach to canal entrance - almost invisible in morning haze, but got there spot on noon, for the hourly opening of the swing bridge. Except it didn�t open until 12:47! Grrr.But a lovely sail once out of the canal - just the genoa, nice flat fast ride, arrived in Porto Spilia 15:45. Like finding paradise - Spilia has pontoons, laid mooring lines, water, elec (all for free, on the understanding, not the obligation, that you will patronise the taverna), plus orgasmic hot showers, as long as you want for 3 EUR, plus laundrette at 5 EUR a go. Taverna was excellent, and very good value for money. Also provided fresh bread and ice next day.

Monday May 7 Meganisi - Ithaca (Kioni)

Walked up the steep hill to the village, which was not very open - too early in the season. Leisurely departure around 11, motored for an hour, then dropped the hook for lunch. Log book does not record where. Forecast at 13: 00 says NW 4/5. Set off again around 14:30. Wind seemed somewhat fresher than 4/5, boat speed up to 7,5 k , and a certain amount of heel (still can't feel comfortable with that), when Popeye decides to reduce the genoa. Didn't secure the stringy thingy (don't know it's name in English) so the genoa ran out again, and we started over. Then a second reef in the main - proved very difficult to do at the sprayhood end, so I was sent to winch it in at the mast. It was gusting 7 by now, and I suddenly realised that though I knew where the harnesses were, we�d been remiss on the safety drill! Tacked back and forth before Atokos, for what seemed like an eternity. Relieved to arrive at Kioni town quay at 18:00. Popeye declared that it had been a "belle journée de voile sportive", and I was too knackered to argue.Very gusty harbour, so added another line during the evening.

Tuesday May 8 Kioni - Vathi

Short hop today, so morning of R+R, ie cleaning heads and fridge. 2 hours motor sail south, arrived in Vathi . Moored at 3rd attempt, including picking up an anchor attached to a mooring line on the quay. My first experience of finding something on the end of our anchor. Watched arrival of a Neilson flotilla - shore staff giving directions for steering and when to drop anchor, another in dinghy, nudging them in the right direction.

Wednesday May 9 Vathi � Pera Pigadhi

We'd been told that the meat in Vathi was excellent, and that there was a BBQ on the tiny, uninhabited island of Pera Pighadi, so off to the butchers for some chunks of dead animal. Due to the heat, butchers tend not to display their wares in cabinets, so you have to describe the animal body part you want, and the guy pulls a whole side of beef / lamb out of his fridge!

After this 1 1/2 hours very hot motor over to PP. Pilot book warned of "big bold rats", but all we saw was one very friendly ginger cat, who got the remains of our BBQ, plus a tin of paté, plus large bowl of water. A couple of yachts anchored in a bay on Ithaka - they left after lunch, we decided to stay the night - the shelter seemed good, and it was so calm. Not even disturbed by the passage of 2 fishing boats (they also fed the cat), who played their radio for a while, but that added to the atmosphere.

This was the southernmost point of our trip - tomorrow we start back towards Corfu, Belgium and work!!

Thursday May 10 Pera Pigadhi - Sivota (Lefkas)

For reasons I no longer remember, had an early start, cast off by 8:15. Weather at 09:00 said NNW 4/5, which would have meant a bit of a beat, but what we got was more variable 1/2, so most of the trip was done with the engine and Georges, our faithful autopilot.. Didn't really have the time to get bored, since we arrived in Sivota at 13:00, where we were kept entertained by the arrival of a Sunsail flotilla, among whom were the Queen Mother, Mr + Mrs Lobster.We were moored at the outside of the quay, in front of a café which appeared closed, until sometime in the evening, when it turned out the be "the place to be" in Sivota. At least it was Greek music that kept going until 5 in the morning.

Friday May 11 Sivota - Meganisi

Managed to sail most of the way from Sivota to Skorpios (Onassis island), where we anchored for lunch and a swim. "Keep out" signs in prominent positions, but since the sea belongs to the state a swimmer can "land" up to the high water mark, effectively to mid calf level. We kind of expected the family to send a launch over to invite us to lunch, but no luck. After lunch, carried on to Porto Splilia, where we got a very warm welcome as "returning customers". Was amused by the arrival of more flotilla boats, heavily reliant on the assistance of pontoon staff, and even more by one which looked like a Sunsail from a distance, so pontoon peeps go into assistance mode - turns out he flew the blue ensign, and was rather peeved to have been mistaken for a Sunsail

Saturday May 12 Meganisi - Lefkas marina

We had been warned against Lefkas marina, but our choice was that or Preveza (no way) or Parga, which sounded grim in the pilot book. Anchored again at Skorpios for lunch, and attempted a spot of fishing. I reckon fish must have a high IQ, since when you throw bit of bread / pizza etc, they fight each other in hundreds but as soon as you put out a line and hook, they take the bait from the hook then disappear. Arrived Lefkas 17:00, filled fuel tank, then entered one of the most soulless marinas I've ever seen. Shelter was not fantastic, berthing fee EUR 47,60, showers extra! Lefkas town was nice enough, but the Lighthouse restaurant (picked from our guide book) not the best we've been to.

