Catamaran cruising

Who: Carolyn & Chris Gebbie
27 June 2016 | Mahon/Cuitudella
27 June 2016 | Mahon
26 June 2016 | Answer to question
22 June 2016 | Cala Covas
22 June 2016 | Ciududella, Menorca
22 June 2016 | Ciududella, Menorca
16 June 2016 | Alcudia revisited
16 June 2016 | Cala Formentor
16 June 2016 | Alcudia
16 June 2016 | Porto Cristo
16 June 2016 | Cala Mitjana
08 June 2016 | Porto Petro
08 June 2016 | Isle de Cabrera
08 June 2016 | Palma - RCNP
08 June 2016 | Les Illetas
30 May 2016 | Isla de Cabrera
30 May 2016 | Porto Colom
24 May 2016 | Porto Cristo
24 May 2016 | Mallorca

Season 2022

24 July 2022
Chris Gebbie
Splice blog 1 - 2022

Apologies for the lack of blogs this season.

It started as we were delayed for over a month trying to reach Greece. Our initial flight had to be delayed due to overrunning building works at home and the following flight was one of the early cancellation casualties. After sitting on the plane for 6 hours they cancelled the flight and we had to go home. Rebooked for a week later as this was the only available slot, only for Chris to go down with covid (almost certainly caught on that plane). Another rebooking with associated fees! We eventually arrived in Greece in early June.

Since then there has been a lot of hiding from the winds. Our eldest Mitch and girlfriend Liz joined us in Poros for a week around that area, we then had to wait a week for a weather window to sail out to the Cyclades managing to go via Kithnos to Finikas on Siros before the wind started again. So far it has been blowing over 30knots consistently for 13 days🙁. Whilst we have a secure berth on the quay here and have had a pleasant time socially with other cruisers it is frustrating to be stuck for so long.

Our original plan had been to get to Samos by now and fly back to UK for a month but given the delay we would miss the flight home. With all the chaos in the airports the only conclusion was to cancel the return and stay on board until the end of the season in October.

We now plan to leave tomorrow (Monday 25th July) and sail in company with other boats (‘Undine’ a German flagged Bavaria - crewed by Heidi and Hans and ‘Rusalka’ an Elan 44 crewed by Aussies Steve and Philly) the 30 miles to Mykonos before heading 55 miles across the Aegean (roughly 9 hours sailing) to the Fournoi islands the next day. That will leave us a short 25 mile sail to the marina on Samos later in the week.

We have decided not to post such regular blogs this season as it takes half a day to prepare and upload so you will only have the occasional comment from us. Please feel free to contact us at ‘splice435@gmail.com’ if you have questions about places we have visited or any other info.

End of Season 2021

12 October 2021 | Kilada
Despite the forecast the day of our lift out dawned clear and quite calm. We were pleased to get the call for Splice to enter the lifting dock around 09.00 hrs before wind had a chance to change its mind! Whilst you know the day of your lift here they don't give you a time, you just have to be alert from 08.00 with your VHF on. In the past we have spent all morning hanging about but this time we were second in the queue. The lift went without any issues and we were placed in the same position in the yard as last winter - this is good as its close to both the office and the facilities (you can't use the boats heads on land) and saves the long walk that some locations suffer from.

We were ahead of ourselves on the closedown list so the next few days were more relaxed than some years. We got on with all the tasks we can't do in the water - flush the engines and generator with fresh water (to stop corrosion from the salt staying in the works) - servicing and flushing the outboard and draining it of fuel (otherwise fuel congeals in the carburettor over winter and prevents it starting next year) - taping up the hull outlets to stop insect entry - putting a sponge in the end of the boom to stop birds nesting there - dropping the anchor and chain onto a pallet to remove the weight from the boat - ditto dropping the dinghy and covering her etc, etc.

'Splice' ready for winter

Closedown is quite a sociable time in a yard as there's always other owners performing the same tasks and we chatted to many of our neighbours as they passed sharing hints and techniques on how we all approached the tasks of winterising the boats. We were invited aboard 'Captain Cook' another cat nearby for tea and biscuits. We briefly met Veronique and Bruno when moored in Paroikia and it was nice to spend an hour or so meeting properly.

The journey home was to be a bit different this year. We normally leave the boat early in the morning for a midday flight so we can then catch a train home from Gatwick. Easyjet had however cancelled the morning flight leaving us with only the evening option arriving in Gatwick around 23.00 when all the trains had departed. This then involved booking a taxi for £85 to pick us up but the journey worked well with no delays and allowed us to have a more relaxed departure at noon in Greece.

A view across the waters towards Athens on our drive to the airport

We stopped on the way as Carolyn's research had discovered the farm that produces the oregano herbs and olive oil that we had been searching for in Epidavros earlier in the season. When we arrived we found not just the shop but a very pleasant beach cafe on the shoreline and spent a hour or so having a very nice lunch of Greek salad and sardines.

