Catamaran cruising

Who: Carolyn & Chris Gebbie
25 September 2018 | Kalamos
25 September 2018 | Kastos
18 September 2018 | Limani Petala
08 September 2018 | Vassiliki
08 September 2018 | Vilikho Bay
02 September 2018 | Preveza and Palairos
07 August 2018 | Vlikho Bay and Ormos Varkos
30 July 2018 | Kioni
30 July 2018 | Kakagito Bay
30 July 2018 | Eufimia
30 July 2018 | Ithaca
15 July 2018 | Spartakhori - Meganissi
15 July 2018 | Abelike Bay-Meganissi
09 July 2018 | Vathi - Ithaca
09 July 2018 | Kastos
09 July 2018 | Fiskardho

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

Vathi , Methanon Peninsula

20 September 2021 | Vathi
North of Poros is Methana which as the name suggests has somewhat tainted air from the volcanic vents in the area (rotten eggs/sulphur). This port does not welcome visiting sailors so we passed by and around the tip of the peninsula towards the small harbour at one of the many Greek places called 'Vathi'. This pretty little port can take about 12 boats and you need to get there early to get a space especially if you're a cat.

a shot of our chart-plotter shows Splice's position on the quay at Vathi

We timed it just right as there was only two other boats present when we arrived around midday and we could moor back to the quay without a problem. We visited here two years ago and really enjoyed the small place so we broke our normal habit and had lunch with beer on the quay behind the boat - literally the table was at the end of our gang-plank. One item on the menu caught our eye - fish salad? So we had to try it... small pieces of cooked fish (smoked mackerel, anchovies and other fish) covered with cold cooked veg (potatoes, carrot and beetroot) and then with a youghut sauce on top. It sounds strange, but it actually was very tasty with toasted garlic bread. We think it was a way of using up unsold fish but we would have it again.

We had a very nice three days in Vathi, the first two were very busy with yachts, up to 13 crammed in one night, but the Friday was quiet as all the charted crews had headed back to base. We seemed to have a focus on fish here, as well as the lunch we ate grilled fish at a different taverna the first night and had another special from the taverna behind us the next evening - fish soup.......served with the components that it was cooked with on a side plate. Very tasty but perhaps too much garlic and onions for us as whilst we both enjoyed it we had indigestion later!! It was also disturbed by a skippered charter boat coming into the harbour late when it was full and deciding to anchor over everyone's chains. When all the skippers had shouted at him he still did so, just luckily not over ours! We reverted to lamb chops the final evening. It's unusual for us to eat out so much but the place is small and relaxed and the lady who runs the taverna always added lots of extra bits of meze, deserts and digestives all for very low prices. Under E28 for three courses with wine for both of us.

Fish Soup!

We also took a taxi to one of the 30 odd volcanic craters on the peninsula. It's about 5 km from the harbour and then a 20 minute scramble up the rocks on a semi-path to the volcanic vent inside a cave at the summit.

The route up!

The landscape as you climb is very clearly cooled lava an the views are worth the trip alone. You have to negotiate a climb across large boulders to get into the cave but the vent is worth a look, you can imagine the lava spilling out of the smoothed v-shaped opening.

The view at the top

Main Photo: Our table awaited, just off the plank!
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
Splice's Photos - Main
44 Photos
Created 15 May 2015
No Photos
Created 15 May 2015
No Photos
Created 14 April 2015

Who: Carolyn & Chris Gebbie