Sunday May 13 Lefkas � Gaios (Paxos)

Cast off in time for the opening of the bridge at 10:00 - it opened on time this time. Only, since there were few boats in the queue, and no big ones, they only raised the small section on the side, instead of swinging the whole bridge. The space was quite narrow, with a sharp bend, and not overly deep - scary! The rest of the day was almost boring - no wind. Tried the sails for 20 minutes just for something to do. Moored up in Gaios next to a Sunsail skipper, his flotilla was having a "free sail day", and were in another harbour. Interesting guy - born on a boat, of Belgian father and Irish mother, brought up in Brazil! Said he felt he'd done his job if, at the end of 2 weeks charter, all the clients still have all their fingers and toes!

Monday May 14 Gaios - Mourtos

Quote from the pilot book "Crossed anchors are a fact of life here.. remain calm and use some muscle". Well, we got one, and stayed relatively calm. Anchored for lunch in End bay (at 3rd go - lots of weed, but am beginning to grasp this anchoring lark), close to a Neilson water activity base. No time for a swim, since Popeye wanted to get into Mourtos before the flotillas. Plenty of space when we got there. Went to the ice cream parlour for the banana split Popeye's been hankering after for days. Sailing Holidays flotilla skipper puts olive oil down neighbours� heads. Said it tightens up the joints and can maybe avoid major surgery. We try it too - seems OK.

Tuesday May 15 � Mourtos - Platarias

Did some shopping - great supermarket on the east side of the harbour - samples of home made biscuits, uncle's wine, cheapest beer we've seen yet , and we discover that the wine bottles with a "K" are returnable, deposit 35 cents. How many have we thrown away?

Left at 11:00 - second crossed anchor!

Anchorage for lunch between the islands of Sivota and Nikolaos, arrived in Platarias around 16:00. 40 minutes to get tied up. Pilot book said good shelter, but the most sheltered side was taken up by liveaboards, we had a nasty cross wind, so it was the most challenging "Med moor" of the whole trip. During the evening, the lady harbour official stops by to welcome us, offering water and elec (declined), and asking us how long we planned to stay. As if!

Maybe it's due to the proximity of Albania, but the town seemed somehow seedy and rather depressing. Olga's restaurant wasn't one of the best either.

Wednesday May 16 Platarias - Agni

On leaving Platarias in the morning, picked up our 3rd crossed anchor - this one belonging to an uninhabited charter yacht. Dutch neighbour rightly points out that the yacht concerned is now touching the quay, and that its our duty to put things right. Consider re-anchoring to go fix the problem, but not enthusiastic, given yesterday's performance. Were about to go alongside the Dutch neighbours� boat when they magnanimously offered to take care of it.

Note that they were 6 on board, and note also that the "unanchored" boat in question belonged to a Dutch charter company - can't help wondering if they would have reacted for any other boat.

Mostly motored back to Corfu, for dinner at Nikolas' tavern. Much busier now than 3 weeks ago. Pontoon was full of mobo's when we got there, so decided to anchor. Were at our third attempt at getting through the weed, when we noticed that the pontoon was now free, so we tied up there. Evening saw the arrival of 4 boatloads of trippers from neighbouring bays

Thursday May 17 Agni -Gouvia

Got back into Gouvia early afternoon, hired a car, messed around, dropped Patsy at the airport

Friday May 18 - flying visit of Corfu

Packed up, checked out and set off for Corfu's highest mountain, Mt Pandokrator, famous for its stunning views - only it was in the clouds, so didn't see much. Inland Corfu is much more attractive that the tourist ghettos on the coast, although some of the roads were too narrow and bendy for my liking. Dropped car off at airport (no car-hire desk, just leave the key under the mat!), and all too soon , back home. That's it until October then - sniff!

Vessel Name: Sirius
Vessel Make/Model: Bavaria 37
Hailing Port: Gouvia
Crew: Popeye and OliveOyl
About: Retired (him), soon to be retired (her) grandparents. Popeye's been sailing for many years, Olive decided "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" in 2003. Acquired Sirius in 2007
Extra: Crew currently located in Belgistan, plan to relocate to Greece in 2012
Sirius's Photos - Main
36 Photos
Created 29 June 2010
16 Photos
Created 29 June 2010
20 Photos
Created 29 June 2010
8 Photos
Created 23 June 2010

Who: Popeye and OliveOyl
Port: Gouvia