We walked through the door at home just after midnight UK time and less tired than usual, so maybe the evening flight might be a contender in the future!

Our Greek Salad lunch

The blog will take a break for the winter, our outline plan for next year includes crossing the Cyclades early in the year and ending up in Turkey for the winter, but who knows what the virus/Brexit/shortages etc will bring!

Thanks to all who bothered to read about our journey this year, see you in 2022.

Main Picture: Splice lifts at the end of season 2021

The Last Stop Of The Season - Kilada

01 October 2021
The winds were forecast to increase over the next few days so we left Astros and played motorboat (we had no sails) across the gulf for 3 hours to get to Splice's winter home. The skipper was a bit un-nerved by the trip, there's always the sails if the motors play up but not this time...but all was well and we dropped anchor 400m from the lift at the yard. We are glad we moved early as we have now had two days and nights of gusty winds topping out at 25 knots which would have made things lumpy out there.

The first evening we had a bit of a shock......the beer wasn't very cold! We had motored across which charges the batteries and had the fridges on all day. Major disaster loomed, the skipper can't live with warm beer in Greece. Investigations the next morning found that the beer fridge was not cooling at all, luckily the other fridge seemed fine and all the food and a nights allocation of beer were transferred to that. A call to the yard found there was no refrigeration engineer there so we were stuck..... until Carolyn remembered that the owner of the accommodation we use here used to be a refrigeration technician before retirement. We dinghied ashore and he talked us through how to check the thermostat as this was the first place to check.

Back on board all the gear stored in port forward came out and the boards came up. Chris created a cable to isolate and bypass the thermostat and we started up the fridge. The condenser started back up, great, so the condenser (expensive - Euros 350+) was not the problem but now we had a fridge with no thermostat. After a little more fiddling Chris realised that another component, a small circuit board that dictates the condenser revolution speed, could be affecting the circuit so he swapped that with the same item from the disused freezer condenser. Success, everything worked again and cold beer was back on! All that hassle for a 3cm board with a couple of components on it! Hopefully we can source another spare.

The offending circuit board

We are working through our close-down list and have completed all the 'in water' tasks ready for our lift out tomorrow morning. The forecast is still for strong gusty conditions but we know the lift bay and it should be possible unless the winds really get up.

We then have four days to put Splice fully to bed before our drive to Athens and flight back to the UK. Looking at the news we do wonder if we'd be better staying!!

Main photo: The view across to the Travel-lift that will lift Splice out of the water on 2nd October. The structure supports large slings that go under the boat and pull her up.

Astros (And Another Birthday Aboard)

01 October 2021
We had not ventured to Astros this year yet as the confusion over the documentation required post Brexit and the potential for being fined in this closely monitored port put us off. A report from 'Operatix' that they had visited without being asked for the dreaded 'Transit Log' made us reassess and so off we went as it's one of our favourite locations.

When we arrived we found a large motor boat had taken our preferred position on the west side, so we had to anchor back with lines ashore to the main quay. It's still very sheltered here and the prevailing afternoon winds that often hit 20 knots plus are directed overhead by the large harbour wall. Sometimes a bit of spray does get you though!

Our first day was spent upside down in the starboard bilge disconnecting each of the pipes that make up the heads system (toilet) then banging them on the dock or riddling them to remove the calcium build up that gradually blocks them up. If you don't do this every few years your loo will grind to a halt, usually just at the wrong time! It's not actually as smelly as you would think given its calcium not sewage but reaching under the floor, undoing jubilee clips and working stiff pipes on and off connectors is a very wearing occupation and by 16.00 we were both very sweaty and exhausted and hadn't managed to do two of the longer pipes... next years penance!

It's getting close to the end of our shortened season now, so the next two days were spent taking the sails off as the winds were very light. Gennaker and genoa came off the first morning and we achieved a tight and neat fold on both sails, not always easy on the side deck of the boat but we were pleased with the result, they went easily in to our new sail-bags. The main came off the next morning and was likewise installed in its new bag.

The Genoa ready for rolling and bagging

Sorry Steve, we haven't really had any good chaotic captains in the last week or so. If you leave aside the normal antics of laying chains over other boats anchor chains, dragging across the line of chains when leaving to hook a couple of other chains etc (these are everyday sights) then the entertainment has been slow. The best attempt at entry into the hall of fame was a Swedish crew who wanted to anchor back to the quay near to us. The floating pontoon opposite is around 80m away and as you need 40-50m maximum chain there it's not in the way. This lot decided to drop their anchor very close to this pontoon and then motor back. We predicted the first part where he ran out of chain before reaching the quay, so he needed to pick the anchor up and try again. This is where his comic genius shone though. These floating pontoons are secured in place by big chains to concrete blocks on the seabed. Very big heavy chains and blocks as they hold the weight of all the moored boats. He'd anchored himself very firmly to the fixings of the pontoon opposite three metres under the water. He spent half an hour trying to get loose and failing before realising he could secure himself to the pontoon itself and, after another 40 minutes or so with boat-hooks and lines from the pontoon, was able to work his anchor free. His next attempted reverse to the quay proved successful, starting a more normal 35m out!

Our last night in Astros was also the skippers birthday, he celebrated it as his 56th but does admit to mixing up digits these days! We went for a walk in the morning when it was cooler, enjoying coffee and 'spinach and feta pie' on our return. The afternoon was pleasantly sunny and we relaxed and Chris helped various boats to moor as they arrived (playing Harbour Master as the First Mate describes it).

The day was going well when, just as we had poured the first beer at 19.00 hours and the birthday phone calls had started, the Port Police arrived. The only document he wanted to see was the 'Transit Log', which we don't have (we have paid the cruising taxes, have insurance, the right boat papers etc). There is huge confusion in Greece over this, the Greek Customs have published papers saying it is not required. Some port police will not issue them to British boats, some will only issue the wrong one which removes your VAT rights....it's a mess. We have simply avoided this and followed the guidance from the Cruising Association not to have one as per the Greek Customs mandate. This is fine until you are faced with a Port Policeman who says otherwise. Thus a discussion on Greek documentation ensued which was going nowhere until it was mentioned that we were to lift the boat in a few days. Luckily by now he was either bored or at the end of his shift as he just waved his hand and walked off. It put a dampener on the day for a while but an excellent dinner at 'Batis' our favourite taverna put it to the back of our minds. It does however probably reinforce our intention to leave Greece next season if time and viruses permit.

Main photo:Birthday Buoy with cards, coffee and pie

Back to Porto Heli

01 October 2021
We dropped the lines from the shore in Ormos Kapsali after two very peaceful nights and set off back to Porto Heli, where we had arranged for the lady who will make our winter cockpit cover to come on board.

The trip took from 09.30 to around 15.00 that afternoon and was a mix of motoring, some nice sailing from 11.30 to 13.00, then the later stages were all wind on the nose motor-sailing as the wind bent around the corners of the channels we passed along.

The old winter cover was made to fit to the previous canvas bimini roof, so as its was 14 years old there was no point in altering it.....it was falling to bits anyway. Chris met Jutta in the dinghy and taxied her to Splice, but it soon became clear that not much could be done other than measurements until we were on the hard. The visit was useful however as we realised that the design of the sun shades we wanted would affect the design of the winter cover. We had assumed separate 'bolt ropes' to feed into the grove on the roof, but Jutta planned to use the same 'bolt rope' so the zips sewn onto it would have to work for both sets of canvas... queue a rethink of the design, which we agreed via email over the next few days and work should start as soon as we lift out onto the hard (well, as this is Greece, we shall see!)

One of our meals aboard, salad with garlic fried bacon, feta cheese,tomatoes,brown bread croutons with lemon and Parmesan,pine nuts and figs

Our three nights in Porto Heli were uneventful apart from this as we topped up the supplies and sat out a couple of cooler days aboard. The weather has changed since the middle of September and is noticeably windier and cooler than we have seen here other years at this time.

Main photo: Splices mainsail as we motor-sailed back to Potro Heli - note sail number 11 of the boats series and the Greek courtesy flag

Epidavros and Back to Poros

20 September 2021 | Poros
We then headed north west across the gulf to Epidavros with a specific purchase in mind. On our last visit we found a shop selling their own olive oil and herbs including a lovely dried wild oregano herb. This has become a staple of Chris's cooking and is getting low so we were keen to return. Unfortunately the shop was closed down when we found it and nowhere else was selling the products. A wasted journey as we found the town somewhat run down. After one night at anchor in the harbour we agreed that it was time to move on.

We had a mix of motoring, a lunch stop in a bay on the southern part of Aegina, Pyrgos Point, and a nice afternoon sail as we headed back to Poros. We are now on the return leg of our cruise as we have only a few weeks left to get works done and prepare Splice for the winter.

Poros Town is on an island just off the mainland and this creates a large harbour area including some bays to the west of town. We headed for one of these after joining in a stream of boats heading through the north entrance. Everyone else turned to port to compete in the nights quay battle, we turned to starboard and found ourselves alone in a lovely little bay with clear water (the water around Poros generally isn't clear) and a view back across the waters towards town. It took 30 minutes to get tied back to some rocks on the shore and we then had a very pleasant evening with a drink on the fore-deck as the towns lights came on and dinner on board.

Drinks in the bay

It was very peaceful overnight as well. After a morning swim the time today has been dedicated to catching up on blog writing which has been left too long (apologies)

Main photo: Poros town from our anchorage in the bay
Vessel Name: Splice
Vessel Make/Model: Broadblue 435 Catamaran
Crew: Carolyn & Chris Gebbie
We have been married for over 25 years and have two grown up sons. Carolyn has dual English/French nationality and speaks French well. [...]
Extra: Contact us at splice435(the at sign)gmail.com

Who: Carolyn & Chris Gebbie